Copyblogger http://www.copyblogger.com Content marketing tools and training. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Announcing: A New Resource for Those Who Need Great Content http://www.copyblogger.com/qualified-freelance-writers/ http://www.copyblogger.com/qualified-freelance-writers/#respond Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=43269 It’s a common wisecrack around the Copyblogger virtual office. This whole content marketing thing would be a lot simpler if someone else would just write all the content. Whether you’re a writer or not, it’s just a fact that a solid content marketing strategy needs lots and lots of words. Well-crafted, interesting words, assembled into

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image of colorful writer's desk

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

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

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

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

Do you know any really good writers we can hire?

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

I’m tickled to let you know about a new resource for those of you who need to hire smart, capable, savvy writers. These are the first graduates from Copyblogger Media’s Certified Content Marketer program:

Copyblogger-Certified Content Marketers

How do the writers get certified?

These writers have taken an in-depth course, created by Brian Clark, on the essentials of content strategy. The course covers:

  • Advanced content strategy
  • How to strategize and create content that ranks well in search engines
  • How to use social media to boost the effectiveness of content
  • How to use email as the “conversion key” to turn fans into customers
  • The keys to unlocking maximum results for clients

… and more essential techniques and strategies for putting effective content marketing together.

Each writer on this page has then submitted their application to our writing team for evaluation. A senior-level Copyblogger staff writer carefully reviews each application for:

  • Writing style, voice, and clarity
  • Understanding of key elements of content marketing
  • Mastery of persuasive copywriting technique
  • Professionalism and polish

So if you’re looking for a writer who understands the art of writing and the business of content marketing, this would be a smart place to find one.

What does Copyblogger get out of this?

We do charge the writers a moderate tuition fee to take the course and submit their application. (Just like with a college class, you pay your tuition whether or not you receive a passing grade for the course.)

We do not, however, gain any commissions or referral fees from these writers in exchange for sending them your way. We also don’t charge businesses for hiring our writers.

We actually had two main reasons for creating the program:

  1. To take solid writers and help them become great marketers,
  2. And to facilitate that connection between talented writers and the businesses who need them.

Because content marketing without great content is just … sad, pointless spam. We know content can be so much more than that, but we also saw that businesses absolutely needed trained writers to make that happen.

Not all of us are professional writers — and sometimes it just makes sense to call in a pro. If that’s what you need to to do, here’s where we suggest you start.

The Copyblogger Certified Content Marketers

And do check back from time to time — new writers are being added weekly as they complete their application review.

If you want to know more about what a well-qualified writer can do for your business, you might want to check out this post:

A Breakthrough Resource for Your Content Creation


Are you a talented professional writer who wants to join the program?

Access to the Certification program is limited, but we expect to run the course again before the end of the year.

To find out when, just make sure you’ve signed up for our free online marketing course and ebooks. We’ll drop you a line when we’re ready for new students.

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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7 Ways to Simplify Complex Content While Maintaining Sophistication and Nuance http://www.copyblogger.com/complex-content/ http://www.copyblogger.com/complex-content/#respond Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42073 So, you’re full of information and have a dramatic story for your audience? Good. But here’s the harsh truth: every bit of knowledge in the whole world is completely meaningless if you don’t do this one thing. Before I spill the secret, let me tell you what it’s not … It’s not about having the

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Aerospace scientists with equipment

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

Good.

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

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

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

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

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

Engage your internal translator

Consider world hunger for a moment.

There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world. At the same
time, 40 million tons of food are wasted in the U.S. alone.

Although that wasted food could theoretically feed the hungry, the biggest problem is distribution — getting that food to people who need it.

Knowledge faces the same distribution obstacle.

Street smarts, book smarts, theoretical knowledge, practical knowledge — all of it becomes somewhat meaningless if people keep it to themselves, or if they try to explain it to others in a way that is difficult to understand.

Business coach Charlie Gilkey posed a question to me several years ago that has always stuck in my memory. He asked:

What’s the point of being smart if nobody understands what you have to say?

It’s far smarter to simplify your message and explain it in a way that’s accessible, while still maintaining nuance and accuracy, than to hoard information and grumble about how others just don’t understand — or worse, explain it in a convoluted way.

It’s likely you feel confident about explaining what you do. You answer readers’ common questions, use case studies, and tell engaging stories. But how do you convey information you’ve received from someone else — perhaps an industry leader, researcher, or person who works in a highly specialized field?

Enter the translator. Your internal translator, that is. In order to do your readers justice, you’ll need to explain elaborate information to them in a succinct way.

Here are seven steps I take that promote comprehension of complex subjects.

Step #1: Ask dumb questions

I spoke with two people for this post: a perfusionist named Travis Siffring, and a graduate student in aerospace engineering named Ilhan Garou, who designed a fault-tolerant controller for a multicopter to be sent to Mars.

When I spoke with Siffring, I began our conversation with a basic question: “What do you do?”

He told me that he runs the heart-lung bypass machine during heart surgery.

I followed up with a dumb question: “What’s a heart-lung bypass machine?”

Next, I asked the machine’s location in relation to a patient’s body, how long it can be used, and so forth.

You need to ask obvious questions (including ones that make you feel stupid) because it will provoke simple answers. If you act like you have a thorough understanding of a topic — when you don’t — the person you’re interviewing will use more complicated language.

To serve your ultimate goal of explaining new information to your audience, interview with a novice mindset.

Step #2: Create straightforward analogies

Ask additional questions to make sure you understand the answers to the questions you ask.

Compare and contrast an intricate subject to something well-known. How is it similar or different?

For example, when I spoke with Garou about octocopters, I asked if they were like drones. Then, when we talked about the octocopter’s controller, I asked if it was like a joystick for a remote-controlled car.

Verify that your analogies are accurate, and if so, they’re a great way to explain the concept to your readers.

Step #3: Get specific

Now that you’re familiar with the basics, it’s time to learn details.

During this step, I asked Garou, “Why do people use adaptive controllers?”

The answer?

Although hundreds of years of research have proven that non-adaptive controllers are extremely safe, you also have to be more conservative when you use them. Adaptive controllers allow for riskier maneuvers, like tight or fast turns.

Adaptive controllers are also easier to operate and useful if you want to experiment, save money, or both.

Step #4: Investigate

This is a fun step: look for interesting stories that complement confusing job descriptions.

Although Siffring couldn’t share specific information because of medical privacy laws, he was able to speak in generalities.

He described a typical emergency room scenario:

A patient comes in and they’re having CPR done to them — everybody’s sort of running around: the nurses are trying to set up and get ready, we’re trying to get our machine ready, the surgeons are cutting the patient’s chest open so they can access the heart, and the anesthesiologist is doing his thing … it looks like total chaos, but with everybody doing something specific. Then you put the patient on the heart-lung machine, stabilize them, do the surgery, pretty soon you take him off, and three to four days later, you see him walking out of the hospital.

Ask experts what they wish someone would ask them or common misperceptions about their industry to get vivid answers.

Step #5: Eliminate jargon

Have someone else review your writing to make sure it’s accessible. One thing he or she can look for is whether or not the words you use are unnecessarily complicated.

One of my favorite editors, Joe Lazauskas, recently changed a complicated description I had written (“audience acquisition and retention”) to one that said the same thing in a simpler way (“building and sustaining a loyal audience”).

During our discussion, Garou pointed out that he changed the terminology he typically uses. He refers to hexacopters or octocopters as “systems” or “plants,” but those words wouldn’t make sense to someone outside his industry.

Cutting unnecessary jargon and complicated language helps people understand your writing better — clearly define a term or eliminate it.

Step #6: Fact-check

After you’ve removed vague language and revised your text, ask the expert you spoke with to review your content or have someone else in that field check to make sure your writing conveys the proper message.

This step minimizes factually inaccurate information.

Step #7: Present your material

Here’s an example of how I would describe perfusionist Travis Siffring:

Travis Siffring is a perfusionist — he operates a heart-lung bypass machine during heart surgery. A heart-lung bypass machine performs the function of the heart and lungs for a patient. It pumps blood, oxygenates blood, and removes carbon dioxide.

Operating a heart-lung bypass machine is different than CPR. CPR circulates blood by compressing the chest, making heart surgery impossible. There are some similarities, though. For example, both CPR and the heart-lung bypass machine help keep a person’s blood flowing in order to prevent brain damage.

During heart surgery, the surgeon hooks a big straw into the heart to drain blood away from the heart. The blood goes through the pump and the oxygenator, which is the artificial lung, and the pump then puts the blood back into the body. It circulates the blood even though the heart is stopped.

Perfusionists help cardiac surgeons operate on a still heart that is not beating.

Bonus step: Pay attention to feedback

You may think your description was extremely easy to understand, but others may still have difficulty with it.

Conversely, your description may be overly simplistic, and experts may think you missed important aspects.

Listen to feedback to help guide your future work.

Now go forth and liberate information

How will you use these strategies the next time you need to break down a subject matter that is difficult to explain?

What techniques do you use?

Let’s go over to Google+ and discuss how we serve our audiences with simple versions of complex content!

Editor’s note: If you found this article useful, we suggest you read 5 Tips for Turning Drab Information Into a Tantalizing Tutorial by Henneke Duistermaat.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via SDASM Archives.

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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Get the WordPress Theme That Gives You an Unfair Business Advantage http://www.copyblogger.com/generate-wordpress-theme/ http://www.copyblogger.com/generate-wordpress-theme/#respond Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=37827 So … how did you sell out all 400+ tickets three months before the event even started? What was your content marketing strategy? This is the question a friendly reporter asked me during the opening night party for Authority Intensive 2014. “That’s a great question,” I said, stalling. Truth was, I didn’t know exactly how

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preview image of Generate Pro theme

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

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

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

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

And he did.

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

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

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

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

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

Why Generate Pro?

Because Generate Pro was literally designed with one objective in mind: to drive subscribers to your email list.

It’s not that other Genesis child themes aren’t effective at doing the same. They are. (Cases in point: Magazine Pro and Balance Pro.)

But Generate Pro employs a minimalist structure and a simple-to-set-up subscription header widget that makes it the most fine-tuned StudioPress theme ever for driving subscriptions.

And as the story above illustrates, driving email subscriptions is what drives real (some might even say … unfair) business results online.

But that’s not all …

Generate Pro isn’t just a smart theme choice because it’s easy to set up for email address capture. Here are two other reasons it might be the right design choice that ties everything together for you:

1. It’s mobile responsive
Remember: mobile responsiveness is no longer a nice-to-have feature. It’s a necessity.

But chances are good that you, like me:

  • Don’t know how to code a mobile responsive site yourself, and
  • Don’t want to pay to have someone do it for you

With Generate Pro, your site is mobile responsive right out of the box — so no matter what device you or your audience is using to browse your site, the view and experience will be optimized.

2. It’s backed by the StudioPress team
The Internet isn’t always a friendly and predictable place.

Hackers will find long-overlooked security holes. WordPress will regularly release important core updates. And sometimes even your own tinkering will cause the dreaded and feared white screen of death.

Which is why it’s nice to know that one of the most robust WordPress communities and one of the most experienced and successful WordPress development teams in the world has your back.

Here’s what this means for you:

  • You can rest easy at night because Generate Pro is built on the Genesis Framework, which passes regular security checks by core WordPress developers.
  • You need not fret when WordPress updates come out, because Genesis will be updated as well to correspond without issue.
  • You don’t have to cry when something you do boinks your site, because you have the StudioPress support team and community to help you.

Basically: you’re covered.

Create content and build value for your audience. We’ll take care of the rest.

What are you building?

The question you need to answer is are you building a website … or are you building a business?

If it’s the latter, then building an audience must be your number one priority.

And that means reaching people at their most intimate online touchpoint: their inboxes.

Generate the email list that will generate your audience … and build your business:

Try Generate Pro by StudioPress risk-free today

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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How to Market Your Freelance Business Without Feeling Like an Impostor http://www.copyblogger.com/market-freelance-business/ http://www.copyblogger.com/market-freelance-business/#respond Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42266 You’ve felt it, haven’t you? That sick feeling clawing at your stomach every time you think about marketing your freelance business. You’re worried you won’t be able to convince prospective clients you’re the right person for the job — that you’re the answer to their problems. You may still feel like an impostor even if

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mr. potato head with mustache giving two thumbs up

You’ve felt it, haven’t you?

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

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

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

What if you can’t deliver?

What if clients don’t love your work?

What if your past success has all been a fluke?

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

You’re not alone.

Lots of terrific writers second-guess ourselves and our abilities.

The truth about feeling like an impostor

Every freelancer I’ve met has experienced the debilitating fear of someone “discovering” she’s a fraud.

Even the most successful freelance business owners experience it.

Just ask Chris Lema.

Chris has always felt like an impostor. He was accepted to a prestigious
joint-college program between the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University. The program only accepts one student each year.

But Chris didn’t believe in himself. He was convinced they’d made a mistake and he was nowhere near as smart as he needed to be to attend the program. So, he left the program before anyone discovered they’d made a mistake.

A few years later, he sold his first start-up to a big firm that invited him to be their Chief Technology Officer. What did Chris do? You guessed it. He turned down the position. He was terrified they’d eventually find out he wasn’t as smart as they thought he was.

Chris calls it impostor syndrome — a term originally coined by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978.

The inability to internalize success

Maybe you’ve received a glowing recommendation from a client, had your guest post published on a massively popular blog, or landed a six-figure contract — anything that’s brought you attention, opportunities, and authority.

Despite these accomplishments, you don’t think you deserve recognition.

Impostor syndrome is the inability to internalize success.

If you’ve ever deflected a compliment about your work, or given credit to something or someone other than yourself, it may be because you felt like an impostor.

Overcoming impostor syndrome

If you feel like an impostor, let me tell you — it’s all in your head.

The good news is that prospective clients don’t know you consider yourself an impostor.

The bad news is that clients recognize when you’re not comfortable in your own skin. They won’t take you seriously if you’re not confident.

So, how do you overcome impostor syndrome and confidently market your business?

Follow these five tips to combat feeling like an impostor.

1. Focus on the client instead of yourself

Don’t talk about what you do or even how you do it. Show clients how you can solve their problems.

For example, an accountant can communicate that she will manage her clients’ finances so they won’t have to hopelessly stare at their computer monitors, trying to balance their financial spreadsheets until their eyes cross.

When you focus on the client, you take the pressure off yourself. Suddenly, the limelight shifts from you to the client.

You capture the client’s attention and educate step-by-step.

2. Perfect your elevator pitch

You’re at a conference, a party, or maybe even a Google+ Hangout, and someone asks you, “So, what exactly do you do?”

Your smile freezes, your heart somersaults, and you silently freak out.

What do you say?

“I’m a freelance copywriter,” you respond, as you hear your inner-critic loudly shout, “Boooring!”

The awkward silence, bland expressions, and non-committal “Oh, that’s nice” comments tell you you’ve just lost your audience.

Conventional advice tells you to have an elevator pitch ready for such situations. It’s just a fancy term for your answer to the “What do you do?” question, but it’s still good advice.

To create a killer answer that’ll intrigue your audience and compel them to talk more, formulate a one-sentence answer to the question.

Instead of answering, “I’m a freelance copywriter,” say, “I help small businesses market themselves online through written content,” or, “I help small businesses increase sales by writing their marketing copy.”

More often than not, you’ll get another question along the lines of, “How do you do that?” or, “What kind of marketing copy do you write?”

Practice your elevator pitch until it becomes second nature.

When you’re comfortable, you’re perceived as authentic.

3. Demonstrate results

Focus on showing prospective clients your work instead of telling them what you do.

If you’re an online content strategist, don’t use that terminology. Show them.

Send them an entertaining case study you’ve created or a knockout article you’ve written.

During business correspondence, narrate a descriptive scenario that shows specific results.

For example, you could say, “One of my clients had a blog post that ranked on the fifth page of Google for the article’s main keyword. My strategies helped move it to page one. It generated a ton of traffic and leads for them.”

4. Save all the praise you receive

I learned this career-saving trick from James Chartrand when I took her Damn Fine Words writing course.

One assignment required us to state our limiting beliefs as writers. Guess what mine was?

Yep. It was feeling like an impostor.

I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I mean, who was I to call myself a writer? English isn’t even my first language!

James advised that I collect all the praise I receive and review it whenever I feel like an impostor. And if I don’t believe the praise, she suggested that I ask the person who’d given it to me to specify.

I took her advice and now use Evernote to store praise from clients, writers I admire, and random people who sent me a tweet or an email because they appreciated my writing.

The collection reminds me of my achievements and always makes me feel better.

Save all the praise you receive, and don’t discriminate. Whether it’s from someone popular or unknown — praise is praise.

Fans of your work can also help grow your freelance business. Email them about working together, or ask if they know someone who needs a freelancer.

Build relationships with your fans.

5. Create your support system

Sometimes, collecting praise and reviewing it when you feel insecure isn’t enough. You also need to find support.

You need someone you can rely on to give you honest advice — someone who would tell you if your work needs improvement or that you’ve done a great job (and you can relax).

Find a friend, business partner, or even another freelancer who is trustworthy and empathetic. Support each other when impostor syndrome emerges.

Over to you …

How do you market your freelance business when you feel like an impostor?

Do you promote your work despite your fears, or do you withdraw?

We’d love to hear how you cope with impostor syndrome and get back on track.

Join the discussion over on Google+ and share your story.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Dave Appleby.

Editor’s note: This is the second post in Samar Owais’s freelance business advice series. Make sure to review the helpful tips in her first post, 53 Freelancing Mistakes That Are Costing You Clients, Cash, and Credibility.

About the Author: Samar Owais is a freelance writer and blogger. She loves writing (kinda goes without saying), road trips, and helping writers succeed in their freelance writing businesses. Download her free report, 10 Unexpected Places to Find Freelance Writing Clients, to jump-start your freelance career today.

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Beyond Niches: Tap Into This Psychological Driver to Create the Ultimate Message http://www.copyblogger.com/worldview-content-marketing/ http://www.copyblogger.com/worldview-content-marketing/#respond Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42541 The number of blog posts published every day is absurd. Let’s just say it exceeds the population of the four largest countries in the world and be done with it. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t. The point is — and we all know it — the volume of written content online is overwhelming.

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

The number of blog posts published every day is absurd.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But you can do better than that.

Identifying a niche is important, but it isn’t enough.

You need to understand your audience’s outlook. In other words, you need to tap into their worldview.

Introducing the worldview

What is a worldview? It’s a descriptive model of the world. Your worldview, whether you’re aware of it or not, answers questions such as:

  • What should we do next?
  • What is true and false?
  • How should we attain our goals?
  • How do we explain our intentions?

Your worldview is not systematically developed. You don’t sit down, set your chin on your fist, and say, “What do I need to do to become a postmodern pragmatist?”

No. Your worldview develops over time. Your parents, friends, education, experiences, and your genetic makeup all influence your worldview. And, like your favorite Instagram filter, it colors how you see the world.

worldview-filter

As we get older, we can choose and change this filter, but because our worldview informs everything we do, think, and say, a dramatic challenge to it can feel devastating.

You might be wondering what this metaphysical notion has to do with marketing.

The answer is: everything.

Let me prove it to you.

The worldviews of popular Super Bowl ads

You don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy Super Bowl commercials. In fact, I have a hunch that the entertaining ads contribute to the Super Bowl’s popularity.

First, take the GoDaddy “Perfect Match” commercial. Supermodel Bar Refaeli kisses nerdy actor Jesse Heiman. The model represent the sexy side of GoDaddy; the geek represents the technical. The kiss is the perfect blend of these two “disciplines.”

The worldview? One of pleasure that says you can and should have it all. It elevates self.

Then there’s the Ram Trucks “Farmer” commercial, better known as, “So God Made a Farmer.”

Portions of a Carter-era speech by Paul Harvey, a Christian lecturer, flows over images of hard-working and weathered farmers who embody the ethics of selflessness, strength, and solidarity — the values that embody the Ram truck.

That, my friends, is how great advertising can tap into worldview. Both campaigns communicate messages that resonate with their intended audience’s worldview.

The worldview of the most-loved advertiser

Perhaps the most-loved example of worldview in advertising is the 1984 Apple commercial. Its message is simple: be a non-conformist. It’s a worldview that embraces individuality, originality, and creativity.

Apple also did this brilliantly with The Crazy Ones campaign.

On one hand, self-identifying with outcasts contradicts conventional, mass marketing wisdom.

Yet here’s the brilliance of the ad: don’t most of us actually feel like we don’t fit in? Don’t most of us feel like we are misfits?

The message is, of course, that truly great people don’t fit in and — oh, by the way — those people own Macs.

It was an effective approach that displayed an ultimate message.

And it still resonates, despite the ubiquity of Apple products in the marketplace. Apple users still feel like rebels because worldview isn’t about reality — it’s about self-perception.

It’s the same thing for you.

The potency of worldviews: a wine study

Did you know that the same glass of wine will taste differently to you depending upon your emotions and circumstances?

The same glass of wine will taste one way at the end of a productive writing day with the temperature hovering around 70 degrees on a hillside in Sweden, cherry blossom petals falling gently to the ground …

And quite another way when you are crowded into a hot kitchen with your mother and her sisters yelling at you to hurry up with the stuffing, the residue of an argument with your hubby lingering in the back of your mind.

Same glass of wine. Two different tastes, according to a live-action experiment conducted by neuroscientist Daniel Salzman of Columbia University.

Salzman began with a hypothesis: we don’t experience objects or events in complete isolation. Rather, these objects or events are colored by:

… our past experiences, our current mood, our expectations, and any number of incidental details — an annoying neighbor, a waiter who keeps banging your chair, a beautiful painting in your line of sight.

The same thing can be said about the content we consume and the products we buy.

It’s about empathy — really understanding, seeing, and relating back how a person views things.

When you confirm someone’s worldview, he or she is attracted to you. That’s the power of an ultimate message.

As Dr. Frank Luntz said in his book Words That Work, “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.”

Luntz, who’s helped dozens of Fortune 500 companies and politicians communicate, goes on to say,

You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs. It’s not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart. How that person perceives what you say is even more real, at least in a practical sense, than how you perceive yourself.”

A great example of this method is the one question Joanna Wiebe at Copyhackers recommends businesses ask people who visit their websites: “What’s happening in your life that brought you to my website?”

The answer to that question will tell you a lot about your audience: who they are, how they think, what they think about, what they feel, what troubles them, et cetera.

How to discover your prospect’s worldview

To start, review the empathy map I talked about in my last storytelling post.

Then, to get a more complete picture of your audience’s worldview, try the following methods:

  • Conduct one-on-one interviews.
  • Read the comments on your blog.
  • Study Amazon reviews.
  • Create a survey. (You can use tools such as Google Docs or Survey Monkey.)
  • Eavesdrop on real-life conversations.
  • Analyze your support emails.
  • Review your testimonials.
  • Monitor your audience on the social web and across forums.

You’ll discover that it is difficult to put a simple label on your prospect. What you are after, however, is a general sense of the way the world works. In your interviews, surveys, and conversations, it helps to ask questions such as:

  • Are things handed to us? Is luck part of success? Or is hard work the difference between success and failure?
  • Can anyone succeed? How important is formal education?
  • Do you view the world as one of abundance and opportunity? Or do you see the world as one of scarcity and competition? Or both?
  • Is life a game? A war? An adventure? A giant cocktail party? A chess match? Meaningless?
  • What truly matters in life? Is taking action pointless? Should we have it all? Or is that selfish?
  • What virtues mean the most to you? Independence? Intelligence? Compassion? Duty?
  • Are you practical, or do you gravitate toward the abstract? Are you a lover of literature? A lover of pop culture? Or both? Do you love ideas or prefer people?
  • How do you view death? Is it something to be feared or embraced? Why?

Again, these specifics may sound a bit metaphysical for the world of business, but remember that our worldview informs how we behave, including how we spend our money.

You have to start there.

The game is won at the beginning, at the research phase, when you begin to understand who you want to reach and what will make them do business with you.

That’s where an ultimate message is born.

Two hypothetical worldviews

Very few people fall into a strict worldview category. In fact, you want to create your own label.

For example, let’s say your ideal audience believes in the act of creation.

They are creatives, so you define them like this:

My creatives believe they can carve out their own worlds. They believe in determination, honesty, and perseverance. They believe in maximizing human potential. The world is not a field of competition, but a community, a commune where we should all share our resources and be at peace.

Here’s another example. Let’s say your ideal audience is made up of athletes:

My athletes have a chip on their shoulders. Life is hard and resources are scarce. If you don’t take care of yourself, then nobody will. They have something to prove, nothing to lose, and everything to gain. No matter the cost.

By the way, the discoveries you make about your ideal audience may startle you. Keep in mind, your job is not to change their beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors. Your job is to create a message that resonates with those beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors.

That is the ultimate message.

And the person who creates that ultimate message consistently over time will stand out because content marketing is a long game.

The difference between worldviews and personas

You’ve probably noticed that a worldview has a lot in common with a persona. But they are not the same.

Here’s a good definition of persona:

“A persona represents a cluster of users who exhibit similar behavioral patterns in their purchasing decisions, use of technology or products, customer service preferences, lifestyle choices, and the like. Behaviors, attitudes, and motivations are common to a ‘type’ regardless of age, gender, education, and other typical demographics. In fact, personas vastly span demographics.”

A worldview, on the other hand, tells you the why behind those behavioral patterns, purchasing decisions, use of technology, and so on that make up the persona. It serves as a bedrock to that persona.

Take this worldview quiz

If you’d like additional information to help you create an ultimate message, check out the online marketing training in these sixteen free ebooks. Then download the series of podcasts on the 11 essential ingredients every blog post needs. And stay tuned: I’ll also expand on this topic in future posts.

In closing, I thought it would be fun to end with some worldview-identification practice. So here’s a quiz …

Guess the worldview of each company, product, or advertising message below:

  • Patagonia
  • American Apparel
  • “Where’s the Beef?” by Wendy’s
  • “Just Do It” by Nike
  • Energizer batteries
  • Android

Leave your answers on Google+ here.

And we can’t forget the bonus question: What worldview does the New Rainmaker podcast tap into?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Dimitris Papazimouris.

About the author

Demian Farnworth


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

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Case Study: How One Veteran’s Podcast Built a Million-Dollar Business http://www.copyblogger.com/john-dumas-case-study/ http://www.copyblogger.com/john-dumas-case-study/#respond Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42869 After spending many years in traditional career fields — including real estate, finance, and eight years as an Army Officer — John Lee Dumas still felt unfulfilled. He couldn’t shake the feeling that his real calling was still out there — that there must be a way for him to feel excited to go to

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traditional radio microphone

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

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

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

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

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

I sat down with John and asked him to share the secrets of his success and how he turned a unique idea for a podcast into the business of his dreams.

Ignoring the skeptics and launching a crazy idea

In 2012, John Lee Dumas had a big idea.

Back then, John was a real estate agent who spent a ton of time in his car. He passed the time by listening to podcasts, but noticed he finished weekly podcast episodes faster than his favorite podcasters could create them.

He wondered if other podcast listeners experienced the same problem.

One day, John had a moment of life-changing inspiration that started with a simple question. He asked himself, “Why doesn’t someone create a business podcast that publishes episodes seven days a week?”

The idea stuck, and John started taking steps to create a daily business podcast with useful content for entrepreneurs and business owners.

However, the production schedule required to publish seven-day-a-week podcast episodes was daunting. And he encountered many naysayers.

John’s advisors told him the idea would fail. They looked at the market and said, “No one else is doing this. There’s no way it will work.”

But John has always subscribed to the “blue-ocean” strategy of business — so his mentors’ doubts actually confirmed his decision and made him even more determined to get his daily podcast off the ground.

After three months of intense work, John launched the first episode of the EntrepreneurOnFire podcast in September 2012. He kept his word and published a podcast episode every single day — no matter what.

In the first few months after his launch, John snagged some early wins. iTunes listed the podcast as “New and Noteworthy,” and he landed interviews with high-profile guests, like Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran and author Tim Ferriss.

EntrepreneurOnFire grew a big fan base of loyal listeners. As it turns out, John’s big idea wasn’t so crazy after all.

Secret #1: Build your online empire’s foundation

Of course, once you have a great, marketable idea, you’ve got to get organized and implement that idea in a smart, scalable way.

Over time, John built the online structures he needed to build an EntrepreneurOnFire empire — not just a podcast.

He launched a blog, where he published posts that provided advice for entrepreneurs trying to grow or monetize their businesses. He also built an email autoresponder series called The Fire Path, and weekly newsletter subscribers grew to more than 14,000 people.

John built his business on the basic rules of smart content marketing — providing free, relevant content to his audience on a daily basis.

His audience members love him for it.

Click here to get two weeks of free training that
will change the way you think about online marketing …

Secret #2: Create multiple income streams

As the podcast grew in popularity, John attracted a number of sponsors willing to pay for exposure to his audience, and he quickly grew his sponsorship income to $46,000 a month. And while it definitely made sense to take on sponsors for his show, John didn’t want sponsorships to be his only source of income.

So he listened to his audience, figured out what they needed most, and provided it. Now he sells a number of products and services to serve his community members.

Last year, EntrepreneurOnFire started publishing monthly reports detailing the business’s income and expenses. Here are some of their biggest streams of income for June 2014:

  • Sponsorship income for the podcast: $43,719
  • Podcaster’s Paradise (membership site): $134,335
  • WebinarOnFire (webinar training program): $15,083
  • Fire Nation Elite mastermind group: $10,550
  • One-on-one client mentoring: $5,000

The business also generates income from affiliate relationships and ebook sales.

In June 2014, EntrepreneurOnFire’s net profit was more than $162,000.

Secret #3: Take immediate action

After John’s initial inspiration struck, he immersed himself in the launch of the new podcast.

John advocates taking “immediate, massive action” on projects and plans. He says:

Within one month of my ‘aha’ moment — which literally came out of nowhere — I had quit my job and hired my mentor. Within three months of that, I launched my podcast.

John’s goal was to provide as much value as possible with his podcast interviews and attract people who liked his content and message.

One of the primary benefits about taking immediate, bold action is that you see results quickly, which helps you gain momentum and motivation to keep going.

Once John launched the show, he attracted an amazing community of like-minded people who supported his mission and loved his content. He called them the “Fire Nation,” and once his community started to grow, he became even more driven to provide them with top-notch content.

Secret #4: Listen to your audience

John had an existing client base when he was ready to create (paid) products and services. His audience members already knew and trusted him, and they appreciated the great content he published every day.

But before he built anything to sell, he listened. John then created solutions for his audience’s problems.

John says:

Listening to my audience has shaped every [inspiration] I’ve had in my business. They speak, and I listen. I kept hearing that they didn’t know how to start their podcasts and they needed support because they felt alone.

John published his ebook, Podcast Launch, in early 2013. After that, he created and launched a membership site, Podcaster’s Paradise, which provides how-to information and professional support for podcasters.

Now he has a suite of products and services that are custom-made for his entrepreneurial fans.

Secret #5: Make smart connections

John made critical connections early in his podcasting career.

He hired a business coach right away, and she introduced him to key players in their industry. Those connections have shaped John’s journey with EntrepreneurOnFire.

He realized that many successful entrepreneurs all have large platforms of fans and followers. When he published his interviews with entrepreneurs, those guests shared the episodes with their audiences via email and social networking sites.

The extra exposure rocketed his podcast’s growth.

Secret #6: Streamline your business systems

In 2013, I was a guest on John’s show. Before, during, and after my interview with him, I noticed John’s incredible organization and how he used templates and systems for every aspect of his podcast process. For example:

  • When I accepted his interview request, he immediately emailed me a list of available time slots.
  • After I chose a time, he emailed me a document that included his interview questions, directions for connecting to the call, and an explanation of the whole process.
  • When the podcast episode was live a few weeks later, John emailed me again with a link to the show and instructions for quickly sharing the interview with my fans.

It was the easiest, smoothest interview I’d ever done, and I remember thinking, “John Dumas is going to take over the world.”

Clear systems for every aspect of John’s business enable him to publish a podcast seven days a week.

What’s next for this wildly successful podcaster?

When it comes to business strategy, John recommends that entrepreneurs FOCUS (Follow One Course Until Success). John and his team expand and promote their existing products.

Since the EntrepreneurOnFire podcast is still the engine that makes their entire business possible, they continue to create killer daily content for their fans.

So, what is John’s advice for other podcasters and online marketers? He says:

Just start! So many entrepreneurs let fear and the unknown stand in their way of building their dreams. You have to make a lot of sacrifices, and there are a lot of times when you’re going to want to give up.

Don’t give up.

Are you ready to turn your wild idea into reality?

It’s your time to start

What’s the first step you can take to build your online media business?

Let’s go over to Google+ and discuss taking action!

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Renée Johnson.


Are you ready to build your online empire like John?

Then you’re going to need a solid, secure, easy-to-use foundation.

Check out Copyblogger’s Rainmaker platform, which gives you everything you need to start an attractive, functional, secure website.

It’s a blank canvas you can use to create dynamic media, including a podcast, coaching business, or information marketing venture — anything you want.

Get started with Rainmaker today.

About the Author: Beth Hayden is an author, speaker, and social media expert who specializes in Pinterest marketing. To find out how to get more traffic to your website or blog using Pinterest, grab your free copy of Beth’s e-book, The Definitive Guide to Driving Traffic with Pinterest.

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5 Subtle Writing Strategies That Drive Email Signups http://www.copyblogger.com/drive-email-signups/ http://www.copyblogger.com/drive-email-signups/#respond Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42540 Email subscribers are your protection from Google. Even Brian Clark agrees with me on that one. Your email list is a group of readers who have chosen to get information from you. They want to hear from you, and you want a large email list that is full of potential clients or customers. But how

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bird eating seeds out of a person's hand

Email subscribers are your protection from Google.

Even Brian Clark agrees with me on that one.

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

But how do you gain more email subscribers?

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

In this post, I’m going to share five writing strategies I use on my blogs and online advertising campaigns that always lead to more subscribers.

They work for me, and I think they’ll work for you, too.

You can review these techniques whenever you write new content.

1. Use time-sensitive language

Marketers have been using time-sensitive language forever. It works in both print and online media.

Human beings are wired to avoid loss. We have evolved with a whole system of chemical rewards that teach us to avoid missing food, shelter, water, etc. When you apply that concept to your email list promotion, you may see big dividends.

amy_porterfield

Facebook wizard, Amy Porterfield, uses this to great effect when promoting her webinars and other time-sensitive offers. She mentions that spaces are finite and they fill up fast — motivating people to act.

If you can incorporate time-sensitivity into offers that require people to sign up to your mailing list, you’ll see a huge boost in numbers.

It’s important to note that it’s unethical (and in some countries illegal) to have a time-sensitive offer unless you actually do have a time limit on it. The same goes for closing a sale and opening it up again the next week.

Never mislead your readers.

2. Tell unusual stories

When I changed my About page from the usual “my site is about this and that” to one that told my story in a slightly different way, I saw signups increase from around three percent to over six percent.

In an online world where standing out from the crowd is more important than ever, stories set you apart and create an initial connection with a new reader.

Even extremely dry topics (like reviews or tech-talk) can be spiced up with stories about how you were feeling, what you were doing, how you use something in your daily life, etc.

Michael from VSauce (see the video below) has built one of the most popular YouTube channels in the world by combining science with historical stories.

Why can’t high school teachers do this?!

Sonia Simone is an absolute master at teaching us how to be better storytellers.

3. Include social proof in a natural (real) way

Social proof shows people that others have gone before them.

Humans don’t like being first. It’s scary.

But people often integrate social proof online in a clumsy and fake-sounding way. You need to incorporate it into your landing pages and sales pitches in a way that makes people feel like they’re encountering something valuable.

Have a look at how Copyblogger does this on their Authority sales page:

We built Copyblogger Media with online content and smart copywriting — and without venture capital, advertising, or an outbound sales team — into a thriving company with over 100,000 customers. We’re one of the few who can honestly claim we got here by purely practicing what we teach.

They show you both the story and the proof. Demonstrate social proof, but make sure it’s natural and completely targeted to your pitch/audience.

james

James Chartrand from Men with Pens does this effortlessly on her About page. She displays client feedback below the introduction to her team.

The combination simultaneously helps people overcome their objections and shows factual social proof.

4. Draft individual landing pages and test them

Most bloggers know they need email subscribers, but they only provide opt-in forms in their sidebars.

That is a huge mistake.

Don’t leave anything to guesswork. Run at least a few A/B tests — especially for landing pages — to see whether or not your favorite online marketing practices actually pay off.

Barack Obama raised over $60 million by tweaking some of his.

Instead of just sticking a form in your sidebar, develop a single-column landing page for each specific offer you have. You can then direct social media promotions to these individual pages and test them with a service such as Visual Website Optimizer.

I develop different landing pages for different events, offers, or even segments that I want to target; I send readers to content tailored for their needs.

5. Write for people and search engines

Experts often tell you not to write for search engines.

It’s just not true.

You need to write for both search engines and people if you want to maximize your conversions. Why is this the case?

Well, take a basic keyword such as the word “medium.” Now, this is an interesting example because there is a new blogging platform called Medium, but the word “medium” also means “middle” and a “spirit-medium” — someone who mediates communication between spirits of the dead and other human beings.

If you write a blog post targeting the keywords “medium blog,” you might get a lot of traffic from people searching for spirit guides when you actually wanted to target folks looking for articles on the Medium platform.

If you don’t know how search engines work, and you don’t write for them, you will potentially get a lot of wasted traffic.

You need to target the keywords that bring the right people to your blog — because the right people on the right page are far more likely to choose to sign up so they can receive more content from you.

Now over to you …

Writing online is not just about headlines, blog posts, and grammar. It’s also about the freedom to test new ideas and discover different methods to display your copy.

How do you experiment with your writing to drive more email subscriptions? Has anything you tried worked particularly well? (Or not worked at all?)

Let’s continue the discussion on Google+.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Shandi-lee Cox.

Editor’s note: If you’d like to learn more about the connection between blogging and email marketing, we recommend Beth Hayden’s post 8 Smart Ways to Combine Blogging with Email Marketing for Best-Selling Success.

About the Author: Ramsay Taplin is known as The Blog Tyrant, a 25-year-old guy from Australia who has sold several websites for large sums of money and now shares his methods for growing your blog and dominating your niche. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or sign up for his email updates.

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No Blog Traffic? Here’s a Simple Strategy to Seduce Readers and Win Clients http://www.copyblogger.com/simple-blog-strategy/ http://www.copyblogger.com/simple-blog-strategy/#respond Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=41807 You sit down at your desk. You start your computer. You check Google Analytics and your email provider dashboard. A deep sigh escapes from your soul. Why is your number of email subscribers still so low? Why aren’t readers flocking to your blog? And when will those business inquiries finally arrive? We all know that

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

You sit down at your desk.

You start your computer.

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

Why is your number of email subscribers still so low?

Why aren’t readers flocking to your blog?

And when will those business inquiries finally arrive?

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

Should you cross your fingers and keep plugging away? Hope that your readership will snowball? Pray that business inquiries will soon flood your inbox?

You need a new blog strategy, not wishful thinking.

When your blog isn’t doing as well as you’d like, don’t simply step up your efforts. Don’t keep slaving away.

Instead, take a step back and review what you’ve done so far. Do you have the right building blocks in place to seduce readers and win clients?

If you want to create a simple blog plan that will help you win more readers, fans, and clients, answer the five critical questions below.

Sound good?

Let’s start with understanding your reader.

1. Who is your one fan?

You might be aiming to gain 100, 1,000, or even 10,000 blog readers.

But when you think about large numbers of readers, you turn people into a faceless crowd. And when you write for a faceless crowd, your writing becomes colorless, drab, and boring.

Do you think Stephen King focuses on millions of readers when writing his bestsellers?

In his book On Writing, King tells us he writes for one reader only — his wife. When he writes, he doesn’t wonder whether his millions of fans will enjoy his new book. He wonders, “What will Tabitha think about this section?”

When you write for one reader, your blog instantly becomes more engaging, personal, and persuasive. You’ll get more comments and shares, which will help you generate ideas for new blog posts.

Do you know your one fan?

Can you imagine picking up the phone, sharing a joke, and asking her view on your latest blog post?

Your ideal reader, your one fan, can be an imaginary person, your favorite customer, or a composite of various people you know.

To visualize your one fan, go beyond demographics. Understand her dreams and struggles. Empathize with her, and inspire her.

If you’d like a little help with creating your fan’s profile, download a free form here (no opt-in required).

2. Why would your fan read your blog?

Your blog might help you achieve a number of goals — generate more traffic to your website, raise your profile, boost your authority, gain more clients, etc.

But have you thought about what’s in it for your favorite fan?

Why would he read your blog?

Your blog reader isn’t interested in your company objectives or your personal aims. He doesn’t want to hear your promotional messages, your sales pitches, or even your company story.

He simply wants to know what’s in it for him. How can you take away his problems? How can you make him happier or more successful?

Here’s a quick exercise:

  1. Don’t think about your objectives.
  2. Quit worrying about business and sales.
  3. Finish this sentence: My favorite fan reads my blog because I help him …

A few examples:

  • As a marketing coach, you might want to help freelance writers find
    higher-paying clients.
  • As a web developer, you could help small business marketers create websites that convert more web visitors into leads.
  • As a premium social media app marketer, you could teach entrepreneurs how to network with influencers on Twitter.

Your blog purpose defines how you help your readers and keeps you focused on engaging and inspiring them.

That’s how your blog becomes a must-read resource in your niche.

3. Does each blog post help your fan?

Do you write for yourself or for your favorite fan?

To engage your readers and win business, you must write for your fans. You must write about the topics they crave.

Don’t wait until you have to write your next blog post to generate ideas. Spend 30 minutes this week brainstorming at least 30 ideas.

Here’s how you can generate 30 ideas in fewer than 30 minutes …

First, get away from your computer, and think about your favorite fan. Now, kickstart your brainstorming session with these questions, keeping in mind ways you can help:

  • What are her dreams?
  • What are her struggles?
  • Which difficult decisions does she have to make?
  • Which hot industry topics does she follow?
  • Which mistakes does she make?
  • Which buying decisions does she need to make?
  • Which resources could educate her?
  • What could experts teach her?
  • What questions does she have?

Stop creating content for the sake of creating content.

Instead, create a business blog for your readers.

Inquiries will flood your inbox once your authority grows.

4. Can your fans find you?

As a Copyblogger reader, you know about content marketing. You know you need to create quality content and promote it.

But this is where many of us get stuck.

Promoting content feels like a giant time-suck — an endless list of must-dos that you’re never able to complete.

How can you promote your content without going crazy? Let’s add some sanity to your content distribution plan:

How can you make time for guest blogging?
Guest blogging is the quickest way to boost your authority, gain valuable links, and increase email subscribers. If you struggle to find time for guest blogging, consider reducing your publishing schedule. Write a guest post one week and a post for your own blog the next week.

Which social media channels do you currently enjoy the most?
Be active on the platforms where your fans hang out and where you enjoy hanging out. When you enjoy yourself, you gain a wider audience and create more engagement. To start, choose two or three channels.

How well-established is your site?
Driving SEO traffic to a totally new site isn’t easy. If your blog is new, and you don’t know much about SEO yet, focus on other traffic-generating activities first. You can plan for future traffic with some smart SEO fundamentals, but don’t expect SEO traffic to be significant in the early stages.

Can new fans find your blog?
A blog without a promotional strategy is like a restaurant that’s not listed on a map. The establishment lacks diners because nobody knows how to get there. Guide readers to your blog with simple tactics, and don’t spread yourself too thin.

5. Do you build long-term relationships?

It’s easy to forget that people buy from people. The concept is a cliché, but it’s true.

Before people will hire you or buy your products, you need to build relationships:

To turn your readers into avid fans and loyal buyers, be a good friend. Don’t treat them like numbers.

Here’s what to do next

Ready to generate some serious business with your blog?

Follow these steps:

  1. Over the next five days, block 30 minutes for reviewing your blog.
  2. On day one, create a profile of your favorite fan.
  3. On day two, write down your blog purpose and discover why your fans come to your blog.
  4. On day three, think about your favorite fan and write down at least 30 blog topics that he’d love to read.
  5. On day four, review your blog promotion strategy. How can you reach more people in the time available to you? Which activities can you cut? How can you experiment?
  6. On day five, consider your email strategy. How can you build a closer relationship with the fans on your list?

The simple truth about your business blog

Of course you’d love to get more clicks, shares, and comments. But the truth is, these factors don’t matter.

Authentic engagement with the people who might want to buy from you is what matters.

Develop relationships with your readers. Put them first.

That’s how you win more business.

Your opportunity to seduce

Does your blog strategy keep readers engaged with your writing and serve their needs?

How does your content help readers know, like, and trust you?

Let’s discuss turning your audience into buyers over on Google+!

Flickr Creative Commons Image via HarshLight.

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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Pamela Wilson Is Now Working With the Copyblogger Team http://www.copyblogger.com/pamela-wilson-copyblogger/ http://www.copyblogger.com/pamela-wilson-copyblogger/#respond Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42937 I am so pleased to announce that Pamela Wilson is going to be working with the Copyblogger Media team on some cool new projects. You may know Pamela from her many Copyblogger posts, or from her business, Big Brand System, where she gives out lots of great business and design advice to help business owners

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Designer and business educator Pamela Wilson

I am so pleased to announce that Pamela Wilson is going to be working with the Copyblogger Media team on some cool new projects.

You may know Pamela from her many Copyblogger posts, or from her business, Big Brand System, where she gives out lots of great business and design advice to help business owners look more professional, cohesive, and successful. She’s an award-winning graphic designer and marketing consultant who’s been helping small businesses and large organizations create “big brands” since 1987.

Pamela also has a real gift for taking complex marketing tasks and breaking them into easy-to-understand sequences.

She’ll be helping us to create some great new educational resources for content marketers of all levels — from business owners who aren’t too sure what this “content marketing” thing is all about, to seasoned copywriters, to WordPress designers, developers, and aficionados.

She’s also going to help us with the massive undertaking of mining the Copyblogger archives for the very best material, and sharing it with you in a more accessible way.

Everyone on the team is as excited as can be to have her with us, and we hope you’ll join us in giving her a warm welcome. :) You can send her a more personal greeting over at Google Plus.

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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Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series http://www.copyblogger.com/master-storytelling/ http://www.copyblogger.com/master-storytelling/#respond Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=42539 In this cold, hard, commercial world, everyone is looking for answers online. We are all “searchers” looking for the best way to solve a problem or satisfy a desire. And we are ruthless … We make split-second decisions about clicking a headline. How does your website look at a glance? If you try to consummate the fragile exchange of attention and

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man telling a story at a cafe

In this cold, hard, commercial world, everyone is looking for answers online.

We are all “searchers” looking for the best way to solve a problem or satisfy a desire.

And we are ruthless …

We make split-second decisions about clicking a headline.

How does your website look at a glance?

If you try to consummate the fragile exchange of attention and education too quickly with a “buy this” button, you’ll likely lose long-term prospects and lifetime sales.

The reality is — whether you sell garden hoses or reputation management services — you have to master the know-like-trust factor first.

How do you accomplish this vital component of content marketing?

You educate people step-by-step.

And, if you ignite a feeling that inspires a commercial transaction, then you’ve created successful content marketing.

You lift prospects out of their ordinary worlds and invite them to consider a journey that ultimately leads to a transaction.

This article is all about how you create that journey.

Welcome to storyboarding

One idea we are quite fond of around here is the hero’s journey. It’s content marketing that educates your audience through the storytelling arc, and it works best with a blog series.

For example, last year I wrote a series on Google Authorship and Google+. It was a six-post series.

I could have approached the task by simply gathering and presenting the facts. Unfortunately, there were smarter people than me who’d already done that. I needed to give our audience something they couldn’t get elsewhere.

You, as you probably know, have the same problem. Some call it content shock.

It’s just reality.

The same was true this year when I tackled native advertising. I was late to this party, but we wanted to create a resource for our audience that added value to the current conversation. So, among other things, I used a special technique to create that content.

Storyboarding.

Radio commercial advertisers, television directors, animators, and screenwriters all employee this technique. And it’s something that content creators like you can use, too.

Here are six steps to help you storyboard an irresistible content series.

1. Discover your ideal audience

Do you even know what your audience looks like?

Keep in mind, this step is not about drafting a buyer persona. Instead, we want to figure out who your ideal audience is.

Fortunately, you can discover the answer by using an empathy map.

empathy-map

An empathy map is a simple tool that helps you crawl into the shoes of your customers. Here’s how you create an empathy map on your whiteboard or large sheet of paper:

  • Draw a large square.
  • Divide that square into four quadrants.
  • Label the quadrants “Think and Feel,” “See,” “Say and Do,” and “Hear.”
  • Create two boxes below labeled “Pain” and “Gain.”

Ask simple, open-ended questions to your audience:

  • What do you want to know?
  • Why?
  • What keeps you up at night?

On the diagram, fill in the responses, especially the ones that challenge your assumptions about what you thought you knew. Then, you begin to empathize with your ideal audience.

Empathy is really understanding, seeing, and relating to a person’s views. When someone has a certain belief about the world and you confirm it for him, that’s a very powerful psychological connection.

One of the beautiful benefits of the audience-first approach is that when you create content that resonates with people, and it’s well-organized and easily discoverable, then it gets shared and you get the links you want.

2. Inform your hunch

A good blog series starts with a hunch. A theory. An idea about how you think the world works, how certain problems should be solved.

This hunch may be fuzzy. It might just be a word or two. Whatever it is, use it as a stepping stone.

This will get you started in the right direction. Next, do this:

  • Exhaust the search engine: Jump on your favorite search engine and pull up all the articles on your topic. Follow links, take notes, recognize where people are going, trends that are developing. If you don’t find much material, you may be onto something rare. That’s not a bad thing. But it hardly happens. Keep digging.
  • Expose the keywords: Keyword research helps you see where your root idea branches off. Google Keyword Tool or Scribe can help you see how topics are related. You’ll discover new connections. You might want to take a look at Neil Patel’s article on semantic research to learn how to group these keywords.
  • Conduct interviews: Reach out to people who advocate for and against your position. Adding quotes from authorities to your articles adds a depth and freshness that people appreciate. This is good journalism. This is good content direction.
  • Survey: Both readers and Google are looking for original and fresh content. One of the best ways to produce it is to develop an idea out of an original survey. This was the approach I took with the native advertising series. I had a hunch about native advertising — namely, it was a hot topic inside the industry, but everyone else (including many marketers) was clueless. The results from the survey helped inform the direction and content of the series.
  • Eavesdrop on the competition: The next step to understanding topics and language is to get out there and see what else there is. Don’t be intimidated by the level of competition. Find the holes. Find out what you can do differently. Find out what people complain about.

It’s “marketing research tough love.”

As Brian Clark said:

You effectively need to grill yourself on your own assumptions and expectations of how you think this particular idea or industry or content marketing approach is going to go. Then you need to effectively try to disprove yourself. There is no fault or crime in being wrong, as long as you find out you’re wrong before it’s too late.

baked-potato

3. Compile

Next, gather all of your material.

How you compile depends upon your style. I prefer a large whiteboard.

I collect all my notes on Evernote and then list them on the whiteboard. This is where the story of your series starts to take shape.

whiteboard-storytelling

You make categories, and then drop related notes beneath the labels.

At the compilation stage, you will discover holes in your research. More questions will be raised. Make notes about these questions and gaps.

You’ll come across further questions later in the writing process, as well. That’s fine. Repeat Step Two as many times as needed.

4. Create a narrative

This is where you bring it all together. One way to think about this process is episodic education. We are taking a playbook out of cable television, motion pictures, commercials, radio, and animation.

In other words, storyboarding is a technique that visualizes the sequence of a story.

Here’s a classic example of a storyboard. In this scene, Forrest Gump compares scars with Lyndon B. Johnson.

forrestgump-storyboard

According to the DGA Quarterly, “Chris Bonura’s storyboards helped director Robert Zemeckis meld archival footage with new footage.”

As a writer, storyboarding helps you:

  • Define the parameters of a story within available resources and time
  • Organize and focus a story
  • Figure out what medium to use for each part of the story
  • Start and publish the first article without writing the remaining articles

Once you’ve compiled your facts, think about the narrative flow.

How is each individual article going to dovetail into the next? What is the central conflict? The main challenge?

This won’t be as neat as a novel, and you won’t use illustrations (unless you have the talent). You just need to arrange your ideas into a story-like sequence.

See, your story needs a framework, and this is where the idea of scaffolding is helpful. It gives dimension and direction to your series. Scaffolding helps you corral and streamline all of your research into one big idea.

This could be as simple as using the 5 W’s or the copywriting formula Problem-Agitate-Solve.

In addition, a framework builds anticipation into each article. With each article in the series, you program your readers to anticipate the next scene in the story. But you can’t storyboard effectively, however, until you have a hook that unifies the entire series.

5. Find the hook

The hook is the unifying theme. It could be a motif. A worldview. But it always involves conflict.

In the Google Authorship series, the hook was the shared fear of obscurity that most writers suffer. That concern was manifested in the opening article with the introduction of Hunter S. Thompson, an apt mascot for our series and our culture.

In 1959, before his fame, Thompson wrote:

As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says, ‘you are nothing,’ I will be a writer.

He wondered why he had to park his personality at the door. Why can’t he, the journalist, be a central part of the story? Thompson went on to challenge other journalistic conventions, and make history.

And that conflict — the fear of authorial obscurity — became the central motif behind the Google Authorship series. Thompson was the hero we were happy to follow.

His spirit remained throughout the series, but discovering that motif was not instantaneous. Hooks will hide from you. You must dig (see Step Two).

6. Repurpose

Finally, after all that research and note-taking and storyboarding, you’ll write that first article, and before you know it, six weeks have gone by and you are exhausted.

But don’t rest yet. There’s still something else you need to think about: repurposing your content.

Could your series work as a:

  • Podcast series
  • Book
  • SlideShare
  • Sequence of email autoresponder messages
  • Video seminar
  • Landing page

All of the above? Probably so.

You can put your creation in each new medium over a long period of time, always directing traffic to the original posts, giving life to your archives. And even make money from those old posts.

Let’s not forget, your blog series can also become cornerstone content.

Your turn

So, at the end of the day, if you want to capture the attention of a prospect hell-bent on finding what she wants, then create a content series that answers her most pressing needs or satisfies her curiosity — in a manner that appeals to the way she thinks, feels, and acts.

But storyboard it, like you were creating a cable television show or comic book.

This is a gentle, non-threatening way to open up the relationship — one where you respect your prospect, and, ultimately, your prospect recognizes and respects your authority. She views spending money with you as a sound investment.

And for one final example of a content series built like a story, check out our New Rainmaker podcast hosted by Robert Bruce and Brian Clark.

Let us know what you think here.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Jim Pennucci.

About the author

Demian Farnworth


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

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