7 Baseball Tactics That Will Help You Build a Quality Blog


I was born and raised in Kansas City, so as you can probably guess, I’ve had baseball on the mind the past few months. Although my team didn’t clinch the championship, the journey made me realize that the process of making it to the World Series is similar to launching a blog, especially when it’s a new experience for the entire team.

Whether you manage a blog or not, the advantages of pushing out relevant content to your customers probably aren’t news to you. A company blog gives your brand a voice and an outlet for educating your audience and building meaningful connections.

Although many companies acknowledge these benefits, few have produced a blog that actually accomplishes these goals. And if you’re still on the fence about the ROI of blogging, know that companies that blog are 13 times more likely to drive positive ROI than those that don’t. But winning at blogging — like baseball — starts with a solid strategy.

Building a Winning Game Plan

You don’t just wing it when you go into the World Series — you develop a strategy that maximizes each player’s strengths. Creating an effective blog is more complicated than throwing up a few posts on a website. It takes vision to plan content that addresses specific customer concerns.

Without a solid content strategy, you run the risk of creating content that doesn’t advance your goals, confuses your audience, or comes off as generic. This won’t get you the organic ranking, social media shares, and audience engagement you’re looking for.

If you want your blog to knock it out of the park, you need to use the following tactics to build a winning strategy:

1. Analyze your players’ strengths.

Similar to a ball club, each of your team members has unique strengths that you must identify. Determine which topics fall under their specific areas of expertise, and let them run with it.

2. Find a good rotation.

Create an editorial calendar to schedule team members to blog each day, and figure out how often each person will contribute. Writing too much might burn someone out, but not giving employees enough opportunities could cause them to lose motivation. Set clear deadlines, and establish a strict publishing schedule so employees feel a sense of urgency and responsibility.

3. Remember that sometimes it’s wiser to bunt.

Don’t let your team worry about hitting a home run with every post. It’s not about being the best writer; it’s about consistently crafting relevant content that delivers value for your readers.

4. Bring in a pinch hitter.

If your team falls into a slump or has trouble thinking of new topics, invite a guest blogger to contribute, preferably an industry leader, influencer, or client who can add credibility to your blog, attract a larger audience, and inspire new ideas.

5. Have a great closer.

Find out who’s the best editor on your team, and have that person polish each post before publication. If no one on your team is right for the task, hiring an outside party or freelancer is an efficient and cost-effective way to cover your bases.

6. Pay attention to the stats.

Stats are everything in baseball, and they’re also key to understanding the aspects of your blog that are working. If shorter, punchier headlines generate more views and shares, consider sticking to this format for future posts. Make sure you’re constantly refining your strategy.

7. Remember that it’s just a game.

With all the pressure and stress surrounding their performance, baseball players can easily forget that at the end of the day, they’re playing a game. Make blogging fun for your team members by encouraging their creativity and positioning it as a way for them to share their unique insights with others.

Like baseball, a winning strategy will get your business noticed. A team that equips its players for success will attract more fans and viewers and sell more tickets. And by consistently publishing quality content on your blog, you can enjoy comparable perks.

Now get out there and play blog.

Brock Stechman is the co-founder of DivvyHQ, the simplest and most effective content planning and production workflow system available. Connect with him on Twitter.

Bourbon & Boots Brings Southern Culture to Your Doorstep



I’m from the South.

I know. Y’all are so surprised, right?

In college a guy told me, “You guys [he wasn’t from the South] are the only people in the country who make a big deal about the South and North.”

rsz_incontentad2Well, whether that’s true or not, these days Southern culture seems to be having a day in the sun. And those of us who grew up sippin’ sweet tea and swimmin’ in the creek understand why.

Bourbon & Boots is a company in Little Rock, AR that definitely understands it. They’re building a whole business off of Southern culture: Southern crafts, Southern clothes, Southern food–you name it and Bourbon & Boots has an artisan producing it.

Founder Matt Price says it best:

“Southern is a state of mind.”

Bourbon & Boots recruits artisans from all over the country that create products that fit the unique brand they’ve built. They range from kitschy bullet earrings to vintage cowboy boots and everywhere in between.

My personal favorite category is “Food and Booze,” where you can find a whole range of Southern-inspired food and utensils.

Bourbon & Boots isn’t merely an e-commerce company, though. Alongside the products they sell, they’re also developing a content company that showcases the best of Southern living. Of course, it has a little more edge than the magazine of that name. With articles like “Smooth Talk About Kentucky’s Speakeasy Bourbon” and “Tonic Syrup Nearly Ruined My Social Life,” this ain’t your grandmama’s Southern Living.

Of course, marrying content and commerce isn’t always the easiest feat. Refinery29 closed down its commerce branch last year and raised money to double down on content.

When I asked Bourbon & Boots’ Price about this, he chuckled.

“E-commerce is hard. Content is really hard. Trying to nail them both is impossible,” he admitted.

But, nailing them they are. More than 2 years after launch, Bourbon & Boots continues to grow, adding new vendors and freelance writers to the ranks. They’re also looking to create their own products in 2014, a move that could stretch their resources but also provide huge benefit in growing their brand.

Personality-driven commerce sites are a thing right now. Just look at Fab, Warby-Parker, JustFab, and NastyGal for proof. Bourbon & Boots plays into that trend with a delightful business that could only be built in the South.

And, yes. They do drink bourbon and wear boots.

[iframe src=”http://indicate.io/companies/bourbon-boots/embed” height=”450″ width=”720″ frameborder=”0″]

How To Get Your Content Shared


What’s one of the best parts about marketing and sharing content online? This content has the potential to go viral, which means you have a chance at some free publicity plus the chance at reaching users that you wouldn’t normally reach.

While that sounds great, it’s a lot easier said than done. You may find yourself wondering why the awesome content you’re creating isn’t getting as many shares as you would have hoped. Obviously, having solid content that is worth sharing is important, but there is more to it than that. We’ve provided a few tips that you can follow in order to get a kick-start on getting your content shared. Keep reading to get the ball rolling!

 Social media visuals

Draw Them in With Your Visuals

There’s a reason you keep hearing that people are drawn to visual content online. Time after time, it’s been proven that people interact most with posts that include great visuals. So go ahead and add big, high quality photographs, infographics, and other great images to your work. Even if your company isn’t a part of the most visual industry, you can still easily pull quotes from your content to create graphics for users to pin, tweet or share. Just make sure to combine the right amount of text and graphics so that your audience is drawn in, while knowing what the content has in store for them. If something is able to catch your audience’s eyes, they’ll believe that it will catch their friends’ eyes as well.

 How to create shareable content

Encourage Feedback

Any time that you share something, encourage feedback from your fans on what they liked, what they think you could do differently or any other comments they might have. Not only will this encourage more buzz and conversation centered on you and your topic, but also it will make your fans feel like they have helped you and been a part of your thought process, as if they have a stake in your brand. This makes it much more likely that they will want to share the things that you generate in the future with their own audiences.

Volunteer to Write Guest Blogs

A great way to introduce yourself to a new audience, is by creating content for other sites. Reach out to other companies, create alliances and offer to produce a guest blog here and there. This will be a great chance to network with other brands and create connections that can lead to more helping and shares in the future. Plus, as we said earlier, it will get your information out to a broader audience, while providing the potential for even more people to see and share it.

Show Appreciation

So, someone has interacted with your content… your job with them must be done right? Wrong. Marketing online is about more than getting one share or like. It’s about fostering long-term relationships with your audience. One share is great, but developing a relationship with your audience members that compels them to share even more of your content is better. You’d be surprised how far a simple, well thought out comment or thank you goes with someone who has interacted with your brand. It provides them with the incentive to interact more and more. Another great way to show appreciation? Check out their website or profile to see if you can share anything of theirs to return the favor.

Remember, all of these items are important, but don’t ever sacrifice the quality of your work. Whatever information you put out there should be correct, helpful, and consistent with your brand voice. That (along with the tips above) will give your content a great shot at reaching all types of people.

*This post originally appeared on the Tailwind blog.

Refinery29, Vox, and the Content Trend That Won’t Stop


Last week, I wrote a little primer on content companies–what kinds are out there and how they’re making money.

This week two media companies are announcing some big fundraising rounds. Vox Media, based in Washington DC, announced closing on $34 million of a $40 million round. New York’s Refinery29 will close a $20 million Series C.

Vox Media is the publisher behind SB Nation and The Verge, as well as the newer Polygon. Their overall strategy centers around finding a vertical in which well-educated, fairly wealthy people are interested (sports, tech and gaming, so far) and developing the tech that will bring a great reading (and ad) experience. They sport the typical banner ads and are working on branded video series to keep the revenue coming in. Currently, the Vox Media properties see 60 million unique visitors a month, a number that makes expensive branded content a little more viable.

The Refinery29 story is particularly interesting because, as PandoDaily’s Erin Griffith reports, their funding will specifically help them pivot to a content-only company, as opposed to the content and commerce model they were experimenting with. In turns out that, at least for Refinery29, selling things directly wasn’t working out as well as expected. Only 5% of 2012 revenue came from commerce, while 95% was generated through ads and “branded experiences.”

Both companies rely on the typical advertising avenues, but they are also experimenting with branded content. This could work exceptionally well for  these sites, which have a strong brand personality of their own.

Right or wrong, in tech we often look to investments as the first milestone to success. If investment dollars say anything, it’s a big moment for media companies, many of which are being built everywhere else. We’ve come a long way from relying only on individual blogs and AOL news, and these companies are trying to build brands that will stand the test of time. Can they do it? Investors seem to think so.


Trends to Watch: Content 101

Content is King.

This was probably the first thing I heard when I started freelancing a few years ago. Back then, it was said in comparison to SEO or social media strategies. The theory went that if you produced good content, you were going to get traffic.

Well, things change quickly on the Internet. The saying is even more true these days, but not in quite the same ways.

Everywhere you look there is “content.” Videos, podcasts, Tweets, Facebook status updates, and plain old articles. There are “content companies” whose sole purpose is to manage or produce content. But, almost every savvy startup or company knows they have to figure out how to utilize content to bring in customers.

So, in the mess of content creation, curation, and syndication (and any other-tion you can think of), how do you know what’s what? What are the different kinds of content companies, and how do they make money?

Never fear. Here’s your brief, Content 101 rundown:


The Media

These are the companies that look a lot like traditional newspapers, just in the digital realm. They focus on reporting and storytelling, often in one vertical. In the startup space, for example, you have PandoDaily and TechCrunch. Nibletz also falls into this category. There are also some very interesting general journalism startups that are playing around with business models to keep more traditional journalism alive.

These companies deal with content in vastly different ways. Some focus on the quality of articles, often producing fewer, more expensive pieces. Others put out tons of articles that are shorter and quicker to read.

There are a variety of ways in which media companies get content in the first place. Some have a staff of writers who are paid to produce, similar to an old-style newsroom. Others solely publish unknown writers, often for free. Most use some hybrid of the two models.

How do they make money?

Good question. As in social media, ads are a big source of revenue for media companies. However, most are also exploring other streams like sponsorships, events, and subscriptions/paywalls. This is a huge source of disruption at the moment, and my guess is things will look very different in 20 years than they do even now.

The Platforms

As in everything else, lines are blurring between “media companies” and “media platforms,” but in general a platform company does not produce its own content. Medium is one example. Users hop online and write whatever they want. They don’t need to write consistently; no one’s looking for a blog theme or any kind of upkeep.

Longreads is another example of a platform, though it is used for curation. Users of the site post their favorite long-form journalism articles and essays from all over the place for the enjoyment of other users. Flipboard is another platform that takes your personal preferences into account as it curates news and other content.

Platforms are also working out new ways to make money. Longreads is a subscription service; users pay a small fee to read and recommend on the site. Medium, however, doesn’t really have revenue yet, and no one’s quite sure how they plan to produce some. Users rave about the beauty and simplicity of the design, so it’s hard to believe they’ll be stoked about ads appearing.

Besides the media companies and platform companies, content is growing in other sectors as well. Most e-commerce companies also have some kind of content to draw potential customers to their site. Big corporations are hiring editors and social media experts to manage the content they produce.

If content is king, it’s still anyone’s guess as to what his kingdom will ultimately look like. But, we can always be sure there’ll be stuff to read on the Internet.

CentUp Comes to Nibletz, See What It Does

Centup,Chicago startup,startups,nibletz,content

Have you ever read a great blog post and wished there was some way to show your support? Sure, you could leave a comment or tweet a link. That stuff’s great. But you know what content creators really need?

Cash. Just like the rest of us.

There’s been a slowly growing trend of micropayment companies in the last few years. The deal is that you, the reader, give a very small amount–even a few pennies–to your favorite bloggers or content companies when they create something you like. It’s another way of showing your gratitude and helping them stay in business. Win-win.

Now, though, Chicago company CentUp is upping the ante even more. Instead of transactions straight from consumer to content company, there’s a third party benefiting from your pennies: charities.

CentUp will take 10% of all donations, and the other 90% will be split evenly between 1 of 6 charities and the content provider. The charities include national nonprofits such as Love146 and The Fender Music Foundation. As the company grows, they plan to add more charities.

Nibletz is proud to be a CentUp publisher. Our button is right there at the top of each post. All you have to do is sign up with CentUp, then start clicking. Besides designating how much you want to give, you can also use the button to Tweet about your donation. It’s similar to a Facebook “like” button, but benefits a couple of great organizations.

For our part, we will use our portion to continue our Sneaker-Strapped Road Trip. This enables us to travel the country, get in the trenches with great startups, and talk to amazing investors. It’s also when we cover awesome events like SXSW and Southland, which starts tomorrow. In fact, the majority of our content (which we know you love!) comes from our Sneaker-Strapped Road Trip. Love Nibletz? Every little bit helps us continue to be the voice of startups everywhere else.

Is Microsoft Considering A Yahoo Purchase? Insider Says AOL To Come Apart

The word on the proverbial street is that by 2012 one of the internet giants either AOL or Yahoo will no longer be around. For a while it looked like Yahoo may be that company, however Yahoo’s chairman Roy Bostick put a brief end to those rumors by firing CEO Carol Bartz.  Immediately co-founder and board member Jerry Yang took the definitive saying that Yahoo was not for sale. Right after that announcement the Yahoo sale rumors heated up.

Nibble on after the break
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Netflix Content Costs To SkyRocket, New Suscriber Plans Start Today

Fierce Wireless reported this morning that Netflix content costs could rise from $180 million today to $1.98 Billion dollars in 2012.  With that announcement has come new price structuring from the content giant.

Effective today for new customers and September 1, 2011 for existing customers, DVD by mail and streaming are unbundling.  Netflix had a plan where you could pay $9.99 per month to get streaming and 1 DVD at a time by mail.  Now the cost of streaming is $7.99 and you’ll need to pay an additional $7.99 per month if you want 1 DVD out at a time.  The cost for two DVD’s at a time has gone up to $11.99 (in addition to your $7.99 if you’re a streaming customer)

More after the break
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