Miles Burke

Thoughts on startups, small business, marketing & more.

Category: Writing (Page 1 of 10)

curated newsletter on growth hacking

The How & Why Behind Weekly Curated Newsletter, Growth Email

At the start of this year, I kicked off a side project to send a weekly curated newsletter on growth marketing, called growth.email. Basically, I read a ton of articles, choose the ten best and send a weekly email to over 1,600 subscribers.

I’ve had a number of questions since I started on how I put these emails together, so here’s the workflow I use to create each weekly issue.

Curate a number of feeds
I use Feedly to bring in many RSS feeds, and categorise them by topic. Each week, as part of my process, I add and remove feeds, to get the best content into my reading list.

I will scour Reddit, Twitter and Facebook for new interesting articles and typically skim a few other articles on the same site, then add the feed to my Feedly.

Feedly screen

Feedly screen

Read a huge list of articles
I try my best to have a variety of topics and sources in each issue. For example, I’ll only include 1-2 social media marketing articles in any one week, as well as avoid choosing the same source for more than 1 or 2 articles in an issue. The last anyone wants to read in a curated newsletter are 10 articles in one week all on a specific growth area, or from the same source.

I try to read a couple of articles every evening. I start by skimming the article, ensuring it is useful and not just an advertisement for a product, has actionable advice and is at least 500 or more words. If it meets these criteria, I will then go through and read the article properly, ensuring that it is quality content, and will appeal to my audience.

Save it to my newsletter library
The great thing about my chosen curated newsletter tool, Goodbits, is that they have a Chrome plugin, which allows me to save the very best articles as candidates for inclusion. I just click the plugin button, rewrite the title and summary if required, and it then gets saved into the content library, along with thumbnail images.

Goodbits chrome plugin

Goodbits chrome plugin

Build the newsletter
When I decide I have enough articles in my library, I then go into Goodbits, review my content library, and drag and drop the articles I wish to include in this weeks curated newsletter.

I will then add the overall email introduction and footer text, add that issues sponsor link, and send myself a copy to check and review.

Goodbits

Goodbits

Schedule to send
I send every issue of growth.email at the very same time each week. Because I’m in Perth, Western Australia, and most of the subscribers are in the USA or UK, I schedule it for 8.30pm Wednesdays local time, which is 1.30pm in London, or 8.30am on the east coast of the US.

Whilst I realise it may be late night on the east coast of Australia, or very early morning elsewhere, it is more about the consistency than the actual local time. People get in the habit of expecting my curated newsletter at a particular time of their local day.

Homeslice showing time zones

Homeslice showing time zones

Add to my content spreadsheet
I use a Google Sheet to track all my previous shared articles, to check I don’t double up, as well as use this list to create articles such as my last blog post, as well as export for easy sharing on social media.

Google sheet of content

Google sheet of content

Answer queries from readers and sponsors
I am very lucky to have so far attracted all sponsors organically, and haven’t had to go looking for sponsors. People and brands approach me by email, and it’s a case of sharing the rate and next available dates.

I’m sure that one day I will have to go hunting for sponsors, however I am enjoying spending my effort on finding quality content, and not on chasing money to pay for it at this stage.

I tend to also receive a couple of emails each week, with feedback either on the entire newsletter or a specific article. I sometimes get content suggestions by email or social as well.

Curated newsletters can be work
Curating a quality content newsletter is a manual and sometimes long task, however the alternatives are all automated and quality can’t be maintained. The point of a curated newsletter, is ensuring content is high quality and on topic, hence why readers will subscribe.

Running growth.email overall is an enjoyable experience, I get to read a lot, and I receive regular great feedback from readers, such as below.

Curated newsletter feedback

Curated newsletter feedback

If you are considering starting a curated email newsletter, then I highly recommend you give it a go. The enjoyment of sharing something you are passionate about, and getting great reader feedback if it all goes well, is very motivating.

If you haven’t yet, don’t let all my hard efforts above go to waste – sign up to growth.email and get 10 great articles in your inbox every week. Thanks!

Stars at Night

How to Regularly Promote Your Content in No Time at All

Sharing your content on social media is a surefire way to increase traffic to your blog or website, and help you promote your content. The problem is, most people post once, and then move on with their next article – therefore missing an awesome opportunity to continue to re-promote their still very relevant (evergreen) content.

In this post, I break down the absolutely easiest way to continually share your previous content, in a method that can take as little as five minutes a month, and bring your thousands of new visitors and shares.

Ingredients
You will need a few things before we get started.
A Buffer account
Plenty of non-time sensitive content
Wordpress (optional step)

The super-fast WordPress method
An absolutely quick way of exporting the titles and URL’s of every article you’ve ever written is the free plugin, List URLs, available for WordPress. It takes around 30 seconds to install, and then export a CSV file.

Simple exporting in WordPress

Simple exporting in WordPress

Collect all of your content
To promote your content, you will want to start by having a spreadsheet, with a column for the post title, the full URL, and related hashtags. Go through the sheet, and make sure all the encoding is right, and there are no strange characters.

Make sure this content is your best work, and is not time relevant. There is no point in promoting a blog post from two years ago, if it refers to something specific for that year, or is very out of date advice or knowledge.

For example, below is a sheet with most of the articles we’ve written for employee survey startup, 6Q. We have literally posted hundreds of articles over the last few years and most are great examples of evergreen content.

Your content spreadsheet

Your content spreadsheet

Choose the best hashtags
Hashtags, especially on Twitter, are a great way to encourage people to discover your tweets, and is a perfect method to promote your content. Tens of thousands of Twitter users every day search topics by hashtag, to find tweets and content worth engaging with.

So how do you know the best hashtags to use? I am a huge fan of Hashtagify, which makes finding appropriate hashtags very easy. You literally enter a seed keyword (in the example below, I used #contentmarketing) and then it uncovers other related hashtags that may suit.

Hashtagify

Hashtagify

So, we have now got a sheet with blog title, the full URL and a hashtag or two. Be careful to ensure the title and hashtags aren’t really long, as the old 140 character limit on Twitter may catch you out. Buffer will truncate the URL using your chosen URL shortener, so we can get away with lengthier lines at this point.

Prepare the file for use
Now export this sheet as a CSV (Most programs let you choose ‘Save as CSV’). You will now need to open this file in a text editor, and do two quick search and replace rules. First, remove the comma between the title and URL, and replace with a space. Next, replace the comma between the URL and hashtag, with another character space.

Save the file again, and you should end up looking something similar to the below.

CSV file of content links

CSV file of content links

Adding to Buffer in bulk
Now comes the best bit. Simply go to Bulk Buffer, connect to your Buffer account, and then upload the file. This will add these links to the end of your current schedule, so feel free to hit the Buffer shuffle button afterwards, to mix things up a bit, and promote your content along with your other content sharing.

Uploading using Bulk Buffer

Uploading using Bulk Buffer

Influencer engagement tip
If you have a file of other related articles that you’ve read and like, you can do the steps above, and append by @[username] to share their content. I’ve done this with all of the links I have shared in my growth marketing newsletter, as a second method of uncovering great content.

By sharing other peoples content, you are raising awareness with them that you exist too – before you know it, you may end up engaging with these influencers.

Here is an example tweet, where I’ve shared other content, which appeared in my growth.email newsletter, using my own personal Twitter account.

Example tweet using this method

Example tweet using this method

Regularly promote your content
In a few minutes a month, I have shown you how to promote your content over and over, with little effort and for free. Add to the CSV over time, and keep using Bulk Buffer to re-upload and top up your schedule every month.

Find this article useful? If you want to show appreciation, here’s a CSV file of a handful of my articles (including this one), which I’d appreciate you using the above method to share.

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.

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