Tag Archive | "Writer"

James Clear: How The Master Of Habitual Self Improvement Became A Writer And Uses His Blog To Reach Over A Million People Per Month

[ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] There are a few people online who I genuinely appreciate as writers. James Clear is one of them. James is one of the only bloggers I know who does extensive research for his content and includes footnotes…

The post James Clear: How The Master Of Habitual Self Improvement Became A Writer And Uses His Blog To Reach Over A Million People Per Month appeared first on Yaro.blog.

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Be a Bad Writer to Be a Great Writer

I wrote about writing practice last week for a specific reason. Summer is quickly arriving here in the Northern Hemisphere, and when the seasons change, I reevaluate my habits and goals. What should I stop doing (aka, What’s not working?) What could I optimize? What would I like to add to my routine? You probably
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30 Tips that Help You Become an In-Demand Freelance Writer

You may or may not know that I haven’t always been Copyblogger’s editor. For many years, I was a Copyblogger reader. I didn’t know Brian. I didn’t know Sonia. But I pretended that I did. Of course I didn’t tell anyone that … I just received so much guidance from Copyblogger that helped me position
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How to Feel Good as a Writer: an Origin Story

You may be surprised to see the lyrics in this article’s image attributed to Leslie Bricusse, because one of the most widely known versions of the song “Feeling Good” was recorded by Nina Simone (no relation to Sonia Simone). So, with no disrespect to Leslie Bricusse … Who the hell is Leslie Bricusse? Leslie Bricusse
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James Clear: How The Master Of Habitual Self Improvement Became A Writer And Uses His Blog To Reach Over A Million People Per Month

[ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] There are a few people online who I genuinely appreciate as writers. James Clear is one of them. James is one of the only bloggers I know who does extensive research for his content and includes footnotes…

The post James Clear: How The Master Of Habitual Self Improvement Became A Writer And Uses His Blog To Reach Over A Million People Per Month appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

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This Is How You Become a Writer

practical tips for practicing your writing

Stop. I see you, mid-eye-roll. I know you’re aware that you need to write regularly if you want to become a writer.

You might aim to write something every day, even if you don’t publish it anywhere. There’s no substitute for that type of practice. It’s that valuable.

But what do you write about if you don’t have any thoughts to express?

Some of you may now be talking out loud to your web browser to offer a rebuttal to that question, so I’m going to stop you again.

It was a trick question. If you’re a writer, there is always something to write about because of the way you view your experiences in the world.

Writers are fascinated with their experiences.

Today, I’m going to explore the outlook that helps you become a writer and how strong writing enables sharper content marketing.

Why you should write about everything that happens to you

A bee was trapped in my fireplace … Someone cut in line in front of me at the grocery store … I was stuck in rush-hour traffic

Those are the types of experiences I used to turn into stories when I first started writing. And my writing style still includes relevant anecdotes that support the main message I want to communicate.

But in the early days of my writing journey, there wasn’t always a main message I wanted to communicate. I wasn’t creating content intentionally yet; I just needed to develop my writing voice and get used to typing words on a keyboard on a regular basis.

Even if you’ve never written anything before, that is the first step to take to become a writer.

As a side effect, you’ll strengthen skills that pair well with content marketing.

You’ll discover your brand of effective content

Content with no personality looks like a dictionary entry written by an anonymous person, but content with too much personality can look unprofessional.

Both extremes will damage your content marketing efforts, but it can be helpful to use those extremes to find the middle ground of effective content.

The more you write, the more you’ll be able to recognize the difference between generic content that could have been written by anyone, directionless content, and focused, engaging, goal-oriented content.

Your writing practice builds self-confidence that helps infuse your content with the right type of winning qualities that differentiate it from your competitors.

You’ll appreciate the details that separate remarkable content from dry content

When you embrace the art of carefully crafting your stories, vagueness becomes your enemy. It doesn’t serve you. You’ll crave vivid and sensory words.

Clear and detailed descriptions stamp your content with your unique brand. In order to sculpt those clear and detailed descriptions, you’ll naturally take on the responsibility of editing your writing.

As you write and rewrite, your editing skills will help you recognize and correct common mistakes you make.

You’ll develop the empathy that produces content that connects

Be kind and gentle with yourself when you make writing mistakes. Compassion for yourself will lead to compassion for others that radiates throughout remarkable content.

I used to cringe whenever I read a piece of my writing that was older than six months. I was embarrassed and saw opportunities to make it better — or wished that I didn’t write about the topic because it no longer interested me.

Now I’m not as hard on myself and appreciate the work I produced at that time.

Also, when you write about your experiences — especially experiences that involve other people — you have an opportunity to view situations from a perspective outside of your own mind. Take a moment to see the other person’s point of view.

Responding with empathy benefits content marketers who aim to relate and connect with their audiences.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t write about an experience

Sometimes you’re tired and don’t feel like writing. Sometimes you want to do something else. But you may feel pressure to write anyway.

I support regular habits that promote productivity, but I like to view those habits with flexibility. It’s okay if you don’t do something you intended to do on a certain day or at a certain time.

That self-confidence I talked about above will also help you overcome stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed because you’ll be confident that you can handle the work you need to do. You’ll feel capable, and you’ll know your writing task will get done well at the right time, even if it’s not when you originally planned to do your work.

Surrender to the evolution

The topics that interest you when you first start writing will change.

Sometimes your evolution will be gradual, and other times you’ll change directions abruptly because you’ll want to experiment with something new.

As you evolve as a person and a writer, you’ll become more selective about your content topics, but your refined palate and discerning taste will only ripen once you commit to writing.

Viewing experiences as potential stories is one way you can get started.

Work with life

Your writing is art; it’s supposed to be indulgent. I give you permission to dissect your existence.

When you feel good about yourself and the choices you make in your life, your confidence will spill over into your content, which puts you in a better position to attract the right audience for your products or services.

Do your experiences influence your writing and content marketing materials? How do you determine what is worth writing about?

Share in the comments below.

Learn how to connect with content

Want to learn more about how you can use content marketing to grow relationships with the audience you’d like to attract to your business?

Then claim your free My Copyblogger membership! You’ll get instant access to a treasure chest of proven content marketing training.

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What’s the Difference Between a Professional Writer and a Content Marketer?

the difference is strategy, perception, and a higher pay grade

I’ve been a writer for a long, long time. I’ve written something every day for around 30 years now. (Okay, I took about a week off when I had a C-section.)

I’ve been a content marketer since 2004, even though we didn’t call it that back then.

These days, I’m a Chief Content Officer — a job title that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

I love and respect writers, and I know a lot of them. Some are successful; some are struggling.

And I have some thoughts on what can make the difference.

You may know that we run a program to certify excellent writers as Certified Content Marketers.

What does that mean? What’s the difference between a good writer and a good content marketer?

(Spoiler alert: I kind of spilled the beans with the post image.)

But first things first: What is this content marketing thing, anyway?

Here’s how I’ve defined it in the past:

Content marketing is the strategic creation of text, imagery, audio, or video that delivers a relevant, interesting message to a customer or prospect, while at the same time paving the way for a sale.

Good content requires excellent writing. But the elements of strategy and structure need to be in place to get it to work as marketing. Which is, after all, what we get paid for.

So, here are five elements that separate high-quality content marketing from material that’s well-written but might not deliver the same business value.

1. It has to move the audience

You may have noticed that at Copyblogger, we often talk about audience, rather than prospects or leads per se.

The audience is made of people at many stages, including those who aren’t in the market for what you do or what your company does, but can spread the word about your content.

And audiences don’t stick around for weak commercials or carbon-copy content. They need to be moved. If your content doesn’t do it, they’ll go elsewhere. It’s a big web out there, full of delicious distraction to tempt them away.

This is where your art comes into play. If you want to take your marketing writing to another level, consider working on plays, screenplays, fiction, or poetry. Anything creative designed to create an emotional response will improve your professional work.

And yes, you can move your audience even if your topic is “boring.” Use humor, stories, or frustration. Everything we do as people creates mini stories — you can use those for content, even for technical topics like law, medicine, manufacturing, or accounting.

2. It has to earn attention

This is one of the core beliefs of a professional content marketer:

You are never entitled to the attention of your audience. You have to earn that attention every day.

Among your clients and employers, you may find that founders and CEOs can have a tough time with this. They often assume their businesses are riveting. It’s your job to help them see that the audience doesn’t have the same passion for the business that they do.

If your content isn’t successful, if it isn’t gaining attention — it might not be good enough. You may need to put in more work — find better angles, craft better headlines, and find the right tone and voice for that particular audience.

How can we tell if our content is worth consuming? If people consume and feel driven to share it. If it works for your audience, it works.

3. It has to have spark

The biggest problem I see with content is cookie-cutter, paint-by-numbers stuff.

Our Certified Content Marketer training program teaches you structure and formula, but it’s your job to find the spark.

If you’re writing for a company, somewhere in your organization is someone with a passion. It might be the founder or a salesperson or a support person. Someone cares desperately and can show you where the spark is.

And if you can’t find anyone … you need to look for another company! I don’t say that flippantly. Companies without G.A.S. don’t tend to last long. And even if they do, they’re no fun to work with.

(Been there, done that. Not worth the t-shirt.)

As a professional writer, you are the scribe of the business you serve. It’s your role to take their beliefs and passions and give them a voice. I take this very seriously, and I think you should, too.

Be part of everything. Be curious about everything. Become a lifelong student of everything. It’s all material.

4. It usually relies on proven structures

Getting spark into your content doesn’t mean “winging it.”

There are structures that have been shown to work better, because they make your ideas easier to perceive and understand.

Here’s a nutshell structure for effective content. Copyblogger has lots of posts on these points, and of course we also cover them in depth in the Certified Content Marketer training progra.

Effective content is marked by:

  • A headline that instantly commands attention
  • A few sharp, focused introductory sentences that pull the audience in
  • Useful information that solves a problem the audience cares about (think about magazine content)
  • A single, focused point or “moral of the story” that the content is trying to teach. This could address a specific objection to purchase or a belief the prospect needs in order to buy, or it could lead to a call to action
  • Stories, metaphors, case studies, examples, and other techniques to engage the audience and illustrate that point
  • A well-crafted call to action that tells the audience how to take the next step

5. People have to know how to think of you

You may be more than able to handle everything above — but you also need to convey that to your clients or employers.

A successful content marketer knows how to market her own business, as well as her clients’ or employers’ businesses.

Let’s face it. You aren’t going to find the perfect gig that will keep your bills paid and your brain happy forever. It’s not how the world works anymore.

You need to position yourself for today and for tomorrow. You need to market yourself as the smartest, best solution. You need to take all of the authority and technique that you use for your clients and treat yourself as your most important client.

That doesn’t always come naturally to us, but it can be taught — and when you learn it, you will appreciate the benefits.

At Copyblogger, we love writers. We respect writers. And we want writers to be paid what they’re worth.

You run the show. The web revolves around words — and you are the creator of those words. We want you to get the respect (and pay) you deserve.

Are you a writer who wants to become a Certified Content Marketer?

Inside our Content Marketer Certification program, we’ve got a lot more for writers.

We designed this program to help writers make the most of their careers — to help them position themselves and their offerings, so that they can build profitable freelance writing businesses.

And we’re opening the program soon. Drop your email address below and you’ll be the first to hear about it.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on April 28, 2015.

Image via picjumbo

The post What’s the Difference Between a Professional Writer and a Content Marketer? appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

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What’s the Difference Between a Professional Writer and a Content Marketer?

the difference is strategy, perception, and a higher pay grade

I’ve been a writer for a long, long time. I’ve written something every day for around 30 years now. (Okay, I took about a week off when I had a C-section.)

I’ve been a content marketer since 2004, even though we didn’t call it that back then.

These days, I’m a Chief Content Officer — a job title that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

I love and respect writers, and I know a lot of them. Some are successful; some are struggling.

And I have some thoughts on what can make the difference.

You may know that we run a program to certify excellent writers as Certified Content Marketers.

What does that mean? What’s the difference between a good writer and a good content marketer?

(Spoiler alert: I kind of spilled the beans with the post image.)

But first things first: What is this content marketing thing, anyway?

Here’s how I’ve defined it in the past:

Content marketing is the strategic creation of text, imagery, audio, or video that delivers a relevant, interesting message to a customer or prospect, while at the same time paving the way for a sale.

Good content requires excellent writing. But the elements of strategy and structure need to be in place to get it to work as marketing. Which is, after all, what we get paid for.

So, here are five elements that separate high-quality content marketing from material that’s well-written but might not deliver the same business value.

1. It has to move the audience

You may have noticed that at Copyblogger, we often talk about audience, rather than prospects or leads per se.

The audience is made of people at many stages, including those who aren’t in the market for what you do or what your company does, but can spread the word about your content.

And audiences don’t stick around for weak commercials or carbon-copy content. They need to be moved. If your content doesn’t do it, they’ll go elsewhere. It’s a big web out there, full of delicious distraction to tempt them away.

This is where your art comes into play. If you want to take your marketing writing to another level, consider working on plays, screenplays, fiction, or poetry. Anything creative designed to create an emotional response will improve your professional work.

And yes, you can move your audience even if your topic is “boring.” Use humor, stories, or frustration. Everything we do as people creates mini stories — you can use those for content, even for technical topics like law, medicine, manufacturing, or accounting.

2. It has to earn attention

This is one of the core beliefs of a professional content marketer:

You are never entitled to the attention of your audience. You have to earn that attention every day.

Among your clients and employers, you may find that founders and CEOs can have a tough time with this. They often assume their businesses are riveting. It’s your job to help them see that the audience doesn’t have the same passion for the business that they do.

If your content isn’t successful, if it isn’t gaining attention — it might not be good enough. You may need to put in more work — find better angles, craft better headlines, and find the right tone and voice for that particular audience.

How can we tell if our content is worth consuming? If people consume and feel driven to share it. If it works for your audience, it works.

3. It has to have spark

The biggest problem I see with content is cookie-cutter, paint-by-numbers stuff.

Our Certified Content Marketer training program teaches you structure and formula, but it’s your job to find the spark.

If you’re writing for a company, somewhere in your organization is someone with a passion. It might be the founder or a salesperson or a support person. Someone cares desperately and can show you where the spark is.

And if you can’t find anyone … you need to look for another company! I don’t say that flippantly. Companies without G.A.S. don’t tend to last long. And even if they do, they’re no fun to work with.

(Been there, done that. Not worth the t-shirt.)

As a professional writer, you are the scribe of the business you serve. It’s your role to take their beliefs and passions and give them a voice. I take this very seriously, and I think you should, too.

Be part of everything. Be curious about everything. Become a lifelong student of everything. It’s all material.

4. It usually relies on proven structures

Getting spark into your content doesn’t mean “winging it.”

There are structures that have been shown to work better, because they make your ideas easier to perceive and understand.

Here’s a nutshell structure for effective content. Copyblogger has lots of posts on these points, and of course we also cover them in depth in the Certified Content Marketer training progra.

Effective content is marked by:

  • A headline that instantly commands attention
  • A few sharp, focused introductory sentences that pull the audience in
  • Useful information that solves a problem the audience cares about (think about magazine content)
  • A single, focused point or “moral of the story” that the content is trying to teach. This could address a specific objection to purchase or a belief the prospect needs in order to buy, or it could lead to a call to action
  • Stories, metaphors, case studies, examples, and other techniques to engage the audience and illustrate that point
  • A well-crafted call to action that tells the audience how to take the next step

5. People have to know how to think of you

You may be more than able to handle everything above — but you also need to convey that to your clients or employers.

A successful content marketer knows how to market her own business, as well as her clients’ or employers’ businesses.

Let’s face it. You aren’t going to find the perfect gig that will keep your bills paid and your brain happy forever. It’s not how the world works anymore.

You need to position yourself for today and for tomorrow. You need to market yourself as the smartest, best solution. You need to take all of the authority and technique that you use for your clients and treat yourself as your most important client.

That doesn’t always come naturally to us, but it can be taught — and when you learn it, you will appreciate the benefits.

At Copyblogger, we love writers. We respect writers. And we want writers to be paid what they’re worth.

You run the show. The web revolves around words — and you are the creator of those words. We want you to get the respect (and pay) you deserve.

Are you a writer who wants to become a Certified Content Marketer?

Inside our Content Marketer Certification program, we’ve got a lot more for writers.

We designed this program to help writers make the most of their careers — to help them position themselves and their offerings, so that they can build profitable freelance writing businesses.

And we’re opening the program soon. Drop your email address below and you’ll be the first to hear about it.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on April 28, 2015.

Image via picjumbo

The post What’s the Difference Between a Professional Writer and a Content Marketer? appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Want to Be an Amazing Writer? Read Like One

how to read like a writer

When it comes to reading, there are two ditches modern-day web writers may fall into. Both are notorious, unrefined, and dangerous — especially if you want to be more than an ordinary writer.

On one side, you have the ditch of never-ending digital content where you spend all your time reading online.

Your day looks like this:

  • You begin with the latest Copyblogger article and a heavy dose of articles from news sites by the time you down your third cup of morning coffee.
  • During lunch, it’s a dash through some popular and arcane sports, fashion, cooking, or interior design blogs (but not any by that potty-mouthed she-devil who can’t stop talking about her cowhide throw blankets).
  • In the afternoon, you gobble up several articles on LinkedIn, 99u, Fast Company, and the fun ones you find on Facebook.
  • Late at night, you start reading your third brand-new James Patterson novel of the year (and it’s only May!) on your Kindle (not quite online, but still digital).

On the other side, you have the ditch of “made-for-loneliness” wonkism where all you do all day is read about one topic — and one topic only.

Your day looks like this:

  • During your breakfast of Fig Newtons and yesterday’s coffee, you read Copyblogger’s ebook on SEO copywriting and then watch as many Whiteboard Fridays as you can during your hour-long carpool ride into work.
  • At lunch, you finish memorizing Search Engine Land’s periodic table of SEO success factors — and then recite it for your three sleeping lunchmates.
  • Before you leave work, you print out three ebooks on local SEO and read those during the carpool ride home.
  • And in the dead of the night, you thumb through a musty copy of SEO 2015 and Beyond while you drink your fourth “I heart SEO” coffee mug full of Belgian-style quadrupel.

There is nothing wrong with these two approaches to reading if you have no ambition to be a great writer. However, if you aspire to be an exceptional writer, follow these sophisticated reading habits.

Read more old books

Many books published each year will end up in the remainder pile — forgotten, useless, and cheap. Really cheap.

And while reading new books is a great way to stay on top of the latest ideas (or be reminded of the old ones), I think it’s much better to make a habit of reading older books.

Old books have ideas and stories that have endured for 50, 100 — even thousands of years. Darwin. Schopenhauer. Hobbes. Nicholas of Cusa. Sappho.

When you read a book, letter, article, or essay that has endured through the ages, you can be confident that it’s quality writing. Not as much with new books.

Another advantage of reading classics is that there are fewer to choose from. You could read Random House’s list of the 100 best novels in a few years. You couldn’t do that with all the new fiction published in just one year.

Or maybe reading 100 books is just too daunting. Instead, wrestle through James Joyce’s Ulysses or Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica for half an hour every day. It might take you a year to get through one of those books.

Or two.

If you need encouragement from others, start a book club where you tackle ancient classics by Xenophon, Thucydides, or Herodotus.

If you are really brave, write out your favorite short story or article by hand. This practice will help you notice and absorb the qualities that make these works so great.

In the end, there are lots of ways to skin this cat, so just remember the goal is to read more old books.

Read wide (outside of your discipline)

I recently shared a list of books every content marketer should read. You might suppose all the books on that list focus on content marketing.

But they don’t.

I recommended a book on web usability, a book on design principles (by a cognitive scientist), a book on storytelling, and a book on mobile marketing. This is called “reading wide.”

However, another trap we can fall into is not going wide enough.

While all those books are different from one another, they aren’t that different. When you take a step back, you see that they are all business books.

I’m urging you to study completely different categories. Like astronomy, Latin American politics, or medieval architecture. It doesn’t matter if these books are old or new. Just read something outside of your discipline.

Why?

You’ll be surprised by the associations that emerge in your mind after you read a book like The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Or the metaphors that emerge after reading The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco or Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz.

Illustrating that point was my intent when I wrote 10 Surprising Books that Will Transform Your Writing.

Read long-form journalism

Not long ago, I received a question from a reader whose first language was Chinese. She asked what she could do to improve her writing in English, specifically conversational English.

I understood her situation because English isn’t my first language either. I’m a native speaker of Mumblish, with a heavy obscurantist accent.

Speaking clearly, concisely, and compellingly was foreign to me when I got started.

A college-level essay writing class helped. As did learning about direct-response copywriting. But it wasn’t until I took a serious interest in long-form journalism that my conversational writing skills took a healthy turn for the better.

Here are some of the things I did:

I’ve learned so much about conversational writing from reading smart long-form journalism.

I’ve learned how to take facts and build them into a story, how to use dialogue, and how to make people the central part of every piece I write.

Speaking of people …

Read books about becoming a better person

Ultimately, if you want to become a better writer, you have to become a better person. Let me explain how I came to this conclusion.

Denver, Colorado. April 14, 2016. Sonia Simone, Pamela Wilson, and I were spread out around a large table talking about our favorite books that we had read in the last year.

Here’s a sample:

At some point during our conversation, a light bulb went off in my mind.

Nobody mentioned a book on copywriting, content marketing, or even business. The closest was perhaps Sonia’s pick (The Upside of Stress).

Instead, these were all difficult books — difficult in the sense that they are not light affairs you can dabble in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. They were also very personal.

A commitment is required. A commitment to become a better person.

When you do that, a nifty thing happens: You begin to care more about people. You begin to care about their sorrows, pains, joys, and dreams.

You begin to listen more, soften toward their plights, and lighten up about their moments of good fortune (instead of getting jealous).

Great writers strive to become altruistic and empathetic.

And they put in the hard work by reading books on difficult topics that challenge, stretch, and expand them.

Your turn

So, how’s your reading going? Are you satisfied with a steady diet of digital content? Are you obsessed with one subject — and only one subject? Or, are you reading more old books, long-form journalism, and content far outside of your comfort zone?

More importantly, are you reading books that help you become a better person?

I have a hunch you are. Especially if you stayed with me all the way down to this final sentence. It shows me you have grit. A necessary trait of great writers.

In the comments section below, share your favorite books you read in the last year. I look forward to hearing from you.

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William Shakespeare Google Doodle celebrates iconic writer & England’s St. George Day

Born in 1564, Shakespeare’s work has shaped four centuries of literature.

The post William Shakespeare Google Doodle celebrates iconic writer & England’s St. George Day appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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