31 Pro Tips for a Successful, Satisfying, and Insanely Profitable 2012

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Obviously, everywhere you look this week, people are offering advice about what to do differently in 2012.

What to focus on. What habits to cultivate. What to stop doing. What to do more of.

Productivity, health, getting enough sleep, flossing your teeth.

Copyblogger spoiler alert: You can trust that in 2012 we’ll continue to push you toward better content, more effective copywriting, and creating success on your own terms.

I thought I’d join the fun and ask some of the brightest people I know — namely our brilliant Copywriter guest writers (plus a few friends of the blog) — to share their favorite “Pro Tip” for the new year.

So why read this list instead of a hundred others?

Because these are people who have built something worth having. They aren’t just talking about success, they’re creating it.

Some of them have “big name” blogs and some are well on their way, but they all have something to teach you. So without further ado:

31 smart ways to have an absolutely amazing 2012

Leo Babauta, Zen Habits
Don’t mistake busy-ness for effectiveness. Work on what matters, and don’t just be a whirlwind of activity. If you’re a blogger and you’re not creating content, you’re not doing what’s most important.

Chris Brogan, ChrisBrogan.com
This is the big year for video. If you haven’t jumped in, jump in this year. If you’re in, but still “phoning it in,” get in deeper. Make great video and make it matter to your business. Good lighting and good sound aren’t expensive, and editing does actually matter. Make this the big year for video for you and your business, and watch the rewards come to you. 

James Chartrand, Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words
Learn from what you have done, believe in what you’re doing now, and look ahead to what you want to do next.

Susan Daffron, The Book Consultant
Step away from the computer. Your best writing ideas rarely arrive when you’re sitting at your desk. Take time for yourself and have fun with the people (and pets!) you love.

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics
The insane way to getting things done, is to try and reach your goals all by yourself. As the African proverb says: “If you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go with a group.

Jonathan Fields, JonathanFields.com
To stay sane, productive and creative, pulse and refuel. Ninety minutes of intense focused work, then 10 to 30 minutes of any activities that completely removes you from work. Meditate, Walk, exercise, listen to music, eat great food. This allows the part of your brain responsible for problem-solving, attention and creativity to refuel and helps stoke self-regulation — aka willpower — that keeps the mean-nasties and distraction at bay.

Chris Garrett, Authority Blogger
One thing I learned from 2011 is that you can’t do this on your own. You have to network and connect, you need to collaborate. Another key lesson I am taking into 2012 is to implement. Take your ideas and test them, and don’t concern yourself with achieving perfection. Treat your projects as experiments not exams!

Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing
It’s easy to want to go for a broader reader base as your blog gets more traction and it’s usually the worst thing to do. Be fanatical about upleveling the people keeping your lights on and it’ll work out much better for you in both the short and long term.

Jeff Goins, Jeff Goins Writer
When it comes to content marketing, the secret to success is helping people. Want to sell something? Teach. Need help networking? Serve. This business is all about earning permission and building trust; be over-the-top generous and see if people don’t notice you.

Jennifer Gresham, Everyday Bright
There are two kinds of mentors: those that help us develop a needed skill and those that help us cultivate the life we want to live.  The former requires depth of experience, the latter breadth of experience.  No matter how smart, talented, or successful you are, make sure you have at least one of each.

Chris Guillebeau, ChrisGuillebeau.com
To be awesome in 2012, ask what the world truly needs that you can genuinely provide. Then, spend some time every day for the rest of the year building that thing. Better get to work: you only have 361 days left.

Amy Harrison, Harrison Amy Copywriting
When you get overwhelmed by other peoples’ projects, step away and write. Whether jotting down ideas, or creating a blog post, just stuff everyone else and build your own bank of content bit by bit. Keep producing, publishing and testing and you won’t go far wrong.

Derek Halpern, Social Triggers
In 2012, stop promoting your silly social media profiles, and instead, build your email list (that’s what real businesses do right now, and it works beautifully). You might think your readers and customers are different, but they aren’t. They read email just like everyone else.

Lewis Howes, LewisHowes.com
In order to go big in 2012 with your business you’ll need to focus on three main things.  First, overcoming your fear of failure — this will allow you to move forward with the things necessary to breakthrough.  Second, staying focused — too many times we paralyze ourselves simply by lack of focus.  Third, being consistent.  Those who consistently take action win in the end.   

Josh Kaufman, The Personal MBA
Change the structure of your environment to support your goals. Behavioral change is easy when you STOP relying on willpower and START making small decisions to change the world around you. By making it impossible to do things you don’t want to do, and brain-dead easy to do things you want to do, you’ll get more of what you want and less of what you don’t.

Jennifer Louden, Teach Now
Identify an “ouch” spot in your business, like “How to engage students in my e-course?” or “How to format my newsletter?” Ask yourself, “What could I learn today that would help?” It’s so tempting to believe there is something wrong with you or your business when you get stuck, to forget that while you are surely an scintillating expert in your subject, you probably aren’t such a fount of knowledge in all that it takes to get your great work out in the world. Zero in on what you need to know right now, and get into action today.

Ali Luke, Aliventures
Get a friend to help edit your work, especially if you’re working on a paid product (such as an ebook) or a crucial part of your blog (such as a sales page). It’s incredibly hard to spot your own typos and clunky sections – a fresh pair of eyes makes a huge difference. 

Hugh MacLeod, Gaping Void
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick one or two places that really matter- your blog and Twitter, say, and stick with them through thick and thin. Worry about the other places a lot less. You can’t be “everywhere,” and the ones who try never succeed.

Jon Morrow, Boost Blog Traffic
Instead of just setting goals for this year, also set sacrifices. Here’s the idea: your life is already too full, and if you’re going to add anything, first you have to take something out. So, decide what you will sacrifice. Is it your family? TV time? Perfectionism? Sleep? Job security? For every goal, choose one sacrifice.

Erika Napoletano, Redhead Writing
The question I get asked the most is “How do I expand my audience and reach more people?” The answer is to be yourself. It’s entirely too much work to be someone else and people can see through it in an instant. Be you, be true, have an opinion. Opinions start conversations — being wishy washy sends people running. Which do you think will help you build a following faster?

Amber Naslund, The hidden startup …
Have a day without calls or meetings where you can control your own pace and work on projects that motivate you. Workaholism isn’t impressive, and it doesn’t make you a rockstar or a martyr. It makes you burn out fast and hard. If you want a shot at kicking ass in 2012, recommit some time in your professional schedule to improvise or reset. 

Sean Platt, Ghostwriter Dad
Every writer should be taking advantage of the Kindle, even if you don’t plan on making a full living through publishing. Many writers think self-publishing isn’t worth it since the dollars are low unless your sales rank is high. And while that’s true, front end dollars aren’t the only reason to publish. Using Amazon to publish your eBooks is one of the best sources of lead gen in the world, and smart writers should take advantage of the opportunity. 

Roberta Rosenberg, MGP Direct
Read your copy aloud in a natural speed and cadence. It’s the fastest way to identify typos, weird tense changes, inconsistencies, run-on sentences, and non-conversational language. (Even faster tip? If you run out of breath reading a sentence aloud, it’s too long. Shorten it.)

Pamela Slim, Escape from Cubicle Nation
When building your business this year, remember that skill, competence and results are built by thousands of tiny actions taken on a daily basis. Once your main goals for the year are set, break your week, and day, into a handful of tasks so small they are almost insulting. Then execute for 365 days. Your results will be so much stronger than a string of all-nighters followed by 3 months of recuperation.

Stanford Smith, Pushing Social
Make your own rules and challenge the “best practices.”  Remember it’s your business, your blog, your organization and you have to live with the results. No one ever made a difference by selling themselves short or preaching from the middle of the pack.

Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie
If there’s a key word for me in 2012, it’s going to be this one: Precision.  There’s so little these days separating the business winners and losers, and we need to find every little advantage we can grab.  We need precision — in our decision-making, in the quality of our products, and, most importantly, in our processes. How can we get this precision?  The best way I know is to do something very analog in this digital world — talk to your customers.  They’ll tell you everything you’ll need to know to get it.

Carol Tice, Make A Living Writing
Just ignore the negativity out there. Put your head down, make your plans, and market your ass off. There will be loads of opportunity out there for anyone who can offer something that helps people.

Johnny B. Truant, JohnnyBTruant.com
If you’re serious about producing something that’s unique, meaningful, and truly yours, do yourself a favor and pick up Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. You can read it in an afternoon. Most of what’s stopping you from getting what you need to get done is you, and the sooner you see exactly how that’s happening, the sooner you can start making your mark.

Andrea Vahl, AndreaVahl.com
Create an editorial calendar for Facebook so you don’t have to wonder what to post every day. Schedule at least 1-2 posts per day and make sure you are building in posts to promote your business (sales posts should be no more than 10-20% of your overall content). Maybe Monday is a helpful link in the morning and a social question in the afternoon.  Tuesday could be a featured fan and then a hot tip. You get the idea.

DJ Waldow, Waldow Social
Whatever you do, however you feel, remember to smile and laugh every single day. If you are not having fun, why bother?

Pamela Wilson, Big Brand System
A writer I knew once was blocked
The blank white page sat and mocked
He took a short nap then
Filled out a mind map
And the exit for words was unlocked

Dan Zarrella, DanZarrella.com
Don’t be fooled by unicorns and rainbows myths about social media. Demand real data and science to prove every piece of advice you hear.

What’s your Pro Tip?

What’s your very best advice for how Copyblogger readers can have an incredible 2012? (If it’s a tip you need to implement yourself, that’s fine too!)

Let us know about it in the comments.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Share your favorite pro tips for fabulous success with her on twitter.

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Reader Comments (72)

  1. says

    Some fantastic advice there (I particually liked the one about stepping away from the computer) and there is the added bonus of some new blogs for me to discover this year. It’s win-win! 😛

      • says

        Great advice Susan.. We just need to be reminded of this often.. So easy to get absorbed with work, goals, deadlines, learning, etc, etc….. Just heard Maria Shriver’s video where she says, “pause” before you do anything..

        Time to get away from the computer.. Bye :)

  2. says

    What a wonderful collection of great ideas for building my blog in 2012! Thank you for compiling this. I will be reading this throughout the year as a reminder.

    My traffic has increased significantly in recent months and I think a lot of this advice can help me get to the next level.

    Thanks again!

  3. says

    Really like Jon’s Tip. Its so true. Energy of universe is a constant and you have to stop doing something to start doing something.

    My pro tip would be…

    Take action. Don’t just read and think. Take action.

    Even if your goal seems far away and you have no plan.

    The staircase to top get lit only one step at a time so take action and the next action would become clear.

  4. says

    I read the Lean Startup by Eric Ries and finally things came together for me. Two weeks later I went from fuzzy idea to releasing my first product. I made more progress and money in the final month of 2011 than I had with my business in all of 2010.

    The concept that tipped me over? “Validated learning is the unit of progress for a startup”. And the only way to get that learning is to make a hypothesis about what people want, ship the thing, measure, and iterate.

    I’d known about preselling and making an minimum viable product before, but this was the first time that I heard that “learning” is progress. Even if I learned that’s not what people wanted.

    Here’s to everyone learning about their audience in 2012!

  5. says

    Excellent advice; not just for bloggers – but for marketing professionals…or should I just say “professionals” in general!

  6. says

    Great post, Sonia, and some very helpful links. While I like to look forward to the year and plan out some goals, it’s also a good time to look at the previous year and do some reflection. While success is a great motivator, failure can be a great teacher. I put together a Failure Checklist, which has been helpful to work through the things that didn’t quite workout last year. Your readers can download it here… http://goals4u.us/ypY3Ro

  7. says

    Hi Sonia,

    Super advice overall.

    I find Leo’s and Susan’s tips to be spot on! I intend to engage only in effective acts. Each thing you do should make an impact. No, don’t do things because you have to, or need to, or because some guru tells you….nope, gotta engage in effective acts if you plan to be successful.

    I take 10 minute breaks each hour. Alarm goes off, I drop everything. Most of my best ideas flows to me in silence. Too much mental clutter going on while working.

    Thanks for sharing!


  8. says

    Great advice all round.

    But Chris B hit the nail on the head with me. I’ve been using video to connect with customers for ages – either way this year I’m stepping up my efforts ten fold.

    I hope everyone here crushes it this year.

  9. says

    Get rid of the “coulda, woulda, shoudas.” I coulda done that, I woulda done this if only…, I shoulda done that. Don’t look back on what might have been. Keep moving forward. Stay true to yourself. Make course corrections when necessary, but stop berating yourself!

  10. says

    So does this mean that I can’t keep believing in unicorns? 😉

    Great tips. I especially appreciated what Brogan had to say about video and what Sean Platt shared about the Kindle. I’m learning a lot from both of their examples.

  11. says

    Don’t miss Jonathan Fields’ tip! It’s the only productivity tactic that I’ve seen work for me and just about anyone.

    Whether it’s stuff i don’t want to do, like cleaning my home or stuff that I do enjoy, like writing a new blog post, I find that doing the intense work for a batch of time, with breaks really gets me moving.

  12. says

    Great tips! Thank you.

    Break the rules was my favorite and I would add… find one other person (or a team is even better) who believes in what you’re doing. Knowing there is someone who can also envision exactly what you see keeps you from the frequent moments of doubt. Their belief speaks, “No, you’re not nuts!”

  13. says

    Thanks for the tips! While all are great, the one that stood out the most to me was Hugh McLeod’s tip. I am known for spreading myself too thin (that’s one of the side effects of being a Multipotentialite) and so I definitely need to find focus this year and only work on 1-2 things at a time that will make a real impact on my business. I’m already going back in my mind right now and tightening up my “to do” list for my new blog’s launch in a couple weeks!

  14. says

    I liked Jon Morrow’s quote the most. Most of others were not new (sorry guys).

    Jon when will you publish your first post? We are waiting from so long.

  15. says

    Loved every single one of these, and had the pleasure of reading many of their blogs recently. Glad to see many familiar names up there.

  16. says

    Leo and Carol Tice nailed it for me: “Don’t mistake busy-ness for effectiveness” and “Put your head down, make your plans, and market your ass off.”

    I spend a lot of the holiday break outlining an calendar of what I need to execute to hit my goals in January and February. The next step is to keep with that pattern consistently, moving forward.

  17. says

    Avoid getting caught up in the “latest and greatest” marketing gimmick. There are no silver bullets. Yesterday’s “best thing ever” won’t work nearly as well today. Be the visionary. Be the pioneer and create your own “best thing ever”.

  18. says

    Great tips for anyone who wants to be more efficient and in short live a better life.
    I would just add that anytime is a good to get started it doesn’t matter if it’s January or April once you set your mind to doing something get started and don’t lose momentum.

    New year resolutions are a failure.

    Don’t make new year resolutions, make lifetime resolutions.

    • says

      I tweeted this a few days back:

      Good resolutions are unsuccessful attempts to interfere with the scientific laws. Their origin is pure vanity, their result is absolutely nil. – Oscar Wilde

  19. says

    Awesome compilation, Sonia! I particularly love the quote used by Sean D’Souza, “If you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go with a group.” This speaks to my heart and soul. Currently, I blog for a New York music and technology site, SonicScoop.com. I focus my writing on the DIY artist and stress the importance of human collaboration as a means to accomplish great things. Working with a team of experts as opposed to alone, as the jack of all trades and master of none, produces superior results. My pro tip would be: Stop flailing! You can’t possibly do it all. Focus. Be great at one thing. Find others great at the stuff you’re not and collaborate with them.

    Happy 2012!

  20. says

    Many of these tips resonate, thanks Sonia. Particularly Chris Brogan’s comment about video, Jeff Goins’ point about trust and Erika’s advice about authenticity. Those hit home.

    I know that in 2012, I need to be more vigilant about writing down my goals, revisiting them regularly; tracking, measuring and evaluating my progress. I need to do more of that.

    Oh…and guest post on Copyblogger :-). Maybe that will also be in the cards.

  21. says

    Inspiring Sonia, thank you.
    Erica is spot on. Inspire your audience with yourself. The challenge is to be inspiring in the first place; hence my 2012 goals in three words: Learn – Inspire – Fail

    Fail is the key, without it you aren’t looping back to learn.
    To an engaging 2012, -Steve

  22. says

    I LOVE most of these, especially the ones that talk about taking time for yourself away from work. Most small business folks think that the secret to success lies in 40 hour work weeks. That is only partly the case. You need time away from everything work related. Your mind will often find its best ideas while you are getting a massage, walking on the beach or listening to a hypnosis or meditation download. Even if your brain is not wandering during that time, you will return to your work with renewed energy. That is the reason why kids and laborers get two days off every week. The mind needs a break from intense activities. :)

    • says

      Also, Terry had it right. You need to talk (and listen) to your customers. Act on what you learn from them. Don’t give them what you want. Give them what they want.

  23. says

    “Today, well lived, makes every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness and every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope. Look well, therefore, to THIS day.” attributed to Ancient Sanskrit writings and quoted by Sir William Osler in “A Way of LIfe,” his address to Yale students in 1913…still valid advice.

  24. says

    My two faves are those from Sean d’Souza and Hugh MacLeod – and they fit perfectly together:

    “Surround yourself with smart people who can help you get where you want to go,” and, “Don’t spread yourself thin; work on what’s working best.”


  25. says

    Thank you Sonia!

    My first time here at Copyblogger, from someone who shared this post. I’m a fan!
    I’ll definitely share this and be back for more!

    I enjoyed them all, and I’m with Dan Zarrella. In my experience even as a former Superior Court employee,
    I want good, true, quality and ethical information.

    One can waste so much time on reading or implementing from inaccurate info only to find that it is
    truly time that’s been lost and non-retrievable.

    Here’s to reading and learning from good information in 2012!

  26. says

    I know I’ll get some grief for this — but not from those who get it. SHOW ME THE MONEY. If you do not have a business plan, or a clear plan for becoming profitable then chances are you will not be blogging a year from now. No matter how much you have to say, no mattter how passionately you can say it, blogging takes an incredible amount of time and energy and you will not be able to sustain it if you’re not getting paid. By the time you realize that you need to make money to get motivated, it may be too late. Money puts the PRO in Problogger!!

    • says

      Very good point. If you’re not making money, it’s a hobby, not a business.

      Who does the best writing and/or training on how to make money with a blog? Don’t you have to lead with the message and build a platform before you can sell or does it all have to be plotted together?

      • says

        Good question – hope you don’t mind if I answer it!

        There’s actually no real way to “make money blogging” – unless you’re selling your blog posts or have a pay-per-view set up. Blogging itself makes zero dollars, generally speaking.

        What does make money are various other income streams, with blog posts becoming a way to deliver those income streams to readers. For example, linking to an Amazon book in a blog post that reviews the book – the post itself doesn’t make money. The book sale does.

        So blogs need products or services tied to them to make money. The blog on its own with no income stream tied in? Well, Kevin wouldn’t invest in that. 😉

  27. says

    Developing a successful blog or a successful business requires making lots of good decisions in a row. The small things count in a big way. Plugging away day after day is the only surefire way to succeed.

  28. says

    The biggest thing I learned last year can be summed up in this quote from Lao Tzu: When I let go of what I am,
    I become what I might be.

    I spent so much time trying to define what I do and what I am that I forgot to focus on why I do it. I write, edit, design, teach and advise because I love it. Focusing on why I love what I do rather than trying to label myself has paid immediate dividends, from new clients to increased creativity.

  29. says

    That is so true, Sonia. Building something worth having is a great driving force to create success stories out of the things we do. That’s the fire that drives us excellence. One thing I learned before I became a bestselling author and long before Inc Magazine voted my company as one of the fastest growing companies is making things simple and straight to the point when writing copies. The copy should simply connect to the audience.

  30. says

    I think the single greatest advice I know for building a productive business, leading a successful life, and everything in between that you must occupy your mind ONLY with thoughts that serve your goals and purposes.

    “Every man is what he is because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind.”
    – Napoleon Hill

  31. says

    There’s always something new to learn isn’t there! I found that facebook has given me the most conversions in the past. This is a great collection of ideas.

  32. says

    I must confess that I’m a world-class procrastinator. I’m also the owner of an ecomm business and alas, these two attributes are incompatible! I’ve learned to replace the idea of “DISCIPLINE” with “REALLY GOOD WORK HABITS.” Having a routine for when/where/how/etc. I get things done is far more effective than relying on some vague inner sense of responsibility. Plus, I get more time to wander the garden, generate new ideas, play with the chickens, network my industry… You get the idea.

  33. says

    The one that really got me nodding my head in agreement the most was that one by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.
    The thing is to really focus on what matters the most. I cannot agree more.
    Cheers and a happy 2012 to all the “Copybloggers”

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