I’m Outta Here…

Well, at least for a bit.

I’m off for a much-needed vacation with the family. I’ll be back sometime in the middle of next week.

But I’m not leaving you hanging. You’ll be getting great stuff from visiting copybloggers Chris Garrett, Roberta Rosenberg, and in what may become a collectors item, a post from Carson Brackney of Content Done Better, who has just announced he’s going to the dark side taking a job and closing up shop.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.

A Simple Four-Step Strategy for
Developing Content That Connects

Tutorial MarketingHere’s a simple formula for creating content that effectively communicates your point, especially if the subject matter is novel or complex. This strategy can also dramatically reduce the time it takes you to put together tutorials, white papers, or presentations of any sort.

The key is to cover all the bases when it comes to the different learning styles of the audience. Let me elaborate on that point a bit.

One way in which otherwise quality content fails to satisfy the needs of much of the prospective audience is by failing to address different learning styles. Moreover, failing to properly structure the different approaches to communicating information will leave many of your readers confused and your content in shambles from a flow perspective.

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Captivate Your Audience with a
Killer Opening

I was catching up on news yesterday and came across an article that began with this:

An Illinois woman mourns her two young daughters, swept to their deaths in Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters. It’s a tragic and terrifying story. It’s also a lie.

Any article that details accounts of fraud in the aftermath of Katrina would likely contain compelling information. But that opening had me riveted, and it got me reading a detailed and lengthy piece that I might have otherwise skipped out of laziness.

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Quality Links for April 1, 2007
(No Fooling)

Unlike the little April Fools Day joke I played with my last post, here are some links to resources you can count on:

The Greatest Link Attraction Strategy Ever

Here’s an advanced link baiting strategy that really works. It’s not for the new blogger or the faint of heart, and in fact I haven’t tried this one yet myself. But there’s no doubt in my mind that this is a very powerful technique.

The strategy centers around faking your own death. For added buzz, you should also consider spinning the story so that you died while blogging in order to gain maximum A-List penetration (reminding them of their own mortality might be the last way available to get them to link outside of their personal echo chambers).

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How Copywriting Skills Can Improve Your Love Life

Many people consider copywriting one of the most financially lucrative skills you can possess. But can it help you hook up?

While I’ve never been much of a poet, nor a scribe of lengthy love letters filled with purple prose, I can attest to the power of the written word in matters of the heart, since that’s how I convinced my wife-to-be that I wasn’t a loser.

I first saw her across a crowded bar at our law firm retreat in the Texas Hill Country. She was fresh out of law school and brand new to the firm, so I decided to make her feel welcome in my own dubious style. As she gazed apprehensively at a shot glass, wedge of lime in hand, I sauntered over and said, “You don’t know how to drink tequila.”

It went downhill fast from there.

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How to Be a Conversational Blogger Who People Listen To

Although I’m a big proponent of original content, I also recognize the opportunity to raise your profile that comes with joining in on the conversation that other bloggers have started. The key, of course, is to not just link out, but to link out and elaborate in a way that demonstrates you’re someone worth listening to.

In the new media space, Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 is a master at this. You can always depend on Scott to have insightful analysis of the latest news, and whether you agree with him or not, you’ll still come away with value.

While you may not be a rhetorical master, there’s an easy way for anyone to become a persuasive conversational blogger. The key is to offer more than just your opinion, since last time I checked everyone seems to have one of those. You’ll get better results if you give people something they can relate to at a personal level.

How?

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Zen and the Art of Remarkable Blogging

Zen and the Art of Remarkable Blogging

The 1974 bestseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance begins with the following disclaimer from author Robert Pirsig:

“[This book] should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.”

Likewise, this article isn’t going to teach you much of anything about Zen Buddhism, and absolutely zero about motorcycles. But I hope it does provide some insight into effective blogging, or, at a minimum, gets you to think differently about your current notions regarding content and the attention you seek with it.

The Four Noble Truths of Blogging

1. Get Over Your “Self”

Buddhists believe that suffering begins with our perception that we are separate and distinct from the rest of reality. In other words, our own egos make us miserable.

In blogging, the publisher / reader mindset can also cause you unnecessary pain. The key to successful blogging is an alignment of interests between writer and reader. It’s that sweet spot where what’s good for your readers matches what’s good for you.

Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.

2. Free Your Mind

Zen is all about seeing deeply into the nature of things by direct experience. Blogging that gets noticed and linked to is all about seeing existing information from a unique perspective and writing with a fresh angle.

Zen encourages meditation, and great blogging requires contemplative thought. If you’re truly going to get into lateral thinking mode, you’ve got to step away from the keyboard and think. Stop surfing, twittering, and reading RSS feeds and go for a walk.

Albert Einstein figured out that time is relative while on a stroll with a friend. Go do something else and a killer angle for your next blog post may just pop into your head.

3. Detach From Results

Another key to existential angst is an attachment to outcomes rather than simply focusing on excelling in our actions. This is true for any pursuit, including blogging and social media marketing.

When you focus on the outcome you expect from your content, you are almost invariably failing your readers. Moreover, while one great piece of content may change your blogging profile immensely, a failure to consistently perform at or near the same level will make you nothing more than a one-hit wonder.

Focus on consistently producing excellent reader-focused content and effectively promoting it. The results will come.

4. It’s Up to You

While still steeped in Buddhist philosophy, Zen is more concerned with attaining wisdom through doing, in that daily life and mundane tasks will teach you more than any sacred text could. In this way, blogging and Zen are closely aligned—simply showing up and keeping at it will teach you more than anyone else can.

Zen encourages practitioners to learn from teachers and other students to better understand how to attain truth through direct experience. The blogging community offers a similar environment, but the final breakthrough will always occur in your own mind and be the result of your own actions. You’ve got to accept responsibility for your own success.

I’m sure the story of the origin of Zen can make this point much clearer than I ever could:

Buddha gathered his disciples at a lake on Gridhakuta for instruction. His adherents sat in a circle about him eagerly awaiting his teachings. Wordlessly Buddha reached into the muck and pulled up a single lotus flower. He then held it high for all to see.

Practically everyone was bewildered. But then the disciple Mahakashyapa began to laugh.

Finally, Buddha handed the lotus flower to Mahakashyapa and said,

“What can be said I have said to you, and what cannot be said, I have given to Mahakashyapa.”

Get it?

Lazy Sunday Linkage

  • Check out Mike Sansone’s Nuts and Blog Bolts on Blog Talk Radio, featuring copywriters Michel Fortin, Ryan Healy,Tom Chandler and Roberta Rosenberg tomorrow last night at 8 EDT. Should be some good stuff with this crowd. Sorry, got the live date wrong, but you should be able to hear the recording now.
  • Read this post to further understand why the A-list doesn’t matter, and why they actually may be a complete waste of your time.
  • Next, read the ingenious, low-cost hustle that Seth Godin employed to promote his book Purple Cow. Are you really doing everything you can to get the attention you want?
  • Check out Minic Rivera’s new video project, Short Movement. Very cool stuff.
  • Andy Hagans reveals my secret past life. Or not.
  • I hope I didn’t discourage any readers with my grammatical errors that make you look dumb post (“dumb” just made for a better headline, which in turn helped it become the most popular post I’ve ever written). Check it out, I made a dumb mistake in my last post.
  • Jim Kukral asks me a question that I was going to try to answer, until I realized that the answer is what I write about here. I haven’t done a single thing to develop or promote this blog that I haven’t shared with you. There are no secrets; only poorly-organized information that needs to be compiled and edited into a book, which I need to get focused on. :)

Anyone else have any cool links? Drop ‘em in the comments.

Why the A-List Doesn’t Matter

An old familiar discussion has popped up again in the blogosphere. Every few months a debate breaks out about the blogging “A-List” and the inequities faced by those not included.

This time, Jason Calacanis (for the “A-List”) and Tony Hung (for the “blue collar” bloggers) go at it, with healthy interjection from Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void. Tony makes good points about the fact that many A-List bloggers were already famous when they began blogging, and that they tend to be clustered in California and New York City, but other than that, I’m not sure why anyone (especially someone as talented as Tony) should dwell on this subject.

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