Practical Tips to Move You Toward Your Content Marketing Goals

This week is all about good, old-fashioned pragmatism. It’s about the specific tactics you can use to start getting the results you’re looking for — sooner rather than later.
On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman gave us some suggestions on timing when you want to approach that busy influencer with your killer idea or humble request.
On Tuesday, Jerod Morris let us know about the launch of Sites, a new podcast that helps you build the website you need to reach your goals.
And on Wednesday, I outlined specific steps you can take to gain momentum when no one knows who you are (yet). Your “1,000 True Fans” aren’t going to show up overnight, but there is a path you can take to get to them.
Over on Copyblogger FM, I talked about the “killer and the poet” — and what to do if you need a little boost in one of those two roles.
And … did we mention the new Sites podcast? I’m rather partial to the one that Jerod recorded based on my Digital Sharecropping post.
We have four episodes for you at this launch. Each episode of Sites focuses on one of the four pillars of a successful website: content, design, technology, and strategy. The episodes are punchy and focused, and will get you right to the information you need.
That’s it for this week — have a great weekend, and we’ll see you Monday.
— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital

Catch up on this week’s content


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Are Your Free Trial Emails Making You Look Desperate? Here’s How to Fix That

A SaaS free trial starts like any relationship – full of hope, dreams and possibilities.
Your prospect starts a trial and gladly opens your welcome email.
She wonders what marvellous, mind-reading revelations she’ll find in your onboarding sequence. (“Please let this be the product that gets me!”)
But then… she takes a moment or two away from you. Other commitments take priority. Although she likes your product, she’s forgetting about you – she’s not sure you’re The One. Plus, her friend just started seeing this other SaaS product, and she’s all “It’s sooooo beautiful” and why

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How to Build a Better WordPress Website … One Week at a Time

What is the key to building a better website?
Well, you first need an idea. And it needs to be useful.
Next, you need to start with the right stuff, the right raw materials. You clicked on the headline of this post, so perhaps you’re already using WordPress or strongly considering it. Good choice. Continue down that path.
After that, you have to be willing to hit Publish. Whether you’re starting your own food blog, marketing your copywriting business, or building an audience for your coaching services … you have to put your story out there on the web for all to see. That can be scary. It’s also empowering.
What comes next?
Find a path for continuous improvement
A few years ago, I wrote an article on Copyblogger titled How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer. A book I had just read called One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer inspired that post.
The book takes its cue from the Japanese concept of kaizen, which means continuous improvement — or, to be more specific, the process of achieving sustained success through small, steady steps.
This concept spoke to me then. It continues to speak to me now.
It’s so easy, especially in today’s environment of ubiquitous distraction, to get lost in big ideas and forget about the inevitable series of small steps it takes to achieve them.
I am easily prone to this. I’ve learned this about myself. I have to be intentional about pulling myself

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When to Send Article Pitches (and Other Important Emails)

It feels good when you’ve done your research before pitching an article idea to an editor:

You know the publication’s audience
You know your topic offers value in unique ways
You know the editor’s content preferences and pet peeves

But you’re not done yet.
Although hitting the “send” button on your email seems like an inconsequential step in your article pitching process, I recommend pausing before you take that action.
That moment of excited impatience could spoil all the important research you’ve just performed.
Caution: avoid these days of the week
Have you ever suggested a fun activity to a friend, significant other, or family member when they’re in a bad mood, and they immediately decline?
Although they would normally love your idea, you’ve asked them at a time when they don’t want to be bothered.
I compare that experience to submitting an article pitch to an editor on a Friday or Monday.
Friday is a day to wrap up the workweek before the weekend and organize upcoming tasks.
Monday is a day to catch up from the weekend and start juggling pressing priorities.
When you reach out to someone you don’t know, your email might get lost in the hustle and bustle of those busy days. If you’ve worked with the editor before, it still might not be a priority to review your article pitch promptly.
Another warning
My theory about Fridays and Mondays is absolutely not a strict rule. After all, an editor may have requested that you submit a pitch to them on a Friday

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The Balance of Creativity and Productivity

If you read Copyblogger for any length of time, you’ll notice a theme that comes up again and again — the balance of creative “arty stuff” with pragmatic productivity.
Creativity makes our content worth reading. Strategic implementation gets us where we want to go. Each depends on the other.
On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about cultivating a Pomeranian state of mind to expand your creativity. (Read the post to find out why you actually do want to do this.)
And on Tuesday, she outlined a plan to use that Pomeranian creativity to actually make something that other people want to read, watch, or listen to.
Finally, on Wednesday, our editorial team sent me their favorite writing books — a healthy mix of the arty, the crafty, and the strategic.
Over on the Copyblogger FM podcast, I shared two resources that have seriously impressed me — one on the science of learning (this is great if you’re improving your skills, but it will also be incredibly useful for course creators) and one on creative focus (hello shiny).
Want to make great leaps in your writing this summer? Get your Inner Pomeranian going, pick up some of the books on the reading list, sharpen that focus just a bit, and decide on a project to implement with Stefanie’s plan. By September, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.
That’s it for this week — have a great weekend, and we’ll see you Monday.
— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital

Catch up on

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Your Summer Reading List from the Copyblogger Editorial Team

I don’t believe in a “writing gene.”
Writing comes more easily to some folks, for sure. But those aren’t always the people who end up writing really well.
Writing is a skill that requires plenty of practice. But practice is always more effective when you’re working on the right things.
That’s when it’s time to seek out some good advice.
This week, we asked Copyblogger’s editorial team to share some of their favorite writing books. There’s a mix here — some books are about the art of writing, some about craft, and some about strategy.
Any of them will help you put your words together in more powerful ways.
Here are the recommendations, in each writer’s own words:
Brian Clark
Fun Fact: I’ve never read a “normal” writing book, only copywriting books. So:
Advertising Secrets of the Written Word, Joe Sugarman
I have a lot of copywriting books and courses, and if I were starting out from square one today, I’d start here. Joe Sugarman is a direct marketing legend, and he does a great job of getting basic copywriting concepts across in an enjoyable way. So if you’re brand new to copywriting, this is where to go.
Editor’s note: This edition of Sugarman’s book is out of print, but was reissued as The Adweek Copywriting Handbook.
Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz
For the advanced, here’s the money book, courtesy of the late, great Gene Schwartz. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, this is what just about any highly successful copywriter

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A Simple Plan for Managing and Completing a Content Project

On June 20, 2009, I was reading Copyblogger and I got a new idea: I should write an ebook.
At that point, my writing and editing business was less than a year old, and I had never written anything that resembled a book.
Could I actually do it?
I knew I wanted to try, so I established a plan on July 1 that would help me write, design, and self-publish an ebook on my website by September 15.
I’m going to share that plan with you today, so you can adapt it to any type of content project you’d like to finish by the fall. You’ll also learn some habits I like to avoid when there is a specific goal I want to accomplish.
Select the right topic
Writing an ebook could easily take a year or two … or five.
But launching it as soon as possible was an important step for my business. The ebook would help:

Establish my authority as a writer and editor
Build my email list
Strengthen my author bio when I wrote guest posts

The last bullet point above was especially critical because I didn’t have my own blog yet. I’ll explain that in a bit.
In order to complete the project by the end of the summer, I decided to create a short guide to avoiding common writing mistakes.
If I had chosen a more complex topic, either the quality would have suffered or I wouldn’t have been able to release it on September 15.
Carefully select a project

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