Learn This Skill to Advance Your Career as a Writer

There are writers. And then there are professional writers. Over my career as a writer and editor, I’ve noticed one key factor that enables writers to perform their craft professionally. I’ve said it before, so you won’t be surprised to hear: It’s the ability to self-edit. A strong self-editor doesn’t just show up to work — they show up with a seemingly counterintuitive balance of compassion and criticism that allows them to write prolifically and precisely. That combination is exactly what companies and publishers look for when they hire writers. Self-sufficient writers know they’re going to: Choose the wrong words. Add distracting tangents. Repeat information. But since they are disciplined, and aware that they make mistakes, they produce more sophisticated content than writers who don’t rigorously examine their own work. Here are three steps that strengthen your self-editing skills. Step #1: Form your structure Readers quickly navigate away from articles […]

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What Profitable Digital Businesses Hope You Won’t Discover

How often do you feel stuck when trying to grow your business? Since we’re creative people, we like to come up with all sorts of creative excuses reasons for why we just aren’t getting any momentum. But there’s only one true reason: You’re stuck when you’re not selling. The ability to sell is the single factor that separates successful digital businesses from those that struggle. And some of the most effective salespeople you will ever meet — the folks who sell a million dollars a year or more — would never strike you as “salesy.” That’s because the killer skills for sales professionals are listening and empathy. So if you’re interested in making listening and empathy work for your business, we have a new 4-week live training you’ll want to check out today … Live Training Mastery:How to Sell More with Webinars, Workshops, and Live Training Events It kicks off […]

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15 Copy Editing Tips that Transform Your Content into Persuasive and Shareable Works of Art

What’s special about the compelling content you retweet, Like, bookmark, and email to your friends? Those articles serve the audience, not the content creator. Creative work that instantly captivates and holds an audience’s attention influences their lives. So, you have to remember that transcribing the thoughts in your mind won’t always serve a purpose. You must craft the right instructions and help a reader optimize a part of their daily life through the topic you share. Here’s how you get there: Strengthening your ability to create content that spreads includes improving your editing skills. Editors transform basic text into powerful stories (in all media) that persuade people to take action. Once you’ve written a draft, review these 15 copy editing tips that help turn your articles, landing pages, webinar content, podcast episodes, and videos into shareable works of art. 1. Walk away Realistically assess your post’s urgency. Unless you have […]

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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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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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3 Fundamental Editorial Standards for Any Serious Publication

I’m a “go big or go home” kind of gal, and when it comes to content marketing today that translates to “have editorial standards or don’t publish.” If a reader, listener, or viewer begins to like you, but you fail to earn their trust, your hard work will feel like a waste. Editorial standards are essentially rules that help you establish and uphold your reputation as a trustworthy resource for your audience. I’m particularly fond of this other cool part: They give you the freedom to be creative, or straight-up weird, as long as your content is built on a foundation that serves your audience. It’s time to meet the first cousin of editing and proofreading — the 3Fs of editorial standards you can use to evaluate whether or not a piece of content is a proper reflection of you or your client. 1. Fitness A simple question used to […]

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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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11 Ways to Stay an Alert Copywriter and Content Marketer (If Taking a Nap Isn’t an Option)

Well, this week was anything but sugarcoated. We got right into it. How do you stay motivated to do great work when you’re burned out, bored, or busy? On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman shared what to do when your eyes are tired from more than 15 years of professional proofreading. The technique she teaches works just as well for any proofreader, no matter how long you’ve been at the error-catching game. On Tuesday, Nick Usborne outlined five ways to keep your copywriting skills fresh. Nick has been a copywriter for 40 years, so check out the post to discover how he stays interested in his craft. On Wednesday, Belinda Weaver dished out five excellent tips for anyone who has non-negotiable time constraints. Managing your time like a pro can transform any seemingly stressful situation into one that builds confidence in your work ethic. And you need a strong work ethic if […]

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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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How to Meet (and Exceed) Your Creative Content Goals

Why is it so hard to produce good content? Because creative work is uniquely draining … and uniquely rewarding, too. Smart writers know that the right creative practices will keep you motivated and productive. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about mastering the part of editing that has nothing to do with grammar, spelling, or punctuation. It’s the thoughtful, human element that no app can ever hope to reproduce. On Tuesday, Stefanie joined us again to talk about six behaviors that build trust when you work with a creative team — including making one another’s lives easier and even listening to the voices inside your head. And on Wednesday, I wrote about 10 business goals that take good content and turn it into good content marketing. Because if you’re going to put the work in, you might as well get the results you’re after. I’ve got more strategy for you on […]

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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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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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A Plan for Mindful Growth and Bringing Fun Back to Your Writing Process

This week on Copyblogger, we’ve been talking with writer, designer, and entrepreneur Paul Jarvis about mindful growth for our business projects and organizations. Paul’s new book, Company of One, explores how we can be more intentional when thinking about the size of our businesses. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman reminded us that bringing more enjoyment to our writing processes can result in work that brings more joy to our readers. She looked at three game-changing (and satisfying!) steps that can put us in the right mindset to put the most care into our content. On Tuesday, Paul Jarvis showed up to offer some of the benefits of keeping your business or project small. He presented ways that larger businesses — like big predators — can become vulnerable within their ecosystems. Paul’s book is also our next choice for the Copyblogger book club! If you’d like some company and conversation while you […]

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3 Game-Changing Steps You Might Skip When You Publish

Processes are a part of any type of job — whether it involves data, gardening, or construction. Yet, the fun processes involved in creative work are often the aspects that cause it to be regarded as trivial. “Real work” isn’t fun, right? But consider this: Lackluster content is the result of a lack of fun. Creative processes that support businesses are centered around enthusiasm. From that joyful place, you’re positioned to put the utmost care into your writing and content. If you’re not approaching your projects with the right amount of cheer, you might skip three game-changing steps that help produce content worth reading. Step #1: Prioritize your personal transformation This might sound like a self-centered step, but raise your hand if you’ve ever started a project with selfless intentions and never finished it? (I’m raising my hand.) If we focus too much on trying to help others and lose […]

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A Week of Sweet Copywriting Advice

It’s Carb Week on Copyblogger! This week, we have three sweet posts to share with you on how to write content and copy that serves your goals. We’re also getting ready to launch something that we’ve been asked about for years — Copyblogger’s first-ever copywriting course. If you’re interested in learning about persuasive copywriting, drop your details here, and we’ll let you know as soon as the course is ready for you! Ready to get started with persuasive copywriting? Copyblogger is delighted to announce a brand-new copywriting course, coming in October 2018…   On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about what to do when just being good isn’t enough. Often, you need to discover a way to be different as well. If Vegan Donuts are Commonplace, Offer Vegan Cinnamon Rolls On Tuesday, Kelly Exeter swung by to talk about how to turn “vanilla ice cream” writing (pretty good) into “chocolate chip […]

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How to Turn Vanilla Writing into Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Let’s talk about vanilla ice cream. If you’re like most people, you find vanilla ice cream quite inoffensive. You neither love nor hate it — i.e., it doesn’t inspire strong feelings in you. And if you’re eating vanilla ice cream, it’s unlikely you’re raving about it to anyone. Now I want you to think about Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. I bet that ice cream inspires strong feelings in you! I bet if you had a big bowl of that in front of you, there’d be a huge smile on your face and you’d want to tell anyone who’d listen how good it is. What’s this got to do with writing? Well, many of us have perfected the art of writing “vanilla ice cream.” Vanilla writing is both technically sound and inoffensive. Vanilla writing “does the job” in the absence of anything better. And the truth […]

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Craft Better Headlines with These 3 Simple Questions

Writers are communicators. If you’re proud of your ideas, you want to be able to communicate them clearly and precisely. And headlines are your first opportunity to present your message to the audience you want to reach. The language you use should appeal to those people and make them want to find out more. A guide to finding the right words Once you’ve written a draft of your headline and article (or you’ve recorded a podcast episode or video), use the questions below to ensure your headline is the most effective it can be: Who will benefit from this content? How do I help them? What makes this content special? The answers to these questions most likely won’t produce the exact headline you’ll use. Rather, they’ll help shape your headline draft into a persuasive message that reaches and connects with the people you want to attract to your content. To […]

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Practical Success Advice for Creative Professionals

There’s a bizarre myth in our culture that we have to choose between making a living and being creative. That creativity is somehow the enemy of a good livelihood. That, of course, is crazy talk, particularly in the world of content creators. This week, we offered thoughts on nurturing your creativity and boosting your career. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman explored Why Writers Need Editors to produce great content. Not simply proofreaders (although it’s lovely to read work that demonstrates mastery of the comma … or maybe even the semicolon), but editors who shape superior content experiences. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to be able to hire this out, but have no fear: Stefanie will show you how to engage your inner editor to produce more compelling work. On Tuesday, Copyblogger’s Data Analyst Loryn Cole sported a brand-new last name and a dandy post on the importance of occasionally breaking […]

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