21 Recommendations for Spending Your Content Marketing Time Wisely

One enduring challenge with content marketing is how quickly it can turn into the content treadmill. This week, we’ve got 21 recommendations for specific ways you can make your content marketing do its job — without consuming every minute of your time. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman shared seven content projects you might take on if you were handling marketing for your local coffee shop. (The post also features both Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen quotes. #ftw) On Tuesday, Pamela Wilson came by to help us avoid the perils of cringeworthy stock photos in our content. (You know the ones. Who is that lady, and why does eating salad make her laugh?) Pamela will help you choose imagery that feels natural, that evokes the right emotional reaction for your audience, and that avoids the whole “people in suits jumping in the air” cheese factor. And on Wednesday, I answered a question […]

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10 Things Your Content Marketing Strategy Must Include

With last year’s sale of our StudioPress division, I found myself with something I hadn’t seen in a long time — bandwidth. And to my surprise, what I really felt called to do was work with clients again, sharing what I’ve learned over the last decade as Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer for Copyblogger Media. One great thing about client work is you immediately see themes and recurring motifs come up in conversations. We’ve talked on the blog for years about the benefits of taking the time to create an in-depth, documented content marketing strategy before jumping into writing. And when I bring this up in conversations, I notice that the immediate follow-up question is nearly always: “Er, what does an in-depth, documented content marketing strategy actually look like?” Here are my recommendations for 10 elements that make sense in a solid content marketing strategy. You may have additional thoughts, […]

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How to Avoid Using Cringeworthy Stock Photo Images in Your Content

Is it possible for something to be both a lifesaver and a minefield? Yes — and if you’ve spent any time searching for the perfect image on a stock photo website, you know it’s true. Stock photos are a lifesaver — they help you use powerful visual marketing to connect with your readers. And stock photos are a minefield — the wrong image can cause you to lose credibility, attention, and trust. This article shares four tips for avoiding those “stock photo landmines” that end up working against you rather than for you. It’s worth the effort. According to a study by MDG Advertising: “Images are powerful on their own, but when mixed with text they become even more impactful.” They also note that: “Articles with relevant images get 94 percent more views, on average, compared to articles without images.” Ninety-four percent more views? I’ll take it. How about you? […]

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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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Tactics and Strategies that Help You Look (and Think) Like a Pro

This week, we’ve got a bunch of tips, tactics, and strategies to help you get more out of the work you do behind that keyboard. While the promise of the internet seems limitless, the reality is that you still have to make meaningful connections and help potential customers understand your worth — just like every brick-and-mortar business does. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman outlined the process of going from idea to useful product or service and on to a viable business. She shows how to use content to experiment and test ideas, as well as to connect with the audience that will go on to become your most loyal customers. If you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, you know that expectation doesn’t always match reality. Expectation might be 9–5 and business casual, but freelancers know that some days it’s 5:00 p.m. before you have time to put on pants. Fortunately, whether or […]

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Copyblogger Book Club: Master Content Strategy

You might have noticed that we tend to be pretty big on content marketing strategy around here. “Throw a ton of content onto the blog and hope someone likes it” is not a strategy. “Publish a bunch of listicles based on what we think our keywords probably are” is not a strategy. Even publishing tons of content that people love is not actually a strategy. (Although strategy is a good way to get there.) Many businesses, large and small, know that “content marketing is a thing,” so they bring on a writer to throw together some posts and wait for the magic results to happen. If you’ve tried this out, you know that it’s a long, long wait. Our one-time colleague Pamela Wilson knows a ton about solid content marketing — she even wrote a book about it. And her newest companion book is just as powerful. It’s called Master […]

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5 Easy Ways to Transform Your Website into a Standout Salesperson

Most freelancers I know hate selling. And I can include myself in that bunch. Whether it’s a fear of rejection, utter disdain for self-promotion, or a lack of confidence in our skills and abilities, just the thought of selling (especially on-the-spot and in-person) sparks massive procrastination. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t sell. It just means we need a little help. High-quality content on a well-crafted website can help sell your services with confidence. So, let’s take a look at how you can turn your site into a better salesperson for your business. Treat your website like the 24/7 employee that it is The best thing about your website is that it can work for you around the clock. It doesn’t take breaks, it won’t call in sick, and it’s focused on getting you the results you want. But — as with a real-life employee — your website can’t […]

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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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Need a Breakthrough? Find the Right Balance of Creative and Strategic Thinking

For the marketing writer or business owner in 2019, deciding between strategic and creative is a luxury we can no longer afford. Giving rein to our creative individuality will set us apart and help us stand out in the vast sea of content. But we also want to be purposeful and strategic about how we’re spending our time. This week, we offered three posts that will nourish your creative side — while giving your strategic brain room to develop creative ideas into powerful strategies. Stefanie Flaxman started us off by talking about how damaging rigidity can be to creative work (like writing, marketing, or running a business). She turns “my way or the highway” to: “My way, or we could take the scenic route. Let’s open ourselves up to the best option.” Check out her post to help you find more creative flexibility — while staying true to your vision […]

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5 Situations that Demand You Hire a Professional Copywriter

We write a lot of posts on Copyblogger about how business owners can apply techniques used by professional copywriters. Strong calls to action, compelling benefits, fascinating bullet points, magnetic headlines. With all of this information, no one should ever need a pro, right? Well … I wouldn’t say that. Sometimes it makes sense to do it yourself, and sometimes it’s a very good idea to call in a professional writer. Today, I’m going to talk about five scenarios when you’ll want to bring in a pro. 1. You just aren’t any good at it Talent is about 90 percent a function of putting in the work. But it’s hard to put in the work for something you don’t feel any connection with. And sometimes you have a pressing need, but not enough time to get good enough to do it yourself. Lots of people hate to write. If the thought […]

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6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Launched a Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding is fascinating. Like many people, I have backed projects on Kickstarter. But I was curious about what it would be like to launch my own campaign for a product I created. So I did. It’s called the THINKERS Notebook and it’s currently running on Kickstarter. And while there are numerous articles about how to run a successful campaign, none of them truly prepare you for the reality of the experience. So I want to share a few things I wish I had known, or at least done sooner, before I clicked the Launch button. 1. Create a smart budget You must always remember this axiom: It takes money to raise money. You’ll have a lot of expenses (both incidental and direct) whenever you sell anything online. This is especially true when it comes to Kickstarter. These expenses can include: Costs related to developing prototypes of your product Creating a […]

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Thoughtful Elements of Distinguished Content Marketing

Content that drives real business results often looks effortless, but we all know how much creative and strategic planning it takes to make a meaningful impact on an audience. This week, we tapped into the qualities that comprise distinguished content marketing. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman showed us how to transform draft paragraphs into smart articles. Use her 10 tips to review your next blog post like an editor. On Tuesday, Loryn Cole championed all notebook lovers by exploring the irreplaceable power of paper. You don’t have to choose between paper and digital, either. Loryn explains how your work can benefit from both formats. And on Wednesday, I talked about why it’s so hard to make time for creativity. I also let you know about a fun workshop I’m leading that will help you add more writing practice into your daily routine. That’s the content — stay thoughtful, and we’ll see […]

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10 Advanced Edits that Craft Better Paragraphs

Paragraphs that are both autonomous and seamlessly flow together do not happen by accident. Smart words and crisp sentences that make up a writer’s playground are also the building blocks of effective paragraphs that keep readers immersed in your article. The first versions of your paragraphs served their purpose. Now it’s time to make them better with these 10 advanced edits. 1. Draft on paper For me, typing a first draft in a digital document always makes the writing process more difficult. As I wrote in Be a Bad Writer to Be a Great Writer: “Prolific writers know that ‘decent,’ ‘weird,’ or ‘good enough’ often precede the ‘best’ versions of their content. They need the time to explore ‘decent,’ ‘weird,’ and ‘good enough’ in order to arrive at ‘best.’” In other words, writers need space to see the inner-workings of their minds in different formats to determine how their final […]

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3 Not-So-Obvious Ways to Nurture Your Creativity

This week was all about nurturing your creative spark — in new ways that you might not have considered before. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman reminded us of something that every writer needs in order to do their best work. Easy to forget, important to remember. On Tuesday, Pamela Wilson swung by to help writers get over the intimidation factor of creating visual content. When you add compelling visuals to your terrific writing, you’ll make a much stronger impression with all of the content you publish. Don’t miss the chance to attend Pamela’s free workshop, where she’ll walk you through creating signature branded images for your own projects. And on Wednesday, I let you know about a nifty new tool — the THINKERS Notebook. It was developed by our business partner Sean Jackson, and it has some neat features that will help you capture, refine, and share your great creative (and […]

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A Minimalist’s Guide to Visual Content Marketing (Even If You’re Not a Designer)

What if I told you there’s a passageway directly into the brains of your readers — and it doesn’t involve copywriting voodoo, ninja video moves, or podcasting magic? It doesn’t involve words at all. It’s all about visuals. Hold on. Don’t run off just yet! I know that using visuals can feel intimidating if you’ve never worked with them before. But just like you don’t have to be born with a pen in your hand to become a decent writer (I’m proof of this), you don’t have to be born with a special “designer gene” to master using visuals. Design is about learning a few guidelines and then practicing what you’ve learned. That’s it. Design is learnable and if you’re willing to practice what you learn, you can start using visuals to give everything you publish more impact and meaning. What’s “visual content marketing?” The broad definition of visual content […]

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Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 02/15/19

Jordan J Stella is a digital marketing professional whose passion is to help brands find their voice, tell their story, and connect with real people. As Customer Success Manager for UpCity, Jordan helps clients integrate our Agency Growth Engine into their existing workflows and processes. Read_more Related posts: Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 03/01/19 Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 01/26/18 Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 03/02/18 Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 03/30/18 Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 03/23/18 Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 04/06/18 Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 04/27/18 Top 25 Digital Marketing Articles – Week of 05/04/18

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Romance Your Customers with Some Seriously Practical Business and Marketing Advice

Happy Valentine’s Day! Or if you’re not a fan, Happy Fake Emotional Obligation Day! Whether you’re hunting down a table for two or have plans to binge on Russian Doll and cookie dough ice cream, we thought you might enjoy some business and marketing content to go with that. On Monday, Brian Clark talked about why the element of placebo informs so many of the stories we tell ourselves — including great marketing stories. On Tuesday, Jerod Morris shared ways to reduce the distractions that clutter up our thinking. (He has a tiny but potent hack for your phone that will probably take you about 15 seconds — I think it’s brilliant.) And on Wednesday, I looked at how smart writers can use content to guide their audiences through the buyer stages of awareness — all the way from casual acquaintance through to falling truly, madly, and deeply in love […]

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How to Use Content Marketing to Develop Your Audience’s Stages of Awareness

Last week, Austin wrote a post for us that quoted every copywriting geek’s favorite writer, Eugene Schwartz, and his classic insights on the five stages of buyer awareness. Schwartz observed that in order to sell with copy, we need to understand the stage of awareness of the people reading our advertisement. To recap, those stages are: Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.” Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for them. Solution-Aware: Your prospect knows the result she wants, but not that your product provides it. Problem-Aware: Your prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution. Completely Unaware: The person has no knowledge of anything except, perhaps, their own identity or opinion. If Eugene Schwartz had been able to use the communication technology that powers today’s content marketing, he would have gotten even […]

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Why All Great Marketing Contains the Power of the Placebo Effect

Back in the 1950s, a bedridden man faced certain death from cancer of the lymph nodes. Tumors the size of oranges had invaded the man’s neck, groin, chest, and abdomen. The patient’s only hope was a new experimental cancer drug called Krebiozen. Three days after initial treatment, the man was out of bed and joking with nurses. As treatment continued, his tumors shrunk in half. Ten more days later, he was discharged from the hospital … the cancer was gone. Strangely enough, none of the other cancer patients treated with Krebiozen showed any improvement. Stranger still, a few years later it was conclusively determined that Krebiozen had no therapeutic value whatsoever. Welcome to the power of the placebo effect. The placebo effect, and the power of belief and experience A placebo is, by definition, a substance that doesn’t actually provide the promised benefit — it’s not real. The placebo effect, […]

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15 Ways to Be a Wiser Content Marketer

It’s great to be smart. It’s wonderful to have clever strategies and tactics that help us do our work better. But sometimes, it’s also a good idea to think about how we can be wise. This week, we offered up 15 ways to be a wiser writer and content marketer. Jerod Morris started us off with seven steps to improve the quality of our thinking. We’ll be playing some more with this theme in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out. On Tuesday, Claire Emerson brought us three strategies to strengthen your relationships with clients so you (and they) can have a much happier experience. And on Wednesday, Copyblogger Certified Content Marketer Austin Mullins made his debut on the blog with a post on five things that successful copywriters do to make sure their well-crafted content gets the audience they deserve. Do you have all of these covered? Over […]

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