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16 Posts That’ll Make You Excited to Be a Writer in 2016

Let me guess…

At least one of your New Year’s resolutions relates to your writing.

Am I right?

Maybe you’ve decided to commit to a daily writing practice.

Or set your sights on a specific writing goal, to be achieved no matter what.

Or committed to launching a blog to showcase your writing to a waiting world.

Even if making resolutions isn’t your style, making some kind of plan for your writing in 2016 is a smart idea.

But there’s a problem. And it comes down to human nature.

Most resolutions slide before January ends. And most plans crumble at the first sign of trouble.

That’s because even our best intentions soon stall without the right fuel…

Inspiration.

The “Serious Bloggers Only” Winter Contest 2015

During 2015 we’ve run four contests for members of our Serious Bloggers Only membership program.

And while the winning posts have been as diverse as the blogosphere itself, they’ve all had one thing in common.

The ability to inspire other writers.

How they do it varies, of course.

Some remind us of the power of effective writing.

Some lend us models of successful writing to emulate.

And some reassure us that taking action brings rewards.

Without inspiration, we struggle to produce any work, let alone our best.

So as 2015 draws to a close, I’m proud to announce the winners of our latest contest.

As you review these remarkable posts, consider what you can draw from them to fuel your own writing in 2016.

And The Winners Are . . .

Most Inspiring – Quinn Eurich – Aha!NOW (Guest Post)

Quinn EurichHow to Live a Meaningful Life Without Knowing Your Life’s Purpose

Countless personal development posts have been written about discovering your true purpose. Despite this, many people feel they’ve yet to find their right track in life. What’s refreshing about this post (and also so inspiring) is the central message that meaning can be found even in the absence of a clear purpose.

Visit Quinn’s blog here: Outsmarting Panic and Anxiety

Most Epic – Si Quan Ong – BreakDance Decoded

Si Quan OngThe Long-Ass Bboy Guide To Breaking For Your First Three Years

This post is organized into chapters and that’s a good thing, because it feels more like a short book than a blog post. At over 15,000 words, this post is staggeringly comprehensive.

I loved the author’s commitment to exploring his topic – breakdancing – to the fullest, and I thought the basic format – a detailed guide to the first three years of building a particular skill – was original and should inspire other bloggers to give their own topics the same treatment.

Most Practical – Meredith Blevins – Pro Writers Toolbox

Meredith BlevinsAvoid an Outhouse Called the Slushpile

This post oozes authority borne out of the author’s hard-won experience. Meredith is a writer with a career spanning more than forty years. In her post, she tackles a common mistake of beginning writers head on – blindly sending manuscripts to publishers in the vain hope of being spotted.

Meredith cuts through the crap and tells her readers the tough truth – getting published is just as much about building relationships as it is about being a good writer.

Best Use of Details and Examples – Bryan Del Monte – Jeff Bullas (Guest Post)

Bryan Del MonteWhy Certain Pictures Make You Click On Awful Content

Bryan’s excellent guest post for Jeff Bullas explores how we can be manipulated by visual content. It’s packed with thought-provoking examples and a central analogy (that two forces are battling for control of our attention, personified as Felix and Oscar from the T.V. show The Odd Couple), which carries us entertainingly through the post.

Visit Bryan’s blog here: Blogs That Sell

Best Big Idea – Leon Altman – Freedom Business Cafe

Leon AltmanHow Having Your Own Online Business Can Save Your Life and Help You Live Longer

Most writing about entrepreneurship tends to focus on the “how to,” perhaps because the “why” seems obvious. But here Leon comes at the topic from a fresh and interesting angle – the health benefits of running an online business.

Many would-be entrepreneurs long for the flexibility a “freedom business” can offer without deeply considering what that freedom could mean.

Most Valuable – Rob Kornblum – Mirasee (Guest Post)

Rob KornblumWhy You Need a Blog Positioning Strategy

Starting a blog is tough. The sad truth is that many blogs are doomed from the get-go because their owners don’t have enough of an idea of the blog’s audience or what sets it apart from the blogs already serving that audience.

Rob borrows a positioning model from the business world and applies it so clearly to the blogging realm that any new blogger will improve the life expectancy of their blog by reading his post. Truly valuable to anyone launching a blog (or attempting to revive a failing one).

Visit Rob’s blog here: Start Launch Grow

Most Fearless – Tracy Gillett – Raised Good

Tracy GillettNursing Your Toddler? How to Ignore Judgmental Stares

This post courageously tackles a topic that will likely provoke some strong opinions, with many on the opposite side of the argument as Tracy. But she’s unafraid to challenge societal norms and presents a persuasive case, backed by evidence, for nursing your children into toddlerhood – even if that earns you the disapproval of many of those around you.

Best Storytelling – Vicky Cox – The Good Men Project (Guest Post)

Vicky CoxHow a Culture of Violence is Damaging Our Country Today

Vicky’s post opens with a powerful personal story that sets the scene for an exploration of a complex and divisive topic – gun violence. What’s remarkable is that the post maintains its cool despite her connection to a gun-related tragedy. By looking at the reasons why people – and young men in particular – might be driven to pick up a weapon, it makes us view a well-trodden topic from an unfamiliar angle.

Visit Vicky’s blog here: Vicky L Cox

Most Personality – Lynn Hauka – A Daring Adventure (Guest Post)

Lynn HaukaWhy You Still Want To Kick Someone’s Butt Even Though You Meditate (And Why It’s Okay)

You’re unlikely to land a guest post on Tim Brownson’s blog “A Daring Adventure” unless you can write with a healthy dose of attitude, and Lynn brings plenty to this post.

There’s a fun clash of ideas at the heart of the post – that someone practiced in the art of meditation can still be filled with rage, and that that’s normal. Notice how Lynn uses power words to fill each paragraph with emotion.

Visit Lynn’s blog here: Quit the Crazy

Most Engaging – Claire Wholam – The Change Blog (Guest Post)

Claire WholamInvisible Woman to Stage Performer: How I Dared to Live Courageously

This post reads as smoothly as slickly-written sales copy but still manages to maintain a rawness and authenticity. Claire blends storytelling with her tips for living courageously, and I loved her subtle distinction between fear and “afraidness.” Pay particular attention to the closing, which is an excellent example of the motivational style we favor here at BBT.

Visit Claire’s blog here: Still Standing!

Best Execution – Sonia Thompson – TRY Business School

Sonia ThompsonOvercome Entrepreneur Mindset Barriers: 16 Successful Business Owners Share How They Did It

At one level, this is a familiar type of post – an expert roundup – but the execution lifts this example above most others. Sonia uses attractive graphics to highlight each expert’s main quote but also includes the full text of the extended response.

She also adds value by linking to three examples of each expert’s work for those readers who want to find out more. And her empathetic opening sets the scene perfectly.

Most Creative – Corey Willis – Hey There, Home

Corey WillisA Glass Hurricane Turned Awesome Geometric Pendant Light!

This wonderful craft project has just the right balance between written instruction and supporting images. This post could easily inspire a reader to embark upon their first home DIY project, and if the pictures are anything to go by the results are stunning. Creative and practical, this post shows “how to” blogging at its best.

Best Visuals – Tony Messer – Pickaweb

Tony MesserWhich Web Hosting Should I Choose? Quick Guide

Choosing the right web host is difficult – particularly if you’re not very technical. Most people are confused by the options and overwhelmed by having to make the choice. But Tony’s comprehensive infographic-style flowchart breaks a complicated process down into a set of much simpler decisions. And you’ve got to love any flowchart that includes “I don’t understand the question” as an option. :-)
 
 

My Favorite Contest Posts of 2015

In addition to selecting the winners above, I also wanted to round off 2015 by choosing a few of my favorite posts from each of the quarterly contests this year.

So here they are, my personal favorites:

July 2015 – Doug Hay – Rock Creek Runner

Doug HayUltrarunning as a Microcosm of Life: My Black Mountain Monster Report

Doug Hay’s gripping account of the physical and psychological challenges of participating in a 24-hour ultramarathon is hugely inspiring and easily one of my favorite contest entries of 2015.
 
 

April 2015 – John Yeoman – Writers’ Village

John YeomanHow To Find Your Perfect Writing Haven

John Yeoman’s personality-filled writing has been featured in every one of our contests so far this year and his inclusion on this list was a no-brainer. This short post, packed with humor and attitude, showcases John at his best.
 

October 2015 – Ashley Trexler – A Fine Parent (Guest Post)

Ashley TrexlerHow to Make Sure Your Kids Don’t Grow Up to Be Judgemental People

Ashley Trexler’s guest post for “A Fine Parent” has a big goal – that the next generation will grow up a little less close-minded than the last.

Visit Ashley’s blog here: Lies About Parenting
 
 
 

Resolve to Make 2016 Your Best Writing Year Yet

As most of us know from bitter experience, resolutions are far easier to make than to keep.

But if your scribbled list of good intentions has an entry or two about writing, do yourself a favor and bookmark your favorite posts from this list.

Return to them to fuel your writing efforts during the coming year.

And before you say goodbye to 2015, ask yourself the following question:

When your future self looks back on 2016, what achievements will you see?

Once you have an answer (and remember to think big), start sowing the seeds for those successes.

And in the meantime, have a very Happy New Year!

About the Author: Glen Long is the Managing Editor of Boost Blog Traffic (a.k.a. Chief Content Monkey). He lives in London and is dangerously addicted to Nordic Noir. Feeling social? Come and say Happy New Year on Facebook or Twitter.

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Check Also

The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community

Intuit

The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community

Jamf

Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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