Essence Pro: A Theme that Allows You to Focus on the Essentials

Announcing Essence Pro, a beautiful, clutter-free theme for sites in the health, wellness, and lifestyle niches. Imagined and built by our own Rafal Tomal and Chris Hufnagel, it’s designed for simplicity, both at the exterior and on the back end, allowing you and your readers to focus on the essentials. Some key features include: Customizable header — Express yourself and communicate your purpose with a large, airy visual hero area. Flexible widget areas —  More control of what goes where on your homepage. Magazine style — Put your best content to the fore with the magazine-style layout. Dedicated footer opt-in section — Convert more visitors to long-term readers with the footer opt-in. Custom colors — Customize the colors of your website to your own needs, with transparency options giving you even more control. WooCommerce compatible — Fully integrated with the world’s most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin. View the demo and refresh your site with Essence Pro […]

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Cultivate Some Skills and Sharpen Your Copywriting Mojo

Reminder: Today at 11:00 a.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. Eastern, Rainmaker Digital CEO Brian Clark and Ricardo Bueno from RightMessage are hosting a Free Web Personalization Workshop. You’ll learn how to increase your opt-ins (and sales) by personalizing your landing pages and sales sequences. Get all the details and register here: https://rightmessage.com/w/copyblogger-may24/?fp_ref=copyblogger31 We love subtle tactics and cutting-edge strategies on Copyblogger. But we’re also very conscious of the fact that 90 percent of copywriting and content marketing success comes from executing fundamental skills really well. Just like Napoleon Dynamite, this week we’re rolling up our sleeves and working on cultivating some great skills. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman explored the multidimensional nature of what we call “high quality” writing, and why it can be so challenging to create. (The solution? A serious commitment to your writing practice!) On Tuesday, conversational copywriter Nick Usborne swung by to share five common mistakes we […]

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4 Vital Elements of an Appealing Offer

If you’ve got something to sell, at some point you’re going to need to present an offer. In other words, you’ll need to tell your prospective customer: What you’ve got What it’s going to do for them What you’re looking for in return Sounds simple, and it is. There’s just one problem. Too often, we get caught up in how much our prospect should want what we’re feeding them. And then we get surprised when they respond like a toddler faced with a bowl full of broccoli ice cream. When my son was a baby, I got a very good piece of advice about feeding kids. As a parent, it’s your job to put something on the table that’s reasonably nutritious, that tastes good, and that’s appropriate to the context. (Your so-spicy-it-could-strip-paint vindaloo may be the best on the planet, but it might not be realistic to expect your two-year-old […]

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How to Fix 5 Conversion-Killing Copywriting Mistakes

A sales page lies at the end of the conversion path. When a prospect arrives on that page, it’s the result of a lot of planning and hard work. So the next part really sucks. Because most of those visitors will leave the page without buying anything. Fortunately — a small silver lining — there are ways to reduce the number of leavers. Some of those people leave as a result of totally avoidable mistakes we’ve made when writing the sales page. Let’s go through five of these mistakes, one by one, and figure out how to correct them. Conversion Killer #1: You write to the wrong person Sometimes this means you’re writing to totally the wrong person. For example, if you’re selling a family car, you might assume you should be writing to “dad.” But you’re not taking into consideration a recent study that shows 82 percent of moms […]

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3 Reasons Why Writing Practice Leads to Multidimensional Content

Remember when I overly simplified the term “high quality?” “High quality” is a measure of whether or not your contribution helps your audience in ways they can’t find anywhere else. We can all quickly spot junk content, but it takes a lot more effort to match the description of high-quality content I mentioned above. That’s because the type of content that actually produces results for your business is multidimensional and typically doesn’t arise from linear thinking. Let’s look at three ways a regular writing practice helps you work in that multidimensional space that honors both your prospects’ and your business’s needs. 1. You live like an artist This one is my Writer-side’s favorite. A writing practice isn’t confined to time you spend in front of your computer or journal. When you’re working on a project, different aspects of your life can be sources of inspiration. And you often need to […]

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Ethical Marketing in an Age of Creeps

The phrase “ethical marketing” has always struck some folks as an oxymoron. Isn’t “marketing” just another word for lying, deceiving, and manipulating someone into buying a product or service? Yeah, no. There have always been plenty of good folks in the selling and marketing game. They just tend to be a little less noticeable than ones who rely on high pressure, tricks, or downright deception. On Monday this week, Stefanie Flaxman shared five real-world examples of marketing that’s helpful and useful, not sleazy. On Tuesday, Stefanie helped uncover your version of “autosave” — the genuinely beneficial difference in your business that makes life a ton better for your clients or customers. If you don’t know what that is yet, it’s a great time to start figuring that out. And on Wednesday, Brian Clark revealed that we’re on the cusp of a big shift in digital marketing and sales — one […]

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Web Personalization: The Future of Digital Marketing and Sales Is Now

In the beginning, the business website was a mere brochure. Low value, low shareability, low findability. Around 2005, a big shift happened thanks to content. Cutting-edge business websites became educational resources with valuable content that ranked well in search engines and benefited from the sharing functionality of emerging social media. Soon, “cutting edge” became the expected norm due to the content marketing revolution. Low-value brochure sites became invisible to search and social, and quickly abandoned by visitors who managed to come across them. We’re on the cusp of another big shift. One that will quickly become the expected norm for all websites, and yet will again provide a huge competitive advantage to early adopters. In other words, the concept of what a website should be has changed dramatically once again. Here’s how to get a jump on it. Personalization Will Transform Your Business There are still, without doubt, huge benefits […]

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What’s Your Version of ‘Autosave?’

I remember when autosave didn’t exist in writing software. In the old days, if your computer temporarily borked, you might have lost some important text if you didn’t recently save your work … I still compulsively click “Save” out of habit when I write and edit. Luckily, if you’re working online today, such as in your WordPress website, the autosave feature frequently backs up your work-in-progress — making it not only a feature, but also a benefit. Autosave is a “feature-benefit” that provides peace of mind, but it’s easy to forget about and take for granted. Uncovering your business’s unique selling proposition (USP) can be tricky, because it’s often something you forget about and take for granted. It’s likely intertwined with your routine operations, so you might not immediately recognize it as exceptional. Let’s start with this idea of a “feature-benefit” to help you pinpoint your USP. One step beyond […]

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Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Sleazy: 5 Real-World Examples

In my youth, a former coworker once told me, “I’d never date anyone who works in marketing.” When I inquired about his reasoning, he replied: “It’s just so sleazy. Choosing that line of work says a lot about a person.” Since I was young and impressionable, that sentiment stayed with me. So I was naturally conflicted years later when I wanted to make a living as a writer and discovered copywriting and content marketing. At that time, I had two challenges: Promoting my writing business to prospects Justifying competitive rates and delivering a return on investment to the clients who hired me Learning about marketing solved both of those issues. At the risk of being viewed as “sleazy,” I went for it. Conscientious marketers don’t want to be associated with shady practices This topic is similar to when I wrote about the difference between clickbait and damn good headlines. When […]

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Sign Up for Our Free Workshop on Persuasive Presentations

On Monday, I unveiled our new Copyblogger book club. We’ve been having a great time working through Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft, and we’d love to have you with us! On Tuesday, webinar “gun for hire” Tim Paige swung by the blog to talk about one of the things that can make webinars so awkward — that creepy tension that builds while you’re waiting to find out what the presenter is trying to sell. Tim has a surprisingly simple solution … as well as a brand-new course he’s going to be teaching with Copyblogger on persuasive presentations. On Wednesday, I talked a bit about ethical, effective ways we can use webinars to promote our businesses. And I touched on a few key points I’ve learned from Tim about how to keep things graceful. I also let you know about a workshop we’re going to be holding next week, on […]

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Join Us Live to Learn Smarter Ways to Sell with Webinars

When I first heard about “webinar hired gun” Tim Paige, I really was a bit skeptical. I’ve read and watched a lot of sales education, and most of it is a horrible fit for me. Either the tactics feel weird and manipulative (and I’m never going to get the personality transplant I’d need to implement them). Or it’s “just be amazeballs and people will buy.” In other words, don’t do any of that terrible selling, just hope someone feels like making a purchase. Which I can handle on my own, thanks. Because I do run a business and I like to do things like pay my mortgage, I’ve become a student of conversion, copywriting, and sales techniques that don’t make me throw up in my mouth (not even a little). “Effective, ethical selling” has been my watchword for the approaches I gravitate to. And I dig Tim Paige. Here’s why. […]

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Overcome Webinar Offer Anxiety and Get Your Audience to Buy

Think back to a webinar you attended in the past. You signed up for that online training for a reason, right? Maybe you dug the topic, or you really liked the host. Or maybe you were genuinely interested in buying what that webinar might be selling, but you wanted to learn more about the product first. Then the day of the session arrived. You tuned in, ready to take notes. It started out well. The host was articulate, knowledgeable, and had a lot to say. But as the well-meaning host opened up their mind and spewed a ton of information, the minutes started to tick away. And you found yourself wondering: “Yeah, that’s great, but what are you trying to sell me?” After all, you know how it works. No one hosts a webinar just to give away free knowledge. Therefore, they’re trying to sell you something. The webinar continues. […]

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Announcing: The Copyblogger Book Club!

I’ve wanted to start a Copyblogger book club for a long time now. My team and I read dozens (maybe hundreds) of writing, marketing, and strategy books every year. And every year, a few stand out as being particularly useful. Now that we’ve started the Killers and Poets Facebook group for our community, we have the perfect venue! I hope you’ll join us inside the group to talk about our first book club selection: Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula Le Guin Steering the Craft is all about narrative — whether that’s creative nonfiction, a novel or play, or even a well-crafted case study from a smart content marketer. Because Le Guin wrote it, it’s packed with marvelous quotes. Here’s one from the chapter on syntax: “In a narrative, the chief duty of a sentence is to lead to the next sentence. […]

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Getting Comfortable (and Effective) at Selling Your Product or Service

This week, we have some resources to help you actually Sell the Thing. Because you can create magnificent content all day long, pull together a wonderful audience, and produce a glorious product or service. But if you lack the skills to Sell the Thing, you don’t get the benefit of all that hard work. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman outlined crucial “survival skills” for service providers — the ones that will help you set boundaries and actually enjoy your clients. On Tuesday, Chris Garrett shared some simple ways to get started with relationship-building webinars. We’re cooking up a very cool resource for you that goes deep into this topic — and you can get a running start with Chris’s post today. And on Wednesday, I wrote about the discomfort a lot of folks feel when they think about selling — and what selling is really about. If you prefer audio, there’s […]

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What Ethical, Effective Selling Looks Like

There’s a well-loved myth out there that if you do something reasonably remarkable and distribute passionate content, you’ll automatically have an audience who will support you in style for the rest of your life. You don’t have to do anything scary. Like sell, for example. Now if that works for you, that’s terrific. So does it? The painful truth is that there are lots of trusted, loved, and wildly influential smart people out there who are working like maniacs creating amazing content. And who are nonetheless still broke. It’s easy to think that if your audience loves you, all that love will translate automatically into paying customers. But if one of your goals is a financial payoff from your content, you still have some work to do. You have to offer something they want Your Aunt Frances loves you very much, but if you’re a Prius dealer and she’s more […]

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3 Ways to Get Started with Relationship-Building Webinars

While we are often introduced to new and shiny marketing technologies, webinars are still great ways to interact with our audiences. They help you build relationships, teach, and discover and drill down on your audience’s wants, needs, objections, and problems. But the thought of producing webinars can be overwhelming if you don’t have experience with them, and gaining that experience might cause performance anxiety and confusion about the technology you should use. How can we get started, overcome technical obstacles, and host our webinars with confidence? First, forget the word “webinar” The word “webinar” can overcomplicate the platform and discourage you from trying one! A webinar is actually similar to a Skype or FaceTime call with friends and family. You’ll apply the same principles whether you’re using Google Hangouts, GoToWebinar, Zoom, Free Conference Call, or any other service provider. To get started, you need: A mic A reliable internet connection […]

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10 Service Business Essentials: Win Clients with Confidence

Here’s a scary thought: What if your content marketing actually works? What if you get all the clients you want? Will you be able to handle them? Those are important questions every service provider needs to answer honestly because there is often a disconnect between what we say we want and the actions we take. Fear of success can prevent us from crafting the bold, strategic plans that will grow our businesses. Without realizing it, self-doubt causes us to make weak and safe moves that limit our potential — because we’re unsure if we’re capable of managing a full roster of clients. Self-doubt will arise in any business journey, but if you prepare for the healthy, sustainable relationships you want to have with clients, you’ll be one step closer to attracting and winning over prospects with confidence. Check out these 10 service business essentials, so that you’ll feel nothing but […]

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How to Get an A in Content Marketing

Polish up your apples for another week of content marketing school. 🙂 This week combined ways you can excel as a writer and a marketer. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman wrote about a seeming paradox — how can we be prolific enough to succeed as professional writers and continue to improve our craft at the same time? She uncovered five simple (but not always easy) steps we can take to keep publishing and keep improving. On Tuesday, Kelton Reid showed how the uncanny valley phenomenon plays out in content, and why we’re hard-wired to reject “zombie content.” He outlined seven red flags that give audiences the creeps — and how you can get your content’s soul back. And on Wednesday, I talked about cheese. More specifically, the role it plays in your marketing — and why a little can be delicious, while a lot is just a recipe for indigestion. Over […]

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Aggressive Sell, Soft Sell … What Works?

Recently, a student of ours asked whether “we” (content-based marketers who might prefer a more subtle approach) can learn anything from “those” marketers who use somewhat obvious tactics like silly quizzes or hyped-up headlines. In the course of answering this question, the phrase “orange hat marketer” occurred to me. (Don’t worry; this has nothing to do with politics.) “Black hat” and “white hat” are, of course, terms that some marketing and SEO professionals use to indicate how willing they are to bend rules. For me, it’s not “black hat” unless you’re lying to your audience, in which case don’t try to tell me what a cute, little gangster you are. It’s illegal and it’s wrong, so go away. But orange hat … that one is a little more complicated. In my made-up definition, an “orange hat” marketer is one who’s exceptionally comfortable with cheese. What’s cheese? Well, we know it […]

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Avoid This Surprisingly Common Recipe for Creepy Content

Ready Player One has been called pure “nostalgic nerd-bait” by film critics, but that’s not the only reason it earned $300 million worldwide in just its first week. It follows some very well-worn blueprints of blockbuster filmmaking that its iconic director, Steven Spielberg, practically invented. From the high-energy title sequence to the quintessential Spielbergian finale, it’s a sometimes formulaic, self-referential film that strays quite a bit from the book it’s based on, but one that nonetheless fulfills its promise to audiences. Why a famous movie director desperately needed a winner (no spoilers) For Spielberg, the New Hollywood godfather and one of the most successful directors of all time (see: Jaws, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and Back to the Future, to name only a few), the film’s early success was a huge relief. The director used some of the most ambitious CG visual effects ever to adapt […]

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