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Internet Summit Raleigh

Internet Summit 2013, Raleigh, NC

This was the third year I attended the Internet Summit in Raleigh and it was the best one yet. If anyone doubted the future possible streams of income for writers, they would have been blown out of their digital inkwells this week. I reviewed what was said at the 2012 Internet Summit about writing and publishing, and this year writing was put on a pedestal again. Nearly every speaker asked the audience:

“Have you read ______?”

Then they rattled off new important books about the evolution and future of digital media. These people are experts and leaders in digital content. Not only do they read A LOT, they use writers’ practices as examples in their recommendations.

Duanne Forrester is Senior Product Manager at Bing, the force behind Bing Webmaster Tools. Forrester wanted the audience to “understand how search is evolving to attract customers.” He used the example of an author using beta readers for their book in order to get feedback and make appropriate revisions before releasing to a larger audience. Yay for writers setting examples for better reading experiences!

“You need a lot more content than you think.”
“Content marketing is the best place to be in marketing.”
“Content marketers rule the world.”
“Writers are born—not made.”
Chris Baggott, CEO & Founder of Compendium

Baggott had a lot of great quotes! His presentation stressed that blogs are high effort and pull in the greatest traffic from search. However, the most cost-effective web content is a Q&A format, which draws in comparable search traffic and does not require as much “effort” and expenses in the corporate world. Think about this when working with clients or drafting new pages for your author website!

“Data beats opinions.”
“High-level tech trends are changing how we do business in general.”
Kyle Lacy, Senior Manager of Content Marketing and Research at ExactTarget

If writers (both web content and creative writers) do not improve the ways they use new technology, they will fail. On the opposing side, other speakers stressed if you find something that works—stick to it. This made me think of Pinterest. I do not have an account there and can’t imagine devoting time to it since that would take away time from other tools that are working very well. I accept failure here.

“How does one tell their story in this noisy world?”
“Everyone’s a storyteller.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, Founder of VaynerMedia

Now that consumers can avoid advertising, content creators need to provide valuable content in an engaging way while respecting the user. I usually use the 80/20 rule in my writing classes and advise authors to spend 80% of their social media and web content focused on resources for users and 20% “selling” themselves. Vaynerchuk stressed the importance of giving content and never asking the user to buy. For example, have I ever written a post asking you, the reader, to buy one of my books, take one of my classes, or hire me? Nope. But you know I have books (which make great holiday gifts), teach classes (that you can write-off on your taxes), and live as a freelance writer (and I help other writers grow their presence), so who else would you start with? 😉