5 Tools That Will Make You A Better Writer

4-tools-that-will-make-you-a-better-writer

I love writing. To me, there is nothing more cathartic or soothing than turning off the rest of the world and putting my thoughts to paper. This passion has made it easy for me to create content for Duct Tape…

I love writing. To me, there is nothing more cathartic or soothing than turning off the rest of the world and putting my thoughts to paper. This passion has made it easy for me to create content for Duct Tape Marketing. I don’t see it as a chore, I see it as an opportunity to relax. And once the blog post is written, I can look back upon it and smile with a sense of accomplishment.

But I do understand that many business owners don’t feel the same way about writing, or marketing in general. For some of you, writing content is a bore at best, an extreme source of anxiety at worst. I get it, the first few times I wrote something, I was nervous to share it with the world. Putting your content out on the Internet can make you feel vulnerable, particularly when the stereotype of Internet commenters is that they are demeaning and combative.

The truth is, the community on the Internet isn’t nearly what you think it is. In my experience, you all have been supportive and even empowering. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to put your best foot forward when producing content.

That’s why I’ve collected these 4 handy tools that will help you become a better writer of great content. Of course, nothing replaces practice, but these tools will make it easier to recognize your writing style, polish your finished product, and even help you focus.

GRAMMARLY

The English language is one of the most complex languages in the world. There are thousands of rules to remember, most of which people ignore on a daily basis in conversation. It’s easy enough to forget obscure grammar rules from back in high school, let alone specific writing conventions you may just be learning. Grammarly will make your writing better by helping you catch all of the errors you don’t even know you’re making.

Grammarly is extremely effective at catching small errors like correctly spelled, but misused words that spell check doesn’t, and even identifies advanced grammar errors. Grammarly also analyzes your writing patterns and helps you improve by identifying things like use of passive voice and overused words.

You can download Grammarly for your browser and even download it for your word processing program. Of course, you can also upgrade to the paid version and get even more advanced insights to your writing style.

SCRIVENER

If you’re just creating one or two pieces of content a month, Scrivener may not be for you, but it is without a doubt my favorite word processing program. Scrivener allows you to collect research, notes and your writing all in one file.

Do you like to use physical notes to collect your thoughts before writing? Scrivener allows you to outline your project with notecards and outlines. For instance, I used it to create digital notecards for each tool I was considering in this post and arranged them to turn them into a full outline. By the time I actually sit down to write, the words flow quickly from my keyboard.

Again, this isn’t for everyone, but if you’re serious about writing you may want to give it a try. 

HEMMINGWAY

Earnest Hemmingway was well known for his short, easy to read sentences. It made his works surprisingly easy to read despite the thematic complexity. The appropriately named Hemmingway tool analyzes your writing and helps identify ways to shorten your sentences and make it easier to read.

It is important to make your web content as easy to read as possible. Breaking up your text into sections with sub headlines is a great way to make your content skimmable, but the body of your text will keep them. If your readers lose your train of thought because your sentences are too complex, they won’t stick around for you to make your point.

Grammarly will help you polish your writing and make it better. Hemmingway will make it easier to read.

FOCUS 

I don’t know about you, but when I’m writing, I like to tune out the rest of the world. When you can just focus on the task at hand, it makes it much easier to complete it. That’s why I use Focus while I write.

Focus allows you to temporarily block time-wasting websites while you work. We all get writer’s block or are forced to take a moment to think about what we’re going to say next. At least for me, it’s pretty easy to take a break, go to Facebook, then suddenly lose some time looking at pictures of my friends’ pets. With Focus, you can prevent this, so the time you spend thinking about your content is actually spent thinking about your content.

If writing the draft takes less time to complete, you’ll have more time to edit and redraft. You spend less time making the content and more time making the content better.

This goes beyond writing content too. You can use it to block websites as you reach an important deadline or as you approach a new project. Focus is a great all-around tool for the easily distracted entrepreneur, as many of us tend to be.

What tools do you use to write? Do you have any secret weapons that help you create better content? Let me know in the comments below.

Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

 

*This post first appeared on Duct Tape Marketing on Tuesday 17th May 2016

25 Visual Content Marketing Tools To Engage Your Audience by Tomas Laurinavicius

Today I’m sharing a list of 25 visual content marketing tools to engage your audience. It will help you to enrich the storytelling experience you’re creating.

Desygner is an online design tool that lets you create banners, posters, invitations, Facebook covers, social media posts and more, all for free.

Snappa is on of the easiest graphic design tools you’ll ever use. It allows you to create amazing designs without the help of a graphic designer.

Canva makes it super easy to create graphics that get engagement on social media. There’s plenty of templates for marketers from email headers to blog graphics.

Piktochart is an easy-to-use infographic maker. It will take your visual communication to the next level, without hiring a professional designer.

Prezi makes presentations stand out and get remembered. Unlike static slides, it combines motion, zoom, and spatial relationships to engage your audience and help them remember your message.

Visage is a design and visual content creation tool for content marketers who need to create a lot of visual content.

Curalate is a visual commerce platform that connects content to commerce throughout the customer journey to generate awareness, increase engagement and drive revenue.

Storify gives you the tools to create the best evergreen and live blog stories, uniting traditional storytelling with engaged audiences.

PlaceIt lets you upload images of your product or website and insert them into high-quality photos for free. No Photoshop needed.

Silk is a data publishing platform. It lets anyone create interactive data visualizations, publish websites, and tell interactive stories.

ThingLink lets you create custom interactive images by adding clickable icons to links, video, text, music, other images, you name it.

Pablo by Buffer is a simple yet powerful design tool to help you become a better social media marketer. It’s designed for social sharing and makes it very easy to capture images to share directly to social networks or to add to your social content.

SlideShare is the biggest slide hosting service in the world. While it doesn’t provide creation tools, it’s a perfect place to find inspiration for your visual content or upload your own documents, presentations, infographics and more.

Polarr is free and powerful online photo editor. Simply put it’s the pro photo editor for everyone. From high-precision color tools to advanced clarity and dehaze filters, Polarr brings free pro photo editing tools to your mobile device.

ChartBlocks is an online chart building tool. You can easily design and share a chart in minutes. Import your data, design your chart and then start sharing it.

Infogr.am is the world’s most popular infographics creator. You can easily add graphs, maps, text, and even playable videos without diving deep into a design program.

Datawrapper empowers you to create amazing visualizations in seconds. You can use visuals to reflect numbers-related content by creating engaging presentations and infographics.

InVision is the world’s leading prototyping, collaboration & workflow platform. It’s a great solution for publishing clickable and interactive high-fidelity prototypes in minutes.

Venngage is another great online tool for creating beautiful infographics. To get started choose from hundreds of professional templates for infographics, reports, posters, promotions and social media posts.

Easel.ly lets you create and share visual ideas. You can choose from thousands of reporting, timeline, resume and process templates.

Issuu is the largest collection of free-to-read publications from incredible publishers around the globe. You can publish content such as magazines, catalogs, eBooks and more on this free platform.

Adobe Post empowers you to create stunning social graphics in seconds. A perfect tool for content marketers on the go.

Uberflip is a content experience platform that aggregates all of your content (blog articles, eBooks, videos, white papers, and more) so you can create, manage, and optimize tailored content experiences for every stage of the buyer journey.

Apester is a digital storytelling platform that allows you to create and embed surveys, personality tests, video quizzes and polls into your social posts.

Mapme is one of the most powerful map creators out there. You can easily create, customize, grow and promote your maps. The best part? No coding needed.

What’s your tool of choice?

That’s a big list to choose from. What tools do you use for your visual content marketing needs? Share them by leaving a comment or tweet me @tomaslau.

*This post by Tomas Laurinavicius first appeared on Forbes Tech on 11th May 2016.

 

 

 

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging by Julia McCoy

If you’re like most bloggers, you’re probably wondering how you can produce huge results, the kind other bloggers retire doing. Or, you’re looking to gain a serious boost for your business via blogging, but not sure how to get rolling. Fortunately, this success isn’t just blind luck – it is the direct result of a series of efforts you can apply to your own blog.

If you’re like most bloggers, you’re probably wondering how you can produce huge results, the kind other bloggers retire doing. Or, you’re looking to gain a serious boost for your business via blogging, but not sure how to get rolling.

Fortunately, this success isn’t just blind luck – it is the direct result of a series of efforts you can apply to your own blog.

If you’re looking to increase your SEO, blogging is the first and most important step. According to HubSpot’s 2015 blogging frequency benchmark data, companies that blog earn 97% more inbound links than companies that do not. Additionally, companies that post more than 16 blog posts each month get roughly 3.5 times more traffic than companies that publish four or fewer posts each month. (We recently gained over 300 keyword positions in a single day—and it was 100% through our content & blogging.)

Read on to learn more about the SEO importance of blogging and how you can triple your SEO efforts through regular, high-quality posts.

Blogging 101: Why it’s so Darn Important for SEO

When it comes to SEO, there is arguably nothing more important than blogging. In order for content to rank well, there has to be content in the first place and multiple industry leaders have shown that companies that blog regularly do better than companies that don’t. 

HubSpot’s aforementioned blogging frequency benchmark data shows that when small companies with 1-10 employees publish more than 11 posts each month, their sites get three times as much traffic as companies of the same size that publish only one post per month. What’s more, sites with 11 posts each month earn twice as much traffic as companies that publish between 2-5 posts each month.

For slightly larger companies, the results are comparable: companies with between 26-200 employees that publish more than 11 posts per month get twice as much traffic than companies who only publish one post each month.

It’s obvious that blogging frequency really does matter and that, in order to boost traffic and improve SEO, you need to produce relevant, useful content on a regular basis.

One of the main reasons for this is that old blog posts stick around long after they’ve been published. In fact, when HubSpot conducted a study of their own blogging traffic, they found that 90% of the leads their blog produced actually came from old posts. That said, it’s possible to generate, in equal parts, traffic from both old and new content, as long as you know how to create content that is genuinely interesting and valuable.

How to Blog for SEO: 6 Takeaway Tips

Now that you know how important blogging is for SEO, here are 6 tips to help you blog better and produce better results.

1. Create quality content

This may seem obvious, but creating content is one of the most important aspects of SEO. This is because each post you write adds a new SEO page that has the potential to be crawled and indexed by Google. Additionally, each new post can be optimized for unique long-tail keywords which allows bloggers to create pages full of new ranking opportunities. Blogs also offer the opportunity for high-quality backlinks and plenty of organic traffic to your site.

2. Write attention-grabbing headlines

If you do it right, every post you write can create high-quality traffic that gets you noticed. Unfortunately, most people don’t do this right. This is because they focus only on getting content written and distributed rather than creating viral content that maintains its value. The first secret to doing the latter is to make sure that your headlines are irresistible.

Eight out of 10 people read headlines while only two out of 10 read body copy, so you can bet that people will click through to your blog if you get your headline right. Need an example? Consider Upworthy for a moment. Upworthy launched two years ago and now boasts viral posts and 88 million visitors, which makes it more popular by visitor numbers than the Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Buzzfeed. The secret to Upworthy’s success? Attention-grabbing headlines first of all, and then minimal sharing buttons and the use of short, intriguing videos to grab users.

How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

Once you’ve mastered killer headlines, you’ll want to ensure that your content is the correct length. At Express Writers, our blogs are generally between 1000-3000 words and Buzzsumo has found that its most popular posts range between 3000-10,000 words.

3. Solve your readers’ problems

No matter how quality your content is or how shocking your headlines are, it isn’t going to carry you to SEO and sales success if it doesn’t pertain directly to your readers. This means that, in order for your blogging efforts to work in favor of your SEO standing, you need to understand your audience very well. You should know what they’re interested in and which problems they’re struggling with and you should be able to synthesize new content ideas that will help make their lives easier.

To get a better handle on who your audience is and what they want, use sites like Quora to get involved in niche-specific conversations and then head to BuzzSumo for help in creating and generating new ideas for content. BuzzSumo allows users to plug in keywords and see what other related topics have gone viral on social media. Another great tool for this same purpose is Ubersuggest, which is fantastic for generating ideas for blog posts and advertises itself as “Google suggest on steroids.”   

4. Make it evergreen

It’s one thing for your posts to be attention-grabbing but it’s entirely another for them to hold their value throughout the months or years. This is where Evergreen topics come in. According to Moz, evergreen content offers “continued and sustained success.” To put it another way, evergreen content doesn’t rely upon passing trend and it doesn’t rely on the re-posting of old content. Rather, it uses foundational industry truths as topics from which to branch out. Examples in the world of blogging include “How to Blog – The Steps to a Successful Blog Start,” “Revealed: 19 Things to Know Before You Start a Blog” and ProBlogger’s own “How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners.” These posts all take one evergreen topic (blogging) and offer helpful tips and tricks on the subject. Because of this, these posts aren’t going to come into and out of fashion. Instead, they will continue to be highly searched-for and will continue to be a major source of traffic for their home sites.

5. Use long tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are and have always been a big traffic factor for bloggers. Take Search Engine Journal, for example, who noted a huge 78% jump in traffic after optimizing their content for long-tail keywords. In order to optimize content for long tail keywords, it’s important to create extensively researched, lengthy, valuable content that utilizes your long-tail keywords in a natural way.

Since long tail keywords show you what your users are looking to do, there’s a high probability that content optimized for them will produce far better conversions than content that is not. Additionally, longtail keywords can help you understand how to better structure content in order to solve a searcher’s problems or provide value for their needs.

6. Use CTAs to collect emails

As of 2013, there were more than 3.6 billion email addresses worldwide with upwards of 247 million emails sent on a daily basis. According to many email marketing experts, for every $1.00 bloggers spend on email marketing tactics, they earn $42.00. If you need an example, you can think about QuickSprout, which created a revenue of $43k from one email blast over a single 24-hour period.

That said, it’s wise to collect emails every time someone visits your site. Do this through a special landing page or embed email popups or subscription forms throughout your blog. Accompany these with powerful CTAs and then use the gathered emails for email marketing down the road. In order to get the most emails possible, ensure that your site is structured properly and easy to use. This means that your site should be compatible for all devices and very readable (in terms of font type and actual writing). The site should also load quickly and be easy to navigate. When your site provides a positive experience for users, people are much more likely to click and subscribe than they would be for a difficult site that wasn’t intuitive.

Conclusion

While increasing SEO can be confusing, it’s obvious that blogging does in fact have a large impact on SEO. Follow these 6 tips to help you blog better, increase SEO rankings, and make more sales. Happy blogging!

Julia is a serial entrepreneur and content marketer, and the founder of Express Writers; she loves to blog and is a soon-to-be published author.

Source: How to Triple Your SEO Efforts Just By Blogging

30 Content Marketing Tools You Need to Reach Your Persona by Bob Ruffolo

www.virtuadmin.uk
30 Content Marketing Tools You Need to Reach Your Persona by Bob Ruffolo

Do you ever wonder how the best content marketers get so much done in such little time?

Sure, they have a team of people helping out, but that’s not all.

They use tools that help them plan content, manage content, and improve the performance of their websites.

These tools save content marketers hours of time and provide valuable information that you just can’t find with a Google search.

The following are 30 of the best content marketing tools available, including the tools we use for our business and our clients.

Content Planning Tools

1. SEMRush

semrush

 

What it does: SEMRush tracks over 95,000,000 keywords and over 56,000,000 domains to provide a complete competitive analysis of websites in your industry. You can find out how they rank for keywords and get an estimate of their traffic.

What it costs: Starts at $69.95 per month.

2. Ahrefs Content Explorer

Ahrefs_Content_Explorer

What it does: A simple tool that helps you find the most shared content for any topic.

What it costs: Free with limited searches; plans start at $79 per month.

3. Google Trends

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(Source)

What it does: Helps you find trends based on topics, location, and other variables. You can see historical trends and trends happening in real-time.

What it costs: Free

4. Content Strategy Helper Tool

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What it does: This tool consolidates trending news from across the internet to provide inspiration for content topics.

What it costs: Free

5. BuzzSumo

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What it does: BuzzSumo lets you find what content performs best for any topic or competitor website.

What it costs: Free with limited data; plans start at $99 per month

6. Tweak Your Biz Title Generator

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What it does: Type in your topic, hit enter, and then this tool spits out hundreds of share-worthy blog titles for you to choose from.

What it costs: Free

7. Inbound Now Blog Title Idea Generator

inbound_now_blog_title_idea_generator

(Source)

What it does: This tool is slightly different than the previous one. It randomly shows you a blog title idea where you can fill in your topic. You keep clicking to see more ideas, until you find the one that grabs your attention.

What it costs: Free

Content Management Tools

9. HubSpot

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What it does: HubSpot is the best end-to-end Inbound Marketing platform that allows you to manage your blog, social media, email marketing, list segmentation, lead generation and scoring, landing pages, and more.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $200 per month

8. DivvyHQ

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What it does: DivvyHQ is an entire platform that helps you plan, schedule, and publish content, as well as manage the entire workflow.

What it costs: 14-day free trial; plans start at $1,000 per month

10. Kapost

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What it does: Kapost is a content management framework that allows you to create content, distribute it on social media, and view analytics.

What it costs: Plans start at $1,000 per month

11. Siege Media Content Marketing Checklist

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What it does: This is a helpful checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you can to create the best piece of content.

What it costs: Free

12. WordPress Editorial Calendar

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What it does: Allows you to easily manage your blog posts with a drag-and-drop interface and schedule publishing.

What it costs: Free

13. Trello

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What it does: Trello is a visual-based organization tool that allows you to manage separate projects or “boards” at once.

What it costs: Free

15. Google Drive

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What it does: Google drive is a cloud storage software that allows you to create and collaborate on word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and drawings.

What it costs: Free

14. Evernote

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What it does: Evernote is like Trello and Google Drive combined.

What it costs: Free with limited features; plans start at $24.99 per year

Tools to Improve Your Content Marketing

16. Inkybee

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What it does: Provides insights about websites to help you identify influencers for outreach and PR.

What it costs: 14-day free trial; plans start at $79 per month

17. BuzzStream

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What it does: Research influencers, manage your relationships, and conduct outreach that’s personalized and efficient.

What it costs: 14-day free trial; plans start at $29 per month

18. SocialOomph

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What it does: Allows you to schedule social media posts, track keywords, manage multiple accounts, and more.

What it costs: 7-day free trial; plans start at $6.97 every two weeks

19. Outbrain

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What it does: A service that lists your blog posts under “relevant articles” or “promoted stories” on major websites such as CNN, TechCrunch, and ESPN.

What it costs: Minimum daily budget of $10

20. GetResponse

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What it does: It’s a more advanced version of Aweber or MailChimp for email marketing.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $12.75 per month

Measuring Progress and Tracking Metrics

21. Google Analytics

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What it does: Measures your web traffic and provides insights into traffic sources, demographics, user behavior, and more.

What it costs: Free with premium options for big websites

22. Advanced Web Ranking

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What it does: Provides SEO audits, tracks rankings, keyword research, content optimization, and more.

What it costs: Licenses start at $199

23. Moz

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What it does: Moz is a comprehensive tool that provides analytics, competitor research, and tracking for a variety of metrics.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $99 per month

24. Share Tally

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What it does: You type in a URL and this tool shows you where it’s been shared and how many times.

What it costs: Free

25. ShareMetric Chrome Extension

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What it does: A Chrome extension that compiles link data and organic search visibility from several popular marketing tools.

What it costs: Free on Google Chrome

Tools to Increase Conversions

26. OptimizePress

optimizepress

What it does: Allows you to easily build landing pages to drive sales of your product or service.

What it costs: Packages start at $97

27. Visual Website Optimizer

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What it does: Run split tests, track user behavior, and optimize pages with minimal technical knowledge.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $49 per month

28. Optimizely

optimizely

What it does: A simple tool for running A/B tests and tracking user behavior without using code.

What it costs: Free with limited features; plans start at $17 per month

29. Crazy Egg

Crazy-Egg-Heatmap

What it does: Creates heat maps of your website that let you visually analyze user behavior.

What it costs: 30-day free trial; plans start at $9 per month

30. Leadin

leadin

What it does: A free tool from HubSpot that lets you track user behaviors, convert visitors into email subscribers or leads, and provides detailed contact information.

What it costs: Free

Bob Ruffolo

Bob Ruffolo

Bob is the founder and CEO of IMPACT, an agency he formed in 2009 to help people and their organizations succeed by changing the way they market themselves online. Since its founding, IMPACT has achieved its status as one of HubSpot’s first Platinum Partners in less than 2 years, and secured its place as one of the top inbound marketing agencies in the country.

Follow Bob: Bob Ruffolo on Twitter Bob Ruffolo on Linkedin Bob Ruffolo on Google+

Starting from Scratch: 6 Steps to Your First Content Marketing Plan

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Content marketing is amazing for attracting your target audience and building a relationship with it.

There is just one problem, though…

How do you do it?

I share a lot of content marketing tips in my posts, but those posts usually assume you’re already doing content marketing, at least to some degree.

But if you haven’t started yet, or are very new to it, you won’t get as much out of those posts as those with some experience.

So, if you’ve felt that my past posts about content marketing have been too advanced for you, this one will help.

I’m going to give you a step-by-step process to follow to create a successful content marketing plan.

I’m talking about a plan that is simple to understand and execute but that can be used to drive thousands of qualified visitors to your website every month (in less than a year).

Why content marketing?

There are several dozen types of marketing.

They can all produce good results when applied in the right situation.

But I think we’re in a special time for content marketing.

Businesses and marketers are recognizing how effective it is in the modern consumer climate.

People have always liked to buy from businesses and people with whom they have relationships and whom they trust.

Until the Internet, it was hard for businesses to build those relationships.

But now, it’s easier than ever to deliver content to an audience.

This is important whether you’re selling straight to the consumer or to a business. A recent survey found that 67% of B2B buyers base their buying decisions on content.

And they don’t become just buyers—a large percentage of them also frequently share that content (most often in the form of a blog post – 40%).

Most marketers have just started recognizing all this.

Currently, 80% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy.

However, 48% (overall) do not have a written plan. In 99% of cases, this means that they really have no clue what they’re doing.

That’s good news for you. Why? Because just by putting in some effort to go through this post and writing a few things down, you’ll be ahead of over 50% of online marketers.

I’ll let you in on a secret:

Most businesses suck at content marketing.

Seriously, look at the blogs for most businesses—they’re a joke.

But still, 30% of marketers find content marketing“effective”, and another 44% get some results from it.

Don’t be in those bottom three groups…

There’s no reason why you can’t find content marketing very effective for generating traffic and, most importantly, qualified leads for your business.

Follow the six steps I cover in the rest of this post, and write down your notes as you go.

In the end, you’ll have a short, clear, and effective content marketing plan to base your future work on.

Step 1: Why are you doing this?

Before you can start producing content of any kind, it pays to do a bit of planning.

If you just produce content for a general audience, chances are you won’t get much in the way of results.

To really see great results, you need to:

Identify your target audienceCreate content that resonates with those specific readers

When you create general content, it will never resonate with anyone, which is why it isn’t effective.

But it’s not enough to just target a specific audience. You need to understand their beliefs, problems, and desires so that your content matches them.

Part #1 – Who are they? Create a section in a blank document for Step 1. At the top of this section, you need to define who your target audience is.

For example, if you sell running gear, your audience may be “runners.”

But do you see the problem with that?

While “runners” is technically an audience, it’s not a well defined one.

There are many different kinds of runners:

professional marathonersprofessional sprintersrecreational joggers (do it for fun)runners trying to lose weightrunners trying to strengthen their legs…

…and so on.

Do you think you could create content that would speak to both a professional marathoner and a random guy that’s just trying to lose his beer gut?

Not a chance.

Get as specific as you can. You want to identify an audience who would agree with your label.

A professional marathoner would say:

I’m not just a runner; I’m a professional marathoner who trains year round and races six times a year.

I’m not a running expert, so six times might be too many, but you get the point…

Once you have the name of your audience, write it down.

Now you can start to build a reader persona.

Give your average audience member a fictional name before moving on to part #2. This allows you to write to one person, which is an old copywriting trick for writing in a more conversational tone that is more likely to resonate with your readers.

Part #2 – What are they struggling with? Here’s where serious research comes into play.

You need to start profiling your reader.

In this part, you’ll identify as many problems your target audience faces as possible. If you can, classify them by severity.

Let’s continue with the running example.

How do you find out what problems marathoners have?

The best way to gather that information is to simply talk to them. I know it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world to do for some people, but if you can, chat with a few for 10-20 minutes.

Ask them about their biggest problems and obstacles.

If that fails, head to online forums and community sites specifically set up for your target audience. You want to find a place where they talk to each other about their problems.

If you have no clue where to start, start with Reddit.

You can find a subreddit (basically a categorized community) for just about any topic.

In this case, a simple search on Google reveals a couple of “marathon” subreddits:

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Spend at least 20-30 minutes looking through the threads you find.

Record any problems you see people talk about as well as how often they come up and how serious they seem to be.

On the first few results, I already see two problems:

beginner marathoners who are not sure about etiquette during a race and
racerunners having joint pain during a taper (when they reduce their mileage leading up to a race).

Ideally, get a list of over 100 problems.

It sounds like a lot, but it’s doable, and you’ll be set for content ideas for a while.

Alternatively, do a search for forums on Google.

In this case, these results are probably better.

They are geared towards experienced marathoners, whereas that first subreddit was focused on beginners (although it will have some experienced runners too).

You do the exact same thing here—look for problems.

Again, I see a few problems right off the bat:

How do you set your pace for a marathon?What do you do if you start getting pain leading up to the marathon?

Write down your list of problems (in your document or in a separate spreadsheet) before moving on.

Part #3 – Where do they look for solutions? In order to provide your audience with solutions to their problems, you need to find a way to get those solutions in front of them.

Most of these places are online, so that’s what you should focus on.

You need to compile a list of websites they visit.

That starts with the forums and communities you just found in part 2.

Other than those, you’ll just have to search around.

I would recommend starting with:

top (niche) sites
top (niche) blogs

image

You should be able to compile at least 20-30 “popular” sites they visit.

If it looks like a site only has a few dozen readers, don’t bother recording it.

Record these sites as we’ll be coming back to them later.

Part #4 – How will you solve their problems better than anyone else? No matter what your topic is, there are already at least a few popular sites that cover it.

Readers need very good reasons to either add your site to the ones they already follow or replace one of them with yours.

And the way you convince them to do that is bygiving more value.

If your content is clearly better than that of your competitors’, you will draw readers away from them.

Start by going to the most popular sites in your niche.

Look through their content, and note any weaknesses in it.

For example, I picked the first popular marathon site I found, which was a blog on a major running site.

The content is written by a true expert, but it’s quite basic, and it’s very anecdotal.

I would note under weaknesses:

Not enough images, lists, etc.Could use more data supporting pointsVery short, doesn’t dive into the topic thoroughly

Then, I would move on to the next blog.

After 5-10, you’ll start to see the same things pop up every time. These are your opportunities.

Go back to your document. Your goal here is to create a concise description of how your content will be more valuable to your target audience.

For example:

Our content will include a lot of relevant visual content as well as data-driven answers. We will go deep into subjects to try to satisfy our target audience.

Having that description to guide you in the future will ensure that you focus on the right things.

Step 2: Here’s how you figure out the best type of content to produce

The “content” in content marketing can mean a lot of different things.

Pretty much anything that can possibly contain a message is considered content. That includes:

blog postsinfographicspictures (drawings, comics, photographs, paintings)podcastsvideose-booksslideshows

and much more.

If you produce certain types of content for your audience, you’ll get better results than you would with other types.

To figure out what the best type is, you have to consider two factors.

What are your audience’s preferences? Some audiences prefer certain types of content over others.

For example, home decorators are mainly looking for visual content. Pictures and videos are the primary form of content in the home decorating niche.

On the other hand, a niche like nutrition mainly will have your standard text content with pictures mixed in.

The tough part is figuring out what is best for your niche.

To do this, we’re going to look at a few different indicators.

Start by heading to Buzzsumo. Create a free account if you don’t have one yet, and then search for your niche (you can choose a broader niche here).

image

What you’ll likely see is that one of the main social networks is much more popular than the others.

If Pinterest or Facebook are the most popular, image-based content is going to be crucial. Pinterest is a purely image-based network, while images are by far the most shared type of content on Facebook.

But that’s not a perfect overview of the whole situation.

What about things like podcasts?

That’s where you need to search individually. The two other forms of content you need to check for are podcasts and videos.

With podcasts, you can use two methods.

First, you can look at Stitcher’s top 100 podcasts in a relevant category.

In our example, I picked “sports” since that’s what running would fall under.

I looked through the top 100 and couldn’t find a single podcast about running. That tells me there isn’t a lot of interest.

Ideally, you’d like to see at least a few different podcasts about your niche as an indicator of some interest.

If you see 3-4 in the top 10, that tells you that audio content is huge in your niche and you should definitely incorporate it into your content strategy if you can.

Anther way you can check for podcasts is to simply Google “top (niche) podcasts”.

I found a few, run by some popular websites. Then, I looked them up on Stitcher and found that they had barely any reviews. This means they aren’t very popular.

image

In this case, audio content is out.

Finally, what about video content?

Well, that’s pretty easy to check for. Go to YouTube, and search for your niche. You can also try a few suggestions from the search bar.

image

This actually surprised me. There were many marathon-running videos with several thousand views.

I didn’t expect this, which is exactly why you need to check.

Look at the number of views on each video. You’ll have to decide what you’d consider a significant number, but I’d be looking for at least 10 videos to have at least 20,000 views to indicate serious interest.

If there’s only one video with a ton of views, it’s likely a one-off viral fluke and should be discounted.

What are your strengths and/or budget? The second main factor depends on your skillset. If you’re not a good writer, you probably want to lean towards a different type of content.

Often, you’ll find that multiple forms of content are equally popular in your niche. That gives you a lot of flexibility. You can use any combination of them.

But what if only one type of content is popular?Well, then you have no choice.

If you aren’t comfortable creating that content, you have a decision to make:

learn how to create it or
hire someone to do it for you

If you have a healthy budget for content marketing, hiring is always a good option.

If not, you’ll need to develop those skills on your own.

Now, combine the two: Now you’re looking for the intersection of these two areas:

the type of content desired by your target audience and
the type of content you can actually produce.

The type(s) of content that falls into both areas is the one(s) you should produce for your target audience.

[Read the full article here:  http://www.quicksprout.com/2015/11/06/starting-from-scratch-6-steps-to-your-first-content-marketing-plan/]

15 Essential Content Creation Apps You Need Right Now

Imagine if you could create content faster? This article presents 15 content creation apps that will make your job (and life) easier.

Writing is your drawcard.

It’s the number one tool you have at your fingertips for marketing an online business.

So it needs to be good.

You need to write compelling copy that engages readers, gets them to listen up and encourages them to buy.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could create content faster without giving up on quality?

Today I’m going to introduce you to 15 content creation apps that will make your job (and life) easier. From coming up with new content ideas, to writing content and eventually promoting it.

Let’s get straight into it.

Coming up with content ideas

This is often the most difficult step for a content creator.

What should I write about?

And frankly, a blank page is not helping at all.

Readers are tired of the same old topics and tips. They are always expecting something out of the ordinary, life changing and breath taking. Without these catchy topics, people won’t come back for more.

So here are some sources of inspiration.

1. Feedly

Feedly content appsFeedly offers a daily inspiration of great content ideas.

Things happen all the time, in absolutely every field. But as a writer, you can’t afford to browse tons of websites to look for interesting news. This takes too much time.

This is why Feedly exists! This web app gathers news from different websites all in one place.

Users can select the sources and sort the news by topics. After this, you only have to log in and bam – News comes to you!

Now pick up the catchiest topic one and start writing.

2. Mindnote

Mindnote image for content creation appsSometimes, people expect to find material solutions to the problems they read about. So a good idea for coming up with an appealing topic is to first find a new and innovative product.

Then, the rest is simple as pie – start the article with the issue, suggest the solution and introduce the product that can actually sort things out. MindNote is the best place to apply this method.

3. ContentGems

Contentgems image for content creations appsContentGems puts together particular kinds of news in one daily e-mail. You can choose the topics of interest and a list of articles comes straight to your inbox.

This is a great method for coming up with a writing topics every day.

4. FAQ Fox

FAQ fox image for content creations appsThis is a great place for finding out what topics people are looking for online.

FAQ Fox gathers information from a large variety of websites.

Here is how it works – users type in a term, hit search and select the websites they want to track down. Next, the platform displays questions and answers related to that particular term.

Writers can spot the unsatisfactory answers and create a qualitative article on that topic.

This method guarantees readership!

5. Creativity Portal

Creativity portal image for content creations appsCreativity Portal is famous for helping writers and other artists guide their creativity. It provides inspirational materials – e-journals, articles, posts, and so on.

How can you take advantage of this platform?

Read about the topics you are interested in and use them for inspiration, information, writing style, etc.

Just remember not to plagiarize!

Creating better content

Sure, marketing is kind of on auto pilot these days. But writing still requires a human mind. And yes, I know how exhausting this can be!

Fortunately, smart IT guys have invented several content creation apps to help us research, write, edit, and design content.

Below, I have chosen some of the top picks.
To read the remainng 15 Essential Content Creation Apps click the link to the original post on Jeff Bullas blog here:- http://www.jeffbullas.com/2015/07/28/15-essential-content-creation-apps/#H4D9yCmxIkJ94riJ.99

Source: 15 Essential Content Creation Apps You Need Right Now

Content Marketing Tools A to Z That You Can Use in 2015 and Beyond

Tools are only as effective as the skills of the person using them.

Content Marketing Tools A to Z That You Can Use in 2015 and Beyond.

In a world of digital marketing that’s 24/7 with ubiquitous connectivity from anywhere, anytime, marketers’ need for tools is greater than ever. Content Marketing in particular offers a competitive landscape where the effectiveness and efficiency offered by the right mix of tools can make the difference between feast or famine.

There are many categories for content marketing tools since content and consumer pursuit of information are the backbone of the web experience. Here are some of the content marketing tool categories that come to mind (not too different than a high level list of marketing tools actually).

  • Content Planning
  • Content Research
  • Content Creation
  • Content Curation
  • Content Distribution
  • Content Promotion
  • Content Optimization
  • Content Measurement
  • Content Reporting

Obvious content marketing tools include the class of enterprise platforms and services that many large brands are using including Contently (content marketplace), Kapost, NewsCred, Skyword and Percolate (content marketing software), UberFlip (content marketing automation), new content marketing platforms like the one from Curata and much anticipated tools like Cintell (customer intelligence).

Wisdom of the Crowd – I’ve published lists of content marketing tools here in the past but these sorts of resources warrant regular updates. In addition to the near-daily pitches I receive and my own research, I reached out to my network on Facebook for new content marketing tool suggestions.

The result? An A to Z list (and then some, 45 tools in all) of new and many not so new but highly useful content marketing tools to help you solve content planning, creation, promotion and measurement challenges.  This is by no means a comprehensive list but it is a collection of the content marketing software companies that are top of mind amongst my own social network.

Atomic Ally – Content scoring tool to customize for specific audiences.

Buffer – Content promotion scheduling, analytics and team collaboration.

BuzzSumo – Content social media research, alerts, links and influencer discovery.

Canva – Web based visual content design tool with stock photos.

CoSchedule – Content editorial calendar plug-in for WordPress offering workflow and analytics for blog posts and social shares.

Curata – Content curation and content marketing platform.

DashThis – Create a content marketing dashboard marketers will actually use and execs will understand.

DivvyHQ – Web based editorial calendar with content planning and workflow.

Evernote – A multi-platform app that captures text, images and video synchronized to the cloud and across devices.

Flipboard – Create a curated online magazine.

Grammerly – Grammar checker app for the Chrome browser.

HemingwayApp – Web based, dynamic text editing tool.

InboundWriter – Predictive analytics for content creation and marketing.

Jing – Desktop software to create content recorded from your computer screen as images, animation or video.

Kapost – Content marketing platform.

Keywordio – Find topics in demand on search engines.

KISSmetrics – Connects all data to a person. See the entire customer journey —across campaigns, web and mobile.

Leadfeeder – sales lead generation tool for B2B companies that shows you which companies visit your website and what they do there.

Leadin – WordPress CRM & lead tracking plugin with analytics.

MeetEdgar – Social content scheduling (by category that recycles shares).

NewsCred – Content marketing software.

Oktopost – Social media content distribution tool for B2B.

Over – Mobile app for adding artwork and text with creative fonts to images.

Piktochart – Web based infographic creation tool.

Prismatic – Social content recommendation tool.

Qzzr – Create and embed quizzes in your content.

Resonance – Content retargeting tool.

Scripted – Written content marketplace.

Scoop.it – Content curation, blogging and social promotion platform for small businesses.

Scrivener – Mac software for structuring, writing and editing long documents.

SEMRush – Discover what topics and keywords are driving traffic to your competitors’s content.

Share as Image – Microcontent creator and sharing tool for Chrome that turns text into an image.

Shareist – Research, curation, scheduling, and page creation tools for social media channels, blogs, and email newsletters.

ShowHows – Tool for making embeddable content focused on step by step instructions.

SlideBatch – Curate embeddable “batches” of any kind of content or media with customized layouts that display on any device

SlideShare – Content hosting and lead generation.

Sniply – Share other people’s content in a way that drives traffic to your own content.

Stipso – Dynamic user generated infographics with embedded social shares and call to action features.

Trello – Visual organization tool.

Uberflip – Curate content, design an experience and convert with offers using this embeddable content hub.

Videolicious – Easily create videos using a mobile phone with easy social sharing and centralized dashboard for review and publishing.

Viraltag – Pinterest marketing tool and platform.

Word Swag – Mobile app for adding text with creative fonts to images.

X – What? There’s no content marketing tool that starts with the letter “x”? Seems like a nice marketing opportunity!

Youzign – Basic web-based tool for creating marketing graphics: facebook covers, twitter covers, YouTube channel art, infographics.

Zemanata – Content ad platform for amplification.

Other content marketing tool resources:

A big part of compiling this list of tools was a group effort – participation marketing in action!  Thank you to these fine folks from my Facebook network for their content marketing tool suggestions!

Andrew Davis, Brian Fanzo, Bhupesh Shah, Kelly de Vooght, Ian Cleary, Marc Meyer, Robyn Tippins, Bas Van Den Beld, Jay Baer, Tamar Weinberg, Teri Ross, David Brown, Kristi Hines, Lisa Picarille, Ashley Combe, Kristie Wells, Cari Bugbee, Shel Holtz, Tom Martin, Susan Emerick, Janette Speyer, Angie Schottmuller, Ann Handley, Martin Jones, Susan Beebe, Kimberly Reynolds, Corey O’Loughlin, Stephanie Losee, Cindy Turrietta, Bernie Borges, and Susan Bratton.

What content marketing tools have you discovered recently that really WOW you?

[Go to original article]

37+ Tips on How to Build a Content Marketing Machine

The Key Concepts of Content Marketing
The Key Concepts of Content Marketing

Back when I started my career in SEO, content marketing didn’t exist—at  least not in the  way it exists now.

We used strategies to boost traction and traffic to websites through the  creation of great  content—it was content marketing before the term even  existed. And it worked.

I’ve carried the lessons with me ever since. And I’d love to share them all with  you—  everything I’ve used to successfully help hundreds of companies  benefit from content  marketing over the past five years.

Here are 37+ tips and resources you can use to build a fine-tuned content  marketing machine from the ground up.

The Key Concepts of Content Marketing

In 2009, I founded a company called Single Grain. It started as a part-time consulting gig but very quickly grew into a powerhouse digital marketing agency. In the early years, we were successful because we were able to help businesses of all sizes–including a few Fortune 500 companies—gain more traction online by implementing what we referred to then as link-building strategies.

via 37+ Tips on How to Build a Content Marketing Machine.

Where to Find Free Images Online by Stacey Roberts

Free Images Online

   In a perfect world, we could all take amazing photos, edit them scrupulously, and somehow manage to have enough props and stylish flair to snap the exact image you need to illustrate your post.  In the real world, we have access to other talented people who do that instead!

   I’ve lost count of the posts I’ve pinned, sent to Evernote, or emailed to myself that round up great places to find free images on the internet. To save myself that headache (and hopefully you too!) here they all are, finally, in one place. Pin it for yourself!

  [Read more of this article]

5 Infographics to Teach You How to Easily Make Infographics in PowerPoint [Free Templates]

HubSpot Marketing Blog by edevaney@hubspot.com (Erik Devaney)

Despite the spattering of headlines that have popped up over the past couple years proclaiming “infographics are dead,” infographics are, in fact, alive and well.

We just checked — they’re totally healthy. I mean, there are a lot of them, but when marketers spend the time aligning the topic, content, and style of their infographics with the needs and preferences of their target audiences, they’re still finding success. (And by “success” I mean driving traffic — and potential leads — to their websites and generating social buzz through people sharing and commenting.)

A 2014 study shows that the use of infographics among B2B marketers increased 9% from 2013 to 2014: from 43% adoption to 52% adoption. And a recent report from Social Media Examiner shows that original, visual content is the number one form of content that marketers want to learn more about in 2015.

But how can those who don’t necessarily have a design background — or the budget to commission an agency, hire a dedicated in-house designer, or purchase expensive design software — create professional-looking infographics that are able to captivate their audiences?

We’re so glad you asked! Here’s a little secret: You can do it using the software you probably already have installed on your computer. That’s right! PowerPoint can be your best friend when it comes to visual content creation.

And to help you get started, we’ve created 10 fabulous infographic templates you can download and use for free right within PowerPoint. Don’t be shy …

Download your 10 free infographic templates right here.

And in this post, we’ll highlight five of the infographic templates from the download and teach you some PowerPoint infographic creation basics along the way. Just be sure todownload the PowerPoint templates for yourself so you can easily customize the designs you see below!

5 Infographics That Teach You How to Create Infographics

1) How to Create an Infographic Filled With Data

Infographics and data visualization are the peanut butter and jelly of the visual content world.

When you have new data to reveal to the world, you can use an infographic to display that data as part of a cohesive, visual narrative. And that’s exactly what the “Data Geek” template is for.

The Data Geek Template

 

 

 

 

We’ve loaded this template with a variety of different charts and graphs, which you can easily update with your own data. (Just right click on a graph, choose “Edit Data,” and you’ll be able to customize the values in an Excel spreadsheet.)

Not sure which types of graphs to use for your different data sets? Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Column chart: Use for comparing different categories or for showing changes over time (from left to right).
  • Pie chart: Use for making part-to-whole comparisons. (Note: They work best with small data sets.)
  • Line graph: Use for showing data that changes continuously over time. Ideal for displaying volatility, trends, acceleration, or deceleration.
  • Doughnut chart: Use like a pie chart. This stylistic variation allows you to put a number, graphic, or other visual in the center of the chart.
  • Bar chart: Use like a column chart. (The horizontal bars make it easier to display long category names.)

2) How to Make a Timeline Infographic

Telling the history of a particular industry, product, brand, trend, or tactic can be a great topic for an infographic. And while there are a variety of different ways that you can visualize time — including in a circle, which is what we did with our Google algorithm updates infographic — the timeline is by far the most common and easiest design method to use.

To tell your story with our timeline infographic template below, update the time periods in the center circles, replace the placeholder text, and adjust the visuals and colors to your liking. For those latter adjustments, you can choose “Insert” > “Shape in PowerPoint” to add in different visuals, and use the paint bucket (a.k.a. “color fill”) icon to change the colors of different elements.

The Timeline Template

Want to make sure your timeline infographic hits all the right notes? Here are some tips to consider:

  • Research. Research. Research. The best timeline infographics aren’t just beautifully designed — they also tell a great story based on extensive research. So before you start the design phase of your infographic, put in the time to surface the best information possible.
  • Narrow the scope: Timelines that cover hundreds or thousands of years can certainly be interesting, but they can also require weeks or months of research. To keep your sanity, stick with shorter time periods.
  • Keep your copy concise: Infographics are supposed to be visual. If you find yourself writing 100+ words for each date on your timeline, a blog post may be the better content format.

3) How to Design a Totally Hip Infographic

Ok, so “hipness” is definitely in the eye of the beholder. But for this infographic template we wanted to do something that reflected modern design trends, including using banners and arrows.

In terms of content, we provided plenty of space for both stats and copy. There’s also a column chart at the bottom. But remember, you can always add different charts and graphs to the template wherever you see fit. Just select “Insert” > “Chart …” and you’ll have several options to choose from.

A Totally Hip Infographic
The Hipster Template

To make sure your end result is as hip as possible, here are some design tips to follow:

  • Experiment with new color palettes. There are tons of free color palettes online. Don’t believe me? Do a Google image search of “color palette.” When you find a palette you like, drag the image directly into your PowerPoint presentation. Next, select the “color fill” bucket, choose “More Colors …” and click on the eyedropper icon. With the eyedropper tool, you can select colors from your palette and use them for elements in your infographic.
  • Take the time to manipulate shapes. PowerPoint has an extensive library of shapes — including banners, ribbons, and arrows — that you can use in your infographic design. By clicking and dragging on the little yellow diamonds that appear on these shapes, you can customize them. For example, you can make the pointy ends of a ribbon longer or shorter, or make the body of an arrow thinner or thicker.

4) How to Create a Flowchart Infographic

Warning: Creating a flowchart-style infographic is not for the faint of heart.

While on the surface a flowchart infographic may appear simple and fun, a lot of thought and planning need to go into making sure the different sections flow into each other in a logical way.

In our flowchart PowerPoint template, we created a basic flowchart structure, with positive responses guiding viewers to a conclusion at the bottom left of the infographic and negative responses guiding viewers to a separate conclusion at the bottom right of the infographic.

The Flowchart Template

To ensure your flowchart infographic makes sense and is easy for viewers to navigate, follow these tips:

  • Draw out the branches beforehand. Before you dive into PowerPoint, get out a pen and paper and do a rough outline of your flowchart. Test for weaknesses in your logic by answering questions in every possible combination and seeing where you end up. For best results, have a friend or coworker run through the flowchart too.
  • The smaller the scope, the easier the execution. The more questions or stages you add to your flowchart, the more difficult it will be to create (and the harder it will likely be for viewers to understand). So try to narrow the focus of your flowchart.

5) How to Design an Image-Heavy Infographic

So far, the infographic templates we’ve looked at have relied primarily on illustrations that you can create within PowerPoint. But of course, there’s no reason why you can’t bring external photos and other images into your infographic design.

We’ve created this image-heavy infographic template for that exact purpose. It’s great for comparing different categories, ideas, or results, and since you don’t need to create or customize a lot of shapes, it’s a lot less work.

The Image Heavy Template

Here are some suggestions for ensuring your image-heavy infographic is easy on the eyes:

  • Use high-quality images. It’s better to scale down a big image (e.g. 2,000 pixels by 2,000 pixels) than to scale up a small image (e.g. 20 pixels by 20 pixels) in order to fit a particular space. The latter approach will result in images appearing pixelated and grainy.
  • Use borders. Adding borders to your images will help make them feel like their part of a cohesive design. In PowerPoint, you can control the size, style, and color of borders under the “Format Picture” tab.
  • Save your infographic as a PNG file. This is a best practice for all infographics, but is particularly relevant when publishing an infographic that contains photographs. The PNG extension offers better quality than other options. To save your finished infographic as a PNG file, you simply need to choose “File” > “Save As …” and select PNG from the dropdown.

What are you waiting for? Grab your free infographic templates so you can start customizing fantastic-looking infographics of your own!

 

 

What is Audio Transcription?

Transcribing is the art of listening to audio and converting the spoken word into a written, readable form.  Sounds easy right?

Just listen and type.  Not true.  

One who transcribes has worked hard to gain the skills and experience necessary to perform this task.  An audio file (MP3, WAV, DSS etcetera), which let’s say is 15 minutes in length, can easily take an hour or more to transcribe.  

The transcriptionist doesn’t necessarily have to be fast at typing (it helps, though!) but must have expert listening, spelling, and grammatical skills.

Listening skills mean you understand:

• More than one speaker
• Heavy accents
• Coughs, stutters, uhs,uhms (known as verbatim)
• What the speaker is saying (accurately typing technical terms)

Grammatical skills you have:

• Excellent spelling
• Can differentiate between English and American English spelling
• Excellent grammar
• Know how to paragraph the content

As well as the above, if your client doesn't provide you with a template to transcribe directly into, then you need to know how to set-up your Word (or the format you are using) document page correctly.

To help you understand and remember what audio transcription is, I have designed an Infographic.  It was created and designed by me, the writer, 3 years ago.  It has now had a revamp in style to be 'up-to-date' but the content is the same.

 

Transcription acronym by Virtuadmin