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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising

In 1962, Time magazine called David Ogilvy: “The most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” During his years as an advertising executive and copywriter, Ogilvy created some of the world’s most successful and iconic marketing campaigns, including the legendary Man in the Hathaway Shirt, plus notable efforts for Schweppes, Rolls-Royce, and the island of Puerto Rico, among many others. Ogilvy was one of the pioneers of information-rich, “soft sell” ads that didn’t insult the intelligence of the prospect. Ogilvy’s successful advertising campaigns demonstrate how to persuade prospects, influence readers, and create memorable, evergreen content. But “The Father of Advertising” also has plenty to teach us about productivity, branding, research, and ambition. Let’s look at some things David Ogilvy had to say, and what we can learn from each of them. On creativity and creative process “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker […]

Read more

Effective Landing Pages: 30 powerful headlines that improved marketing results

There are 21 psychological elements that power effective web design (see infographic). Of those elements, one of the first your customers will experience is the headline.   A powerful headline is your make-or-break opportunity to connect with the customer and get them to engage with the rest of your page — and ultimately convert. We’ll provide you oodles of examples of effective headlines in this MarketingSherpa blog post to help spark ideas as you brainstorm your own headlines. And you can delve deeper into all 21 of those psychological elements in the following videos from MarketingSherpa’s sister brand, MarketingExperiments: The 21 Psychological Elements that Power Effective Web Design (Part I) The 21 Psychological Elements that Power Effective Web Design (Part 2) The 21 Psychological Elements that Power Effective Web Design (Part 3) (This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.)   Now on to the examples … Like […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

How to Explain Your Job as a Copywriter (and Feel Good about It)

Well, this isn’t going to be easy … I’ve been working as a copywriter for 40 years now and still haven’t quite figured out how to properly describe what copywriters do. Or, maybe I’m just traumatized by how people used to react when I told them I was a copywriter. Scroll way back to the late 1970s in London, England. I was a middle-class young man, fresh out of a privileged education. My teachers and parents shared high hopes for me. A lawyer, perhaps. Or a university professor. You want to be a writer? Oh dear. Then maybe a respected novelist, or a journalist for The Times newspaper … A copywriter? Seriously? Is that even a “proper job?” I’d be at a party thrown by my parents and a friend of theirs might ask me, “And what are you doing these days?” I’d tell them I was working as a […]

Read more

30 Sure-Fire Steps to Become a Successful Freelance Writer

You may or may not know that I haven’t always been Copyblogger’s editor. For many years, I was a Copyblogger reader. I didn’t know Brian. I didn’t know Sonia. But I pretended that I did. Of course I didn’t tell anyone that … I just received so much guidance from Copyblogger that helped me position my writing and editing services for success that it felt like I knew them. Although it was just a website with content I read, Copyblogger supported my business journey. I’m bringing this up today because I’m happy to pay it forward, if you will, and share a list of Copyblogger’s top 30 steps that help you become an in-demand freelance writer. 1. Start with the basics The overhead to work as a freelance writer in the digital space is quite small compared to a brick-and-mortar business. Get clear on the bare minimum you need to […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

How to Win Over New Kinds of Readers

Ever notice that your content tends to really resonate with some people, and others don’t have any interest at all? You might shrug your shoulders and just decide “that’s the way things are,” but in fact, educational psychology shows that there are four distinct ways of taking in information. Each of us naturally tends to speak most effectively to one type, leaving the other three out in the cold. But a basic understanding of those four types can actually shape your content to connect with a greater range of people. You’ll radically increase your fan base, and also make a more powerful connection with the readers you have today. Let’s dig into the four styles and how you can create content that resonates with each of them. Cats The biggest question for your Cat readers is, “What’s in it for me?” Their driving question is Why? This learning style is […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

The 5 Types of Online Prospects, and How to Sell to Each of Them

If you’re producing content to promote your services, physical products, or digital offerings, obviously you want a return on investment for the time and effort you put in. On the other hand, you’ve probably noticed that if you spend all of your time relentlessly selling, you’ll alienate a good portion of your prospective audience. The tricky problem for content marketers is that various readers are at different awareness levels, depending on how long they’ve been reading and how much exposure you’ve provided to your offer. And the way you approach your offer will change, depending on which stage your prospect happens to be in. Eugene Schwartz tackled this issue in his classic book Breakthrough Advertising back in 1966. Schwartz broke down prospect awareness into five distinct phases: The Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.” Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell, but […]

Read more

Cultivate Your Independence with Smart Strategy and Thoughtful Action

It’s Independence Day in the U.S.! Wherever you live, this week we invite you to take thoughtful action that promotes your own independence. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman outlined a plan you can follow to complete a project that matters to you. It might be an ebook, a course, cornerstone content for your website, or anything else that’s seemed a little intimidating. It can be comfortable to stick with the daily content grind. But a bigger, more ambitious project is often the path to your most powerful growth. If you want some company while you work on yours, we’ll be planning out our milestones, setting our deadlines, and tracking our progress as a group inside the Killers and Poets Facebook group. Join us if you’d like some motivation and accountability to get that project finished! On Tuesday, Brian Clark highlighted a key to keeping your content and copy focused on what […]

Read more

Does Your Copy Pass the ‘Forehead Slap’ Test?

One of the most repeated rules of writing compelling copy is to stress benefits, not features. In other words, identify the underlying benefit that each feature of a product or service provides to the prospect, because that’s what will prompt the purchase. This is one rule that always applies, except when it doesn’t. We’ll look at the exceptions in a bit. Fake benefits The idea of highlighting benefits over features seems simple. But it’s often tough to do in practice. Writers often end up with fake benefits instead. Direct-response copywriter Clayton Makepeace asserts that fake benefits will kill sales copy, so you have to be on the lookout for them in your writing. He uses this headline as an example: Balance Blood Sugar Levels Naturally! That sounds pretty beneficial, doesn’t it? In reality, there’s not a single real benefit in the headline. True benefits Makepeace advises to apply his patented […]

Read more

Amplify Your Content Production … and Have Fun While You’re At It

Publishing a good volume of excellent content can be a tough game. And if you don’t keep it fun, you’re never going to stick with it. In the words of 1930s heavyweight champion Primo Carnera, you want to look for that elusive balance: “So many money, so many fun.” This week, we have advice on making your content and production processes more fun — without sacrificing the “so many money” part. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman gave us four steps to working steadily on smaller, satisfying projects rather than making ourselves miserable with lofty goals that never get met. On Tuesday, Karine Bengualid made her Copyblogger debut sharing why B2B marketing needs to be “funner,” and how to make that happen without tipping over into hot-mess territory. And on Wednesday, just for fun, I talked about when to be repetitive, redundant, and say the same thing twice. The Copyblogger FM episode […]

Read more

When to Be Redundant, Repetitive, and Say the Same Thing Twice

Remember your fifth grade “What I did on my summer vacation” paper, where you used the words “pool,” “baseball” and “bike” 100 times apiece? And your English teacher dutifully marked your paper up with her red pen. Redundant. Don’t repeat yourself. Choose a new word. Content marketers sometimes get so fearful about repeating ourselves that our messages can get completely lost. The truth is, after fifth grade is over, there are times when you want to repeat yourself to make sure your point comes across. Here’s how you can tell if your content could benefit from a little strategic repetition. Repeat for clarity Like it or not, your readers skim. No matter how clearly you expressed yourself the first time, your words may have literally not been seen. Remember that your content needs to cut through your reader’s dense fog of information clutter and chronic interruption. If it’s important, it’s […]

Read more

Smart Choices that Lead to Impressive Content and Copywriting Results

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling That Albus Dumbledore was a pretty wise fellow. And you’ve probably experienced that some choices you make accumulate into rich, productive experiences … and others tend to roll up into a doughy ball of disappointment. There are a million ways to write copy and content — but the choices you make and the priorities you set will determine the results you see. This week was all about how to make the smartest possible choices when you sit down to write. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman uncovered the magic of a micro audience. She highlights the choice of action over perfectionism, and making the decision to treat a small audience as a priority, even before you see the big wins that will come when that audience grows. On Tuesday, Loryn Cole explored the […]

Read more
1 2 3 5