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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Creative Business Kryptonite – Copyblogger

Idea generation to project execution follows the same trajectory as a piece of writing, from first draft to final draft. And what do your first draft and final draft have in common? Sometimes, not much. Yet, your first draft was a necessary part of your writing process. So, it doesn’t make sense to get discouraged, or give up, if an idea doesn’t work out. But it frequently happens, and it stops worthwhile creative projects from coming to life — in the form that they were meant to be in. Overcome “my way or the highway” In middle school, I had a hardline teacher who introduced us to the idiom, “My way or the highway.” Yes, sir. But if you want to work in a creative field, you have to laugh at that concept and kindly dismiss it. The original version of your idea won’t likely work out. It’s not that […]

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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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Why It’s So Hard to Make Time for Creativity (and a Creativity Workshop with Sonia that Can Help)

I think most of us are pretty connected to the idea that a full life includes creativity. We’re meant to draw, paint, sing, dance, and tell stories. Virtually all little kids do these things. And then we “grow out” of them. And that’s sad. I spend tons of time with creative people. I also spend time with people who feel they aren’t creative — but they want to be. And I’ve made some observations about why it’s so hard for us to put creative time into our lives. #1: We’re intimidated Unfortunately, our pragmatic, ruthlessly productive culture tells us that being creative is only for specialists. You can’t draw or paint unless you’re an “artist.” You can’t make music unless you’re a “musician.” And you can’t write unless you’re a “writer.” Common sense would tell us that of course we can be any of those simply by doing. We can […]

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The Irreplaceable Power of Paper

For hundreds of years, paper was the gold standard of written communication. Anything you needed to record or remember, from love letters to receipts, was printed on paper. Then digital communication took hold, and we began to believe the age of paper was over. Why would anyone continue to use paper, when digital is so much more flexible? Digital information is easier to share, easier to store. Copiers, filing cabinets, and fax machines disappeared into the digital vortex. But yet, paper persists. And not just because insurance companies and banks are slow to move off legacy systems. Paper persists because it’s easier to print a receipt than get a customer to enter their email address. Paper persists because an emailed love letter doesn’t have the same meaning. Paper persists because, even in a digital world, paper is still useful. Especially for content marketers, paper has an irreplaceable power we can’t […]

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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 Cool New Resource for Developing and Sharing Your Ideas

My husband once had the chance to ask novelist James Ellroy where he got the idea for one of his fiendish criminal characters. And the answer was: “I made him up, Daddy-O.” Creative thinkers of all stripes know that it’s not really about having ideas … it’s about capturing and developing ideas. Capturing them, because ideas have a way of drifting out the window unless we can capture them as they fly past. And developing them, because raw ideas are a long way from finished work. One of our founding partners, Sean Jackson, has been a student of ideas for many years. He’s fascinated by how we can be more intentional in our thinking, and how ideas get developed into finished work. And he’s just launched a Kickstarter for a nifty new project, the THINKERS Notebook. When he sent me one and asked if I wanted to talk about it […]

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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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Writers Can’t Fake This – Copyblogger

Deadlines can be met without stringent schedules, which are suffocating for writers. It shows in their prose. A writer needs space. Space to explore. Space to hide. Space to philosophize. Space to nourish. Space to nurture. Space to grow. Space to sip coffee. Space to experiment. Space to look ridiculous. Space to be a fool. Space to be a genius. Space to read. Space to focus. Space to write precisely. Space to write nonsense. Space to write what matters. Space to write the truth. Space to be a writer. Read_more Related posts: Sharpen Your Habits in November with the Copyblogger Book Club Why Stress Might Be More Useful than You Think: December’s Selection for the Copyblogger Book Club Are You a Writer Looking for Recognition and Clients? Copyblogger Certification Is Re-Opening Soon Want Better Results? Ask Better Questions. Here’s How Want Better Results? Ask Better Questions. Here’s How Copyblogger Certification […]

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