Tag Archive | "Editorial"

3 Fundamental Editorial Standards for Any Serious Publication

I’m a “go big or go home” kind of gal, and when it comes to content marketing today that translates to “have editorial standards or don’t publish.” If a reader, listener, or viewer begins to like you, but you fail to earn their trust, your hard work will feel like a waste. Editorial standards are
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What’s Your Worst Writing Fear? Dread and Trepidation from Our Editorial Team

It seems straightforward enough. We human beings are innately verbal creatures. Writing is just taking the language we dream, think, and speak in, and arranging the words on some paper or a computer screen. So why is it so hard sometimes? I think it’s because the same inventive brains that gave us Harry Potter, A
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SearchCap: Sales funnels, search pics & editorial changes

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Sales funnels, search pics & editorial changes appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Your Summer Reading List from the Copyblogger Editorial Team

Editorial Roundtable

I don’t believe in a “writing gene.”

Writing comes more easily to some folks, for sure. But those aren’t always the people who end up writing really well.

Writing is a skill that requires plenty of practice. But practice is always more effective when you’re working on the right things.

That’s when it’s time to seek out some good advice.

This week, we asked Copyblogger’s editorial team to share some of their favorite writing books. There’s a mix here — some books are about the art of writing, some about craft, and some about strategy.

Any of them will help you put your words together in more powerful ways.

Here are the recommendations, in each writer’s own words:

Brian Clark

Fun Fact: I’ve never read a “normal” writing book, only copywriting and screenwriting books. So:

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word, Joe Sugarman

I have a lot of copywriting books and courses, and if I were starting out from square one today, I’d start here. Joe Sugarman is a direct marketing legend, and he does a great job of getting basic copywriting concepts across in an enjoyable way. So if you’re brand new to copywriting, this is where to go.

Editor’s note: This edition of Sugarman’s book is out of print, but was reissued as The Adweek Copywriting Handbook.

Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz

For the advanced, here’s the money book, courtesy of the late, great Gene Schwartz. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, this is what just about any highly successful copywriter will tell you is the Holy Grail of deep psychological insights that lead to breakthrough marketing campaigns.

Stefanie Flaxman

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!, Al Ries and Jack Trout

It’s a quick read, but every time you pick it up as you progress on your marketing journey, something new clicks into place or it sparks new ideas for a project you’re working on.

And I’m going rogue on my second submission ”</p

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Pet Peeves from the Copyblogger Editorial Team, and What they Reveal

"No one can nurse a good peeve quite like a group of writers." – Sonia Simone

We’ve written quite a bit lately about identifying core values in your content.

Creating content around a positive value like integrity, fairness, humility, or faith will attract an audience that shares those values — and that fosters a powerful sense of unity.

But our friend negativity bias tells us that the flip side of that will probably be more compelling. In other words, talking about the things that bug you will build an even faster bond with your audience.

For today’s post, I asked our editorial team to let us know their peeves — the things that irritate, bother, and annoy them.

I’m going to try to tease those out and figure out the values behind them — and see what that might say about who we are as a company and a community.

So let’s get peevy.

Stefanie Flaxman’s peeve

Stefanie is our editor-in-chief, and as you’d expect, she has a healthy list of grammar and usage peeves.

But an editor is much more than a proofreader. It’s one thing to misplace a comma — it’s another to come at a post in a fundamentally flawed way. Here’s Stefanie’s peeve:

Hype/extremes/absolutes: Writing voices that are heavy on absolutes tend to simultaneously lack substance and speak to the reader as if they know what’s best for them … which isn’t a combination that builds credibility.

For example, earnestly referring to any flesh-and-blood human being as a “guru” is typically too vague or a sign of hype. If the person is an expert, top scholar, or highly respected professional, use those labels instead — they’re more specific.

What it reveals

Putting this post together reminded me that an Allergy to Hype has always been at the core of Copyblogger’s message. Since Brian founded the blog in 2008, Copyblogger has always stood in contrast to the hype-slingers who substitute flash for value. We believe that substance matters.

Robert Bruce’s peeve

Ten-dollar words: This is an old one, but a good one, and for good reason. Most writers have moderate-to-severe mental problems. I am, obviously, no psychologist, but the attempt to unnecessarily project one’s “intelligence” through the use of big words — when plain words can do the job — seems to be clear evidence of this.

What it reveals

Besides the obvious fact that Robert wins a lifetime “get off my lawn” achievement award, I think this shows how passionate we are about Quality. Quality of information, quality of business practices, quality of writing.

Loryn Thompson’s peeve

You’ve only seen Loryn on the blog once (so far), but she’s crucial to our editorial success. She’s the data analyst who looks at the numbers behind what we’re writing, and helps us to get our message out more effectively.

Here’s Loryn’s peeve:

Using “over” with numbers (instead of “more than”) : As Rainmaker Digital’s data analyst, this one comes up for me a lot. Every time I catch myself writing “over 5%…” in a report, I go back and change it to “more than.” 


Now, the Associated Press said in 2014 that both “over” and “more than” are acceptable to use with numeric comparisons — as in, “There were over two hundred people at the event.” But you know what? It still bugs the crap out of me. 

In my mind, “over” mixes the abstract world with the physical realm. For example, if you were to say, “We flew over 6,000 miles …” you could be saying that you flew more than 6,000 miles. Or, you might mean that you were literally above the earth for 6,000 miles.

What it reveals

I picked this one precisely because the team doesn’t agree on it. Some of us are “more than” folks (me, Loryn) and some aren’t. Stefanie tries to remain agnostic.

While it can be fun to give in to that eye twitch when someone makes a style choice we don’t like, I think it’s smart to keep some perspective. There are usually good arguments to be made for different usage choices, so I’ll go with Diversity as a value for this one.

My take is that it’s more important to be thoughtful about your choices than it is to be didactic. Although alot is never going to be a word and you can’t make it one.

Twitch, twitch.

Jerod Morris’s peeve

Jerod’s a person with a strong moral compass, and I was interested to see his peeves. Here’s the one I chose from his:

Misspellings of names: It’s especially bad when the name is a common one that’s misspelled in an obvious way. But any name misspelling shows a lack of basic respect for the subject you’re writing about. It’s not really grammar, but it still makes me cringe. Find out for sure.

What it reveals

Misspelling a name in content is a classic example in failure of what Jerod calls Primility (the intersection between pride and humility). It’s both sloppy (lack of pride) and disrespectful (lack of humility). I think it’s fair to say that Primility is a core value for Jerod, and that’s probably one of the reasons he’s been such a great asset to our company.

We are, make no mistake, proud of the work we do at Copyblogger. We love producing the blog, and we try hard to make it excellent. But we know that humility’s important, too. We’re under no illusion that this blog is perfect, and we try to challenge each other to always make it more relevant, more useful, and more interesting.

Sonia Simone’s peeve

You may feel like you already know more than you need to about my peeves. For today, I revisited a favorite:

Boring content: This one just makes me sad … seeing site after site after site that utterly fails to stand out in any way.

When I see a site with a genuine, passionate voice — even if there are a few usage errors — I may cringe a little, but mostly I cheer. I’d much rather see a site with plenty of G.A.S. than a grammatically perfect one that has no soul.

What it reveals

Individuality is absolutely a core value at Copyblogger. We’ve never endorsed the paint-by-numbers approach to marketing and online business … partly because that would be very boring, and mostly because it just doesn’t work.

And then there’s the Oxford comma

If you aren’t familiar with the Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma), it’s that final comma in a collection of items in a sentence.

Here’s a visually amusing example of the same sentence with and without one.

I like the Oxford comma because it’s always clear. Jerod gets downright fierce about his support. That renegade Loryn, though, has come to prefer dropping it.

“I used to be a staunch Oxford Comma advocate, but now I prefer the way short lists flow without it.” – That Renegade Loryn

Either is correct, but do be consistent. (Although the late Bill Walsh, noted Washington Post usage stickler, advises that if a serial comma is important for clarity, go ahead and put one in there, even if it’s not your usual style.)

A note about peeves and unity

I mentioned when we started that talking about the negatives will build a connection with your audience more quickly — and it will. But keep in mind that a steady diet of negativity will give almost anyone indigestion.

Don’t shy away from talking about the good stuff, too. An honest values system includes both positive and negative points of view.

How about you?

What sets your teeth on edge when you see it in a blog post or hear it in a podcast? What do you think that says about you and your values?

Let us know in the comments!

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The Copyblogger Editorial Team’s 10 Must-Have Tools To Ensure a Smooth Workday

Lego holding a miniature iPad

When I’m not reminiscing about the days of card catalogs and telephone books, I’m busy looking for ways to make my workday easier.

Luckily, for those who get nostalgic like me, you don’t have to completely abandon old-school routines to fit in the contemporary content marketing world.

We now have the luxury of combining classic organizational methods with the latest technologies to stay on top of our crazy schedules and take our online businesses to the next level.

I decided to ask some of the smartest people around — the Copyblogger editorial team — about the tools that help them the most.

After contributing a few of my favorites as well, here are ten of the tools we use every day, both newfangled and old-fashioned, to help you discover even more ways to be productive.

Efficient email

1. AwayFind

Jerod Morris, VP of Marketing, gets a lot of email — so much email that if he wanted to stay at inbox zero, he’d never get any work done.

He checks and processes his emails twice a day, which gives him time to focus on other important aspects of his job. The only problem with this strategy is that he doesn’t want to ignore urgent emails that land in his inbox while he’s doing other work.

Enter AwayFind. The service can alert you via phone call, text, or push notification when you get emergency messages from anyone you pre-select, as well as when you receive certain keywords in messages (like “ASAP”).

Your AwayFind account has its own inbox, so you don’t get sucked into the email vortex when responding. And the service allows you to send an autoresponder to people not on your VIP list, so they’ll know you’ll get back to them during one of your email processing sessions.

The cost starts at $ 5/month.

2. Gmail’s labels, filters, and archive

Stefanie Flaxman, Manager of Editorial Standards, can’t concentrate without an organized inbox, so she uses Gmail’s free labels, filters, and archive to keep her email use efficient.

Her email process entails creating labels for common email topics and archiving messages after she’s attended to them. Then, if she needs to reference a certain email, she can quickly find it under its label.

For example, she uses the “Blog Posts” label to file emails she gets with blog post text scheduled to run on Copyblogger. When she’s ready to edit a post at a later date, she knows exactly where to find it — in her “Blog Posts” folder.

Filters allow you to automatically label email that meets certain criteria, or even set messages to bypass your inbox and land in a specific folder. You can send all of those board meeting minutes for that organization where you volunteer to a specific folder, or filter hate mail from that one person directly to the trash.

3. SaneBox

SaneBox is my solution for when my inbox runs amok.

For around $ 7/month (more with multiple email addresses, less with an annual subscription), it uses an algorithm to filter less important messages into a folder called SaneLater. Past behavior, such as when you open and respond to messages, informs the algorithm, but you can retrain it using rules you create.

I love SaneBox for when I’m traveling because it allows me to quickly scan messages sent directly to me, and not worry about the newsletters and marketing emails accumulating in my SaneLater folder until, well, later.

Traditional tools

4. Post-its

A fancy software tool doesn’t always trump pen and paper. Pamela Wilson, Director of Special Projects, says that Post-its are key to her productivity. She uses four-by-six-inch, lined Post-it notes ($ 12.99 for a five-pack) for her daily to-do lists.

“If my tasks don’t fit on one of those pages, I know there’s a good chance I’m overestimating what I can actually get done in a single day, something I’ve always struggled with,” Pamela says.

Even if you use a different project management tool, a list of tasks on a Post-it can help make your daily workload manageable without losing sight of the big picture.

Another bonus? Crossing an item off of a physical list may feel more satisfying than checking off a task in Basecamp — and you can always use software for long-term project management and Post-its for outlining each day’s tasks.

5. A kitchen timer

A tool co-founder and Chief Content Officer, Sonia Simone, can’t live without is a kitchen timer, which she says gets her to sit in her writing chair when she’s having trouble finding the right words.

Making yourself sit down and write for a set amount of time can help you put the finishing touches on an article that’s almost complete, brainstorm ideas and topics for upcoming posts, or even just get thoughts out of your mind as you work through an issue you’re not quite ready to write about publicly yet.

Or you can experiment with timed writing exercises to get your creative juices flowing.

The cost? Pick one up for around $ 7.99, or use the one that’s already in your kitchen. There’s a meditation timer you can use on your phone, as well.

6. Moleskines or other lined notebooks

No matter how sleek and sexy your new MacBook Air is, there’s something about regular, old notebooks with lined paper. Sometimes they help you express your thoughts and feelings more easily than typing away on a laptop.

Stefanie is fond of Moleskines, which she uses to work out ideas before going digital. And she’s in good company. Similar notebooks were used by the likes of Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway going back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

But if you don’t want to spend $ 12.95, any lined notebook will work. Use it to meet your daily writing goal.

Another bonus? You can write your little heart out at a cafe without worrying about finding a power outlet.

Writing and editing

7. Google Docs

Both Pamela and Sonia are big fans of Google Docs, which they use for everything from joint venture product planning to results tracking to co-authoring web content.

What’s so great about Google Docs? The web-based word processor works across platforms, so it can be viewed by anyone regardless of whether they’re on a Mac or PC. It also allows multiple people to collaborate on a document, creating and editing work in real time.

I’ve used Google Docs at conferences to keep track of tools and articles that speakers reference, and shared the link with other attendees via Twitter, using the event hashtag. It’s easy to share the link to a file, so you don’t have to worry about emailing or uploading to Dropbox.

There are multiple settings, so you can control who sees a document, and whether they can simply view it, edit it, or comment on it. Adding links and images is straightforward and simple.

Amazingly, it’s free.

8. Draft

As an editor, I’m a bit of an evangelist for Draft, and here’s why. When writers submit articles to me as Microsoft Word documents, I have to use the Track Changes feature to edit.

When my comments or questions for the writer are long, instead of showing up on the page, they show up on the side of the text in tiny comment boxes, and it’s very difficult for writers to know which comments relate to which sections of text.

If using Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature makes you want to bang your head against the wall, consider Draft as an alternative. This beautifully designed app is incredibly efficient for collaborative editing.

If I add text to someone else’s document, the additions are highlighted in green. Deletions are highlighted in pink. Draft displays comments next to the appropriate section of text, and you can view multiple versions side by side.

The writer can accept or reject changes, and there is a version control feature — so you can go back to a previous edition, if needed.

Best of all, you can upload documents from Draft directly to WordPress, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and MailChimp.

Draft can be used for free, but you can support it by paying $ 3.99/month (or $ 39.99 annually). The paid version has a few additional perks, and proofreading, which Draft refers to as “editing,” is also available for an additional fee.

Content management

9. WordPress

WordPress obviously helps you connect with your audience online, but Chief Copywriter Demian Farnworth uses it as a writing instrument as well.

He likes to write drafts directly inside WordPress itself, even if he has to turn in a Microsoft Word document. Why? Because it helps him code the article with html. Later, he can simply copy and paste the coded text into any other file format.

It also allows him to review his draft on an actual web page to give him a better sense of how the published article will look.

“And now that WordPress has distraction-free writing, it’s approaching the simplicity of other platforms like Medium and Ghost,” Demian adds.

Prices for a self-hosted WordPress website with excellent hosting will vary.

10. Rainmaker Platform

Many of you already listen to the New Rainmaker podcast, hosted by Brian Clark and Robert Bruce. And many of you have also signed up for the New Rainmaker Training Course, which includes seven foundational lessons (audio and text formats), three webinars (with transcripts), follow-up lessons, and case studies. (The two week training course is currently free for a limited time.)

How do Brian and Robert easily manage all of these different components of their website, so that they have time to focus on creating episodes of their popular podcast? The Rainmaker Platform, naturally.

The Rainmaker Platform is a complete, turnkey website solution for serious content marketers and online entrepreneurs. It contains the tools to build a content-driven website without the hassle of finding hosting, battling to achieve solid SEO, dealing with maintenance, and performing upgrades. Rainmaker takes care of all of those time-consuming tasks for you.

You can actually do much more with the Rainmaker Platform, which also includes 27 different mobile responsive designs built on HTML5. Experience this brand-new online sales and marketing engine for yourself through the free trial.

Over to you …

When you find systems that work for you, they can help jumpstart your writing and provide peace of mind during your workday.

To share your favorites, including any helpful secret weapons we may have missed, head on over to Google+ to join in the discussion.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via ntr23.

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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New CityMaps Hopes To Compete With Social And Editorial Content

Mobile mapping provider CityMaps recently redesigned its iOS app. It impressively includes home-grown vector maps, built from the ground up. Beyond this CityMaps is trying to offer deeper editorial and social content to differentiate from other mapping and local-search apps. CityMaps also invokes…

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