What to Do When You Absolutely, Positively Must Know if Your Content Will Rock

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on June 29, 2011. We’re running it again today to honor DIY media and the endless possibilities for your business when you’ve built a loyal audience.
Ever had a great idea, and then started to doubt yourself?
Or maybe you’ve already executed on that great idea, but you’re hesitating to launch. Maybe it’s an article, or an ebook, or a new product or service.
How can you be sure it will work? Should you ask for feedback?
I’ll answer both of those questions in this article, but first I need to tell you a couple of stories from the nutty worlds of music and film.
Let’s start with a band called Wilco.
Wilco gets the shaft
In 2000 and early 2001, Wilco recorded a selection of songs for a fourth studio album.
Signed to Reprise Records (a subsidiary of Warner Music), the band was continuing to shift away from its “alt country” roots toward a more experimental alternative rock sound.
This made the folks at Reprise nervous. After a shakeup at the top executive level of the label, a guy named Mio Vukovic was assigned to monitor the progress of the new album and offer suggestions.
Let’s just say that Vukovic wasn’t much impressed with what he heard, and Wilco wasn’t much impressed with his suggestions. This resulted in the band being unceremoniously canned by the label.
Wilco negotiated its contractual divorce from Reprise. Part of the deal allowed the band to keep the master tapes and full

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The Anatomy of a Hyperlink That Woos Readers

Links are hugely important for the web.
In a macro, 30,000-foot way, links are the currency that help search engines evaluate the essence and quality of content. They help search engines determine the authority behind a web page.
On a micro level, though, from the reader’s perspective, links also serve as one more of these landmarks that stand out for the reader as she surveys her media landscape.
And when you have mere minutes to woo a potential reader, you do whatever you can to make your page stand out.
In this roughly 10-minute episode of Rough Draft with Demian Farnworth, you’ll discover:

The five acceptable ways you can create a link
What makes links so damn attractive to online readers
Why long links achieved the highest success in getting people to the information they were seeking
How to get a reader’s attention with the magic number of words in a link
The one page you should never send a reader via a link

Click Here to Listen toRough Draft on iTunes
Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM
About the authorRainmaker.FMRainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

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A Simple Content Marketing Strategy for Creative Folks

I promoted my business the wrong way for a long time.
Just like many designers and artists, I focused on building my portfolio, posting my work around the web, and waiting for feedback.
I quickly realized this approach wouldn’t take me very far. Why?
Because that’s what everyone else does. And you’re assuming people who aren’t design experts will recognize your creative work as superior.
Most people naturally want to buy from people they know and like. So, how do you display your work while making it easy for prospective clients to learn about who you are?
The conclusion is simple: content marketing.
How to use content marketing to sell your creative work
When I looked around, I saw that many well-known designers run popular blogs, and they teach, speak, and publish books — people like Jeffrey Zeldman, Cameron Moll, Vitaly Friedman, Luke Wroblewski, and Mark Boulton.
How could I improve my authority in the design community using the skills I already had? How could I become recognized as a remarkable designer?
That’s when I started learning about content marketing and how powerful it can be for all artistic and creative professionals: designers, photographers, illustrators, musicians — you name it.
The demand for experts who teach specific skills and share unique content in the creative and artistic space is huge.
The more you create and share, the better results you get. When you become an authority in your niche, more people follow your work, and you get more (often higher-paying) clients.
And if you sell your

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Solve Your Blank-Page Problem With This Visual, 3-Step Content Creation System

In the movie Amadeus, the creatively frustrated composer Antonio Salieri discovers pages of Mozart’s original, handwritten compositions and remarks, with utter anguish:
He had simply written down music already finished in his head. Page after page of it — as if he were just taking dictation.
When it comes to writing, do any of us know what that feels like?
Maybe once in a blue moon we are lucky enough to stumble into a Mozart-esque state of content creation — dropping perfectly formed prose into our blog or ebook without any struggle.
For most of us content marketers, this is not the case, even though we aren’t short of inspiration, ideas, or coherent thoughts.
Why? Because we’re writing backwards.
The problem with how we typically approach writing
The way most of us approach writing goes against how our brains are wired to think.
If you’ve ever stared at a blank page with that unforgiving cursor blinking-blinking-blinking in expectation, you might have already suspected this.
I had a complete “aha!” moment about this obstacle when I read Dan Roam’s excellent book, Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work.
Roam explains:
… throughout the eons of human development, our ability to think has evolved along two different paths. One path specialized in seeing the world as lots of little pieces, while the other path specialized in looking at the world as a whole.
Here’s where the light bulb really went on for me:
For words to express a thought, they had to be strung together in

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Seth Godin on the Difference Between Failure and Your Struggle With Failure

Today’s guest on Hack the Entrepreneur is one of the most well-respected and prolific marketing minds alive today.
After his first job out of college working at a software company, today’s guest started a book packaging business, which he later sold to his employees.
He then co-founded Yoyodyne, a unique marketing service and company. He sold this company to Yahoo! in 1998 for $30 million.
During that time, he launched another web company called Squidoo, which was acquired by HubPages in 2014.
Most of you will know him for his writing. He writes daily on his blog, one of the most popular blogs in the world, and he has also written 18 books that have been bestsellers.
You can win a copy of his latest book here.
Now, let’s hack …
Seth Godin.
In this 37-minute episode of Hack the Entrepreneur, host Jon Nastor and Seth Godin discuss:

Why and how Seth set up his business to be able to work on something new every day
Understanding what a brand is (and isn’t)
The difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur
Seth’s definition of an entrepreneur (and why it matters to you)
Why Seth thinks that everyone should blog every day
Figuring things out, when Seth does not understand something

Click Here to Listen toHack the Entrepreneur on iTunes
Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM
About the authorRainmaker.FMRainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

The post Seth Godin on the Difference Between Failure and Your Struggle With

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7 Potent Tips for Creating a Travel Blog Unlike the Rest

Travel blogging has become a popular profession in recent years. When I started my blog in 2008, I only knew of a handful of dedicated travel bloggers.
Now, there are thousands of people trying to make it in the industry. Last year’s travel blog conference, TBEX, had more than 1,200 attendees compared to 100 just five years ago.
The dream of getting paid to travel the world drew me to the profession. I wanted to write guidebooks and be an intrepid travel writer like Bill Bryson or Anthony Bourdain.
Travel bloggers are just like other bloggers, though: they want to overcome obscurity and make it to the top of a big heap.
The problem is that new bloggers tend to follow established patterns and copy the success of others. In doing so, they end up contributing to the echo chamber in their field.
As you begin to establish yourself as a travel blogger, how do you avoid mimicking the content that already exists and build your own authority?
Even if you aren’t a travel blogger, you can apply the seven tips below to your own blog to stand out from the crowd. Just substitute the word “travel” for your niche.
1. Research the industry
Many travel blogs are poorly written narratives about what somebody ate in Rome on a Tuesday.
They’re boring.
Since there’s little barrier to entry, anyone can become a travel writer. Given that millions of people travel, it’s no wonder that thousands think to themselves: “I travel, I

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