10 Things to Be Grateful For

image of a turkey dinner

I’ll admit it. I have a soft spot for Thanksgiving.

First, because it’s an excuse for me to bake for three days. (If you need a last-minute recipe for the world’s best chocolate cream pie, I’ve got you covered.)

And second, because it reminds me to quit grumbling and start noticing all of the amazing stuff I’ve got in my life.

Here’s my list of 10 things I would humbly recommend you add to your own “gratitude list” this year. They’ve done great things for my business and I think they’ll do great things for yours.

1. The crummy economy

I know, this seems weird. I’m not discounting the very serious and significant problems this has created for millions of people. One of whom might well be you.

But in cracking open the existing systems and shaking them like an ant farm, the horrible economy has also created some amazing opportunities.

If you think of the big companies as dinosaurs who’ve just been hit between the eyes with a gigantic meteor, remember that you’re the smart, agile, adaptable monkey who’s going to inherit the earth.

Frankly, the economy is going to suck for awhile no matter how you feel about it. So you might as well look for the angles that can benefit you.

2. The social web

Brian’s not a fan of this term, since of course everything about the web has always been social. It was built by humans, after all.

But there’s no question that a revolution in communication technology lets you be social with more people, more easily, over incredible geographic and cultural distances, with less friction than ever before.

Which means you can get the word out about what you do for hardly any money, with no special technical ability, to tens of thousands or even millions of people.

And that’s just cool.

3. The quality of free information

Stewart Brand didn’t just say “information wants to be free.” He also said, “information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable.”

What this boils down to is that a lot of smart people have put together great tips, techniques, and help for you to do just about anything. Very often, they start by selling that information at a hefty price tag, to those for whom it’s most valuable.

Then some time goes by, they keep developing their stuff, and they “move the free line” by giving away tremendously valuable information for free.

Yes, the free goodies take time to sift through. Yes, there’s a whole lot of junk.

But if you’re bootstrapping your project, you can spend a little more time and energy and find the answers you want.

Because the current ethos is “give away incredibly valuable stuff for free to build trust and rapport,” you can benefit from that.

You have to choose wisely, of course. Don’t spend your time watching or reading anything from people you don’t respect or relate to. But if you stick with the people your gut tells you are right for you, you can learn amazing things without spending a dime.

4. The quality of paid information

Because there’s so much excellent free material out there, it means that for people who are creating paid information products (membership sites, ebooks, home study courses, etc.), their stuff has to be top notch.

So when you find yourself crossing that line where you’ve got some spare money but not much spare time, you have increasingly excellent opportunities to educate yourself online.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re learning to fly fish, climb the corporate ladder, design gardens, potty train your kid, be a happier person, or even (yes) market your business online, there are terrific resources that will teach you to do that for a very reasonable fee. And you can access these courses from virtually anywhere on earth.

5. Twitter search

Companies have taken hundreds of millions of dollars in VC funding to build tools that “listen in” to the conversations buzzing around the Internet.

That’s fine, but you can do an amazing job of this for free by signing up for a Twitter account.

Too many people think Twitter is mostly about telling people what kind of sandwich they’re having for lunch today. But for smart business people, Twitter is mostly about listening.

Search Twitter for the kinds of phrases your customers tend to talk about. Maybe it’s low-carb dessert recipes or finding a karate school for their kids.

You’ll find out what they’re saying, what kind of language they use to talk about it, what bugs them and what delights them.

These are staggeringly useful things to know when you’re trying to market a product or service. And you can get it by spending maybe 6 or 7 minutes a day, for free.

6. Connections with incredible people

Whatever it is you like to blog or write about, there are amazingly cool people who like to blog and write about that, too.

They’re posting wonderful articles and interesting perspectives and asking fascinating questions. And you can get to know them just by writing about their stuff (with a link, of course), posting reasonably intelligent comments on their blog, and following them on Twitter.

The smart, funny, snarky, interesting, kind, and entirely wonderful people I’ve met by blogging have blown me away. And I’m always finding new folks. (That was true before I started writing for a “big blog,” by the way. In fact, it’s how I started writing for a big blog.)

7. Aweber

Aweber (www.aweber.com) is my email newsletter management tool. They do a great job getting mail into in-boxes (mostly because they hate spammers even worse than you do). They have useful tools, a fantastic how-to blog, an easy-to-understand interface, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

A great email autoresponder sequence is my single favorite marketing tool (above a blog, even), and Aweber is the tool I think is best for the job.

8. Backpack

37Signals is another company I think is terrific, and I would be toast without their Backpack product.

Backpack keeps everything I do in one spot. Half-written blog posts, GTD lists, my calendar, reference notes for client projects, wild-hair ideas for new ventures, gardening plans, checklists for things I’m building, even backups of the million ebooks and audio education products I buy.

For me, they have the exact right combination of flexibility and simplicity, at an excellent price. If it doesn’t fit into my Backpack, I can probably live without it.

9. My copywriting library

A lot of those “secrets of the internet money-getting zillionaires” came from books you can buy for $12 on Amazon.

You can’t make money unless you can persuade someone to pay attention to what you’ve got, and then build a case for its value. That’s copywriting. (It’s even copywriting if you’re doing it with video.)

Classics like Scientific Advertising and Tested Advertising Methods are joined by newer giants like Robert Cialdini’s Influence and Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing, and a handful of great web-based references like Gary Bencivenga’s Marketing Bullets.

Learning to write great persuasive copy is mostly a matter of studying the techniques (which don’t change much, because human nature doesn’t change) and then trying them out. There’s no “push button” service that will magically do it for you. But the truth is, it’s well within your ability. You just have to get out there and start trying it.

10. The Third Tribe

This was an idea that bubbled up on Copyblogger back in February, after we were asked the question “Whose side are you on?”

Brian and I talked about this question quite a bit, and realized that we definitely weren’t on the strict yellow-highlighter-squeeze-page side. But we weren’t on the “blog for 20 years before you dare to ask anyone for the sale” side either.

So we made up a third side. :)

Actually, it had been there all along, going back four years to when Brian first created this blog. But once you have a label, you find that you start to articulate what you’re doing more clearly.

That led directly to the brand-new Copyblogger email newsletter, which kicks off with a 20-part course on how to be an ethical, non-sleazy, relationship-based kumbaya blogger and still make a very nice living. If that sounds like something that would interest you, you can learn more about the newsletter here.

What’s on your list?

What are you grateful for this year? What do you think other readers would be grateful for if they knew more about it? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

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Comments

  1. I have tons of thing that I am grateful this year, so many changing in my life (I have moved to the United States, brought a new house, expanded my blogging life, created Famous Bloggers blog…. and much more)

    Even if I don’t celebrate it, but that doesn’t mean I can not wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving :)

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. I love it, Sonia!

    I’m grateful for all the things you listed above as well, except for Backpack and my copywriting library. Sadly, my copywriting library doesn’t exist, at least in hard form. Everything I have is digital, though I would like to remedy that soon. Backpack sounds awesome, and I will check it out soon.

    I couldn’t agree more about the economy. I’ve seen this coming for a long, long time and always believed it would ultimately be a good thing for this country. Enough so that I ditched the certainty of income right in the rolling boil of it all.

    As for me, I am most grateful for my dreams and drive. Though my muse is quite the demanding minx, who has me running all over the place, often wearing a grin so wide I need a drool bucket, I love what I do and feel fortunate I am able to do it. Having too many dreams, I am certain, is better than having too few or none at all. I am thankful that I have the dreams, the work ethic to see them to fruition, and the tireless support of a family who believes that I will.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING COPYBLOGGER!

  3. My husband and I both have jobs which we didn’t have at the beginning of the year. We are professionals working at bargain basement prices but we have jobs.
    Thankful!!!!

  4. Great list Simone specially the first on the list.
    And you’re the first online who wrote about the gist of this holiday -giving thanks.

  5. I am grateful for being a statistical fluke. I’ve continuously had my share of luck as well as the luck of many others.

    I have the most supportive wife a guy could have. She is also a California Blond personal trainer with blue eyes (see what I mean?)

    I have a list of amazing blogs with information that keeps me interested and coming back to read. I learn things that are important every day that I had no idea even existed when I woke up.

    I have one of those jobs that isn’t a job. It’s fun. I also get to work with some super intelligent people who are free with their ideas and experience.

    Still, my prayers are always just as much for those in need as it is to keep my own safe and warm. I guess I’m most thankful for hope. I’m most hopeful for humanity.

  6. Thank you Sonia. I’m grateful for having discovered you as one of my overseas mentors. I am learning tremendously and wish you all a lovely and blessed Thanksgiving.
    (Must admit, I am a bit jealous that we don’t celebrate this beautiful tradition here. ;-) But we are great students, so there’s something to learn ….)

  7. I’m also a sucker for Thanksgiving, maybe because I love to bake too (although, grr, my cardamom cake stuck to the bundt pan this time…one word: icing)

    I love my life and the business my boyfriend & I call ‘work.’

    A lot of my work-related contentment has to do with you, ALL you guys & gals there at Copyblogger and your amazing guest writers.

    THANK YOU!

  8. Great list Sonia! Perfect for this season of goodwill.

    I am grateful for the blogging community for all their support and help with taking my blog to a new level.

    And I am grateful for all the wonderful resources online such as CopyBlogger which allow allow of us to grow and expand our learning.

    Happy thanks giving everyone!

    We don’t really celebrate thanks giving here in London but maybe a tradition we should adopt:-)

  9. Dear Sonia:

    Great list of things to be grateful for. I am not sure I would list them in the same order, but I like the economy one the best. In times of hardship, people have to rethink or even remember what is important to them.

    For example, I graduated from the university in Dec of 2008. Yet I still do not have a job. It baffles me that I do don’t. Yet, I am grateful for it because I am able to focus my energy on myself.

    I can rethink what matters to me, work on things to make myself grow and enable myself to create better value in the future. What goes down will eventually come up. It is just the matter of being patient and using your time wisely in the mean while.

    That’s what I am grateful for. Also, I am grateful for my family and friends who are here to support me in these times. That is what I am grateful for the most.

    Best and Happy Thanksgiving,
    Tomas

  10. I’m grateful to be older with a 6 year old daughter. She is emotionally older and scary smart, just like her big grown up siblings, one in law school and the other artistic with a drive in NPO administration. All three are decent humans.

    I’m also grateful to have grown up with the space program with all that it has spawned in technology. People would be hard pressed to understand the mri or cat scan that saved thir lives are an evolution of the first integrated circuit boards. Then, it was a feat to have 12 transisters on a 6×9″ circuit board, now my car is smarter than a Cray.

    I’m grateful that I wake each day wondering what marvel I will discover. It might be a new computer or a new rose bud. Likely it is something my child learns. Every night, when I fall asleep, I can’t wait to wake up and check my email. Which is my way of saying thank you for this blog post. It made me reflective and awed by how much we have to be thankful for.

    Happy Thanksgiving, all!

    John

  11. I am grateful for all of the above plus Salesforce.com! I think Marc Benioff is a genius and their next level of adding social software on top of enterprise software is going to take things to the next level.

    Garry

  12. Doesn’t Google Wave do what Backpack does?

  13. I must be a dullard because I’ve made no progress with Google Wave nor Salesforce.com. I know they’re great but never seems a good time to learn them. I need to find a salesforce for dummy book. Any hints, Garry?

    btw, I forgot to say I am grateful for Sonia and coppyblogger!

    John

  14. Sonia,

    Besides you, from whom I get a ton of inspiration and motivation, here’s what I’m grateful for:

    1. My Kid. No greater good has ever been put upon this Earth. Though I’m sure your kids are all quite nice. :)

    2. & 3. My parents. Close second to #1. Though I’ve been grown and out of the house for [*ahem*] many, many years, they are my rocks more than ever.

    4. My wild education and my continuing, unending curiosity.

    5. My wild life. Without 4 and 5, I’d be a much less rich person.

    6. Brian Clark (true AND sucking up!), without whom I wouldn’t have started the little blog that could a couple of years back. Man, I love how being a blog author has enriched my creative and business life.

    7. James Chartrand. James gets it.

    8. The Deep Friar. Endlessly inventive.

    9. George Tannenbaum. So brilliant it ought to be illegal and viciously funny, too.

    10+++. My readers, and my clients. Helping people to dream big rocks.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Regards,

    Kelly

  15. I’m thankful for having a Thanksgiving in October AND getting an extra holiday in November when all the U.S. folk leave the internet empty :)

    Two fer one!

  16. Great post! As a student trying to learn everything possible about public relations and social media, I’m grateful for easy to access to thought leaders around the country. I’m in the process of reading “Putting the Public back in Public Relations” and have actually spoken directly several times (via twitter and linkedin) to co-author, Deirdre Breakenridge. If it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t have been able to get to know her as a person.

    Also, I’m thankful that we are now in the Christmas season :)

  17. ‘Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword, some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived that they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.’
    William Bradford, a settler, describing Captain John Mason’s attack on a Pequot village.

    This Thanksgiving, rather than thoughtlessly stuffing yourself with food and then sauntering over to the couch for some postprandial football, think about how you can play your part in stopping the dominant culture from removing more indigenous cultures from their landbases to extract raw materials for industry that is destroying the planet’s ecological and climatic infrastructure.

    (Thanksgiving: A Time To Imagine, Frank Joseph Smecker
    Countercurrents.org November 25, 2009)

    And the same can be said of Australia.

  18. Well Mr. Rowland,

    It is hard for a mere mortal to understand why I should not celebrate the holiday as did my ancestors. It is also difficult to understand why we should be scolded and or mocked like errant school bullies. It appears you have a firm grasp on stopping the destruction of the planet and I salute your efforts, if not your style.

    John

  19. I am grateful for all the social media tweeps that I have gotto to know in the past year. Twitter has made connecting with readers easy and it makes community building a breeze. Thanks social media and thank you tweeps.

  20. @John Arleth. Thanks John, for the back-handed compliment. But please understand that my efforts as an environmentalist and peace activist, are more about substance than style.

  21. I’m grateful for this post. A total feel-good proposition.

  22. All my body parts work just perfectly. I’m very grateful.

  23. Well, I guess you’re feeling stuffed by now, had a great holiday and don’t need to eat for the next week!

    You brought up some great things to be grateful for. Re the economy – it’s good to look for a silver lining, there’s usually one to be found. The whole world of business and publication is being shaken up and it’ll be interesting to see where all the pieces fall. Trying to make sure you’re positioned somewhere near the top of the pile – or at least not squashed down at the bottom is key.

    I did my gratitude list on my blog a few months back so missing the Thanksgiving bandwagon. Whoops…. Next year I’ll know:)

    How to be an ethical, non-sleazy, relationship-based bloggers sounds right up my alley. Thanks for all the free info you give us. I’m sure the paid stuff will sell like hotcakes thanks to your winning attitude, insights and prose.

  24. I knew it was heartfelt an am passionate about the same issues, Gordon but have aged and mellowed since my days of sailing on the sloop, Clearwater with Pete Seeger. He had a little chart where he showed the federal budget as a pie and the littlest, tiniest sliver went to environmental causes. Sadly, people are the scourge of the planet and won’t do anything until they are gasping for air. I chided you because your style would sail over the heads of the masses. One has to talk in words a four year old can understand, IMHO.

  25. That’s what I love about Copyblogger is that they write fantastic value-packed posts but theyre not afraid to monetize it in some way – either an affiliate link, a product endorsement or an internal promo. Good lesson for other content developers.

    If you ask if it keeps them in business and pumping out readable posts then I dont have a problem with it.

  26. My style may well sail over the heads of the masses John, but not over the heads of Copyblogger readers.

  27. True enough, Gordon. True enough.

    Always fun to debate a well armed man.

    Now, if only I were ept.

  28. You know I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I’m not really into Christmas either. If i’m not religious, why would I celebrate Christmas? seems a bit strange to me.

    BUT, I am very greatful for lots of things today:
    - Grateful to be sober
    - Grateful to have a blog/website to express myself
    - Grateful to have an amzing family
    - Grateful to be travelling the world
    - Grateful that I get to go snowboarding soon!

    I’m an avid reader of Copyblogger. I’m trying to create something similar in the Snowboard realm. Obviously not about Copywriting.

    I’m learning new things everyday.

    QUESTION: When you start a post like this, do you brainstorm the list first, then write the blurb? Did you start with a bigger list and then narrow it down?

  29. I’m grateful that I’m writing about things I truly care about. Earning a living from that writing (compared to resorting to various schemes like I’ve done in the past) is a entirely different beats though. :-)

  30. Peace to you John (Arleth). And before you celebrate Thanksgiving Day, discover the awful facts they didn’t teach you in school > http://www.CommonDreams.org > ‘A Columbus Day meditation’ by Thom Hartmann.

    Not for the squeamish, and definitely not for four year olds.

  31. We obviously don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK but I was fortunate last year to be invited by a family we new to join them when we were staying in Las Vegas.
    It was such a lovely day and I understood how much it means to everyone within a few hours.
    Great post Sonia and I think you raise some great points, especially about the economy and how to look on the bright side.

  32. I am thankful for my family, my health and my new formed friendships that have lead to business arrangements that have helped in this economically strapped time.

    AWeber certainly deserve to be on the list as they give rock-solid content on their blog that will help you in your business whether you use their service or not.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Karl

  33. I’m grateful for the amazing technology that’s all around us. If it wasn’t for the Internet, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now. And I’m grateful for sites such as Copyblogger which share some totally awesome info!

  34. Cool. Thanksgiving was great yesterday.Now its time to wait for Christmas

  35. @Dave, for this one in particular, I started with the general concept, then brainstormed ideas for the items. Usually for list posts I’ll do that, start with a number in mind and then write until I get there.

    @Stan, you can start a new tradition among your friends! Have a nice dinner and be thankful for things, quite a nice ritual really. :)

  36. Thanks as always, Sonia. I’m grateful for:

    1) Being able to choose what kind of life I want to live. Being an online entrepreneur living in a spiritual community is pretty far out there. I’m very grateful for the freedom of opportunity in countries like the US and others (yes, even despite the impending FTC regulations). And the unprecedented freedom of thought and expression that we have because of our current culture is truly amazing.

    2) An awesome community of people and valuable resources like Copyblogger. I’ve learned more about online business from my relationship with you, Brian, and the team than with just about any other organization. So, thanks!

    Steve

  37. Great post Sonia.

    At the risk of getting a bit too personal, this Thanksgiving I am most grateful for my wife Rosemary.

    Two years ago at about this time, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, just as we were starting our lives together.

    After 4 grueling surgeries and a lot of rehab later, Rosemary continues to amaze me with her drive, determination, and never being willing to settle for anything less than what she deserves out of life.

    Thankfully, her prognosis is excellent, and God knows I would be lost without her.

    So today, without pause, I am very grateful for this amazing lady’s presence in my life.

    Bob Clarke

    PS Thanks for all you do for this amazing community, Sonia. You spoke about sticking with people who you resonate with. I have been lucky enough to come across you and Brian on the vastness of the Internet, and I am a better marketer (and person) for it.

  38. Great list. I am grateful for everything. Sometimes in a fast world with a lot going on people forget to be humble and give thanks to the simple things they have. I try to stay grounded and give thanks.

  39. Love this Sonia!!!!!!!!!! I’m going to Amazon right now and check all those copywriting books you were talking about. Miss reading those stuff.

    I’m thankful for you and Brian and the great insights I get from Copyblogger!

  40. WOW! You are right; something that is so bad (the economy) has turned out to be a good thing in some ways for some people. I think getting laid off sucks but it is also the motivation that some folks need t get out there and explore and live their dreams to the fullest.

  41. I’m grateful for flexibility. I still have to work, but the difference between working the day after Thanksgiving from home, and working the day after Thanksgiving from the office is sleeping in, working in comfy clothes and stopping to make a turkey sandwich whenever I want. I do my best to keep regular business hours, but it’s nice to know I don’t need to.

    (and yes, the crummy economy too.)

  42. @Deb, I’m grateful for that one too, very. I still work hard (actually I work harder than I did in the corp world), but I do it on my terms and in the environment where I feel most productive, and I can juggle things around to spend the time I want to with my kid. Huge, huge positive in my life.

  43. Yes, the bad economy can be something to be thankful for. Many people are losing their jobs in this downturn. Many are starting businesses because they can’t find regular work. Many of these people are going to find they love running their own business. Sure, it will be difficult for now, but since the chances of getting traditional employment are terrible, they will be able to stick with the mission of building their business. Many of these people will decide to stay with their own business, even when the economy turns and they can return to traditional employment. It may take some a while to realize, but this recession is a blessing to the resourceful.

  44. I’m grateful to be living at this time in history.
    Never before has there been the opportunity to be connected with so many different people and cultures.
    Never before has there been an opportunity to succeed without needing a bucket load of money.
    Never before has there been the opportunity to succeed by simply being yourself

  45. Sonia, I loved your post. I’m grateful for a wonderful family and for our clients that have helped us grow even during difficult times.