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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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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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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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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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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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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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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How to Make Your Writing Real

In this day and age, substance matters. What you say must be meaningful to the people you’re trying to attract. Your content must solve real problems and satisfy real desires. So why should it matter how you say it? The reality is, how you say it has always mattered, and it matters even more today. For content marketing, it’s basically the difference between success and failure. You’re in a battle for attention. A headline that doesn’t specifically convey a compelling promise results in content that is too often simply ignored. Beyond that, your copy has to hold that precious attention, sentence by sentence, until the conclusion. Even the appearance of your content on the page matters when trying to make a substantive point. Finally, the way you convey information, no matter how independently valuable, affects everything from clarity to engagement to retention at a psychological level. Your ideas and advice […]

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8 Elements that Make Your Next Piece of Content Even Better than Your Last

Moving on to your next piece of content — regardless of how your last one performed — is the mark of the diligent marketer. We have to keep producing, but we also want to improve and learn more about what our audiences want. Each new piece of content we create is a new opportunity to do just that. On Monday, I outlined 2 Key Factors that Distinguish Satisfying Content from Forgettable Ideas. This is a mini tutorial for polishing your content into a powerful package that gets your reader, listener, or viewer to share and subscribe, rather than hesitate and move on. On Tuesday, Brian Clark kept things rolling with 5 Easy Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang. In a split second you need to show why choosing your content is the best decision a reader can make in that moment. You can mix and match the […]

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2 Key Factors that Distinguish Satisfying Content from Forgettable Ideas

Have you ever read a blog post, listened to a podcast episode, or watched a video and thought: “I kind of get what this person is saying — and I think I agree — but it’s difficult to follow their main points. The content feels incomplete.” When content consumers have reactions like that, it delays them from sharing your content and subscribing to get more — ultimately increasing the chances that the content will be forgettable. Conversely, when your content resonates with your target audience, your platform becomes a resource those individuals will remember and return to. If you want your reader, listener, or viewer to share and subscribe, rather than hesitate and move on, incorporate the following two elements into your content creation process: Structure Intrigue Below, I’ll cover what they are, why they complement each other, and how you can put both of them to work in your […]

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The Troubled Truth about a Certain Type of Storytelling

We all love to make predictions about the future, don’t we? Whether we think the outcome will be “good” or “bad,” we’ve got an opinion about how things will turn out … oftentimes before anything is even in motion, which means that we’re oftentimes wrong. For content creators, these are the stories we tell ourselves before we even start writing a new blog post series, recording a podcast idea, or building an online course. They’re the hopeful stories we tell that lead to initial excitement, and then sometimes disappointment. They’re the limiting stories we tell to protect ourselves from the heartbreak of failure. And they’re the stories we tell that keep us stuck. Creativity, business, life: It’s all messy, and the paths that actually lead to breakthroughs don’t appear until you take the first steps into uncertainty. In other words, you have to start with an initial plan — and […]

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Update Your Focus to Work Hard on the Right Things

Last week, I affirmed that “hard work is luck.” However, what if you work hard and aren’t seeing any progress or results? What if hard work just leads to you feeling disappointed and ready to give up? Before you actually do give up, it’s helpful to take a look at the activities that consume your time and attention. Why do some people who work hard succeed, and some don’t? I think those who “work hard and succeed” are open to a variety of pathways that will help them reach their goals. They are flexible and don’t have a fixed mindset about the work they should be doing or a rigid definition of success. In other words, those who “work hard but don’t succeed” might work hard on the wrong things and ignore other versions of success within reach. It’s not the most exciting truth, but we have to crawl before […]

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7 Steps to Grow a Blog Post

Sometimes it seems like writers are magicians, because we have the power to create something out of nothing. An important point to note about magicians, though: They don’t really do magic. 🙂 Instead, they study and practice specific behaviors until they can create that illusion of creating something out of nothing. And of course, all creative people do the same. We study and we practice our craft, making consistent improvements and (if we’re lucky) building habits that lead to more consistent output. Today’s post will help with the “consistent output” part. I don’t think I’m alone in finding Starting the hardest part of writing. We don’t know what we’re going to work on. We’re not sure what the structure will be. We don’t have the first sentence yet. The ideas are all running around in our heads like kittens with ADD, and we have no idea how to get them […]

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Join the Copyblogger Renaissance to Pursue the Career You’re Meant to Have

If you told me 10 years ago that one day I’d be taking over writing Copyblogger’s weekly newsletter from Sonia Simone, I’d have said: “In what fantasy world? I don’t know her, and she didn’t review the guest post I submitted.” (True story.) But I believe four simple words: Hard work is luck. Long story short, Sonia and I did eventually connect and have had a great working relationship for the past five years. I’m honored she passed the baton keyboard to me and I now get to talk with you every week, in addition to the other posts I write on the blog. This week, we took Monday off to observe Labor Day in the United States. On Tuesday, Brian Clark talked about why he’s returned to Copyblogger. He shared behind-the-scenes stories about the company and what we have in store going forward. For even more details, check out […]

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