Update Your Focus to Work Hard on the Right Things

Last week, I affirmed that “hard work is luck.” However, what if you work hard and aren’t seeing any progress or results? What if hard work just leads to you feeling disappointed and ready to give up? Before you actually do give up, it’s helpful to take a look at the activities that consume your time and attention. Why do some people who work hard succeed, and some don’t? I think those who “work hard and succeed” are open to a variety of pathways that will help them reach their goals. They are flexible and don’t have a fixed mindset about the work they should be doing or a rigid definition of success. In other words, those who “work hard but don’t succeed” might work hard on the wrong things and ignore other versions of success within reach. It’s not the most exciting truth, but we have to crawl before […]

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How Serious Writers Expand Their Audiences with Guest Blog Posts

Note: While we encourage you to explore guest posting to grow your audience, Copyblogger does not currently accept guest post submissions. But don’t worry, these pointers are useful for any publication. In my first edition of the Copyblogger Weekly, I mentioned a running joke Sonia Simone and I have: that she rejected the first guest post I submitted to Copyblogger. (If you’re not already subscribed to the Weekly, sign up here to get a short note from me straight to your inbox every Thursday.) Today, I’m going to share that story to shed some light on the delicate nature of writer-editor relationships. Let’s take it back to 2008 … When I began developing my personal guest posting strategy, Copyblogger sat atop my “Where I Want to Guest Post” list. Five years later, I achieved my goal. So, how did I spend the time between May 2008 and May 2013, when […]

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A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Content Each Week

Good morning, you epic article writer, you. That’s right, I’m talking to you. You publish content to attract new prospects, to build trust with them — word by word — so you can get down to business. And you do it in your slippers. Because shoes are optional in our world, right? Your shoes might be fuzzy, but your words need to be consistently remarkable. Consistently good content that builds an audience is the foundation of online business. But how can you make that happen? Well, one option is to drink lots of coffee and stay up late the night before you publish your post, stifling yawns and squinting to see your screen. But the better option is to spread out the writing and editing process over a few leisurely days, and write your post in stages without ever getting out of your slippers. Sound good? Quality over quantity That’s […]

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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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Join the Copyblogger Renaissance to Pursue the Career You’re Meant to Have

If you told me 10 years ago that one day I’d be taking over writing Copyblogger’s weekly newsletter from Sonia Simone, I’d have said: “In what fantasy world? I don’t know her, and she didn’t review the guest post I submitted.” (True story.) But I believe four simple words: Hard work is luck. Long story short, Sonia and I did eventually connect and have had a great working relationship for the past five years. I’m honored she passed the baton keyboard to me and I now get to talk with you every week, in addition to the other posts I write on the blog. This week, we took Monday off to observe Labor Day in the United States. On Tuesday, Brian Clark talked about why he’s returned to Copyblogger. He shared behind-the-scenes stories about the company and what we have in store going forward. For even more details, check out […]

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The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas

Do you know what happens down at the crossroads? Legend has it that Robert Johnson — the most famous of the Delta blues musicians from the 1930s — took his second-hand guitar and went down to the crossroads in the middle of the night. When the young plantation worker returned home, his guitar skills had taken a quantum leap. The overnight improvement in Johnson’s playing wasn’t just significant; it was supernatural. Something strange happened down at that crossroads. Word got around that Johnson ventured to the crossroads to meet the Devil himself, and sold his soul to become the best blues guitarist who ever lived. Sure enough, less than a year later, Robert Johnson was the king of the Delta bluesmen, and created, played, and sang the greatest blues anyone had ever heard. Johnson is now known as the “Grandfather of Rock and Roll,” and has influenced artists ranging from […]

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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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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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One Ridiculously Easy Addition to Enhance the Power of Your Blog Posts

The overall aim of your blog is to help your audience with the issues they struggle with while also educating them on what they need to know to do business with you. That’s too much responsibility for just one article, so each blog post you publish can be thought of as a piece of your content marketing strategy puzzle. And how do you connect those puzzle pieces to keep readers engaged with your story and on your site for longer? Internal links: a strategic way to connect your content I often advise writers to be selective about the hyperlinks they include in their blog posts. While links allow you to cite external sources and provide more background information on certain topics, articles that make sense without clicking on a bunch of links are naturally easier to read. That said, linking to your own content is an opportunity to showcase your […]

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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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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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For Courageous Content Creators Who Want to Do Epic Work

When I started blogging, a little over 10 years ago, one of my then-colleagues mentioned that she “didn’t have the software to read blogs.” Today, the landscape is a little different. Blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, and other content formats are being consumed at an astonishing rate — and an equally astonishing volume of new content is being generated to fill that demand. The content landscape isn’t some mythical blue ocean lacking in competition. It’s a teeming jungle — with plenty to eat, and plenty that wants to eat you. To make it in the content jungle, you need courage. The courage to stand out, the courage to get real about your values, and the courage to create over the long haul. This week, we’ve got fuel for your content courage. One reason creativity and self-expression are difficult is that we’re afraid someone will be mean to us over what we […]

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Why You’re Missing Out if You Save Your Best Content Ideas

Imagine this, if you will. An old woman, near the end of her life. Shivering in a fleabag apartment without heat in the winter. Walking four miles each way to the food bank, to carry home unmarked cans of mystery meat. Not even a cat to keep her company, because cat food is expensive. Then one day she dies, and the neighbors find $2.7 million wadded up in her mattress. It’s a natural human impulse to hold on to what we have. We figure we can handle whatever discomforts we might be facing now, and who knows how bad it could get down the line? So we hoard, saving up our riches for some mythical later time. What does this have to do with writing? Everyone who writes faces this at some point. We come up with a powerful idea, something we think will capture a lot of attention. This […]

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38 Ways to Boost Your Content Confidence … Every Time You Publish

The life of a content marketer is always intense. The deadlines, the flow of ideas, the juggling of writing, promotion, and business needs. To keep producing, you need to protect your content confidence. And this week, we shared 38 ways to do that. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman outlined 12 of the triple-checks we do at Copyblogger to make sure that every post goes into the world making an excellent impression. (I messed up #5 once and I was mortified. If only I’d had Stefanie’s checklist in front of me!) On Tuesday, Pamela Wilson showed us how to take a just-okay image and crop it so it tells a compelling story — and increases the immediate impact of your content. Smart images will help your good writing get the shares and attention it deserves. And on Wednesday, I talked about 10 ways to fall in love with your blog (or podcast, […]

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Bored with Your Blog? These 10 Tips Will Make You Fall in Love Again

Content marketing is a long game. In one way, that’s excellent — because all of your lazy or undisciplined competitors are going to drop out. In another way, it sucks, because we all have days when we’re lazy and undisciplined. In the early days, we can get by on adrenaline and enthusiasm. But as the months pass, we need some strategies to stay in love with that blog, video channel, or podcast. Here are 10 strategies I’ve found helpful when you don’t want to quit, but you need to get a little bit of the magic back. 1. Read outside your topic When you’re mastering a new subject, it’s only natural to immerse yourself in it. You’ll read, watch, and listen to content obsessively while you pick up nuances and new ideas. It’s a bit of a honeymoon with your topic … you can’t keep your hands off of it. […]

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7 Ways to Compliment Your Written Text Content with Online Video

Blog content works wonders if you know how to effectively promote it and rank it in the search results. The main problem is that most bloggers and content creators are simply focused on creating content and then not putting in the time, work, and effort to actually promote. This is a direct path to failure for many reasons, such as: Wasted time being spent on publishing 500-word articles Not having evergreen content you can refer to time and time again Scattering your SEO and link building efforts all over the place A better way to create content for your site or brand, is to make sure you are covering as much content as possible, while also staying niche specific and having a call to action in the process. It’s also best to publish content that has at least 1,500 words of content, and is something that you can refer to […]

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What It Takes to Launch the Next Great Blog, Podcast, or Video Channel

This week, we had some resources for any new, ambitious content-based project you want to get off the ground. (Or one you’d like to push forward in a big way.) As is our tradition at Copyblogger, the team took time off on Memorial Day to honor the sacrifices of those who have given their lives in military service, and to take time for family, community, and gratitude. On Tuesday, Brian Clark helped us get out of the overwhelm that comes when we’re launching a new blog — because there’s a lot to think about, and road maps are useful things. (Pro tip: You can use the exact same steps to launch a podcast, a YouTube channel, or any other big content-based project.) He spells out a three-step blueprint for a brilliant blog launch. One of Brian’s steps is to build relationships with other publishers in your topic — but this […]

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A 3-Step Blueprint for a Brilliant Blog Launch

Launching a brand-new blog is exciting. But it can also be awfully lonely for up to a year as you build readership, unless you plan to begin with a bang. So, here are my thoughts on doing just that. This strategy does not require you to have an existing audience to use as a springboard. In fact, I’m assuming you’re starting cold. The blog-launch blueprint consists of three steps: Cornerstone Networking Attraction 1. Cornerstone: Build your blog on a firm foundation Your cornerstone content is the foundation of your blog — the information any visitor needs to get the most out of following your blog. It enhances the user experience and should also be one of the primary search terms you hope to rank for. I suggest doing a series of posts tied together on a landing page, as I did with Copywriting 101 when I started Copyblogger in 2006. […]

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You Suck at Blogging: Here’s How to Fix That

Everyone and their mother have a blog on their website. This is probably why there are 1.7 billion websites on the web right now. 90% of those people don’t know how to write a blog (my estimation). And probably a good number think they do know how to write a blog. The question is, how many of those people are driving traffic with their content? Bad news is, you’re one of those people most likely. And you’re not seeing any traffic because of your blog. You’re probably thinking right now, “blogging is a waste of time. I’ve put in tons of time and seen few results.” Right now, we’re going to change your mind. Here’s how to stop sucking at blogs. 1. Be on Time You might think I’m talking about setting a schedule and sticking to it. And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Consistency is key to building an […]

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How to Make Exceptional Communication Your Winning Difference

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote this tagline: “Remarkable business begins with remarkable communication.” That was a bedrock principle for me when I was starting out as a marketer. I still find it a bedrock principle of marketing, particularly content-driven marketing. This week, we got into a When, a Why, and a What for the kind of exceptional, empathetic communication that builds great businesses. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman shared her experience and advice on when to send article pitches and other “cold” (or at least not piping hot) requests by email. She also gives recommendations for when and how to follow up gracefully if you don’t hear back. Because email inboxes can be scary, scary places. On Tuesday, Loryn Cole explored why effective communication — with colleagues, employees, clients, or anyone else — is a lot like a growing garden. You can pull up […]

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