About Susan Joy Schleef

Susan Joy Schleef has been a member since February 5th 2011, and has created 178 posts from scratch.

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Repurposing Content: Repurposing Blog Posts into Beautiful e-Books

Repurposing_Blog_PostsDo you have a lot of blog posts that are hidden away on your website?  Or do you struggle to post consistently to your blog?  Maybe you’re convinced that nobody sees your work any way so it’s hardly worth the bother.

Of course, you can focus on SEO strategies, guest posting, and other ways of driving traffic to your blog.  But another important strategy that many people neglect is repurposing your blog content.

I actually like to refer to this as “multipurposing” because I plan my content, right from the start, to be shared in multiple formats.

In this blog post, I’ll focus on some easy ways to convert your chosen blog posts into e-books.  And I’ll introduce you to several new tools that accomplish this task with beautiful e-book results!


Look at the Big Picture First

Before you even start writing a blog post, I encourage you to think first about your current marketing and promotional goals.  What can you write about in a blog post that will help you achieve your current goals?

Are you focused on building your email list or getting new members in your Facebook group?  Do you have a new product or service you want to promote?

drawing a flowchartThis about marketing or promotional goals not just for the blog post, but for the repurposed content you will be creating from the blog post.

For instance, if you turn a blog post into an e-book, how will you share that e-book?  Will you give it away as a lead magnet?  If you give the e-book away for free, then think about what low-priced offer you can make inside the e-book.  What product or service can you promote inside the e-book by easily adding a hyperlinked button on a page inside the e-book.

Or will you sell your e-book as a “content upgrade” where people can click a link at the end of the blog post to get more information about the same topic?  In the case of a list post, people may even be willing to pay to download a PDF of the exact same content you share for free in the blog post – IF that content is a list of resources that they would like to have handy on their own computer.

Once you’ve chosen a blog topic that will move you towards a marketing or promotional goal, the next steps are to:

  1. write the bog post,
  2. add plenty of pictures,
  3. publish it on your blog, and
  4. share it via email and social media

Turning Your Blog Post into an e-Book

When the response to your blog post begins to slow down, then it’s time to take the next step and repurpose that content.

visual_content_marketing_ebookOne of the new tools I’ve been playing with is called Designrr and, after a bit of initial learning curve, I’m pleased with the look.  Designrr grabs your blog post directly from the URL you paste into the software and it will pull in both the text and any graphic images that are part of that post.

Designrr is smart enough to ignore any sidebars, comments, and other surrounding content that is not part of the actual blog post.  It also captures and accurately copies any hyperlinks that were included in your blog content so those links are automatically formatted correctly in the e-book.

You can import a single blog post or several shorter blog posts into a Designrr e-book and there are quite a few style templates from which to choose for the layout, fonts, colors, and such.

You can grab a copy of my new e-book, made with Designrr, from a blog post about 10 ways to use more visuals in your content marketing.  I’ve included a special discount offer on the last page if you’re like to get one of your own blog posts turned into a Designrr e-book.

Just click here to access your copy of “10 Ways to Use More Visuals in Your Content Marketing.”


Another tool I’ve been enjoying is called Beacon and it also easily turns blog posts into very visual e-books.  Beacon offers some additional features that are not part of Designrr (yet), such as generating a Table of Contents and its editing interface is quite different from the one in Designrr.

I’ll be demonstrating the use of Beacon and Designrr in my next episode of Creative Marketing TV on September 3rd.  To register for the live hangout, you can click on the announcement image or go to Bit.ly/CMTV_Sept3.

Just click yes or maybe in response to “Are you going?” on the Event page so that Google will send you an event reminder.Repurposing Blog Posts

Attend the hangout live and you could get an e-book created for you completely free of charge!  Join me live if you can to take advantage of this opportunity.


In the past, I’ve always used PowerPoint to lay out my e-books.  PowerPoint does a much better and easier job of formatting graphics than Microsoft Word does, so I find it much easier to create a nicely visual e-book in PowerPoint.

Plus I like creating my e-books in landscape format – the default layout in PowerPoint – so that my readers don’t need to scroll down to read the whole page.  Keeping the page height shorter, I can easily place the text in 2 blocks, side by side on the page.  Or place one block of text in one column and a large picture in the other column.

Below is a short video demonstrating my e-book process in PowerPoint.  Don’t forget to adjust the quality settings to see the video clearly.  And here is the blog post that I referenced near the end of the video.

What Do You Think?

Please let me know what you think of this approach to repurposing your blog content.  I always love to hear from my readers.

I’ll also be giving away a free e-book creation service to the person who leaves the best comment before September 5, 2016.  Be sure to enter a valid email when you comment so I can contact you if yours is the best one!


Squeeze Page Design – Think Outside the Optin Box!

Traditional Opt In Form

Traditional Opt In Form

Technology continues to evolve.  Consumer attitudes change.  If you and your marketing don’t keep up with the times, what may have worked for your business in the past will slowly lose effectiveness.

For every business and every solo-preneur, lead generation is an esesential part of growing and sustaining your business. If you rely on getting leads online, there are some changes that you should know about — both technology advancements and consumer behavior changes.

What is a Lead?

A lead is simply a person who is interested in what you are talking about, writing about, and otherwise sharing online and who is a potential target client for your business.  A lead could also be someone who is searching online for a solution to a problem and your business offers a solution for that problem.

A lead is the first stage in your sales and marketing process and can begin in many different ways, some of them online and some offline.  Part of your overall business process planning needs to include: 1) The methods/systems that you will use to find leads for your products or services, and 2) Your sales and marketing system for inviting or persuading a lead to become a paying customer, client, or patient.

It is often said that a lead will often require 7 or more “touches” or interactions with you or your business or the content that represents your ideas before they are ready to make a decision about committing to a purchase of your product or service.

One of the best and most effective ways to continue communicating with leads (and with existing clients) is through email marketing.  Your lead generation plan and your sales and marketing plan will most likely include the use of email marketing as well as content marketing.

But before you can email them, you need to persuade them to give you their email address and their permission to send them emails. And that’s where opt in forms or email sign up forms come into play.

diagram of page layouts on multiple devices

Is your message responsive?

The Email Sign Up Process Can Be Confusing

The complexity and confusion are compounded by the fact that there are many ways to do each step of the process. It’s all dependent on which tools and systems you want to use and whether you have a tech person on staff, you prefer to do the work yourself, or you would rather outsource most of it.

For many people, it’s a process they don’t do often enough to remember what they did the last time. Plus, as I’ll discuss below, new tech tools are being developed all the time. It can be difficult to keep up with all the new possibilities! Since a growing majority of internet users now access the web on their mobile devices, mobile responsiveness is a critical component that adds another layer of complexity.

Getting Help

Unfortunately, it has never been easy to find good instructions for all those steps in setting up an online lead generation system. Some teachers or gurus seem more interested in withholding the details so their students or followers will need to hire them to do the setup work. But it can also be a challenge to explain this highly abstract, multi-step process in a concrete way that newbies can grasp.

I’ve been working on a simple, interactive blueprint to help people understand the basic overview of the process, including different options to consider at each step. I’ve applied my background and skill as a technical trainer, instructional designer, and procedure writer, using proven techniques to make the knowledge easy to access and to apply to your specific situation. At the end of this blog post, I’ll tell you how you can access that blueprint.

Meanwhile, let’s look at some of the recent changes in the arena of opt in forms or squeeze pages.

Newsletters and Free Reports Are Boring

Visual_Content_Marketing_Report10 years ago, many people were happy to give away their email address in order to receive a weekly or monthly email newsletter from an entrepreneur, coach, or marketer whose materials they enjoyed reading. Free reports, often called “special reports” or “white papers,” were another popular giveaway for several years. Not anymore!

Most people are bombarded with way too much email in their inbox and the last thing they want is another weekly email newsletter!

Even great quality reports are less appealing now because so many people prefer to watch videos rather than read pages of written content. Plus our attention span for reading seems to be diminishing and many people find it difficult to read a report of perhaps 30-50 pages – let alone actually implement any of the recommendations in that report.

These days, the most popular giveaways – or lead magnets or ethical bribes –seem to be checklists, templates, tool lists, and short guides that solve one specific problem in a few easy-to-follow steps. There is much more emphasis and demand for something practical and immediately usable.

“Taking” versus “Giving” Pages

There have also been huge changes in the way that marketers ask for an email address in exchange for that valuable free content.  Some of those changes have been driven by increased internet bandwidth and advances in web page technology.

Others are more related to changing styles in the online graphical user interface – for example, the increased demand for video content and the new focus on full-screen photographs, often referred to as “hero images.”  Eye Candy abounds as web visitors delight in the newest visual “wow” techniques, from parallax effects to full screen video backgrounds.

The simpler styles of optin boxes now seem out-of-date and boring compared to large optin pages, slide-down “welcome mats” and a variety of other new ways to entice people to give up their email addresses in exchange for one of the free gifts described above.

Click on the 3D book image above for the Visual Content Marketing report.  You’ll see an older style of squeeze page with a simple opt in box.

squeeze page sampleThe larger optin pages now are typically designed as “2-step optins.” Some experts claim that viewers see this as a “giving” page that is offering free content, rather than a “taking” page that asks for their email address.

Click the image on the left to see a 2-step page with video background. The 1st step looks like a simple offer for something free – in this case, a checklist.

When you click the button on the 1st page, you are taken to the 2nd page where you’re asked for your email address. But there is another subtle, psychological factor in play here that make it likely people will enter their information.

When someone clicks on the 1st page button, they’ve already made a small commitment that says they want whatever free content is being promised. And when they are faced with the sign-up form on the 2nd page, their subconscious brain will encourage them to complete the information because behavioral consistency is critical to one’s internal self image – even though that all operates at a largely unconscious or subconscious level.

2-Step Optins are reported to convert at a much higher rate than the old style of showing the optin form on the first page. Higher conversion rates, of course, translate to more people opting in with their email address and getting added to your email list. LeadPages, for example, says that switching to a 2-step optin increased their newsletter subscriptions by 60%.

Squeeze Page Process Blueprint

Squeeze Page Design HantoutOn my next hangout for Creative Marketing TV, I’ll be reviewing all the steps in the email sign up process.  Plus I’ll have a draft available for you to download for free of my interactive blueprint that will give you different options for each step of the whole process.

If you can join me live on August 6, 2016, you’ll be able to ask your questions about any part of setting up your squeeze page system.  Just go to the Google+ Event Page here or click on the image at  right.  Once you see the question “Are You Going?,” just answer yes or maybe so that you’ll get a reminder about the live hangout-on-air and about the replay as well.

Your Comments and Questions

Let me know what challenges you have with the email sign up process.  If you leave a specific question in the Comments, I’ll address it in the training hangout and in the process blueprint.

How to Create Your Own Flat Graphics in PowerPoint — and Why!

Microsoft Office software suiteMicrosoft began experimenting with a new look for the interface of its Windows Media Center in 2002.  But the Flat Design trend really took off with the rollout of Windows 8 in 2011, followed by Apple’s iOS7 in 2013.

Flat design has ruled the world of web design for quite a few years now.  The focus is on flat UI design (user interface), especially with designing a more responsive graphical user interface for mobile devices.

And it’s all about user experience or the user interface (UI)!

First and foremost, flat design is about responsive design and that requires attention to what situation the user finds themselves in while attempting to interact with a particular website or piece of content, such as a video or blog post.


Good responsive design or flat UI design considers the user experience with questions like these:

  • Does the website display or load quickly?windows-8-528467_1920
  • Does the site look visually appealing?
  • Does it grab the user’s attention and engage their desire to explore further?
  • Is the on-screen text easy to read on small devices?
  • Can users easily find the information they’re looking for?
  • Is the user interface designed for finger tapping rather than typing and mouse-clicking?

Design Trends Change in Reaction to Previous Trends

Just like women’s fashion, keeping up with style changes is important for graphic design as well.

Once it became clear that flat web design was not just a passing fad, many large companies began updating their website design to a more updated look so as not to appear outdated.  Bevels, gradients, and drop shadows were out.  Bright “flat” colors and simple icons and font styles were in.

The flat design trend has now even begun spreading into other graphic outputs beyond just flat design websites.  This is not surprising when you think about it!

iphone-37856_1280Since more and more people are accessing the internet via mobile devices, that means that anything displayed on the web – videos, blog posts, sales pages, social media posts, e-commerce sites, any kind of webpage, and so much more – it all needs to provide an easy, positive user experience.  And one way to improve user experience is with flat design.

Is Flat Design Relevant for PowerPoint?

If your PowerPoint slides are ever going to appear on the internet, then flat design can improve the user experience of your slides too!  This is true regardless of whether you upload the same slideshow you delivered in person (perhaps to a site like Slideshare.net or HaikuDeck.com) or you repurpose the slides into a video, e-book, PDF, or some other form of content.

While the questions listed above may not be relevant to PowerPoint viewers, the issue of user experience definitely transfers from web design to slide design and to visual content design, in general!

What kind of experience do internet users enjoy?  The guiding elements of flat design can help us improve PowerPoint slide design, or slide design with any other software such as Keynote, HaikuDeck, OpenOffice, or Google Slides – as well as the design of visual content marketing in any output form.

Here are a few flat design guidelines that can be applied well to designing visual content in PowerPoint:

  1. Streamlined, simple images that avoid skeuomorphism as well as rich design elements like textures, gradients, drop shadows, bevels, and reflections.

These design elements can be effective on large-screen presentations because they can make graphics look more realistic.  But these elements are not necessary and users can still interpret simpler graphics if they are well designed and use easily recognizable, iconic symbols.

Especially on smaller device screens, simpler graphics are actually easier to interpret quickly because the user does not need to focus in closely to tell what the graphic represents.  This is just as true on slides as it is on websites.

  1. Minimalist designs that load faster and make websites more quickly responsive to changes in the size of the browser window between different devices

PowerPoint slides can also benefit from the smaller file size of these simplified graphics.  Using fewer and smaller graphics can also help slides display more quickly, for example displaying one or several simple icons compared to a full-screen photo background.

Modern typographic styles are another big part of the minimalist approach to design and any design trend that makes text easier to read will definitely be a boon to slide design as well.  However, it is important to keep in mind the difference between reading text on a phone screen a few inches away from the user’s eyes versus reading text on a large screen in an auditorium or meeting room, several yards away or even hundreds of yards away for users sitting at the back of a large audience.

Some elements of flat UI design, such as the trend toward gray text color, may need to be adapted for easier reading on a projection screen for a live presentation, where black text will likely be more readable.

Slide presentations that are being repurposed as videos or e-books are more likely to be viewed by one individual at a time and, as with websites, are more frequently being viewed on mobile devices.

  1. Avoiding non-functional graphic elements that do not serve a purpose for communication or are a distraction from user experience

Slide design guidelines also share this belief that extraneous visual elements are distracting to the user.  For many slide designers and presenters, this even includes:

  • Page numbers on the bottom of slides
  • Logos or other branding images that appear on every slide
  • And busy slide backgrounds and themes or templates

While rich visual images on a slide can help to create emotional engagement for the viewers, there is a point at which the visuals can distract from the speaker’s message – which is, ultimately, the real focus of the presentation.

  1. Bold color blocks used to divide the content space into different sections

This use of color to structure a space is certainly compatible with good slide design.  But, again, we need to consider the different between viewing a bright color block on a tiny phone screen versus viewing that same bright block on a very large screen, lighted by the bright glow of a projector lamp.

Just make sure your color blocks are not so bold that they become uncomfortable for presentation viewers to look at for the time that they will be on-screen.

One particularly good use of color blocks in slide design is to divide a wide-screen slide horizontally, setting aside a block on the left or right side of the screen for the slide headline and leaving a narrower section for images or for more text.  This can create a more balanced use of the 16:9 slide layout compared to placing the slide headline at the top and stretching the whole content across the full width of the slide.


Designing Your Own Flat Graphics in PowerPoint

Many users are not aware that PowerPoint is actually a pretty powerful graphic design tool.  As such, it can be used to create customized flat design graphics, such as icons, buttons, social media headers, and much more.
When searching for those simplified, minimalist graphics, you might not find just the right image for your topic.  So why not design your own?

By using the Shapes functionality of PowerPoint, it is quite easy to create your own flat graphics – with a little training.  Take a look at this recording from my Creative Marketing TV hangout series, in which I demonstrated how to create flat graphics in PowerPoint in celebration of “Vanilla Ice Cream Day” on July 23rd.

There is also a free graphics offer at the end of the video!

Your Response

Do you think you could design your own simple graphics using PowerPoint shapes?  Do flat design principles make sense when applied to your slide presentations or other visual content marketing?

What else would you like to learn about in future episodes of Creative Marketing TV?  I’d love to hear your feedback – both about this blog post and about the hangout recording.

Finding Free Pictures for Blog Posts

free pictures for blog postsI am always trying different software tools for finding free pictures for blog posts — because I know so many people need help with this!

Most people see 3 choices:

  1. You might search on Google and just grab any picture from any website and run the risk of getting sued for copyright violation.
  2. You could search for free digital photos on different sites, which can be time consuming.
  3. Or you can pay for your images, which can definitely get expensive.

Well, I have another solution for you:  Image Suite

This WordPress plugin connects directly to six different digital image sites and search based on the keyword or phrase you enter.  It searches for Creative Commons licenses and only returns images that are in the public domain (CC0) and therefore require no attribution.

graphic design

Free Graphic Image

Image Suite also enables you to edit the image before inserting it into your blog post.  Editing functions include adding text, filters and other effects, as well as stickers, shapes, borders, and other overlays.

The editing features were not very intuitive for me, but once I got used to them, I like this plugin a lot.  Image Suite saves me time in 2 ways:

First it speeds up my search for blog post illustrations by searching against multiple sites all at once.

But the big time saver for me is being able to add text and other overlays directly inside of WordPress instead of downloading the picture, opening it in an image editing software, saving the finished work, and then importing that into my blog.

I encourage you to take a look at Image Suite.  It offers quite a lot of power for a very low price.  And the owner offers good support, too.

The one area where they could use some improvement is in the training videos.  So if you decide to purchase Image Suite through my affiliate link, I will provide you with some additional training.

Click here to check out Image Suite plugin for WordPress.

My Demo of Image Suite

You can also view a demonstration of Image Suite that I recorded on the March 12, 2016, episode of Creative Marketing TV.  Click below to watch the 2nd half of that hangout recording.



National Photograph Month – How will you celebrate?

smart phone taking a photo

If you’re part of my online community, you probably already know that I like to use holidays in my content marketing.

Some of my favorite sources for this information include HolidayInsights.com and BrownieLocks.com.  I even publish a free, holiday marketing calendar each month.  (Click here to get yours)

The month of May offers us a fantastic holiday to celebrate as visual content marketers:  National Photograph Month!

Most of us carry a camera around with us all the time in the form of our mobile phones.  Do you look for opportunities to take photos that you can use in your visual content marketing?

I want to talk about 3 ideas that will help you with this:

  1.  Keep this idea top of mind so that you are always on the look-out for potential photographs that could represent subject matter related to your business message or pictures that could be used as visual metaphors or even just for inspirational or fun ways to engage with your clients and fans on social media.  It doesn’t have to ALL be about business!
  2. Find a couple of apps that you’re comfortable using on your phone so that you can quickly and easily add text over your photos and then post them directly to multiple social media platforms.  Most apps will also let you email those photos (with the overlaid typography) to yourself so that you can save these modified images to your computer for future use — in PowerPoint presentations, videos, e-books, and other future forms of content marketing.
  3. Figure out an easy way to transfer potential business photos off your phone and onto your computer or onto a “cloud-based” drive, such as Dropbox, iDrive, Windows One Drive, or something similar that is easy to access from your phone.  Developing an easy routine for this will make it much more likely for you to save your photos on a regular basis.  You may even want to schedule a monthly or weekly task on your calendar to make sure it gets done!

That last step is important for a couple of reasons:  First, you want to be able to organize those photos on your computer for easy access to create future content marketing materials.  Secondly, you don’t want to end up with hundreds of photos you need to transfer before you can upgrade the software on your phone!  (I learned this the hard way!)

image of seedling - Growing creative ideas

Software Tools for Using Photos

I have quite a few apps on my iPhone, but really I only use a couple of them with any consistency.  Part of my difficulty is that the on-screen buttons and text labels on most apps are so difficult to read on the small phone screen.  Yet I’m not interested in buying a larger phone that will be harder to tuck into my purse or my pocket.  Instead I still prefer to do most of my visual content creation on my desktop computer.  If that makes me old-fashioned — so be it!

Typorama is one of the apps I enjoy using on my phone.  I find it pretty intuitive and easy to use.  Plus I like the fact that I can use it with my own photos or search for free, public domain photos on one of my favorite sites – Pixabay.com.  The image above on the right is one I created recently with Typorama.

photo collage created with Pexels Add-In for PowerPointOn my computer, I often create my quote graphics and other photo-based sharing content using PowerPoint.  I have a square template I created and saved (7.5″ square) that is a good size for posting to the Facebook newsfeed.  I simply add a photo and overlay with text for a quote or tip.  It’s fast and easy!

I recently discovered an “add-in” for PowerPoint that makes this process even easier and it comes from another of my favorite photo sharing sites:  Pexels.com  

Pexels is another public domain image site.  Their license for photo usage clearly states that all images on their site have a Creative Commons CC0 license, which means that they can be used free of charge, without attribution, and can be modified and used for pretty much any purpose.  The only restriction is, if there are identifiable people in the image, it cannot be used in a way that shows those people in a bad light — unless you get their written permission.

The Pexels website hosts some beautiful photos and I encourage you to check them out!  The Pexels Add-In for PowerPoint is one of the “apps” I will be demonstrating in my next episode of Creative Marketing TV on May 21, 2016.  I will also demonstrate using the Typorama iPhone app.

National Photograph Month Hangout Announcement


You can register for this free hangout at the Google+ Event page at http://bit.ly/CMTV_May21.  Look for the question “Are you going?” and just answer Yes or Maybe.  Then Google+ will send you a reminder.  Or you can watch the recording whenever you want.

Please go ahead and leave a comment for me on the G+ Event page or below this blog post.  Let me know what questions you have about using photo apps or share which apps you like to use and what you do with them.  I’ll do my best to incorporate your questions or comments into the show.