What to Write: 29 Writing Prompts for February

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february writing prompts

If you are anything like me, and many of the writers and bloggers I know, you started off with really great ideas about writing topics and goals for the year. You were ready to fill in your editorial calendar with topics and ideas and be ready to plan ahead and even take some time off from work occasionally because you could work ahead.  But sometimes are best laid plans just don’t work out the way we had hoped, especially when we pick up extra projects and work and have all those spots to fill. To help out with this months planning here are 29 writing prompts inspired by this month, the season and the topics which people are searching for during the month of February.

Holidays always provide great inspiration. You have crafts, decorating, DIY projects, and events to attend. Here are some unique and not so unique holidays in February which can provide you with some inspiration and writing ideas.

*Note while not a “list” of 29 ideas, it is 29 ideas based on groupings of various topics.

Super Bowl Sunday gets a lot of hype, and it’s a great way of sharing party planning ideas, recipes and more. But you have to act fast to fit them into the beginning of the month.

American Heart Month – Talk about heart healthy tips, clean cooking and even offer recipes which are heart healthy. Cover events and share your experiences with getting your heart checked this month, or how your family is dealing with heart disease or other heart health issues.

Black History Month – What are some changes you have seen and experienced the course of history? What are some African American historical figures which inspire you?

Related content:  Black History Month activities for kids

Creative Romance Month – Sure it’s Valentine’s Day, but let’s think about creative ways to bring romance into the relationship. Do you have some ideas about inexpensive date night ideas? How about some romantic inspiration in fashion or decorating the home/bedroom?

Related content:  7 Romantic free and inexpensive date night ideas

 

Great American Pie Month and National Cherry Month – My mouth waters over these two topics. While you can post your favorite pie recipes don’t forget about things like Chicken Pot Pie or delicious recipes made with pie crusts. To monetize using your favorite pie pans, mixers and more.

Related content: 3 Cherri-fic Recipes 

National Children’s Dental Health Month – Do you have a neat trick to share about teaching your children to brush their teeth? Maybe like our family you got to do a tour of a pediatric dentist office to help kids become more comfortable with dental health care? Maybe you could share some fun book reviews or free printables. Feb. 28th is also National Tooth Fairy Day.

Related content: Making and using a free toothbrushing chart 

Valentine’s Day – This one is easy. Thing of love, romance, activities, dinner or snacks for the kids. Free printables, Valentine’s Day party favors or gifts for teachers are also all good ideas this month. Actually you probably should have started these in January, but it’s not too late.

Gardening and Pruning – Gardening content if for planning ahead. While people may not actually be starting the projects until later on in the month or on into March, they are looking for ideas and starting to purchase their supplies. Pruning trees and bushes after the long winter months (at least here in Houston) is recommended. It’s the perfect time especially for the flowering bushes so they bloom nicely once spring arrives officially.

Start looking ahead to March and April and work on getting your content out there for holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.

Daylight savings time is just around the corner. What are some regular activities people should do that it is a good reminder. This is a great time to remind readers or provide them with a checklist of DIY items in the home like changing out filters or checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Consider creating a free printable which you can also use in your newsletter or as a thank you for subscribing.

With Valentine’s Day, consider doing last minute gift ideas for those you love. These can be anything from crafts and DIY at home or quick purchases. It’s a great time to do a round up of crafts, foods, or even create your own top ten items like gifts for him, gifts for her or movies to enjoy. These topics are also really easy to monetize.

Online dating – Do you have some great online dating tips or funny stories to share. It’s that time of the year when many look to blind dates or online dating as a method of meeting a new “love.”

Relationship tips – Every marriage or relationship has their share of ups and downs. Share with your readers what you have learned about love.

Google alerts can keep you up to date about the latest trends and topics in your niche. Have you set up your alerts yet to find out what’s new in your area of expertise or what other are talking about. Use that to help you with a little or a lot of inspiration.

Remember you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You could also Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle Your Old Content making the most of the work you have already done.

 

 

 

 

 

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10 ways to Reuse and Repurpose your Content

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reduce and reuse content

I remember when writing web content meant writing quality content, free of errors and with topics and titles which readers would enjoy. Of course you had to learn some writing skills for Search Engine Optimization, because that was back in the dark ages without the popularity of the many social media channels we enjoy sharing on content on now. But now there is so much more to writing web content, whether it’s for your own blog, a business blog or as a freelance writer. Does that mean your content you wrote in the past is obsolete? It doesn’t have to! There are many things you can do to bring your evergreen content back to life.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Well not exactly, but with the advent of sites like Pinterest and Instagram, as well as other social media channels becoming image intensive it is more important than ever before to include an image in your content. Not only does it make sharing your content more inviting but gets the attention of the reader, as well as makes it more appealing to the eye as you battle against getting the attention with so much other content out there.  You can use your own original images, images available in the public domain or released for use by the public or create your own graphic using sites like Picmonkey or Canva or tools like Photoshop. Whatever you do, (I’m sure you already know this) don’t use someone else’s image, unless you have asked permission and obtained it.

Other ways to incorporate images include creating an infographic, slideshow, podcase or video to accompany the evergreen content.

 

Update your images “content.” Can you turn the image into a graphic which shows off your content? For example 25 Christmas Gifts for Dad, you may have made a collage for. Now can you add the words to the image making it instantly possible for the reader to know what your collage is for? Also make sure your image now has a title, alt text and description. This makes it easier for search engines to pick up not only the content but the image too and show it in the search results. Your image and content now may rank higher and it is definitely easier to find. Without the information it is drowning in competition.

Share and share alike.  Since you first created your content you may have joined new social media media channels or for example created new boards on Pinterest.  Re-share your content on your social media channels, especially that seasonal content. Add it to new boards on Pinterest. Share it with links and new images on your other social media channels. Add it to share threads. You may be surprised how your bring new life – and page views to old content again.

Give old content an SEO boost.  Maybe you didn’t know about SEO when you first published your evergreen content. Maybe you didn’t have a really cool plug in to tell you what you are doing right and wrong. Maybe it just seemed like too much effort to go back and designate keywords for each post. Don’t do it for each post, do it for the evergreen content first as well as seasonal as each season comes around.

Make a list and check it twice. Break your list down into individual post and take your individual posts and create a list. Do you have say 15 great slow cooker recipes individually posted on your site? Do a list or round up (15 Chicken Slow Cooker Recipes). You can also work with other bloggers and make your list grow by adding in some links to their recipes – and hopefully they will return the favor.  The advantages of link list and round-ups? Linkback value, as well as new purpose for old content. Now it can be shared/syndicated and breath new life into old posts.

Update and evaluate. Does your evergreen content need a little dust off? Updated stats or information? Has a recent news article or announcement happened about that topic/brand/business which could be incorporated into the content? Could bullets, headlines or even titles get changed?

Dig it up.  Incorporate older content in your newsletter.

Form relationships between new and previously published content. Have you ever really looked at news articles? Have you noticed the “related content” or “you may also like?”  Link back to other content on your site which is related or there are also several plug ins you can use so that previously published content is noted in new posts.

Create an FAQ page.  Start with an FAQ page and then link to the content to answer the questions. Start with a sentence or so then link back to the content which offers more assistance or advice.

Create an e-book. Pull out all those DIY tips, crafts, recipes, tutorials and experiences. Start working on that book you always hoped to write. If you are going to use it in an ebook make sure you have all your I’s dotted and T’s crossed with additional images, information and research. Now you have another avenue for making money or as an incentive for joining your email list.

work smarter not harder

Why Repurpose and Reuse Your Content

There are several advantages to breathing new life to already published content.

  1. Work smarter not harder. You have already written quality content. There’s no reason for it to slide to the bottom of your blog simply because the day changes.
  2. Helps to avoid burnout and writer’s block. Take the opportunity in front of you to do something new with your content and then take some time off.
  3. It is good for SEO.
  4. Reach a new audience.
  5. Reinforces your expertise with your existing audience.
  6. Allows you the opportunity to rework your content, making it stronger than before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 Reasons why you need evergreen content

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evergreen content

Evergreen is described by Dictionary.com as “something that is evergreen, or enduringly fresh” and “retaining its relevance, popularity, usefulness, etc.; enduring.” I first encountered the concept of evergreen content in college while I was studying Journalism. Evergreen content is content, no matter where it is published, which remains of value to the reader. Some examples may be a recipe or potty training tips or a tutorial.  Other examples are your “About Me” page, interviews, resources and biographical information (e.g. 7 Do’s and Don’ts for those Doing In-Vitro Fertilizaion IVF). As a blogger or web content writer we may find it far too easy to concentrate on the “hot topic” of the day or the Google alerts or “trending” articles to spend much time thinking about evergreen content and why it’s important.  But we should.

Reasons Why You Need Evergreen Content

  1. You can continually attract traffic to your blog or website. For example, a recipe is something someone may be searching for and they come across yours.
  2. Evergreen content, when combined with your SEO tools can increase your placement and rankings. As more people find your content, the more you are seen to be a valuable resource.
  3. Use evergreen content to break up all those “sponsored” posts and “no follow” links which Google doesn’t like.
  4. Be seen as an expert on a topic or topics. For example if you continually share your delicious recipes you can be seen by your audience as an expert in the area of food.
  5. Make sales. By creating evergreen content you aren’t given up the opportunity to monetize your content. You can simply tailor your ads to fit that content. For example say you discuss winterizing your car. Insert affiliate ads which relate to the content, a video you created (with ads), or a free or for pay printable they can use to do their own car winterization.
  6. Brings people back to your “door.” Now that you have been seen by your readers and even brands as an expert they are more likely to a) come back for more, b) buy from your site or c) engage you in sponsorship or ambassadorship opportunities. My favorite emails from publicists say they have visited my site and actually points out specific content which they enjoyed – and which brought them to contact me.
  7. You get more backlinks with evergreen content. As you are researching information and find someone who looks like an expert don’t you link to them? Why not BE the expert and have people linking to you.
  8. Evergreen content drives traffic your way through being continually relevant and backlinks.
  9. You don’t have to delete it. Now, you may want to update it or make sure that the information is still accurate. Maybe you want to even go back and take a new picture or create a pinnable graphic for it to make it more marketable. Maybe you should revisit it to check the keywords. But you don’t have to start all over again.
  10. You always have something to share. Has it been a hard month? Has there been an illness in the family? Are their demands on your time which has made it difficult for you to write? Share your evergreen content with you audience and keep them coming back for more, even while you aren’t publishing more content.
  11. Evergreen content provides you the opportunity to explore your social sharing strategy. For example, Google+ and Pinterest has not always been around. (GASP – say it isn’t so!) So some of your content, like those great crafts, decorations, organization tips, or recipes – while they may be pinned — haven’t been pinned to your profile or account. This leaves you one more opportunity to share your content again.

Don’t underestimate the value and the power of evergreen content. People like reading it. People like sharing it. Some people may even learn from it. Others may be helped by it.

Takeaway – Grab you pen and paper and make a list of evergreen topics and content you currently have available to share. Also start brainstorming ideas for evergreen content you can write for the future.

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Top 10 benefits to bloggers of an editorial calendar

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editorial calendar

 

Have you every sat down at your computer and wondered “What am I going to write today?” Or complained about “writers/bloggers block?” Those two reasons and many others are why it is important to have an editorial calendar.

Reasons to have an editorial calendar

  1. Avoid writer’s block and brain blanks. Instead of staring at a blank page on your word processing program you will be looking at your editorial calendar which you carefully and thoughtfully created. It will provide you with the topic or the prompt you need for the day.
  2. Avoid missing deadlines. Bloggers have deadlines, and if we miss them we lose out on future jobs, earnings and yes, even make other bloggers look bad. Make sure that you do what you are doing what you say you are going to do and when with an editorial calendar.
  3. Use an editorial calendar to keep you “on topic” and focused. Do you have a Food Blog? Don’t be tempted to just jump on the most recent topic simply because it’s trending on Twitter or because you think it will gain you traffic, or worst of all to fill in the space because you haven’t written in a while.  This doesn’t mean you can’t go off topic – you know your audience best and there are things you may feel strongly about or important topics you want to share. If that is the case, then share them.
  4. An editorial calendar can not only keep you focused but let you know what is best received. As you check your analytics each month you may want to mark those items of content which are receiving the most traffic. Note where the traffic is coming from and what you did to make that happen. Once you know that you can repeat it.
  5. An editorial calendar helps you create quality and consistent content by spreading out not only the topics, but also your guests posts, sponsored content. We all want to earn a living, but let’s not forget that it’s important (especially to Google) to have content which is not sponsored, not to mention the value of link backs which can occur courtesy of guests posts.
  6. Do you have more than one contributor to your blog? An editorial calendar can help you with your collaboration, assignments, scheduling and delegating tasks.
  7. An editorial calendar can help you take a break! Bloggers are notorious for not taking a vacation. Even when they are on vacation there is still social media and content to create. Use an editorial calendar to plan ahead, create content in advance, gather the support of other bloggers and actually take a vacation when you go on vacation.
  8. Coordinate your content with your social media with an editorial calendar. It’s no secret we need to create our content on certain subjects far in advance, maybe even up to three months. But just because the content is on the blog doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to share it on social media. For example, while people may be getting excited about Christmas, your content may come up in a search but not necessarily be of interest on social media. Think about it, how often do you see a recipe or DIY on Facebook and think oh yeah that would be cool to try but then can never find it when you need it. It’s not a priority right then. But one week before Christmas it might be. use the calendar to help you integrate your social media with your content in the most effective way.
  9. An editorial calendar can help you just say no.  It’s hard to say no when something comes along that is exciting or interesting, but sometimes it just has to be done. But not always. An editorial calendar can tell you when you are over extended  and when you could move content to another date giving you openings for those interesting and often last minute opportunities which come your way.
  10. An editorial calendar is a one stop calendar shop.  Instead of writing down ideas here and there, as well as having one calendar for this and one for that your editorial calendar helps you have all your thoughts, events, opportunities and deadlines in one spot. You will know when to attend and event and when your content should be published for it, for example, all at one glance.

 

Editorial Calendar Resources

There are actually tons of editorial calendar resources out there. Some are free, some are for pay.  Some offer only the calendar, while others may also include social media, goals, as well as brainstorming or other calendar features. You can use electronic calendars, even something as simple at Google Calendar or you can use a more traditional type with pen and paper (I prefer pencil it makes it easier to adapt). But whatever you use – use what works for you!

Hubspot offers up this free editorial calendar template you can use in an Excel spreadsheet.  Or you can use anyone of these suggestions available on Amazon.com. Many bloggers have created their own forms, ask around and see what your blogging buddies are using and if it may work for you

An editorial calendar doesn’t have to be the Bloggers Bible. Be flexible, be creative and be yourself. Let the editorial calendar help you do that and be organized, as well as informed about your blog and your content.

 

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Expert tips on boosting your online and social media presence

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Tim Carroll Interview on social media presence

I recently had the opportunity to interview Tim Carroll, VP of Small Business Engagement at Deluxe Corp. We discussed several topics important to bloggers, social media professionals as well as anyone from small to big business, that has an interest in increasing their online and social media presence.

Grab your notepads, you will want to take some notes using his tips on:

  • Maximizing your social media  and web presence
  • How much is too much?
  • When to DIY and when to leave it to the experts
  • Guest Posts
  • SEO tips
  • Find out where you can get additional information and free webinars. 

Tim Carroll has a strong track record of developing innovative ideas, embracing new media and building focused, cross-functional teams. Most recently, he has applied this expertise to lead Deluxe Corporation’s brand transformation initiative: building awareness of Deluxe’s products and services among small business owners and helping them live their passions. Tim holds a bachelor of arts in economics from Yale University. He is an active member of the Mobile Marketing Association, Direct Marketing Association and Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association.

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