Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's the Buzz on Self-Publishing? My Interview with Writer & Author Leigh Hershkovich

The "Buzz" on Book Publicity & Marketing for Self-Published Authors & Writers 
  • What does take to write and self-publish a book? 
  • How do you market your book once you self-publish your book?
  • Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing? What's the latest scoop?
  • How does social media tie into the book publicity and marketing picture? 

I answer all these questions and MORE in my interview with talented writer and author, Leigh Hershkovich, who just released her first novel, Shattered Illusions.  Read my interview on Leigh's blog! 

A huge thanks to Leigh for interviewing me. It was a fun interview with great questions. For mystery/crime readers, check out Leigh's newly released novel--she's an awesome writer! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Why Offline Business Networking Events Can Waste Valuable Time & Hurt Your Bottom Line

I am not anti-networking but I am not a fan of attending offline networking events that waste my precious, valuable time. I have wasted a lot of time and energy attending business networking events that didn't help my business. I also think it really depends on your market, regional location, and the types of business owners/entrepreneurs you connect with at these events. As a former fundraiser, I was forced to attend many networking events that I found to be a huge waste of time so I learned a few networking lessons over the years, and how to screen these networking events/groups more carefully.

Have you found yourself collecting a lot of cards at these events but you either don't follow up with these leads OR these leads end up being flaky and unreliable? I seem to bat zero when I attend these events--and it's not from lack of trying. I followed up with leads, and even wrote up proposals for potential clients. But the lack of professionalism turned me off so I chose not to return to these groups. I just wasn't feeling it.

I've made the decision NOT to attend offline business networking events anymore. If you have run across similar challenges with networking groups, I recommend that you consider either scaling back your business networking groups and/or doing away with them altogether.

So what about the human personal touch? You can still get that personal touch when you connect with potential clients and leads from your Facebook page and/or LinkedIn. It also allows you to screen people better before you make that face-to-face contact. Another bonus: you don't waste time and money traveling to a networking event--only to discover it was a big dud and you just wasted precious time networking with people that don't have any interest in your products or services.

Bottom line: What is your return on investment if you attend a business networking event? Just to socialize and have fun? I'm not anti-fun, but there is a time and place for having fun. If you attend these events for the heck of it, without any solid goals in mind, I suggest you re-think your lead generation strategies.

Before you attend an offline networking event, ask yourself the following five questions.

1. Do I have the time/energy/money to take ________hours out of my day/evening to attend this event? 

2. Do your homework first. Are the right people going to be at this event? My target markets? Potential leads/clients? Other business owners who complement my industry and aren't my competitors?

3. Do I have to pay a fee to attend? Do I have the budget to invest in a fee-based networking group? What do I receive (perks, benefits, etc.) in return for my dues/fees?

4. Am I obligated to produce referrals/leads to others in the group? Some networking groups (leads-based groups) have a mandatory rule that you must contribute so many leads per week/month to the group. 

5. Are there other avenues/marketing channels (i.e. social media, etc.) that I could pursue that will give me a better return on my investment? 

I've been down that road with networking groups and I found them to be a huge waste of my time. I am not against networking, but I am not a fan of wasted time and energy. If you find yourself wasting a lot of time at these events and you don't get viable leads as a result, you might want to ditch the offline networking for now and stick with online marketing channels.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Don't Reinvent the Marketing Wheel: How to Repurpose One Topic into Multiple Content Pieces

You don't have to start from scratch when it comes to your content marketing. I read an interesting content strategy today by Joe Pulizzi on Content Marketing Institute - take one idea/topic and repurpose it into 20 new pieces of content. Obviously, this won't work for every topic (or industry), but it's a great idea and makes perfect sense. This helps strengthen your brand across multiple digital and offline channels, and reinforces your online reputation and industry expertise.

Choose a topic that relates specifically to your industry and resonates with your target markets, customers, and clients. Don't be afraid to dive deep into the minds of your audiences--give them what they want! Not every content channel I listed below will be appropriate for your industry or niche, so be mindful of what works and doesn't work when it comes to your target markets. Remember to focus on just ONE idea or topic. 

As I read Joe Pulizzi's article, I thought, hmm, where and how could I take one topic and produce content in 20 new and interesting ways? These are the 20 content pieces I came up with--off the top of my head. 

1. Write content for your website 

2. Write and publish a blog post - if you don't have a blog, it's easy to create a WordPress blog.

3. Create a video and upload to YouTube and other video sharing sites

4. Upload a Powerpoint presentation on SlideShare and other free multimedia presentation sites

5. Create and publish an ebook focused on this topic (i.e. CreateSpace) - take your most popular blog posts or articles and turn them into an ebook

6. Write articles - contribute to article marketing sites such as Ezinearticles 

7. Write a white paper/report  or case study - offer as a free download on your website or blog

8. Share information in your e-newsletter. Write a short article centered around the topic or take key highlights from your blog post (cross-promote and include a link back to your blog)

9. Guest blogging & industry sites - reach out to bloggers and writers in your industry for guest blogging/writing opportunities

10. Be a guest on a podcast or online radio station - search out podcasts related to your topic or industry and pitch your topic idea. You can reach a wider audience by sharing your expertise and knowledge via online radio stations and podcasts.

11. Share content on social media. Take key points from other articles and highlight them in your social media posts.

12. Create an online course or webinar focused solely on your topic.

13. Connect with other industry experts and participate in online teleconferences that compliment your topic.

14. If appropriate, speak at local industry/business networking events and clearly focus on the topic. Hand out supplemental materials (repurpose a blog post or article tied to this topic)

15. Answer questions on LinkedIn or Facebook that relate to this topic--share your expertise and knowledge.

16. Join or start a group on LinkedIn or Facebook that centers around your topic/idea. Be active in these groups and share your content--just remember not to spam social media groups with advertisements or blatant promotions.

17. Use topic-related hashtags when tweeting i.e. #howtoattractcustomers, #socialmediamarketingtips, #socialmedia, #Internetmarketing etc.

18. Write online editorials, reviews, and helpful comments on other industry blogs, websites, and ezines that tie back to your topic.

19. Create visual infographics related to the topic - share on Pinterest and Instagram. 

20. Create and share a useful tool, template, or content freebie. Make sure it is "user-friendly" and easily accessible to your target audiences. For example, I have a free social media editorial calendar template that I share with my colleagues and clients. This is a handy tool and those I have shared with appreciate the fact that the work has been done for them. It helps them stay organized and focused on the big social media marketing picture.

Whew! That should give you plenty of ideas on how to get started with repurposing content in new and exciting ways. If you have other content marketing/repurposing tips that I missed, please feel free to share!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SEO Content Tips: Why Overused Business Catch Phrases Could Hurt Your Brand

Every industry/niche has its own jargon and buzz words. Before you sit down to write your next article, email, or blog post, look at the words you use. Are you using industry jargon and words that will go right over your audience's head? You want to speak to, and not AT, your audience. Obviously, there are times you can't avoid jargon (especially if you work in a very jargon-oriented industry like finance, etc.), however, the way you write to a colleague and/or employee is very different than how you should address your target markets/audience.

Ditch Overused Words 
You want your articles and blog posts to be easily found in the search engines, so write for your audience (and not for the search engines). Yes, keywords are important but write for actual human beings and don't inundate your audience with rambling, verbose jargon that leaves them confused.

Ditch the corporate speak. Avoid using the following words and "catch phrases" when writing business-related correspondence or content. These words/statements get overused in business content and the meaning becomes lost. Not to mention, you start sounding like every other brand/company out there.

  • unique
  • out of pocket
  • push the envelope
  • leverage
  • incentivize
  • level the playing field
  • impactful
  • hit the ground running
  • liaise
  • on the same page
  • guesstimate
  • go rogue
  • synergize/synergy
  • think outside the box
  • win-win
  • value-added
  • turnkey
  • under the radar
  • throw under the bus
  • throw it against the wall and see if it sticks
People don't want to read overused catch phrases that don't make any sense to them. Research and write about topics that interest your audiences and don't speak down to them! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Lady Thigh Shaper Debacle: Why Unsolicited Direct Mailings Are a Major Fail in the Digital Age

Sorry for the hiatus. I was knee-deep in true crime blogging about the Jodi Arias trial but now I'm back on track with my Zenful blog. So where were we?

A few months ago I was sent a piece of unsolicited mail. That's right, folks. An actual postcard that was delivered to me by the U.S. Postal Service. I didn't even know direct mailings still existed? I was not having the best day so when I read the postcard about "lady thigh shapers"-- evil looking stocking contraptions that reminded me of those horrid circulation stockings (which are not fun to wear--been there, done that!) -- I wasn't a happy camper.

I fired off an email to their customer service rep and basically told them they wasted postage by sending me an unsolicited piece of mail (can you say recycle bin?) and asked them to take me off their mailing list and to never contact me again. First, it is insulting to me as a woman. Did they find pictures of women online and say hmmm, look at the thighs on her, she really needs our vice-constricting thigh shapers, that will not only suck the cellulite in, but will also cut off her circulation? Thanks, but NO thanks!

I'm not going to name the company because I don't want to give them any publicity. C'mon, in the age of the internet and email campaigns, sending unsolicited direct mail is a HUGE waste of money -- not to mention it's a MAJOR fail.

That piece of mail really annoyed me and it only takes one customer, like me, to spread the word--and not in a good way! I told other friends about what happened and posted the information on my social media about my bad experience with this company. As a result, at least 200 plus people read about this company's spammy direct mailing. A lot of my female friends commented on what a lame product it was anyway--why would women even WANT to wear those awful stockings? Sorry, but the lace trim doesn't disguise the fact that they look like shapewear for women FAR older than me.

So word to the wise to all lady shapewear companies, don't send out direct mailings and insult women who never "opted in" and shared their contact information with you. I'm sure they bought my information from a list but the tired tricks of circa-90s direct mailings just don't work--and they definitely DO NOT work on me.

Major fail. You won't ever catch me wearing lady thigh shapers. Ever.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Troll Patrol: How to Spot a Troll & Other Cyber Riff-Raff

Sorry for the absence but I'm back and writing about my favorite topic: online reputation management. I've been quite active in a Facebook group that involves the trial of Jodi Arias. It's amazing how many trolls came out of the cyber woodwork with this trial. If you aren't familiar with the case, it's a huge profile murder trial that has been happening since January.

I've monitored social media groups before, but this case has really brought out the worst in people - to the point that people's pictures and identities are being stolen (even more scary, their children's pictures are being stolen). It's really easy to get caught up in the web that these trolls spin, but you really need to stay on your toes with these trolls.
An online troll is defined as: "someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community such as forums, chat room, blog, etc. with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response." 

How To Spot an Internet Troll 

1. They use an alias (especially when they create social media accounts i.e. Facebook) and don't use their real name.

2. They only have a few contacts or friends on their profile or contact list.

3. They don't have any comments or interaction from other people posted on their page/account.

4. They don't have any photographs identifying who they are (or they post a fake photograph or image). Another warning sign: if they post pictures from high school and don't post current photos that could be a warning sign that they aren't who they say they are!

5. If they do have friends on their list, the names sound shady and fake (these could be under the same person - fake or multiple accounts).

6. IF they sound too good to be true, they probably aren't real. Also, if they want you to send money or donate to their cause, website, blog, etc. run in the opposite direction!

7. If they constantly send you spam messages, then yup, it's a TROLL!

8. Trolls use "throw away" email addresses. They use Gmail or Hotmail accounts so they can't be easily traced or they create bogus email addresses that don't even exist. This also applies with fake URLs of websites or blogs that don't exist.

9. Trolls are lazy - they don't want to take the time to fill out profiles or the "About" section. If these sections are left blank, then you probably have a troll on your hands.

and last but NOT least...#10 Trolls will always leave a trail and will eventually be caught. They will slip up with their email addresses, contact information, or use words or phrases that sound "fishy." Sometimes trolls use proxy servers (to hide their IP addresses) but as I mentioned above, trolls are lazy and they will slip up at some point...and that's when you can nab them.

If all else fails and you want to get rid of a troll, the best way to handle a troll is to delete them, block them, and report them to the administrator of the group, or report them to Facebook or Twitter.

For more information about how to avoid and protect yourself from online spammers and scammers, check out my blog series I wrote last year with fellow co-author, Karen Elliott.

Remember to stay safe and play it smart online - please, please protect your identity as it's very easy for these trolls to tap into your personal information. Hackers are sophisticated these days and you can never be too careful. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Return on Investment: Are You Selling & Marketing Benefits?

As a former fundraiser, I was always marketing and pitching the benefits to donors. If they chose to invest their donation in the cause, what benefits would they receive and where would their money go? In this tough economy, whether you sell the latest widget or gadget, or want to increase your donor all comes down to benefits.

Don't Just Talk About Your Products & Services: Show Worthwhile Benefits
I recently had the benefits vs. products conversation with a client partner. When I write sales copy for my clients, this is always in the forefront of my strategic brain. I explained how these certain products needed to show the benefits as opposed to just talking up the brand as a product unto itself.

Yes, people invest in the brand solely for the brand name, but that brand name comes with benefits - usually high quality and reliability that people can trust and rely on every time they "invest" in that particular brand. When people drop a chunk of change for a product or service, they don't fork over their money blindly. They want to receive value, in the way of benefits, in exchange for their investment.

Show your benefits - whether visually/graphically, audio/video, or via the written word (or all of the above!)  It all comes down to a valuable investment. People want to know what they get in return for the money they plan to spend on your products and services...and are they a worthwhile investment that will yield successful results? How will these benefits improve their bottom-line, and even more important, how will these benefits improve their LIFE?

Are You the Only Person Who Likes Your Product or Service?
I know that sounds like an odd question, but look at the show "Shark Tank" -  many contestants have competed on there with products that don't make sense (or they are the only one who likes their product). Yet they still ask investors to back a product that honestly won't sell in the "real world." If you haven't done your market research BEFORE you launch a product or service, you are looking at problems down the road.

If you are the only one who likes the product or service, it's going to be a tough sell. You need to think strategically - who are the target markets and who would actually use this product or service and will they invest in it? It won't do you any good if you are the only person on this planet who believes in or likes your product or service. You want others to like and believe in your products and services BEFORE you sell or market it.

I know that sounds like a no-brainer but there are some businesses who take the knee-jerk approach. They realize, after the fact, that they can't sell anything because no one else is invested in the "benefits" of the product. You could have the most amazing product or service in the world, but if you can't show why your products and services could make someone's life easier then you need to start at square one.

Tunnel Vision Content Won't Win You Fans
This also holds true of your content marketing. If you create a blog or website and you only write about topics that interest you, then you'll be your biggest - and ONLY - fan. Think about content that interests your target markets. If you don't care about sales or a bottom-line, that's one thing. However, if you want people to jump on your bandwagon then don't produce contently solely for yourself.

Whether you are a fundraiser or a new start-up, think return on investment when you market your products and services (or cause)...and show don't tell!

Twitter Marketing for Dummies (2nd Edition) by Lacy, Kyle [Paperback] (Google Affiliate Ad)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Social Media Justice & The Jodi Arias Trial

I continue to follow the Jodi Arias/Travis Alexander trial and participate in a Facebook group and Twitter feeds concerning news and updates about the trial. I'll save my political and legal rants for another time (or check out my editorial-based blog to read my updates and feedback about the trial).

As someone who assists clients with their online reputation and brand management via social media, social media plays an integral role in this trial. There are many Facebook groups - both for and against - Jodi Arias and many in support of the victim, Travis Alexander. When I want to find the latest information about the trial, I log into my Twitter and Facebook group. You can find the live stream of the trial online and news sources blog live updates throughout the day. The trial is literally at your virtual social media fingertips.

I wonder if any news about the trial has leaked to the jury? It seems like they literally cannot have any form of technology with him because you can find any and all information online. Were their phones confiscated? I know that they are sequesteredm but how cut off are from the rest of the virtual world?

But where there is heat comes fire with a high profile murder case. The lawyers, Alexander and his family, and Arias herself have been bashed in social media posts. Opinions are what makes up social media, and depending on how you view the trial, social media could either help or hurt (or both) in the Travis Alexander trial.

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's All in the Eyes: What Do Your Eyes Really Say About You & How You Communicate?

It's been said that the "eyes are the window to the soul." Friends have told me that they can tell how I'm feeling just from looking at my eyes - when I'm tired or upset, my eyes usually give me away.

For the past few weeks, I've been watching the Jodi Arias trial and tuning into what the body language experts have to say about Arias' body language, especially concerning her eyes. Based on how she looks down with her eyes and glances away from the prosecutor during the trial, she shows signs of deception and lying - not a big shocker. 

You don't have to be a forensics psychologist to put two and two together. As human beings, we can usually tell when someone is being deceptive or shifty: does the person look you straight in the eye or does their gaze shift away from you? As I listened to the experts weigh in about body language, it made me wonder about my body language. More specifically, what kind of message do I send with my eyes when I talk with a client, or when I meet someone new? 

Check out these five types of eye movements and the message you send, while talking to someone, just from your eyes alone: 

1. An intense stare or glare (without interruption) for a long period of time - the stare down:  threatening or invasive (if the pupils are really small, then you might want to run in the other direction!) 

2. Avoiding another person's gaze (or eyes shift downward or to the side): feeling uncomfortable about subject or topic, lying and/or feelings of guilt. But don't judge too quickly: if you stare at another person for a long period, they may look away for a few seconds just to take a break from your gaze.

3. Gazing at regular intervals (but not in a stare-down type of way) - direct eye contact: open to the conversation, invites communication and discussion, and shows a relaxed manner and a sign of confidence. 

4. Rapid, excessive blinking: feelings of stress or discomfort, and/or shows signs of deceit and dishonesty 

5. Rolling eyes in upward motion: disagreement, feelings of frustration with conversation

Another helpful tip: if you meet someone for the first time and want to make a favorable impression, smile and look that person in the eye while extending your hand in a friendly manner. Warning: don't hold eye contact too long or you'll creep the other person out. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

How Color Impacts Your Content and Websites

I'm not a designer but as a copywriter, I work with designers and I write web site copy and content for the restaurant and food industry. Color plays a huge role when it comes to impacting your audience in a negative or positive way. If your content does not visually appeal to your targeted market, then you will probably turn them off as soon as they click on your blog or website.

When choosing colors for your content (from layout design to fonts), think carefully how about these colors will emotionally impact your audience. Colors appeal to the senses. For example, the biggest visual mistake in the restaurant and food industry is grainy, black and white food photography that restaurants use in their menu, websites, and social media. Food photography should pop with rich, appetizing colors. The dishes should LOOK delicious and appealing and not turn your customers' stomachs as soon as they look at the pictures.

Before you go wild with color, consider the psychology behind colors and the feelings they evoke: 

Green - a healing color tied to health and also related to animals, nature, balance and harmony. Green can also be tied to money and finance (i.e. money green).

Red - feelings of passion, love, action, strength, power, boldness, sense of adventure etc. and can also be considered an "angry" color (i.e. fire-engine red)

Blue - Soft and harmonious (pale, softer pastel blues) and darker blues reflect professionalism and success.

Purple - Royal, regal and luxurious (deep bold purple) or whimsical, dreamy, wistful (softer lavender shades)

Orange - Fun, creative, youthful, vibrant and energetic

Pink - Sweet, tender, and youthful/innocent

Brown - Earthy and natural

Grey - Reserved and neutral

White - Clean, pure, simple

Black - Serious, formal, mysterious/secretive 

If design and color aren't your forte, hire a professional designer to help you choose the best colors, layout design, etc. for your content and site. The wrong color choices could easily scare or turn off your targeted audiences.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Jodi Arias Trial & The Social Media Marathon

I've been following the Jodi Arias trial since January and the news outlets are doing a great job when it comes to their social media news coverage. I participated in the tweet blasts this week and discussions during the live stream of the trial. Everyone has an opinion which makes the social media discussions fascinating. Defense and prosecution attorneys, psychologists, and true crime experts are weighing in both offline and online.

If you want to follow the Jodi Arias trial social media marathon online, check out the following below - a list of my favorites.


Twitter Hashtags to follow: 


Well-Written, Quality Content Equals Successful SEO in 2013

This week I discussed why your business needs quality content and how content marketing can put you on the digital map. But how can content help your SEO and help you with search engine rankings? Search engines play it smart these days, especially Google, and they have cracked down on unethical blackhat SEO tricks such as keyword stuffing. The key to a successful SEO campaign in 2013 is high quality content that is well-written and researched. 

Build Links With Well-Researched, Longer Articles
Kiss short articles good-bye in 2013. Target audiences want meatier articles with real substance. According to SEOmoz, longer and more in-depth articles are where it's at when it comes to quality content. This helps improve conversions and builds your brand authority. Target markets tend to engage and interact more with longer, well-researched articles. 

Hire a Professional Writer 
 If you are going to play the digital media game this year, then it's time to think quality and not quantity. Hire a professional writer to write your content. Time is money so investing in quality writers might be the best return on your investment. Don't just take my word for it. According to an article on, one of the top trends shaping SEO in 2013 is a demand for businesses to hire "good writers who know their stuff." Professional writing equals quality content. 

Beware of Content Scammers 
Don't hire cheap, outsourced writers from content mill companies who churn out poorly written content. If it sounds too good to be true, then it's probably a scam. You might think you're saving a few bucks with those $5 articles, but they will hurt your SEO and your brand in the end. Many of these companies are out to make a quick buck and they don't hire professional, vetted writers. They are clueless when it come to research and re-purpose (or plagiarize) content. These supposed "unique" articles are usually stuffed with keywords and riddled with typos. Ask for writing samples, references, and credentials before hiring ANY writer (especially online). 

Remember it's your reputation on the line and your content should always accurately and honestly reflect your company brand. For more content tips, check out this article - how to protect your brand with ethical content marketing. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Content Marketing Can Your Put Your Business on the Digital Map

As we jump into 2013, consumers are blasted with ads and sales pitches (just look at the Super Bowl ads!) that sell the latest and greatest techno gadget or miracle beauty cream that will take years off your face. Don't get me wrong - a targeted sales campaign can work wonders for your business but the constant sales pitch 24, 7, without a strategic content marketing plan, won't work  in 2013...AND could potentially scare off potential customers and clients.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is also known as non-interruption marketing. In contrast, interruption marketing promotes a product or service through advertising and sales/marketing. Content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable, high quality content that informs, educates, and/or entertains your target market/audience. The ultimate goal of content marketing is to enhance your brand and strengthen your online reputation as an "expert" in your field while attracting and gaining customers and clients (and/or retention of your current customer base).

Basically, content marketing shares relevant information with your target markets but without the tiresome, sales pitch that people slink away from online. Content marketing is basically what social media is all about: social media should NOT be about selling your products and services - the quickest way to turn off customers.

Examples of Content Marketing

Content marketing runs the gamut and is more than just a company blog. These are just a few examples of content you can start implementing today.

  • Social Media
  • Websites & Blogs
  • Articles & Press Releases 
  • Online Communities
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Webcasts
  • E-zines
  • Mobile apps
  • Newsletters (both print and e-newsletters)
  • Videos 
  • Infographics & Photos
How to Get Started with Content Marketing

If you don't have any content, the best place to start is to create a blog. Check out these easy tips on how to create a business blog that will appeal to your target market/audience. 

Well-written articles and press releases are another effective way to spread the word about your company brand without selling your services. Remember that a press release should not blatantly sell or advertise your products or services. A press release needs to be timely and news worthy. A blatant sales pitch in a press release will be headed to the round file aka trash can. If writing isn't your forte, then hire a professional copywriter to assist you.

Create content that resonates honestly with who you are, and what your brand, products and services represent. Whether you are the manager of a high-end retail clothing store or write e-books about dog breeding, find your authentic voice and stick with it.

The best way to tell your story is through high quality content. You don't have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to write a blog or article that quickly captures your targeted readers' attention. And don't copycat other people's writing style. Find a style that fits well with your business climate, industry and  your personal voice. Before you start creating and distributing content, research other quality content in your industry/niche to get a "feel" for what's out there.

If you want your business to compete on the competitive digital map, remember that when it comes to the fast-paced social media superhighway, it's all about quality content.

For more content marketing tips, check out the following links:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to Verify Credible Sources For Article & Blog Interviews

Happy New Year! There is a lot of misinformation that floats around the internet on a daily basis. We are bombarded every day with news and enough information to make our heads explode. Look at politicians - enough said. The term "credible source" is almost an oxymoron these days. How credible are these sources that are quoted in articles and on blog posts? Are they really who they say they are? Can you trust them with the information they share - are they really an expert in their field and know what they're talking about?

It's important to verify your sources before you even interview them - it will help save you a lot of time and energy. Follow these steps below:

1. Before you interview a source, conduct research first. If something doesn't pan out with your source, you might want to skip the interview. Dig through their social media and website. Is the person a published author or have been published in industry journals or publications? Do they teach classes or webinars on their area of expertise? Do they write articles or scholarly papers?

2. An "expert" isn't always the CEO or PR director of the company.  If you want the real scoop, interview their customers or other outside vendors or sub-contractors who work with them. CEOs and owners like to paint a rosy picture and are usually well-groomed by their PR department as to what to say and not to say during interviews.

3. Dig around for a resume/CV (LinkedIn is a great way to check out someone's professional background). Review their bios and past job experience.

4. When in doubt, search online and see what pops up under their name. Do they have a shady past? Do they owe money to the IRS? If their background seems questionable, you might want to find someone else to interview. Your reputation could also be on the line if you quote a source with an unsavory past.

5. Was this person interviewed by other journalists or bloggers? Look for other articles where your source was quoted. What did he or she say? If you have further questions, contact the writer and ask follow-up questions before setting up the interview.

Check out more interview tips - learn how to turn your guest interviews into valuable content on your blog or website. 

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies