The Ultimate Productivity Toolbox for Writers

Productivity for Writers

You know, a lot of writers and other creative folks don’t spend a lot of time chasing down the latest productivity tools and tips, and with good reason. Most of us are too busy actually writing and making stuff.

Go figure.

But there is an amazing selection of free or low cost applications out there that can help us create things better and faster. It’s just a matter of finding them.

Well, you’re in luck. The Ultimate Productivity Toolbox for Creative People assembles the best stuff all on one page. It’s the hard work of former Lifehacker contributor Tamar Weinberg, who joins Lateral Action today as Associate Editor.

Check it out now or bookmark it for future reference.

Do These 3 Common Copywriting Mistakes Keep Your Readers from Buying?

Talk to the Hand

Congratulations! You’ve built a great blog with high-quality content. You’re getting decent traffic, and your readers might even be using social media tools to recommend your stuff. Life should be good.

But no one’s buying. Or barely anyone, which is no fun.

So why isn’t that great content translating into more sales? Let’s look at three common copy mistakes that keep your readers from becoming customers, and how you can turn that around.

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Does Your Tagline Create Clarity or Mystery?

Mystery Box

1,000 songs in your pocket.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? You may recognize that marketing message from one of the biggest companies around today.

Or you may not.

It doesn’t matter if you recognize who crafted that tagline, because you know what you’re getting right away—1,000 songs in your pocket. You don’t know how that happens or why, but it’s irrelevant. You know at a glance that whatever the product, it’s going to give you tons of music in a small package you can carry around.

Now that’s smart.

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The Four “P” Approach:
A Persuasive Writing Structure That Works

4 Ps of Persuasion

More than half the battle of creating compelling content and copy is solid structure. Disorganized writing inhibits understanding, and without understanding, you’re not going to get a warm reception when you ask for action. Plus, without structural guidelines to follow, you end up leaving out information necessary to your case or promotion.

There are plenty of popular writing structures. One is the inverted pyramid that some journalists favor, which is fine if your goal is to allow the reader to leave mid-story, but not so good if you want people to stick around while you make the case for your call to action.

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Where Have All the
Freelance Writing Jobs Gone?

Freelance Writing

Two or three times a week, struggling freelance writers will email me questions. The messages are usually something along the lines of:

  • “I’m having a hard time finding writing gigs now. What am I doing wrong?”
  • “I keep sending out queries but nobody’s getting back to me. What else can I do?”
  • “Why hasn’t anybody gotten back to me? I sent out a ton of stuff a couple of weeks ago.”

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Kurt Cobain: Entrepreneur?

Kurt Cobain

If you want to start a business, or you’re struggling to grow one, you might want to check out this article I wrote for Lateral Action – The Kurt Cobain Guide to Startup Success. You’ll likely be surprised at how deliberate the success of Nirvana’s breakthrough album Nevermind was.

And since Nirvana was in the music business (a form of content), every blogger and copywriter can use Nirvana’s story as inspiration to create more compelling and innovative content themselves (hopefully you’ll have a happier ending).

Check it out here.

The Lazy Blogger’s Guide to
Finding Great Post Images

Lazy Blogger

Writing a great blog post is a lot of work. There’s the planning, the headline, the writing, the rewriting, the rewriting, the rewriting.

As the cliché goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So why not let your images do some of that writing for you?

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Magazine Headline Remix:
PC World Edition

PC World

We’ve already used Cosmopolitan and Details Magazine for blogging inspiration. Let’s switch to a more technical topic to see if we can use the headlines on the cover of a computer magazine to come up with relevant content for a variety of blogs.

So l stopped by the grocery store and snagged a copy of PC World. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized there was something strange about this month’s issue.

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How Three Drag Queens in a Bus Lead to Better Blogging

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Remember The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert? That was the 1994 Academy Award-winning film about three drag queens driving across the Australian outback in a large bus they’ve named Priscilla.

It’s amazing what you can learn about blogging from the way-out-there – and it’s amazing what it can do for your success online. So let’s see what we can learn about effective blogging from Priscilla.

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How to Write With a Distinctive Voice

Voice

Let’s face it, most people can’t write their way out of a paper bag. Further, most bloggers are boring writers, and most journalists are so heavily edited that any personality they’ve added to a story has long since been weaned out by the editorial process.

I want to let you in on a secret, though: it’s not really that people are boring, but that too many have been taught that you shouldn’t write the same way you talk. I blame our educational system, actually, with those 5th grade teachers who drilled us on adverbs, pronouns and the minutia of grammar, coupled with too many boring, tedious academic books that we all suffered through while in college.

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