Copyblogger http://www.copyblogger.com Content marketing tools and training. Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 A Quick Note About the History of Labor Day That You May Not Realize … http://www.copyblogger.com/labor-day-2014/ http://www.copyblogger.com/labor-day-2014/#respond Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42085 The first Monday of September is upon us, which means that it is Labor Day in the United States (and Labour Day in Canada). Have you ever wondered why North America celebrates Labor Day in September, while many parts of the rest of the world celebrate International Workers’ Day on the first day of May?

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This plaque appears on the memorial statue erected where Samuel Fielden was speaking when the riot broke out.

The first Monday of September is upon us, which means that it is Labor Day in the United States (and Labour Day in Canada).

Have you ever wondered why North America celebrates Labor Day in September, while many parts of the rest of the world celebrate International Workers’ Day on the first day of May?

Turns out, U.S. political leaders in the late 19th century probably wanted to avoid association with the violent Haymarket Massacre that served as part of the inspiration for International Workers’ Day. (It’s a remarkable story, if you don’t know it.)

Yes, while we think of Labor Day now as a glorious, relaxing long weekend that marks the end of the summer, its origins are far less … tranquil.

On behalf of our entire team here at Copyblogger, I want to wish you a pleasant Labor Day — whether you spend it chilling on a lake or in a backyard with friends and family, or demonstrating (peacefully, I hope) on behalf of workers’ rights.

It’s your day. Do what makes you happy.

Then return here tomorrow for a tutorial by Josh Haynam on how to use quizzes in your marketing.

Happy Labor Day. We’ll see you soon!

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Chicago Crime Scenes.

About the author

Jerod Morris


Jerod Morris is the Director of Content for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter, , or see what makes his heart sing at Primility.com.

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The 7 Things Writers Need to Make a Living http://www.copyblogger.com/writer-success-2014/ http://www.copyblogger.com/writer-success-2014/#respond Sat, 30 Aug 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43758 If you’re a writer, you might have heard this most of your life. People don’t make a living writing. You should find something practical to do with your life. Smart, capable writers grimly pass around war stories on Facebook. Penny-a-word assignments, clients who don’t pay, disdain for our craft, and disrespect for our profession. And

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image of colorful writer's desk

If you’re a writer, you might have heard this most of your life.

People don’t make a living writing. You should find something practical to do with your life.

Smart, capable writers grimly pass around war stories on Facebook. Penny-a-word assignments, clients who don’t pay, disdain for our craft, and disrespect for our profession.

And yet.

Look around us, at this digital world so many of us spend our lives in.

It’s made of ones and zeroes, yes. But it’s also made of words.

The technology exists because we create words worth sharing

Text, video, audio. It all needs great writing if it’s going to be worth spending our time on.

If writing is your profession and your passion, you can accept crap assignments for crap money and crap treatment.

Or you can choose something better. Because there is something better.

In the time I’ve been writing professionally, I’ve noticed some necessary traits, abilities, and strengths that make the difference between life as a well-paid writer and life as someone who likes to write but can’t seem to get paid for it.

Here are 7 of the most important:

#1: Love

This might seem squishy, but if you’re meant to be a writer, you know what I mean.

There is no substitute for the love of writing. For the passion of getting the words right, the head-scratching and the pacing around the house and the endless drafts that aren’t quite right yet.

If you don’t love language and your topic and the act of putting words together, none of the rest of this really means anything.

I could have just as easily used Compulsion, Obsession, or Bullheadedness for this section. Whichever word you choose, it’s about refusing to settle for weak writing, because the words matter.

#2: An attitude of service

Writing for self-expression can be high art, pursued for the sake of your own experience of truth and beauty.

As soon as money changes hands, though, the audience — the reader, listener, or viewer — becomes the focus.

Professional writers work from an attitude of serving their audience. Serving them with truthful, beautiful words, yes. But also with language that meets their needs, language that clarifies rather than prettifies.

Novelists, copywriters, and content creators all live in service to our audiences. No matter how clever or perfectly poetic we may find a phrase, if it doesn’t serve the audience, it goes.

#3: Confidence

It’s always struck me as odd that many of the most capable writers are also some of the most insecure.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Confidence comes from putting the work in, to become a genuinely authoritative expert. It comes from research, craftsmanship, and seeing the difference you make to your audience.

Serious craftspeople are humble and proud at the same time.

The pride and confidence come from hours of deliberate practice — the kind of work that expands your abilities and challenges you to grow. The humility comes from the knowledge that a true pro is always improving, expanding, and refining.

#4: Training

Many writers imagine that if you have a good writing voice and a strong opinion about the serial comma, you’re qualified to work as a professional copywriter.

Not so fast.

Great copywriters and content creators are fine wordsmiths, yes, but they’re also strategists. They understand what types of content work to attract attention, to stand out amid the sea of content clutter, to motivate buying behavior, and to help the audience make the journey from interested bystander to loyal customer.

Solid content and copywriting strategy come from training (and practice). You can get a lot of that training right here at Copyblogger, of course.

And for writers who are serious about professionalism, we have a course designed to train you about the craft of professional content creation. (The “art” is up to your talent and abilities.)

#5: Discipline

You may be a brilliant wordsmith and master strategist, but if you can’t get yourself the butt-in-chair time needed to produce a significant quantity of work, you won’t get where you want to go.

To a great degree, discipline is a set of habits that can be cultivated. As a writer, you can string together rituals, create the right work environment, and adopt the behaviors of productive writers.

As a working writer, you also need to throw in a set of habits that will ensure that you meet your deadlines, keep clients updated, and invoice your clients promptly.

If you care enough, you’ll do it. The habits can be difficult to put into place, but fortunately, once they’re in place, they tend to keep you on the right track. (That’s the difference between habits and will power.)

#6: The willingness to become a marketer

Yes, there is some money in writing fiction. (For the lucky few, there’s a great deal of money. Emphasis on few.)

There’s also still a little bit of money in journalism and feature writing, especially if you have excellent contacts.

But for the most part, if you want to make a living as a writer, the fastest, most enjoyable way to do that is to write content for businesses that want to find more customers.

It’s interesting, it’s lucrative, it’s very much in demand, and it will get you researching and investigating as many different topics as you like.

You might think that this kind of writing is boring to do. Far from it. Creating really good content (as opposed to the mass of junk that makes up 95 percent of web copy) will call on your skills as a storyteller, investigator, wordsmith, travel writer, historian.

A well-qualified content marketer needs all the skills of a great feature or fiction writer — combined with solid marketing strategy.

You also, of course, need to get comfortable marketing yourself. This can be surprisingly tough even for writers who create superb marketing for their clients.

“Create a bunch of content and hope someone wants to do business with you” won’t work for your writing business any more than it will for your clients’. You need to apply the same strategies and frameworks to your own business that you do to theirs.

If this doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t let that worry you. It doesn’t come naturally to a lot of good writers. But it’s something that’s well within your ability to learn. And we have some resources that can help.

#7: Support

One of the tough things about living as a professional writer is that the path you walk is one you make yourself.

There’s no one to tell you which direction to go, no one to give you sign posts along the way, no one to outline your day for you and tell you where you need to be and when.

That’s also one of the fantastic things about living as a professional writer. But sometimes Fantastic is also Difficult.

Writing is a lonely business. And it can be just a little lonelier when you don’t have colleagues to bounce questions off of, or to share your gripes and triumphs with.

When you do find a community of writers, though, it’s a lovely thing. They’re some of the funniest, smartest, quirkiest people you’ll ever meet. And it just feels good to hang out with people who get you.

(Because yes, your friends and family actually do think you’re sort of a weirdo.)

We’re here as a resource for you

Okay, so you provide the writing talent. Now where do you get all of this support, marketing knowledge, and training?

Well … that’s what we’re here for!

The first thing to do is get signed up to get our free marketing course by email. I created it myself to give you the most essential advice about writing and marketing on the web. And it comes with a free comprehensive marketing library, so you can dive deep into topics like SEO, landing pages, headlines, getting traffic to your content, or whatever other topic you might be wrestling with.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you there.

And if you need a talented, passionate, skilled writer with terrific knowledge of marketing strategy — we have a list of Copyblogger Certified Content Marketers who are ready to help with your projects. You can find a complete list of them here: Certified Content Marketers.

Creative Commons image by Trinesh Champaneri. Some rights reserved.

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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Two Important Announcements for Writers http://www.copyblogger.com/writer-announcements-2014/ http://www.copyblogger.com/writer-announcements-2014/#respond Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43703 First, you may have seen yesterday the abrupt announcement that Google is, at least for the moment, discontinuing their Authorship functionality for search results and webmaster tools. For those in our Authority community, as well as those in our Certified Content Marketer program, we’ll be holding a special live Q&A session with Brian Clark on

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First, you may have seen yesterday the abrupt announcement that Google is, at least for the moment, discontinuing their Authorship functionality for search results and webmaster tools.

For those in our Authority community, as well as those in our Certified Content Marketer program, we’ll be holding a special live Q&A session with Brian Clark on what this means for web writers as we move forward. Just log in to your Member Dashboard to find out how to attend. You’ll also get your usual Tuesday email with all of the instructions.

And secondly, if you aren’t in one of those programs yet, the window is closing to join the Certified Content Marketer program at 5:00 PM Pacific time today.

If you’re a professional writer who could use more assignments, better pay, and the best shot at the most interesting, rewarding projects, it’s well worth your time to check the program out.

Grab all the details here — and remember, the deadline to enter is 5:00 PM today.

(And Authority members, don’t forget — make sure you’re logged in to your account in order to get your preferred pricing on the program.)

Update: As promised, the Certification program is now closed to new applicants. But you may be interested in joining Authority, our community of web writers and marketers. We offer a wealth of information, advice, and support, with fresh exclusive content nearly every month of the year.

Learn more about Authority here.

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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How to Earn $250 Per Hour As a Freelance Writer http://www.copyblogger.com/earn-more-freelancing/ http://www.copyblogger.com/earn-more-freelancing/#respond Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43082 How sweet it would be to earn $250 per hour — as a writer, no less. Sounds like a crazy dream, right? It’s kind of like your dream to win America’s Got Talent with your nose whistling routine: Fun to think about, but it ain’t gonna happen. Well, I’m going to risk your snorts of

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fingers in motion typing fast on a keyboard

How sweet it would be to earn $250 per hour — as a writer, no less.

Sounds like a crazy dream, right?

It’s kind of like your dream to win America’s Got Talent with your nose whistling routine: Fun to think about, but it ain’t gonna happen.

Well, I’m going to risk your snorts of disbelief by telling you $250 per hour is the average rate I earn with any type of writing I do, whether it’s copywriting, content writing, or journalism.

I’m not special (though my mom thinks so). My writing skills are good, but not Donna Tartt good.

And as you’ll see below, I don’t actually charge $250 per hour, which would cause prospects to run screaming from me like I had the plague.

I’ve just developed a handful of simple habits that have bumped my pay rate much higher than the pay rate of the average freelance writer.

Here are five methods you can follow, as well.

1. Don’t quote an hourly rate

Most writers, when a prospect asks them for pricing, say something like, “I charge $100 per hour and I estimate this will take four hours, so the total will be $400.”

Wrong!

Instead, quote a project rate that will get you the hourly fee you want.

So, if you estimate a project will take you four hours, don’t tell the client you’re charging $250 per hour for four hours — just tell her that to write that case study on how her company’s banana slicer is more accurate than the competition’s, you’ll charge $1,000.

Telling prospects your hourly rate opens the door to clients micromanaging your time. If you write fast, like me, you’re penalized by earning less. Also, if your rate is higher than usual, it can scare prospects away.

Remember, you’re not selling hours — you’re solving a problem for the client.

2. Write blazingly fast

One time a writer friend watched, jaw hanging open, as I completed an 800-word article in 30 minutes. I was getting paid $400, and I had spent another 60 minutes on two interviews — so my hourly rate was $266.

Writing at a breakneck pace is my number one secret when it comes to earning more. After all, if you’re charging project rates instead of an hourly fee, the faster you write, the more you earn.

Practice writing the first draft of that blog post, article, or newsletter as quickly as you can, and go back to edit and fill in any holes afterward. With experience, you’ll get faster and faster.

And as your writing improves, your first draft will be pretty much your final draft.

3. For the love of all that is good and holy, stop
over-researching

One of the biggest snafus that keeps writers from earning more is that they research more than is necessary — which cuts into their hourly earnings.

Say you land a gig to write a short profile of a successful pizzeria for a restaurant industry newsletter for $500.

Here’s how most writers would approach the project:

  • Interview the pizzeria owner by phone. (One hour.)
  • Drive to the restaurant, even though it’s 50 miles away, and have a meal there. (Four hours.)
  • Research the history of pizza. (Two hours.)
  • Check a dozen Italian cookbooks out of the library and learn about the various methods for creating the perfect crust. (Two hours.)
  • Look up statistics on the pizza industry, including number of pizzerias in the U.S., average profits, how many workers they employ, etc. (Three hours.)
  • Take an eight-week conversational Italian class. (Okay, maybe not, but it’s not far from the truth.)

If the writer then takes four hours to write the profile (because she hasn’t learned to write fast yet), her hourly rate is just above $31. And guess what? She won’t use 90 percent of the facts and information she so painstakingly gathered.

Do as much research and prep work as you need to get the job done well.

For example, interviews typically take me 20–30 minutes, and I research the subject online just enough that I don’t sound like a moron in those interviews.

Experiment with researching less to see how much you really need to do. The result will probably shock you.

Afraid you’ll miss something huge?

The secret is to start your projects as early as possible — no procrastinating — so you can be confident that if you do need more research, there’s plenty of time to get it done before your deadline.

Caveat: This is not an excuse to do shoddy research and write weak copy! You need to learn to be fast and good, which is an achievable goal.

4. Offer master-level value

Yep … if you want to get master-level rates, you need to offer master-level value.

What do you offer that no one else can do? In what amazing way do you make your clients’ lives easier and better?

Figure out what makes you worth $250 per hour, then make sure prospects know about it.

For example, when you quote a high price to a prospect, don’t just put the amount out and let it lie there. Let the client know exactly what you’ll offer for that amount.

Here’s the difference:

Quote 1
For the banana slicer case study you described, my fee is $1,000. Would you like me to go ahead with this project?

Prospect: “What?! The other writer quoted $500.”

Quote 2
For the banana slicer case study you described, my fee is $1,000. For that amount, I’ll:

  • Interview you and your best customer separately by phone. I’ve interviewed over 500 people for my client projects, so I know exactly what to ask and how to ask it.
  • Research your company, your banana slicer, and the competition’s product to help inform my interview questions and add concrete details to the case study.
  • Write up a 750-word case study in a fun, conversational style that readers will enjoy.
  • Send you a keyword-rich headline that’s optimized for search engines and social media — and that will attract clicks.
  • Revise the case study until you’re thrilled with it.

Would you like me to go ahead with this project?

Prospect: “Wow! The other guy was charging just $500, but this writer will turn out a far better product and help me make more sales.”

5. Use shoe leather

Inbound marketing is great and all, but if you rely only on your website and LinkedIn profile to bring in clients, you’ll be dealing with a lot of tire kickers and prospects who want to pay you in exposure. (You know, people die from exposure.)

Also, forget about most freelance job boards, bidding sites, and Craigslist. Clients who are willing to pay premium prices aren’t hanging out there.

Instead, pound the pavement to find and approach clients who you’ve
pre-qualified. Look for businesses with at least $5 million in profits to start — those are the ones who can pay you what you want.

Then, reach out to these prospects in whatever way you feel you’re best at, whether it’s cold calling, snail mail, or emailing a customized letter of introduction.

So while other writers compete in a race to the bottom of the barrel for el cheap-o clients, you’ll be heading right for the top — towards your target rate of $250 per hour.

It’s your turn …

Have you ever substantially raised your rates for freelance writing?

If so, how did you do it?

Let’s continue the conversation over on Google+ …

Flickr Creative Commons Image via The Hamster Factor.

About the Author: Linda Formichelli has written for over 150 magazines (like Redbook and Health), 30 corporate clients (like Sprint and OnStar), and she typically earns $250 per hour. Over at her Renegade Writer blog, you can join the email list to receive two free e-books for freelance writers as well as get her insightful and advice-packed Monday Motivations for Writers emails.

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Save $100 on SMX East in New York http://www.copyblogger.com/smx-east-nyc/ http://www.copyblogger.com/smx-east-nyc/#respond Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43536 Search Marketing Expo is the world’s largest search engine marketing conference, and this fall SMX East will take place in the nation’s most populous city. And if you’re planning on heading to New York City for SMX East (September 30 – October 2), we’ve got a way for you to save $100. Just use the

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SMX East logo

Search Marketing Expo is the world’s largest search engine marketing conference, and this fall SMX East will take place in the nation’s most populous city.

And if you’re planning on heading to New York City for SMX East (September 30 – October 2), we’ve got a way for you to save $100.

Just use the code smx100copy at checkout to save $100.

You’ll get to hear keynote speaker Jonah Peretti, Buzzfeed Founder & CEO, provide insight on leveraging viral content, as well as other sessions like:

  • Defining & Mapping The Native Advertising Landscape
  • Automation Does Not Equal Strategy (Or, A Tool Box Does Not A Cabinet Make)
  • The 4th Wave Of Content Marketing
  • 25 Smart Examples Of Structured Data You Can Use Now
  • Earning Authority: Successful Link Acquisition & Auditing Advice
  • Long-Term SEO: How To Win For Years, Not Days
  • Conversion Rate Rockstars
  • Remarketing: Overhyped & Overvalued, Or Undervalued And Underused?

And many more. See the full agenda here.

Again, the code is smx100copy, and it will be valid until this Friday, August 29.

So don’t procrastinate if you’re planning to hit up SMX East!

About the author

Jerod Morris


Jerod Morris is the Director of Content for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter, , or see what makes his heart sing at Primility.com.

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Clueless About Technical Writing? Get Started With These Essential Tips http://www.copyblogger.com/technical-writing/ http://www.copyblogger.com/technical-writing/#respond Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42458 Technical writing is like copywriting’s old, boring uncle. In the communicative garden party that is online content, Copywriting gets everyone a drink and socializes, while Technical Writing runs the grill and feeds all the guests. Copywriters may think technical writing is simple, but it actually presents a number of challenges unique to the discipline. If

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drawing of a man scratching his head while reading a book on a solid teal background

Technical writing is like copywriting’s old, boring uncle.

In the communicative garden party that is online content, Copywriting gets everyone a drink and socializes, while Technical Writing runs the grill and feeds all the guests.

Copywriters may think technical writing is simple, but it actually presents a number of challenges unique to the discipline.

If you receive a technical writing assignment, will you know how to handle it?

Whether you’re a freelance copywriter or work in-house at an agency, at some point it’s likely you’ll be asked to produce a piece of technical writing.

Here are four ways to approach a technical writing assignment like a pro.

1. Get to the point — quickly

Copywriting is meant to be persuasive, so reading it should evoke emotion.

With technical writing, you simply want the reader to understand your topic as quickly as possible. You don’t want the reader to spend hours poring over the article.

Technical pieces are often too long because they include too much information. You need to write the leanest article you can.

Here’s an example:

This law was introduced in 2011, after a long, drawn-out process of appeals, to ensure that agency workers are given some of the same employment rights as their full-time counterparts.

This sentence would be perfectly acceptable for a legal essay, but it contains too much information for a technical article.

You must have the reader’s end goal in mind at all times. In this example, the end goal is for the reader to find out about employment rights.

The information about the legal appeals process is not essential, so remove it:

This law was introduced in 2011 to ensure that agency workers are given some of the same employment rights as their full-time counterparts.

There are also many short phrases that contain extra words you don’t need in technical articles.

For example:

  • Never before
  • None at all
  • Still persists
  • At the present time
  • And many more!

Apply the following test: write down each technical topic’s goal. Then, whenever you include new information, ask yourself whether or not it achieves that goal. If it doesn’t, eliminate it.

2. Simplify your language

When you apply the above test correctly, you cut out extra information that is not needed in a technical article. Still, a lot of complicated ideas remain that need to be explained in a straightforward way.

Make the text short and snappy by simplifying your grammar and vocabulary.

Shorten sentences by cutting out as much punctuation as you can without affecting the readability of the sentence. Use fewer commas, more periods, and no semicolons at all, if possible.

Check out how this sentence can be simplified using these rules:

ICS, which is the professional body for shipping businesses, polled its clients and found that 47 percent were unsure about what the requirements meant; 36 percent knew a little and 69 percent had received no information from their agencies.

Although grammatically sound, punctuation changes make the sentence clearer:

The ICS is the professional body for shipping businesses. It polled its clients and found that 47 percent were unsure about what the requirements meant. 36 percent knew a little and 69 percent had received no information from their agencies.

Simplifying and refining your language is a must with technical writing. Your aim is to choose words that are easily understood.

Here are commonly used words that have simpler alternatives. Replace:

  • functionality with feature
  • aforementioned with mentioned
  • firstly with first
  • commence with start
  • demonstrate with show, and
  • in the event of with if.

Jargon should also be avoided, unless the term won’t cause confusion for your audience.

You may want to include a glossary if you’re writing on a topic that contains many long, complicated names and terms.

If someone unfamiliar with your technical topic can understand it, then you’ve communicated your message clearly.

3. Strengthen the structure

As mentioned above, technical articles should deliver information efficiently, so the structure should be easily scannable for people who choose to skim.

When structuring your article, its sub-sections, and each sentence, imagine an inverted pyramid — put all the important information at the top, followed by supporting details.

For example, always put the most important information in the main clause of each sentence.

Your original text may state:

Although they saved his cat, the firemen couldn’t stop Ben’s house from burning to the ground.

Revise this sentence to:

Ben’s house burned to the ground, although the firemen saved his cat.

With technical writing, this technique is necessary because it helps a reader quickly find the information he or she needs.

4. Manipulate your layout

To make your technical article easier for a reader to digest, use lists with bullet points.

Lists are your friend. Include them whenever you can, especially if each item in the list has a qualifier. The format is clearer than a long piece of prose separated by semicolons.

In fact, you should love lists so much that you make lists within lists. Or, as I like to call it, listception.

For example, review this long paragraph:

When we went to the music festival, we saw some great bands: there was Iron Maiden, English heavy metal legends, who were promoting their new album; Motley Crue, the classic ’80s rockers, founded by Tommy Lee; Linkin Park, the nu metal band from California who played songs from their first album, Hybrid Theory; and, finally, Black Sabbath, who are on their farewell tour and played songs requested by fans via their website.

The following list is much easier to process:

When we went to the music festival, we saw some great bands:

  • Iron Maiden
    • English heavy metal legends promoted their new album
  • Motley Crue
    • Classic ’80s rock band founded by Tommy Lee
  • Linkin Park
    • Nu metal band from California played songs from their first album, Hybrid Theory
  • Black Sabbath
    • Played songs requested via their website for their farewell tour

Also, consistency maximizes the readability of the article. Keep headers,
sub-headers, and sub-sub-headers in the same format — font size, type, weight, etc. — throughout your article.

If possible, work with a professional designer. Designers know how to lay out the text in your article to make it easier to read.

For example, they can introduce color schemes to define sections, design call-out boxes to separate large sections of text, or create charts and infographics to display data.

It’s time to get technical

After digesting these four tips, you should be writing stunningly straightforward technical guides and articles in no time.

What type of technical articles have you written?

How do you ensure that your topic is easily understood?

Let’s discuss the differences between copywriting and technical writing over on Google+

Editor’s note: If you found this article useful, we suggest you read 7 Ways to Simplify Complex Content While Maintaining Sophistication and Nuance by Yael Grauer.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via James Arboghast.

About the Author: Nick Chowdrey is Technical Writer for Crunch Accounting, a UK-based online accounting company. He writes internal help guides for the company on technical accounting topics and contributes to a number of business blogs. Follow him on Twitter.

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An Internet Marketing Education in 16 Ebooks and 20 Emails. No Charge. http://www.copyblogger.com/online-marketing-course/ http://www.copyblogger.com/online-marketing-course/#respond Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=19480 Want to discover the smartest ways to mix social media, content marketing, and SEO for lead generation? Want to convert those leads to customers and clients? We’ve got you covered with Internet Marketing for Smart People. And there’s absolutely no charge. These 16 high-impact ebooks plus our 20-installment email course deliver the techniques and strategies

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Want to discover the smartest ways to mix social media, content marketing, and SEO for lead generation?

Want to convert those leads to customers and clients?

We’ve got you covered with Internet Marketing for Smart People. And there’s absolutely no charge.

These 16 high-impact ebooks plus our 20-installment email course deliver the techniques and strategies you need to know to become a much smarter marketer online.

Find out more and sign up (free) right here.

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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4 Simple Steps to Writing a Blog Post That Floods Your Inbox with Inquiries http://www.copyblogger.com/blog-post-formula/ http://www.copyblogger.com/blog-post-formula/#respond Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=41808 Are your blog posts helping you win clients? Blogging helps boost your authority, drive relevant traffic, and generate leads. But are your blog posts working for your business? Although business blogging is a longterm strategy, you can employ a few smart tactics to one single post in order to generate meaningful leads. Not just one

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a row of mailboxes, the largest one is bright yellow with a painted smiley face

Are your blog posts helping you win clients?

Blogging helps boost your authority, drive relevant traffic, and generate leads.

But are your blog posts working for your business?

Although business blogging is a longterm strategy, you can employ a few smart tactics to one single post in order to generate meaningful leads.

Not just one lead. But a handful or more of quality leads.

In this post, I’ll show you exactly how I stumbled upon this four-step formula, and how you can apply this method to your business.

Ready to start winning new clients?

Step 1: Forget about generating leads

Running a small business is stressful.

You need to keep existing clients happy and fill your pipeline with new prospects.

You need to maintain your website and accounts, look for networking opportunities, and so much more.

But when we get so focused on running our businesses, we sometimes forget our true goal: solving clients’ problems.

To generate serious leads with a single blog post, you need to forget about lead generation for a moment.

Instead, go back to basics:

A lead-generating blog post doesn’t necessarily generate a ton of social shares — it’s possible, but not required. As Tom Martin suggests: chase customers, not clicks.

An effective blog post makes your ideal client pay attention because you tell her you can solve her problems.

Which problem will your blog post solve?

Step 2: Stand out as an exquisite problem solver

The web is full of superficial posts.

You know the type of posts I’m talking about, don’t you? 10 simple tips to achieve this or that and 7 mistakes to avoid to be awesome.

A short list of generic tips doesn’t make you stand out. You’re wasting your precious time.

To stand out as a serious problem solver, you need to concentrate your efforts. Write an epic tutorial instead of dashing off a series of wishy-washy posts.

Did you notice how Samar Owais debuted on Copyblogger in May?

She wrote a 5,156-word blog post about 53 freelancing mistakes. That’s how you arrive with a bang and intrigue potential clients (beginning freelance writers in Samar’s case).

We’re living in an amazing time, when anyone can find clients online. But you need to stand out from the masses who are also marketing themselves.

To get noticed and win clients as a no-nonsense problem solver, your blog post needs to:

  • Describe your client’s problem in your opening paragraph and promise to solve it in the remainder of your blog post
  • Explain with specific details how a client can solve her problem
  • Remind your potential client how much more productive, happier, or healthier she’ll be when she follows your advice

When you consistently solve people’s problems, you win clients online.

Additional strategies for promoting your business with online content will be discussed during an upcoming master class on Kindle Publishing.

Click here to register for this Authority master class

Step 3: Apply authority enhancers

Are you worried that clients won’t listen to you because you’re not an established authority yet?

If you feel like a newbie, insert some authority enhancers into your blog post to strengthen your credibility:

  • Quote industry experts to demonstrate you have current knowledge of your field
  • Insert book citations to show you’ve done your research
  • Include credible statistics to add substance to your content
  • Present detailed examples or case studies to show you can apply your knowledge
  • Share strong opinions, and don’t be afraid to alienate readers who aren’t right for your business

Writing an authority-boosting article requires you to sweat the details. Avoid generic statements. Dig deep to find the best quotes and the most useful examples.

Make your post so good that readers can’t ignore you.

Step 4: Make prospects fall in love with you

Authority can be a little boring.

Doesn’t almost everyone claim to be an expert or guru?

Authority on its own doesn’t make you stand out — even the most comprehensive post can still bore your readers to tears. And who wants to work with a boring, old fart?

To tempt clients to hire you, add a large dollop of personality to your posts:

  • Replace academic lingo with everyday language
  • Add a dash of humor, and embrace your own quirks
  • Make your voice more dynamic by using ultra-short sentences

Get rid of that academic tone. You might think you sound erudite, but the truth is you sound like a stuffy dodo — boring as hell, devoid of personality.

In a world of content shock, your unique voice makes you stand out. Your personality attracts clients.

If you suffer from quiet-blog syndrome …

No blog traffic yet?

Stop worrying about your own site for now. Instead, apply these four steps to guest posting.

Where are your ideal customers hanging out? Which blogs are they reading?

Before pitching and writing your guest post, study the host blog to ensure you understand its audience well. Review all popular posts. Read at least one hundred comments.

Is the audience struggling with the problem you want to solve for them?

Lead generation in practice

In October 2012, I published a guest post on KISSmetrics: “How to Write Seductive Sales Copy Like Apple.” I had quit my job the previous month, and I wasn’t even sure yet whether or not I wanted to be a copywriter.

When I wrote the post, I didn’t think about generating leads. I simply wanted to write a popular post that would solve a reader’s problem.

This is how I used the four steps to show a reader how to write copy that wins business.

  1. I studied KISSmetrics’s business-focused audience — mainly software as a service (SaaS) and e-commerce businesses looking to win customers online; I also found that readers loved posts about Apple and Steve Jobs. That’s why I used Apple as an example for my copywriting tutorial, and in the headline!
  2. In my opening paragraph, I demonstrated the business benefits of copyselling with words, turning doubters into buyers, captivating attention, and gaining more sales, and then created a comprehensive tutorial outlining
    11 copywriting lessons. Each lesson featured a short explanation of a copywriting concept, an example from the Apple website, and straightforward tips on how to implement the concept for your own copy.
  3. The blog post contained authority enhancers — figures of the average number of words per sentence on iPhone webpages added substance to my plea for shorter sentences. To add credibility to my argument, I also used specific details about how legendary copywriter Claude C. Hopkins successfully marketed the Schlitz brand.
  4. I applied a dollop of personality — even though the blog post was more than 3,000 words, the tutorial was concise; it also engaged the reader with questions, used seductive words, and included ultra-short sentences to show enthusiasm.

As a bonus, the post was optimized for how to write sales copy, and continues to attract organic traffic, generate email subscribers, and the occasional business inquiry — nearly two years after publication!

If you have a service business, you can follow the exact same steps to win clients.

For instance, a web designer can explain and illustrate usability or design principles. If you’re a marketing coach, explain how startups can apply persuasion techniques to win more business. An SEO specialist has the opportunity to explain exactly how to do keyword research for an e-commerce site.

Entice potential clients by proving you can solve their problems.

The truth about online lead generation

A large collection of wishy-washy blog posts might generate some traffic, but you won’t win clients.

Rather than churning out many blog posts, focus on quality.

Be confident. Be helpful. Be generous.

When you follow the four steps, your inbox will be flooded with inquiries, and you’ll be able to choose the best clients.

Let’s go over to Google+ to discuss writing comprehensive, enthusiastic, problem-solving tutorials.


Want to learn more about using content to gain clients?

This Friday, August 22 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time, I’ll be talking with Sonia Simone in a session titled Promoting Your Business with Kindle Publishing.

The audio seminar is free for Authority members. You’ll just need to register here.

If you’re not an Authority member yet … try Authority risk-free and get exclusive audio seminars like this one nearly every week of the year, ongoing networking opportunities, discounts, and education.

See you Friday, August 22, at noon Eastern!

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Loving Earth.

About the Author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and marketer. She's on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs sparkle. Get her free 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for Busy People and learn how to enchant your readers and win more business.

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3 Lessons Learned From a Titan of Copywriting http://www.copyblogger.com/titan-copywriting/ http://www.copyblogger.com/titan-copywriting/#respond Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43446 I was on the phone earlier this week with copywriting legend John Carlton and we were ranting about all sorts of topics. (You know, like you do when you’re on the phone with John Carlton.) He made the observation that the next “big thing” in marketing may not be in the areas of whiz-bang technology,

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typewriter centered on a desk with a telephone and pad of paper and pen

I was on the phone earlier this week with copywriting legend John Carlton and we were ranting about all sorts of topics.

(You know, like you do when you’re on the phone with John Carlton.)

He made the observation that the next “big thing” in marketing may not be in the areas of whiz-bang technology, but rather in the blocking and tackling techniques of adept career direct marketers.



That’s not to say that technology won’t continue to move at the speed of light. But certain methods just don’t change.

Great writing still rules. As they say here at Copyblogger, The writer runs this show. And those who spend more time storytelling and less time figuring out the next big “Ninja technique” will be the winners for the long haul.



Ninja techniques create revenue events. Great copy and creative approaches create businesses.



My observation (as well as Carlton’s) is that the best copywriters are always ahead of the curve.

And because of their insatiable curiosity and need to research everything at the deepest level before putting pen to paper (or pixel to screen), they are in the best position to “heed warnings” of what is happening in the marketplace and what will make people move to action.


Today, I thought I’d share three insights I’ve gleaned from working alongside master copywriter Parris Lampropoulos at Boardroom Inc.

Parris is part of what I privately call my “Mount Rushmore” of Boardroom copywriters, along with Eric Betuel, David Deutsch, and Arthur Johnson.

(They’ll all be featured speakers, by the way, at a live event in September we’re calling Titans of Direct Response. I’ll talk more about that in a bit.)

Lesson #1: The best creative platform might be right in front of you



A Boardroom trademark is bringing our experts together on a regular basis — whether at our famous “Boardroom Dinners” or just assembling experts from a particular discipline to meet, debate, and see what sparks fly when they get together in a moderated discussion.

Those sparks have a way of turning into terrific story ideas.

 Our founder Marty Edelston once brought all of our tax experts together in one meeting. He was smart enough to not only invite our editors, but also one of our copywriters.



The meeting produced dozens of superb story ideas and a blockbuster control package for our newsletter, Tax Hotline.



Parris found the hook in that meeting — a “secret meeting of the country’s top tax experts, spilling the beans on things they would not normally talk about in public.”

The copy Parris wrote made Tax Hotline the most attractive publication of its kind at the time.



Lesson #2: I’m not a doctor, but I play one in direct mail

I don’t mean to be cute here, but when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, one of the first calls I made (after family and some friends) was to Parris.



I knew I had a lot of research ahead of me in terms of choosing the right treatment and doctors. But I also knew that one of my ace copywriters had read more about this particular cancer than most doctors I would talk to, especially in the alternative treatment area.



I knew that with one phone call to Parris, I would benefit from the fact that he was a copywriter who never wrote about anything before he researched everything.


You may have heard the Copyblogger folks talking about authority.

Authority is a concept embedded in copywriting — not only writing about a topic but making a sustained commitment to knowing it at the deepest level.


Lesson #3: Don’t leave your best material on the cutting room floor

The best copywriters know this: Always take the time to probe your editors, gurus, and experts to make sure there is not more material in those incredible brains that could create breakthrough articles or concepts.

The process will lead to more compelling promotion copy — and yes, more sales of your product or service.



I’m not recommending disrespecting people’s time, or pushing the envelope for the sake of pushing the envelope, but this lesson reminds me of a classic Henry Kissinger story (or my version of it).



A speech writer for Kissinger went off to write a speech for him, brought in his first draft, and Kissinger sent it back to him to improve it.



This happened seven or eight times.



Finally, the writer brought the ninth version and said:

This is the best I can do … I can’t do any better…



To which Kissinger replied:



OK, now I will read it.



You get the point.



To be an A+ copywriter, don’t consider showing any of the first eight versions to a client.

Only present the most complete version, after you have squeezed every drop out of your topic experts, trimmed every ounce of fluff from the copy, and immersed yourself in everything you needed to know to write world-class copy.



I don’t know about you, but that’s who I want as my marketing partner.



Oh, and about the Titans event …

Remember my Mount Rushmore? Four of the most successful direct response copywriters alive today?

They’re going to be joined this September by copywriting and direct marketing legends including Gary Bencivenga, Greg Renker, Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Joe Sugarman, and more. It’s a genuinely once-in-a-lifetime event.

We called the group “Titans” for a reason. If you know anything about direct response copywriting, you know we’re assembling some of our industry’s most powerful and enduring success stories.

We were able to bring this powerhouse group together for a special commemoration of the life of Boardroom’s Marty Edelston, my mentor and a Titan in his own right.

Space is extremely limited, so if you’re interested in meeting the “Titans” and gaining their insights into your copywriting marketing strategy, click the link below to get all of the details:

Marketing lessons from the Titans of Direct Response

If you’re aiming to become a “Titan” yourself (as a business owner, copywriter, or direct marketer), I’m very much looking forward to meeting you there!

What copywriting lessons have you learned from your colleagues?

Let’s continue the discussion over on Google+ …

Flickr Creative Commons Image via borderhacker. 




About the Author: Brian Kurtz has generated more than $300 million in sales over his 32-year career and has overseen the mailing of approximately 1.3 billion pieces of third class mail. Get more from him at BrianKurtz.me.

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New Book Excerpt: Keep It Simple, But Not Simplistic http://www.copyblogger.com/simple-not-simplistic/ http://www.copyblogger.com/simple-not-simplistic/#respond Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43194 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

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blue sky with white clouds, waves crashing on a beach, and a road winding through mountains

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.

Make it simple

Another gem from my journalism professors: Assume the reader knows nothing.

But don’t assume the reader is stupid.

If you think your business-to-business concept is too complex to be conveyed simply, take a look at the very first line of the Economist’s style guide:

The first requirement of The Economist is that it should be readily understandable. Clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought. So think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible.

Here’s where content marketing people like you and me can really help add value in a business context, because simple means making it easy for the customer.

It means being the customer’s advocate. As Boston-based content strategist Georgy Cohen writes (in the context of creating website content):

The marketer should be identifying (and ruthlessly refining) the core messages and the top goals, then working with the web professionals to create a website supporting them.

Simplicity comes primarily from approaching any writing with empathy and a reader-centric point of view to begin with — that is, it’s the result of writing with clarity and brevity, and in human language, as we’ve been talking about here. But also consider the vehicle carrying the message: Maybe you don’t need words at all. Or maybe you need a cleaner, simpler look for the words you do use.

Some tips:

Find the best fit for your message.
Would a chart, graphic, or visual convey an idea more simply? Would a video convey what we are trying to say more directly?

Think before ink.
Think before ink means finding your key point by asking three questions about every bit of content you create.

  • Why am I creating this? What’s my objective?
  • What is my key take on the subject or issue? What’s my point of view?
  • And, finally, the critical so what?-because exercise: Why does it matter to the people you are trying to reach (posit: so what)? Why should they care (answer: because).

Swap places with your reader.
Be a skeptic of your own work. Get out of your own head and into your reader’s or your customer’s.

Relentlessly, unremittingly, obstinately think from your readers’ point of view, with empathy for the experience you are giving them. Edit ruthlessly.

Design with your words, rather than fitting words into a design.
The visual treatment of words on a page (digital or actual) can greatly enhance their effectiveness. So here are two things to keep in mind:

  1. White space is a prerequisite, not a luxury. Large chunks of text are formidable and depressing. Designers will tell you that more white space makes your work readable, and it’s true. It also gives your words oxygen, allowing them to breathe and live on the page with plenty of room to
    relax — instead of being jumbled together in a kind of content shantytown or ghetto.
  2. Make your words the hero of your design, rather than adding them to a completed design the way a supermarket baker pipes a name into the blank field on a prebaked birthday cake from the case.

For a marketer, design and content aren’t separate processes; they are actually key parts of the same process. They are best friends and life partners, and they deserve to be treated as such.

Writing is teaching

Good, pathologically empathic writing strives to explain, clarify, and make sense of our world — even if it’s just a straightforward product description.

In her book on writing, Bird by Bird, writer Anne Lamott says:

A writer always tries … to be part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass this on.

It’s easy to embrace the teaching mindset when you’re writing how-to or instructional content. But the notion is broader than that — strive to explain your point of view to your reader with supporting evidence and context.

Don’t just tell your readers that you feel an emotion; tell them why you feel it. Don’t just say what works; tell them why it works and the circumstances that led you to this moment.

Be as specific as possible:

  • Don’t say “solution”: tell me what your product does.
  • Don’t say “a lot”: tell me how many.

No one will complain that you make something too simple to understand, right?

So, said another way:

Keep it simple — but not simplistic.

This is what I tried to do with my new brand-book, Everybody Writes.

It comes out in early September, and I’m excited to share it with you and others like you.

Create ridiculously good content

Great content is the key to thriving in this digital world, and at the heart of great content is authentic, economic, empathetic writing — the type of writing that explains to our customers who we are and how we can help them in a simple, straightforward way.

Great content isn’t only about storytelling; it’s about telling true stories well.

The ability to do this is not a magic gift bestowed only on the fortunate. We’re all writers — and writing well is part habit, part knowledge of fundamental rules, and part giving a damn.

I want to help you take the next steps to make your writing better. That’s the goal of this book.

I hope you’ll take me up on my offer!

And if you do before August 20, 2014, I have a special gift for you: a free prize pack stuffed with a few fun items that will help you battle against meh content — the Anti-Mediocrity Content Toolkit (AMCT).

amci

Here’s what you get:

  • An Everybody Writes laptop sticker. Slap it on your laptop, grab your usual table at the coffee shop, and flaunt that you’re a decidedly non-mediocre writer.
  • A magic writing pen. You don’t really need a magic writing pen (the magic is in you), but it’s a handy talisman that delivers the will, courage, inspiration, gumption, and the wits to write. (Pro tip: Change the ink color each day so you can discern how many pages you produced the previous day. Author Neil Gaiman does this.)
  • A Hemingway-inspired drink coaster.
  • A “privacy” door hanger, inspired by Stephen King.
  • A two-sided bookmark with (a) an original poem by me that gives the lowly page-marker some respect, and (b) 13 Writing Rules.

Here’s how to qualify:

Pre-order Everybody Writes from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (or your bookseller of choice), then email your receipt to preorders@annhandley.com. (U.S. only. Delivery in 4–6 weeks, while supplies last.) (I’m sorry that sounds so harsh. But this is what happens when you let the lawyers preview your contest rules.)

And when you get your book, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

For now, let’s discuss strategies for producing ridiculously good, simple content over on Google+!

Image by Ma. Alejandra Gómez via Unsplash.

About the Author: Ann Handley speaks and writes about how you can rethink the way your business markets. She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and the co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules. Get more from Ann on Twitter or at AnnHandley.com.

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