My clients come to me because they are frustrated at not being noticed, angry they have less resources but more work to do, and disappointed that their content isn’t as compelling as they need. I help them solve these problems. I can help you too.

Content Editing (whip your words, content and copy into shape)
Content Creation (write articles, blogs, reviews, marketing materials, ad copy and more)
Content Development/Strategy (evaluate your media property; implement improvement plans consistent with your business objectives)
Podcasting (develop custom podcasts and audio content for your brand)
Education (develop comprehensive curriculum and learning materials in a variety of verticals)
Social Media Consulting (develop and implement a strategy to leverage social networking platforms)
Branding (help create corporate identities; gain media recognition; create imaginative campaigns)

The Gift of Content

by Lisa Picarille on December 21, 2010

GiftBoxes

With the holiday season finally here, I realized that I’ve spent much of the last few months thinking about gifts for family and friends. It’s been all about picking out the perfect present for each individual.

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a correlation between people that are good gift givers and people who create great content. In fact, I’ve personally observed that many of my favorite content creators in the online space are also great gift givers. I feel blessed to have experienced their generosity and thoughtfulness on both fronts.

Creating great content requires knowledge of your audience and the ability to generate thoughtful, compelling, unique and entertaining content. These are the same traits of a great gift giver.

You don’t want to give readers of your travel blog posts, articles and podcasts about sports without making it relevant to travel. The same idea applies to your 80-year old aunt - she may need new boots, but it’s unlikely that she wants the same Ugg boots as your 17-year old niece as a gift. Content, like gifts, need to be aimed at your specific audience.

In a way delivering good content is like giving your audience a gift. When it’s well done, the audience gets something that is neatly packaged, presented in a visually appealing manner and contains something valuable to them.

It’s so obvious when extra thought and care is put into both gifts and content and I’m very appreciative of the attention to detail in both cases. Related posted and good photos and images are like nice wrapping paper and matching bow. They complete the package. It also doesn’t hurt if there’s a slight element of surprise.

And while it’s wonderful to be the recipient of a great gift, it’s even more rewarding to be the giver. Having people “like” a post you made, share an article you wrote or pass your content onto a friend often sparks a nice, warm feeling. You know the old adage…it’s better to give than to receive. I think that’s also true when it comes to content.

So, in this season of giving, why not give your audience the gift of high-quality content? It’s the gift that keeps on giving for you as a content creator and for your audience.

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Affiliate Marketing Insider Podcast

by Lisa Picarille on November 12, 2010

I was recently invited to be on the Affiliate Marketing Insider podcast. Host Wade Sisson, vice president of marketing at Schaaf-PartnerCentric, and I talked about my new venture with Todd Farmer, called MyContentPro. We also chatted about an upcoming book I’m co-authoring with Jim Kukral (The Ultimate Pitch) and about the crucial role content plays in online marketing. Thanks again, Wade. It was fun.

Listen here.

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Get Inspired about Content

by Lisa Picarille on November 11, 2010

I recently posted some good stuff over at MyContentPro about inspiration – how to find it, how to use it and training yourself to be inspired.

Inspiration is all around us and this post looks at how to get inspired by every day things.

I also did a podcast with Todd Farmer on finding inspiration in events and holidays.

For the latest podcast with Todd, we delve further in to the concept of inspiration and training your brain to think differently or at least recognize connections that trigger new ideas.

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Are Celebrities Good for Affiliate Business?

by Lisa Picarille on November 9, 2010

I still can’t seem to shake some questions that arose for me after attending a ShareASale ThinkTank in Half Moon Bay last month. The two-day annual conference was great. I won’t go over all the details since Shawn Collins did such a great job recapping the event. Instead, I want to get into one of the sessions I attended and some thoughts I came away with.

I was excited to sit in on a session about pop culture and trends led by David Zelkin and Jessica Sander of ShareASale. It really got me thinking. Plus, I am doing a panel at Affiliate Summit West 2011 on trend spotting with Scott Jangro, Stephanie Lichtenstein and Lisa Riolo, so I was curious as to what this ThinkTank session would cover. At my upcoming session we are planning to talk about how to spot trends and then monetize them. The session at ThinkTank was focused on pop culture and trends that merchants are already capitalizing on and how they share that with their affiliates.

Although, there were a lot of trends - music, design, and more - discussed in the ThinkTank session, it’s clear for merchants; there is no bigger trend than celebrity.

Leveraging a celebrity is great for a merchant. It really does help them sell products. However, I ‘m curious of the implications and issues that might arise if affiliates begin to rely heavily on celebrity as part of their online marketing efforts.

I love that merchants are looking for new content to provide affiliates. But I think that when it involves celebrities they may need to offer affiliates some guidelines. I’m wondering if in some cases it may necessitate having usage of these materials spelled out more clearly in the terms and conditions (T&C’s).

Using celebrities or leveraging star power is not all that new. For years consumers been bombarded with the power of celebrities and marketing. There have been direct endorsements - like Tiger Woods and Nike and indirect ones like when celebrities provide voiceovers for commercials like Donald Sutherland has been doing for decades. There’s also the rise in popularity of magazines like InStyle that feature products and let the public know that this or that A-lister bought that product or was seen wearing a certain a shoe, or scarf or dress.

Here’s an example of how I think relying on celebrities could be a potential issue: XYZ merchant has a body lotion that is used by an A-List nearly 50’s glamorous female celeb. That celebrity has no formal relationship with the merchant, but the celebrity likes the product and has purchased it in the past. Of course, the merchant is happy to send gift baskets or free samples of new products to that celeb as well.

Let’s say an affiliate with that merchant uses a photo or information (provided by the merchant) about that celeb’s association with the product. It could be as innocuous as the celebrity holding the product. The affiliate posts the content on their site saying the product is used by that celebrity. No problem.

Stick with me here. Let’s say another affiliate has a site focusing on over-50 females and anti-aging products. Now that affiliate uses the same photo but changes the copy slightly to spice it up and possibly ends up implying that the particular star keeps young and glamorous by using the lotion from XYZ merchant. Well, making that small leap of inference might be okay but then again it might not.

Here’s where there could be a potential problems. What if the celebrity has a formal and exclusive deal to only promote Cover Girl or Revlon as their “anti-aging” solution of choice?

In that case, the affiliate might find themselves in the cross hairs of the brand or the celebrity (most of whom are notoriously controlling – and litigious - about their images and implied endorsements).

However, in the example above, the affiliate didn’t technically do anything wrong. It’s highly unlikely that the terms and conditions they signed with the merchant accounted for this misstep or spelled it out specifically. So, the affiliate is not violating anything. Or are they?

A much more blatant case of this misrepresentation was used by the Federal Trade Commission to develop disclosure and endorsement guidelines stating that celebrities must use the products they endorse and bloggers must disclose if they are making money from the company they are promoting. The case involved Oprah and Dr. Oz and use of their images to falsely claim they promoted and endorsed acai berry products including diet pills and juices. Oprah and Dr. OZ sued more than 50 parties associated with making such false claims.

But what I’m highlighting here are not blatantly false attempts by less than reputable affiliates to convince visitors that mega-celebs love acai berry products, but rather small tweaks to copy that could be misread as an endorsement of a product. Even something this seemingly benign could potentially damage the informal relationship established between the celebrity and the merchant. It could also raise issues with the FTC

Of course, merchants are always taking a risk that affiliates might step outside of their messaging – with or without celebrities in the equation. However, a scenario involving a celebrity could be a little more troublesome for all parties. While I encourage affiliates to be creative to help promote their sites and sell the merchant’s products, I’m guessing there is likely to be a rise in “issues” surrounding celebrities, use of their images and perceived endorsements. This can all be avoided through good communication with affiliates and guidelines are clearly laid out by merchants.

Just thinking out loud….what are your thoughts on this?

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My Content Pro

October 7, 2010

I am teaming up with affiliate marketing veteran and Kowbunga founder Todd Farmer on a forthcoming project, called MyContentPro, that aims to deliver educational information to online marketers about how to leverage their content efforts for maximum results.
I’m really excited about a series of interviews we are conducting with industry leaders regarding the importance of [...]

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Headed to BlogWorld and ThinkTank

October 6, 2010

I have been so busy creating tons of content for other people that I have neglected my own blog. I feel a little like the shoeless cobblers child. I teach my clients how to get the most from their content, including the importance of staying a schedule and how to make the process of creating [...]

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Affiliate Summit East 2010 Recap

August 23, 2010

Once again Affiliate Summit did not disappoint. I attended the conference in New York City last week and found it an invaluable tool for catching up with clients, getting some new leads and educating myself on the most-pressing issues in the affiliate space.

Shawn Collins and Missy Ward put on the best show in the  industry [...]

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May I Have Your Attention, Please?

August 10, 2010

Hellooo….?
Ahem, are you listening to me?
If you’re anything like me or most marketers you are trying to get your message out there, but not always sure people are listening, reacting or taking action. Hell, they may not have even heard you. But just screaming louder to rise above the glut of noise out there is [...]

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Headed to Affiliate Summit East 2010

August 5, 2010

I always get excited about the Affiliate Summit conference – especially when it’s on the East Coast and New York City in particular. It’s my chance to head back east and get snoot full of that heat and humidity and hustle and bustle that I miss so much.

Actually, it’s my big opportunity to catch up [...]

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Affiliate Thing Podcast: Moving to Austin, SEO for Images, and Affiliate Summit Selling Out

July 30, 2010

This week on the Affiliate Thing podcast, Shawn Collins and I talk about Shawn planning to move to Austin, Affiliate Summit selling out, and whether Foursquare is useful or horrible. We also get into optimizing image results in the search engines, new advertisers at LinkShare, whether people need their own iPhone apps, and a CJ [...]

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