Thursday, May 25, 2017
Will it all be worth it?
You can’t help wondering sometimes.
Every spare minute, you’re glued to your computer, reading, writing, doing all you can to grow your blog and build your audience — all on the shaky promise that someday your efforts will pay off.
But sometimes, that someday feels far out of reach. Sometimes, you can’t help wondering whether that day will ever come, or whether you’re just wasting your time.
Well, hang in there, my friend. Because you never know what kinds of opportunities your blog can bring you.
And they might take time, but for all you know, they might be right around the corner.
To prove it, I asked 26 of my blogging friends to share the coolest, craziest opportunities their blogs made happen in their early days — that is, before they amassed a huge following and made tens of thousands of dollars off their blog.
Ready to dive in?
#1. Jeff Bullas / Jeff Bullas
One of the “craziest” opportunities I had happened about a year after starting the blog when I was invited to speak in New Zealand.
It came about because a millionaire who was reading my blog, loved my content and had an idea and sent me an email.
After the event he asked me to join the board of a new tech startup and offered shares.
Five years later the company has raised $3 million and is continuing to grow.
That company is Shuttlerock.
We were a winner in Facebook’s 2016 Innovation Spotlight providing a scalable creative solution to unlock the true power of Facebook Advertising.
#2. Ryan Biddulph / Blogging from Paradise
The coolest opportunity that arose for me as a beginning blogger was being asked to interview Thrillionaire celebrity Nik Halik. I had no clue how to blog, let alone conduct an interview. Since this was some 7 years ago I literally pressed “record” on a tape recorder – I am not kidding – received the call on my land line (resistant to cell phone usage back then) and preserved the interview for transcribing.
I learned a valuable lesson too; be prepared! I asked two canned questions sent to me by his press guy and Nik told me he was bored of the same old questions as this was his 10th interview of the day. Because I spent 20 minutes researching him earlier that day I nimbly shifted and asked probing, interesting questions that made for a great interview.
#3. Chris Guillebeau / The Art of Non-Conformity
In my early days of blogging, Air New Zealand flew me to the Cook Islands for a 24-hour event.
It was a whirlwind visit and I learned that I don’t like sponsored trips (too much expectation on behalf of the sponsor, even when they say otherwise…), but I was still grateful for the experience.
#4. Danny Iny / Mirasee
The craziest opportunity that arose from blogging was that I ended up co-authoring a book with Guy Kawasaki and other A-listers when I was an unknown. Here’s how it happened:
Firepole Marketing (now Mirasee) was just a tiny blog with less than 1,000 subscribers, when I had the opportunity to guest blog on Copyblogger. My post was “38 Critical Books Every Blogger Needs to Read.” Number 12 on the list was The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.
It must have caught the attention of Guy and/or his publicist, because a few days later, I received an email from Guy thanking me for including his book. He said he had a new book coming out and offered me a review copy and an interview.
Of course, I seized the opportunity. I spent 15 hours preparing for the interview to make it so good that Guy would want to share it with everybody. Afterwards, I posted the interview on my blog and created a video to promote the book on YouTube. I wrote reviews on Amazon and other bookseller websites—I did everything I could think of to get the word out.
Months later, I invited Guy to contribute to my book, Engagement from Scratch!, and he said yes. And that’s how blogging helped me co-author a book with Guy Kawasaki.
#5. Richard Lazazzera / A Better Lemonade Stand
Blogging quite literally changed my life. Within months of starting my ecommerce blog, A Better Lemonade Stand, I wrote a really long-form piece of content that drove thousands of brand new visitors to my site. One of those visitors was the director of marketing for Shopify. He reached out to me via email and we started to build a relationship.
About a year later, I moved to Toronto. When the director at Shopify heard, I was offered a position at Shopify which I jumped on. That position allowed me to reach two million visitors per month through their blog (while still growing my personal blog), write a full length book, and participate in the IPO of Shopify.
I’ve since left Shopify and continue to build A Better Lemonade Stand and several other companies. To think it all began with a single blog post still amazes me.
#6. Ian Cleary / Razor Social
Within six months of launching the blog it was voted one of the top ten social media blogs in the world by a competition run by Social Media Examiner.
That was pretty amazing for me because I started the blog based in Ireland and I was the only European blog on the list. This rapidly helped me become an influencer in the Social Media Space and generated me significant business.
#7. Amy Lynn Andrews / Amy Lynn Andrews
In 2006, when I had been blogging only a few years and blogs were still somewhat of a novelty, I was contacted by a writer from TIME Magazine. She had found my blog and wanted to interview me for a story she was writing about one of my main topics.
For some reason I didn’t think it could possibly be true, but a few months later I found myself in the print edition of TIME Magazine (in March 2007). Unfortunately I wasn’t savvy enough to maximize the exposure, but I did keep in contact with that journalist and enjoyed her friendship for several years.
#8. Dave Chesson / Kindlepreneur
You never know who is reading or following your content. I found out that my all time favorite writer, and multi-NYT Bestseller, Ted Dekker, had come across my work.
This led into getting to meet him for coffee, and ultimately, become an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) reader as well as helping with some of his book marketing projects.
#9. John Lee Dumas / EOFire
Very early on I had the opportunity to be featured on some pretty big sites as a guest poster, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t had the EOFire blog up and running. One of the first was on Think Traffic (now Fizzle.co), and we were featured there within just one month of having started our own blog.
This first guest post gave us powerful momentum and exposure, which we then used to request to guest post on other big name sites like Social Media Examiner, Copy Blogger, Content Marketing Institute and over twenty others.
Each new guest post opportunity brought with it exposure, more momentum, and most importantly, a very valuable friendship with people I’m proud to still call friends today.
#10. Aaron Orendorff / Iconicontent
Back in March 2014, I had just started blogging. Basically, it was me, my mom, and literally 261 unique visitors (I checked with Google Analytics just to be accurate).
I’d posted six times, when — out of the digital blue — I got an email about this post, Getting Your Customers to Hold It, Love It, and Give It Money:
I nearly lost my newbie-blogging mind. Of course, I said yes. And somewhat embarrassed myself by asking for a link:
“This is for a book project, so the linking is tough — but I’ll give you lots of love otherwise,” was Ann’s kind response.
Three months later, I’d secured my very first guest post at Copyblogger and I knew enough — just enough — to immediately turn around and pitch Ann on a MarketingProfs guest post. I composed a full article, sent it off, and was in. Everything I’ve done over the last three years has been built on that foundation. And I owe it all to one nice lady who stumbled on my blog when I had no business getting visitors of her clout (or visitors at all for that matter).
#11. Sean Ogle / Location Rebel
About six months after starting my blog, I wrote a post about quitting my job as a financial analyst. I had no idea what I was going to do after that, but I knew I was ready for something different.
The following week I received an email from a reader congratulating me on taking the leap, and telling me that he was looking to bring an intern out to Asia to help him with the online marketing for his company. I’d work part time and he would pay my basic living expenses, while teaching me the ins and outs of the digital world.
Six weeks later, I was on a flight to Bangkok where I would live for the next seven months – and it would set the foundation for my life and business for years to come. I haven’t had a real job since.
It never would have happened had I not started the blog, and positioned myself for a big opportunity to come my way.
#12. Camilla Hallstrom / Influence with Content
Back when I got started, I had NO clue what I was doing.
I wasn’t sure what worked and what didn’t. Sure, through programs like Serious Bloggers Only I knew what sorts of posts got results, but I still felt uncertain about putting anything out there. What was the point, really? What if I was just wasting my time on this blogging thing? A nagging voice inside my head told me I would end up empty handed without anything to show for it…
That’s why it felt amazing when one of my first posts got tons of shares and comments. But the best part? Brian Tracy (the sales mogul) shared it on his Facebook page (at the time, he had around 1.5 million followers). And that same post went on to win the title of “Most Epic Post” in a contest here on Smart Blogger (Boost Blog Traffic back then).
That’s the moment I understood exactly how powerful blogging can be. You can get noticed by anyone and you can open doors that right now seem firmly shut.
Apart from this, blogging has made such a difference in my life. I have met new friends who have the exact same interests as I do — that NEVER happens offline (for some reason, people’s eyes glaze over whenever I try to start a discussion about a content idea I just heard about). I’ve gotten job offers in big part thanks to my blogging experience and I started my freelance career because of it.
#13. Ashley Faulkes / Mad Lemmings
When you are just getting started, you don’t really expect anything crazy to happen. But sometimes you get a big surprise!
One of the things I did when starting out was to create a post featuring all the influencers in the blogging and social media scene. It got a lot of people’s attention and connected me with a lot of influencers very quickly. After all, it was a post with the sole purpose of highlighting these influencers (and letting them know of course :>).
Now, having connected with these influencers, I had the opportunity to take it a step further. I started inviting a lot of them on my brand spanking new podcast. Of course, I did not expect many of the bigger names to say yes. Surprisingly, I got quite a few big bloggers on the show, including some who were very reluctant to put themselves out there (not everyone is a lover of the microphone you know :>). Some of the people I got on my podcast included: Rebekah Radice, Ileane Smith, Ann Smarty, Susan Gilbert, John Paul Aguiar, Ian Anderson Gray and more. No, not Seth Godin, but still, for a complete beginner not bad I think!
What blew me away is that getting in contact with people you look up to is not as hard as it seems (if they don’t have an assistant answering their mails :>). Don’t forget, they were exactly where you are not too long ago. And most are more than happy to help out a newbie! Give it a shot.
#14. Daniel Scocco / Daily Blog Tips
Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise and expand your network. I learned this when, back in 2009, I landed a consulting gig with an agency of the United States Government! The guys from Voice of America (the official external US broadcaster) were planning to launch a new site, and they wanted to learn what would be the best ways to optimize and promote it. It was a very interesting experience, and certainly a nice touch to my CV!
Practically speaking, this happened because I wrote a lot of content on related topics (website optimization, SEO, content marketing, website promotion), and that content got linked from other bloggers and site owners, and eventually it ranked well on Google. Then when the guys from VOA started doing some research they came across my stuff, liked it, and decided to get in touch.
#15. Meera Kothand / Meera Kothand
One of the craziest opportunities I received when I started out was not only having my guest post accepted at Marketing Profs but also getting an invitation to record a mini video training for their paid members.
It was scary but I took the plunge and did the training for them and got paid for it as well. This was when my blog was barely six months old. I’ve always believed in guest posting but its benefits reach far wider than just getting traffic and growing your list. It gets you exposure, introduces you to a new audience and paves the way for other opportunities like it did in my case!
#16. Dave Schneider / Ninja Outreach
Well I got the opportunity to join my current startup, Ninja Outreach! The opportunity arose when I was invited on a podcast with my now partner Mark, who read my blog, only a few months after I started it.
After the podcast was published he reached back out to me and we discussed some ideas we had for building marketing tools in the space. We decided it made sense to work together on it. That was three years ago, and NinjaOutreach is doing over half a million dollars a year now.
#17. Nathan Chan / Foundr
I can’t put this down to any one situation! Ever since we started the Foundr blog this has given us opportunities to interview some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation (Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin etc.) and with this we’ve also been able to connect with some amazing entrepreneurs in our community which has been an extremely rewarding experience.
#18. Julie Harris / Whiskey and Red
The craziest opportunity that arose from blogging was being invited to speak at my first live class. I had been blogging for about six months when I was contacted by the Hawaii Chapter of a national women’s entrepreneur association, “Femfessionals” to speak at their Hawaiian Chapter dinner. They had found my name through another local business I had worked with in the past and found their way to my blog. I had just posted about “Charging What You’re Worth” and seducthey loved the post so much they asked me to present on the same topic live, in front of their whole local chapter.
There was a whole catered dinner, wine and beverages, and a room full of local entrepreneurs waiting to hear what I had to say. I was so crazy nervous but excited. This opportunity then opened more doors to new clients, new projects, and continued speaking gigs. My business was so new at that point, I didn’t have much of a portfolio, and my small social following was pretty slim, but I had a pretty extensive business blog, and that was what convinced them that I was the perfect speaker for them.
#19. Franklin Hatchett / Online Dimes
When I first started blogging I came across a new internet marketing method with Shopify. I ended up writing about it on my blog and uploading a Video to Youtube. To my surprise this became a great opportunity and the opportunity grew my blog from around 1,000 visits a month to over 25,000.
This is the single biggest thing that grew my blog and I seized every moment of it. The blog post and video in question were posted all over the internet because people had doubts and talked negatively about it. That negativity grew my email list to 35,000 and Youtube to 30,000 subscribers in a year. I also launched a private Facebook Group four months ago that quickly grew to 15,000 members and counting.
The blog post that was shared and talked about now has over 400 comments with the video having over 300,000 views. Some might not call this the perfect opportunity, however controversy is used on a daily basis for advertising and any publicity is good publicity.
#20. Zac Johnson / Zac Johnson
When you put yourself out there in any industry and start to gain a following and audience, new opportunities are going to come up all the time. I’ve learned to not get excited by any of them, as only a very small percentage will actually come together. However, when they do, it’s pretty cool!
One such example was when Michael Bayer contacted me through email and asked if I’d like to be featured in a documentary on internet entrepreneurs. At the time I said yes… but always fully aware opportunities and emails similar to these come in every day and usually result in nothing.
Long story short, Michael was able to pull it all together and release the film! We had a nice premiere party in Hollywood, CA and it was pretty cool! Definitely a fun and exciting opportunity that never would have happened if I didn’t start ZacJohnson.com.
#21. Scott Chow / The Blog Starter
I would have to say that the craziest opportunity to come from blogging as I was getting started was the opportunity to be interviewed by a journalist from a nationally distributed magazine.
I’m generally a pretty shy person so it felt a little strange to have that kind of spotlight on me. However, I think for a lot of people that’s what blogging is all about: finding your voice and sharing that with the world.
I am proud to share that message with people and also to help so many people establish blogs of their own!
#22. Joe Bunting / The Write Practice
The craziest thing that happened to me as I first got into blogging was in 2008, after blogging for just a few months, I connected with another blogger who had been doing it for years for the organization he ran. We started emailing back and forth, and once, when he was going to be traveling in my city, we met and he introduced me to his daughter.
A few years later, I was traveling through his city, helping him with a book he was working on, and I saw his daughter again. We hit it off over coffee, started talking, and very long story short, less than a year later we were married. All from blogging.
#23. Tor Refsland / Tor Refsland
There are a lot of crazy opportunities that have happened thanks to blogging.
Let me mention two of them:
1. I got featured in a book with some of the best marketers in the world: Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Brian Clark and Grant Cardone.
2. I got headhunted by Noah Kagan (I graciously turned him down, since I wanted to focus on building my own business).
#24. Ryan Robinson / Ryan Robinson
I got to work with Tim Ferriss, Neil Patel, Lewis Howes and dozens of other entrepreneurs right after I started blogging.
A few months after I started to write about my experiences running side projects, I applied for a job as a content marketer for the business classes at CreativeLive—the online education company. Thanks to the fact that I had already been blogging for myself about business related topics and essentially doing everything the content marketing job would entail, I got the gig and overnight started working with some of the most prominent names in the business world, helping them to create content and market their classes.
By going after a day job that put me in close proximity to the most influential people in my industry, I’ve since been able to grow these relationships and they’ve led me to do things like become a contributor on Forbes, land interviews with people like Pat Flynn and to launch my own consulting business. Blogging is all about relationships—go out of your way to forge meaningful ones that’ll help you progress within your industry.
#25. Nick Loper / Side Hustle Nation
The craziest opportunity that came from blogging was the chance to speak at my local TEDx event. I was about a year into writing the Side Hustle Nation blog when I was accepted as a speaker, and without any relevant public speaking experience I could point to, I think it was the blog (and Side Hustle Show podcast) that tipped the scales in my favor.
I was incredibly nervous leading up to the event, but it was an awesome “bucket list” experience and a chance to step out of my comfort zone in a big way. Plus it forced me to refine my message into a (hopefully) coherent and concise talk. I went through a half dozen different drafts and rehearsed like crazy before the big day, but the talk ended up receiving a standing ovation and has now been viewed almost 10,000 times on YouTube.
#26. Kiersten Rich / The Blonde Abroad
My first ever client was Visit Jordan for a video campaign where I got to produce a series of videos in the capital, Amman.
I’d always been passionate about videography, so it was an incredible opportunity and I was humbled that a tourism board had such faith in me despite only having just gotten started as a “blogger.” I learned early on that my audience and influence was only one aspect of my worth, but that my content also had value!
What Crazy Opportunities Are Waiting for You?
I know those pesky doubts are hard to shake sometimes. I know sometimes you feel like your day will never come; like you’re just wasting time and you might as well quit.
But let these stories inspire you to hang in there.
Blogging can (and often does) pay off in big and unexpected ways.
It is worth it.
So keep reading, keep writing, and (this is important) keep honing your skills.
Keep growing your blog and audience, and opportunities will find you.
Your turn will come.
And it might be right around the corner.
TL;DR version: The Rainmaker Platform is shifting from a pure technology play to software with services included before the end of June, at much higher pricing. That means if you want Rainmaker at its current pricing, you should start your free trial now.
When we rebranded from Copyblogger Media to Rainmaker Digital in September of 2015, it was a firm statement that put the Rainmaker Platform at the forefront. But it was also a foreshadowing of where we saw things going.
We knew we were headed from software-as-a-service (SaaS), to software and service to create complete solutions. People need sophisticated marketing technology, yes — but they also need done-for-them services such as design, content, and lead generation strategy.
The technology is only getting more sophisticated, and we plan to remain at the forefront of that with Rainmaker. But sophisticated technology calls for equally sophisticated strategy and execution — and not everyone has that kind of expertise in-house.
Our original goal was to create marketing technology for entrepreneurs and small businesses that are doing content marketing themselves or via freelancers. In the meantime, we’ve been turning away businesses happily willing to pay for a more complete solution.
Our go-forward strategy is to follow what the market is telling us. We’re going to offer you the services that we’ve been teaching and doing for ourselves over the last decade.
A complete Rainmaker solution provider
We’ve been doing service work for our Rainmaker Platform customers for over a year, but it’s been very cautious. There are many ways to develop a client services department, but given that we’ve been product-focused for so long, we weren’t arrogant enough to think we could just pull it off effortlessly.
In that last year, we’ve explored several viable ways to do more for our customers and prospects as a hybrid technology and digital marketing service provider. After careful deliberation, we’ve come up with a path that allows us to expertly provide anything that a Rainmaker user needs.
Rainmaker Digital has entered into a letter of intent to partner with an existing digital agency, Nimble Worldwide. We’ve had a long relationship with Nimble, as they were our email marketing provider for years before we developed our own solution, RainMail.
Effectively, the Rainmaker assets of the company (excluding StudioPress, Synthesis, Copyblogger, Authority, and DCI, which are not affected by this move at all) will be combined with Nimble assets into a new entity, with us as the majority owner.
First of all, that means you can rest assured that the company you know today remains the company you’ll be doing business with going forward. Plus, the Rainmaker side of things will be where I’ll be putting much of my personal attention and effort.
That said, this deal provides instant access to an experienced team of digital marketing professionals and a network of talented contractors that ensures our service solutions are expertly crafted and delivered. This grows the Rainmaker team significantly, without the pain and uncertainty of building an agency from scratch.
The change in business model unfortunately left four of our existing employees without positions, along with the loss of some of our own contractors. That was certainly no fun, and our operations leadership preserved every job possible despite the significant reorganization.
On the brighter side, this will open up a lot of work for our Certified Writers and members of the Genesis design community as we get rolling. We’re very excited to provide additional freelance and employment opportunities to the large ecosystem we’ve cultivated over the years.
To sum up, I’m 100 percent certain that this is the smarter move compared with trying to build an internal agency from scratch. And ultimately, the clear winners in the deal are our customers and prospects.
What can we help you with?
The first meaningful impact of this will be that we’ll be able to do just about anything you need related to your digital marketing efforts. That includes:
- Content creation
- SEO and social
- Adaptive funnel sequences
- Digital advertising and media planning
- Turn-key digital marketing packages
On that last point, we’ll be able to provide clearly defined service bundles that allow you to quit thinking about marketing and focus on the rest of your business. If the ROI is there, why would you say no?
We informed the thousands of existing Rainmaker customers about these new services last week, and the response has been enthusiastic. That means if you decide to get on board with the Platform before the switch, you’ll have the benefit (but not the obligation) of access to these services as well.
We’ll be rolling out access to both project-based and retainer-based solutions in the coming months. Once things are live, we’ll let you know here.
The end of “off the shelf” Rainmaker
All of this restructuring is aimed at offering you more options from a trusted source. Of course, with any major escalation in value, there are changes to the way things have been.
The biggest change is that going forward, we will no longer sell the Rainmaker Platform “a la carte.” In other words, the sales process will become more hands on, and less like a “pull out your credit card and sign up online” SaaS.
All future sales of the Platform will be bundled with services, and at a significantly higher price. We’re anticipating that this change will happen before the end of June, 2017.
So, if you’ve been contemplating the Platform, but don’t feel like you need additional service components, you should start your free trial before the switch happens. We’ll naturally send out reminders before the point of no return.
Exciting stuff to come … stay tuned! Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
The post Last Chance to Get the Rainmaker Platform at the Current Pricing appeared first on Copyblogger.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
You’ve seen Pulp Fiction, right? It’s the classic 1994 black comedy crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.
The film is highly stylized, presented out of chronological order, and filled with eclectic dialogue that reveals each character’s perspectives on various subjects. And yes, it’s profane and violent.
Pulp Fiction was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Tarantino and his co-writer Roger Avary won for Best Original Screenplay, which is truly the foundation of an exceptional film.
Despite the groundbreaking inventiveness, Pulp Fiction also expertly uses a common writing technique that grabs attention right from the beginning, and magnetically holds that attention through a form of psychological tension generated by our short-term memories.
This simple strategy is something you can use in your marketing content, your sales copy, and your live presentations. You’ll not only increase engagement, but also add enhanced credibility to the persuasive point you’re trying to make.
Opening the loop
Back during the aftermath of the tragic effects of Hurricane Katrina, I came across an interesting article about some less-than-inspiring aspects of the devastating storm. It began with this:
“An Illinois woman mourns her two young daughters, swept to their deaths in Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters. It’s a tragic and terrifying story. It’s also a lie.”
Now, any article that details accounts of fraud in the aftermath of Katrina would contain compelling information. But that opening had me riveted, and it got me reading what ended up being a detailed and lengthy piece that I might have otherwise skipped.
The article went on for 1,136 words before explaining that opening statement. It finally came as the initial bullet point in a list of false claims for relief after Katrina.
This type of opening with a delayed resolution is called an open loop, and it works for just about any type of content or copy. No matter the medium, you always want to grab attention quickly and hold it while you provide the surrounding facts, lessons, or supporting evidence.
The information is the same, but the level of attention and even fascination on the reader’s part is greatly heightened by the structure, leading to better retention and potential for persuasion.
Bond … James Bond
Open loops are used all the time in the movies. Think about James Bond, dangling over a vat of sharks.
While the villain monologues, Bond saves himself by cutting away the ropes with the buzzsaw hidden in his Rolex Submariner watch. Why do we accept, much less embrace, this ridiculous resolution?
It’s because the buzzsaw feature of the watch was introduced to us earlier thanks to the new technology presentation from Q that happens in every Bond movie. The implausible becomes credible thanks to the setup earlier in the film.
These setups create open loops that will keep your audience itching to find out what happens in the end — a need-to-know phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect by psychologists.
In a nutshell, the Zeigarnik Effect means that we hold things in our short-term memories that lack closure. For example, waiters can easily remember the orders of each of the tables they’re serving — until the food comes out that is, at which point retention and recall diminishes greatly.
So, when you use the setup and payoff structure of the open loop, your audience is driven to keep going with you. And that’s what you want, right?
Think about cliffhanger endings, where a loop is opened without being closed. Not only do you want to know what happens, you remember to tune in next time.
The setup and subsequent payoff of an open loop is incredibly satisfying. And that’s why open loops are also powerful persuasion vehicles, because we embrace the payoff in a way we wouldn’t without the setup and time-lapse in between.
Think back to the James Bond example; the open loop made an implausible escape perfectly acceptable. As we’ll see in the next example, it can also make a commercial claim more credible, and even prompt the holy grail of direct response copywriting — action.
Loops that move people to act
So, how can you use an open loop in your copy to not only persuade, but also prompt action? Take a look at the copy for this radio ad written by Roy Williams for a diamond merchant called Justice Jewelers:
“Antwerp, Belgium, is no longer the diamond capital of the world.
Thirty-four hours on an airplane. One way. Thirty. Four. Hours. That’s how long it took me to get to where 80 percent of the world’s diamonds are now being cut. After 34 hours, I looked bad. I smelled bad. I wanted to go to sleep. But then I saw the diamonds.
Unbelievable. They told me I was the first retailer from North America ever to be in that office.
Only the biggest wholesalers are allowed through those doors. Fortunately, I had one of ’em with me, a lifelong friend who was doing me a favor.
Now pay attention, because what I’m about to say is really important: As of this moment, Justice Jewelers has the lowest diamond prices in America, and I’m including all the online diamond sellers in that statement.
Now you and I both know that talk is cheap. So put it to the test. Go online. Find your best deal. Not only will Justice Jewelers give you a better diamond, we’ll give you a better price, as well.
I’m Woody Justice, and I’m working really, really hard to be your jeweler. Thirty-four hours of hard travel, one way. I think you’ll be glad I did it.”
Okay, so the ad starts off by setting up an open loop. If Antwerp is no longer the diamond cutting capital of the world, which city is the new one?
But here’s the thing … we’re never told the city, or even exactly how low the prices are. To do that, you need to take action by heading over to the Justice Jewelers website, combined with a challenge to find lower prices anywhere else online.
Less artful ads would lead with the claim of the lowest prices thanks to an exclusive source of diamonds. Skepticism would naturally abound.
Here, the storytelling setup is incredibly engaging, even if you’re not in the market for diamonds. If you are in the market, the lingering open loop means the listener is more likely to retain, recall, and act on the information.
Can you see how this might work on a landing page aimed at getting an email opt-in? You open the loop, and the only way the visitor can close it is to sign up for the lead magnet.
That’s just one example of the many uses of open loops. As I mentioned earlier, you can incorporate open loops in your marketing content, your sales copy, and your live presentations, all making you inherently more engaging and persuasive.
And speaking of earlier, what about Pulp Fiction?
Pumpkin and Honey Bunny
So I saw Pulp Fiction on opening night back in 1994, and oh man … that first scene. I’ve never before or since experienced a theater full of people bursting into applause after the opening of a film.
As a refresher, Pulp Fiction begins with a man and a woman sitting together in a diner. The two are known only by the pet names they call each other — Pumpkin and Honey Bunny.
They’re discussing the relative dangers of robbing various places, revealing that the two are criminals. They’ve been holding up liquor stores, which Pumpkin thinks is too dangerous and will eventually result in them or someone else getting killed.
After sharing a story about a man who robs a bank with a telephone, Pumpkin proposes that they start robbing diners. In fact, he suggests that they rob the diner they’re in, right now.
Up to this point, Honey Bunny has been nothing but sweetness and light. She suddenly jumps up with a gun and shouts some particularly shocking threats to the patrons. Cut to Dick Dale’s iconic rendition of “Misirlou” and the opening credits.
Now, the rest of the film proceeds. Some of what follows actually occurs before the opening scene, and some occurs after, but don’t worry about that right now.
The point is, much of the rest of the film plays out without returning to Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. Even though the film is riveting, in the back of your mind you’re thinking … what the hell was that about?
What happened to Pumpkin and Honey Bunny?
Finally, we arrive at the last scene of the film. It’s the same diner from the opening.
Turns out, this is where gangsters Jules and Vincent have decided to have breakfast after escaping The Bonnie Situation and disposing of a headless guy at Monster Joe’s Truck and Tow.
Cut to Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, just as Honey Bunny leaps up with the gun and makes her threat. Ironically, in their bid for safer crime options, these two fools have picked the exact wrong diner to rob.
The scene plays out and the film ends, which closes the open loop. Incredibly satisfying.
So, in case there was any doubt, you can also use open loops when crafting tutorial content as well — because I just demonstrated one for you. The headline and opening of this article promise you an example from Pulp Fiction, but I didn’t actually close that loop until the very end.
- Maybe you were wondering when I would get to it.
- Maybe you knew I was demonstrating an open loop in my usual meta way.
- Maybe (hopefully!) you got so caught up in the article that it was only nagging you somewhere in the back of your mind.
Anyway, do you use open loops in your content and copy? Let me know in the comments.
The post The ‘Pulp Fiction’ Technique for Engaging and Persuasive Content appeared first on Copyblogger.
Shake it, shake it, Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me.
This post is coming to you all the way from the land down under. I’m finishing up a short run of shows here in New Zealand and Australia with Zucchero before heading back to the US for a quick regroup to leave the country again for four months. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be able to go to the Dead and Company shows in the 5 days I’ll actually be back in my own hood. Grateful Dead have always had a special place in my heart. It literally seems like yesterday I was 13 discovering ‘Workingman’s Dead’ for the first time and put that cd on repeat in my discman. Little did I know all the solos that I could hum to a T for the past 20 years would be the inspiration for me learning my secondary instrument, pedal steel guitar. I had no idea what instrument made those sounds on ‘Dire Wolf” or ‘Sugar Magnolia’, I just knew it to be the sound of the Dead. When I purchased my first steel almost four years ago, I was determined to learn Jerry Garcia’s solo over ‘Dire Wolf.’ That’s what started everything. That’s the very instrument I’ve been obsessing over (and not leaving my house much) the past four years of my life. That’s the reason I’m writing this post in Australia, and that’s why I owe the Grateful Dead many thanks for inspiration to help me carve my own musical path.
“Just one thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darling, Sugaree.”
Steel Your Face Tshirt Adam Carstens / High-Waisted Vintage Denim GM Studio LA / Suede Booties (similar) Free People
HAIR: Ashley Layton / MAKEUP: Marlene Sullivan
Photography by Ashley Marie Myers
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
I know what some of you are thinking.
“Do I really need a sales page anymore? Can’t I sell using social media/webinars/live events/blog posts/podcast episodes?”
I don’t know the details of your exact situation, but I will say this:
If you need to spell out the benefits of your product or service in order to make more sales (which you do), a sales page will drive more positive results for your business.
Unfortunately, writing sales pages has gotten a bit of a bad rap. Some people get wildly anxious when they sit down to write one. Or worse, they fill their sales pages with rambling copy that doesn’t persuade anyone to buy.
These days, I’ve developed a specialty as a sales page copywriter — so I wanted to give you three quick tips for improving your own sales pages.
But first, I want to tell you how I fell in love with writing them.
Why I love writing sales pages — and how you can learn to love them, too
About a year ago, I took Derek Halpern’s Sales Page That Converts course, which was a game-changer for me. I studied the course closely, and used that advice to craft sales pages for my next six clients.
As it turns out, I’ve got a knack for it. One page I wrote for a client resulted in a $70,000 launch. That one felt good, I gotta admit.
I’ve learned to love writing sales pages by doing it … a lot. I understand what my goals are and what I need to accomplish in each section. I know what questions to ask my clients. And I understand the writing process.
These days, sales pages are like giant puzzles that I get to put together.
You can learn to love writing sales pages, too — you just need practice.
I understand the struggles of facing a blank screen when you’re writing, so here are my three best pieces of advice to jump-start the process for you.
Tip #1: Thoroughly explain your offer
The most important thing any persuasive copy needs to do is give your prospects the information they need to make a decision.
That means you’ve got to clearly explain the features and benefits of a product or service, and why your product or service is different from your competition.
For example, if you’re selling hot air balloon rides, you’ll need to describe the features by explaining how long the ride will last, whether it’s appropriate for kids, the safety measures you employ, and what riders can expect on the big day.
Then you could show one of the benefits of your service by describing it as a potential gift for a loved one. If your prospect gave the ride as a once-in-a-lifetime gift to a spouse, you could describe the joy and gratitude on her face as they lift off into the air on a crisp autumn morning.
Or you could talk about how excited the prospect’s kids would be if they got to go for a balloon ride and how his kids would think he is the world’s greatest dad. You could mention that one of your balloons would be a wonderfully memorable place for a proposal!
You’ve also got to explain why your balloon rides are better (or different) from your competitor’s. Do you cater to people who have a fear of heights? Do you do Disney-themed rides that are perfect for kids? Do you provide longer balloon rides than anyone else in your area?
Whatever your product or service, don’t be afraid to spill all the beans and share all the juicy details of what the prospect gets, why it’s awesome, and why you’re the right choice.
Tip #2: Answer all of your prospects’ questions
One of the most important parts of a sales page is the “Frequently Asked Questions” section. This is the place where you get to address all of the nagging little questions on your prospects’ minds.
When many prospects ask questions about your product, what they really want to know is:
“Is this going to work for me?”
For example, let’s say you’re selling an online program that teaches people how to start their own online hot air balloon ride company.
When your prospect lands on your sales page, she’s going to have some concerns. Almost all potential customers do.
- If she’s a newbie entrepreneur, she’s worried she doesn’t have enough experience, and she’ll be completely lost in your program.
- If she has lots of experience with ballooning, she’s concerned there won’t be enough useful material in the program for her.
- If she’s from some far-flung corner of the world, she’s worried that the information in your program won’t apply to her, because the ballooning regulations may be different in her neck of the woods.
Your job is to address all of these concerns in your “Frequently Asked Questions” section.
Brainstorm every question you’ve ever been asked about your product or service, and then narrow down your list to the 10 most common questions. Next, write down your (honest) answers to those queries in your sales page’s FAQ.
You’re particularly looking for questions that stop people from buying. The better you are at addressing your prospect’s concerns, doubts, and objections, the more sales you’ll bring in.
Tip #3: Don’t be afraid of writing a long page
If you do everything I described in tips #1 and #2, you’ll need to use more than a couple of lines of copy. It’s just a fact.
Don’t fear the long-form sales page! If you need eight pages of copy to give your prospects everything they need to make a decision, so be it.
I promise — you’re not going to content marketing hell for writing a long sales page. (Actually, Copyblogger has always advised that you make your copy as long as it needs to be.)
That doesn’t mean you’ll fill your sales page with pointless fluff just to meet some imaginary word count requirement. Every word needs to count, and every phrase needs to pull your prospect closer to your desired action.
Longer copy sells because it provides all of the right information.
Your sales page can be one of your best business assets
When you write a high-conversion sales page, you create an “online salesperson” that can bring in sales for your business — month after month and year after year.
As you keep practicing, you’ll notice that one day, writing sales pages won’t be scary. Pretty soon, you might actually be crazy enough to enjoy writing them.
Writers: Ready to position yourself for greater success?
Beth Hayden is one of Copyblogger’s Certified Content Marketers. Our Certification training is a powerful tool that helps you learn new writing strategies and position your business for greater success. We’ll be re-opening the program shortly — add your email address below to learn when we reopen to new students.
The post 3 Tips on High-Conversion Copy from a Sales Page Specialist appeared first on Copyblogger.
Monday, May 22, 2017
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.
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.
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!
The post Pet Peeves from the Copyblogger Editorial Team, and What they Reveal appeared first on Copyblogger.