Is it OK to Steal Someone’s Design?

UPDATE: This issue has been resolved thanks to the quick action of the owner of the sites in question and apologies have been made. I have no interest in creating an enduring public record of this. So I have deleted the details in order to bring this to an end.

The Force That Drives Social Media Traffic

The power, the force, the overwhelming urge that causes people to spread the word about your content comes from the consumers of the content themselves, and not from your copy.

Copy cannot create desire, it can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of a mass of others, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular piece of compelling content you hope to see go viral.

This is the blogger’s task: not to create desire—but to channel and direct it.

The above is an adaptation of the opening paragraph of Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz, which many consider to be the Copywriting Bible. The original text naturally refers to channeling mass desire to a product, and how an advertiser can never create desire; he can only take advantage of desire that’s already there.

When it comes to social media marketing, the same concept holds true for attracting attention and traffic as well. It’s all about the psychology of existing needs and desires, and finding a way to speak to them.

Introducing the New SEO Book Sales Letter

As promised earlier in the week, Aaron Wall of SEO Book is unveiling today the sales letter that I rewrote for him. But first, I wanted to briefly discuss some of the changes and why they were made.

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How to Write Exquisite Subheads

Something terrible is happening to your reader…

You’ve hooked them with your headline, and captivated them with your opening.

But this is a longer piece of writing. You’ve got a lot to say.

Somewhere along the way, an awful transformation has taken place.

You reader has become…

A scanner.

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The Top 10 Blogs for Writers

Michael Stelzner of Writing White Papers recently opened up nominations for the best blogs for writers. I watched to see if anyone would nominate me, and at first wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I (for once) exercised some self-promotional restraint and DID NOT nominate myself. :)

So, I was a little shocked when the results were announced this morning:

  1. Brian Clark’s CopyBlogger: This blog is the leader because it does an amazing job of helping writers improve their writing.
  2. Deborah Ng’s Freelance Writing Jobs: For freelance writers seeking new work, this site is your sole destination.
  3. Tom Chandler’s Copywriter Underground: This site provides regular doses of inspiration and writing tips.
  4. Liz Strauss’s Successful-Blog: This blog has some amazing insights into the craft of writing.
  5. Angela Booth’s Writing Blog: All writers will find something useful at this site.
  6. Kristen King’s InkThinker: This blog is focused on improving the written word.
  7. Anne Wayman’s The Golden Pencil: Wayman provides gold nuggets of information to freelance writers.
  8. Carson Brackney’s Content Done Better: Follow one man’s journey to write better copy and make a living along the way.
  9. Dianna Huff’s B2B Marcom Writer Blog: This is your destination to learn about marketing communications copywriting.
  10. Allison Winn Scotch’s Ask Allison: For writers looking to break into the publishing world, be sure to check this one out.

I’m in some great company on this list, so make sure and check out any of these other great blogs that you’re not already reading.

Thanks very much to Michael for the honor. Now I need to go write something worthy of it! :)

News Flash – People Are Gaming Digg!

It has to be true. I read it on CNET.

It still amazes me that this type of stuff is a surprise to anyone.

Why do people assume that “social” media is some sort of utopia, when “society” clearly isn’t?

Would you write a 1,500-word magazine piece on the following topic?

Man Attempts to Sell Me Stolen Speakers From Back of Van!


But the worse part about this article is its naïve condescension towards marketers.

It’s not the content that matters apparently, it’s the intent.

If you intend to get Dugg, you’re a “dubious Internet marketer.”

Doesn’t matter how much work you put into the content, or how compelling it is.

I wish someone would have told me this earlier.

P.S. Anyone with a background in media knows that this CNET article is the journalistic equivalent of Digg bait. And it worked.

Copywriting Case Study: Aaron Wall’s

As I promised a while back, we’re going to take a look at how presentation and organization of sales copy can make a big difference not only in how your sale page is perceived, but also in how it converts.

Aaron Wall is a leading authority in the search engine optimization field. His 328-page, continually updated SEO e-book is indispensable reading for anyone who markets online, and I’m a proud owner.

Likewise, Aaron’s blog is a treasure-trove of information, and I believe that the vast majority of his success in selling his book stems from his blog. The content is great, and the design by Chris Pearson provides a stunning presentation to the blog itself.

Like any smart online information product publisher, Aaron also has an affiliate program. Affiliate traffic is a bit different than repeat blog readers, in that affiliates want to send visitors directly to the sales page in the hopes that the traffic will convert to a sale right away.

This is where I think there might be a problem. From a presentation standpoint, the sales letter just doesn’t seem to fit. Plus, while the story Aaron is telling is on target, the organization of the copy elements might benefit from some tweaking.

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Are You a Link Troll or a Spam Baiter?

Rand over at SEOmoz started a great discussion today about the two types of link bait.

The first type of link bait is what SEO types and I always talk about—reader focused, compelling content that provides a benefit.

The second type of link bait is what many long-term bloggers mistakenly think we are talking about, which is controversial statements and attacks on others.

As I pointed out awhile back, historically the term bait and its fishing buddy hook have always meant something the reader finds irresistible and satisfying when used in the context of content.

So that’s why I don’t have a big problem with the term link bait.

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The Smart Way to Create a Sense of Urgency

One of the fundamental characteristics of a human being is a tendency towards procrastination.

And when it comes to reaching for our wallets and buying something, that tendency to “think about it” is incredibly strong, even when we actually want to make the purchase.

That’s why creating an authentic sense of urgency is a crucial component of compelling copy.

In less skilled (and less scrupulous) hands, that sense of urgency is manufactured. It’s a fake or illogical high pressure sales tactic that turns most people off and blows the sale.

Don’t you love those online sales letters where the “offer expires” date just happens to be—shock—today! Come back tomorrow and the javascript has magically updated the offer automatically.


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The Five Essential Elements of an
Influential Blog

What makes a blog influential?

Influence is often attributed to traffic and readership levels. But in reality, those are actually benefits that are symptomatic of something that precedes them.

How do we get people to pay attention to what we say in the first place?

Ultimately, a blog catches on just like any other idea spreads—it must somehow speak to people in a way that they want to hear. Your posts must fill a human need, and that will most often be at an emotional level, no matter how practical we think our subject matter is.

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