Copywriting Business: Start Your New Business Today

Copywriting Business: Start Your New Business Today

Want to start a copywriting business? All you need is the willingness to write copy (advertising and other material) for clients, a little time, and your computer.

I started my own copywriting career by accident, over 30 years ago. I found I enjoyed it, and my love of writing copy hasn’t changed in all these years.

Although copywriting has changed over time, the fundamentals remain the same. Copywriting is the art of persuasion.

Copywriting Master Class: Start Your Own Copywriting Business.

We’ve just updated our popular Copywriting Master Class for 2014. Over ten weeks, you learn copywriting, as you build your business. It’s fun. You complete assignments, which build your copywriter’s portfolio.

More info here. Join us. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

My 5 Best Blogging Tips After 15 Years of Instant Publishing

My 5 Best Blogging Tips After 15 Years of Instant Publishing

Everyone has blogging tips. After 15 years, so do I. I’m even more enthusiastic about blogging now than I was in the beginning. Truth to tell, when I started out as a blogger, I had no idea what I thought I was doing.

Other writers had opinions. The popular opinion was that I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. “Write for free?!” Shock, horror and disbelief abounded. Yes, the generally derisive attitude towards blogging in those days was disturbing, but I wasn’t defensive. So blogging was weird; so what? I adored instant publishing then, as I do now. The idea that I could write something, and garner potentially millions of readers as soon as I hit Publish, thrills me.

Here’s what I’ve learned — in five blogging tips.  If you like, it’s what I wish I knew a decade and a half ago.

1. Be Yourself. You Can’t Be Anyone Else, and It’s Exhausting to Try.

You’re blogging for a reason – to promote your business, or a product, or a cause. (If you’re blogging for self-expression, you don’t need these tips. Let yourself go, and blog.)

Make a list of your goals. Most blog posts will include a Call to Action (CTA) to enable you to meet your goals. Beyond that, be yourself. The more you blog, the more traffic you will get.

Bloggers worry about how often then should blog. Mike Allton has the ultimate answer:

In order to finally answer this question, a business owner must first decide how much more traffic and leads they want. Using the data above, a business can look at what they’re getting from their website now, how much they want to improve, and quickly determine where they need to be with their blog campaign.

Blog as often as you can, and do the best you can on each blog post. Write the way you speak. Beyond that, don’t worry about it. I’ve written throw-away posts in 15 minutes which struck a nerve and got lots of responses. I’ve also slaved over blog posts which no one ever cared about – at least as far as I can tell.

2. Write Every Day. Some of That Writing Will Auto-Magically Turn Into Blog Posts.

I write every day. In my early years as a writer, I struggled with writing. Endlessly. I waited for inspiration… and waited. I waited to write books I wanted to write until I was a “better writer.” Finally, I gave up worrying about things I couldn’t control and wrote. I developed the writing habit, and a writing process which works for me, and my students.

If you say to yourself: “I’ll blog every day”, you’ll freeze. Just commit to writing something every day. Some of those snippets of writing will turn into blog posts. Use Evernote or OneNote to store your snippets. Then scan your snippets to see if they trigger anything when it’s time to write a blog post.

Create an editorial calendar, but don’t sweat it.

3. It’s Your Blog. Say What You Like (Be Kind!) Remember That You’re Responsible for Everything on Your Blog.

Some bloggers troll and write link bait. If that kind of thing appeals to you, ask yourself why. No, this isn’t a moral issue. To each his own. However, over the years I’ve come to appreciate Elwood P. Dowd’s philosophy:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

(If you haven’t watched the movie Harvey, go and watch it. James Stewart is wonderful in it.)

I recommend pleasant over smart, too. Be nice. You need other people, in this social media world. If you make trolling a habit, you’ll not only put off readers, you’ll alienate other bloggers.

4. Trust Yourself. If You Think It’s Important, It Is.

Trust yourself and your blogging. In 1999, I read blogs, and wanted to blog, but I couldn’t think of a reason. At the time, I was writing business books for Prentice Hall, taking care of my copywriting clients, and writing for magazines too. I was a busy writer. Why on earth would I want to take on unpaid writing?

Although I tried to talk myself out of it (others did too), I started a blog. I can’t remember what it was about. Nor do I remember the platform. Then I started a blog for a weekly ezine I wrote for creatives, Creative Small Biz. I liked it, and the ezine got subscribers via the blog. More blogging and blogs followed.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to blog, not even your own. If you’re inspired, blog. :-)

5. Be Interested. Enthusiasm Will Get You Everywhere You Want to Go.

Follow your passions. Yes, you’re blogging for a reason: to promote your business or whatever. You’ve got plenty of leeway inside your basic parameters. You can include your private life in your blog, or not, it’s up to you. As long as “cat” (irrelevant) posts don’t take over your blog, you can blog about anything you choose.

Of course, if you’re a lifestyle, or “mommy” blogger, you’ll blog about your insights with your life as your source material.

Whatever you choose to blog about, be passionate, and stay enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm will make blogging easy.

So, there you have it. My best tips after 15 years of blogging. Have fun with your blogging.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Quotes to Live By: “There’s No Luck in Business…”

motivational quote

Do you have quotes to live by? I love motivational quotes, and with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I’ve been thinking about luck, and business.

Here’s my favorite quote about business and luck:  “There’s no luck in business. There’s only drive, determination, and more drive.” It’s from author Sophie Kinsella.

No excuses: build your drive

I coach writers, so I’ve heard every writer’s excuse under the sun — and I have more than enough of my own. I can always find excuses for stuff that I don’t want to do. Maybe I think the Good Lucky Fairy will come along and smack me with her magic wand.

There’s no magic; there’s just — as Sophie Kinsella says so succinctly — drive and determination.

Happy St Patrick’s Day in advance… I wish you much luck, and even more determination. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Online Image Editing Gets Gorgeous: Canva Now Has Filters

Canva filters

Canva now has filters

It’s no secret that I adore Canva. This online image editing app allows anyone to edit images and create designs: no design talent necessary. The program’s very easy to use, and you can create images for both the Web and for print.

Canva’s just been updated with filters:

Whether you are looking for a stunning photo filter, wanting to get a little more advanced or create your own branded filter — we hope our new photo filters cater to your needs.

Sick of Stock Image Libraries? You Can Buy Just What You Need in Canva

Stock image websites can be expensive. The least expensive way of sourcing images is to buy a subscription. Inevitably, with subscriptions you end up with lots of images for which you have no real use; they clutter up your hard drive.

Canva solves that problem. You buy just what you need – or buy nothing. Many of Canva’s design elements are completely free. If you buy an element: an image, or a graphic for your design, each one costs you just a dollar. Canva has over a million images, and lots of fonts, so you can create just about anything. BTW, I should emphasize that I have no ulterior motive in telling you about Canva, I just enjoy the program.

Here’s what I love most about Canva: it has inspiration built into it. You can search to find design grids and elements to spark your inspiration.

Want a Canva Invitation?

Canva’s still in beta; I have several invitations to give away. If you’d like one, contact me.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Best Advice Ever: Ratio Thinking Gets Results

Best Advice Ever: Ratio Thinking Gets Results

Are you getting the results you want? We all want results. When we don’t get them, we tend to think we’re doing something wrong. It seldom occurs to use that we’re not doing something enough.

This was brought home to me by one of my writing students, Chip. His current job was on a short-term contract, so he needed to increase his writing income quickly. We chatted, and mapped out a plan. He decided that he’d contact companies directly, as well as marketing his writing services online.

“A couple of people were interested,” he told me a week later. “But times are tough. No one wants to hire a writer.”

We chatted for a while. We discussed companies’ communications needs in today’s marketplace, and he agreed that maybe he hadn’t put himself in front of companies which truly needed him. He agreed to contact more companies.

If something isn’t working, it’s tempting to change your strategy, rather than thinking that you need to do more of the same. As Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, reports in his article on the pitch deck Buffer used to raise $500,000 as a startup:

One of the most important elements, that we had to learn during our fundraising process was the concept of “Ratio thinking”. Jim Rohn, the famous motivational speaker, probably explained it best: “If you do something often enough, you’ll get a ratio of results. Anyone can create this ratio.”

Take Action to Make Ratio Thinking Work for You

“Ratio thinking” makes the law of numbers work for you. If you do something often enough, not only will you get better at doing whatever it is, but you’ll get results. No results? Change what you’re doing. Once you’re getting results, do more of whatever it is that gets the most useful result. Planning can only take you so far; action counts.

As Leo points out in his article, it all comes down to persistence. If you put your offering in front of 100 people, and you get one buyer, then you should get ten buyers if you put your offering in front of a thousand people.

Persistence isn’t easy. Doubts creep in. What if you’re wasting your time? What if it doesn’t work? What if you need to do something different?

Persist in the face of your doubts. Tennis great Bjorn Borg said:

“My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories.”

What happened with Chip? He persisted. And his persistence was rewarded. He’s well on the way to building a stable of quality clients. He’s committed to making ratio thinking part of other areas of his life too. He knows it gets results.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

11 Hot Content Creation Resources To Inspire And Motivate You

Looking for content creation resources? Creating fresh content every week is demanding. It’s easy to get stale, and run out of ideas. Here are some resources you may not have considered.

Deck Transcript

Content creation is demanding. You need resources and inspiration. Let’s look at 11 resources. For more help, check out “Web Content Creator: Dominate the Web”. It’s a complete package in content creation.

1. WHAT’S NEW?

INVESTIGATE NEWS SOURCES.

Check out your favorite newspapers and magazines, online and offline. You may be able to piggyback your content onto a hot news story.

2. EXPLORE IMAGE LIBRARIES.

YOUR CREATIVE RIGHT BRAIN THINKS IN IMAGES.

Your creative right brain thinks in images. Kickstart your creativity by visiting your favorite stock image libraries, or online art galleries. Choose an image, and brainstorm content, by relating the image to your topic.

3. ASK QUESTIONS.

WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN AND HOW…

Questions demand answers. Write a series of “who” questions, then a series of “what” questions, and so on. You’ll soon have more content ideas than you can use.

4. BROWSE PINTEREST.

CHECK OUT THE MOST POPULAR PINS.

Press the Explore icon on Pinterest, or use the search query field. Pinterest is an amazing resource. Remember #3 – ask questions.

5. EXPLORE REDDIT AND QUORA.

DISCOVER WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW.

Something’s always happening on these sites. Resist the temptation to browse: set yourself a time limit, and make lists of content ideas.

6. READ A BOOK.

EXPLORE AMAZON AND GOOGLE BOOKS.

Books are the ultimate sources. Explore your home library, your local libraries, and Amazon and Google Books.

7. WHO’S READING YOUR CONTENT?

THINK ABOUT WHAT INTERESTS THE PEOPLE WHO READ YOUR CONTENT.

We all have many interests. Think about how you could tap into social culture. What movies are people watching? What sports events are in the news? If you’ve got an opinion on a hot movie, share it.

8. TURN OLD CONTENT INTO NEW CONTENT.

UPDATE OLDER BLOG POSTS.

We tend to forget that older content is still content. Update older blog posts. If you interviewed someone a year ago, interview them again.

9. CURATE CONTENT.

YOURS, AND OTHERS’.

Hunt for great content, and share it. Explore social media sites. Don’t forget your content: add it to your content mix.

10. YOU MAY QUOTE ME.

SHARE WISDOM.

We all need a daily boost of motivation and inspiration. Share the wisdom of the wise, and inspire your audience. Quotations abound online; jot down your own favorites from your reading.

11. GOOGLE TRENDS.

WHAT’S TRENDING?

What’s hot? Google has Google Trends, which show you what people are searching for now, and what they searched for in the past. Check out trending topics on Twitter, Google+ and other networks for inspiration too.

You can view the deck at full size here.

Creative Marketing on a Budget: 3 Tips You Can Use Today

Creative Marketing on a Budget: 3 Tips You Can Use Today

Looking for creative marketing on a budget ideas? There’s never been a better time for do-it-yourself marketing. Social media helps you to tell your story (see tip 3, to choose your story). You can make even contact with reporters at a click, so don’t worry that you’re without a marketing budget. You can more than compensate.

Let’s look at three tips you can use today.

1. Leverage Social Networking Sites Like Pinterest.

Used well, social media wins attention. Blood, sweat, and tears: How we got from 0 to 500K downloads on a budget reports:

We launched a week before demo day and were able to generate a good media buzz (I’ll get more specific later) by piggybacking Pinterest and reach a go-to market that was highly relevant for us at the time.

If you’ve got images to tell your story, Pinterest is for you. In Pinterest Traffic: 3 FAST Tricks You Can Use Today, I suggested:

If you’re used to doing outreach for links, you know how to approach people. Firstly, create some boards, with great images. Pay attention to your pin’s descriptions, and add hashtags. Treat optimizing your boards and pins just as you would any other search engine optimization (SEO) project.

You may start out without an audience, but Pinterest is immensely social, so consider who on Pinterest is attracting your audience, and get in touch with them. Be aware that it’s quid pro quo – do unto others, if you expect them to help you.

Tip: check out my Pinterest program; although it’s nominally for writers, it’s powerful for all small business people.

2. Reach Out: Get Press Any Way You Can.

What would a story in the New York Times do for you? Or a story in your local paper, or a magazine, or on a high-traffic website your audience visits?

10 Ways to Market Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget reports:

Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out www.helpareporter.com. You can respond to reporters’ queries that are looking for story ideas and resources. Some are small media opportunities, but others are major media outlets that use this service too.

Reporters are in the story business. Reporters desperately want and need great stories. (More on your story in a moment.) Create an elevator pitch for your business, product or service, and ensure it’s newsworthy.

Which brings us to…

3. You’re a Story: Choose “Rags to Riches”, or Anything Memorable.

Remember Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe? McDonald’s special sauce? Did Victor Kiam really like Remington shavers so much that he bought the company?

All three companies leveraged wonderful stories. The truth or otherwise of the stories doesn’t matter. What counts is that your story is memorable. Back in the day, when I was a baby novelist, Jacqueline Susann was a best-selling author. She maintained that she wrote each draft of a novel on different colored paper. Since her books were regarded as trashy, the idea was, trash or not, she worked hard. Maybe Ms Susann really did use different colors for her drafts. Whatever, it was a great story.

The founders of Apple and Google started their companies in a garage. As a marketing trope, rags to riches never gets old.

What’s your story? Your story doesn’t need to be related directly to whatever you’re promoting. The Taco Bell chihuahua didn’t have much to do with fast food. If you’ve got a photogenic pet, like Grumpy Cat, you’ve got it made. Leverage your cutie in your marketing materials.

So there you have it. Think about how you can use these “creative marketing on a budget” ideas to get attention for you next promotion. Start by finding something that’s memorable, then leverage social media and get attention. Marketing in 2014 has less to do with your budget than your creativity.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

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Not in the Mood: 3 Blogging Tips To Get Over Bloggers’ Procrastination

Not in the Mood: 3 Blogging Tips Get Over Bloggers’ Procrastination

Not in the mood to write a blog post? Although I love blogging, half the time I’d rather be reading – or doing something else undemanding. If you allow it, procrastination can kill your blog. For hobbyist bloggers, that’s okay. It’s not okay if your job or your livelihood depends on writing more content.

Check out these three blogging tips for those times you’re just not in the mood.

1. Get Inspired by Google Suggest – Tip Toe Through the Alphabet.

Google’s the savior of recalcitrant bloggers. Hie yourself off to Google, and enter a topic – any topic. Add the letter “a.”

google suggest

As you can see in the image above, I entered “blogging”, plus “a.” I haven’t anything to say on blogging away debt, but I could create a post on any of the other three ideas, even if I wasn’t in a blogging mood.

2. Write a List of Words. Use Them in Your Blog Post.

Challenge yourself. Write a list of words – any words. Author Ray Bradbury used nouns:

These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface. I was feeling my way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull.

You can use any words you like. Example: summer, drizzle, sly, sky blue, river, petunia… Now write a blog post, and include those words. Or not, your choice.

Writing a list of words primes the pump. You’ve given the logical side of your brain something to think about. Before you know it, the creative side of your brain gets in on the act, and you’ve written a blog post.

This exercise works well if you need to create your editorial calendar for the month.

3. Temper, Temper – Think About Something That Annoys You.

Got a temper? Me too. I’ve calmed down over the years, but I can create a list of annoyances which get me into a temper without any effort.

Think of something which annoys you. No, don’t blog about that. Use the energy and make a word list. Anger is just energy, and you can direct it anywhere you like. Direct that anger into creating a blog post. Tip: keep your post positive.

So there you have it. Next time you’re not in the mood, try one of these blogging tips. They’re fun.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via photopin cc

Ambition Quotes: “Without ambition one starts nothing…”

ambition quotes

Are you ambitious? Ambition’s defined as: a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.

If you’re ambitious be proud of it. Admit it, especially if you’re a woman:

 Why are so many of us so ambivalent about our own ambition? It’s like The Scarlet Letter where we are ashamed to wear the “A” word for ambition.  Many of us are afraid to be branded ambitious because we won’t be liked.

One of my favorite ambition quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”

Get out there and win. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Pinterest Traffic: 3 FAST Tricks You Can Use Today

Pinterest Traffic: 3 FAST Tricks You Can Use Today

Want some Pinterest traffic? Some of my clients still don’t believe that they can get useful traffic from Pinterest. While it’s true that Pinterest won’t send you masses of traffic when your account is new, the traffic you do get pays off. It’s engaged, and responsive – conversion rates for Pinterest are 50 per cent higher than for other sources.

Let’s look at some FAST tricks which will increase your Pinterest traffic quickly.

By the way, we’ve just released a new program which helps you to make the most of Pinterest – Pinterest for Writers: Creative Strategies To Increase Your Writing Income FAST. It’s aimed at writers, but the information works for any small business.

1. Find and Reach Out to Influencers in Your Niche.

If you’re used to doing outreach for links, you know how to approach people. Firstly, create some boards, with great images. Pay attention to your pin’s descriptions, and add hashtags. Treat optimizing your boards and pins just as you would any other search engine optimization (SEO) project.

Then, reach out to other pinners in your niche – pinners who are targeting an audience which is similar to yours. Make a list of these pinners, and follow their boards. Comment on their pins, and repin them. Contact your targets, asking them to pin one of your pins. At this stage, don’t be greedy. Ask for a single pin, but don’t stop there. Aim to form a relationship. Pinterest is a social media network… get social.

Mention your pinning colleagues in pins you post. “Mentioning” on Pinterest is just like mentioning on Twitter. Make sure you’re following at least one of their boards, then use the “@” symbol, and the pinner’s user name. They’ll be notified of your mention.

You’ll find other Pinterest tips and tricks here.

2. Create Attention-Grabbing, Share-Worthy Images.

Images are at the heart of Pinterest. Here’s an excellent post on how to create share-worthy images. It gives some great advice:

Social media expert Kim Garst matches audience expectations with useful tips by regularly posting images with social media advice and tagging them with #biztip.

Her community shares these problem-solving tips like wildfire, which results in an exceptionally high organic engagement rate on Facebook.

Initially, working with images will feel clumsy and unnatural. Have fun with it; do your best. You may not be a designer, but you have innate creativity. You don’t need a Photoshop subscription. I use Picmonkey and Canva more often than I use Photoshop.

3. Share Your Pinterest Presence: Let Everyone Know You’re on Pinterest.

It’s easy to forget this – I do! Let people know you’re on Pinterest. Add Pinterest widgets to your website, and promote your boards and pins on other social media.

Did you know that you can embed pins? Embed your boards and pins onto your website and blog. The more people who know you’re on Pinterest, the more people will find your boards, and the more followers you’ll get. More followers means more Pinterest traffic, and as we’ve said, Pinterest traffic converts.

So, there you have it: three FAST and easy tricks you can use today to get Pinterest traffic.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.