9 Essential Elements of Effective Content Marketing

You can’t have one without the other … No, I’m not musing about love and marriage. I’m talking about content marketing and writing. The foundation of great content marketing is great writing — and if you want to write, you have to learn how to market your finished product. On Monday, Joe Pulizzi drove home that point as he shared 3 lessons he gained during his transition from content marketer to thriller novelist. On Tuesday, Sonia Simone outlined the 5 things every (great) marketing story needs. And on Wednesday, I suggested you try one daily writing practice that isn’t intended to make you a better writer. Instead, it can help you make substantial progress toward your professional creative goals. Are you a professional writer who wants better clients and more recognition? If one of those professional creative goals is to learn how your writing skills can make you a valuable […]

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Why You Should Pour Yourself a Glass of Water and Write for 15 Minutes Today

Daydreaming is inherently flexible. You don’t need to set aside time for it or plan how to execute it properly. It effortlessly arises and plays out until you shift your focus back to your responsibilities. Last week, I talked about getting more out of your expectations, and today I’m going to talk about a daily writing practice that helps you get more out of your daydreams. It only requires 15 minutes, and it doesn’t always have to be done at the same time. On your most productive days, it can positively impact your work, but it’s especially useful on days when you feel directionless or overwhelmed. And I’ll let you know what the glass of water is for, too. Time away from your responsibilities Now, this isn’t actually time to practice your writing. You won’t be journaling or brainstorming content ideas. You might become a better writer over time, but […]

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The 5 Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs

Here on Copyblogger, you’ve seen us talk many times about how to tell a terrific marketing story. Why? Because stories are fundamental to how we communicate as human beings. Tell the right story and you can capture attention, entertain, enlighten, and persuade … all in the course of just a few minutes. Stories are memorable and shareable — and those are two of the most important aspects of the very best content. So we can all agree that stories matter … but how do you tell them? What, specifically, makes for a good marketing story? Here are five critical components, and how they fit into your marketing and your business. We’ll start, as every good story does, with the hero … 1. You need a hero All good stories are about someone (even if that someone is a professional monster or a talking toy). The biggest mistake businesses make is […]

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3 Things I Learned Moving from Content Marketer to Thriller Novelist

I started working in the content marketing industry 20 years ago. Everything I did from the start until 2018 revolved around teaching businesses about content marketing and how they could use it effectively. But, in 2018, I quit everything. Not only that, I took a year-long sabbatical, which included a full 30 days of no electronics. It was during that year I decided to follow a new passion: writing. I mean, I’ve always been a writer in some capacity. I have five published business books to prove it. I’m talking about writing fiction. Specifically, a thriller novel. I can honestly say it was one of the most difficult transitions of my life. Business writing, for me, always came naturally. Writing fiction? I was all thumbs. But I pushed through … and actually ended up learning quite a few things during my transition from content marketer to novelist. Here are three. […]

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Persistence Arises from Gratitude – Copyblogger

If you ask virtually any working artist how they developed a creative career, they’ll mention a dedication to their craft and fierce persistence. Despite obstacles, criticism, and setbacks, they keep producing. But where does the motivation to be persistent come from? Since it’s Thanksgiving in the U.S. this week, I’ve been thinking about how the drive to be persistent can arise from having gratitude for exactly where you are on your artistic journey. Rather than wishing you were further along, which is just a distraction, you appreciate the current incarnation of your career. That appreciation stirs up creative momentum. Sometimes, though, when you have big goals in mind, it’s really difficult to stay focused on the present. So, on Monday, I challenged the traditional wisdom to “let go of expectations.” Instead of forgetting about the version of success you want to have, I offered 3 ways your expectations can strengthen […]

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The Old Man and The Pen

This is a simple story about the life of a particular writer, and how he ignored the one thing about… Continue Reading The post The Old Man and The Pen appeared first on Copyblogger. Read_More Related posts: 11 Ways to Stay an Alert Copywriter and Content Marketer (If Taking a Nap Isn’t an Option) Learn This Skill to Advance Your Career as a Writer Snub Your Next Deadline and Read This Instead 3 Reasons Why Writing Practice Leads to Multidimensional Content The Meticulous Blogger’s 12-Step Publishing Checklist 10 Modern Proofreading Tips to Catch More Avoidable Goofs What to Do When Your Eyes Are Tired from More than 15 Years of Professional Proofreading 3 Ways to Persuade People Thinking about Buying from You

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Don’t Let Go of Expectations … Put Them to Work in Your Marketing

We all know the potential trouble associated with expectations: If you expect something to turn out a certain way — and it doesn’t — you likely end up disappointed. Subsequently, traditional wisdom has advised that we let go of our expectations to soften the blow of disappointment and train ourselves to be content with the outcome we get. Even though I hold that outlook to be true most of the time, I wanted to explore how we could use expectations to our advantage in certain situations, rather than try to (unsuccessfully) forget about them. If you struggle with letting go of expectations for your business, I have three steps you can follow to put them to work in your marketing instead. Step #1: Get clear about what you want During this step, you examine each expectation you have and turn it into a goal. When you don’t deny or downplay […]

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How to Keep Your Reader Engaged, from Headline to CTA

Content creation can feel a lot like spinning plates. Once you have one element rolling along, there’s another you need to attend to, and another, and another … Let’s go through a complete piece of effective content for your business, from headline to CTA. On Monday, I described the difference between clickbait and a damn good headline. You need a headline that grabs attention if you want someone to open your content, but you can’t abuse your power as a headline writer. Check out the post to get a 3-step tutorial for writing better, audience-focused headlines — starting today. Do you know how to write a damn good headline? How about insightful, persuasive content that delivers on your headline’s promise? Then you might be a match for our Content Marketer Certification program! It’s a powerful tool that helps you position your business for greater success. And if you earn a […]

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5 Ways to Convert More Prospects by Making Your Case

Your headline draws them in, while your opening copy maintains the magnetic hold. The express benefits give them hope that they may have found the solution they desire. And then you ask for the sale with an explicit call to action. A total win, right? Then why are you still disappointed with your results? You’re doing a lot right, and that’s why you make some sales. But you could be selling a lot more if you take the time to make your case. Here’s what I mean. Your headline, lead, and benefits are promises. When you make assertions about your product or service, you subsequently need your prospect to believe you. Now, this is where content marketing helps immensely. When you provide value with the right information before asking for the sale, people naturally view your offer with a more positive frame of mind. Even with that established trust, however, […]

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3 Simple Steps to Get to the Point with Your Content

Ever have a friend who tells stories that never seem to go anywhere? It sounds okay at first, then it spins off to a tangent about how they met their spouse, then we go into their first college dorm room, with a side trip to that deeply formative event that happened in third grade, then … There might be a point in there somewhere. But by the time it’s arrived, your eyes have rolled back in your head and you’re hoping to get struck by lightning so you can get out of this conversation. It’s boring. And it’s annoying. So let’s make sure that your audience never feels that way about your content. In the work I do with our content marketing students, I’ve critiqued hundreds of blog posts. One mistake I see over and over is content that’s interesting and well written, but that wanders all over the place […]

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Clickbait or Damn Good Headline?

When I review applications from students in our Certified Content Marketer training program, I get to read some great content. And giving feedback on headlines to make them more powerful is one of my favorite parts of the process, because no one will ever know how good your content is if your headline doesn’t show why it’s worth someone’s time. The problem is: specific, benefit-driven, intriguing headlines can be mistakenly associated with clickbait — headlines designed to trick someone into clicking on an article, podcast episode, or video. Conscientious content marketers want to avoid that stigma. But too often that leaves us with vague headlines that don’t attract the right people and don’t show that you have the exact solutions they need. I have a remedy for this predicament. In fact, it’s a simple truth: If your content delivers on your headline’s promise, it’s not clickbait. Period. Persuasive headlines started […]

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15 Marks of Exceptional Writing that Gets Noticed

One of my favorite writing exercises requires very little original writing. Want to know what it is? Find 3 pieces of writing that you love. For each piece, list 5 qualities that make it stand out to you. Then, brainstorm 5 ways to adapt those qualities to your own writing style. You’ll end up with 15 potential ways to improve your craft. This week, we also had 15 marks of exceptional writing to incorporate into your writing practice. On Monday, Brian Clark gave us Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well. On Tuesday, I dissected 3 Reasons Why Good Ideas Are a Real Threat to Good Writing. And on Wednesday, Sonia Simone outlined A 7-Point Plan for More Shareable Content. Sonia’s guide reminds us that finding an audience for your outstanding writing is a process, and … We know making a living as a writer isn’t easy Finding new […]

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A 7-Point Plan for More Shareable Content

Content marketing is a beautiful thing — a great way to build an audience and grow your business. That’s if your content is actually getting found by the folks who might buy your product or service. Most of us would love to have more people reading, listening to, and watching our content. And one of the smartest things you can do for your content is to make it easier and more fun to share. Even better, as long as you’re starting with high-quality work, you can do it without spending a lot of time or money. By the way, I’m including links from other websites as “shares,” as well as the usual assortment of retweets and likes. If your audience is helping you get the word out about your content, we’re counting that as a share. Here’s a straightforward plan to format and present your content so that lots more […]

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Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well

Who better? Many business people faced with the task of writing for marketing purposes are quick to say: “Hey, I’m no Hemingway!” But really, who better than Hemingway to emulate? Rather than embracing the flowery prose of the literati, he chose to eschew obfuscation at every turn and write simply and clearly. So, let’s see what Ernest can teach us about effective writing. 1. Use short sentences Hemingway was famous for a terse minimalist style of writing that dispensed with adjectives and got straight to the point. In short, Hemingway wrote with simple genius. Perhaps his finest demonstration of short sentence prowess was when he was challenged to tell an entire story in only 6 words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” 2. Use short first paragraphs See opening. 3. Use vigorous English Here’s David Garfinkel’s take on this one: “It’s muscular, forceful. Vigorous English comes from passion, focus and […]

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Compare Apples to Oranges (In This Case, It’s the Smartest Thing to Do)

We’re having dessert before dinner this week — and it’s a healthy bite too: apples and oranges. While my post on Monday and Kelton’s post on Tuesday share the power of persuasive writing and how to put it to work for both your business and your clients’ businesses, we have an extra special nugget of wisdom in Sonia’s post on Wednesday: Remember, you can compare apples to oranges in persuasive writing. Don’t compare the cost of your $39 online course to other online courses — compare it with a $499 in-person seminar that delivers the same results. It’s common to over-think when we’re looking to stand out. Instead, try Sonia’s apples-to-oranges tip to discover the “no-brainer” reasoning that will help someone say “yes” to your offer faster. Talk with you next week! — Stefanie FlaxmanEditor-in-Chief, Copyblogger Media Catch up on this week’s content 3 Resources for When You’re Ready to […]

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Are Sales Slipping Through Your Fingers? Close the Deal with Logical Benefits

Emotional benefits of your offer trigger the “me-want” response. They create desire — but creating desire isn’t usually enough. Unless you’re selling a purely emotional product like fashion or music, you also have to give your reader enough logical ammunition to justify the purchase to himself. This is where logical benefits come in. These are all the rational, intelligent reasons we have for buying the stuff we want. You hook prospects with the heart, but you close the deal with the head. Logical benefits aren’t necessarily about logic The funny thing about logical benefits is that they’re often important for a very emotional reason. Your customer’s “me-want” reaction is warring with a “what if I’m an idiot?” insecurity about buying the wrong thing, spending too much, or outright getting scammed. Most people are terrified of feeling foolish. They’re anxious about the possibility of spending money and later feeling like a […]

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3 Resources for When You’re Ready to Take Control of Your Writing Career

The struggle when I started my freelance writing service business looked like this: I was fascinated with crafting words that accurately conveyed a message. I knew that offering basic content writing services for businesses — filling up pages with words — would not pay high rates. And I completely understood why filling up pages with words was not valued. Nothing is worse than paying for a service that doesn’t produce results. When writers charge low fees for content writing that doesn’t persuade prospects to take action, two dangerous things happen: It’s difficult to support yourself through your writing services. Your clients don’t make new sales. If a client thinks that the money they paid you was a waste because they didn’t make it back in sales, they’ll view you as interchangeable with any other writer — and there’s probably someone else who charges even less than you for a comparable […]

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10 Ways Specificity Helps You Build a Profitable Audience

If you’re building a business with content marketing, you’ve probably noticed that the attention span of your audience is shrinking by the second. We’re all on the verge of an attention meltdown. This can be a huge hurdle if you’re trying to effectively engage your audience and get your products or services in front of them. That means you have to use every writing tool you can to gain and keep audience attention. Believe it or not, a return to solid writing fundamentals — and more specifically, specificity — can get you out ahead of the competition. One small note before we get started … If you only read one section of this article, read this one Specificity is especially helpful for writing your headlines. Remember the 80/20 rule: 8 out of 10 readers will read your headline copy but only 2 out of 10 will read your entire post. […]

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3 Resources to Help You Take Control of Your Writing Career

The struggle when I started my freelance writing service business looked like this: I was fascinated with crafting words that accurately conveyed a message. I knew that offering basic content writing services for businesses — filling up pages with words — would not pay high rates. And I completely understood why filling up pages with words was not valued. Nothing is worse than paying for a service that doesn’t produce results. When writers charge low fees for content writing that doesn’t persuade prospects to take action, two dangerous things happen: It’s difficult to support yourself through your writing services. Your clients don’t make new sales. If a client thinks that the money they paid you was a waste because they didn’t make it back in sales, they’ll view you as interchangeable with any other writer — and there’s probably someone else who charges even less than you for a comparable […]

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Writing Advice: Trick or Treat?

Happy Halloween! I have two tricks — or two treats — for you, depending on how you look at it: Realize your creative potential. Schedule the right amount of time to do excellent work. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard — and it’s about finding a specific type of balance that’s critical when building a portfolio. Professional writers learn the essential techniques that have helped grow their mentors’ careers, but they also find their own way forward by developing the habits and methods that work best for them. Progress Guide: Try This When you read Tuesday’s post, you’ll find that legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz said, “Learning the craft and doing the research are the hard work.” Writing can be the impossible work. If you’re looking to write more consistently: Stop asking questions and start writing. (More about this in Monday’s post.) Commit to writing five days a week, even […]

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