When You’re Ready for a Change, Don’t Hesitate

This is the last Copyblogger Weekly of the year — and the decade! And actually, it’s the last Copyblogger Weekly … ever. (Really.) In 2020, we’ll have a different kind of weekly newsletter, presented by Copyblogger Partner Darrell Vesterfelt. Darrell’s going to share the latest in content marketing with you, so make sure to stay tuned for our first edition that will be published on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. I’ll be creating some new Copyblogger educational materials to teach, so you’ll still see me around. 🙂 Now that you’re up-to-date on our changes … Let’s see how we can help guide you through the changes you’re ready to make. In our first post on Monday, Brian Clark made the case that Thought Leadership Is a Synonym for Attention. Don’t feel like an authority in your niche yet? Brian reminds us: “If you have the attention of an audience, you’re already […]

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Why the Best Writers (Sometimes) Aren’t Paid What They’re Worth

Maybe you don’t say it out loud. It sounds like bragging, and bragging is obnoxious. But you know you’re good. When you see a sentence that isn’t right, you know what needs to change. You twitch a little when you see a clumsy turn of phrase, or a sentence that doesn’t mean what the writer thinks it means. You know that words are play. And work. And entertainment. And magic. You know that they can be a weapon. And you know how to wield that weapon. So why are you letting other writers have all of the success? Did those successful writers, the ones earning a really good living as copywriters and content marketers, “sell out?” What does that even mean? They get the kinds of gigs that make good money. And you’d like to think you could take those gigs as well. But the truth is you aren’t ready […]

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Thought Leadership Is a Synonym for Attention

Personally, I’ve never liked the term “thought leadership.” It signifies some exalted guru status, and my 20 years of online content marketing suggest something much less exclusive. Anyone can achieve business authority with content, if they truly want to. I’ve done it in several industries, starting as a complete unknown in each. People “who had business ideas that merited attention” Turns out, the term “thought leadership” was coined back in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine Strategy & Business (a content marketing publication itself). Kurtzman used the term to refer to people “who had business ideas that merited attention.” Attention. That’s the heart of the matter, isn’t it? If you publish valuable business information that matters to prospective customers and clients, you can gain initial attention. If you focus on providing that information continuously (just like a magazine), you can gain permission-based continual attention. And […]

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How to Build a (Real) Writing Business

Getting your first paid writing gig is really exciting. It’s an accomplishment and a turning point. You might actually be “allowed” to call yourself a writer now. And there’s no doubt it can be the start of feeling like a real writer. But building a real writing business, rather than just getting an occasional job that involves writing, is a long journey. This week, we mapped out the positioning and tactics that grow your writing services into a resource that drives real business results — so that you can thrive as a creative professional. On Monday, Brian Clark asked: Who’s the Hero in Your Business? The correct answer may surprise you. On Tuesday, Sonia Simone offered 7 Ways to Find Readers and Subscribers When No One Knows You Yet. Her techniques will get momentum going for your business, but they aren’t quick fixes. Be prepared to put in the work. […]

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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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7 Ways to Find Readers and Subscribers When No One Knows You Yet

The early days of a new blog, podcast, or video channel are actually a sort of magical time. It’s quiet. No one has shown up yet. You can say or do nearly anything. You have the opportunity to experiment and play without fear. And, let’s face it … we all want to get past it as quickly as humanly possible. While I truly would encourage you to stop and smell those roses, I also appreciate that we start websites because we want to build and serve audiences. If you have something cooking and you’d like to accelerate the process of pulling your audience together, here are seven things I’ve found useful for my own projects. Before we start on that, though, you must absolutely understand who you want to serve. What they believe, what they fear, what they know, what they don’t know. Keep digging and keep researching until you […]

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Who’s the Hero in Your Business?

Many businesses are mediocre because they don’t have the slightest desire to be heroic. They just want to get through the day, collect the money, and carry on without too much hassle. Other businesses fail to thrive due to an overabundance of hero syndrome. “We’re awesome, we beat the competition, we kick ass …” we, we, we. News flash: No one cares about you or your business. People care about themselves. They care about their problems and desires. Your business must become a hero to thrive, yes. Just remember that you’re not the hero In the world of Jungian archetypes, some people must be treated as a hero in order to be satisfied. But I’m pretty sure every personality type enjoys being taken on a journey that places them in the role of hero, if it means solving their problem or satisfying their desire. That puts you and your content […]

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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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