Copyblogger http://www.copyblogger.com Content marketing tools and training. Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:04:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Against Attention: The Pre-Thanksgiving Manifesto http://www.copyblogger.com/attention-manifesto/ http://www.copyblogger.com/attention-manifesto/#respond Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=44289 Attention is not a fixed resource. Thank goodness. This means the little guy and gal can rise above the crowded skyline. Just because Seth Godin has 400 million eyeballs, it doesn’t mean you can’t capture some of those eyeballs, too … Doesn’t mean you can’t attract some of that interest and loyalty. We all start at the

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man walking dog in dark illuminated by light

Attention is not a fixed resource. Thank goodness. This means the little guy and gal can rise above the crowded skyline.

Just because Seth Godin has 400 million eyeballs, it doesn’t mean you can’t capture some of those eyeballs, too …

Doesn’t mean you can’t attract some of that interest and loyalty. We all start at the bottom. In obscurity. In the mud. In the dark.

But because of the nature of attention, you too can become a skyscraper. You too could rise out of the dark.

Might not be one of the Manhattan variety. But it’s attention, no less.

Be grateful.

The thing is to not focus on the attention. Focus on the work. The talent you’ve been given.

The best response to this talent is to develop it so that you become the best person with that talent. Don’t worry about the attention it breeds. Just develop the talent.

But that attention is NOT a fixed resource also means it is cheap.

A simple sleight-of-hand today can get you a million eyeballs tomorrow. Next day, darkness again.

Even earned attention is fickle. Those whom you thought loyal get bored, annoyed, or obsessed with something else. Don’t worry. Just focus on the talent, the work …

Because your work is a fixed asset. Like land. And we all know that land naturally rises in value.

Your work will not naturally rise in value, though. It will only increase in value if you invest in your talent.

Remain faithful to that command and in time you will start to earn stock in attention. Rise out of the dark. Like a skyscraper.

Keep in mind that you have no control over how much attention stock you can own. The only thing you have control over is developing your talent.

In the end, be grateful for anything you get. It could be gone tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving.

And let us know what you are thankful for on Google+.

Image by Matthew Wiebe via Unsplash.

About the author

Demian Farnworth


Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media's Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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Jay Baer on “Generosity Marketing” and the Power of Business Podcasting http://www.copyblogger.com/jay-baer-interview-2/ http://www.copyblogger.com/jay-baer-interview-2/#respond Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45780 You’d expect a guy who’s started five multi-million dollar businesses from scratch to know a thing about marketing that works. And then, of course, he’d write the book on it. In this case, the guy is Jay Baer, and the book is Youtility, a guide so useful for effective marketing it’s becoming a franchise unto

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You’d expect a guy who’s started five multi-million dollar businesses from scratch to know a thing about marketing that works. And then, of course, he’d write the book on it.

In this case, the guy is Jay Baer, and the book is Youtility, a guide so useful for effective marketing it’s becoming a franchise unto itself. In his spare time, Jay is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, podcaster, angel investor, new media personality, and restless entrepreneur who can’t help but add just one more project to his portfolio.

I asked Jay to be the first in a series of Rainmaker.FM interviews that illuminate the path of content marketing into the future. You’ll notice some common themes that turn up time and again among those who have already successfully built audiences, and Mr. Baer sets the stage perfectly.

In this 33-minute episode Jay Baer and I discuss:

  • Jay’s path to a bestselling business book
  • Why podcasting could be the future of content
  • The wonders of “Geographically Agnostic” businesses
  • The strategic basis of my entire career
  • How startups can profit from the concept of Youtility
  • Why Jay doesn’t write as much as he used to
  • How to turn one piece of content into seven
  • The long bet that Jay is making on podcasting

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker.FM Episode No. 18

Or, grab it in iTunes.

Image by Todd Quackenbush.

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, and uncompromising evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on .

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Why Too Much Emotional Appeal in Your Copy Can Harm Your Credibility http://www.copyblogger.com/emotional-appeal-dangers/ http://www.copyblogger.com/emotional-appeal-dangers/#respond Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=44292 Let’s be clear: You need emotional appeal in your writing. Compelling stories keep readers on your website, and since you must discover their worldviews and understand their experiences so that you can serve them better, you’ll naturally learn about their emotional states. But when you communicate with your audience, you need to strike the right

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stones balancing on top of each other

Let’s be clear: You need emotional appeal in your writing.

Compelling stories keep readers on your website, and since you must discover their worldviews and understand their experiences so that you can serve them better, you’ll naturally learn about their emotional states.

But when you communicate with your audience, you need to strike the right emotional balance.

In fact, getting heavy-handed with emotional appeal in your writing can backfire and potentially harm your credibility.

The dangers of overstating the problem

If you really know your readers, you know their pain points. You’re aware of their daily struggles and aspirations.

Subsequently, you produce content on your digital media platform that speaks directly to those problems and follow up your analysis by offering your best strategies to address each issue.

But if you only focus on the small percentage of people who are in dire straits — those who literally lose sleep about the problems you’d like to help them work through — you may be ignoring a lot of readers.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you help people declutter their homes. Some of your readers may be at the end of their ropes. Perhaps they have a serious hoarding problem or large collections that take over their living spaces — and their lives.

If they had to put their level of willingness to address their problem on a scale of one to 10, your most desperate readers may find themselves at a nine or 10 — and the magnitude of their problem could be just as severe.

But unless you only want to help out the extreme cases, writing directly to that archetype may leave readers with a more moderate need for decluttering feeling like they don’t need your service.

Perhaps the boxes in their basements or unfiled papers in their offices are a nuisance, but they haven’t taken over their lives.

If you stick with extreme examples, any readers unable to relate to those circumstances may feel like your message doesn’t apply to them.

Emotional fatigue

I recently started reading a post about public speaking, which is a skill I’m interested in further developing. I didn’t make it through the post, though.

The opening paragraphs explained the level of panic some people feel when speaking publicly.

The writer assumed that my hands would be sweating and I’d get knots in my stomach simply by entertaining the possibility of getting up on a stage.

I got exhausted just reading the introduction.

If I had that level of panic about public speaking, I imagine that there’s a very good chance it would be insurmountable.

And although talking to a crowd isn’t something I’m entirely comfortable with, it’s not something that instills my fight-or-flight response — so the post was draining to read.

Even if your readers sometimes work themselves up in a frenzy over concerns related to your area of expertise, it’s likely that they’re not in that frame of mind while reading your post.

Overplaying their emotional responses can therefore create a disconnect, causing readers to disengage with your writing.

Feeling manipulated?

The biggest danger of overplaying emotional appeal is that a thoughtful sales offer for a credible service or product can start to sound like a slimy sales pitch.

A reasonable sales pitch begins with a problem people have, and then explains a solution and its benefits. It doesn’t rely on manufactured fear or an artificial need, nor does it promise an instant fix.

It will speak to the audience’s emotions, yes — because that’s how we make decisions. But it also offers a real solution to a real problem, and follows through with that promise.

A slimy sales pitch relies on exploited emotions and exaggerated claims. It may overstate or twist the facts to boost a weak case. It overplays the extent and severity of a problem and the effects of doing nothing.

An unethical salesperson highlights an unlikely extreme and presents it as an inevitable fate for anyone who doesn’t buy.

Let’s look at the wrong way to sell a water filter as an example.

An overhyped sales pitch for a water filter begins with an exaggerated emotional claim, such as “Are you embarrassed by the taste and look of your drinking water? Worried that your friends will find out the truth and declare you an unfit parent and a danger to the community?”

An artificial fear then follows the exaggerated emotional claim, such as “Studies show that people without water filtration have a 543 percent greater risk of cancer!” (Never mind that these “studies” carry as much scientific validity as a Harry Potter novel.) “Are you willing to risk the lives of your family? I only have five filters left! Your children’s health may depend on you making the right choice.”

The ethical way to sell the same water filter would be to explain its features and discuss health, environmental, and financial benefits, followed by a call to action to try the water filter in order to experience better-tasting, contaminant-free water.

How to avoid emotional manipulation

The first step is awareness. You must acknowledge that even readers with strong pain points aren’t necessarily losing sleep over the problem you can help them fix.

And if the issue does lead to sleepless nights, they may not be experiencing that level of anxiety at the moment they read your post.

Here are three ways to offer the right amount of emotional appeal in your writing.

1. Vary your examples instead of only highlighting extreme cases
When you avoid overstating problems or the mindsets associated with them, you can still discuss worst-case scenarios if they provide value for your audience.

However, make sure to temper dramatic extremes with moderate cases.

For example, you can include a case study featuring a client who only needed a little bit of help alongside a case study of a person whose life was completely changed because his situation was so dire.

If you offer multiple levels of services, writing about different scenarios that appeal to different types of readers is a no-brainer.

2. Improve your offer
Make sure you’re completely confident about your offer. Adjust it or even start over until you’re sure you’ve created a special presentation.

If you have your finger on the pulse and consistently adapt to address your audience’s changing needs, you won’t need to rely on emotional manipulation or hype.

3. Get to know your audience and figure out their problems
The more you tap into your readers’ experiences, the more you can produce smart solutions to their problems in your content, products, and services.

If you truly address their issues, you won’t need to manufacture extremes to remind your readers how much easier their lives would be if their problems were alleviated with your solutions. They’ll already know.

Your turn

When you create content, what steps do you take to thoroughly understand your readers’ experiences?

And how do you make a deep connection with your audience without exploiting their emotions?

Let’s continue the discussion over on LinkedIn

Flickr Creative Commons Image via julochka.

About the Author: Yael Grauer is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in making complex topics accessible. Find her at YaelWrites.com. Get more from Yael on Google-Plus.

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The ABCs of Landing Pages That Work [Infographic] http://www.copyblogger.com/landing-pages-that-work/ http://www.copyblogger.com/landing-pages-that-work/#respond Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45379 Landing pages are bread and butter. Landing pages never stutter. Landing pages are rhyme and reason. Landing pages stay in season. See what I did there? Rhymes help make learning fun and easy. And when you want to make a living as a blogger, learning how to create landing pages that convert is a smart

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The ABCs of Landing Pages that Work graphic

Landing pages are bread and butter. Landing pages never stutter.

Landing pages are rhyme and reason. Landing pages stay in season.

See what I did there? Rhymes help make learning fun and easy.

And when you want to make a living as a blogger, learning how to create landing pages that convert is a smart way to help you build your career online.

So, what’s even more fun than a list of rhymes that help you learn the fundamentals of effective landing pages?

An infographic that visually depicts each rhyme!

Landing page rhyme time

The ultra-creative Lauren Mancke designed this handy guide to help you remember landing page elements that make sales.

Since you want your readers to act because your products and services assist them with something they lack, this infographic will keep you on track.

Let’s jump right in to the ABCs of landing pages that work!



abcs-of-landing-pages-that-work-infographic

Want to publish this infographic on your own site?

Copy and paste this code into your blog post or web page:

You can also click here to download a PDF of the infographic (133.6 MB), which is suitable for printing and hanging near your workspace when you need to see it most.

Over to you …

Can you think of a rhyme to help you remember your favorite landing page tip?

Which rhyme in the infographic will be your first priority the next time you create a landing page?

Head over to Google+ and let us know!

About the Author: Steven A. Lowe is a consultant, software developer, inventor, entrepreneur, author, musician, and lover of puns. He ran an innovative custom software development company for nearly a decade before joining ThoughtWorks as a Principal Consultant in 2014. Check out Steven's ebook series on landing pages, and follow him on Twitter.

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How to Use Content Curation to Create a Recurring Revenue Business http://www.copyblogger.com/content-curation-business/ http://www.copyblogger.com/content-curation-business/#respond Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45701 It’s no secret that I’m a tireless advocate for the creation of original content to fuel business growth. My next online project, however, is based on … curation. You read that right. I’m starting a new site, and the centerpiece of my content strategy will be locating and making sense of the smartest articles, audio,

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a close-up image of a man looking through binoculars

It’s no secret that I’m a tireless advocate for the creation of original content to fuel business growth. My next online project, however, is based on … curation.

You read that right. I’m starting a new site, and the centerpiece of my content strategy will be locating and making sense of the smartest articles, audio, and video I can find in that topical market that are created by others.

Sound strange?

Listen in and check out the three-part process I’m following, so you can start building your own profitable content curation strategy:

In this 49-minute episode Robert and I discuss:

  • Why my new project is based on simple content curation
  • The critical centerpiece of your content curation strategy
  • Three ways to get traffic to your curation-based website
  • The counterintuitive power of guest posting
  • What you can learn from the initial failure of the TED Conference
  • The impresario approach to building an online business
  • A simple way to generate word-of-mouth growth
  • How I plan to monetize my curation-focused platform

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker FM Episode No. 17

Or, grab it in iTunes.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Edith Soto.

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, and uncompromising evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on .

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Can You Help Us Out? Take Our 2015 Online Business Survey http://www.copyblogger.com/2015-online-business-survey/ http://www.copyblogger.com/2015-online-business-survey/#respond Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=44644 Here at Copyblogger Media, it’s safe to say that we’ve been in your shoes. As freelancers, consultants, content publishers, and small business owners … It’s in our DNA. Our founder, Brian Clark, was a recovering attorney in the mid 90s when he discovered the Internet and just knew he could make a living from it.

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The Cost of Doing Business Online Survey

Here at Copyblogger Media, it’s safe to say that we’ve been in your shoes. As freelancers, consultants, content publishers, and small business owners …

It’s in our DNA.

Our founder, Brian Clark, was a recovering attorney in the mid 90s when he discovered the Internet and just knew he could make a living from it.

In less than a decade, he went on to build several businesses before he grew Copyblogger Media into a $10 million a year company — started, mind you, from nothing more than a blog that published two articles a week.

And just about every other employee here has either ran a business or freelanced online. People like Sonia Simone, Brian Gardner, Chris Garrett, Jerod Morris, Robert Bruce, Lauren Mancke, Rafal Tomal, Stefanie Flaxman … and the list goes on and on.

Fact is, probably none of us would have made it without the Internet. It’s the perfect medium for growing an audience (especially for the introverts among us).

But while the Internet has lowered the cost of doing business by providing a bevy of free tools, we also understand there is still a cost.

And that’s what we want to discover. We want to know how much you are spending to run a business online.

Why you should take this survey

We decided it’s high time we surveyed our readers on the specific issue of the “cost of an online business.”

Why? A number of reasons:

  • To help us create content that solves your online business problems
  • To help us develop new products that better serve your emerging needs
  • To help us upgrade our current products based upon those needs

In short, we need this information to serve you better.

But you need it, too.

How else will you be able to accurately evaluate your current strategies and tactics — and their associated costs — if you don’t know what other folks are doing and what’s working for them?

You need to know your options.

And that is the other goal of this survey: to give you information that will make you a more informed and savvy online business owner.

Not to mention you get a gift

And if that’s not enough, just to show our appreciation for you taking the time to fill out this survey and help us, yourself, and your fellow online business owners, we’ll send you a free PDF report once the results are in.

This is a 57-question survey covering the full spectrum of running an online business.

We will close the survey on November 30, 2014, and on January 5, 2015, we will publish the results as an infographic.

In addition, we will deliver a free PDF report to anyone who provides an email address.

Thank you for taking the time to fill out our survey! We appreciate your time.

The 2015 Cost of Doing Business Online Survey

  • Enter your email address in the space above to receive your free PDF report once the survey is complete and results are tallied.
About the author

Demian Farnworth


Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media's Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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How We Built Our Careers Online (And What You Can Learn From It) http://www.copyblogger.com/lede-online-careers/ http://www.copyblogger.com/lede-online-careers/#respond Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43850 The two biggest concerns for the average blogger are obscurity and sustainability. In other words … for the vast majority of us who set sail creating content online, we want to first develop an audience; and then, once we have an audience, we want to find a way to earn a living from our content.

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The Lede Podcast logo

The two biggest concerns for the average blogger are obscurity and sustainability.

In other words … for the vast majority of us who set sail creating content online, we want to first develop an audience; and then, once we have an audience, we want to find a way to earn a living from our content.

The first concern can feel daunting enough, because building an audience isn’t easy.

The second concern can feel damn near impossible — because despite countless examples of people who have done it, sometimes we struggle to see ourselves succeeding in the same way.

Which is silly.

So long as you’re willing to take pride in working hard and have a humble heart and mind when it comes to learning from the people who have already done it, you can achieve sustained success online.

In this episode of The Lede, Demian Farnworth and I share some of our personal stories of success and failure online, in the hopes of inspiring you and educating you (but mostly inspiring you).

Because if we’re here hosting a successful podcast like The Lede for a company as strong as Copyblogger Media, then there really isn’t any reason why you can’t find your path to online success too.

In this episode, Demian Farnworth and I discuss:

  • Our personal stories of success and failure online
  • How to overcome obscurity
  • The scariest part of starting an online business (and how to conquer it)
  • The importance of building an audience that builds your business
  • If we could go back in time 10 or 15 years, knowing what we know now, what would we do differently?
  • What you need to know to start your online business
  • Why many online business models aren’t sustainable
  • Demian’s one critical piece of advice for anyone just starting an online business

Listen to The Lede …

To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

React to The Lede …

As always, we appreciate your reaction to episodes of The Lede and feedback about how we’re doing.

Send us a tweet with your thoughts anytime: @JerodMorris and @DemianFarnworth.

And please tell us the most important point you took away from this latest episode. Do so by joining the discussion over at Google+.

The Show Notes

The Transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

The Lede Podcast: How We Built Our Careers Online (And What You Can Learn From It)

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. I’m your host, Jerod Morris.

On Monday, November 17, we published a post on Copyblogger titled “What You Need to Know to Make a Living as a Blogger Right Now.” It was written by Demian Farnworth.

In the post, Demian highlights the two biggest concerns for the average blogger: obscurity and sustainability.

In other words, for the vast majority of us who set sail creating content online, we want to first develop an audience, and then once we have an audience, we want to find a way to earn a living from our content.

The first concern can feel daunting enough, because building an audience isn’t easy.

The second concern can feel damn near impossible because despite countless examples of people who have done it — who have built successful, thriving businesses around their online content — sometimes we struggle to see ourselves succeeding in the same way.

Which is silly.

So long as you’re willing to take pride in working hard, and have a humble heart and mind when it comes to learning from the people who have already done it, you can build an audience that drives a sustainable online business.

There is, of course, a sustainability road map.

It’s what Brian Clark and Robert Bruce chart for you in the free New Rainmaker training course that you will find at newrainmaker.com/register.

Go ahead and get started with the two-week course if you aren’t one of the 25,000-plus people who have taken it already.

Our personal stories of success and failure online

In this episode of The Lede, Demian Farnworth and I are going to share some of our personal stories of success and failure online in the hopes of inspiring you and educating you.

But mostly inspiring you, because if we’re here hosting a successful podcast like The Lede for a company as strong as Copyblogger Media, then there really isn’t any reason why you can’t find your path to online success too.

Demian, you love your job, at least based on all of my interactions with you. You seem to love your job. You get to dive deep into work that you really love without having to sacrifice time with your lovely wife and your two incredible kids.

I would say that you have found a way to overcome the obscurity and sustainability concerns you wrote about in your most recent post. How did you get here, and what role did your personal blog, Copybot, play in it?

Demian Farnworth: That’s a great question. Copybot was my business card, and that’s kind of lame, but really: it’s the place, it’s the hub, it’s the place to point people.

It’s also my book, and it’s everything that I need to create visibility, both in the search engines and just the social sphere.

When I quit the corporate world and said I was going to work for myself, I knew that I needed a website, and so I started writing that website, and that allowed me to work through a lot of content that I had created in my mind.

When I was looking for guest writing and freelancing opportunities, I needed somewhere to point people back to — a body of work.

That’s exactly what Copybot allowed me to do, and that’s the purpose that it serves. That’s the body of work that I’ve created.

It’s my portfolio. It’s my resume.

How to overcome obscurity

Jerod: So putting the content out there, creating these posts on Copybot, that kind of got you started with the whole overcoming-the-obscurity part that you talked about in your post.

And then you talked about going out and guest posting using Copybot as that reference. How did you then go from overcoming the obscurity concern, getting the audience, and then to a point of sustainability?

You’re not on your own anymore, but you have a career now that you built on your own. How did you get there?

Demian: I tell everybody I talk to that we all start at the bottom, and I certainly started at the bottom.

I had some connections, but I wasn’t on anybody’s radar as “This is someone you should hire; this is someone who’s doing things.”

There’s not a day that goes by now when I don’t get an email or some sort of response in the social sphere where someone asks to interview me or wants advice, or wants me to guest write.

Clearly, I started out with none of that, and I started out with nobody knowing, virtually, who I was. And so there’s no secret.

This is kind of lame, but it was just simply putting one foot in front of the other and consistently creating that body of work, and reaching out, and creating that work that people admire.

Creating work, like you said, guest posting.

That’s first and foremost one of the best ways in order to expand your visibility, to increase your visibility, and the other thing, too, is to write things about other people that challenges what they say.

There might be some influencer in your industry who you don’t agree with, and so if you do that respectfully in a meaningful, articulate, and powerful way, then people are going to pay attention to that and you’ll get on their radar.

It’s not a flash-in-the-pan type of thing either. You have to do it consistently.

It’s better to be on a slow burn than it is to be firing out with all cylinders and all cannons blazing and stuff like that.

Because a fast rise usually precipitates a fast fall, too — you want a slow, steady burn.

Jerod: Your story is compelling to me especially — and also our audience — because I think your story in particular is closer to what most of our audience experiences than perhaps mine.

I didn’t have the corporate job first, haven’t had a family, so I’ve been able to make a lot of decisions just based on what was best for me in the moment.

You did all of this with a family, having that job, being a little bit more settled.

What I’m curious about, and I think the point that a lot of our listeners, a lot of our audience members get to, and people that I’ve talked to get to when they get to the sustainability concern is that moment of fear, the moment of trepidation, being able to take that leap of faith.

What was your scariest moment? What was that moment of trepidation for you, and how did you overcome it?

The scariest part of starting an online business (and how to conquer it)

Demian: That’s a great question. My scariest moment was the morning after I had turned in my two-weeks notice, because I had nothing else planned, with no job lined up.

I would not recommend anybody do this.

But it came down to points like — no, I’ll let God worry about the future, I need to worry about today, right here. And so I did that, and that was definitely the scariest part.

I had lunch with Jeff Goins a couple of weeks ago, and he and I were talking about that sort of moment, and he had a much better approach.

He actually built the business while he still had a firm, steady job, and he had a wife, and I believe they had a young one at this time.

He had those family concerns, but he built the audience, and then he built the business behind it.

He sold the products that made him a lot of money, and he finally got to the point where he thought “I can do this.”

He will tell you he’s very conservative, and he had way more money than he needed, if there’s such a thing, but he was definitely in a position to say, “Hey, I’m ready to make this move.”

I took that leap partly because that’s just my personality. To be honest, I don’t do anything unless my back is up against the wall.

I’m lazy, I’m passive, and yes, I do have self-discipline. I can keep a job, and I’m loyal to that job, but at the same time, if I need to make a dramatic change in my life, I will.

If I had not made that move, I would not be here.

I would still be stuck in a dead-end job, just moping along, continuing to do the daily grind without the opportunities that I have now.

Despite the pain that I went through, I’m glad I did it. I would never wish or recommend anybody to do it, because there is a better way to do it. However, like I said, I don’t regret that moment.

The importance of building an audience that builds your business

Jerod: I think it’s important to understand, too, that everybody who has succeeded online, going through this process of building an audience, then building a business around that audience, has their own individual story.

A lot of people have your story, where their backs were against the wall for some reason, or they hated what they were doing, and this almost felt like the only way out, or they had to do it.

But it’s not necessarily always some act of desperation.

Demian: Right.

Jerod: I talked about this in the intro — that there is a road map for success doing this. So many people now have succeeded doing it in different ways, with different audiences, for different reasons.

What is the through-line of success, then, for the people who succeed online?

Because ultimately, there are people behind audiences, and behind the businesses that they build.

While everybody has their own story, for people listening and maybe they’re trying to think about if this is the path for them, or maybe they’re at that moment of trepidation themselves, what should they look at in themselves to say, “Okay, if you have this, if you can do this, then you will succeed.”

Demian: The best way to answer is probably to talk about how I learned a lot about myself when I went to work for myself. Because within the first eight months, I realized that I did not want to do this.

I did not like working for myself. I thought I would; I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for someone who’s an introvert and who manages themselves well.

Like I said, I am driven and I have initiative, but about eight months in, I was like “I need to find a job.” I already had the structure, but I realized I didn’t want to build a business.

However, back to Jeff Goins. I’m impressed with him because he had that desire and that drive, and the ability to build that business.

He built the audience, and then his business is basically the membership model with the training courses, so that’s working incredibly well for him.

You have to find out who you are and what you want. You have that drive to build something like a business, and that’s the path you follow.

Even those people who have built full careers, rather than just businesses — Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, those guys — they, again, built audiences and then they built the businesses behind them.

It just begins with going from that point of obscurity, getting the visibility, building the audience, and then figuring out how to monetize that.

Conventional methods for monetization are advertising or affiliate marketing, and there are people who are quite successful at affiliate marketing.

I think those are channels and streams of revenue, but they probably shouldn’t be your sole method.

You would also want to have memberships, forums, training courses, ebooks, and resources. Maybe also do some consultancy at the same time.

Jerod: We talked about this on our editorial call yesterday, actually. And I’m curious to bring this part of the conversation to the listeners.

If we could go back in time 10 or 15 years, knowing what we know now, what would we do differently?

I think Robert asked, “If you could go back in time 10 or 15 years, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?”

Demian: That’s a good question. I really wasn’t sure how to answer that yesterday, but I’ve given some more time and thought to it.

I wouldn’t go down the corporate path. I would have realized that I’m a maverick and I need to find environments that allow that to be my strength, which Copyblogger does.

I probably would have paid more attention to the Internet, of course, because I paid zero attention until probably the year 2001. What about you? What would you do differently?

Jerod: That’s a great question. Like you, I didn’t know how to answer it when he asked it, but I’ve spent some time thinking about it.

Ten years ago, just like you, I wasn’t really paying attention to the Internet.

I love where I am now, and if you had told me then that I’d be where I am now, I’d have said, “You’re crazy,” because it’s been such a zig-zaggey, roller-coastery ride here that couldn’t have really been predicted.

I would make the conscious choice that this is where I wanted to be, and I think I’d do more to get here faster and to be even further.

Part of that would involve some of the blogging projects I had before, like the sports blog that I had; I’d do that in a much smarter way.

I’ve talked about this before — that kind of flying by the seat of my pants, loving the part of creating content, and enjoying getting traffic, all that was great.

And Midwest Sports Fans generates a lot of revenue, which led to the development of Synthesis.

A lot of positives came out of it, but I didn’t even understand the first part about building an audience.

That site was pretty much obscure a week after a big post if there wasn’t something daily on there because I wasn’t building content assets, right?

It was pretty much the opposite of the Copyblogger model, but I think all of that effort that I put in there early on was so valuable just in terms of learning about content creation and some of the basics.

If I had been smarter then about actually building an audience, building an email list, and building an asset with that, I mean — I shudder to think what that could be now, as valuable as the experience I actually had was.

Demian: Tell me if you think differently, but for me for some reason, that question too, “What would you do differently 10 to 15 years ago if you knew what you knew today?” … I always have trouble with that question.

I think I would not engineer it any differently because, for me, it’s part of the fun. It’s like learning about yourself, right?

That wisdom, that experience, that suffering, the trials and tribulations that you go through. Maybe I’m just sadistic, but I enjoy that because it’s a learning process, and it’s an experiment for me, too.

Both you and I probably think a lot alike in that sense, and I think this is true for a lot of us at Copyblogger. We may not be entrepreneurs, but we have that spirit within us that we want to try something new, we want to try a new initiative.

We’re never short of ideas, and we’re always kind of pushing the envelope and saying, “Hey, what can we do next? How can we do that?” Which, again, is a great opportunity.

I wouldn’t give up the experiences that I went through 10 years ago. Because ultimately what we want is to speed up where we’re at.

We always want that shortcut. But is that fair?

What you need to know to start your online business

Jerod: Here’s the other question I wanted to ask you: what advice would you give to someone listening now?

Someone who reads Copyblogger, who listens to this podcast, who knows that they want to create content, but maybe doesn’t have the perfect vision or plan for what they want to do yet.

Why should he or she get out there anyway? Ten years ago, we couldn’t have really predicted that we’d be where we are now, and I think that’s true for a lot of people in this day and age.

And that’s okay.

Even when you start out online, where you end up online may be completely different from where you started.

Starting out as a sports blogger, ending up at Copyblogger. You can’t really predict that.

What advice would you give to somebody who’s teetering on that line between “Should I do it? Should I not? I don’t really have that perfect plan yet.”

Why should that person do it anyway? Or should they?

Demian: You don’t need the perfect plan.

I was just talking to a good friend who’s kind of branching out on his own. He was saying: “Here is my tagline. This is going to be my unique selling preposition.”

He had four or five, and I said, “Listen. All those are great. Choose one, move forward, because it will change.” It will evolve over time because as you experiment, as you get out there and you do things, it will change.

You will say, “Okay, that’s not working, but some people seem to want to go this way.”

The question you have to answer, though, is: “Do you have the passion, the energy to sustain this long-term?”

If it’s something that you’re considering, it might be a good hobby but if you think “Jeez, I’ll exhaust this in 30 days,” then it’s probably not a good business idea.

Because the one thing that you have to have is that energy to say, “I want to do this. I want to make this happen. I can see myself spending the rest of my life, at least for the next decade and a half or whatever, doing this.”

You’ll need that because the first two years, you’re going to feel like you’re alone.

You need to have that belief and that vision to accomplish what you can, and to sustain it until you get to the point where you have an audience that you can then monetize, that you can then leverage into work, whether it’s for yourself or with another company.

Jerod: Yeah, it’s interesting. Tell me if you agree with this, but I feel like a lot of times people’s perceptions get flipped about what it’s like to create success online.

I think people think that it will be easy in the sense that it doesn’t require as much work, but they also may be intimidated because the technology part is hard.

I actually think it’s the opposite.

Like I talked about: The road map is there, right?

The New Rainmaker training course is one example of a road map that shows you how to get to that point of sustainability.

So many other people have charted that course — that part is actually simple.

But I think it’s the other part: the daily grind, to use that term. And just like you said, the passion to do it consistently over time. That’s really the harder part, where more people fail.

But it doesn’t have to be if you have mentors and study the examples of others. Do you find that, too? Do you agree with that?

Why many online business models aren’t sustainable

Demian: I do, and I think your experience is a great example with the Midwest Sports. You had a quick rise to success and fame, but did you have the long-term sustainability?

Because it is hard work.

That’s the truth. And for me, it is a lot harder because once you have the visibility and people are looking at you, there’s a lot more pressure in order to perform.

My biggest fear is that I will become stale, I will become routine, I will become predictable. And I don’t want to do that.

For me it’s always constant — I want to beat everything I’ve done previously. And that’s a lesson that I learned.

I remember I waited tables for about six months. I was absolutely terrible at it. But I got great advice from a server who was really good.

He said, “You’re only as good as your last table.”

Whatever he meant by that, which I’m not 100 percent sure, but I interpreted it, the young, impressionable 21-year-old I was, as: “You have to continually improve and beat each time. Each table is an opportunity to excel from what you did last time.”

That’s the pressure that I’m on now, and so when I come to a piece of work, again, I deal with that procrastination of thinking, “Shoot. How am I going to make this the best thing that I’ve ever created?”

There’s a lot more pressure because a lot more people are looking at you and expecting things from you.

Jerod: It’s funny, thinking back. Midwest Sports Fans are still going today, although I’m not active on it on a daily basis. It’s funny. The passion, the excitement, was never the problem.

I always woke up excited to create content. What eventually killed it, though, was having such a poor strategy where you essentially start over every day.

One of the reasons why that strategy was poor is because I didn’t have enough humility. I thought I had all the answers, and thought, “Okay, this is working. I don’t really need to study and figure out the next step. This is working; let me just keep doing it.”

Eventually the flame started to flicker out a little bit because it’s like, “Man, it’s the same thing all the time.”

If you’re not actually building an audience and building assets with your content, then you’re just like a hamster on a wheel.

Every day you start over just trying to drive traffic for the page view based ad revenue, which is a model, but that can kill that passion too.

I think long-term you really want to study the successful models and figure out a way to build assets that aren’t just going to lose value the next day.

Because that will kill your passion. That’ll kill your excitement for it.

Demian’s one critical piece of advice for anyone just starting an online business

Demian: Right. Right.

Jerod: Well Demian, this has been fascinating. I love talking with you about your history, your path, your journey.

Which is why we wanted to take a little break from doing the series that we’ve been doing on The Lede and have a more personal episode that talks about our experiences.

Hopefully we’ll hear some of your stories in the comments on Google+ or Twitter.

Or email us: Jerod [at] copyblogger [dot] com or Demian [at] copyblogger [dot] com.

Tell us your story. Because they’re interesting, and we love hearing them.

Although we all have our own individual stories, there are a lot of through-points that we all experience, that we can relate to and help each other out with.

Always a fun conversation, Mr. Farnworth.

Demian: Thank you. I appreciate it.

I’ll just end with this: I’m always really kind of surprised and I’m always humbled when someone says, “You’ve inspired me,” or I get an e-mail of encouragement.

To me, that’s how I know what I’m doing is working.

I’ve been given — we’ve all been given — a talent. Something to do.

I think the best response to that talent, which I consider a gift, is to become the best you can absolutely be at that and that alone.

They’ll be ups and downs.

The point is, just be grateful for whatever attention you get. Because, ultimately, “I have so many followers on Twitter” is not what count. What counts is the lives you touch and the relationships you form, if that makes sense.

Be grateful for whatever you get. Always be grateful. That’s helped me enormously.

Jerod: Great final thought to end on, Demian. Thank you.

Demian: You bet.

Jerod: We’ll talk in a couple of weeks and get another series started.

Demian: Sounds good.

Jerod: All right, man. Bye.

Demian: Bye.

Jerod: Thank you, everybody, for tuning in to this episode of The Lede.

If you enjoyed this episode, and if you like what you’ve been hearing from us on The Lede, please consider giving the show a rating or a review on iTunes. We would greatly appreciate it.

And don’t forget that you can listen to The Lede on Stitcher as well: Just go to copyblogger.com/stitcher and it will redirect you to The Lede page on Stitcher.

Thank you again for listening. We will be back in a couple of weeks with another new episode of The Lede. Talk to you soon, everybody.

# # #

*Credits: Both the intro (“Bridge to Nowhere” by Sam Roberts Band) and outro songs (“Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart) are graciously provided by express written consent from the rights owners.

About the author

Jerod Morris


Jerod Morris is the VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter or . Have you gotten your wristband yet?

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What You Need to Know to Make a Living as a Blogger Right Now http://www.copyblogger.com/full-time-blogger/ http://www.copyblogger.com/full-time-blogger/#respond Mon, 17 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43852 The average blogger only has two concerns. The first is obscurity. She is a total stranger in a vast world loaded with people — unknown, inconspicuous, and insignificant. Odd, considering there are so many people online. But it’s a simple law: We all start at the bottom. One recent study discovered that the average British blogger

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Hollywood sign with Marcus Cooley quote

The average blogger only has two concerns.

The first is obscurity. She is a total stranger in a vast world loaded with people — unknown, inconspicuous, and insignificant. Odd, considering there are so many people online.

But it’s a simple law: We all start at the bottom.

One recent study discovered that the average British blogger had only 285 subscribers, received 18 comments a day, and earned about $120 a month.

That’s the reward for someone who’d been blogging for two years and eight months. Yes, those surveyed also worked full-time jobs.

In an informal poll, the traffic to an average blog was around 60 to 120 views a day. 

Frustrating stats for anyone trying to get attention. The pain is enough to make a shy bald buddhist reflect and plan … a packet of rainbow dust for the first person to finish the lyrics.

The obscurity antidote

This is why author and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow campaigned so heavily about giving his books away for free.

This is why Leo Babauta uncopyrighted all of his articles.

And this is the foundation of content marketing.

The principle is simple: Build an audience through free content.

Very few bloggers, however, make the transition from obscurity to non-obscurity, because it also takes an unhealthy dose of hard work, perseverance, discipline, patience, improvement, and personality.

Rand Fishkin thinks the magic number is about two years before a blog takes off. He draws that conclusion from Moz and his wife’s popular Everywhereist blog. But as we saw in the survey above, that’s not always the case.

My own experience happens to parallel Fishkin’s conclusion. So does Brian Clark’s to a degree, although his “pre take-off” might not look like yours or mine.

And ever since, people have been hustling to lower that timeline with epic content, a daily posting schedule, and aggressive distribution methods.

The second blogger concern

Once your blog starts getting traffic, a substantial number of subscribers, and attention from industry rock stars, you may say to yourself, “I could do this. I could really do this. I could earn a living off my website.”

But here’s your new problem.

Blog Arc

Life.

You have the demands of family and friends and, most importantly, the demands of your job. A job you must have if you want to pay the rent, keep shoes on your kids’ feet, or just enjoy life like a normal person.

You might not have a bad job — it’s just boring, mindless, and routine. Or your boss could be a psychopath. Layoffs may be in the air. Whatever the reason, you are ready to move on and make a living on your own terms.

But every post you write is a four-hour affair. You also have comments to address, social media networks to grow, guest posts to write, and so on.

No joke: Blogging is a full-time job. But, for most, without the paycheck.

So once you’ve gotten traction, your next obstacle is sustainability.

You want to keep going and, because of your circumstances, you need to keep going. And the only way to do that is to earn a living from your blog.

Affiliate marketing and advertising are conventional options, but they’re limited.

What you need to do is build an audience — and then you need to create something your audience wants to buy.

I’ve already named a few successful bloggers who’ve followed this model. Here are several more: Jeff Goins, Sonia Simone, Chris Brogan, Ramit Sethi, Ann Handley, Lee Odden, Maria Popova, Darren Rowse, and The Bloggess.

TimOReilly-Quote

Do you want to be the next successful blogger?

And that frames the problem: If you could just somehow replace your income from your job with an income from your blog, then you’d be set. Then you could keep on doing what you love for people who love what you do.

So, would you like to do that? But you’re just not sure where to start?

Fortunately, you are in luck.

Here’s your chance to move beyond disposable “marketing” and embrace the perpetual power that comes from an audience asset.

It’s our two-week New Rainmaker training course.

In other words, this is the training you need if you want to learn how to earn a living from your blog to continue to do what you love.

And did I mention it’s free for a limited time? You can get started today.

Once you register, you’ll begin a powerful step-by-step training course that pulls back the curtain on an online marketing strategy that exceeds your expectations.

Learn more about the free New Rainmaker course here.

About the author

Demian Farnworth


Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media's Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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7 Ways to Find a Topical Market that Will Fuel Your Digital Commerce Business http://www.copyblogger.com/dcommerce-market-research/ http://www.copyblogger.com/dcommerce-market-research/#respond Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45521 Before you get down to business online, you need to find the topic(s) and market(s) that can support that business. And, after answering your questions on digital sharecropping and content curation, that’s exactly what Brian and I get into on this week’s episode of Rainmaker FM. Listen in and check out the seven-part process for

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closeup of hands holding a map

Before you get down to business online, you need to find the topic(s) and market(s) that can support that business.

And, after answering your questions on digital sharecropping and content curation, that’s exactly what Brian and I get into on this week’s episode of Rainmaker FM.

Listen in and check out the seven-part process for finding the topic market that can fuel your online business …

In this 43-minute episode we discuss:

  • Why you need to “be the market” you’re serving
  • The innovative power of the traditional magazine rack
  • How to achieve niche positioning within a big topic
  • The critical difference between fads and trends
  • Why you shouldn’t fear big competition
  • The right way to conduct audience surveys
  • The minimum viable membership site strategy

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker FM Episode No. 15

Or, grab it in iTunes.

Image by Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash.

About the author

Robert Bruce


Robert Bruce is VP of Marketing for the Rainmaker Platform and Resident Recluse of Copyblogger Media.

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What to Look for in a Professional Content Writer http://www.copyblogger.com/professional-content-writer/ http://www.copyblogger.com/professional-content-writer/#respond Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43853 Every business needs content. Not the bland, me-too nonsense that so often clutters up our in-boxes and feeds, but genuinely useful, interesting content. Content that lets a business stand out amid the clutter and noise. Content that moves prospects closer to a sale. Content that can become a powerful differentiator for your company. And increasingly,

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poodle with glasses sitting at a desk

Every business needs content. Not the bland, me-too nonsense that so often clutters up our in-boxes and feeds, but genuinely useful, interesting content.

Content that lets a business stand out amid the clutter and noise. Content that moves prospects closer to a sale. Content that can become a powerful differentiator for your company.

And increasingly, businesses are having a tough time finding the writers who know how to create that kind of content over time.

According to some recent research by Content Marketing Institute, the demand for content writers has grown by 320 percent … just over the past year.

And while in the past, about 10 percent of companies struggled to find qualified professionals, that’s risen to 32 percent this year.

One of the reasons I think organizations struggle is, they don’t always know what qualities will make for a genuinely productive, profitable hire. And as you might guess, I have a few strong opinions about that.

So here’s what I think you should look for, when you’re looking for a content professional to create the marketing that will move your business forward.

First: A strong, confident writing voice

This is the big gun.

Strategy, marketing, and persuasion techniques can be taught (that’s what we’re here for). Voice, on the other hand, develops over time and needs to come from within a creative, intelligent, sensitive human being.

While a solid writing voice can be developed over time (here’s how), your writer won’t ever get there without a lot of passion and commitment. Talent doesn’t hurt, either.

Look for a writer whose work is interesting, funny, smart, perceptive, and convincing. Look for someone whose writing you just like to read.

Some have it and some don’t. Insist on hiring the one who does.

Solid spelling, grammar, and usage

There are a few amazing writers out there who need a professional proofreader — but unless you have the bandwidth to add such a person to your team, your writer needs to have a solid grasp of usage, spelling, and all those mundane issues that can make us look silly when we get them wrong.

Your writing candidates should get their feathers ruffled when someone uses it’s for its. Every writer makes a typo once in awhile — but for a professional, that should be rare.

Finds the intriguing angle

Well-crafted content is important — but if it’s not wrapped up in a fascinating package, it probably won’t get read or shared.

Strong content writers are capable and creative. They think about your topic in interesting ways. (Mainly because professional writers think about their topics all the time. Occupational hazard. Probably why we’re such odd birds.)

A pro knows how to deliver the usefulness that audiences need, but also wraps it up in unusual hooks and angles that will capture attention and engage curiosity.

Understands the elements of content that sells

There are plenty of writers out there who can write a pleasing sentence or paragraph.

But a content professional also understands how content can move prospects smoothly down the path from stranger to interested prospect to delighted customer.

They understand headlines, and why content gets shared. They know what kind of content works well in blog posts, and what’s better saved for a landing page or an email message.

A professional content writer lives and breathes strategy. Which brings me to my next point. A good writer …

Can articulate why they’re using a particular content strategy

If you have a writer working for you, that person should be able to tell you precisely why she’s taken a particular angle with a blog post, video script, or white paper.

She can explain how your content program ties into your search strategy and why she’s using the number 8.4 in the headline, rather than rounding it up to 9.

Give her a chance and she’ll talk your ear off about the structure of bullet point fascinations, benefits over features, and the call to action.

The people who revel in this stuff are the ones who create compelling marketing content that builds your business. Whether or not you find it exciting, your writer needs to.

She needs to be able to tell you why, so your entire organization moves in the same direction.

(And on your part, you need to take the time to listen to those explanations. Don’t hire a pro and then second-guess every move she makes. If you want great content, you need to give your writer the space to craft that greatness.)

Commitment to professionalism and ongoing education

If content is important to your business, you need a professional, not an interested amateur. (Or an admittedly adorable fluffy poodle, like the one illustrating this post.)

And one of the hallmarks of the professional is commitment. Commitment to getting better over time, to staying on top of developments in the field, to a lifetime of learning.

Raw talent to write is important, and an understanding of strategy is important. But you also want to find someone who takes the profession seriously — as a profession — and continues to sharpen and refine his skills.

From search algorithms to social platforms to what kinds of headlines are performing well these days — professional writers need to stay plugged in to what’s changing in our profession.

A serious content professional also takes the initiative to become an authority in the topics he writes about. Interviewing experts (some of whom might be within your company), doing independent research, poring over industry journals, and talking with customers.

You can find that from a dedicated freelancer who specializes in your industry, but you can also build a long-term relationship with a strong content generalist who takes the time to develop that depth of knowledge about your individual company.

What you don’t want is a pennies-a-word person from one of the cheap freelance sites. They simply can’t make the commitment to learning your topic the way a true pro can.

Where do you find these people?

I cheated when I wrote this post — because I went to the guidelines for our Certified Content Creator application evaluations.

These are the qualities we look for when we’re assessing the work of writers seeking our certification — and these are the qualities you’ll find in the writers who earn that badge.

We have a whole page of them (growing weekly) — some serving specific niches like real estate or healthcare, and others who write across several industries.

A member of the Copyblogger editorial team takes a close look at the writing of each applicant. (I’m on the evaluation team as well.)

We look for the qualities I talked about above — a great writing voice first and foremost, but paired with strategy, professionalism, and straight-up marketing chops.

If you’re looking for a serious content professional, this is where you’ll find her, or him. But don’t wait too long. Remember, the demand for this kind of writer has grown by 320 percent in this year alone.

The perfect writer for your business would love to get started making your content program more successful … don’t let her slip away to some other company.

Click here to view Copyblogger’s Certified Content Writers

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Francisco Martins.

About the author

Sonia Simone


Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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