Friday Night Links

Friday Night Lights

A couple of remarkable riffs on my blog subscribers post—one for small businesses and one that elaborates on the original extremely well.

People look forward to and remember stories, even if you’re trying to sell them something.

Confidence is the root of success… in person and in your writing.

How do you measure the value of a link?

Digg auto-bury got you down? Try these alternatives (nice theme mod, btw).

Jason Calacanis’ VC-funded Mahalo is either the sock puppet of Web 2.0, or the Boo.com of Web 2.0. Your choice, but those truly are the only two alternatives.

Are You In Love With Your Own Writing?

writing for yourself

My Gran used to say we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Some people act like it’s the other way around.

We’ve all had the experience of a friend calling on the phone “just to chat”. They jabber on long past a socially-acceptable point, and your ear gets sore from the phone against your head. You try to find reasons to curtail the never-ending torrent of small-talk about them, but we all love our friends dearly and don’t want to offend.

So why are you seriously considering strangling yourself with the phone cord just to get some respite? Are you really looking forward to the next “chatty” call?

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And the Winners of the Copyblogger Copywriting Contest Are…

The votes are in and the scores have been tallied. So, I guess it must be time to reveal the three winners of the first ever Copyblogger Copywriting Contest.

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who submitted an entry. We received a lot of great submissions, and it’s almost unfortunate that we can only have first, second and third place winners.

Secondly, I’d like to thank Darren Rowse and Seth Godin for volunteering their time to judge. They both shared great insights on their top choices, which we’ll see below.

And last but not least, I’d like to thank Squidoo for providing the $10,000 in free advertising that will be divided up among our winners. I’d especially like to give a shout-out to Megan Casey at Squidoo for her assistance behind the scenes.

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The Real Secret to Getting Tons of
Blog Subscribers

RSS Buttons

It’s still the question I get asked the most.

Despite writing on this subject several times, and basically spilling the beans on every tip and tactic I know for converting site visitors into regular readers, people seem to think I’m holding out. Most every time I speak with a fellow blogger on the phone, or meet someone in person, inevitably some variation of the following question will arise:

OK, so level with me… how’s you get all those subscribers? What’s the real secret?

No one wants to believe that there’s no magical secret. They’d rather fantasize about some forbidden copywriting technique that drives subscriber attraction. If I’d just share the magical words that make the difference, they’d immediately put those words to use.

OK, I give up. I’ll tell you the real secret.

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“Keep it Simple, Stupid” Applies to Your Landing Pages, Too!

Image of Landing Page graphic

There’s an old direct marketing axiom that states too many choices paralyzes your prospect into complete non-action. But does that behavior apply to landing pages? Marketing Experiments Journal did a recent study on the topic, Landing Page Confusion: How Does Having More Than One Objective to a Page Affect its Performance?

They tested their hypothesis using real-world companies to illustrate 5 fundamental principles of landing page design. They reviewed an online electronics retailer, large national newspaper, and a paid subscription site. Some pages started out better than others, but all had room for improvement.

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Winning Copy Appeals to Basic Instincts

Sharon Stone in Basic InstinctHow do you get somebody to do what you want them to?

You can just ask of course. That will work with some people. A more successful approach though is to appeal to their human nature. Show what’s in it for them.

We are simple creatures really. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame calls us “moist robots”. As accurate a description as any!

Press the right buttons and you get a predictable, automatic reaction.

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Is it OK to Write for Digg?

Digg BaitingThis is the first post from Digg power user Muhammad Saleem, who will be offering tips about creating content that appeals to users of social media news sites.

Back in January, Ethan Kaplan proposed a new term to describe certain sites:

Made for Digg (MFD), just like Made for Adsense sites, these are sites that are specifically formatted as Digg bait…

While people often argue that there is something inherently wrong with content that is specifically designed to be consumed by socially driven sites, I was probably one of the first people to go on the record arguing to the contrary, and the reasoning behind my stance is simple. For content to be successful on Digg, i.e. for it to be classified as “Digg bait,” it really has to appeal to the community and it has to incite a passionate response from the users, whether the response be good or bad.

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The Copyblogger Theme for WordPress

When Brian rolled out the latest design for Copyblogger, he promised to chain me to a computer and whip me until I was able to resurrect the old design as a ubiquitous WordPress theme.

Copyblogger Theme for WordPress

Today, I’m happy to announce that the chains have come off, the welts on my back are beginning to heal, and you, my friends, have a brand new toy—the Copyblogger Theme for WordPress.

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Check Out This Spam From a PR Flak

I don’t usually do things like this, but this is too delicious. Here’s an email I just received from someone named Tami Queen:

Countless accounts of “PR Flaks” who have spammed bloggers, mis-targeted pitches or just plain gotten blogger relations wrong fill the Internet. Don’t risk finding your next pitch blasted on your favorite blog!

As a Public Relations professional, it is your job to find every opportunity to get your organization covered and be an expert on the inner-workings of the media. However, the explosion of the blogosphere has left many confused and wondering: How do bloggers operate? What type of approach will get my news covered? How can I integrate blogs into my overall PR strategy?

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Did Alanis Morissette Get Irony Right?

Alanis MorissetteMany people struggle with irony in their writing, despite the media fable that everyone born after 1965 lives a life so deeply entrenched in irony that we can’t handle a direct assertion. Many bloggers are sarcastic and snarky (nastier forms of irony generally intended to deride a specific person) simply because it’s an easy substitute for a fully developed writer’s voice. Irony is a bit more subtle, and that’s why it can cause people trouble.

When it comes to “not getting” irony, there’s one person who comes immediately to mind for many—Alanis Morissette. More than a decade later, her hit song “Ironic” from the 1995 album Jagged Little Pill is still the punch line of scores of irony-related jokes.

If you’re not familiar, Morissette’s song describes various life situations followed by the two questions “Isn’t it ironic?” and “Don’t you think?” The perceived problem with the song is that most if not all of the given examples do not constitute either situational or literary irony.

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