The First Rule of Copyblogger

image of a man throwing a punch

Are you guilty of spamducation?

Spamducation is a white paper, special report, video, podcast or manifesto that claims to solve a pressing reader problem, but is in fact a thinly disguised ad. Jon Stribling describes them as “compelling headlines and disappointing content written by amateurs or second-rate copywriters.”

The content is too often a lame version of work done by a real expert. (You know, someone who cared enough about the topic to actually learn a lot about it.)

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of content marketing. Which means I’m a huge opponent of badly done content marketing.

Sloppy, junky, selfish content just gives the legitimate folks a bad name.

The first rule of Copyblogger is you do not publish content that sucks.

Why do we hammer you every week with techniques to make your writing sharper, crisper, more effective, and more magnetic?

To let you create content that’s as strong and alive as it can possibly be.

Sure there are tools that will let you hack, mash, smash, and mangle someone else’s content into a word soup that Google thinks is original.

Google won’t help you if no one wants to read what you’ve got to say.

The second rule of Copyblogger is you do NOT publish content that sucks.

There are plenty of “push-button” systems out there that claim to teach you how to succeed wildly with content marketing and social media.

How to build a six-figure business on Twitter without having anything to actually say.

How to spend 45 seconds a day on Facebook and churn out killer profits.

How to turn YouTube or Digg or Squidoo into an effortless cash machine.

And some of those systems probably work, at least to some degree.

If you have content that doesn’t suck.

So what makes for content that doesn’t suck?

Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.

It comes from obsessively focusing on what your reader wants. What’s bugging her? What problem is she having a hard time solving? What does she want more than anything? What’s she dreaming about? What wakes her up at 3 in the morning? What makes her feel like a beautiful and unique snowflake?

It comes from studying proven techniques, trying them out, and watching what works best for you and your readers.

Most people are afraid to improve their writing because it looks like work.

And I’ll tell you the secret the scam gurus never will. It is work.

It’s work the same way that sailing is work. Or learning to play a ruthlessly good game of poker. Or mountain biking. Or cooking your way through every recipe in Julia Child. Or beating your best score in Rock Band.

Good copy and content writers don’t pore over our favorite writing references just to gain an advantage in our marketing. (Although that’s nice.)

We do it because it’s fun. We do it because we’re obsessed. We do it because it’s a fantastic game. We do it because we love to watch the human mind at work. We do it because we can. We do it because it’s an awesome high when it works.

Don’t let learning copywriting intimidate you. And don’t create content that sucks because you think it’s too hard to make something worth reading.

Instead, get intimidatingly good. You can, you know.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the creator of the Remarkable Marketing Blueprint.

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Comments

  1. Thank you Sonia. I agree that there is such a “sea of suck” out there that it’s really hard for us little guys to get ahead some times and raise our hands and say “hey I really mean what I say when I want to help your business grow.”

    I vow to try and get “intimidatingly good.” I love that. I’m going to try and use it in a sentence today somehow…

  2. Thanks Sonia, for the only rule to follow.
    Joshua’s right. It’s hard to get heard above the endless din of miraculous quick-fixes on offer.
    I think with spamduction, the ‘copywriters’ feel their goal is to make me read the content when I wanted to get more out of it than running my eyes over.
    Now I just delete anything that sounds hyped up. Too many let downs, and it’s not nice to feel suckered.

  3. And the part that bugs me is then we all get trained not to read cool free stuff, because so much of it is not, in fact, cool.

  4. “Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.”

    I couldn’t agree more to this. I am a strong believer in “Practice make you better in everything”. You should write more to become a better writer. You should research before starting to write and do it regularly, so you can create better content. And finally, try to avoid shortcuts to write your content and always listen and learn from your readers and also from others who do it better than you. Put what you learn into practice. Otherwise all you learned will disappear.

    Thank you Sonia once again for encouraging us to write better content.

  5. We do it because it’s expansive. Shrinking ego and expanding to embrace the realities of others is inherently joyful. And, is that work, or what?

  6. Man, do I loathe spamducation, and there’s just no end to it. Sonia, you said it – we get trained to not read the cool stuff. A year ago, I would download and inhale anything. These days, there are only a select few sites where I’ll drop my name in the box. I feel so insulted when someone steals my time. It makes me about thirty kinds of GRRRR!!!

    Best of luck on your Blueprint. It looks excellent.

  7. Yup, yup, yup. People want to look everywhere except in their own back yard for why their blog isn’t doing so hot. No matter what you think the problem might be, I’ll bet you money your content needs to improve big time.

  8. It’s a great day when I wake up and see that Sonia has written an excellent post using a Fight Club reference.

    I am Jack’s exceptional delight.

  9. You are right. Content is very important. Even Google penalizes, if you have duplicated content on your site.

  10. Great post for me, since I am still a “newbie” blogger that is slowly learning all the skills to make a blog successful.

    I had to retrain myself from writing “im” copy to writing content for my blog, for real people that isn’t hype or junk.

  11. Nice Sonia…
    I think a problem though is that many that suck don’t know they suck. They think they are hot. It may be more of an ego issue than a laziness issue. I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s like those poor tone deaf souls on American Idol who truly believe that they sound like Whitney Houston, but when open their mouths, they sound like a dying moose.

  12. THANK YOU for introducing me to the term Spamducation. A free “white paper” now usually just causes me to automatically delete the email.

  13. Oh — I was expecting the rule to be “Don’t talk about Copyblogger.” This is much better.

    Writing well is both an obsession and pleasure, as you point out so well, Sonia. What’s the old saying? “A writer is someone for whom writing is much more difficult” or something like that. Higher standards, attention to detail, all those things take time and effort.

  14. I have been guilty. Now I have a clean record. Love the post, makes me want to strive harder to only write great content!

  15. Sonia, what a superb post!
    I am an avid reader of copyblogger and visit as often as I can. I also follow you on Twitter but, hardly ever leave a comment… That said, I just wanted to write to thank you for sharing so much. Reading Copyblogger is so educational… and, TeachingSells is fabulous, I just love it!

    You guys at copyblogger totally rock!
    Saludos from Argentina,
    Vicky

  16. It is work, but we enjoy the process! Thanks for another article that doesn’t suck ;) You nailed it by stating that having fun is at the center of it all- it would be tempting for me to write a blog about making money online (easy to monetize), but the content would be crap because I’m not interested in the subject and my knowledge is limited. If a topic is something you’re truly interested in and enjoy, you’ll keep writing no matter how long it takes for the pageviews to catch up.

  17. I am e-swooning. Can I marry this blog post?
    Sure there’s the practical matter of what works.
    And there’s the professional ethics issue of building, vs destroying trust.
    But beyond that there’s an issue of intellectual… well, chutzpah.
    Meaning: Are you or aren’t you someone who strives to think clearly in order to express oneself clearly? Are you or aren’t you intellectually lazy?

  18. Sometimes wading through all that information reminds me of the kid in the room full of manure. He’s in about as bad of a situation as he can be in, but yet he’s happily digging through it thinking “there must be a pony in here somewhere!” Sometimes when reading “spamduction” papers, I find myself thinking that same thing!

  19. Sonia,

    I’ve followed your work for a while and what makes your writing stand out is the heart, the sincerity. It sounds real.

    As a natural health copywriter, I found I can’t write very well about products that I’m not convinced are helpful. My feelings go into my writing. And no matter how much writing style and art I’ve developed over the decades I’ve honed my craft, ultimately it’s hard to deceive.

    True excitement about what you’re talking about is hard to fake and . . . even better . . . it makes writing easier. Yes, you’re right that there’s some grunt work in the editing process – but that just rolls along if you’re excited to put together something really good that’s helpful, intriguing, etc.

    Way to keep the standard up there!

  20. Sorry, one more thing:

    Peter Kim did a poignant piece a while back about the challenge of breaking out of “the echo chamber.” Maybe it’s worth adding it to the mix here.

  21. @Tom, actually the third rule of Copyblogger is Please Do Talk About Copyblogger. ;)

    @Momblebee, I’ll take someone who’s clueless about how bad they are over someone who’s cynical and just trying to put out some scraped junk. Clueless people I have sort of a soft spot for.

    @Brian, “I am Jack’s exceptional delight” gives me a giant smile.

  22. No sucky content. Got it.

    What was the 2nd rule?

    You follow your own rules. I have never ever seen a sucky post at CopyBlogger.

  23. Thanks Kristi! We do try very,very hard to follow our own rules.

  24. Well. I am one of those tribals that follows thee and thy posts. :)

  25. Funny, a friend of mine and I were just discussing how much bad content there is out there.

    Good content takes a long time to produce, a lot longer than mediocre content. At least for me.

  26. I agree that writing, like any worthy activity, benefits from practice. A lot of folks can easily see the necessity of practice in say, sports, but expect to be good photographers, writers, managers on sheer talent.

    Talent has some role, but not as big as we think. I will conceded that a Mozart for example is one in a generation and the work he produced is uncommon. But there is a lot of remarkable work, a tick below that of Mozart’s everywhere. And a lot of that output is a product of hard work and considered repetition.

  27. I think we’re seeing a tougher side of Sonia. Next thing you know, she’ll be re-enacting this scene from Fight Club:

    Sonia: “Do you hear me now?”

    Spammer: “No, I didn’t quite catch that, Sonia.”

    Smack!

    Spammer: “Still not getting it.”

    Smack! Smack!

    Spammer: “Alright, alright, I got it, I got it! Shit, I lost it.”

    SMACK!

  28. What I love about Sonia and Copyblogger is that they are like the little white angel on my shoulder telling me to always do (write) the right thing in the right way. And I need to be reminded of this; instead of the little red devil on the other shoulder telling me to write the hyperbolic spam that would bring me the fast buck or the quick sensational recognition.

  29. I LOVE this post.
    If I may add something — or maybe more like clarifying — BEFORE writing any copy, there is work. We need to learn, test, learn more, and master WHAT we do before we write well about it. Then, only then, good writing skill makes difference.
    Nobody wants to read fluent magnetic copy with no substance in it, right?

    Akemi

  30. This is two different issues really, both very valuable lessons. One is don’t send out content that is thinly veiled advertising, and offers little else of value.

    The second is don’t send out poorly written content. Now this point can apply to good content or bad content. Neither should be poorly written.

    Good points. As for the first point, it is worth asking yourself on each piece of content you are about to release, “Have I provided useful information that is of value to the reader, even if they do not buy my products or services?”

  31. We need a Copyblogger post dealing with the chemical burn scene…

    Stay with the pain – don’t shut it out.

    Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing.

    It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.

    I am Jack’s burning anticipation.

  32. So let me get this straight Sonia…

    Don’t publish content that sucks? LOL

    Couldn’t agree more! Just a great tip for everyone to create great content that I know of is to tap into your creative side as much as possible. Do whatever you need to do (well, as long as it’s legal) to get the creative juices flowing.

    Some of the best content you can come up with almost always comes from being creative. Screw logical, we and others get that kind of info all the time. Creativity is what translates to uniqueness which translates to people generating a larger interest in you.

  33. There’s so much left unsaid here. Like the stacks of cogent research that needs to be done to produce great content.

    I agree, 100%. But the pressure of updating daily (or as much as possible) seems to drive people down this dangerous path.

    Great post, Sonia!

  34. There is a plethora of less than average content all over. No amount of any push button technology can produce good content.

    That comes from being human and willing to work.

    Content production is work and producing good content requires even more work.

    Thanks for the article. I enjoyed it.

  35. Inspiring article Sonia.

    I’d like to think I’m not a spamducator although my writing has plenty of room for improvement :-)

    When I get an idea for an article – perhaps from reading another blog article I’ll research my idea gathering information from several sources. Although I may use information learned it’s written in my words with my perspective, so I think that makes it unique.

  36. Tim (#12) points up the challenge we all face now. He commended, “A free ‘white paper’ now usually just causes me to automatically delete the email.” We (content producers, spammers and everyone in between) have cranked out so much content — good and bad, free and for-fee — that the online world is drowning in info. Result: The signal-to-noise ratio gets lower, the static gets louder, and it gets increasingly difficult for even primo info to stand out. What’s the solution?

    No matter how good our content is, aren’t we all just contributing to the “info-gestion?”

    (See, Sonia — you’re not the only one who can coin a phrase. I’ll see your spamducation and raise you one info-gestion.) ;-)

  37. I absolutely love your work! Thanks for sharing valuable content.

  38. I’ve been reading every single thing that’s come out of Copyblogger and from you Sonia for about 8 months. I’ve read every single article.

    I feel like i’m starting to find my own voice within my niche. I truely believe that I can be better than the competition, sometimes…

    All the stuff you are saying is really starting to feed into my copywriting and my ideas. It’s awesome. I feel creative, well, sometimes…

    I love the way your posts go a big loop and then bring you back to the basics again. It’s great, love it! Thanks.

    Oh yeah, i’m poor, still. One day I’ll have some money that’s not for food, and i’ll buy something of yours!

  39. “We do it because we can.”

    Enough said,

    No need to meditate on that one!

    Jeff

  40. the last sentence simply gives us all the vote of confidence…. Thanks Sonia.

    u mentioned Julia Child… the book and the movie Julie and Julia actually made me love blogging and internet writing!

  41. I’m walking this edge for the month of December while participating in a December Poetry Challenge. Writing a poem every day and not just publishing something because I’m “supposed to”. “Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.” Amen!

  42. I would agree that a brilliant individual voice carries a lot farther than a tone-deaf chorus of others’ recycled words.

    When I find myself writing on a topic that’s been done a million times, I ask myself, “How will the fact that I’m the one writing this make it just a little bit different and special?” Whatever makes me unique as a writer is what will make that subject worth reading about for the millionth-and-one time.

  43. Wow! Sonia Amazing post, I especially like what you said about working focused on what your readers want. Totally agree.

    By the way, great phrase: “Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.”

    See you :)

  44. Kudos for the Fight Club reference, Sonia!

    I think you make an excellent point. I do a lot of research about blogging, and more often than not I get bombarded with these so-called, “get rich quick!” schemes and free guides. Why is it so hard for these folks to look beyond the money and care about the people they’re trying to attract? Not only is their content second-rate, it lacks emotion and I have a hard time trusting poor quality.

    It speaks volumes about a person when they take the time to craft their message and connect with the people who need it the most. These are people I trust.

  45. Thank you Sonia. What a great reminder to not just produce content for content sake. I have just started this writing business and am realizing more and more that it is really only practice and listening that is going to help me produce good content.

    This paragraph you wrote sums it all up: “It comes from obsessively focusing on what your reader wants. What’s bugging her? What problem is she having a hard time solving? What does she want more than anything? What’s she dreaming about? What wakes her up at 3 in the morning? What makes her feel like a beautiful and unique snowflake?”

    Thanks again for the reminder!

  46. Thanks Sonia and the whole Copyblogger team for consistently follwoing rule #1!

  47. A lot of what you say applies to sales and marketing. Give people what they want, NOT what you want to give/sell them! Most people are focused primarily on themselves; if they’re reading what you’re writing, chances are it’s not to learn about you, it’s to relate or apply what you’re saying to them and their life.

    Your advice applies to all types of writing, by the way.

    Terrific info.

  48. Sonia, I can write good content? What do you mean “you can you know” Just how strongly did you utter that??

  49. Love how you referred to it as a ‘fantastic game’. If you make anything in life a ‘game’ it’s always fun and challenging.

    I really need to refine my copy writing. I’m going to have a good long hard look at the copyblogger archives and become a ‘famous writer’ (Dixon Bainbridge – Mighty Boosh ;))

    Focusing on the readers is something I’ve really tried hard to do lately.

    Sarge | BeginnerBlogger.com

  50. And if you write copy that sucks, make sure you highlight it in yellow.

  51. Wow Girl!
    I’m not going to lie – I’ve written some spamducation. The clueless kind – but I served some time for the crime :)

    The danger sign is when I lose the pulse of my audience. The second flag is getting desperate to publish. Both add up to crap. Thanks Sonia for keeping it real

    Stan | Copy Junkie

  52. …or in quotes.

  53. I’m always astounded when I see these things that claim to write articles for you. Hmm, sounds suspicious and unlikely to me but I suppose some people buy them or they wouldn’t keep trying to sell them. Sad really.

    Definitely true that it’s work. Practice really does make perfect and if you don’t do something daily (or often at least) you won’t get better at it and you’ll never get really good.

    I hope RMB takes off and look forward to following your journey with that:)

  54. @Shane, I always find that putting it in brilliant red capital letters (centered) works nicely as well.

    @Tom, that’s definitely a tricky issue. More for some topics than others. Not every topic is as overclogged with information as social media & online marketing are. (Which makes sense, since people interested in those tend to create a lot of content.)

    @Stan, I confess, I’m not entirely innocent myself. Part of the life of the hired gun copywriter, right? One tries, but some projects just resist the whole “not sucking” thing.

  55. @Sonia, or if you write copy that sucks, do so in crayon or white text.

  56. Sonia, THANK YOU for putting this out – I hope many of our spam / scam free report writing “artists” felt a kick in the teeth upon reading this.

    Siraaj

  57. @Siraaj, It would be nice to think so, anyway!

    @Shane, I do think crayon is quite jaunty.

  58. @ Shane and Sonia, or a blinking background?

  59. Hi Sonia, This is the first post of yours I’ve read. And to be honest – I have copyblogger in my feed, and drool over the post titles, and MOVE RIGHT ALONG because it is usually so HARD to do the stuff suggested. This gave me the shot in the arm that I needed to keep trying! It doesn’t have to be a ton of research into all the best and greatest tools out there – just effort and knowledge put on paper. And it IS fun. When I forget that, is when I stop blogging.

    Thank you so much for writing this!
    Cathy

  60. Thanks for the lesson, i learn alots here.

  61. How does one know if content sucks? Should we start encouraging blog comments that say “This could’ve been better” instead of “Great post” (when that’s not true)? How many times you’ve seen a blog comment giving constructive criticism about the post? Never, right?

    This Sonia’s post doesn’t require such comments, but I’d suggest that next time you think a blog post could’ve been better, leave a comment for the author about it instead of hitting back button right away.

    It’s hard, really hard, as we want to be nice for other bloggers, but if you do it right, you might form a great relationship with that blogger. Who wouldn’t want to hear what we need to improve to become a better blogger?

  62. @Antti

    I think that’s a really great point. It lept out at me enought to get me to comment again.

    That’s a difficult area.

    Isn’t that where analytics can help? If people are reading your stuff, not commenting and not following a specific call to action, that could be a sign that something isn’t right.

    But then again, maybe you aren’t reaching the right audience?

    I would have said that if people are taking the time to read and are willing to give feedback no matter what it says, that’s better than silence? no… definitely an area I’d like to hear more about.

  63. Seriously, if you learn to love copy (writing, editing, proofing, researching, entertaining, persuading) to the point where your best words can’t come close to describing it, you won’t suck.

  64. Personally, I’d love some constructive criticism.

  65. @Shane – let me add something. You have to love your audience – period. My love of copy springs from my desire to be relevant with my audience. Personally I don’t give a flip about copy unless it helps me connect at a primal level with my readers.

    @Antti – you are on to something here. I know that I can’t grow if everyone is throwing flowers. I suspect the urge to be liked (by showering compliments) overrides the necessity of being constructively critical and risking the wrath of the poster. In the 50th Law Robert Greene points to 50Cent posting a new song to get critical reviews of it. He yanked it because his public said it was too soft. He rewrote it and ended up with a winner. This would not have happened if his comment roll was stacked with groupies.

    Definitely something to think about.

  66. Love the first rule Sonia.
    Seems you may have been reading In Bound Marketing because the whole book refers back time and again to making REMARKABLE content as the way to ensure you have people coming back to your site.
    I guess REMARKABLE must be the opposite of IT SUCKS!!!

  67. Good article. As soon as I cleaned up my blog from content that sucked, more people turned in.

  68. @Stan, I know you’re in direct response, so copy is a tool for you. I’m cool with that. But, just look at John Caples’ piano ad and you will see someone that obviously loved copy as much as connecting with his prospects:

    “I played on and as I played I forgot the people around me. I forgot the hour, the place, the breathless listeners. The little world I lived in seemed to fade — seemed to grow dim — unreal. Only the music was real. Only the music and visions it brought me. Visions as beautiful and as changing as the wind blown clouds and drifting moonlight that long ago inspired the master composer. It seemed as if the master musician himself were speaking to me — speaking through the medium of music — not in words but in chords. Not in sentences but in exquisite melodies!”

    That’s some serious copy-love!

  69. @Shane – I can live with that. This reminds me of Sonia’s post about David Ogilvy and the need to balance the Poet (love for the art form) and the Shark (obsession with selling a product that solves a problem).

  70. @Andee, I haven’t gotten to Inbound Marketing yet, it’s on my shelf. But we both stole the term remarkable from Seth Godin. :) (Sometimes things do suck remarkably, but that’s not a good thing.)

    @Stan, I’d forgotten all about that, but yeah. Sharks do well, but Poet Sharks do exceedingly well.

  71. This is so true! It’s amazing how many junk-products are being sold online at the moment. This makes it very hard for consumers to sift-through and find the quality content.

  72. Yeah, yeah: you’ve got a good point. But I’ve got to start somewhere. Landing pages are not all that fun to write.

    And I’m not as good as you yet. Thanks for the reminder to make all my writing better.

    I like your bold style, your insistent attitude, and your fresh pose. (An aside: thrivewire media forgot to check styling with Opera browser…marketing blueprint is compelling in Firefox, not in Opera.)

  73. I want to be violently good. So good that people just throw money at me constantly. Wait, that’s totally demeaning. Maybe I’ll ask them to gently hand their ridiculous sums to me.

  74. @Stan & @Sonia, It takes a skilled pen to combine sharks and art; do it wrong and you end of with shart. (somebody stop me)

  75. Thanks, S.Smith, we’re working on better cross-browser compatibility.

    @Ian, I like “violently good.” :)

  76. There’s a lot of crap content out there that’s drier than the Sahara Desert. It’s sad to watch people take the art out of the writing form. Glad to read this post targeting good copy. Content is king, but content plus good copy skills is supreme!

  77. Clear, concise and helpful, as usual, following all your own rules (both of them!), keep it coming! Very impressed , though I have to say I like rule #2 better than rule #1 (just so it doesn’t feel like the firstborn is getting all the love around here). Something to aspire to. Thanks for that.

  78. Very interesting post. I will try to add these tips to my blog to increase traffic and readership. Thanks

  79. I realized recently why realtors and the white shoe independent professionals I love so much blog: it’s to demonstrate, in advance, the level of service people will be getting.

    When you treat the free shit that way, man, it ups the ante.

    Sad problem is though, most people aren’t 2 year blogging veterans. Most people crawled out from under somewhere and piss poor free shit still works.

  80. Hey Sonia,

    Nice Post,

    Coppyblogger has many good things going for it. One is you
    reiterate basics like CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT, and for good reason, if we forget the basics, our blog goes down the drain.

    Sure, there is a place for flashy writing, but even James Joyce had some good content to his writing.

    SoIreallyappreciateyourpostbecauseyouhaveabitofboth,contentand
    flash!

  81. Excellent post, and once again I was a sucker for a great title :)
    You’re exactly right with the process that writing takes, it’s not simple, it is time consuming, but it’s always worth it. There are many different elements that make up an exciting piece of writing that will get the attention it deserves, and Copyblogger certainly follows those the tee.
    Thanks for sharing Sonia.

  82. What an inspiring piece of writing. I love tight, polished and focused copy that can kick you in the teeth with a forceful argument: Spamducation sucks!

  83. Great topic! This is the equivalent to downloading junk mail. Having a content strategy before you start creating it is key. Listening to your target customers and finding out what they are searching for…what are their most burning questions. Answering those questions will keep your business (and content marketing strategy) on track!

  84. I’ve never considered myself a very good writer of anything. In fact, I’ve always had a problem of getting the idea from my head to my hand and onto paper.

    With 2 blogs going now and trying to parlay this into a living, I am forced to work on my writing ability. Your blog is truly a help to an under average writer such as myself.

    Thanks

  85. @HealthMindSpiritNews, you almost give me the courage to try a “James Joyce guide to blogging post.” Almost. But not quite. :)

    @Jason, in my opinion, the most important thing is the effort. If you care and you try, you’re so far ahead of the game than most. It’s cynicism and laziness that make me cranky.

  86. I just attended a seminar where the speaker said the definition of an entrepreneur is “one who solves people’s problems for a profit or for pay.” I thought that was a great way to put it and I could see why many artists, including myself, haven’t been able to earn a full-time living in art.

    I was focusing ONLY on what I wanted to create.

    Sometimes, this resonated with someone and they bought it. But, more often than not, it didn’t. The win-win is to find a way to create what people want — while doing what you love. And I think that is what it comes down to with anything in life.

  87. Sonia, Thank you educating us
    on spamducation and speaking
    of and more importantly publishing
    quality content. I actually look
    forward to reading your blogs
    and posts. Thank you.

  88. Nice Piece Sonia,

    As a site owner and copywriter, what I have noticed when you do a copyright is that the article you’re writing should be unique.

    I agree with this statement, “Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.”

  89. So fabulously well put, thank you!

    (“It is work.” Um, yes. Yes, it is!)

    Thanks also for my morning Fight Club reference.

    +Jessie

  90. Another great article, thank you. And not just for helping remind me to stay on track but to remind all of us that it takes serious, committed effort to achieve the things we seek. No guru, quick fix or magic system is going to make results appear out of nowhere. The short cut is never the answer. I love the line “Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.” This inspires me and hopefully others to keep going.

  91. Sonia, thank you. The more I read from you, the more I want.

    Great advice–I’ll take it: “get intimidatingly good. You can, you know.”

    @Jon — you said, “But the pressure of updating daily (or as much as possible) seems to drive people down this dangerous path.”

    I agree. This pressure, this supposed need, to update daily (or as often as possible) is crap. It’s one of the things that puts so many useless blog posts in the same ‘Spamducation’ category as what Sonia just talked about.

    I loathe that part of the blogging world which promotes such a ‘need.’ It’s ridiculous. People should not get whatever they want, the instant they want it. It’s as silly as most advertising, it’s hype, and it’s crap.

    It’s allowing many of us to churn out crap because it’s crap itself — and most of us are following the supposed need like sheep.

    Very few people – if anyone – can continually give their best on a daily basis.

    The blogs I like, I’m fine with hearing from them once or twice a week. And hey, imagine that, it might allow some of us to get away from the computer more. That’s badly needed for too many out here. ;-)

    Strive On!
    Everett

  92. Thanks Sonia for such a good post.

    On the internet, content is king and while deceiving your readers, can take you a bit far, providing great content will set you out as a useful and helpful marketer who can be relied upon for advice rather than a desperate marketer who is out to scam his/her readers out to their every last cent.

    Cheers,
    Kevin

  93. Delivering good content is hard work… It’s nice to read something that highlights the craft rather than the racket. I originally began blogging purely for the financial possibilities. Now, I just enjoy sharing my story and building community. Thanks for the post I really enjoyed it.

  94. Yes, this is a good idea I’ve seen, and just do not know whether they act together

  95. I think this says it all “It comes from obsessively focusing on what your reader wants.” Blogging with junk posts may build traffic, but this traffic is of little long-term value. Keep an eye on the stats for each post and try to build an understanding of your readers from what is visited, linked to and re-visited often.

  96. Coming up with good content also reaps great results. Recycling ideas of others will keep your blog in the dark.

  97. Sonia,
    I like how you address the reader as a female. I often find myself writing towards myself (a male) and often overlook the female perspective. I guess the next step for me is to find out how to produce content for both genders.

    I write about study skills for students, and I’ve found that many females have found my writing-style harsh. I guess what works for me, doesn’t always work for everyone.

  98. Spamduction.
    Too much of it all around.
    But it is hard to always come up with new and interesting content.
    Guess that’s why you keep on trying.

  99. Great result will came a good content. I am waiting your best article and perhaps it can help us to build our network.

  100. Wow. Just found this article via the end of year best of post and what a concept. Content that doesn’t suck. Of course, achieving this can be the real trick and sometimes all of us should take a second look (or even a third!) at our own content and ask, ‘Would you spend time reading this?”

  101. Great content – its not easy is it? Not many people are great writers… how does one learn not to write content that suck?

  102. Undesrtand your rule, I am following and really this is a good blog which can make me growing up.

  103. Please write another post on this topic. How a writer can choose and write the content that does not suck…

  104. I’m about to create my first internet content and your article show me the way I should go.

    Thank you

  105. I love this site.. Full of great info! Thanks!

  106. Another tip on how to write content that doesn’t SUCK:

    Read the work of other excellent writers!
    Reading often is a way of training your brain to think like the people who’s work you’re reading. Read it write it!

  107. sonia,
    great content solves problems….and you guys are solving problems.

  108. MK, totally, that’s one of my content success keys! If your content solves problems that are worth solving, it can be imperfect in a lot of other ways and you’ll still do wonderfully.

  109. Hey Sonia. I want to ask you a question. You said about peoples come to one site to get help. Firstly the search on Search Engine than the SE drive him/her to any site ..isn’t it? So if i don’t use the so called keyword on my post …will I get the visitor? And you know, when I use the long tail keyword, the content becomes poor and somewhere irrelevant.

    What is the best solution of it?

  110. One way of making sure you write good content is to have something to say and tell it as if it were a story.

    For example, today when I was in front of my Italian students who were reading my blog they asked me what I thought were effective blog words seeing how my bl.g is doing pretty well.

    The first thing I did was go home and write a cool list of adjectives that good copy blog writers use such as rockstar, life hack and wicked. What do you think? Are these words still working for you?

    Please feel free to stop by my blog and give me your professional opinion.

    My best,

    Julie

  111. I believe you what you are writing, excellent writing style and advices. We all know them but we forget in three minutes. Thats why I want to start a new blog, where I will be posting all the rules I think I need to become a wanted blogger:)

    English isn’t my native language so it will be tough.

    good luck to all of you in blogging

  112. So where would be a trusted place to find quality copywriters? Who can be trusted to do a good job at a reasonable price? There are too many people claiming to be copywriters that actually suck at it. I am a new business and I don’t want to waste my money on crappy content writers.

    Would anyone know of any quality companies or independents?

  113. Hi Rob,

    I like Ben Settle. I’ve never used him because I write my own copy, but I’m on his newsletter and the guy knows his stuff.

  114. Sonia, I just had what feels like the leading edges of an epiphany, so I’m going off-line to develop it a bit further.

    Still, in the tradition of “paying it forward”, here’s one of the central observations: “Due to the nature of the internet, it isn’t even necessary to do a-b testing because you can use up the whole alphabet with ads … three times over and all simultaneously live … for little more than the cost of releasing the first one.”

    Okay … this ball is ‘in play’ and I am subscribing to the follow-up comments. — Bill

  115. Great post, thanks. Too much copywriting is about the writer, not the reader. Result? Poor content, rubbish return. I guess some people never learn!

  116. I love your point about good content coming from hard work, not from “talent.” Lots of people are satisfied with weak or average writing because they don’t think they can do any better — they don’t think of themselves as “good writers.” But almost anyone can become a “good writer,” or at least a better writer, by putting in some serious effort. And of course, one of the best ways to improve your writing is to read good stuff–which is more pleasure than work!

  117. I agree on that. I’ve seen blogs on top of google search but when I read the blog it just plain sucks. I think the blogger is more focused on page rank rather than good content. Sure crawlers will like your blog because you post content regularly but these crawlers are not human and they can’t tell what’s a good content from what is not.

  118. I just spent 3 days -initial research to final post- putting together ~2,400 words on garden slugs.

    It’s probably not Hemingway … but it’s probably not bad writing, either. The point above about good writing taking time, lots of it, are well-taken. I can write fluff (200-400 words on a topic that takes 10 pages of fine print in an encyclopedia) in 20-30 minutes and then spend the rest of the day marketing that cotton candy — or I can spend a few days writing something that will ‘stick’ because it’s definitive and authoritative and THEN spend a day marketing. ;-)

    No matter how good the copy is, it has to be marketed.

    I just try to get my stuff bookmarked, subscribed to or otherwise marked as being worth revisiting and referring. The best way I know of to accomplish those goals is to write stuff that is worth bookmarking, subscribing to, revisiting and referring others to and then letting the world know that it exists. — Bill

  119. Loved the knock-out phrase, “intimidatingly good”.

    I am a beginner, starting out in this field and nowhere near as good as many of you folks out here. However I try to make my posts as well researched as possible and not slap together some pretty words and hit the publish button.

    It’s pretty time consuming but every time I do that there is this deep sense of satisfaction in knowing that I have done my best and not fed my readers trash

    Never hurry with your posts until you are 100% sure.By following this maxim I find that I sleep a lot more peacefully at night.

  120. A fantastic no holds bar approach to effective copy writing and delivering creative engaging content for your site visitors.

  121. Well said Sonia, content is the key to success. I will always keep this in mind.

  122. Your point is well taken. Take the necessary to produce the best copy possible.

  123. Dear writer of this post,

    I am in complete agreement with your thesis.

    There is only one thing worse than content that sucks: content that sucks that is surrounded by ads!

    This builds a caontagious fury inside me. It makes me want to break my computer- not in the literary sense. Having said this, I need a new laptop as mine just broke. Shocking!

    Dave @ filmstank.com

  124. Thanks Sonia for this insight and encouragement! Another great post!

  125. I feel like standing up and applauding. Actually I *did* stand up and applaud … even let a whoop in, but got a very odd look from my other half!

    Thank you for the glorious motivation. :)

  126. Absolutely. One major issue I have found as well is other people just taking all material written already by someone and posting with their link. There is enough junk online and offline and if we continue to give value and be up front with clients and customers it will make it easier for everyone.

  127. It takes time, patience and a good work ethic to become a good blogger. Some of us will eventually get there, but many will just continue with mediocre results.

    I hope…no dream that someday I can be as successful as copyblogger.

    Thanks for this post it is inspiring.
    Paul

  128. I stumbled on your site and loved the article. I like the content quote “It comes from obsessively focusing on what your reader wants.” Sometimes I don’t follow that rule. Thanks

  129. Sonia sez: “Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.”

    Oddly enough, if you put in the craft, care, and attention, it will be mistaken for talent. The difference is, craft can do it again tomorrow.

  130. Great Article. Give the reader what they want or need. I’ll keep this in mind going forward

  131. “Good content is king.” Just like this entire site. You guys offer a lot of awesome great content that I’m just addictive, and can’t quit reading!

    How do you guys do it?! :)

  132. Thanks Sonia… Yet, I do have a question?

    I’ve seen you guys (copyblogger, remarkable communication) have been around for a while. How do you stay away from writing content that sucks? Or I should say — how do you ensure you constantly deliver articles that solve problems?

    Should I always give one “cookie” at a time? or Should I write about different topics?

    Really appreciate your reply…

  133. Writing is hard, writing good is harder, but writing like an expert is the hardest. After reading your professionally written articles it discourages me when I write my second rate article or blog post that does not meet your guidelines as stated in this post. The only thing I know to do is to keep writing and struggling through until I figure out out to write like an expert through researching, studying, and reading this sites blog post on excellent topics with an obsession to be one of the best.

  134. The sentence that was magnetic to me: What makes her feel like a beautiful and unique snowflake? I just adore the metaphor (rhyme intended). In fact, many people don’t have the support and the positive vibes from their boss, colleagues and friends, to regularly feel their inner talent and mojo. But we all have something unique to give. When i write posts, I struggle to give the reader my perspective in a voice that doesn’t sound like blaring and boredom. As our blog aims to help people over 40 get their career mojo back, I have both the qualifications to say that I have faced that, and am daily struggling with it myself, and the bona fide wisdom to feel that I have sound ideas to share with you, and then you get back to me with what is working. Intrigued? Check it out at http://www.mojo40.com and please DO tell me, how ya like the copy!!

  135. Thank you Sonia for continuously churning out amazingly simple, yet often overlooked insight. I’ve become an avid fan of your posts. You know, to a certain extent, you can’t blame the newbies to online marketing for falling for the smooth sales pitches, the overinflated clickbank account screenshots and the promises of a better future by sundown. It’s a culture that caters to the hopeful and the hopeless, banking on the fact that people will be naive enough to believe in something that will just lift them out of whatever hard times they’re experience. Once they buy in, the advice is always.. do little, do it a lot, and do it quickly. Over time, those of us who stick through the learning curve eventually see the light, but it takes time, painful painful time. ;)

  136. This is the most awesome article I’ve read in your website today! I’ve read around 15-20 (I wasn’t counting). It is my first time here but I’ll be back. Thank you for the inspiration.