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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The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas

Do you know what happens down at the crossroads? Legend has it that Robert Johnson — the most famous of the Delta blues musicians from the 1930s — took his second-hand guitar and went down to the crossroads in the middle of the night. When the young plantation worker returned home, his guitar skills had taken a quantum leap. The overnight improvement in Johnson’s playing wasn’t just significant; it was supernatural. Something strange happened down at that crossroads. Word got around that Johnson ventured to the crossroads to meet the Devil himself, and sold his soul to become the best blues guitarist who ever lived. Sure enough, less than a year later, Robert Johnson was the king of the Delta bluesmen, and created, played, and sang the greatest blues anyone had ever heard. Johnson is now known as the “Grandfather of Rock and Roll,” and has influenced artists ranging from […]

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A Farewell and Some Advice to Keep You Moving Forward

Well, our big news this week is that I’m going to be moving to a more solo career. The ultra capable Darrell Vesterfelt will be taking over my partnership interest in Copyblogger Media. It’s a huge step for all of us, but it also feels like a natural evolution. It helps a lot that I think Darrell is going to crush it. 🙂 But Copyblogger has never been about only one person. (OK, apart from those very early days when Brian kept it all afloat himself.) And we still have advice and strategies for you! On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman helped us through a painful moment — when a prospect chooses a competitor over our solution. And she explores the ways we can build trust in our prospects, becoming a complete package that they prefer over any other option. On Tuesday, Robert Bruce talked about a brutal problem that writers face […]

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The Art of Finding Ideas

Every writer who has ever lived has lusted after ideas. Where are they, how do I get them, and how do I keep them coming? If you’ve been writing long enough, you know that — like Solomon — there is nothing new under the sun. Try as you might to sweat them out of your head or pull them gently from the stars above, there are no new ideas. So, relax. But the page is not going to write itself, is it? Where then do we turn for ideas that work, ideas that move, ideas that persuade? In short, we “steal” them. The moment you free yourself from The Cult of Originality, you realize that original ideas do not come from within. They are given to us, from without. A writer should not look inside, but outside, at external sources, stories, events, and emotions. If you’re offended that I’d suggest […]

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Why Your Prospect Chooses Your Competitor

You had trouble sleeping again last night. Up until the time you got into bed, you were looking at their Twitter feed, their YouTube channel, and their website. It’s your competitor. You’re completely preoccupied with everything they do … and for a seemingly good reason. Their customer base seems to keep growing and they keep expanding their offerings, while you’re just trying to keep your head above water. You constantly ask yourself: “What will it take for my business to be viewed like theirs?” While it’s natural for that question to arise in your mind, it may stifle your progress if you’re thinking in terms of duplicating their marketing efforts. Prospects don’t want to see a carbon copy of another business and you don’t want to obsess about competitors anymore, so I’m going to show you how you can immediately become energized about and sharply focused on your own marketing […]

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Little-Known Ways to Write Fascinating Bullet Points

Oh, those magical bullet points. What would blog posts, sales letters, and bad PowerPoint presentations be without them? Bullet points are so common because readers like them. But typical bullet points are kinda lame … kinda like this one. So let’s start making our bullet points downright fascinating. Bullet point basics Before we get to the graduate level, we’ve got to nail the basics. So, here are the five cardinal rules for general bullet points that convey your points clearly: Express a clear benefit and promise. That’s right; they’re mini-headlines. They encourage the scanning reader to go into the real meat of your content or go forward with your call to action. Keep your bullet points symmetrical, if possible, meaning: one line each, two lines each, etc. It’s easier on the eyes and therefore easier on the reader. Avoid bullet clutter at all costs. Do not get into a detailed […]

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Why Your Friend with a Creative Job Isn’t the Village Idiot

It happened again. You were out to dinner with your Writer Friend, and the waiter came over to see if you needed anything. This led to a short, friendly conversation with him. As he walked away, your meal companion apologized for reaching into her purse to get her phone. She opened her Notes application and explained: “I have to jot that down. What he said was so perfect for something I’m working on. It just gave me a bunch of ideas.” You sat back and took a sip of your Syrah while thinking: “We’re supposed to be having a relaxing dinner. The last thing I’m thinking about right now is work. She’s not doing real work anyway. It’s annoying that she calls it work.” The nonsensical nature of creative work can bewilder onlookers. But is creative work that much different from other types of work? The development of a creative […]

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Learn to Write Copy That Sells With This $11 Online Course

Learn how to write copy that sells and watch the money roll in. August 10, 2019 1 min read Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. Copywriting is the glue that holds every marketing plan together. Without a distinct voice and a clear message running through all of your platforms, you’ll wind up with a confusing campaign that doesn’t attract customers. Modern Copywriting: Writing Copy That Sells in 2019 teaches you how to compose copy that grabs the reader and turns their visit to your site into cold, hard cash. The art and science of copywriting come together in this must-take class. Instructor Evan Kimbrell has overseen the development and launch of more than 100 mobile apps, and he brings […]

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How to Beat the Boring Content Blues in 30 Days

Have you ever reached a plateau with your content? You come to a point where you have a predictable amount of traffic, that traffic creates a predictable level of response (comments, clickthroughs for your product, number of backlinks, whatever), but your response doesn’t seem to budge past that point. It’s fun climbing to that spot, but less fun to get stuck there for weeks or months on end. I’m going to share a painful secret with you. It isn’t your layout or your banner. It isn’t your SEO. It’s your content. Specifically, your content has become flat and routine. You’ve found a modest audience that likes you, but your ideas and your writing aren’t sharp enough to pull in, energize, and keep new readers. Over 30 years as a professional writer, I’ve developed a method to take my writing to a stronger, deeper level. I originally got this process from […]

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How to Explain Your Job as a Copywriter (and Feel Good about It)

Well, this isn’t going to be easy … I’ve been working as a copywriter for 40 years now and still haven’t quite figured out how to properly describe what copywriters do. Or, maybe I’m just traumatized by how people used to react when I told them I was a copywriter. Scroll way back to the late 1970s in London, England. I was a middle-class young man, fresh out of a privileged education. My teachers and parents shared high hopes for me. A lawyer, perhaps. Or a university professor. You want to be a writer? Oh dear. Then maybe a respected novelist, or a journalist for The Times newspaper … A copywriter? Seriously? Is that even a “proper job?” I’d be at a party thrown by my parents and a friend of theirs might ask me, “And what are you doing these days?” I’d tell them I was working as a […]

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The 7 Keys to List Posts that Are Worth Writing (and Reading)

A lot of smart writers can’t stand list posts. What’s a list post? It’s also known as a numbered list post, or a (shudder) listicle, and it’s a post whose headline features a numbered collection of things. This post, for example, is a list post. There are an awful lot of crummy ones out there. The celebrity sites make frequent use of them (These 17 Celebrities Used to Be Hot, etc.). In fact, all of the CRaP blogs use them liberally. So it’s natural that a quality-focused content writer (like you) might try to avoid them. But that would be silly. And here’s why: Smart marketers have always focused on underlying human psychological drivers. And those drivers change very little, if at all. One of them, for whatever reason, is that we get a tiny bit mesmerized by numbers. When we see a number in a headline, a part of […]

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A Simple, Two-Month Plan to Complete a Content Project

At the end of June 2009, I was reading Copyblogger and I got a new idea: I should write an ebook. My writing and editing business was less than a year old, and I had never written anything that resembled a book. Could I actually do it? I knew I wanted to try, so I established a plan on July 1 that would help me write, design, and self-publish an ebook on my website by September 15. I’m going to share that plan with you today, so you can adapt it to any type of content project you’d like to finish by the fall (in the Northern Hemisphere). Select the right topic Writing an ebook could easily take a year or two … or five. But launching it as soon as possible was an important step for my business. The ebook would help: Establish my authority as a writer and […]

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Amplify Your Content Production … and Have Fun While You’re At It

Publishing a good volume of excellent content can be a tough game. And if you don’t keep it fun, you’re never going to stick with it. In the words of 1930s heavyweight champion Primo Carnera, you want to look for that elusive balance: “So many money, so many fun.” This week, we have advice on making your content and production processes more fun — without sacrificing the “so many money” part. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman gave us four steps to working steadily on smaller, satisfying projects rather than making ourselves miserable with lofty goals that never get met. On Tuesday, Karine Bengualid made her Copyblogger debut sharing why B2B marketing needs to be “funner,” and how to make that happen without tipping over into hot-mess territory. And on Wednesday, just for fun, I talked about when to be repetitive, redundant, and say the same thing twice. The Copyblogger FM episode […]

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When to Be Redundant, Repetitive, and Say the Same Thing Twice

Remember your fifth grade “What I did on my summer vacation” paper, where you used the words “pool,” “baseball” and “bike” 100 times apiece? And your English teacher dutifully marked your paper up with her red pen. Redundant. Don’t repeat yourself. Choose a new word. Content marketers sometimes get so fearful about repeating ourselves that our messages can get completely lost. The truth is, after fifth grade is over, there are times when you want to repeat yourself to make sure your point comes across. Here’s how you can tell if your content could benefit from a little strategic repetition. Repeat for clarity Like it or not, your readers skim. No matter how clearly you expressed yourself the first time, your words may have literally not been seen. Remember that your content needs to cut through your reader’s dense fog of information clutter and chronic interruption. If it’s important, it’s […]

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