How Introverted Writers Transform into Business Professionals

There’s a well-loved myth out there that if you do something reasonably remarkable and distribute passionate content, you’ll automatically have an audience who will support you in style for the rest of your life. You don’t have to do anything scary. Like sell, for example. Now if that works for you, that’s terrific. So does it? The painful truth is that there are lots of trusted, loved, and wildly influential smart people out there who are working like maniacs creating amazing content. And who are nonetheless still broke. It’s easy to think that if your audience loves you, all that love will translate automatically into paying customers. But if one of your goals is a financial payoff from your content, you still have some work to do. You have to offer something they want Your Aunt Frances loves you very much, but if you’re a Prius dealer and she’s more […]

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The Betty Crocker Secret to Email Marketing that People Want

You’ve heard it a thousand times: The money’s in the list. If you’re serious about your digital business, you need to build a list of people who are paying attention to you, typically an email list. So, how do you get people to sign up for your email newsletter? You probably already know the answer to this one: Reward them. Give subscribers something great as a “thank you” for signing up. This is usually some form of content — a useful video, a killer ebook, or an exclusive podcast episode. Sure, everyone else does that. Because it works. It works … if you do it the right way. Giving away something good will get people to sign up for your email list, no question. The problem is, what email address will they sign up with? It’s not like it’s hard to find an email address. Gmail is just one of […]

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The Simple Way to Get Everything You Want

I want to tell you a story about two women. One is my hairdresser and the other is my massage therapist. Of the two, I have a stronger connection with my massage therapist. I see her more often, she’s closer to my age, and well, there’s just a certain bond that develops when you get naked that often with a person. But my hairdresser once asked me to recommend her for a “best of” list our local TV station was running. She didn’t cajole, bribe, beg, threaten, or promise me a free haircut. She just said, “Hey, if you think about it, would you mind logging into this site and giving me a review? I like her, so I went home and did it. Took me about three minutes. A few weeks later, I noticed that my massage therapist had a banner over her business saying that she was mentioned […]

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7 Steps to Grow a Blog Post

Sometimes it seems like writers are magicians, because we have the power to create something out of nothing. An important point to note about magicians, though: They don’t really do magic. 🙂 Instead, they study and practice specific behaviors until they can create that illusion of creating something out of nothing. And of course, all creative people do the same. We study and we practice our craft, making consistent improvements and (if we’re lucky) building habits that lead to more consistent output. Today’s post will help with the “consistent output” part. I don’t think I’m alone in finding Starting the hardest part of writing. We don’t know what we’re going to work on. We’re not sure what the structure will be. We don’t have the first sentence yet. The ideas are all running around in our heads like kittens with ADD, and we have no idea how to get them […]

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A Farewell and Some Advice to Keep You Moving Forward

Well, our big news this week is that I’m going to be moving to a more solo career. The ultra capable Darrell Vesterfelt will be taking over my partnership interest in Copyblogger Media. It’s a huge step for all of us, but it also feels like a natural evolution. It helps a lot that I think Darrell is going to crush it. 🙂 But Copyblogger has never been about only one person. (OK, apart from those very early days when Brian kept it all afloat himself.) And we still have advice and strategies for you! On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman helped us through a painful moment — when a prospect chooses a competitor over our solution. And she explores the ways we can build trust in our prospects, becoming a complete package that they prefer over any other option. On Tuesday, Robert Bruce talked about a brutal problem that writers face […]

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Life After Copyblogger for Sonia Simone

I still remember the first time I asked Brian Clark if I could write for Copyblogger. I had been an enthusiastic Teaching Sells student and Copyblogger rabid fangirl reader, as I was getting my freelancing business off the ground and preparing to leave my corporate job. I was so nervous and intimidated that I gulped a glass of wine. (Since I’m not much of a drinker, this resulted in my being slightly but decidedly drunk.) The wine bolstered me enough to send Brian Clark a DM on Twitter asking if maybe, some time, kind of sort of, if he was desperate or something, I might be able to write a post for him. His reply was along the lines of, “Sure, what do you think of writing for us every week?” And so it began. After some time, I became a partner in Teaching Sells. Then a founding partner of […]

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Changes You Can Make in 10 Minutes for Exceptionally Effective Copy

Sure, professional writers spend a lot of time on our craft. As we should. But it’s also nice to have a few fast tweaks to make your content and copy a lot more effective. This week, we offered three ways to make your persuasive writing work a lot better … without spending a zillion more hours on it. In fact, you can implement all three of these tweaks in about 10 minutes, every time you publish. (You can also spend a little more time and really make them sing … it’s up to you.) On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman shared a foundational technique every content marketer should be using — strategically managing your internal content links. It seems simple (and it is), but it has outsized benefits for the time you put in. Typical time investment: 3 minutesPayoff: Improved authority, significantly better audience experience, SEO benefits On Tuesday, Brian Clark reminded […]

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The Brilliantly Sneaky Trick You Must Learn

Are your readers doing what you want them to do? Are they signing up for your email newsletter, registering for your membership site, or downloading your ebook? If not, you need to learn a master craftsman’s copywriting secret. This technique acts like a remote control to get your readers to take action. Press this “magic button” and you’ll see your results improve dramatically. The secret, masters-only technique to compelling your readers to act is to … Ask them. Annoyed? Think I’m pulling your leg? There’s nothing magical or tricky to getting someone to do something just by asking them, right? That’s completely obvious. And most copy doesn’t do it. Which is why most copy gets weak results. Persuasive writing needs a strong call to action The advice to “always ask them” has been turned into a heroic-sounding marketing term called the call to action, as if trumpets were sounding and […]

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When It’s Time to Get Serious about Your Content and Copywriting

We write a lot about the importance of creativity in content marketing. Generic, flavorless content has very little chance of getting noticed in the sea of content that’s generated every day. Pros know that creativity needs to be harnessed to professional discipline. Creative work is work, and it calls for a serious mindset. And when your creative work is directly tied to a company’s revenue (and the grocery bills and mortgages of everyone who works for that company), there’s no time for self-indulgence. This week, we offered three posts about the power of creative discipline. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about how people perceive the writing life, and what it’s actually like. While from the outside, professional writers sometimes look a little fuzzy, working writers know what it’s like to keep wrestling with a piece when everyone else has gone off to hit Happy Hour. On Tuesday, Beth Hayden shared […]

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Meet the Lazy Marketer’s Best Friend: The Email Autoresponder

No one loves blogs more than I do. They’re a great way to attract an engaged audience, develop trust and rapport, attract links, and stake your claim in search engines. I love blogs. But like babies and kittens, two other things I love, they’re also a lot of responsibility. Blogs take time. You’ve got to write terrific content that stands out from the general noise, promote it intelligently, and cultivate reader relationships. And that’s in addition to everything else you do in your business, from producing your product to getting your taxes filed. That’s why there’s another content marketing tool that I always recommend having in place — ideally before you write your first blog post. It’s the email autoresponder. What is an email autoresponder and why do I want one? An autoresponder is just a sequence of email marketing messages that gets sent to subscribers in the order and […]

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The Copyblogger Guide to Managing Your Professional Overwhelm

Overwhelmed? Anxious? Stressed out? Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around. Daily life is difficult enough. And when you layer business and marketing challenges on top of that, it can seem really inviting to stay in bed and watch cartoons for, say, about a month. Since that’s not an option for most of us, we have several solutions for your creative, marketing, and business anxieties. There are a lot of problems we can’t help you with, but we can try to take marketing worries off of your personal “scary” list. This week I’m switching things up a bit, recapping our posts in reverse order to get more and more specific about how you can Do All the Things even when you’re overwhelmed. On Wednesday, I sent a shout-out to all of my fellow business owners (and other humans) who are anxious, stressed, and freaked out. No matter how intense […]

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Join Sonia Next Month for a Transformative ‘Slow Business Adventure’ in Norway!

Looking for a break from the stress and overwhelm of your business? Want to make some amazing connections with your fellow entrepreneurs? I’ll be keynoting and leading a workshop at the “Slow Business Adventure” festival in Norway, September 9 – 12, 2019 and we’d love to see you there! We’ll spend three days together taking walks, talking about business, inspiring one another, and learning how to grow our businesses sustainably, ethically, and enjoyably. This intimate event will connect entrepreneurs in a meaningful way that goes beyond the conference room. The festival is about the farthest you can get from the usual crowded convention center experience. You’ll be able to catch your breath, to stay centered, and to really think about what matters in your business. All while enjoying the stunning backdrop of the Jotunheimen National Park in Norway. The event fee is surprisingly reasonable for such a transformative and intimate event. […]

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Overwhelmed by the Complexity of Online Business? This May Help

A whole bunch of common issues arise once you start working on Your Big Idea. “I’m getting a little freaked out because …” “I feel like everyone has already beaten me to the finish line …” “When I look around, I feel behind …” And they all boil down to this theme: “I’m scared.” Well, here’s the good news. If you aren’t at least a little freaked out about your business (whether it’s a thriving concern or something you’re just getting off the ground), you may not be paying enough attention. It’s okay to be nervous, worried, anxious, or just … confused. Guess what? It’s overwhelming Website design, content marketing, social media networking, product design, audience development, payment gateways, security, sales letters, launch plans, evolving technology … Overwhelmed yet? Well, of course you are. Because if you try to tackle all of those things at once, you’ll choke. No human […]

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Not Getting Business Results? Try These Content Tips from Professional Artists

A lot of people think that artists create work when they feel inspired, spending the rest of their time drinking tiny coffees in quaint cafés, or something similarly poetic. Nope. Real artists are craftspeople first. They work in a disciplined, methodical way (although that method can vary hugely from person to person), and they don’t wait around for inspiration. This week, we offered three “serious artist” approaches to your content production. Try these out to become both more creative and more productive — without letting your blog or podcast take every minute of your life. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about the value of establishing editorial standards for your content. It might not sound sexy at first. (Unless you’re us, because we’re weird.) But pinning these down will let you serve your audience better, focus your content authority with both audiences and search engines, and can even help reduce writer’s […]

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How to Beat the Boring Content Blues in 30 Days

Have you ever reached a plateau with your content? You come to a point where you have a predictable amount of traffic, that traffic creates a predictable level of response (comments, clickthroughs for your product, number of backlinks, whatever), but your response doesn’t seem to budge past that point. It’s fun climbing to that spot, but less fun to get stuck there for weeks or months on end. I’m going to share a painful secret with you. It isn’t your layout or your banner. It isn’t your SEO. It’s your content. Specifically, your content has become flat and routine. You’ve found a modest audience that likes you, but your ideas and your writing aren’t sharp enough to pull in, energize, and keep new readers. Over 30 years as a professional writer, I’ve developed a method to take my writing to a stronger, deeper level. I originally got this process from […]

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Real-World Advice for Rocking Your Career as a Freelance Writer

The life of a freelance writer is always intense. (That line cheerfully ripped off and mangled from the ’80s cult film Repo Man.) You’re balancing craft, strategy, your clients’ business interests, your own business interests, and maybe even a little bit of art thrown in there. We love freelance business writers, and we strive to give you lots of resources that make you more effective. (Our advice applies to writers working for companies as well, and many marketing writers move back and forth between freelancing and in-house roles.) On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman gave 30 steps to becoming an in-demand freelance writer. No, it’s not “3 steps” or “5 steps,” because building a successful freelance business is complicated. But each of these steps is well within your power. You can use this post as a road map for staying on track to a rewarding and lucrative career. On Tuesday, Nick Usborne […]

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Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features

One cool thing about being a content marketer is that you tend to become an expert in your topic. You probably know an awful lot about your business, your project, or your subject matter. In fact, you might actually know too much about it. It’s called the curse of knowledge. Because we research our topics deeply and spend so much time writing about them, we tend to understand the technical specs inside and out. We have a great grasp of the under-the-hood details that make the thing work. And we think customers want to know all about those details. But most of your potential buyers? They don’t care. What have you done for me lately? To be effective, marketing needs to show exactly what the offering does for the person buying it. The features of your offer are what make it work. The benefits are the results it creates for […]

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How to Gain Audience Trust by … Actually Being Trustworthy

Audience trust is a huge factor in business success. If people think you’ll do what you say you will, they’re far more likely to buy from you. Call us crazy, but around here, we like to build that trust by actually being trustworthy. This week, we have recommendations on how you can improve audience trust (and the strong conversion that follows) by being transparent and reliable. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman showed us three copywriting fumbles that will weaken your business results. She uses examples from hapless Rick, who’s trying to pitch meditation services at the local natural foods grocery. Learn better persuasion skills, Rick! On Tuesday, Loryn Cole shared how to present data truthfully and meaningfully, without introducing the errors that can unintentionally mislead. Data has tremendous persuasive power, so you want to make absolutely sure you’re using it ethically. And on Wednesday, I talked about how to use that […]

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The 7 Keys to List Posts that Are Worth Writing (and Reading)

A lot of smart writers can’t stand list posts. What’s a list post? It’s also known as a numbered list post, or a (shudder) listicle, and it’s a post whose headline features a numbered collection of things. This post, for example, is a list post. There are an awful lot of crummy ones out there. The celebrity sites make frequent use of them (These 17 Celebrities Used to Be Hot, etc.). In fact, all of the CRaP blogs use them liberally. So it’s natural that a quality-focused content writer (like you) might try to avoid them. But that would be silly. And here’s why: Smart marketers have always focused on underlying human psychological drivers. And those drivers change very little, if at all. One of them, for whatever reason, is that we get a tiny bit mesmerized by numbers. When we see a number in a headline, a part of […]

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17 Perceptive Ways to Persuade with Modern Copywriting

Fads and platforms come and go, but one fact endures: Copywriting is the mechanism that allows businesses to make money online. Which means that if online sales matter to your business, copywriting is a really smart place to invest your time and attention. This week, we offered 17 different ways you can boost the effectiveness of your copy for better business results. On Monday, Brian Clark covered the five distinct types of prospects we attract with content marketing, and how to speak to each of them in order to further a business relationship. This advice is more nuanced than the usual “never sell on your blog” or “always sell on your blog” … and it works a lot better than either extreme. On Tuesday, Stefanie Flaxman dived deep into eight different business-building calls to action you can use in your copy and content. If you’ve struggled with giving your content […]

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