The Pain-Free Guide to Generating Valuable Leads From Online Forums

large concrete sculpture of two hands shaking

Serious about making your living via the Web?

Then you’ve likely shelled out good money for an online course or subscription that includes access to a forum.

And if you’re anything like me, you eagerly devour the webinars, worksheets, and ebooks … but avoid the forum, as you would the pee-smelling seat on the train.

I’ve seen forums more tedious than an office cocktail party — chock-full of people who want to talk about themselves and cozy up to important people.

Not to mention it’s a total time suck to wade through all the threads before you find anything interesting.

But it turns out, my attitude was a bit cynical.

I recently found a different type of forum — one that changed my mind.

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How to Fix the Content Marketing Problem

If you’ve been following Copyblogger for any length of time, you know we teach people online marketing. Specifically, something that is now known as content marketing.

I’ve been a practitioner of “content marketing” since 1998. And we’ve been preaching it since 2006, years before that sexy terminology became the norm.

Here’s the main thing you need to understand about online content that builds a business: It’s different from traditional marketing, but it accomplishes what marketing is supposed to do.

It’s those differences that cause so many people to struggle. At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that the terminology is part of the problem.

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Announcing: A New Resource for Those Who Need Great Content

image of colorful writer's desk

It’s a common wisecrack around the Copyblogger virtual office.

This whole content marketing thing would be a lot simpler if someone else would just write all the content.

Whether you’re a writer or not, it’s just a fact that a solid content marketing strategy needs lots and lots of words. Well-crafted, interesting words, assembled into a strategic plan that moves prospects along the path from stranger to happy customer.

It isn’t always easy to find the person to write those words. Which is probably why we get so many queries from people asking,

Do you know any really good writers we can hire?

And the answer to that question is: Yes, yes we do.

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7 Ways to Simplify Complex Content While Maintaining Sophistication and Nuance

Aerospace scientists with equipment

So, you’re full of information and have a dramatic story for your audience?

Good.

But here’s the harsh truth: every bit of knowledge in the whole world is completely meaningless if you don’t do this one thing.

Before I spill the secret, let me tell you what it’s not …

It’s not about having the right intentions. Your intentions don’t even matter.

Your burning desire to enlighten those around you thirsting for knowledge is useless unless you can clearly explain the information you’d like to share.

The problem is not your amount of knowledge; it’s how you distribute it.

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Get the WordPress Theme That Gives You an Unfair Business Advantage

preview image of Generate Pro theme

So … how did you sell out all 400+ tickets three months before the event even started? What was your content marketing strategy?

This is the question a friendly reporter asked me during the opening night party for Authority Intensive 2014.

“That’s a great question,” I said, stalling. Truth was, I didn’t know exactly how to respond. What, exactly, had we done to sell so many tickets so quickly?

“Let me ask our VP of Marketing,” I said. “He’ll know.”

And he did.

“We invited our audience to attend, largely by sending out a few emails,” he said.

Wow. That was a lightbulb moment for me. I’d heard Sonia when she said that your audience is your most valuable asset. But now I got it.

And how do you generate such an audience? Well it’s simple … but not easy:

  1. You create and share useful content over time
  2. You convert readers into subscribers
  3. You make the right design choices that tie it all together

And if it’s email subscribers that you’re after — the kind of engaged subscribers who will help you sell out your first ever live event months before it begins — then Generate Pro is your way to go.

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How to Market Your Freelance Business Without Feeling Like an Impostor

mr. potato head with mustache giving two thumbs up

You’ve felt it, haven’t you?

That sick feeling clawing at your stomach every time you think about marketing your freelance business.

You’re worried you won’t be able to convince prospective clients you’re the right person for the job — that you’re the answer to their problems.

You may still feel like an impostor even if you’ve established a very solid level of authority and credibility with your blog.

What if you can’t deliver?

What if clients don’t love your work?

What if your past success has all been a fluke?

Just the thought of it makes your blood run cold, and you don’t know how to make yourself feel better.

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Beyond Niches: Tap Into This Psychological Driver to Create the Ultimate Message

close-up portrait of a smiling woman, her clenched hand covers half of her mouth

The number of blog posts published every day is absurd.

Let’s just say it exceeds the population of the four largest countries in the world and be done with it.

Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t. The point is — and we all know it — the volume of written content online is overwhelming.

And let’s not forget about other media: videos, podcasts, Google+ Hangouts, photographs, et cetera.

Shock is one way to describe our reaction to the tonnage dumped each day.

Despair is another — especially for content producers who want to find an audience.

The conventional advice is to find a viable niche, the territory competitors have overlooked. Once you occupy that ground, you will stand out — you will rise above the noise.

That plan leaves us jockeying for the content gap, looking for a way in. Miss your opportunity, however, and you are just another contributor to the landfill that is the World Wide Web.

But you can do better than that.

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Case Study: How One Veteran’s Podcast Built a Million-Dollar Business

traditional radio microphone

After spending many years in traditional career fields — including real estate, finance, and eight years as an Army Officer — John Lee Dumas still felt unfulfilled.

He couldn’t shake the feeling that his real calling was still out there — that there must be a way for him to feel excited to go to work every day.

He took a leap of faith and launched an interview-based business podcast called EntrepreneurOnFire. Within its first few months, the podcast became a top-ranked iTunes business podcast and earned a coveted spot on the “Best of iTunes” list.

The podcast is now the cornerstone (and biggest lead generator) of a thriving business that regularly brings in six figures each month.

Is John excited to go to work? You bet he is.

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5 Subtle Writing Strategies That Drive Email Signups

bird eating seeds out of a person's hand

Email subscribers are your protection from Google.

Even Brian Clark agrees with me on that one.

Your email list is a group of readers who have chosen to get information from you. They want to hear from you, and you want a large email list that is full of potential clients or customers.

But how do you gain more email subscribers?

You already have so many ongoing content marketing tasks. When it comes to growing your email list, which methods work and which ones are a waste of time?

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No Blog Traffic? Here’s a Simple Strategy to Seduce Readers and Win Clients

image of a coffee cup with an intricate design in the foam and a cookie next to it on the saucer

You sit down at your desk.

You start your computer.

You check Google Analytics and your email provider dashboard. A deep sigh escapes from your soul.

Why is your number of email subscribers still so low?

Why aren’t readers flocking to your blog?

And when will those business inquiries finally arrive?

We all know that blogging is hard work, but what should you do when your efforts don’t seem to pay off?

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