Why You Shouldn’t Write for Other Writers

image of Hugh MacLeod cartoon: The world will always conspire to make you less than you are

There’s a scene in “Mad Men”, the TV drama about a 1960s advertising agency.

One of the junior copywriters is showing the Creative Director an ad he’s just written. The ad is clever, flowery, and poetic.

The Creative Director cuts the copywriter down in five short, stern words:

Read More…

The Myth of Beautiful Web Design

image of unicorn

This one will probably get me into trouble.

I’ve worked as a graphic designer for over two decades and I’m not supposed to say this stuff. After all, it’s my job to make miracles. To wave my magic design wand and make a business look stronger, smarter, and more powerful than it really is.

Before I start dodging rotten tomatoes, though, I’m going to go ahead and say it out loud.

It’s a smart business move to have a well-designed website.

But good design — even great design — won’t solve all your business problems. Not even close.

Read More…

Gravity Forms Review:
Powerful WordPress Forms Made Simple

Gravity Forms

What is Gravity Forms?

In the developer’s own words:

Gravity Forms for WordPress is a full featured contact form plugin that features a drag and drop interface, advanced notification routing, lead capture, conditional logic fields and the ability to create posts from external forms.

Got that? How about once more in English?

Gravity Forms

Basically, Gravity Forms is software that makes WordPress way better by allowing people to send you any sort of information, and even publish directly on your site in certain circumstances. The plugin adds a “Forms” section to the left sidebar of your WordPress admin area, from which you can quickly access the multitude of things Gravity Forms allows you to do.

Let’s look at four of those things:

Contact and Support Forms

The most basic use of Gravity Forms is your general contact form, which just about every WordPress site has or needs. Whatever the reason people need to get in touch, Gravity Forms makes it easy.

Gravity Forms

But it’s the versatility of what you can do in terms of contact and support forms that makes even this seemingly mundane use of forms exciting. You can create any variety of form, collect any array of data, allow for file uploads, set up notifications to route to different email addresses based on rules you define, and place the form on any page or post at the click of a new button that shows in your posting interface.

So think about it. Instead of a lead generation call to action that requires the click of a link to reach a form (2 steps), you place the form itself at the bottom of the post. Conversions go up when the number of steps go down.

Plus you can include hidden fields that transmit data like IP address, use conditional form fields that appear only if the preceding responses are a certain value, dynamic pre-population of form fields, and lots of other stuff that opens a world of possibilities beyond the boring old contact form.

Surveys and Polling

That versatility goes way beyond contact and support forms. Gravity Forms allows you to quickly build surveys and reader polls with open-ended text fields, drop down menus, checkboxes, numerical fields, and multiple-choice questions.

Gravity Forms

You can create lengthy reader survey forms in minutes that provide feedback on a regular basis. Even cooler is simply popping in a quick multiple-choice poll at the bottom of your post for instant data in a format that in many cases will be more useful than free form blog comments.

And don’t forget the conditional form fields. If someone chooses a certain option from a drop down or multiple-choice question, you can then ask follow-up questions based only on that response. Pretty cool functionality that you usually have to buy separate survey software to get.

Guest Post Submission

Guest posting is one of the best methods of building quality back links for bloggers and other content creators. The win for the publisher, of course, is additional quality content from other sources, but it can become a management pain to keep up with the submitted content, much less format it and post it.

Gravity Forms

With Gravity Forms, you can create a guest post submission page that allows regular and prospective guest writers to “post” outside of your WordPress admin area. You create a form that contains all the regular post fields (title, image, body, excerpt, category… you can allow all or just the areas you want), and the content submission becomes a draft post inside WordPress.

You get instant guest content organization while also reducing the normal workload that accepting guest posts involves. For many busy bloggers, this feature is worth the price of admission alone.

User-Generated Content

Okay, here’s where things get really interesting. Using the exact same functions that allow you to accept guest posts, you can allow user-generated content on your site that goes way beyond comments. Or you can build a review, Q&A, or wiki-style site using nothing more than WordPress.

Gravity Forms

This is an amazing site-building breakthrough in my opinion. For example, using Genesis and one of many turnkey designs plus Gravity Forms, you could build a local restaurant review website without writing a single line of code. The layout of the site and the user posting mechanism would all be built point-and-click, drag-and-drop from inside your WordPress interface.

It’s time to kick your imagination into high gear. And Gravity Forms allows you to do much more than what I’ve highlighted in this review. Check it out . . . you’ll get a lot of value out of Gravity Forms.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and CEO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

17 Easy Steps to Brilliant Blog Posts

image of child's blocks forming stair steps

You know what I’ve discovered? Most of the people writing about blogging are experts. Funny thing, that.

These expert bloggers have been doing it for a while and they have thousands (if not tens or hundreds of thousands) of subscribers. The best give lots of free stuff away that’s actually worth reading, and we know we’re standing on the shoulders of giants when we follow their advice.

And all that’s good. Don’t get me wrong.

Read More…

Johnny’s Copyblogger Wrap-Up:
Week of April 26, 2010

image of copyblogger logo

Sometimes I sit down to write the introductions to these weekly wrap-ups, and I’ll try to think of some funny way to describe why you or I might not have seen this week’s posts.

This week, however, I don’t really have to try to find a reason, because I’ve been frantically launching my Question the Rules course. Launch ends tonight, however, and this is very good because sleep deprivation is causing me to see gnomes everywhere, and my wife gets more and more concerned each time I go chasing after one.

So if you missed any of these, I understand. Stupid gnomes.

Read More…

The Two Vital Attributes of Quality Content

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

~ William Morris, poet and designer

Imagine the household you would have if you got rid of every item that was neither useful or beautiful.

Gone would be the plastic doodad with no known purpose, the ugly frame your great-aunt gave you, the Special Free Offer™ you never opened, the collection of someday-useful peanut butter jars . . .

Every room would be so much more pleasant to be in, and every tool so much easier to find.

What if you applied the same rule to the content you wrote? Every email, sales letter, blog post, and comment you wrote would have to be useful or beautiful. Or both.

Read More…

Question the Rules to Create a
More Remarkable Business (and Life)

image of woman with pink hair

Every once in awhile, someone asks me why I have pink hair.

(You ever notice that no one asks why anyone has blonde hair, or red hair? But pink, it seems, requires a good reason.)

There are a lot of ways I could answer that question, but the simplest is probably that I don’t really buy into the standard set of rules about what “success” or “professionalism” look like.

As it turns out, there are a lot of things I don’t buy into.

Read More…

Creative Content Recycling:
Are You Wasting Your Garbage?

image of trash can

You see it done all the time, and it’s just so wasteful.

People take a bunch of perfectly good trash, and they just toss it in the garbage can.


The thing is, any time you create something, you’re going to end up with a lot of odds and ends, scraps that end up on the metaphorical cutting room floor.

What if you could sell your product . . . but then find a way to repurpose and sell the by-products of your product too?

Read More…

The Copyblogger Guide to
Zombie-Free Product Launches

image of thumb emerging from soil

These days, a lot of online product launches are like zombie attacks.

One day, everything is fine. The next day, there’s a legion of crazy people banging on your virtual doors and windows, wanting to feed on you.

Who the hell are these zombies and how did they get my address? Time to break out the shotgun, or in this case, the Delete All button.

And it gets worse. That group of friends you hang out with from time to time? Yeah . . . they’re zombies too.

“Wait dude, I thought we were cool . . . why are you . . . Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

Read More…

Landing Page Makeover Clinic #25:

Landing Page Makeover

This is another addition to our ongoing series of tutorials and case studies on landing pages that work.

Jill Mitchell wants to increase awareness and sales of her one-of-a-kind French vintage objects that she sells on Etsy and Ebay. She also wants more visiblity and sales for her buying tours of Provence.

Read More…