Let’s Remix a Few More of Your Headlines

Last fall, I invited readers to submit posts they had written, and I chose several and rewrote the titles. Quite a few people seemed to get a lot out of that process, so rather than writing yet another article about headlines, I thought we should do it again.

Here’s how it works:

Simply drop the URL of the post or article you want considered in the comment section. I will pick several from the submissions, rewrite the headlines in an upcoming post, and provide explanations for the changes I make.

Cool?

Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb

image of man in dunce capOne thing blogging and good copywriting share is a conversational style, and that means it’s fine to fracture the occasional rule of proper grammar in order to communicate effectively. Both bloggers and copywriters routinely end sentences with prepositions, dangle a modifier in a purely technical sense, or make liberal use of the ellipsis when an EM dash is the correct choice—all in order to write in the way people actually speak.

But there are other mistakes that can detract from your credibility. While we all hope what we have to say is more important than some silly grammatical error, the truth is some people will not subscribe or link to your blog if you make dumb mistakes when you write, and buying from you will be out of the question.

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Five Steps to a Truly Unique Blog That Attracts Readers and Revenue

Build a Sticky BlogIf a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.

-Henry David Thoreau

Now that you’ve completed the important task of figuring out who it is you want to reach with your blog, it’s time to figure out how to stand apart from the competition and deliver unique value. What’s the angle that will capture attention and attract regular readers who eventually become loyal customers or clients?

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There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a Business-Savvy Writer

One of the most annoying things to me is the way writing is devalued, both by those who can do it, and those who seek to purchase the fruits of a writer’s labor. Of course, that’s just the way of the marketplace, right?

Well, at this point, I’d say the “marketplace” is suffering a case of retardation. Most clients will still hugely devalue excellent content, while if you can write with the right business angle, you can clean up all on your own at this particular point in history.

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Let Cicero Build You a Sticky Blog

Build a Sticky BlogIf you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.

– Roman Statesman Cicero

More than simply speaking to our audience, we need to connect with them. Roman orator and attorney Cicero knew that connecting at both a mental and emotional level with an audience, using their own language and lingo, was imperative.

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Are You Leaving Your Readers Out of the Conversation?

Build a Sticky BlogWe know that one of the most important words we can use in blogging is you, so our copy should be squarely focused on the reader. And we also know we need to identify just who exactly our prospective readers actually are.

Wouldn’t it be a shame to go through all of that and end up not speaking to those people after all? It sounds crazy, but speaking to the wrong “you” is a common problem throughout business communications, and blogging makes it an incredibly easy mistake to make.

The Danger of the Wrong “You”

Even when people know exactly who they are supposed to be speaking to, they often fail to tailor the message to match the audience. A great example comes from the book Presenting to Win by presentation coach Jerry Weissman.

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Link Baiting Goes Mainstream

From today’s Wall Street Journal:

Here’s a new catchphrase in search-engine optimization these days: Link baiting.

The term may sound shady, but link baiting is an aboveboard tactic that calls for generating new or particularly interesting content on a Web site in hopes that a popular Web site links to it. Having well-ranked Web sites link to yours boosts your site’s search-engine results, because most major search engines — including Google and Yahoo — consider the number and “quality” of links when generating their rankings. And, having your site linked to a popular site likely will prompt other sites to link to your site as well.

Suppose, for instance, you’d love to have a blogger who’s well-known in your industry link to your Web site. You notice this blogger frequently highlights interesting strategies for funding a start-up business. So in hopes of piquing that blogger’s interest, you add well-written, interesting content to your site about new trends in start-up financing. Then you conveniently shoot an email to that blogger with a link to the post.

Good for the WSJ for actually getting it right. More than just great content, it’s strategic content that is also of very high quality.

And these days, it has very little to do with trolling and flame wars. Authority sites won’t squander reader equity to link to that garbage.

Via Marketing Pilgrim.

Who Do You Think You’re Talking To?

Build a Sticky BlogA classic business mistake is failing to understand who your prospect is, especially now that niche marketing is critical to success in an overly competitive environment. The same is true for commercial blogging when it comes to developing a unique content strategy.

Under the classical approach to developing a unique selling proposition, you would start by examining your product/service for a unique element that would separate you from the competition. And while differentiating your offer from what others are providing is the goal, it’s no longer the starting point.

When it comes to business blogging, you are seeking an audience before you seek the sale, and frankly, starting with the needs of the audience is essential to all forms of modern marketing. Assuming that what you offer, or even what your competitors offer, is in tune with the current needs of the audience is an invitation for disaster and an adversary of innovation.

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I’ll be on Rush Hour Later Today with Cameron and Neil of Pronet Advertising

In case you haven’t heard, Cameron Olthius and Neil Patel of Pronet Advertising have launched a new show on Webmaster Radio called Rush Hour. The program is dedicated to social media marketing and traffic strategies.

We’ll be discussing how copywriting figures into social media and viral marketing campaigns: writing good content, headlines, descriptions, calls to action and more.

The podcast airs live every Wednesday at 1 P.M. PST (4 P.M. EST) and is usually available for download shortly after. So check it out!

UPDATE: You can listen to the podcast here. Please pardon my cold… I felt lucky to be able to string sentences together.

Great Copy Ranges From the Specific to the Precise

The kiss of death when it comes to marketing communications is copy filled with general statements that fail to communicate anything meaningful. Non-specific copy is a red flag that signals puffery and a lack of substance, and yet it’s all too common. Dan Santow of Word Wise gives two great examples of common phrases that are employed to impress, but end up leaving the reader with little to work with.

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