As a Los Angeles native, I know a thing or two about sitting in traffic.
I’m talking about physically sitting in your car while stopped in traffic on the way to your destination — not the traffic you talk about when people visit your website.
But the two different types of traffic may not be as unrelated as you think.
A lack of objectivity
One of my favorite observations about traffic jams is that sometimes you’re the one accidentally blocking an intersection with your car — making it difficult for other drivers to move forward on the road — and sometimes you’re the one honking at the person blocking an intersection.
If you drive on a regular basis on crowded streets, you fluidly move between these two roles.
While it’s easy to recognize another driver’s mistakes, and criticize her shortcomings or behavior that has frustrated you, it’s difficult to objectively observe and accurately assess your own actions (and possible missteps).
When you block an intersection, you don’t necessarily regard yourself in the same disapproving way you regard another driver when he blocks your path.
The same lack of objectivity is present when you write.
The discerning taste of an onlooker
As you develop a content-based business on your own digital media platform, you need to evaluate your writing with the discerning taste of an onlooker.
The problem is: you can’t magically become another person with an objective outlook. However, there are ways I’ve found that help you look at your writing like an outsider who
As writers, we are very protective of our own creations.
But when we perform research on a topic and come across the perfect passage on a website, or an image that perfectly captures the essence of the point we are trying to make, sometimes it can be tempting to just copy and paste it into our own content.
With that one move, however, you commit copyright infringement — which could cost you your reputation and your business.
Copyright infringement is serious
Since it can be difficult to determine whether or not you’re committing copyright infringement, you may violate someone else’s copyright even if you don’t intend to.
What if a website does not display a copyright notice? Does “fair use” allow you to use someone else’s copyrighted work?
If you use a copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner, it’s infringement. Period.
It can be costly just to be accused of copyright infringement.
You may have to hire an attorney to defend yourself in court. If you settle out of court, the amount you might owe could bankrupt you or your business. Plus, it often takes a fair amount of time to resolve an allegation of copyright infringement.
Knowing how to proceed when you encounter someone else’s copyrighted work can help keep you out of trouble.
How to avoid copyright infringement
1. Don’t copy and paste someone else’s copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner(s)
Permission to use a copyrighted work should be in writing, and should detail exactly what you can and cannot
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
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.
… 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
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.
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
If you read the headline, “Portland Entrepreneur Raises $13 Million by Enticing 62,000 People to Buy His Cooler,” which part fascinates you?
How about, “7,000 Hungry Folks Raise $55,000 for Potato Salad Project?”
I imagine, if you’re anything like the majority, those large amounts of money stand out. After all, $13 million is a gigantic amount of cash, as is $55,000 for potato salad.
But whenever I come across crowdfunding campaigns like these, it is the crowd of people who band together that captures my attention.
As a content creator, imagine what you could learn from 62,000 individuals. Or the 25,000 people who supported Amanda Palmer. Or the 15,000 enthusiasts who helped Ryan North bring Shakespeare to life.
Don’t get me wrong, watching your bank account bulge with cash must feel wonderful, but if you focus on the crowd — well, that’s a source of valuable content.
Turning crowdfunding into crowd-publishing
Cramped on the end of a table in a stifling London pub, I sat across from my buddy, Arnold.
“You were my inspiration for The Successful Mistake,” I said, referring to my latest book.
“How so?” he asked.
“After our Skype chat the other day, I thought about your story. You know, the one about your big mistake. I realized everyone I’ve asked for advice shared similar mistake-riddled tales.”
“Okay, so what’s that got to do with your book?”
Sipping my pint of London-expensive beer, I smiled.
“Think about all the entrepreneurs with similar stories to share. Imagine the journey I could craft, full of anecdotes
People are attracted to these spectacles. We drop what we’re doing and gather around to watch, but then we leave.
We go back to what we were doing before we were interrupted. No one really knows who orchestrated the performance. The entire experience is short-lived and doesn’t make any profound impact.
Now, imagine performing at an opera house, such as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House pictured above — the venue for Authority Rainmaker 2015.
An attentive audience becomes fascinated by your performance and applauds you to show their appreciation. You know they’ll be back for more.
You can have that same type of interaction with your audience on LinkedIn when you properly position yourself on the platform.
LinkedIn is for content marketing professionals
While some may think of LinkedIn as only a job search or recruitment portal, it is evolving into a lead generation and publishing hub for content marketers.
Content pages on LinkedIn receive seven times more views and have six times more engagement than job-related activities.
And since Pulse and SlideShare are part of the LinkedIn ecosystem, it’s an ideal center for professional content sharing.
This is the LinkedIn Opera House, and you have an opportunity to take the content stage.
Here are seven ways to help you build authority on LinkedIn.
1. Complete your profile
Get stage-ready for your performance. Sloppiness won’t cut it.
You can’t command attention or earn trust if your LinkedIn profile is incomplete. It needs to thoroughly represent you and display a professional-quality headshot. Unless you’re participating in a
Imagine you’ve just launched your first product.
It’s a short little course, just a few weeks long, that teaches the “DIY” version of the topics you help people with every day. You built it once, delivered it online, and now it works for you while you’re off doing other activities you love.
This online course has been a transformative force in your life.
You’ve found financial freedom, because you’re no longer constrained by the economics of trading time for money. And you’ve multiplied your impact, making the world a better place for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people.
It’s a pretty picture, isn’t it?
But you and I both know it isn’t so easy to achieve.
In reality, most people with big dreams of product creation end up spending months, or even years, investing time and money that they can’t afford to lose into a project that will probably never see the light of day.
It’s a sad reality, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Let your audience direct your product development …
What the creators of most blockbuster products have figured out is how to completely avoid that situation by allowing their audiences to guide product development.
This is one of the areas where Copyblogger has always excelled. They first discussed the concept of a minimum viable audience back in 2012:
Build an audience through content marketing. Let them tell you what they want. Build products and offer services based on their desires and needs. Prosper.