ScreenSteps

Modern Tools to Write and Publish a Book: ScreenSteps, Google Adwords, SurveyMonkey, PoD

After Ed Rivis wrote his second book "Email Marketing Dynamite" he published a post about his preferred method of writing books: Become a published author in less than 7 days...

As you can read in the comment I left there: a great method for those who are verbally attuned, but that's not me I'm afraid. I've always (and still) preferred to write the "old-fashioned" way: keyboard (starting with a very old real typewriter, since 1988 in front of a pc or on the occasional laptop)

Writing made easy

Whenever you write about something you are really passionate about the words just seem to flow out of your fingers, through the keyboard onto the screen in any format the program you're writing in provides you with. Word, notepad, online editor or in many of my cases: ScreenSteps Desktop.

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The benefit - and I've mentioned this often - of using ScreenSteps to write articles, blog-post, marketing messages, and complete books is the "library" of lessons/articles. Once written they are there, ready to be exported as stand-alone in multiple ways plus ready to be added to a "manual" where you can combine one article with others (already in the library or written a new) to be published in again multiple ways.

That's why writing our extended "Wooden Floor Installation Manual" took not that much time - most of the articles/chapters were already in the ScreenSteps library, so "all" I had to do was to create a new manual, add chapter titles and where needed write additional articles - with or without images using the image capture tool.

Using ScreenSteps Live for the editing process

Another great benefit of writing a book with ScreenSteps is when you combine it with ScreenSteps Live where the manual can be uploaded to for others, in this case our editor Trevor, to download into their own ScreenSteps Desktop program to do their job. In this case our editor's brief was to translate out double Dutch English into proper English without losing the essence of the article.
(We "found" Trevor using LinkedIn where we opened a "discussion" in one of the groups I'm a member of.)

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In ScreenSteps Live we used a simple colour coding to tell each other what the progress on every article was: for instance: red meant Trevor to edit the content and green meant: article edited by Trevor and approved by me = a finished article.

The whole editing process is now finished and the E-version of the Installation Manual was launched end of last week, replacing the older Installation Guide we launched beginning 2009.

Which brings me nicely to why we decided to write a "new" Installation Manual and how we went about it.

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The Guide was more a compilation of various questions from DIY-ers that had arrived in our inbox over the years and our answers. Some of these Q&A's had been already transformed into blogpost on our FAQ & News blog, and in order to make it easier for our prospects and clients we grouped the most Frequently Asked Questions (and answers of course) into a ScreenSteps Desktop manual which was then exported first as PDF file and later also as a ScreenSteps Live space (password protected). Our most successful "digital product" in 2009!

Once in a while we would add a new article to it and in the end it became a rather loose collection of articles, not so much a practical guide any longer. Spurred on by the success of the Guide we decided it was time to turn it into a new manual, this time not only as an E-book or online version but into a proper paperback using PoD (Printing on Demand). After a little bit of research and tips from Debbie Jenkins (The Publishing Academy) we opened an account with Lightning Source UK for printing and part distribution. The needed digitising of the content of our new manual and the cover is now in hands of Greenwood Graphics (a contact we knew from our BNI-Ashford time).

Getting our reader, prospects and clients involved

A lesson learned/copied from Ed Rivis - involve your prospects as soon as possible in a new project, especially when the content/features should solve their problems.

In one of our monthly newsletters we mentioned our intention to write a new manual and asked for participation in a survey: what would you expect in a Wooden Floor Installation Manual?

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The participation IMHO was overwhelming, 62 prospects, clients and even suppliers (yes, our suppliers do read our newsletter) took part and prompted us to focus on the right chapters.

Using SurveyMonkey (even the free version) is also great to ask for "other subjects we should include or not overlook":

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Valuable information to have and very simple to gather. We also included some marketing research in the same survey: what would the participant regard a fair price for the most comprehensive manual on this subject. Again, very valuable information. And, of course, we gave all participants the option to be added to our "pre-launch" list. A whopping 68% of participants wanted to be added to this list.

The result of this survey was two-fold: we now knew even better which subject to elaborate on and the retail price we would be able to demand for it, once the paperback was printed.

In search of a title

The first Guide had the title Comprehensive Installation Guide (floorboards). We needed a better one to front the manual. A few ideas where tossed around, but no final decision was made. So I decided to use a Google Adwords campaign for this sole purpose: which title would get the most clicks, i.e. would be most attractive for potential DIY-clients looking to install their own floor but in need of some guidance.
A special domain name was registered and a special landing page - including webform to subscribe to updates on the imminent launch of the manual - was created in no time at all and the campaign started.

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The first 4 adds run for 3 weeks, then during a discussion with our digitiser Peter Greenwood to add something memorable to the title or subtitle, 2 others where added, both with the "series" name "Q&A's on wood flooring" (in the event we do manage to write more manuals).

Once again we turned to our existing clients and asked their opinion again with help from SurveyMonkey. And again with the option to submit their own 2p for the best title.

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(Hope no one is offended that I left the second suggestion in - sure you have a sense of humour but rest assured, that suggestion will not be printed on our book!).

The third suggestion was a tiny little tweak on one of the original titles and with another tiny tweak (due to the number of characters Google Adwords allows you) it was added to the campaign. To become the best performing add in no time at all! Within 2 days it'd beaten all other titles and it continues to do so.

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Although it received fewer clicks - because it's not running from the same moment as the others - the CTR is the most important value in the above statistics: Click Through Rate = number of impressions divide by the number of clicks.

That's where we're stand at the moment: title decided on (and we'll gift the client who tweaked our title to make it better with a signed copy the minute the first paperback comes from the printers), E-version launched (and already sold, plus those clients who'd bought the earlier "guide" were offered an upgrade to the new manual for a very low price, already 10% has taken us up on that offer) and ETA of the paperback: end of this month/beginning next month.

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We started this project 3 months ago, it did take more than 7 days (although if I would count the hours I spent writing the content it would make less than that, thanks to the existing material already in ScreenSteps). All in all there are plenty of modern tools out and about to assist everyone becoming a published author. And most are very cost-effective too.

So,what's keeping you?


Adding and using ScreenStep html template for AWeber

(STOP PRESS - update 07.12.09: in ScreenSteps Desktop 2.7 (beta) these steps are reduced to only 2 simple steps, read all about it here.....)

This post/lesson is to show how easy it is to create content in ScreenSteps and export it in multiple ways: as (Typepad) blog post, as "lesson" in ScreenSteps Live and PDF file. The article itself can be used again and again as part of a whole bundle of articles (think E-book, training, manual).

The subject of this article shows another feature of ScreenSteps: combining it with AWeber - another great software program.

Where to copy a new template.

How to copy new html template (most times created in Dreamweaver/Frontpage or in this case in AWeber itself) into ScreenSteps Template folder
(How to create a new ScreenSteps html template you can read in ScreenSteps Desktop manual )

Continue reading "Adding and using ScreenStep html template for AWeber" »


ScreenSteps 2.7 Preview Video and The Sale that Goes Stale (up to 40% off)

ScreenSteps 2.7 Preview

We wanted to show you a bit of what is coming in ScreenSteps 2.7. We are always trying to make it easier for our users to communicate visually and ScreenSteps 2.7 is going to make a major improvement in that area.


Starting Today! The Sale that Goes Stale

Last month we had our biggest sales month ever and two weeks ago we had our biggest single sales day ever. Thank you so much to all of you who are using ScreenSteps and especially all of you who are telling your friends and colleagues about it.

To thank everyone for their support and to celebrate Thanksgiving we are having a Thanksgiving sale. But this isn’t your standard sale. It’s the “sale that goes stale”.

Monday and Tuesday – Fresh – 40% off of all Blue Mango Products

Wednesday – Like day old bread – 30% off

Thursday – Why are you shopping anyways? You should be eating turkey (in the USA, UK will just eat normal dinner ;-))  – 20% off

Friday – stale – 10% off

The sale begins now (Monday, November 23, 2009) and isn’t combinable with any other offers. The percentage off can be applied to ScreenSteps Standard, ScreenSteps Pro, or to the first three months of a ScreenSteps Live account.

All you need to do to take advantage of the sale is use the coupon code THANKS.

via bluemangolearning.com

Most of you know I'm always recommending ScreenSteps left, right and center - it truly comes with my highest recommendations and almost every week I discover more options and ways to use one or more feature of the program for our business and especially our marketing.

Take advantage of this superb offer of this superb program - that includes superb customer service! No more excuses, go here - and I would opt for the Pro version - and don't forget to use the coupon code THANKS

ScreenSteps - Documentation Done Right

Why your documentation is useless and how to make it Useful

Documentation. Done. Right!

There are three software programs our business has come to learn, love and can't do without any more: Typepad blog platform, AWeber the autoresponder and email marketing and ScreenSteps The multiple media publishing machine. All three involve turning content into (marketing) documentation, are mainly so-called 'online' software programs and are a great tool/help for us to interact with our prospects/clients.

Funnily enough one of those three can be used in combination with the two others. ScreenSteps (Desktop) publishes some of our documentation without any problems into Typepad (this post for instance) and in AWeber.

On this 1 Plus 1 Makes 3 and on the Kiss Business 2 blog I've praised this software program since the moment we started using it. I've tried to explain many times why it is such a great, versatile, simple and multifunctional program any business creating documentation should use.

In their latest webinar "Why your documentation is useless" Greg and Trevor DeVore, founders of Blue Mango Learning Systems and the creators of ScreenSteps have done a much better job - of course! - of explaining why creating your documentation, manuals and even training instructions should be considered a process instead of a project.

Even the stills from the Webinar already tells you the essence of the story:

Is your documentation a:

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Is your documentation connected with:

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Do you plan a documentation project or:

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The video recording of the Webinar tells you much more about the principle of seeing your documentation as a progress instead of a project. Due to the time the webinar was planned I couldn't attend, but I watched the recording this morning and thought: yes, this is exactly what I've been trying to explain to others why ScreenSteps Desktop (and Live) is such a great and IMHO essential tool in these modern days where prospects and clients expect adequate and easy accessible information from many businesses - even from a specialised retailer like we are.

Watch the Webinar recording here and all the slides here.

The whole pricing structure of ScreenSteps Live (now in combination with ScreenSteps Desktop licenses) has made it even more worthwhile to start using both programs and for every business - customer service department, technical support, to function as tour guide for their clients by creating, publishing and distributing all your documentation the right way.
Very quickly you will see that the number of follow-up questions asked by prospects/clients to your customer service or technical support will drastically reduce (and the number of "Thank You!" emails will increase).

ScreenSteps - Documentation Done Right

Powering up the Content Generator

Two months ago during a brain storm session about marketing my 'brain' partner set me a challenge: for a new report - to be added to our growing list of wood and wood related guides - I had to come up with 57 Reasons Why Natural Wooden Flooring Always Outperforms, Outlasts, and Always Looks Better, Than Any Other Floor Covering.

Why 57? I still suspect he plucked that number out of thin air. But a challenge is a challenge and I took to work. Within 1 day I'd reached over 63 reasons ;-) but since some of them were more or less double I did settle on the promised 57.

How did I end up so quickly with so many reasons? Through my Power Content Generator - ScreenSteps Desktop Pro - and the excellent advice by one of the creators of ScreenSteps: Plan Not To Plan your writing.

Here's a screenshot of my manual about the 57 reasons:
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I started with 'writing' every reason I could come up with as the title of a "lesson", just loose thoughts and without writing the explanation or more details of/for a reason. Then one by one I started filling the reason with, well, reasons ;-) and adding images and 'statements' from experts or results from surveys.

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When all that was done - another 2 days of research and writing - the report was finished and available with one click of a button as new wood-guide in PDF-file.

But that's not the end of the story of powering up the Content Generator. Earlier this week I've uploaded every single reason from ScreenSteps Desktop Pro to our FAQ & News site (aka blog) and then spent 15 minutes setting the Publishing day and time for each of them.

Now, every three days a new post is published automagically. No more head breaking about what interesting story to write next for our business blog. I've created content once, in one program and am now able to publish it in many different ways: as PDF file and as blog post in this case.

On the Kiss Business too (2) blog you can find out which other ways are also possible with this Multiple Media Publishing Machine.

I've come to the conclusion that for successful online marketing for any small business you only need three extreme powerful tools:

  1. Web Presence with integrated automagically SEO - Typepad
  2. Lead Generation with Permission - AWeber
  3. Content Publisher - ScreenSteps Desktop Pro

And I'll put all of them into the WebMarketing ToolBox for Small Businesses in the very near future.



If you want to discover more about ScreenSteps: 'early' webinar

Blue Mango Learning System will hold an 'early' webinar (early for the US, just after noon over here, thanks Greg) on ScreenSteps Desktop for new Users:

Tuesday 28 April 9am Eastern = 2pm BST

Learn more about ScreenSteps

Today the Desktop 2.5 Candidate was launched, even more features, benefits and ease of use! As you can read - if you haven't done so already - on the Kiss Business too (2) blog, the program is awarded my KISS-award for Keeping It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business

I'm using ScreenSteps Desktop to create the Best AWeber Strategies and Tactics for Small Businesses.

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(image for illustration purpose only)

192 pages (download online)

"E-book" £ 7.97

(After payment is accepted, please wait until you are redirected to our 'download' instruction page - if you don't receive a confirmation email within 10 minutes, please email me for support: karinh@1plus1makes3.co.uk)

Instant access to put your ethical email marketing into hyperdrive with tested and tried successful Strategies and Tactics used by small businesses.


Are you re-inventing your own wheel?

Re-inventing the wheel is commonly regarded as a waste of your time and effort. So how would we regard re-inventing your own wheel?
Believe me, it happens more often than you think - I've discovered this only last week myself.

During the second half of last year we noticed an increase in website visitors searching on the keywords: restoring or repairing parquet floor. Web marketing logic dictated we wrote a dedicated web page - wood guide -  on this subject (in fact, we wrote two: "7 Easy steps to repair/restore your parquet floor" and "3 Easy steps to clean and maintain your parquet floor")

The 7 Steps almost immediately became the most popular page of our 'static' website. We then took the step - no pun intended - to turn this wood-guide into our first digital wood product, complete with extra information and advice. This was launched end December and has been ordered 7 times already (not bad for a specialised and physical product retailer we think = average one a week).

Now, on our FAQ & News site we also have a most popular post containing simple tips and advice for DIY-ers. In fact sometimes we feel we are giving away too much information - information suppliers/retailers should give their clients. Most however don't and many DIY-ers end up on our websites. Even if they have already bought all the materials somewhere else. This and the "succes" of our first digital wood product gave food for thought, which in a meeting with our good friend "the company-doctor" also came to the forefront. Why not reduce the info in that particular post and create a Comprehensive Installation Guide, give this away for free to our own DIY-clients (on CD-rom) while making it also available (at a price) for others?

Decision made.

We also agreed that if we were to sell our knowledge it should contain as much practical information as possible - we still feel a bit strange 'selling' digital wood products. And I saw a month of writing ahead.

And then I saw 'the light'. We've been writing advice, tips etc in posts and web pages for over 4 years! Why re-invent the wheel, or better our own wheel?

All I had to do was compile the written material already at hand. In between normal daily tasks of a retailer this only took me 4 days. A great help in this was of course one of my favourite software programs "ScreenSteps", the Rapid Documentation Tool.

You create a 'manual', name sections (like introduction, preparations, installation and resources) and in these sections you create your chapters (lessons).

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In the lessons you write the 'steps' - every step is a 'sub header' - your audience/reader must take to complete the task at hand and even better, the 'camera' lets you capture screen shots for images. As in "a picture tells more than a thousand words".

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In the lessons you can swap steps around by simple drag and drop them and in the manual you can swap lessons around in the same way.

ScreenstepsexportThen the best part of the software takes place with one simple click of the button Export. The whole manual is converted into a PDF complete with:

  • Cover page (you can add and edit the templates very simple)
  • Bookmarks
  • Index-page (with links to the 'lessons')
  • Page header image & footer text (again you add/edit these in the PDF template and you can create an unlimited number of templates)

The whole process of converting the 57 pages - yes, 57 pages! - into a PDF took only 1 minute.

Since yesterday the new Guide is for sale on our website, the "delivery" of it is of course automated too: combining AWeber with Paypal (more on this in later posts).

Lesson learned: all of us have specialist knowledge about our job/trade/profession and most of us have written plenty of posts/articles/white-papers about it. Instead of writing new material, why not search through all you already have in your 'possession' - and only add new materials/edit existing material where needed?

Why re-invent your own wheel?

Learn more about ScreenSteps


How a simple program can be so versatile: ScreenSteps

Last year my friend Lesley (The IT-girl) and I organised 4 blog-workshops for local businesses on how to use a blog-platform (Typepad) to grow their businesses. Some of our 'students' are now using this extra web-tool to help grow their business; some - although impressed of what it could mean for their business - never got further than a first try. That happens. And then it is no use of asking yourself why they don't see the benefits of doing more with it - they all set-up an account, wrote their first post and/or page, were very enthusiastic - but don't continue with it.

The only thing you -  as teacher - can do about it is to reconsider the method of training/instruction. Of course a workshop is fun and gets the enthusiasm going. But then we all go away to our normal daily, most times hectic work-tasks and 9 times out of 10 the enthusiasm and plans wane quickly.

That's what we did: reconsidered our method, reconfigured it first to one-on-one sessions with a slightly better result. Time to read back the notes they took on the instructions, the how to's and where to find this or that turned out to be the biggest 'stumble'.

So we are now in the process of reconfiguring the whole training again in two ways:

  1. a manual with lessons on the why, the how to, the edit here, add there and link to this
  2. an online training  - on a blog-platform of course! - that contains all the lessons from the manual mentioned above

And we've found the most perfect 'little' program that can do both - and more - at the same time!
A few months ago Ed Rivis (author of The Ultimate Webmarketing Strategy) made me aware of a Screenstepslogosmall software program he uses frequently to write his own knowledge programs: ScreenSteps, the Documentation Tool (from Blue Mango Learning Systems). I only had to take one look at it to see what benefits it had for our purpose! And I opted immediately for the Pro version.

With ScreenSteps you can:

  • write individual lessons - but how!(see next point)
  • very simple capture screen shots/snaps per step of the lesson to show where to go, where to find, how to etc instead of trying to explain it words
  • add tags to the lesson
  • create a manual per subject or training and fill this with lessons
  • add sections to the manual and fill this with lessons
  • search your whole lesson library on the tags you've given them
  • with one mouse click split a lesson in two lessons
  • in the manual move sections and lessons up or down to enhance or change the structure of the whole training
  • drag and drop existing lessons into other manuals (and this feature I use frequently: the guide I'm working on the moment for the online training I partly use for my 'blog-site' clients' manual, but more an that in another post)

Screenstepslogosmall_2 But there is more! And this makes ScreenSteps even more versatile!

  • You can export individual lessons, sections and whole manuals as PDF-files using a standard or custom-made template
  • You can export individual lessons to a blog (tell ScreenSteps which blog-platform you use and if you have more than 1 blog - like I have on my Typepad account - it will ask you which blog you want it exported in and under which category you want it published!)
  • You can export an individual lesson as a HTML-page and add it to your website, again using a standard or custom made template
  • If you don't have a blog or website you can add ScreenSteps Live to your account and upload it there for the whole world to see.
    (At the moment I am not using this feature but already know you can create a whole online training site or intranet with it, plus you are able to  download lessons others from your company/organisation wrote and edit it - more effective and efficient than emailing them for the original)

Screenstepslogosmall_3 Since discovering ScreenSteps writing the lessons for the online 'practical typepad-guide' has become so much easier. Some days I'm able to export 4 or more lessons to my (still hidden) special blog-site and still can email every individual lesson to one of my 'blog-site' clients when they get stuck on some item of their site. Answering questions from them turn into lessons and are added to the manual. How simple can a trainer's/coach live be? With one simple and versatile program - of course combined with other simple programs (Typepad to name but one): ScreenSteps.

Give it a try and be as pleasantly amazed as I was. And the price! The Pro version costs only $59.97 which is around £ 30.00

A simple, practical and extremely cost-effective program

ScreenSteps - Documentation Done Right