Trolls, Unkind Words, and How to Know You’re on the Right Track

image of Inuksuk sculpture from the Athabasca Glacier, taken by James Pratley

At the end of the day, I just find your persona incredibly grating.

Funny that I can still remember that comment word-for-word. It’s from an unsubscribe note to my email list dating back at least seven years now.

I heard lots of good things back then, too. I was helping people, sharing what I knew in a way that was useful to my (then tiny) audience. But I don’t remember any of the good comments verbatim.

Even back then, though, the note made me laugh.

(Ruefully.)

Because I knew that it was a signpost. A signal that I was headed in the right direction.

Read More…

How to Conduct a Content Audit for Quality and Audience Experience

red, white, and blue candy that says yay audits and audits rock

However you may feel about New Year’s resolutions, January just seems to bring on the desire for fresh starts.

This month, the Copyblogger editorial team is tackling something we’ve had our eye on for awhile — a content audit.

Now I don’t know about you, but that word audit doesn’t really inspire me. In fact, the feeling it engenders is something more like phobia, or at least dread.

(If you have a friendlier term than audit, come swing by LinkedIn and make your suggestion — I’m all ears. Maybe a content makeover. Or a content cleanse. Hm, definitely needs work.)

Read More…

My Challenge to You for 2015: Only Connect

Image of four young Tibetan monks

Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. ~ E.M. Forster, Howards End

The thing, I think, that keeps people from building successful businesses, especially online, is that business seems complicated.

And it is, in the sense of having a lot of moving parts. (Which, of course, is why we work so hard to build tools that make the technical part easy.)

Like anything worth doing — raising a family, building a house, growing a garden — there are a lot of small things you need to figure out how to do correctly.

But arching over all of these is the Big Thing — and if you get it right, the details will tend to work themselves out.

Read More…

Why Shark Tank is Terrible for Your Business

Maybe they’ll take away my Entrepreneur’s Secret Hat and Decoder Ring for saying this, but I hate Shark Tank.

My husband and son like it, and every time it comes on, my teeth start to grind and my eye does that little twitchy thing.

I’m not saying the investors don’t give some decent advice. They do. And most of the Sharks seem like reasonable people. (With Kevin O’Leary doing his duty as designated villain, obligatory on most reality shows.)

But the core premise of Shark Tank — I hate it. I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s dangerous, and I think it hurts business owners.

Here’s why.

Read More…

What to Look for in a Professional Content Writer

poodle with glasses sitting at a desk

Every business needs content. Not the bland, me-too nonsense that so often clutters up our in-boxes and feeds, but genuinely useful, interesting content.

Content that lets a business stand out amid the clutter and noise. Content that moves prospects closer to a sale. Content that can become a powerful differentiator for your company.

And increasingly, businesses are having a tough time finding the writers who know how to create that kind of content over time.

According to some recent research by Content Marketing Institute, the demand for content writers has grown by 320 percent … just over the past year.

And while in the past, about 10 percent of companies struggled to find qualified professionals, that’s risen to 32 percent this year.

One of the reasons I think organizations struggle is, they don’t always know what qualities will make for a genuinely productive, profitable hire. And as you might guess, I have a few strong opinions about that.

Read More…

The Surprisingly Simple Key to Enduring Success Habits

ghost figure in pumpkin patch with Autumn leaves

Are you addicted to productivity advice?

I was, for a long time. I bought every system, book, and blueprint out there.

I had a very spiffy David Allen-inspired GTD process that was only 642 steps long and took a mere 3 hours a day to implement (during which time I wasn’t actually, you know, getting anything done).

That wasn’t David Allen’s fault, by the way, it was mine. But I don’t think I was alone.

Read More…