Miles Burke

Thoughts on startups, small business, marketing & more.

Category: Writing (Page 1 of 10)

NY Ground Zero 10th Anniversary

Top 25 Articles That Resonated Most with Readers

Since 2006, I’ve been penning my thoughts here on this blog. A whopping 280 articles over the last decade. I like to look back each year, and see what articles resonated most with my audience, and this can help my understand the direction I need to take with future posts.

Usually, I just keep it to myself, however on reflecting 2016, I thought it worth posting a list of the top 25 articles determined by traffic, which is a good indicator of interest, and provides new readers with a good ‘go to’ list to start with exploring my writing.

The following articles cover everything from startups to business, travel to humour. I trust you enjoy them.

Top 25 Articles for 2016 (by Visits)

Life of a Startup Founder, Explained in GIFs
This is a tongue in cheek look at the life of an early stage startup founder, told in animated GIF format.

It’s Never Too Early to Think Startup Growth
This is possibly the most shared article on social media in the last week, and is a quick guide to things to consider when putting together a startup, prior to launch.

Perth Web Design a trademark?
Written back in 2011, this article covers a move by a local business to trademark the term ‘Perth web design’ which, at the time, was a highly competitive keyword in SEO circles.

Some Unsolicited Dreaming on That WA Innovation Fund
My quick thoughts on how the Western Australian state government could spend their recently announced innovation fund.

50 Australian Startup Twitter Accounts Worth Following
I’m a big user of Twitter (I just recently hit the 10 year milestone), and as a salute to fellow innovators on the platform, I collated a list of 50 accounts worth following.

The TOC hack to finding topics for content marketing
We all get stuck for topic ideas from time to time. This article explains my Table of Contents method of finding new topics to write about.

Promoting Perth Startups
The announcement of the curated Twitter account, @StartupPerth, which I launched in late 2015 (and is still running!).

The Web2.0 colours of 2007
This was meant to be a very tongue in cheek look at the rise of ‘Web2.0’ as it was called back in 2007, when I wrote this post.

Public Speaking Tips and Templates
I enjoy public speaking, having delivered over 100 talks now, however it isn’t as easy for most people. I cover some tips and ideas on how to take the stage.

Seven Tips to Make Debtors Pay
My take on methods many businesses can take, to ensure that they get paid on time. Originally written for Sitepoint.

The Web 2.0 Secret Weapon
This was the fun post I wrote which kicked off a flurry of writing on Web2.0 by me. All in jest, of course.

Do You Have Five Minutes?
This article covers how, as a service business, we were able to recoup many hours per month which were previously unbillable. Originally written for Sitepoint.

70 Graffiti Colours of 2006
A side creative pursuit of mine back in 2006 was collecting interesting colour palettes. I made this with graffiti art I photographed in Western Australia.

Book promotion on the web
My book, The Principles of Successful Freelancing, came out back in 2009. This post in 2008 are my thoughts on book promotion using digital marketing.

Marketing your book online
This article is a follow up to the one above, promoting your book using digital marketing.

We’re back from Ubud, Bali (again!)
My favourite travel destination is Ubud, Bali which I have visited more than two dozen times now. This is a quick post about the trip from 2010.

Manage Your Money
This article covers various online accounting packages, useful for small business. Originally written for Sitepoint in 2011.

The Two Faces of Bali
Another Bali travel post, this time about the differences in tourism to the Island. Written back in 2012, I feel the difference is even wider now in 2017.

18 ways to being a better employee
As an employer for 15 years, and manager of people for a further 5 or so years prior to that, I have a few pet peeves and loves when it comes to employees. I share them in this article from 2006.

Secrets to a Great Sales Proposal
I cover some of the tricks I have learned in writing sales proposals. Originally written for Sitepoint in 2009.

Setting SMART Goals
An article on how to set goals that work, using the SMART acronym. Originally written for Sitepoint in 2010.

19 Tips for Public Speaking
As per the previous articles on public speaking, this covers 19 tips to consider when speaking to an audience.

Interview with Dave Greiner of Freshview
A great founder I’ve known for quite some time, I interview Dave Greiner from Campaign Monitor. Originally written for Sitepoint.

Reply to Your Emails!
A short rant about businesses not responding to their email enquiries. Originally written for Sitepoint.

I hope you find the above 25 articles useful for your business, travels, content marketing or startup. Please subscribe to my alerts when new articles get published – see the form in the right hand column.

Sunset in York, Western Australia

The TOC hack to finding topics for content marketing

Sometimes struggle to find new topics for your content marketing, that are just perfect for your audience? We’ve all been there. Let me explain how I found a way to get a nice long list of fresh topics, and really quickly.

So, you’ve read all the guides, and you follow all the steps, such as the ones in the epic article How to Create Truly Bad-Ass Content by Sujan Patel. You have a clear understanding of who your target audiences are, and you are in a good rhythm with producing tasty long-form blog posts. Even better, they are starting to gain traction with readers, and traffic is on the way up.

Then, suddenly, you start grasping at straws for new content ideas (and just re-writing other competitors ideas doesn’t seem to sit well with you). What do you do?

This is a situation I was in a while back; I had written about our target topics so well, and at such length, that I felt like we were going to start covering old ground again.

I’m going to share an idea I had, one of those 4.30am ideas when your content marketing topics are starting to keep you up (well, they do with me!). I’ve dubbed it the TOC method, and you’ll quickly get why.

The TOC Hack in Ten Steps

Step one. Start a fresh document.

Step two. Go visit the best selling books section on Amazon.com. If you are anything like me, you may want to put your credit card out of reach, so you aren’t tempted to buy them all.

Step three. Think about the type of book your blog posts may appear in, or at least the books that your audience would like to read. For this example, I’ll use the 6Q blog, where one of our main categories is corporate culture.

To find related books, I will navigate from their best seller page, through Business & Money, to Business Culture and finally, I arrive at the bestselling list for Workplace Culture.

Amazon bestselling books

Amazon bestselling books

Step four. Feel smug that you know how to use a web browser. Seriously though, these best selling lists on Amazon are an absolute goldmine for any content marketer struggling to find new content ideas. These give you a real-time updated list of the best selling books that cover your topic, from one of the world’s biggest book retailers. That’s insanely powerful.

Step five. Visit the most appropriate highest selling book in your category (at time of writing, this is Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t for our example).

Step six. Click the ‘Read Inside’ link on the book page. It’s just above the cover image on the left hand side of the book page.

Step seven. Here’s the big reveal; go to the Table of Contents link on the left hand side (Yup, that’s where the TOC comes from). Not all the book previews have them, but many in my experience do.

Table of Contents from Amazon book preview

Table of Contents from Amazon book preview

Step eight. Look for interesting chapter titles, and write them down in that fresh document from step one. You don’t need to copy them word-for-word (for example, the image above shows a chapter called ‘Employees are people too’; I’ll just do point the phrase ‘Treat employees like people’. We don’t want to steal their words, just get inspiration from their chapter titles.

Step Nine. Do this for the next book, the next one and maybe a few more after that. Heck, you may end up going through a dozen or more if you are keen.

Review the list of topics you have listed. You are likely to notice a common theme of subject areas, just in the chapter titles. For example, in the book above, you’ll see that Simon Sinek covers the importance of a sense of belonging for employees. This is a commonly written about topic in similar books I have read.

Short list of new topic ideas

Short list of new topic ideas

Rank these dot point topic ideas you now have by how often they appear in the books you’ve had a quick peek at. The more they appear, the likely the topic is a very important one.

Step ten. Now go check your list of previously covered subjects on your own blog (you have one, right? You aren’t relying purely on memory, are you?); have you covered all of these topics? Unless you’ve been writing articles for years, it’s likely you haven’t, so now you have a list of fresh topic ideas for you to cover in your blog. Awesome!

Bonus step. To get even more topic ideas, go back through these book pages, and read some of the negative reviews. Look for any complaints that a particular book is missing a certain topic. That’s another topic suggestion to add to your arsenal.

For example, a less-than-positive review for another best-selling book in the Workplace Culture category states “I’m interested in knowing how altruists (those who give anonymously) do in life. The book does not have any discussion of altruism or any testable hypothesis that I could see.” Perhaps an article about altruism and the effect it has, should become a topic to add to my ‘potential subjects’ list.

There you have it. That’s it; a fairly simple way to come up with a list of potential new topics for your content marketing. I hope you found this useful, and best of luck coming up with new topic ideas!

Important: I am certainly not suggesting that you should, in any way, plagurise other people’s very hard work (remember, I once wrote a book too; I’m very sympathetic of authors now!), but rather to spark those topic ideas to help you fill in the gaps.

Find this method useful? I’d appreciate hearing how you went finding new topics for your content marketing; feel free to comment below.

Breaking the drought of this blog

Between September 2005 and July 2011, I published more than 250 posts on this blog. That’s nearly seven years of content, which I am proud of. Now that the blog is a touch over 10 years old, I wanted to reflect on what it has done.

There were some winner posts (that tongue in cheek Web2.0 one for example), and some real duds. A few posts got lots of attention and traffic, then there were others which were lucky to have any views at all.

This blog has personally been great for me though; it helped me get the attention of SitePoint, who, in 2008, asked me to write a book for them. The topic of the book leant heavily on the posts here, and I was told that my blog writing helped me win the gig, and inspire the topic.

Blogging also encouraged me to get into writing more, and I have written articles for a number of media outlets and websites over the years, whilst this blog has stayed dormant. Writing really was a passion I hadn’t even considered back before 2005.

So, without doing what I did a few years ago, and promise I’m back on board and will post regularly (and then never did), I’m going to backfill the blog with some highlights of the many articles I have written since 2011, and hope that it inspires me to continue posting here.

I’ve changed the theme after having the same look for at least five years; maybe a change is as good as a holiday, and it may reignite my passion for writing here? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Writing in November 2015

Six new articles by me this month posted elsewhere. One day I’ll get some new content up on this blog too!

Startup Story: Steph Gillon from Wealthtank
I was honoured to be a mentor for the Founders Institute Perth Autumn 2015 program. There were so many great founders, and I imagine the dozen who graduated on Monday night will all be seen within \\SN in the coming months.

Startup Story: Jeroen van Zon from Hiresquare
Another recent graduate of the Founders Institute program was Jeroen van Zon from Hiresquare, who launched last week. I was pleased to grab some of Jeroen’s time, to give us a little insight into what Hiresquare is, and what their plans are.

Email Marketing Best Practices – Mobile First
Between ourselves and our clients, we send a lot of marketing emails, email newsletters, EDM’s and automated email (receipts, etc). We’re talking in the thousands per week. Email marketing, done correctly, is a powerful method of engaging your existing clients, prospects, employees and other stakeholders.

Startup Culture: Interview with Corley from Product Hunt
Previously responsible for strategic planning, business intelligence, business operations, and venture integration for all Microsoft products, Corley Hughes joined the Product Hunt team at the start of 2015 in Operations.

Engaging Volunteers in a Not-for-Profit Organisation
Every day, across the globe, millions of people volunteer their spare time to help not-for-profit organisations reach their goals, help people and improve their communities. We salute these hard workers, and we look at ways to better engage your volunteers.

How to Get the Most Benefit from Your Employee Opinion Survey
One of the most powerful things a leader can do, is run an employee opinion survey. Yet there’s more to it than just receiving the resulting report. In this article, I’ll outline 13 ways to get more from your next survey.

Enjoy the above articles!

Writing in October 2015

Six new articles in the month of October; one appeared in Startup News, one on the Bam Creative blog, and three on 6Q. Click the titles to see the original articles.

8 Local and Free Ways to Promote your Startup
As a founder of a startup, and in my day job, a consultant to other local startups aiming for growth, I’ve seen plenty of ways to promote your startup. I’m sure you’re already across many of them in your growth hacking travels, however here are eight of my favourites from local (Perth and Australian) sources.

Clever Businesses Embrace Digital Beyond Their Website
Miles Burke, Managing Director of award-winning Perth digital agency, Bam Creative, reveals how brands are reaching new heights of success through online marketing in 2015 and beyond.

Creating an Effective Email Newsletter
Done well, email newsletters are a powerful way to market your business to both existing customers and prospects. So how do you create great email newsletters and ensure maximum exposure? Let’s walk through how we create our monthly email newsletter.

How to grow a positive company culture with a remote team
We’ve written plenty about creating and building your company culture in general. In this article, let’s dig deeper into practical ways to build and grow a positive company culture with a remote team.

The simple secret to improving your startup
I recently had the pleasure of getting a handful of volunteers to test our product on-boarding and interface, and the test results were worth their weight in gold. In this article, I’ll explain how I received invaluable feedback for only an investment in time, and how you can too.

Proven best tips on performance appraisals for employees
Regular performance reviews are an important element of employee performance management. In this article, we share 13 proven tips to get more out of your performance appraisals for employees, ensuring everyone is motivated and your time is effective.

Thank you for reading these, I trust you enjoyed them!

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Words & Images © 2005-2016, Miles Burke. All rights reserved.