New Book Excerpt: Keep It Simple, But Not Simplistic

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The following is an excerpt from Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, coming this fall from Ann Handley and Wiley Publishing. More about Ann’s new book and some sweet free prizes below.

Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple. ~ Woody Guthrie

Business, like life, can be complicated.

Products can be intricate and concepts may seem impenetrable. But good content deconstructs the complex to make it easily understood. It sheds the corporate Frankenspeak. It conveys ideas in concise, economic, human, and accessible terms.

A bit of wisdom from my journalism days: No one will ever complain that you’ve made things too simple to understand.

Of course, simple does not equal dumbed down.

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The 3:00 a.m. Secret Question That Drives Meaningful Success

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“I want you to ask your secret question.”

That’s what Seth Godin asked the audience at the end of his generous Authority Intensive session with us in Denver this past May.

The room was packed with fanboys and fangirls (I’m one) who were reeling a little from 45 minutes of intense marketing, business, and life advice.

Your secret question is the one that you can ask without anyone laughing at you, and that I know the answer to but that I’ve never told you before, even though I’ve had 5,600 chances to tell you … and that if I then told you the secret answer, you’d be fine.

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5 Innovative Email Marketing Tips That Drive Readers to Action

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Email marketing advice is all around us — a dime a dozen.

You’ve heard all the contradictory tips.

Send marketing emails often … Don’t send marketing emails too often.

Focus on the content, not the design … Design can make or break your campaigns.

You may just want to ignore it altogether, but there’s good reason not to give up on email.

Email marketing works. It was one of the first forms of digital marketing, and it’s still one of the most effective ways to produce tangible results that improve your business.

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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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7 Ways to Simplify Complex Content While Maintaining Sophistication and Nuance

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


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

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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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