Have You Noticed People Making a Difference?

Have You Noticed People Making a Difference?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s something incredible happening right now. Among all the chaos, layoffs, and struggles, people and businesses are coming together and truly doing amazing things.

They’re giving stuff away for free

They’re sharing amazing content to help their audiences

They’re helping others in need

In my local community, I see people donating to nonprofits that provide food to the poor, going out into communities to deliver food, volunteering, sharing information on how we can all stay safe, and even doing shopping for the elderly. 

They’re doing things they don’t normally do

I see a friend in my neighborhood playing tennis for the first time. I see our married friends down the road, eating out on the porch. Another friend is offering online pilates.

They’re finally doing things they’ve been talking about for so long but have been delaying

My friend, a yoga instructor, is now finally offering videos on YouTube and remote recordings to help her set up her online business. 

And I’m finally offering writing consultations, something I’ve been wanting to do for so long, to help me start my coaching business.

(You can view the full details of my FREE consultations here. Please will you share it with anyone you believe may be interested or needs help? I have also included the full details of my offer in the footer of this post so you can easily share it with anyone.)

Disclaimer: My offer was not born out of a desire to start a coaching business, but rather out of wanting to help aspiring and new writers. Since then I have discovered that it is the perfect stepping stone to starting my coaching business.

Isn’t it funny how we end up helping ourselves when really our only intention was to help others?

Together, We Can Get Through This

These are but a few examples of how people are making a difference. 

I wanted to share them with you to not only demonstrate how generous people can be, especially when the chips are down, but also to focus on the positives instead of the many negatives that are out there right now.

We can, and will, all get through this together!

Stay Safe,

P.S. Here’s the writing consultation offer I posted on Facebook:
I’ve been writing for a living since mid-2016 and have managed to build a thriving writing business that gives me the freedom to work from home and follow a passion while consistently generating 3,000 -$5,000/mo—often more. 

I work with top international tech companies, including Jobber, FreshBooks, TouchBistro and DocuWare. I’m fortunate enough to be comfortable financially right now, even though several clients have paused their contracts with me.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to offer free writing consultations to anyone who wants to start freelance writing or needs help growing their writing business.

The calls will be 30 min, and people can come prepared with any questions they may have. I will also point them to free resources on our platform, WriteWorldwide.

If you’re interested, please contact me at nick@nickdarlington.com or share this message with someone who may be. Calls will happen over Google Hangout.

Where Is the Best Place to Start When Learning About SEO Keyword Research?

Where Is the Best Place to Start When Learning About SEO Keyword Research?

“Where is the best place to start when learning about SEO keyword research? Any good free resources online?”

I recently came across this question in a Slack channel, and I plan to answer it in today’s post by sharing three of the best keyword research resources for beginners.

But first, here’s a quick primer on keyword research for those of you who want a quick overview (if you don’t, simply scroll down to the end of this email for those resources).

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of finding those words, terms, or phrases people use in search engines. Your goal is to select relevant keywords you want to rank for and create content that’s optimized for those keywords so that you can drive traffic to your site.

Why Is Keyword Research Important?

Two of the most important reasons to do keyword research are that it helps you learn more about your audience and informs your content marketing strategy.


Learn more about your audience

Keyword research reveals what your target audience is searching for so that you can learn more about their problems, fears, and dreams. 

I like how Brian Dean of Backlinko puts it: “Keyword research is market research for the 21st century.”

Inform your content strategy

The research reveals the types of keywords you should target and create content for. The sweet spot is finding those keywords that capture specific customer problems that your product can also solve. 

In that way, you can write content that solves their problem while also positioning your business as the solution to drive a conversion.

For example, let’s say you run or work for a technology company that provides an all-in-one software platform to help service businesses organize their operations. Features your software offers may include the ability to quote and invoice clients, schedule employees, and even track time.

Let’s also say that you want to target a specific demographic: Landscaping businesses. So, you use Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or some other keyword tool to do your keyword research and discover the keyword “How to Quote Landscaping Jobs.”

This is an ideal keyword to target because you can write a blog post that solves their problem (shows them how to quote landscaping jobs), while also putting up your hand at the end of the post and saying, “O, by the way, if you need help quoting specific jobs and running your business then when not try out our software—it helps you do precisely that.”

3 of the Best Resources to Get Started with Keyword Research

With that short primer out the way, here are three of the best free online resources to help you get started with keyword research. 

I’ve kept this list short because I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed when learning about a new topic.

How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide – HubSpot
Keyword Research: The Definitive Guide (2020) – Backlinko
Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Moz

Have any questions about keyword research? Please, feel free to hit reply.

P.S. Thanks must go to Andy Mcilwain for pointing me in the direction of some of these resources.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

My 5 Favorite Posts of 2019

My 5 Favorite Posts of 2019

With the year drawing to a close and this being the 15th newsletter, I thought it only fitting to share five of my favorite newsletters of 2019 (yes I do repurpose each one into blog posts, which is convenient if you’ve missed an edition).

These are:

  1. How to Create Valuable Top-of-the-Funnel Content That Doesn’t Feel Salesy
    • Here I provide a simple recipe to create ToFu content that has business value
  2. How to Create Long-Form Content: A Six-Step Process
    • Learn about the exact steps I use to create long-form content to drive traffic and boost conversions. Thanks must go to Jane Flanagan, the Content Director of FreshBooks, for providing me with this framework/process.
  3. What Do Your Outlines Look Like?
    • There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to outlining but you should, at the very least, provide writers with the following…
  4. How Much Time Should You Spend Outlining Blog Posts?
    • Just because outlines are crucial doesn’t mean you need to spend hours creating them. This post answers the question of how long you should spend outlining posts by getting input from other content managers.
  5. 10 Common Questions Received from Content Managers
    • This is a list of the most common questions I’ve received from content managers over the years. Have a look to see if there’s an answer to a burning question you may have.

And that’s a wrap! 

May you have a wonderful time with family and friends this festive and come back rested and ready to tackle 2020!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

How to Create Long-Form Content: A Six-Step Process

How to Create Long-Form Content: A Six-Step Process

There’s this client I’ve been working with since early June, tackling shorter blog posts.

A few months ago, they briefed me on a short blog post they wanted me to create to steal traffic from the competition for a specific keyword. 

It seemed like the perfect opportunity to pitch an idea that would turn a good blog post into something great. 

Something longer and more media-rich that would rank for several keywords and capture more traffic to drive conversions. 

So, I suggested the following six-step process for writing a long-form blog post (I’d like to thank Jane Flanagan, the Content Director at FreshBooks, for providing me with the below framework, which I’ve adapted to my own business):

  1. Pull the top 10 results on Google for that keyword. Use a tool like Ahrefs because the results you get from Google will only be location-specific. 
  2. Check the word counts on these posts to get an idea of the content length, and then plan to write more. All things held equal, longer posts rank better in Google because they provide an opportunity to cover the topic in more detail and include related keywords throughout. 
  3. Reverse engineer (outline) each of those competitors’ posts to get an idea of what content their posts include. You’re basically deconstructing the post structure, writing down headings and subheadings.
  4. Look at elements that make these posts pop and highlight them. These may include video, images, industry-specific examples, and so on. The idea is to see how you can incorporate these elements into your post. Perhaps you can add an infographic. Or maybe you can take screenshots to illustrate an example.
  5. Make sure your post is better by
    • Including the best parts of all the posts, so you’re covering the topic in-depth
    • Bringing your own unique spin to it and incorporating new insights and thoughts
    • Writing more and including plenty of detail and examples
    • Adding other forms of media: video and audio
    • Adding information from experts and influencers, if possible
  6. Including keywords semantically related to your chosen topic (LSI keywords). Use a tool like LSIGraph to find these keywords. Or simply type your primary keyword into Google and scroll down to the bottom of the page to view any keywords related to this term.
  7. Package your post so it looks professional. This means having a quality feature image and branding. You want prospects to land on the page and think to themselves, “Wow, this looks awesome. This looks professional. This company means business!” Something like this, for example.

This process cannot guarantee a certain number of traffic or conversions—especially as there are loads of ingredients that go into the content mix and ultimately influence rankings, from research, production, and promotion to optimization, distribution, and measurement. 

However, it can significantly improve your chances of ranking and getting more conversions over time— particularly when you combine proper keyword research, SEO optimization, and funnel-thinking, AND use the right writer. 

A writer who:

  1. Understands the value of long-form content
  2. Knows exactly how to create long-form content
  3. Has several stellar writing examples to share like this onethis one, and this one.

A writer who’s happy to jump on a FREE no-strings-attached call to learn more about your business. And yes, here it comes….

As you know, long-form content is my thing (if you didn’t, now you know). And so, if you’re struggling with your content plans or simply don’t have the time to invest in creating something that will knock your audience’s socks off, then you know what to do. 

Schedule a quick call with myself and remember, it’s just a chat. There’s no obligation to hire me, and even if we don’t end up working together, at the very least you’ll get some solid advice and a chance to hear my sweet South African accent 🙂 

Should You Link out to Your Competitors’ Content? [Video Included]

Should You Link out to Your Competitors’ Content? [Video Included]

The short answer: Yes.

The long answer: Link out to your competitors’ content if it’s relevant to your topic and benefits the reader. By linking out, you build brand loyalty because your readers begin to trust you more.  

You also boost your SEO ranking because Google better understands what topics are relevant to your website or, as Neil Patel says, “Helps Google understand your website neighborhood.”

Speaking of Neil Patel…

Here’s a video he produced on the topic of linking out to competitors.  Have a watch and please do share your thoughts by responding to this email.

What Do Your Outlines Look Like?

What Do Your Outlines Look Like?

In a previous post—How Much Time Should You Spend Outlining?—, you learned that you shouldn’t spend too much time outlining and instead should focus on providing direction to writers by giving them a high-level outline.

But what exactly should this outline look like? And what should you expect in return? Let’s have a look.

The Outline You Give Writers

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to outlining but you should, at the very least, provide writers with the following before they produce their own outlines: 

  • The topic of the post—this is not the headline
  • The primary keyword you want to rank for
  • LSI or related keywords
  • Internal links—especially crucial for posts with product tie-ins
  • External links
  • The audience you’re targeting
  • Need or pain point of the audience
  • Type of post. Is it a top, middle, or bottom of the funnel? 
  • Content length. Detail how long you want the article to be 
  • Basic outline. Include a few bullet points explaining what the post should cover. For example, if you want to rank for the keyword “working capital,” a basic outline may include these four bullet points:
    • Explain what working capital is
    • Provide details on how to calculate it
    • Highlight why small business owners need it
    • Mention how the reader can acquire working capital

From there, it’s up to the writer to expand on this outline. I recommend sharing the above outline in Google Docs and then have the writers create an outline based on an H1, H2, H3 structure. In that way, you’re already getting them to think about SEO.

Take note: It’s essential that writers only create a high-level outline which gives you a bird’s eye view of the post. If they fill in too much detail, they may include irrelevant content you later delete which wastes their time.

You also want to provide all writers with the same template to follow as it gives you consistency and helps control your workflow.

What to Expect from the Writer

Once you’ve given writers the above details, they can begin outlining. Below is an example of what this outline may look like after a writer has tackled it.

You’ll notice how there’s extra information not included in the basic outline you provided such as details on the working capital ratio—and that’s the point; you need to give writers the freedom to include extra information that may prove crucial to the post. 

Writer Outline Example


Briefly explain a few scenarios where a small business may need working capital and then lead into what this post covers.

H2: What is Working Capital?

Briefly explain what working capital is and mention situations when a business owner may need it.

H2: How to Calculate Working Capital 

  • Include the formula and examples on how to calculate it
  • Show them how to interpret that number/mention what it means
  • But how do you know if you have enough working capital…enter the working capital ratio

H2: Working Capital Ratio and What it Means

Include calculation and interpret the number.

H2: When You Need Working Capital

  • Running the day-to-day
  • Taking a big step in your business
  • Take advantage of a massive opportunity

H2: How to get more working capital?

List various ways to get more working capital:

  • H3: Improve collections to reduce the working capital cycle
  • H3: Ask for an upfront deposit.
  • H3: Peer-to-peer lending
  • H3: Use Small Business Administration Loans
  • H3: Invoice financing

H2: Conclusion

The above should be just enough to gauge whether your writers are on the right track without them spending too much time creating outlines.

Once you’ve reviewed the outlines and given feedback, it’s time to let your writers get to work and write the first draft.

The Bottom Line 

The outlines you give your writers needn’t be complicated. Simply mention key details (topic, keyword, audience, pain point, etc.) and include a basic overview.

From there, writers can add just a little more detail before sending it over to you for review.

What do your outlines look like?

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