3 Content Marketing Don’ts from a Grocery Store Solicitor

A grocery store solicitor is a nuisance because grocery shopping isn’t typically a leisurely activity. The shopper needs to get down to business, because there are many other tasks to perform when they leave the grocery store and carry on with their day. However, some people might treat grocery shopping as a more casual activity, perhaps time to explore new products or even meet new people. Those are the ideal prospects who are more open to grocery store solicitors. So, the solicitor does have a chance, but I recently witnessed one blow his opportunity … twice. The Meditation Table On this fateful day, a table with a sign on top of it that simply said “Meditation” was adjacent to the front of the organic grocery store I walk to regularly. Not a terrible start. The location has potential. Not all people who buy organic groceries care about upping their zen […]

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8 Calls to Action that Initiate New Relationships with Customers and Collaborators

I know. I know. I know. “Viral” is an actual term people use to describe wildly popular content that has spread across a variety of distribution channels, landing in our Twitter feeds, Apple News updates, text messages, and emails from Uncle Sue. But I still don’t like the word. When “going viral” is a goal for a piece of content, it puts me a little on edge. Viral content may feed your ego, but it doesn’t necessarily feed your business. Business success without “going viral” I understand it’s frustrating if no one knows about your products or services. That’s why you want a lot of people to see your work. But sustainable success stems from your dedication to produce one great line at a time and consistently publish your content. One article or podcast episode or video is not going to change everything. Plus: Many smart content moves have nothing […]

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A Simple, Two-Month Plan to Complete a Content Project

At the end of June 2009, I was reading Copyblogger and I got a new idea: I should write an ebook. My writing and editing business was less than a year old, and I had never written anything that resembled a book. Could I actually do it? I knew I wanted to try, so I established a plan on July 1 that would help me write, design, and self-publish an ebook on my website by September 15. I’m going to share that plan with you today, so you can adapt it to any type of content project you’d like to finish by the fall (in the Northern Hemisphere). Select the right topic Writing an ebook could easily take a year or two … or five. But launching it as soon as possible was an important step for my business. The ebook would help: Establish my authority as a writer and […]

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4 Steps to Finish a Practical Project Instead of Fantasizing about a Lofty Idea

If I set out to practice yoga for an hour each day, I would practice zero hours of yoga each day. Something else would always take priority over that hour of yoga. We all have other things to do. Instead, I consistently practice five to 20 minutes of yoga Monday through Friday. I had to find a routine I could fit in regularly — without making a big production of it. What have you turned into a big production? The long-term goal. Where you want to go. An ultimate objective. All of those thoughts can serve you well. The problem occurs when those thoughts stay thoughts because meeting your goal requires too much time or energy — time or energy you don’t realistically have. Overwhelm and disappointment cloud your hopes and dreams because you haven’t actually done anything related to them. Here’s a quick litmus test: You know you’re wasting […]

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A Micro Audience: Your Macro Win

I finally did it. After years of presenting examples of great content I’ve found while feeding my YouTube habit, I stopped only consuming and started producing. In the beginning of May, I launched two YouTube channels. I have very few subscribers. And I’m over the moon about it. Here’s why. You’re not entitled to anyone’s attention Just because you’re excited about something you’re doing, it doesn’t mean anyone else is. It doesn’t mean they’ll pay attention. It doesn’t mean they’ll share it. So, when someone does care — even if it’s one person — it’s a reason to celebrate. Everything has a micro start. The content creator who’s preoccupied with 100, 1,000, 10,000, or some other magical number of subscribers, takes what’s right in front of them for granted. And reaching some ideal number is never as satisfying as you think it will be, so you’re forced to begin a […]

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How to Zap Your Reaction to Criticism and Grow from ‘Good Enough’

Content creators are easy targets for criticism. Some might even say they “ask for it” by publicly displaying their thoughts, opinions, interests, and art. But I hold the position that anyone who stands by the “asking for it” belief fundamentally doesn’t understand why most people publish content. Content creators don’t share their experiences and knowledge because they think they know it all. Why people publish content Publishing content online is an extension of basic humanity in the offline world. We share. We compare. We inquire. We communicate. We bond. We disagree. We endure. We understand. We tolerate. We connect. Meaningful interactions require vulnerability, which content creators also infuse in their online work. Quite frankly, I think it threatens those who feel unable to communicate their own truths. So, these critics split hairs, they give straw-man arguments, they look for weaknesses to exploit. They attempt to strip us of our humanity […]

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Remembering and Reflecting on Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day in the United States — a day to remember the men and women who have died in military service. It’s our tradition at Copyblogger to take today off, to honor those sacrifices and to take time for family, community, and gratitude. We look forward to seeing you back on the blog tomorrow. Image courtesy Hugh MacLeod. Read_More Related posts: How Imagination Can Accelerate Performance Memorial Day: A Time to Reflect and Remember Watch Tim Cook’s 2018 Duke University Commencement Speech (Transcript) Five Coffee Facts to Impress Everyone With on Coffee Day Why Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About the ‘Alter Ego Effect’ Copyblogger’s Guide to the Best WordPress Tools and Plugins The World Series and a Call for Unity. Happy Labor Day!

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When to Send Article Pitches (and Other Important Emails)

It feels good when you’ve done your research before pitching an article idea to an editor: You know the publication’s audience. You know your topic offers value in unique ways. You know the editor’s content preferences and pet peeves. But you’re not done yet. Although hitting the “send” button on your email seems like an inconsequential step in your article-pitching process, pause before you take that action. That moment of excited impatience could spoil all of the important research you’ve just performed. Caution: avoid these days of the week Have you ever suggested a fun activity to a friend, significant other, or family member when they’re in a bad mood … and they immediately decline? Although they typically would love your idea, you’ve asked them at a time when they don’t want to be bothered. I compare that experience to submitting an article pitch to an editor on a Friday […]

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What to Do When Your Eyes Are Tired from More than 15 Years of Professional Proofreading

Me: “Hey, Brain, it’s time to proofread!” My Brain: “We don’t want to.” Me: “But, Brain, this article isn’t complete until we proof it.” My Brain: “Our eyes are tired.” Me: “There might be a mistake I want to correct, or I might find ways to make the text even better.” My Brain: “We want to eat chocolate chips.” Me: “Braaain. I’m losing my patience.” My Brain: “Fine, that wasn’t entirely true. We want to eat cinnamon rolls.” I’ve proofread a lot on a regular basis over the last 15 years. And no matter how tired my eyes may be on any given day, every article we publish on Copyblogger gets a dedicated proofreading session. All content deserves to be reviewed by a bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed proofreader invigorated by catching errors. While my eyes are no longer bright and my tail is no longer bushy, I do have a technique that helps […]

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Every Audience Has This in Common (Use It to Stay Hyper-Relevant)

It doesn’t matter if you create content about minimalism or motorcycles. Every audience has these three sub-groups: People who read your content. People who read and share your content. People who take action on the advice you provide in your content. The sub-groups aren’t mutually exclusive. For example, those who apply your advice to their own situations obviously read your content — and they might regularly share it as well. In order to continually appeal to the people who are most likely to become your clients and customers, though, let’s hold a magnifying glass up to the “take action” group. Add a sophistication filter So, what are you going to write about next? It seems like a straightforward question, but it’s often challenging to narrow down your ideas and pick one you feel good about. Here’s where you can use the “people who take action on the advice you provide […]

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The Thing that Keeps Many Conscientious Writers from Trying Freelance Writing

If you’re concerned about whether or not you’d be a good service provider, there’s a good chance you’d be a perfectly acceptable service provider. You know who’s usually not a perfectly acceptable service provider? Those who don’t have that concern. Because, right now, a lot of people do the exact same work you want to do, and they never stopped to worry about whether or not they’d provide good service. And they don’t provide good service. And working with them is frustrating. This is your opportunity to stand out as a professional It’s time to dissolve the fears you might have about accidentally doing something wrong that will harm your reputation. You first need to actively shift from presenting yourself as just a writer to presenting yourself as a professional service provider who runs a business with established rules and guidelines. These include: Business hours Your terms of service Your […]

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Snub Your Next Deadline and Read This Instead

“Creative people are flaky.” That statement gets my blood boiling a bit, but I do understand where the sentiment comes from. When distractions are useful in order to ultimately make insightful connections for your job, the line that separates work and goof-off time often gets blurred. And having frustrating experiences with creative people who are “not reliable in performance or behavior” perpetuates the flaky stereotype. But who benefits from that belief? Non-creative people. Responsible creative people drive healthy competition “I’m not creative, but I’m responsible.” Those who think they’re not creative thrive off of the division of creativity and responsibility. It gives them a reason to feel superior and boast about their follow-through skills that greatly serve work teams. A creative person who demonstrates responsibility is a threat to those people. If a creative person is also responsible, a non-creative person has to bring something else of value to the […]

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How to Make Yourself Indispensable to a Creative Team

Yesterday, I mentioned the makings of a successful creative team that runs like a well-oiled machine. As the creative-strategic hybrid model becomes more pervasive in modern content marketing, there’s a great opportunity for creative people who produce outstanding work on demand. Whether you’re an employee of a company or a freelancer, your skills and sensibilities can make you an important collaborator instead of someone who can easily be replaced. And there’s a reason why I’m emphasizing “creative” here, and not just any team of colleagues. Creative work confuses onlookers The creative process tends to not look like “work.” A full-time writer’s day has the potential to baffle someone from another field. Even the most nonjudgmental soul might conclude: “That person’s not really working, right?” But underneath the surface, that writer is performing all of the steps required to make connections that are more interesting and thought-provoking than what their audience […]

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Master the Part of Editing that Has Nothing to Do with Grammar, Spelling, or Punctuation

If you want your content marketing team to run like a well-oiled machine, there’s one factor that matters more than anything else — and it’s often unspoken. It also contributes to your professional satisfaction. Can you guess what it is? It’s not strong communication. Although that’s clearly important too. It’s trust. How much have you thought about that decision? When you and your colleagues trust each other, you rarely have to ask: “How much have you thought about that decision?” You know that they have actively thought through any decision that may be risky — whether it’s a decision about their own content or a piece of content they’ve edited. There’s so much more to publishing writing than just fact-checking, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Editing isn’t about perfection in those areas, either. It’s about judgment calls to avoid publishing haphazard ideas in a draft. Rough ideas in a draft are […]

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Why the Term ‘Experimental Art’ Makes Me Laugh

All of the definitions of “experimental art” that I could find were pretty vague. Which was great, because they supported my position that the term “experimental art” is a bit laughable. Since I don’t have a concrete summary that explains what experimental art is, let’s look at the definition of the word “experimental”: “Serving the ends of or used as a means of experimentation.” Doesn’t that describe all art? Next, let’s look at a couple of synonyms for “experimental”: “exploratory, investigational” Doesn’t that describe all art? Now let’s look at the adjective “avant-garde,” which some might use interchangeably with “experimental”: “Favoring or introducing experimental or unusual ideas.” Doesn’t that describe all art? And finally, let’s look at a couple of synonyms for “avant-garde”: “innovative, inventive” Ask it with me now: Doesn’t that describe all art? Well, art worth talking about anyway That’s why I find the term “experimental art” redundant. […]

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Introducing Pooblíche: The Exquisite Exterminator for Refined Content Marketers

Sometimes in business, just like in life, you reach a turning point. You look back at your past experiences with appreciation, but then take a serious assessment of where you’re currently at to determine the direction you will travel in moving forward. While Brian was abroad the past six months, the team and I here at Copyblogger knew it was time for us to build a revolutionary product. So, we began brainstorming to find the intersection of: What we stand for as a company and What would help our audience cut through the trials and tribulations of content marketing to produce meaningful work that drives business results. After a lot of coffee and late nights, Pooblíche® was born. It’s a simple, yet powerful, publishing platform like no other: If your content’s rubbish, it won’t let you publish. We wanted to really “wow” Brian, and we’re so confident about Pooblíche that […]

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The Light and Dark of ‘Tidying Up’ for Writers

Spring cleaning was a thing before Marie Kondo was all the rage. And I have some conflicting thoughts about clearing out clutter. Is more organization truly necessary? Are your current systems and methods actually outdated? Let’s look at the light and dark sides of “tidying up,” especially as they pertain to the creative processes in a writer’s life. The light When we can simplify something, it usually feels good, because we’ve found something within our grasp to improve — and we don’t have control over many other complex parts of life. For example, morning routines that prepare you for your day ahead and evening routines that let you wind down at night are tactics that can help you stay balanced during all of the unknown that occurs in between. And you can also have work guidelines in place that set you up to be focused and productive. The light side […]

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7 Content Projects, If You Managed Marketing for a Local Café

I live around a lot of coffee shops. The most inexpensive and convenient is Starbucks. “Inexpensive” is self-explanatory, but it’s “convenient” for a couple of reasons. It’s nearby and predictable. I can get a cup of joe with a splash of soy milk at the lowest price around and it always tastes the same and satisfies my craving. (I’m not as picky about coffee as I am about the Oxford comma.) But lately I’ve explored my other options. I’d like to support local businesses, and maybe one of them is a nice place to work or relax. Unfortunately, they all look roughly the same, which brings me back to the thought: “I can get exactly what I want at Starbucks. Why try something new?” It’s an objection that’s not unique to my search for a cool café. To grow your audience of potential customers, challenge their instinct to stick with […]

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How to Grow an Idea into a Fruitful Product or Service

Let’s take it back … Way back … Before the internet was a part of creating your business. What steps did you need to take? You’d create prototypes. You’d give away samples. You’d offer free trials or discounts. All of that, and more, was part of gradually testing out your idea, gauging interest, and adjusting your plan as needed. Is there already a market for your product or service? Does your idea need to evolve to match what people want? You certainly didn’t have expectations of attracting tons of people. Getting locals to discover your product or service already took serious marketing. And if you were in a small community, reaching customers in the closest big city could even seem like a pipe dream. Then the internet happened, and the possibilities for businesses now seem endless Entrepreneurs can reach people all over the world, which leads to full-speed launches before […]

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Creative Business Kryptonite – Copyblogger

Idea generation to project execution follows the same trajectory as a piece of writing, from first draft to final draft. And what do your first draft and final draft have in common? Sometimes, not much. Yet, your first draft was a necessary part of your writing process. So, it doesn’t make sense to get discouraged, or give up, if an idea doesn’t work out. But it frequently happens, and it stops worthwhile creative projects from coming to life — in the form that they were meant to be in. Overcome “my way or the highway” In middle school, I had a hardline teacher who introduced us to the idiom, “My way or the highway.” Yes, sir. But if you want to work in a creative field, you have to laugh at that concept and kindly dismiss it. The original version of your idea won’t likely work out. It’s not that […]

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