Content Creation Tools for the Average Person
You’re in the content creation business.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the affiliate business, promote ecommerce products, a local business owner, or a consultant. All of them still need content for their site…to build customer relationships and generate traffic to your site.
We talk a lot about link building, because links are a key element of good search engine positioning. You can create links from blog carnivals, blog commenting, forum participation (and profiles), setting up link hubs and wheels, social bookmarketing, etc.
But what’s the absolute best way to get a large number of high quality links? Create outstanding content others want to link to.
What’s the best way to create that kind of content? I could talk about writing long lists and controversial posts, both of which are good ideas, but the real secret…volume. The more posts you have, the more likely some of these will hit those hot subjects.
What tools can you use to make all this content?
Here are some of the ones I use.
Need ideas? Create a LOAD of them by using Google Reader.
Most people simply set up a few RSS feeds in Google Reader, but they don’t take advantage of everything else it does. Sure, subscribe to the top blogs in your industry and others you find of interest. I had cut down my list, but I’ve actually added to it lately with around 35 blogs in the RSS reader. Here’s the secret, I don’t read all of them – not even close. I just skim the headlines. If there are 50 to 80 new posts when I check the reader, I may only read 5 of them.
But you can go much further. Come up with a subject bullseye keyword phrase, and subscribe to a Twitter feed on that subject. Add Google Alerts on this subject. Add Google News on this phrase. Now you have a large collection of information coming through on the subject. You will want to setup folders now for all this information to be collected and organized (Twitter for example can pump out a TON on even just one keyword phrase – 200+ a day is common).
You’re NOT going to read all t his. You’re simply going to skim headlines and read the most important information. Read stuff that stands out to you. If this doesn’t generate more than enough ideas for you, I don’t know what will!
The easiest way I find to organize my thoughts at first is through mind mapping. The biggest benefit here is you add so many additional items you would have forgotten any other way. The software I’ve been using for it is iMindmap because I love the graphical interface here…and how easy it is to use. In the past I used other programs, but I’m hooked now on this one.
Outline autoresponder and blog series. Create products. Come up with all these long tip articles.
If you were to look inside the administration side of my blog you’d see a large number of “draft” posts. When I come up with a ideas (using Google reader, my personal life, or responses to clients), I’ll often write a preliminary headline and a few key points. I’ll save them inside of WordPress.
Then when it’s time to write, I can simply open up that post and write it. Every writer knows the biggest problem with starting out is staring at a blank screen. If you write these little mini-outlines whenever the ideas come to you, you’ll have a whole collection to go in and write with. Login your account, pick an article, and write it.
Of course you can also use the scheduling feature in WordPress to schedule your future posts. Once you finish writing, schedule for when it will be sent out. If you also email out your posts, you can copy and paste out of here into your email system (most of them allow you to schedule broadcasts in advance also).
The above covers writing posts. What about audio content? A quick way to create is to do interviews with experts in your field (from short 10 minute slots up to hour long presentations). I’ve used Powergramo for quite a while now. Pamela is another choice many recommend.
Here’s a quick tip for the real world also. I’ve found looking at the person’s contact info on Skype is a quick way of keeping track of time differences. Whenever you do interviews, you find the the different time zones all over the world can be an issue…a quick glance here helps you organize your thinking.
If Skype doesn’t give you good sound quality, always have a backup plan in place. For me, it’s simply being registered with a free teleconference service. This way you can both call into the teleconference from land lines and do your recording. I use a free one here because it’s my 2nd choice to be used in emergencies.
For editing your audios, you can use the open source program Audacity. It has more than enough features to edit audio. Best of all it’s free.
I also use Sound Forge Audio Studio because I like the layout better, but I really don’t know if it adds any additional features to what you can get for free in Audacity.
Want to record videos from your screen or Powerpoint presentations? Or simply put together a series of slides with narration? Camtasia is the tool of choice for PCs. You can even do quite a bit of editing of the videos here plus output them in online or DVD ready formats. I LOVE Camtasia.
If you’re not ready to pay the $300 for Camtasia, you can get started with their free screen recorder called Jing. If you’re on Mac, there is a Camtasia for Mac version, but feedback from my Mac friends says Screenflow is still a better option (as Camtasia on the Mac seems to have very limited options).
I have two camcorders I use. The first is a little Flip HD. It’s small, affordable, and easy to move video onto your computer. If you want to carry one with you, it’s an almost perfect little solution. It’s one weakness is no separate mic input. This means the sound is NOT as good as it could be if you were using a mic. With this little guy, I also have a little stretchy Flip tripod that cost me around $15 and sets on a desk (or can be wrapped around something).
My 2nd camcorder is a Canon HV30. he new version is the Canon HV40. It cost quite a bit more and its picture is better. The primary difference in in the audio input here though for online use. While still a small camcorder, it’s much larger than the Flip so I don’t like using it quite as much unless it is already setup. I’d recommend someone start with a Flip camera for online video. If they’re using it ALL the time and they find they want better audio, then go to a second camera.
There are a lot of video editing programs available, and I’ve tested several of them. For very basic editing you could use Camtasia Studio. If you want to move to more advanced editing or create DVDs, you can pick up Sony Vegas Movie Studio. MAKE SURE the version of Movie Studio includes Sony DVD Architect if you want to produce DVDs (it’s much easier than other options).
Sony Vegas allos you to do a lot more with video that you’d have to pay quite a bit more to get a more professional solution (and you’d have a much longer learning curve with those higher level solutions).
Disclosure: My business purchased at retail every product mentioned above except from Screenflow and Pamela (those were listed as secondary solutions). No affiliate links were used above.Related Entries:
- 3 Free Online Video Tools
- Online Video Studio
- Create Your Own DVDs
- DVD Architect – Creating DVD Menus
- Sony Vegas Movie Studio