Constructive Criticism in eLearning

“@elearnindustry 7 Tips To Give Constructive Criticism In eLearning #eLearningBestPractices;


17 of the Best Out-of-Office Messages We Could Find

17 of the Best Out-of-Office Messages We Could Find

17 of the Best Out-of-Office Messages We Could Find
Without fail, I almost always forget to put up an out-of-office email message when I’m headed out for vacation. It’s one of those things I remember just as I’m shutting down, or sometimes even after I’ve already left. (Heh, sorry guys.)

December 23, 2015 at 10:48PM

7 Habits to Work Proactively, Not Reactively

7 Habits to Work Proactively, Not Reactively

7 Habits to Work Proactively, Not Reactively
That proposal was due last week, you are days behind on finalizing the plan because decisions aren’t being made in meetings, there are 100 emails you need to respond to and back-to-back calls in your calendar today.

December 26, 2015 at 12:40PM

7 Essentials for Making Your Content-Marketing Business Thrive #Marketing


7 Essentials for Making Your Content-Marketing Business Thrive
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December 15, 2015

There’s no doubt that content marketing is dominating the digital marketing space. Rather than replacing SEO, social media or email marketing,it has become an integral component of each of these strategies and channels.

Despite the widespread use of content marketing, the majority of companies struggle with the effectiveness of their content strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 38 percent of B2C marketers say their content marketing is effective. In B2B circles, this percentage is even lower — 30 percent.

While this is an unfortunate statistic, it’s also a fantastic opportunity for anyone considering starting a content marketing business. This post will walk you through seven strategies for running a successful content marketing agency – helping businesses with their content strategy, creation and promotion across all their digital marketing channels.

1. Make your own professional blog a priority.

One of the best ways to promote the quality of your content marketing services is to demonstrate this same level of quality in your company’s practices and communications. By consistently creating high-quality blog posts that provide valuable information, authoritative insights, case studies from past clients and useful information needed by other businesses, your professional blog can build your reputation and brand online.

Your blog will also be a critical component of your other marketing strategies. If you hope to attract search engine traffic, having a regularly updated blog with relevant, long-form posts is absolutely non-negotiable. Sharing your blog posts on social media is how you’ll gain most of your social referral traffic. If you guest blog on other sites, including a link back to your business blog is crucial both for your own SEO and traffic. I also like to have custom photography on our blog.

Related: 6 Strategies for Launching a Successful Blog

2. Regularly survey your clients.

Frequently call and email with your existing clients to ensure the continued success of your content marketing business. This is particularly important if you’re not directly monitoring your clients’ analytics.

Setting up regular client surveys can reduce the time and effort this process takes. Find out if your clients are satisfied with your services and if they’re getting good results from the content you’re providing. Request detailed metrics from your clients – not just page views and engagement, but also critical data like revenue and conversions directly tied to the content you’ve created.

3. Hire people who know more than you.

Ben Bradlee, former editor of the Washington Post, used this strategy with great success: Hire people smarter than you are and encourage them to bloom. Assemble the best content marketing team you can afford. Secure top-notch freelance writers, editors with supreme attention to detail and high standards for excellence and the most innovative graphic designers.

Once you have these experts on board, give them the freedom to do what they do best. Provide them with a motivational environment in which you can work together with them as a highly effective team — you running your business, and your experts using their extensive knowledge and skills to create high-level content for your clients.

Keep in mind that you may need to periodically look outside your team for expertise on a particular matter. Seek out experts in the field and ask for their input or insights into a topic. Many experts are willing to vet your content for a small fee — it often takes them just a few minutes to put their seal of approval on a piece of content.

4. Be active on social media.

Maintaining a consistent presence on social media is important for any business but critical for those in the content marketing field. There are two main ways your social media activities can directly help you grow your content marketing business:

First, social media gives you a platform for building your influence and reputation as a content marketing expert. As you share insightful information and commentary, your reputation as someone “in the know” increases.

Second, being active – particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn, networks known to appeal to the B2B crowd – will likely be a primary driver of high-quality leads to your site. As you share industry insights, participate in industry-related chats and groups, and network with other business owners, your sphere of influence grows; helping you to connect with companies and professionals who will be most likely to need your content marketing services.

Related: 5 Reasons Social Media Is Not Working for You

5. Track and report ROI.

There is no standard industry practice when it comes to content marketing services. Some clients will want you to simply create content for them, while others will prefer that you create and promote content on their behalf. Still others will want you to regularly track the results and returns of all content produced. For this type of client in particular, it’s important that you have a process in place for calculating the ROI of the content you create.

The actual strategy you use to calculate ROI isn’t nearly as important as simply being consistent in the data and metrics you’re tracking and reporting. Both you and your clients will want to know exactly how effective your content creation and promotion are, and how this effectiveness grows or changes as you implement new strategies.

For some guidance on determining your own ROI process, here are a few strategies you can use:

A Simple Method To Measure Content Marketing ROI (Content Marketing Institute)

How We Calculate the ROI of Your Content Marketing (Contently)

6. Leverage your clients’ knowledge and expertise.

As already mentioned, there will likely be times when you’re out of your depth when it comes to industry-specific content creation. Though you may have gathered the best writers and editors possible, your clients will often be in a better position to provide industry insights.

Periodically include clients in the content creation process. This doesn’t have to be cumbersome for them, or you. You’re not relying on them to write the content for you. You can gain valuable knowledge from these customers using strategies that don’t take up too much of their time. Some of my favorite strategies for involving clients are:

  • Surveys (as noted above)
  • Brainstorming sessions via phone, email or Skype
  • Interviews
  • Q and A’s
  • Inquiries of front line staff to see what questions or issues commonly arise

7. Make guest blogging a key part of your strategy.

Today’s guest blogging is very different than that of a few years ago. In fact, it can be the single most effective strategy you can use to build your content marketing business. It can be useful on a number of different levels, by helping you:

  1. Establish yourself as a leader in your field.
  2. Attract the attention of businesses who may be looking for content marketing services.
  3. Form relationships that may lead to opportunities to guest post on behalf of your clients, thereby extending your clients’ reach.

As you share insights through your posts — both on the larger, more general sites, and smaller niche sites — you reach a new audience, gain valuable backlinks to your site and keep your agency at the top of the customer’s mind. While blogging on your own site is important, you’ll likely find that frequent guest blogging helps you grow your reputation more quickly and more effectively.

For guidance on seeking out guest blogging opportunities for your business, see my post How To Guest Blog Anywhere.

If you’ve been considering jumping into the field of content marketing, the time is definitely right. Using the strategies above, you have a good chance of attracting businesses that are struggling in their content marketing efforts. At the end of the day, the strategies above are good on two fronts: both for growing your own business, and for helping your clients grow theirs.

Related: Welcome to Guest Blogging 101

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Your Passport to 2016 Edtech Conferences | EdSurge News

Your Passport to 2016 Edtech Conferences | EdSurge News

Your Passport to 2016 Edtech Conferences
The endless deluge of nouvelle vague communication apps make sharing, caring and making new friends easier than before. Tools like Twitter and Voxer, Pinterest and Periscope offer more combinations and possibilities than a Rubik’s Cube.

December 24, 2015 at 04:15PM

The 10 Best Business And Productivity Books Of 2015 #Entrepreneur

The 10 Best Business And Productivity Books Of 2015

Read some (or all!) of these 2015 favorites over the holidays and you’ll return to work in January ready to make 2016 the best year yet.

The holidays are a great time to catch up on reading, and think beyond day-to-day issues. Here are 10 of our favorite business and productivity books from 2015 that will help you see larger trends—and your own career—in a new light.

1. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Tech writer Ashlee Vance gained access to serial entrepreneur Elon Musk without promising to make him look good, and this biography paints a delightfully nuanced picture. At times he’s a “sci-fi version of P.T. Barnum,” talking of saving humanity while he’s got dessert lingering on his face. Other times, he’s “the possessed genius on the grandest quest anyone has ever concocted.” The American economy has long grown based on the dreams of unreasonable people, and Vance argues that Musk is the next in that line.

2.The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute

It’s hard to remember now, but back in 1998, people were claiming that a small plush toy called “Inky the Octopus” was worth $1,000. In this deeply researched and perversely funny book, journalist Zac Bissonnette chronicles the spectacular rise and fall of Beanie Babies and of Ty Warner, their brilliant but unstable creator. The details and Bissonnette’s uncanny timing (he gained access to Warner’s lover’s unpublished memoir shortly before she died) speak to what nonfiction can be as a genre. If this were a novel, you wouldn’t believe it, but Warner’s saga comes across as very sad and true. Bissonnette shows how bubbles form, and explains how reasonable people can be deluded like anyone else.

3. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Gretchen Rubin’s key contribution with this personal productivity book is the rubric of what she calls the “Four Tendencies.” People either embrace or resist some combination of inner and outer expectations, and knowing where you fall on the grid can help you figure out strategies to keep your habits. “Obligers,” who can keep promises to others but not themselves, need accountability partners. “Rebels,” who hate to be boxed in, need someone to play the foil by saying “you can’t do it.” A bonus: Fans of Rubin’s earlier book, The Happiness Project, will enjoy seeing the characters’ lives several years later.

4. Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It

Everyone wants to be a thought leader these days, but in order to become one you need worthwhile ideas, and you need to build a community around them. After all, it’s hard to be a leader if there’s no one following you. Dorie Clark’s book gives practical strategies for both aspects of thought leadership, from writing white papers to starting a podcast in order to have a good excuse for reaching out to influential people. Clark’s particular sweet spot is telling the tales of real people who are not household names, but have achieved thought leadership status in their own niches. It becomes easy to believe that you can do so too.

5. Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!

Many biographies of business leaders follow a certain format: a troubled company is saved by a great man or woman who swoops in and, through sheer force of talent, returns the venture to market leadership. In this book, though, journalist Nicholas Carlson resists this temptation. He argues that Yahoo! has been led by several capable leaders. Marissa Mayer is one of them. None of them has been able to bring Yahoo to greatness, and probably no one ever will. Leadership has its limits, which is good for leaders to know.

6. Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck

The concept of career capital isn’t new, but Jon Acuff brings his unique effervescence to this guide on how to create a Career Savings Account, which will enable you to get a “do over” and re-invent your work or get unstuck. From the profound (“digital bridges burn forever”) to the practical (“don’t microwave seafood in the break room”) this is an all-purpose handbook for winning at work.

7. Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Revolutionary Leader

Apple’s late CEO was a complicated man. The widespread perception is that he was brilliant and difficult. But if he was so difficult to work with, why did so many smart, nonmasochistic people want to work with him? Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s (Fast Company Editor At Large) biography draws on interviews with Tim Cook and other Apple executives, and with Jobs himself over the decades, to show how he grew from an arrogant hothead to someone who could lure in and unleash enough talent to build one of the world’s biggest companies.

8. Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes — But Some Do

After every airline crash, experts retrieve the “black box” to analyze and publicize what went wrong. The result? Flying becomes continuously safer. Contrast that to medicine, where malpractice claims often include nondisclosure clauses. In this book, Matthew Syed argues that learning from errors is the key to success, but human nature makes such soul-searching hard to do.

A particularly compelling chapter analyzes the “Scared Straight” programs that bring troubled youngsters to jails to show what awaits them. Studies show these programs actually increase crime, but people love them because they form a perfect narrative: the juvenile delinquent convinced by a saddened perp to go right. The lesson: Data should trump narrative. In life and in business, alas, it’s often the other way around.

9. The Effective Engineer: How to Leverage Your Efforts in Software Engineering to Make a Disproportionate and Meaningful Impact

Edmond Lau, a software engineer and veteran of the startup scene writes that he “wanted to increase my impact, but working 70 to 80 hours per week wasn’t sustainable.” So, with an engineer’s focus on processes, he set out to document how to “work less and accomplish more.” This book is aimed at software engineers, but there’s no code. You can benefit from the ideas of leverage, prototypes, and A/B testing—no matter what you do.

10. Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will

While Fortune editor-at-large Geoff Colvin is perhaps too optimistic about which jobs human beings will insist other human beings do, this book is an excellent distillation of the science of what happens during face-to-face interaction. It’s also a solid guide on how to design training that can build up the high-value skills that machines can’t (yet) achieve.

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Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books, including I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time (Portfolio, June 9, 2015), What the …

December 21, 2015 | 5:49 AM

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20 Reasons Why Social Media MUST Be Part of Your 2015 Online Strategy | Red Website Design Blog

20 Reasons Why Social Media MUST Be Part of Your 2015 Online Strategy | Red Website Design Blog

20 Reasons Why Social Media MUST Be Part of Your 2015 Online Strategy
Are you still resisting the calls of social media marketing? Want to know why it must be part of your online marketing strategy? Social media not only helps speed up your SEO and content marketing efforts, it can also act as a platform to directly introduce businesses to paying customers.

December 25, 2015 at 10:08PM