Written By: Tom Ogg, Co-Owner – Travel Professional NEWS
I was searching on the web for a tequila and honey shrimp recipe using those exact keywords. I was given numerous websites that offered a recipe and scrolled past the sponsored ads down to the first organic link and clicked on it.
This is exactly what content marketing is. You generate content around specific keywords and deliver it in a way that search engines reward it with high SERPs. It is simply that simple.
Content, Content, Content
More than anything, content is how you will make tons of money. The world of travel has so many unique opportunities to generate keyword driven content that it is difficult to even imagine an end to keywords and topics. Building lots of keyword-rich content is one of the necessary functions to cash in on content marketing opportunities and one that is most important. Having page after page of keyword optimized quality content will allow search engines to locate your web pages based on the specific keyword search string that someone would use to find information about the topic of the keywords. Each content page within your web offers another chance for search engines to deliver traffic specific to the content on that page.
Of course, on the other side of the coin, when someone is conducting a search using the specific keywords for which your page is optimized, it will undoubtedly deliver an affiliate opportunity based on the same keywords. This will dramatically increase your click-through rate and generate an excellent income. Contextual advertising affiliate programs will also deliver advertisements based on the optimized keywords on the page thus offering another opportunity for increasing your click-through rate. All in all, content marketing is all about evolving great content. Search engines want to offer quality content and consumers want to find it. As a publisher, you want to offer it to both.
What is “Quality Content”?
When folks use specific search words, terms and/or phrases, they are looking for thorough, complete and informative content. As an example, if someone uses the search term “surfing around Puerto Vallarta”, they are probably looking for definitive information about where the surf spots are located and what the surf breaks are like. They would like to find as much information as possible as they may be planning a surf trip to Puerto Vallarta. If one visits the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Bureau’s website and clicks on “Things to Do” and then on “Surfing”, they find a page with one paragraph of generic text that doesn’t really say anything other than there is surfing around Puerto Vallarta. This has wasted the viewer’s time and is a prime example of a website not providing the quality content the viewer seeks. However, if you had a website about visiting Puerto Vallarta with a specific content page about surfing, you would want it to include as much information as possible. It should provide authoritative information about the surf spots, locations, break descriptions, maps, pictures, video and anything else of relevance to the topic. Your goal should be to become the most accurate, definitive site on the web for information on surfing around Puerto Vallarta. By adding to the content as your site grows, it will become even that much more valuable to the users and the search engines. Eventually, with enough quality content, your “Surfing Puerto Vallarta” page could gain the first position in the search engines based on those keywords. Quality content is the key to driving traffic to your site.
When consumers think of quality content, they think of complete and thorough information on the keywords of their search. They have little tolerance for anything else at this point. They do not want to have to register, pay, disclose information or otherwise lose their anonymity to access the information. They also do not want to be bombarded by banner ads, pop-ups, page redirections or other tactics that interfere with their quest for information. However, links to pages that contain information regarding the specific keywords for which they are searching are very welcome. In fact, visitors will return to pages that have critical links for them to follow. Imagine that you are looking for information about surfing in Punta Mita; and you find a page that not only has complete and thorough content, but it also has 12 relevant links to information pertinent to the keywords. The visitors will probably bookmark the page and then return to follow each link.
Keys to Building Content
It Must Be Factual and Complete: While this seems like a given, one would be shocked at how many well-known sites offer faulty content. This often results when the information is done from research rather than personal knowledge. There are so many Internet “legends” that have been created by faulty research it is amazing. On a recent trip to Rio, one of the agents was adamant that Sugarloaf was on Corcovado. Having been to Rio several times, I knew that it wasn’t and that they are two separate attractions. At dinner one night, she challenged me on my statement regarding Sugarloaf and then produced a report that she had printed in the Internet Café on the ship. The report was from one of the most respected providers of travel content on the Internet, and, sure enough, it reported that Sugarloaf was on Corcovado. Only after visiting the two sites while ported in Rio, did the lady finally relinquish her belief. Make sure that your facts are accurate by having them double and triple checked.
It Must Be Current: Nothing will turn visitors off faster than out-of-date content. As an example, if your site provided content regarding Cozumel, Mexico, it would need to have been up-dated immediately after the hurricane of a few years ago. Otherwise, you risked rapidly losing visitors quickly looking for current (and complete) information about what was open and what remained closed. Information on your webs should be updated frequently and represent the most current content of the subject.
It Must Be Accessible: No content should ever be more than three clicks away from visitor access. Having a broad site is much more preferable to having a deep one. Think of how to bypass unnecessary pages and have a clearly defined navigational structure. On one of my main sites, I used to have links to the major cruise line subdirectories on the home page and then send visitors to a secondary page for the balance of the cruise information. My thinking, at the time, was that it offered a second chance to get them to click on an ad. This is a mistake many Internet content publicists make.
One day, I decided to stick links to every subdirectory in the web complex “above the fold”. My home page simply became links to all of the information in the complex of webs. Then, the content that had originally resided above the links I now placed below the links. Again, my original thinking was to have them read the information before presenting the links. The result? I had a 30% increase in traffic overnight as an immediate result of making this change. I got the message loud and clear. Don’t make the same mistake I made in my initial design. Make your content available as quickly and efficiently as possible.
It Must Allow Visitors to Take Action: The reason that a visitor is exploring your content is to find answers. Once they have processed your content and evaluated your value proposition, they are ready to take action. They may want to keep looking for more information, they may be ready to commit or they may decide to eliminate the option. If they want to keep looking, your exit strategy should be to offer them the most viable alternatives to your value proposition. Why? Since the visitor has clearly decided not to buy now, by enabling them with the best alternative opportunities they will surely click on the advertisement that most attracts them. They will also leave thinking better of you than when they arrived at your site in the first place. While you did not make a sale based on your value proposition, you did make money via your exit strategy. Giving your visitors the best action channels will enhance your value proposition, while at the same time, drive up your affiliate revenues. Since quality content is the key to making tons of money in content marketing, the next question is how can it be developed?
Creating Your Web Content
Write it Yourself: Obviously, this would be the first choice to consider. Let’s say you are an expert on golfing in Western Europe and have played several of the primary golf courses. Although this task may seem overwhelming at first, by taking one step at a time your website will grow exponentially. Begin the process by selecting one golf course and write a comprehensive review. The article should include as much information on that particular course as possible, as well as information on related ancillary data.
In addition to your own first-hand experience, begin to compile information from outside resources. Contact the golf course directly and explain that you are featuring the course in your new website. Ask them to provide pictures, course information, maps, video and any other information that they have that would allow potential clients to select them on their next trip to Western Europe. Contact the Tourist Bureau in the country where the course is located and have them supply you with tons of information regarding the area around the golf course. Contact the hotels that one might stay to play the course and ask for the same information about their property.
I am sure you can see the process taking shape. By the time you have finished your article and review, you will have formidable content to offer folks looking for information about the specific golf course, and your expert opinion and advice will bring them back to explore all of the information.
Of course, you have contextual advertising on each keyword page in the report. As an example, if the client is looking at a specific hotel’s page, ads are being served about that specific hotel. I am sure you can see how this works. Once done with the first article and review, you move onto the second course and then the third and so on.
Never lose sight that the tourist industry worldwide exists to help you promote tourism to their country. Every hotel, resort, attraction, cruise line, tour operator, sightseeing company and more offer substantial tourism development tools that might consist of text, pictures, video, maps and graphics. Coordinate the use of this content along with your personalization and quality content is widely available.
You Can Use One of the Article Writing Tools: Let’s say that you are not much of a writer, but have a substantial number of articles in mind. There are several tools that will research the web and offer articles based on keywords that you identify for the article. Once the raw article is created, you simply file off the rough edges, add an opening and a closing and make it yours. These tools are sophisticated, and creating articles and small e-book formats is a breeze. However, be aware that this type of content doesn’t carry the same level of user satisfaction simply because it is not written from personal experience. I have provided a list of a few you may wish to consider.
InstantArticleGhostWriter.com: This is a great tool if you want to create a substantial number of articles. You could actually hire a high school or college student to start the process. Provide the various keywords for which you would like to create articles, then edit them when they have been created and generate hundreds of keyword driven articles. While not inexpensive, InstantArticleGhostWriter.com is quite effective.
InstantArticleWizard.com: Here is another tool that can create articles from keywords. It works by searching the Internet’s various sites that use the keywords that are entered. It will compile sentences from the various sites and create an article that one can then make their own by modifying the text, adding an opening and closing sentence or paragraph and publishing. Once again, the quality of the finished product is not the same as one written from personal experience and many readers will depart with a feeling of doubt regarding the authenticity of the content because of the syntax and layout. But, the 4.0 version of this product has really stepped up the quality of the content it creates and will also convert the article into an audio file as well as a video presentation for your YouTube channel.
While there are dozens more of similar tools, I think you get the idea. Just remember, quality is everything, and by using some of these tools, you may get quantity rather than quality. It is essentially up to you to hone these articles to make them yours and add the necessary quality.
Hiring People to Write Articles: Another viable way to get a volume of keyword specific content for your websites is to hire people to write your articles. While the cost is going to be higher than writing them yourself, you can hire a number of people at the same time to create a large volume of content in a short order of time. The travel industry is laden with travel writers who will generally work for a nominal amount of money. While the quality of their work is very professional, the opportunity to travel rather than monetary gain is often their primary motivator. Their writing income is used to offset the cost of travel and to create a business for which they can write-off these costs.
A simple Google search using the keywords “Travel Writers” and “Travel Writer Associations” will disclose numerous resources for contacting travel writers to engage them. In addition to the forementioned sources, here are some additional resources for content that you might consider.
TheKiti.com: Formerly MediaKitty, this is a great site to contact travel writers worldwide. You can join TheKiti.com for free and distribute requests for articles to be written.
CraigsList.org: I am sure everyone is familiar with CraigsList.org, but by using its Writing/Editing/Translation classified ads under the heading of “Services” you can post free requests for bids on articles that you want written.
Fiverr.com: This site offers a wealth of people that write travel articles and many are quite professional at generating SEO friendly, keyword travel article for a reasonable price.
Problogger.com: This is a great site to locate writers with a special skill set in travel.
International Freelance Sites: Today you can reach talent worldwide by using sites that specialize in reaching creative types around the world. UpWork.com, GetaFreelancer.com, FreeLanceWriting.com, and Guru.com are all excellent choices for finding reasonably priced freelance writers.
There are dozens of sites all with their own uniwue value proposition. Just Google “Sites like UpWork.com” to find them.
Using Other People’s Content
Writing your own content or paying someone else to do it for you require time and money. Fortunately, there are several options in addition to those listed above. One of the ways folks market themselves is by writing articles for syndication. Many writers just want to have their articles published and read and are happy to let you publish their travel articles for free. Of course, the trick is finding the writers that want their articles published. But then, that is why you purchased this book.
There are tons of syndication sites that match writers with publishers. The best thing is that they do not charge anything for the service. You can access and publish thousands of high-quality articles by the simple task of registering at the various websites. Be aware that the author’s by-line is always included in return for using the article. The by-line usually includes the author’s name, a small bit of information about him or her and a link back to their primary website.
Sometimes, the company providing the link will also want a link back to their site. This is a small price to pay for what could generate a huge amount of revenue for you. Below you will find a list of many of these syndication sites that offer tens of thousands of articles for your use.
Sites that Offer Travel Articles for Free
EzineArticles.com: This site has thousands of current articles on travel and leisure including tons of cruise specific articles. The catch with this site is that they limit the number of articles that can be used on each site to 25.
Leonardo.com: This is an extremely interesting site. While it is much more than an article library, Leonardo’s function is travel content management. The content providers are hotel chains worldwide, cruise lines, tourist bureaus and the like. It is completely free to register and download its content. Articles, pictures, video clips, maps and more are available for free use.
ArticleCity.com: This site offers thousands of travel articles on all topics that can be used liberally. However, the author’s bio and link must remain with the article.
TravelContentCollective.com: Great site offering well over 5,000 travel articles.
Hire a Professional Writer to Evolve Content
In today’s global economy writers and other creatives are not bound to an office or location. They may choose to live and work anywhere in the world that draws their interest. I personally have friends that have chosen to live in Mexico, Bali and other Indonesian locations, Spain, France, Costa Rica, Honduras, Brazil and many other locations. They have made these choices mostly for surfing, but also for the culture and cost of living. We currently have three creatives that live in the Phillippines that work for us full time.
Because they live in a place where the cost of living is minimal compared to the United States, they do not rrquire the same remuneration as their counterpart in the U.S. would.
It is quite easy to write an ad seeking a journalist to write travel articles for your blog or website and to find someone highly qualified to make it happen. Consider placing the ad in the Manila Craigslist site and watch the response that you will get from high quality degreed journalists.
10 Content Marketing Must Dos
Target Your Audience: You should do everything possible to identify and target the audience that your niche will focus on. The more well defined your target audience is, the easier it will be to focus solely on them.
Speak Your Target Market’s Language: By focusing your efforts on a very narrow audience, you gain the advantage of being able to speak to them in the language that they understand the best. Many niches have specialized nomenclature that most people wouldn’t understand and speaking to your niche in their language will set you apart from others.
Make Sure Your Content is Responsive and Adaptive: More today than ever before, you must make sure that your content is responsive to whatever device your target audience uses to access it. Your content should be equally readable and enjoyable on a smartphone as it is on a desktop computer and everything in between. Constantly check to make sure it is appearing on an iphone and also an Adroid.
Include Memes, Inforgraphics, video, Graphics, Pictures, Cartoons and Comic Strips: Liven up your content by adding visual and audio stimulation. Video embedded into your content adds time on the page and other graphics also have proven to add page time which is important in SERPs. Bring your content to life with a diverse visual experience that readers will love. Also, be sure to make your visual presentations sharable should someone wnat to use them on their website, social media or elsewhere.
Research Everything: Just because your competition is pushing a narrative doesn’t necessarily mean that is the way you should think. Question everything before developing content. Make sure that the content you create is 100% correct and then present it with your core values.
Never Copy Anything: There is nothing wrong with researching your competition, but never copy anything being presented by them. It is fine to create your own thoughts and research on the topic, but copying anything within your niche will have a negative impact on your overall efferts.
Think Quality, Not Quantity: Content Marketing is all about putting the highest quality content in the most engaging format to your targeted group. Only create content when you have something of interest to share with your targeted group that they will find interesting and engaging. Wasting their time with bulky off-target content will only devalue your entire effort.
Make Your Content Have a Purpose: Your content should be focused on either helping your target market solve a problem, share knowledge, be entertaining or funny. If it doesn’t serve any of these 4-purposes, don’t create it. You should be perfectly clear in what the purpose is of the content and be able to state it clearly in one sentence.
Make Your Title Share the Content’s Purpose: We have all been the victims of title baiting and it is really irritating when it happens. It is especially irritating when video content doesn’t jive with the video title or thumbnail picture. Great content always tells you exactly what the content is about. While creating titles is its own genre of content marketing, suffice it to say that never use a title that isn’t completely honest about what the content is about.
Great content can be ruined if the reader thinks he just got sucked into a commercial advertising ploy. While it should be obvious to the reader where the content is coming from, always avoid tying commercialism to the content.
10 Steps to Creating Your Content Marketing Strategy
Before you launch your content marketing program you need to have a clear understanding of what your expections are from the effort and clearly define the results that you are seeking. Like any marketing effort one needs to create a road map of where they are going and how they are going to get there. Here are 10 steps to creating that road map.
State Your Mission Statement: Spend time on completely understanding why you are embarking on a content marketing program. What is it you hope to accomplish? Your mission statement should identify your target market, the niche content you will create and your specific value propostion for the target market. In other words, who are you going to focus on, what are you going to provide them with and why should they care? Don’t undertake a content marketing effort without having this completely clarified, as it will likey miss the target.
Define the Results You Want to Achieve: Why are you creating a content marketing strategy? Here are just some reasons why travel professionals may embark on a content marketing program.
To boost keyword traffic organically
To increase newsletter subscribers
To collect email addresses
To increase revenues
To further brand themselves as experts
To create more affiliate revenue
To Improve SERPs
Measure Your Results: All content marketing programs should have complete analytics on them such as Google Analytics. It is important to know which metrics you will use to measure the performance of your content marketing. Here are metrics that may be most important to you. Your “new visitor and unique visitor”: rates would indicate how much reach your content is receiving from organic traffic. Your “bounce rate” will tell you how many visitors didn’t find your content engaging and left almost immediately. Your “click through rate” will tell you if your value proposition is being clearly presented and so on. Understand how you intend to determine your effort’s success.
Understand Your Target Market: The more you understand the demographics and psychographics of your target audience the more effectively you can communicate with them.Your analytics program on your website, social media and email marketing will go a long way to helping you understand where they are located, their age group, income, education and so much more. Doing questionnaires, polls, social communities and such will definitely help you understand their needs and wants. It will also help you understand the way that they will want to be communicated with
Determine Which Content Channel(s) is/are the Best for Your Target Market: Don’t just assume publishing content to your website will serve your needs. With a better understanding of your audience you may find social media is the best channel, or a blog, email, emagazine or some other content delivery channel. And, don’t leave out the idea that multiple content channels might be the best way. One agent that I know is quite deep into the bike tour business has a huge presence in the biking online forums.
Determine What Type of Content You Will Use: There are so many variables in the type of content that you use and how you will use it. Of course you will have your main website, but what type of content will be most attractive to your target audience and how are you going to develop it? Webinars are powerful video content in many B2B situations as are explainer and animated white board presentaions. Podcasting is also powerful depending on who you are reaching out to. Ezines and interactive flip page books are very effective at presenting substantial content in a way that everyohne is familiar with. Determining which type of content is critical to your success.
Schedule the Release of Your Content: Your should establish a calendar of content release as part of your overall content marketing strategy. Maybe you will release 4 cartoons per year, 4 ezines, 6 videos, 2 explainer videos and 12 articles supported by the various content. Scheduling the release dates will keep you on track and leave nothing to doubt.
Exploit Opportunities as They Present Themselves: Never lock yourself into a strategy so that it costs you from exploiting obvious opportunities that may present themselves during the year. While newsjacking may not be a part of your overall strategy, you may find yourself in the unique position of gaining valuable information that will be of extreme benefit to your target market. A perfectly timed newsjacking can propel your results from mediocre to fantastic.
Repurpose You Existing Content: Don’t think that you have to create 100% new content in your content marketing strategy. You have probably been active in your current niche for a long period of time and have already created a good amount of content. Why not dust it off, make it current, add some video, memees, infographics, images and graphics to it and bring it up today today’s content marketing standards?
Measure Your Results: Use your analytics to determine what is working and what is not. Do more of what is working and less of what is not. It isn’t rocket science. If you had content that outperformed all of your other content, figure out why and replicate it. By always staying on top of your (of what the content marketing crowd has named KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or analytics data) you will be able to tell if your content marketing efforts are achieving the objectives you set out to do.
Writing Your First eBook
At the very epicenter of digital marketing is content. And, nothing represents content better than a well organized and written print or eBook. Writing a book elevates you in your client’s eyes to someone with special knowledge and expertise. Being a published author, once a formidable task, is now something everyone can and should accomplish to heighten their stature as a travel expert.
Today, everyone reading this should contemplate writing their first eBook on their travel niche. Writing an eBook is easy, inexpensive to produce and potentially can be very profitable. Here are three reasons for writing your first eBook.
To Make Money: Publishing and marketing eBooks is not the daunting task it once was. In fact, writing, publishing and marketing it to the entire world is downright easy and doesn’t require any special skills at all. Anyone can do it and should. A successful eBook may generate an excellent income with little risk.
To Use as “Bait”: Offering a free eBook on a subject that travelers in your niche will be interested in is a very effective way to be introduced to new clients. First, since you are the author of the information in the eBook, you must have a level of expertise far above a typical travel agent. Don’t ever underestimate the value of being the “expert”. Second, by offering a free eBook on a narrow topic within your niche you can collect a name and an email address for your email list. This in itself is reason enough to write an eBook. Having a focused email list of potential clients interested in what you specialize in is the first step towards success.
To Become an Expert: Obviously if you are the author of “Alaska Port Guides” you are an expert on cruising Alaska and her ports. Your eBook can be about anything and there are travelers that will want the information. ”Waikiki’s Back Street Dining, 10 Restaurants You Do Not Want to Miss” would easily capture the attention of visitors to Waikiki and could be s short eBook that shares some wonderful information. Best of all, you can capture to names and email addresses of those that request it. And, they will be impressed with your expertise.
The Process of Writing an eBook
OK, so now we know why you should write your first eBook and now we will deal with the “How”.
Create an eBook Concept
Before you start writing you need a solid concept for your eBook. What is the purpose of the eBook? Why will people want to read it? How are you going to market it? Will you take it to print too? What qualities do you possess that will make you an expert on the subject that you are writing about? You should have all of this thought out long before investing time in creating it. The best eBook concepts are when you are documenting your expertise and considerable knowledge at a level even knowledgeable readers will find engaging. Here are some common mistakes made when developing a realistic eBook concept.
You Are Not Going to Get Rich: This is brutal. Of course everyone wants their eBook to be successful, but the reality is that it is quite unlikely that your book will be one of the New York Times best sellers and more likely that you may possibly only sell a few copies, at best.
Forget Trying to Make it Perfect: Agonizing over every page, paragraph, sentence and word is likely to detract from the overall message that your eBook will convey. Get it to the point of commercial viability and stop there.
Don’t Use Writing Tools: Sure you want to be perceived as professional and educated, but you readers want to get to know you. Your eBook offers the opportunity for you to express your knowledge and personality in a way that will help readers connect with you. Your eBook should shout your uniqueness and personality and not follow a canned format.
Don’t Use the Shotgun Approach: Kindle alone currently has over fifty million eBooks for sale and that is just the start of the number of eBooks in the world. The best way to make your eBook relevant is to have a pinpoint focus on a keyword subject. By having a narrow niche focus that can be found by using obvious keywords will guarantee that your eBook will be offered to the right consumer.
Create an eBook Plan
Now that you have a valid concept, it is time to create a valid plan that you can use to measure your progress with. The very first thing you should do is establish the eBook’s publication date. Let’s say that you are writing an eBook about cruising the Danube River and are focusing on releasing it for the 2021 booking season. You will need to understand when the river cruise lines will start accepting bookings for 2021 and then when the details of their 2021 sailings will be released. Once you have that information, you now have your publication date.
Create an eBook Table of Contents
The best way to create a Table of contents is to start writing down each and every topic that you want to cover in your eBook. Don;t worry about the format or the order in which they are documented. Take 2 or 3 days to uncover each and every topic that would be relevant to your eBook.
Once you have them documented make a 3×5 card for each one and start trying to put them in a logical order. If there are overlapping topics just put them on top of each other in the stack of cards. The challenge is to create a TOC with each chapter being a unique and relevant topic. Where there or two or more topics that are competitive with each other, chose the one that is most relevant and then write down the other topic(s) a subheadings on the card.
Once you have everything in order, you have a start to your TOC. Now, take each card and start jotting down logical subheadings for each chapter. Again, the idea is to create a rough TOC, but nothing is set in cement at this point.
Create a Critical Path to Publishing
Now that you have a solid concept, a plan and a TOC you can start scheduling your time to complete the eBook in time to be published. Set a date for each chapter to be completed and remember you do not have to write them in their TOC order. If one chapter is dependent upon information being released, save that chapter until the appropriate time. You should have the manuscript done in plenty of time to have it read and commented on. The best way to do this is to offer the manuscript for free to the exact market your eBook focuses on.
Offer the opportunity to read and then review to manuscript and to offer reviews and comments that will be used in the publishing of the book. You can generally get well known people in your niche to do this in exchange for the publicity that they receive by having their review published in the book and also in press releases.
Since we will obviously be writing a book on travel of some sort, will it include a lot of pictures, or will it be primarily textual?
The first thing you must consider is how it is going to be marketed and what format the eBook will be created in. While there are certainly more eBook formats, the 4 most popular are .pdf, .azw. .epub and Flip Books. Here are the differences.
.pdf: .pdf stands for “Portable Document File” and has been around since the 1990s. While there are numerous .pdf creation tools, the most robust and .pdf standard is Adobe’s “Acrobat Pro”.
Acrobat Pro offers numerous security functions to keep your eBook from being shared with 10,000 of the reader’s best friends, which is critical if your eBook is “for profit” And, Acrobat Pro also offers the ability to compile and edit .pdf documents.
For the purposes of delivering a 4-color eBook that will probably be printed and read, or downloaded and read on a desktop or notebook computer .pdf is a great choice. If your eBook has a lot of graphics, pictures, charts and other fixed width design layout features then using the .pdf format makes a ton of sense.
The downside to using a .pdf format is that while it can be opened on a tablet or smart phone, its fixed width does not allow the eBook to be presented in an easy to read format. On a smart phone one would have to scroll across the line from left to right in able to read it.
And, while the fixed positioning of .pdfs is a problem when trying to reflow content, one can easily create a .pdf, for each device category by changing the size of the pages so that a .pdf built for a smart phone displays well on a smart phone and so on.
.azw: amazon.com uses the .azw format for its Kindle eBooks and this should be a format that you should consider simply because it offers such a rich environment of marketing opportunities.
When you submit your book for inclusion in amazon.com’s robust book marketing effort throughout the world, you are presenting your eBook too hundreds of millions of potential customers.
amazon.com’s keyword search function makes it easy for you to reach potential buyers based on keywords that you use while publishing on Kindle.
The .azw format allows you to select either fixed or reflowable options so that your eBook text will flow to fit whatever device it is being read on.
While the assumed negative aspect of using an .azw format is that they can only be read on a Kindle device, the truth is that there are numerous Kindle apps that allow Kindle eBooks to be read on just about every smartphone, tablet, notebook and desktop that exists.
The tool you will use to create a .azw file is “Kindle Create” a free program that you download from kdp.amazon,com. (KDP Stands for “Kindle Direct Publishing”) It offers two different opportunities to create .azw files. If you are building an eBook with reflowable textual characteristics you will need to have the content in a word document. If you are creating a complex eBook with pictures, graphics and other complex layouts then you would need to have a finished .pdf document of the eBook.
.azws are great for creating ebooks with interactive TOCs. When you launch a new project with Kindle Create if will give you the option of choosing “Novels, Essays, Poetry, Non-fiction” which is a reflowable text environment from a .docx document or choosing “Textbooks, Travel Guides, cookbooks, Music books” which is a fixed width document from a .pdf document.
So if your eBook is textual or complex and you want the marketing reach of amazon.com’s global presence this is probably your best choice.
.epub: .epub has emerged as the most widely used format for eBooks and works on just about every device with the exception of Kindle devices. .epub files are easily made by creating a manuscript in Word . Then you will have to convert it to a program that can export a .epub file.
Apple Pages, Adobe InDesign and Open Office all can export documents as .epub files and there are numerous online services that will create .epubs from your files, as well. It is as easy as import your docx file and export as .epub file. That’s all there is to it.
If you will be writing many eBooks and print books, join Adobe’s “Creative Cloud” and learn to use InDesign to create professional quality print and eBooks. InDesign has export options to create both fixed and reflowable .epub designs.
If you are just only going to write one eBook then there are tons of ways to create an .epub from a .docx manuscript including paying someone to do it for you.
Unfortunately conversions into the .epub format never look the same way they do in their native environment and many of the free online converters do a poor job of it. There are some .epub editors that can allow you to manipulate the layout of an .epub file to make it look more professional.
.epubs are made by using XML and XHTML and incorporates CSS for design. While there are tools for editing .epubs unless you are comfortable working with XML, XHTML and CSS files it is going to be difficult editing a complex eBook.
There is also the opportunity to create “Flip Page” books which are viewed online and offer highly interactive environments that include textual, visual, video, audio and are completely responsive.
Flip page book technology has come a long way from its early days where they barely worked. Today they offer a very stimulating experience for the readers.
Flip Page Books are excellent for complex and interactive eBooks that may include video, audio or other interactive elements. Flip Page Books are likely to be the way of the future simply because they can engage readers in much the same way that Facebook does,
Again, marketing is the key to making your decision.
What Software Will I Need?
You can use any word processor to create the content for your eBook. Microsoft Word is the standard, but if you are going to be using the .epub format consider using either Pages or Open Office.
.pdf eBooks are created by software that takes documents and turns them into “Portable Document Files” which can be viewed by anyone using a .pdf reader. Adobe Acrobat is the most common .pdf reader but most browsers have built-in .pdf readers that you can use to facilitate opening a .pdf.
Google Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge all have built in .pdf readers however they are very basic. The best choice to create .pdf eBooks is Adobe Acrobat Professional.
You can easily create an eBook from a variety of documents by importing the various documents and then put them together in logical and create an eBook. This is especially effective if you have several chapters that are separate documents.
The best feature of Acrobat Professional is that it allows several layers of security so that no one can steal you content and share it with a million people.
.azws will require that you download Amazon’s “Kindle Create” which can take a .docx (Word document) or a .pdf and turn it into a Kindle .azw document. Kindle Create allows you several formatting options to really give your eBook a professional look.
There are themes that you can use depending on the type of eBook you are creating and you can control the font and paragraph parameters to control the overall eBook’s appearance.
Flip Page eBooks require making a few decisions. There are a number of companies that will convert your .pdf files into Flip Page books but they are charging for hosting them on their servers. The first decision is if you want that to happen, or not.
By using a quality Flip Page book creator you can host the Flip Book on your own server, which is the way to go. While there are a good number of Flip Page companies that sell Flip Page software, I would suggest that you go with the more expensive ones simply because it is still an evolving technology.
As the technology matures, the pricing will certainly become more affordable. The one that we use is 3D Issue (3DIssue.com) and we have been happy with them for several years now.
Software for creating complex print and eBooks is necessary. The industry standard is Adobe InDesign and this program will allow you to take advantage of state of the art technology to create highly engaging content for your books.
However any page layout software will work as long as you can create a .pdf with it. High quality .pdfs are what digital printers need and also complex eBooks.
Creating a Hard Copy Book From an eBook: Now that you have created your first eBook, why not take it a step further and make it a hard copy book? Amazon.com has a substantial self-publishing suipport mechanism. Just visit kdp.amazon.com and sign up for an account. You can submit your .pdf of your ebook right into getting it turned into a hard copy aswell as creasting an online Kindle ebook. Not only will they create both copies, but they will also market them for you and pay you a handsome royalty. Plus, you can purchase hard copies of your book from them at almost cost. It is a great opportunity.
Creating Your First eZine
While the planning process is very similar to that of writing an ebook, creating a credible ezine requires quite a bit more sophistication.So here are some steps you might consider to make it much easier.
Start With a Magazine Template: There are litterally tens of thousands of InDesign magazine temples for every niche. Simply Google InDesign Magazine Template for (Your Niche) and you will be presented with numerous options. There are many free templates out there, but be aware there could be thousands of people already using them. Your best bet is to search the mryiad of templates on the web and try to narrow it down to just a few.
If you want to be sure that your magazine design is unique, hire a designer on one of the freelance sites like UpWork.com to improve on the template that you like the most. It is quite inexpensive and the reults can be terrific. Also, there are many tutorials on youTuve sharing how to design your own templates and it is very easy to do. Using a template will give you the best of design and functionality and make your magazine have complete consistency.
Use a Professionally Designed Cover: Even if you design your own magazine, consider having a dgraphics professional to design your magazine cover. Once designed you can simply replace the text and graphics with each new publication.
Your Table of Contents: Your TOC is the second most important page in your magazine next to your cover, Having an engaging and stimulatind TOC will increase readership greatly. If you are going to have your emagazine as a flip page book, you should plan to make the TOC interactive so that the reader can simp-ly click on the content they would like to read.
Powerful Pages: Assuming that your magazine will feature article by other writers than your self, you need to up the visual experience by using photographs, graphics, viveo, inforgraphics, memes and other engagin content to not only grab the attention of the reader, but to keep it. Unlike print magazines, you have an unlimited space to accommodate layouts which are minimalistic, yet a very powerful reader experience. What might be a 2,000 word article in a print book or magazine can become a fully immersive experience for the reader and reward you lavishly.
Entire page images and double trucks with beautiful and professional photography indicates to the reader that the publication is a quality experience focused on what the reader wants, not the publisher.
Establishing Your eMagazine’s Profile and Plan
What’s Your Plan?: As in all business efforts, you will need to have a clear understanding of why you are creating your emagazine and who is going to read it and why. You should have your publication totally planned out. How many issues a year? How many pages perissue? If you are going to also have the magazine printed, be sure that it has the appropriate number of pages so that there are no page short signatures required for printing.
Writers: Who are your contributing writers going to be and what is the plan for remuneration? Many times suppliers of interest to your niche will gladly contribute content for a free mention in their bio. Decide in advance how long each article will be and be sure to give you writers clear guidelines as the how many words the articles need to be. The most important thing to remember is that it will take time for the layout, proofing and publishing process to take place each writer should have hard deadlines they must conform with.
Your Layout Creative: How are you going to go from simple text in an article and turn it into a beautiful masterpiece? I will make the suggestion that you first learn the technology that is necessary to make this happen, as that will allow you the knowledge to understand what the layout person is capable of and how many hours they might spend on a project to accomplish it.
What Tools Do I Need? I remember when I first started my very first eMagazine, I was overwhelmed with questions and had limited access to answers. Fast forward to today and creating your first emagaine is super easy. All that you need are the right tools. I am making the assumption that you want to create a high quality niche travel magazine. Anything less than this, I would consider a newsletter.
While there are many toosl out there that can accomplish tasks that the tools I am going to recommend, understand that these are at the epicenter of layout and design.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud is a subscriptioon based suite of software that most design professionals use. It is considered at the very heartbeat in it genre and I wouldn’t suggest you start with anything else. It currently costs $52.99 per month with large discounts for students and teachers and it is well worth it. While it gives you everything you could possible want in creative software.
Adobe InDesign: InDesign is Adobe’s professional layout software which makes designing an emagazine super easy. It is a “must have” tool that you will use for flyers, ebooks, newsletters, magazine and just about every other graphical application. We use it to produce 160-page flip page magazines every month and it handles the chore perfectly.
Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is a “must have” and can take mediocre photos and tern them into masterpieces. It has all the tools that you need to create fantastic photographs for you emagazine. From refocusing and sharpening photos that may have not been taking correctly, cropping photos to get the right effect and to balancing the brightness, contrast, color balance and so much more. Photoshop is critical to a high quality emagazine.
Adobe Acrobat Professional: you will need Acrobat Professional to create high quality .pdfs that are ready to be turned into ebooks and emagazines. The awesome power of Acrobat Professional put all of the other ,pdf tools to shame.
These three tools are mandatory to create epublications, but there is so much more in Adobe Creative Cloud. Here is just a glimpse. Illustrator, for creating graphics and art, Premier Pro, for editing video at a professional level, Lightroom for editing photos for social media, Dreamweaver, for creating professional quality websites, and tons more.
Akvis: Akvis has some very interesting photo editing tools. We use Akvis Magnifier which allows you to taqke a relatively low quality image and then blow it up into super clear high res photos. Many of their other software products are equally beneficial. Enhancer takes normal ophotos and makes them look great! It has well over 40 different filters in it. Oil Paint allows you to take a regular photograph and create an oil painting with ir and again numerous filters to create just the right one. Re=focus will allow you to take a blury phot and clean it up with numerous filters and HDR Factory will take regular photos and make them seel like masterpieces.
Stock.Adobe.com: We keep talking about professional photos so the questions is, where are you going to get them? Adobe Stock currently has over 60-million high professional photos that you can use. They offer severall plans to access them, but we have found thatby subscribing to their maximum plan we don’t even think twice about downloading. We can search and use, (with a license) up to 750 dffferent photos, graphics, videos, 3D images and templates per month.
Creating Your Flip Page Book
Providing your content in a .pdf format is quite acceptable, but if you really want your content to engage the reader, you should take it to the next level. Digital Flip Page Book technology has come a long way since its beginning. Today you can create fully interactive flip page digital books that include textual, video, audio, graphics and images.
Your Server or Theirs?
This is one of the first questions you may have to decide on early in your quest to develop a quality flip page book. While there are quite a few flip page book solutions, most of them have a revenue model where you pay for them to host your book(s). This is a less than desirable solution if you intend to publish a magazine or some other type of publication that needs to have a substantial shelf life.
The solution is to purchase a software license that allows you to publish to your own server where the flip page books will reside. This will, of course, cost you more initially, but will be worth it in the long run.
Flip Page Book Features
Each flip page book platform has its own unique features so understandiing the various features will help you make an informed decision about what you will need in the platform you select. It doesn’t make any sense to purchase more features than you need, or worse, make a purchase that does not offer the features you want. Here are the various features to look for and what they do.
Structure: Mamaging the structure of your flip page book allows you to make decisions about the very basic layout of your book and how it will be viewed. As an example, you can select between a flip page layout, a slide presentation, a presentation layout or some custom layout you would like to input. You can also control how the navigation panel will look.
Appearance: You have a good amount of control over the way that the content appears. As an example, you can choose from several included backgrounds, upload your own or simply use the default. You can upload your own personalized preloader (the image that appears while the content is loading) and control the intro, theme and TOC. You can also arrange to have the pages flip automatically by setting the time element. The spine shading is also an important element that you have complete control over. There are several additional elements that you have complete control over, so make sure that the platform you are looking at gives you this feature.
Interactivity: You want a robust set of interactivity features in your platform because this is what sets your flip page book apart from the others. So let’s take a look at some of the more powerful ones.
Go To Page Button: This handy little feature allows you to jump to any page in your document that you specify.
Weblink Button: Insert hyperlinks whereever you would like with this tool. Simply highlight where you want the link to go and then enter the url and viola, the text is linked.
Email Link Button: This tool allows you to create live email links right in your text or images.
Audio Button: Include any audio clip that you would like, music, narration or special effects are all examples of audio content.
Image Gallery Button: If you want to insert an image gallery into the page this is the tool to do it.
Video Button: Any video hosted on YouTube, Vimeo or Hulu can be included on the page. Simply click on the video button and then draw an area where you want the video to play and enter its url and viola. You have several elements of control over the video. As an example if you want the video to play upon page opening or too loop, these are easily done with the control.
HTML 5 Button: If you have created an HTML 5 element that you would like to have shown in your publication, this is the tool to make it happen.
Information Button: This is used if you want to offer further information on a topic on a page in your publication. When a reader clicks on the button up pops a window with further information on it kind of like a webpage, but with only text and images.
Telephone Button: Button that can launch a phone dialer, Skype or Facetime connection. Some even allow for telephone numbers to be dialed.
Ad Spot Button: Pop-up ads that appear when a user reaches a page are easily installed using this feature.
Features: The features panel gives you complete control over the functionality of the flip page book like if it can be printed, shared, downloaded and many othere elements.
Zoom Options: You control exactly how readers can zoom in and out of the content and if a zoom slider is on page or not.
Audio Settings: You have complete control over the audio portion of your flip book. You can select page turn sounds, background audio and much more.
User Login: If your publication will require people to register to access it, this panel gives you cmplete control over the process.
Advanced Controls: Want even more power over how your publication feels and looks, this is the panel that will help.
As you can see, today’s flip books can turn ordinary content into extraordinary content by adding interactivity. Content marketing is all about engagement and flip book technology provides an extremely engaging reader experience.