26 Crazy Stories about “OMG!” Opportunities that Blogging Made Happen

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


Jeff BullasOne 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


Ryan BiddulphThe 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


Chris GuillebeauIn 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


Danny InyThe 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


Richard LazazzeraBlogging 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


Ian ClearyWithin 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


Amy Lynn AndrewsIn 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


Dave ChessonYou 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


John Lee DumasVery 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


Aaron OrendorffBack 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:

Aaron Orendorff - email

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


Sean OgleAbout 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


Camilla HallstromBack 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


Ashley FaulkesWhen 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


Daniel ScoccoBlogging 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


Meera KothandOne 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


Dave SchneiderWell 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


Nathan ChanI 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


Julie HarrisThe 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


Franklin HatchettWhen 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


Zac JohnsonWhen 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


Scott ChowI 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


Joe BuntingThe 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


Tor RefslandThere 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


Ryan RobinsonI 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


Nick LoperThe 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


Kiersten RichMy 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.

Author the Author: Eli Seekins is the founder of Launch Your Dream. He helps bloggers and entrepreneurs turn their passion into a business. Want help getting your first 1,000 email subscribers and making your first $5,000? Check out his FREE Job To Blog Virtual Summit — where 25 expert bloggers teach you how to quit your job, start a blog and make money doing it.

Last Chance to Get the Rainmaker Platform at the Current Pricing

Last Chance to Get the Rainmaker Platform at the Current Pricing

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.
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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:

  • Design
  • Development
  • Strategy
  • 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.

The ‘Pulp Fiction’ Technique for Engaging and Persuasive Content

"Pulp Fiction expertly uses a common writing technique that grabs attention right from the beginning, and magnetically holds it." – Brian Clark

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 copywritingaction.

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.

Sugaree

Originally posted: http://bohobunnie.com/sugaree-dead-and-company-summer-tour-2017-tshirt-grateful-dead/

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

 

The post Sugaree appeared first on Bounce Deals.

3 Tips on High-Conversion Copy from a Sales Page Specialist

"The better you are at addressing your prospect’s concerns, doubts, and objections, the more sales you’ll bring in." – Beth Hayden

I know what some of you are thinking.

You’re asking:

“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.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

The post 3 Tips on High-Conversion Copy from a Sales Page Specialist appeared first on Copyblogger.

Pet Peeves from the Copyblogger Editorial Team, and What they Reveal

"No one can nurse a good peeve quite like a group of writers." – Sonia Simone

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.

Twitch, twitch.

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.

Here’s a visually amusing example of the same sentence with and without one.

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.

31 Insanely Useful Resources for Writing a Bestselling Book in 2017

You’d love to learn how to write a bestselling book, right?

Problem is, it’s scary.

You’re not even sure what goes into writing a book, let alone a bestselling one.

The good news?

Below you’ll find 31 fantastic resources to help you write a bestselling book. (If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by how many there are, just commit to reading one each day for a month!)

Note: I’ve focused on non-fiction books here, though you’ll find that some of the advice — particularly on areas like research and time management — will apply to other types of writing too.

Stage 1: Develop a Book Idea That’s Practically Guaranteed to Sell


You can’t have a great book without a great idea.

I’ve written a lot over the past eight years, and one thing I’ve learned (the hard way!) is that the ideas that I think are great aren’t necessarily the ones my audience will want to buy.

Stage 1: You can't have a great book without a great idea.

The following resources will help you come up with ideas and road-test them so you’re sure the book you’ll be spending months of your life on will be one that people actually want to read:

#1. Got a Book Idea? These 4 Steps Reveal if It Will Sell

Author: Dave Chesson
Source: Make a Living Writing

This post is all about creating a book that people already want. It’s a guide to doing market research on Amazon, with lots of handy links to free and paid tools you can use.

Key Takeaways:

  • Unless you have a huge email list of your own, you won’t write a bestselling book without having an idea that’s “organically discoverable” (i.e., people are searching for it on Amazon).
  • You can use the ABSR (Amazon Best Seller Rank) for existing books on similar topics to judge whether your book is likely to make money.
  • A popular idea isn’t enough; you also need to find a topic where you won’t have too much competition.

#2. Writing: How to Get to Know Your Target Readers Better and Craft Your Self-Published Books to Resonate with Them

Author: Dan Blank
Source: Self Publishing Advice Centre (the Alliance of Independent Authors’ blog)

In this post, Dan explains how you can take very specific steps to find out exactly what your ideal audience likes, based on the books they’re already reading and the authors they’re already following.

Key Takeaways:

  • One of the best ways to learn about your market and refine your idea is to look at similar books that already exist.
  • When you’re using social media, focus on making a connection — don’t just be promotional.
  • Be consistent with reaching out through different channels (social media, emails, events, etc). Do a little bit each week.

#3. 9 Essential Tips for Researching Your Nonfiction Book Idea

Author: Debbie Reber
Source: Debbie Reber Writing Coach

Although this is a short, succinct post, Debbie offers great practical tips for digging deeper into your idea — for thinking not only about how to position and sell your book, but also about what to include in your outline and plans.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you already have an audience, survey them to ask for specific feedback on your ideas. Surveys can even give you useful statistics or quotes to use.
  • Look for existing conversations around your topics: in blog posts and comments, in Facebook groups, in news coverage, and more.
  • Set a specific end date for your research so that it doesn’t drag on and on.

Stage 2: Create a Rock-Solid Structure to Make Your Book Easy to Read and Write


Once you’ve got an idea that you’re confident will sell, it’s time to figure out the structure of your book and create a full chapter-by-chapter outline.

Your outline is particularly essential if you want to submit a book proposal to agents or publishers. But even if you’re self-publishing, having a solid structure means you’ll end up with a much better book as a result.

Stage 2: Corral your ideas and outline like a pro.

These resources will help you corral your ideas and outline like a pro:

#4. How to Get Started Mind Mapping Your Book (and Everything Else)

Author: Roger C. Parker
Source: The Book Designer

Before you start your outline, you should get all your ideas down on paper through mind mapping. This post explains what it is and how it’s done, and offers some suggestions for making the most of mind mapping software.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mind mapping allows you to see your whole project — and how various bits fit together — at a glance. It makes it easy to move ideas around, add new ones, or remove weaker ones.
  • While some authors like to mind map on paper, if you’re using this for your full outline, you’ll want to use software.
  • There are lots of different mind mapping programs out there, but all share common features. Most allow you not only to put your topics and subtopics on the map but also include notes, comments, relationships and other features to help you link and annotate your ideas.

#5. The No-Stress Way for Writers to Outline

Author: David Carr
Source: The Book Designer

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of outlining, or if your mind goes blank whenever you sit down to plan out your book, David’s post breaks things down into simple steps — with a focus on gathering your ideas then getting them into a logical order.

Key Takeaways:

  • Outlines don’t have to be scary, and you definitely don’t have to start with a blank page and go straight to creating a linear outline.
  • By outlining, you won’t get stuck when you’re writing. You’ve already thought about all the key points you need to bring in. You can also jump ahead in the outline: you don’t have to write in sequential order.
  • Start with the big picture and narrow down: come up with broad topics, get them into a logical order, then take each topic in term and break it into key points.

#6. Using Scrivener to Outline Your Non-Fiction Book

Author: Lise Cartright
Source: Author Basics

This video and accompanying post explain how to use a writing tool called Scrivener to outline a book by using its corkboard view. In case you’re not already familiar with Scrivener; it’s a paid-for piece of software that many fiction and non-fiction writers use as an alternative to a word processor. It’s highly recommended; see next resource)

Key Takeaways:

  • You can group ideas from your mind map to form the chapters or sections of your book.
  • Scrivener’s “Corkboard” view can help you see, at a glance, how your book all fits together. You can easily drag and drop ideas to refine your chapter order.
  • Adding a brief paragraph to each chapter heading will help when it comes time to write the book because you’re no longer starting from a blank page.

#7. Scrivener [Software]

Source: Literature and Latte

Writers love using Scrivener to write their books because it creates a much more organized writing experience. It’s not only beneficial for outlining, but will help you keep track of everything once you write the book. The more of your book gets written, the harder it becomes to navigate in tools like Word. Scrivener fixes this problem.

If you want to give Scrivener a try, there’s a free 30-day trial (it only counts the days on which you actually use the software, so you could use it 3 days per week for 10 weeks). After that, it costs $45 (Mac) / $40 (Windows) to buy.  It has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth it (and you can find video tutorials on its website).

Stage 3: Research Your Book as Efficiently as Possible, Without Spending Hours Lost in an Internet Rabbit-Hole


Note: Although I’ve put this as Stage 3, there’s no rule saying you need to do all your research before you begin writing. Some authors prefer to draft first, leaving gaps or sections to come back to at a later stage.

The idea of “research” can conjure up images of dusty libraries, complicated trawls through obscure online archives, or daunting conversations with experts. If you’ve never done much research before, the idea of it can be enough to put you off writing altogether.

Stage 3: Research doesn't have to be difficult.

Research doesn’t need to be difficult, though. All of these resources demystify the process:

#8. How Real Online Research Works

Author: Paul Gil
Source: Lifewire

This excellent post isn’t aimed specifically at authors, but at anyone conducting research online. It distinguishes between “hard research” (when you’re looking for objective, scientific facts) and “soft research” (when you’re looking for subjective, opinion-based sources), and offers specific suggestions on the types of sources to turn to.

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s crucial to use the right online authorities for your topic. Don’t simply Google for a keyword: think about what sites will provide useful, accurate information.
  • Experiment with different keyword phrases and combinations, starting with broad big-picture researching before narrowing down and using specialist search engines.
  • Watch out for specific red flags when you vet the resources you’ve come across: avoid sites that are amateur-looking, that are plastered with ads, or where the author appears to be overly positive or overly negative.

#9. Journey into the Hidden Web: A Guide for New Researchers

Author: Ryan Dube
Source: MakeUseOf

This is a fascinating, very in-depth look at the “hidden web” (or “deep web”, “invisible web”, etc.): the huge volumes of online information that are not accessible via a standard search engine. While some of this won’t be relevant to authors — e.g., the first section is more focused on personal, family research — it also offers a look at academic research, particularly academic databases and search engines like JSTOR.

Key Takeaways:

  • The “visible” web — accessible through search engines — isn’t all there is. There is a LOT of information that you’ll never find through a Google search because it isn’t “crawlable.”
  • Tor is an alternative web: a separate network where websites have to be accessed through a special browser (the “Tor Browser Bundle”). There’s a lot of dodgy stuff on Tor (pirated and criminal content, for instance) — but it’s also used by journalists and protesters who want to keep their online activity away from potential prying eyes.
  • There’s an amazing volume of statistical information online, which you can find using government databases and academic databases (you’ll find links in the post).

#10. Writing a Book? 9 Killer Research Tips

Author: Chandler Bolt
Source: Self-Publishing School

This post takes a closer look at the idea of writing first, then researching. Chandler focuses on efficient research: making sure you find out what you need to know to write a great book, without spending too much time bogged down at this stage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Turn off the Internet when you’re writing, so that you don’t get distracted by researching (or by social media) when you’re focusing on your first draft.
  • Organize your research: it doesn’t matter exactly how, so long as you keep it all in one place: virtual folder, physical folder, Evernote or Scrivener could all work.
  • Consider taking on an intern or hiring an assistant to help you out with your research.

#11. Help a Reporter Out [Email List]

Source: Help a Reporter Out

This huge mailing list is a fantastic resource for researching pretty much anything. You can send out a message saying what you need and find loads of great sources: individuals who’ve signed up to receive messages about their particular area(s) of expertise.

Note, though, that HARO requires your website/blog to have an Alexa ranking of one million or less before you can send out a request for sources. (To give you some idea of rankings, Smart Blogger is at 47,868 and my own site Aliventures is at 639,675.)

You can sign up to HARO as a source, if your book’s topic is your particular area of expertise. That way, you can get quoted in other people’s articles and books — which is a great way to market your own.

Stage 4: Find the Time, Energy and Focus to Actually Write Your Book


Once you’ve got an outline and you’ve done enough research to at least begin — it’s time to write! One of the biggest struggles that authors face, though, is actually getting their writing done consistently.

Maybe you love coming up with ideas and even writing outlines and noting down interesting bits of research … but when it comes to the actual writing, you end up stalling.

Stage 4: Find the time and motivation to write consistently.

Whether your problem is a lack of time, or you’re simply struggling to focus when you sit down to write, these are some great resources to help you:

#12. Use the Two-Hour Rule to Make Progress on Your Creative Projects

Author: Charlie Gilkey
Source: Productive Flourishing

In this post, Charlie explains why it’s difficult to get into creative projects in very small chunks of time — and why a two hour block of time works better.

Key Takeaways:

  • While some tasks can be easily fitted into short (15/30 minute) chunks, it takes a bit of time to get into the flow of a creative task like writing. You want to work in longer bursts.
  • It’s hard to focus for more than about two hours on something intensively creative.
  • You might have no idea how many words you can expect to write in a day or week, but you probably have a good sense of what you could produce in a two hour block.

#13. 10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book

Author: Jeff Goins
Source: Goins, Writer

This post offers a lot of excellent tips and many are specifically about finding the time and keeping up motivation to write. It also includes a handy chart of roughly what word length equates to what type of book (e.g. “20,000 words = short eBook or manifesto”).

Key Takeaways:

  • Writing a book happens in three phases: Beginning (you have to actually start), staying motivated (conquer self-doubt and overwhelm) and finishing (avoid languishing in the “almost finished” phase).
  • Have a set time (ideally daily) and place to work on your book. Write some each day and it quickly adds up.
  • Set a total word count for your book. Are you producing a short pamphlet or a huge academic tome? A word count keeps you on track so you don’t end up with too-long or too-short chapters as you write.
  • You must forgive yourself when you mess up. All writers mess up. The difference with writers who make it is that they learn their lesson and keep going.

#14. 12 Time Management Tips for Writers

Author: Michelle V. Rafter
Source: WordCount

Michelle takes a look at some key difficulties that writers face (like managing their own expectations and the need to work on multiple projects), and offers practical tips for staying productive. While some of these are familiar ones (like “turn off distractions”), others might be newer to you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Time management issues may show up as a lack of balance, getting distracted, having unrealistic expectations, lacking margin and flexibility, or struggling to deal with multiple projects on the go at once.
  • Try following a “formal productivity regime”: a system like David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
  • Set daily or weekly goals and reward yourself when you meet them. Or, if you prefer, use a daily to-do list and enjoy checking things off!

#15. Free Planners and Worksheets Designed to Help Creatives Stay Focused and Productive [Free Downloads ]

Author: Charlie Gilkey
Source: Productive Flourishing

These excellent planners come in various different flavors depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Some help you plan over a long-ish period of time (the Momentum Planners) and others are good for breaking down tasks (the Individual Project Planner) or are designed for specific aspects of your work (the Blog Post Planner and Calendar).

Stage 5: Get Your First Draft Down on the Page


Writing a book can seem like a daunting project and at this stage you might start questioning whether you have it in you. But you just need to get that first draft out of your system.

If you can write a blog post, you can write a book too! You can even structure your book chapters like blog posts. Many non-fiction books use the same direct, conversational tone you’d use on your blog. Some even use blog posts as the basis of a book (e.g. Michael Hyatt’s Platform and Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog).

Stage 5: If you can write a blog post, you can write a book.

Use the following resources will help you get the words out of your head and onto the page:

#16. How to Dictate Your Book With Monica Leonelle

Author: Joanna Penn
Source: The Creative Penn

There’s no rule that says you have to type your book … if you prefer, you could write by dictating it. Many very prolific authors (including freelancers and “indie” fiction authors) are huge fans of dictation. This podcast — with full transcript — takes a look at the process and how to get started.

Key Takeaways:

  • Even if you feel that you think by writing, you can learn to dictate: just be patient. Think about speaking in phrases rather than in words, as that’s how dictation software works.
  • Your writing process may need to change a little for effective dictation. For instance, you might outline in more detail before starting to dictate.
  • Dictation is a lot faster than typing: Monica can dictate at 3,000 – 3,500 words on average per hour. You don’t have to dictate every word, though: you can still type when it suits you!

#17. Concentration: 22 Ways to Stay Focused on Writing

Author: Matthew Stibbe
Source: Articulate

If you find your attention wandering as you write, this list has lots of great ideas to try — from the super-practical, like using “TK” to mark facts to look up, to the more inspirational, like the “rock and river” principle.

Key Takeaways:

  • You’ll enjoy writing more (and write better) when you concentrate rather than multitask.
  • Don’t mix writing and editing. Get the first draft down, then worry about getting every sentence right. Keep moving forward as you draft.
  • Accept that distractions crop up, but do your best to minimize them by noticing and labelling them, and by switching off your TV/phone/email, etc.

#18. Practical Tips on Writing a Book from 23 Brilliant Authors

Author: Steve Silberman
Source: NeuroTribes

This huge post is packed with great advice from non-fiction authors writing on a wide range of subjects. Some of the tips deal with the pre-writing and editing, but there’s a lot of focus on the writing itself and how to get the words down on the page.

Key Takeaways:

  • First drafts are allowed to suck. Don’t worry, just keep writing.
  • Remember that you’ve done this before, just not in a such a long form. The techniques you’ve used for blogging/freelancing/whatever else you’ve written still apply.
  • Find a way to organize notes and scraps of information as you write. (Note: Several authors here also mention Scrivener.)

#19. Dragon NaturallySpeaking [Software]

Source: Amazon

While there are free dictation options out there, many authors recommend using Dragon NaturallySpeaking — which you can use not only to dictate but to browse the web, edit your text, and more. The most recent “home” (not premium) version is currently $39.72 on Amazon.

Alternatively, if you’re on a tight budget, Google Doc’s “voice typing” feature has a decent reputation and is free.

Stage 6: Turn Your Rough Draft into a Polished Book to Be Proud Of


Once you’ve finished your first draft, take some time off from writing and celebrate! Many would-be authors never get this far.

After you’ve set your work aside for a few days or weeks, though, it’s time to read it through and start making notes about everything you need to change, cut, or add.

Stage 6: Shape and prune your work.

If you can afford to bring in a professional editor, do! But before that, these resources will help you shape and prune your own work:

#20. The Three Stages of Editing (and Nine Handy Do-it-Yourself Tips)

Author: Ali Luke
Source: Aliventures

This post explains that when you edit, you’ll want to make changes in the right order: there’s little point perfecting a sentence or paragraph that you later cut completely. Work on big-picture revisions first, then smaller edits, and finally proof-read.

Key Takeaways:

  • Before you edit the nitty-gritty details, use the “Revision” stage to make major changes, like cutting out whole chapters or moving sections around within the manuscript.
  • When you’re editing, cut out unnecessary words. They add clutter and weaken your writing.
  • It helps a lot to proofread on paper, or even to read out loud. Otherwise, your eyes just skip over mistakes.

#21. Self Editing Basics: 10 Simple Ways to Edit Your Own Book

Author: Blake Atwood
Source: The Write Life

Even if you are using a professional editor (or turning to beta readers for help), you’ll want to give your book an initial edit yourself. This straightforward post offers practical and realistic advice on how to do just that.

Key Takeaways:

  • Put your manuscript aside for a few days before you start to edit. That way, you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
  • Use the “search” function to find any words that you habitually misspell, and correct them. You can also use this for words you tend to overuse (your “crutch words”).
  • Don’t keep on editing endlessly: you’ll never reach perfection. If you can, hire a copy editor to help you put that final polish on your manuscript.

#22. 5 Ways to Find the Right Freelance Book Editor

Author: Stacy Ennis
Source: JaneFriedman.com

Finding the right editor for your book can be tricky; in this post, Stacy outlines some key things to look for — not just an editor who’s experienced, but also one who works well with their clients.

Key Takeaways:

  • You want an editor who’s not only experienced but who you enjoy working with: someone who seems friendly and approachable.
  • Get a referral from friends, if you can, or look in the acknowledgements of books that you’ve enjoyed and considered to be well-written.
  • Talk to the editor’s previous clients and find out what the editing process was like and how happy (or not!) they were with it.

Stage 7: Take a Deep Breath and Send Your Book Out into the World


If you want to go for traditional publication, it’s normal to approach publishers once you have an outline and a sample chapter or two. Some first-time authors prefer to write the full manuscript first, though, so they’re confident they can complete it.

These days, more and more authors self-publish (for full creative control and a bigger share of the royalties). This may be a good route for you if you already have an established audience.

Stage 7: Publish in a professional manner.

The three resources that follow cover the different publication routes.

#23. Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal

Author: Jane Friedman
Source: JaneFriedman.com

While your outline is part of a book proposal, it’s far from the whole thing. This post explains what you need to include — and emphasizes the importance of making a strong business case for your book.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you want to get a traditional publishing deal, you have to write a book proposal. This applies even if you’ve already completed the book.
  • Your business case is crucial: your platform and expertise are much more important to publishers than how brilliant a writer you are. (You need to be a competent writer, but you definitely don’t need to be the next Shakespeare.)
  • Every book proposal must answer the key questions “So what?”, “Who cares?” and “Who are you?”

#24. How To Self-Publish An Ebook and #25. How to Self-Publish a Print Book

Author: Joanna Penn
Sources: The Creative Penn — Ebook and Print Book

These two excellent, detailed guides from prolific indie author Joanna Penn explain in very straightforward terms how to go about self-publishing in both ebook and print formats. They look at a lot of practical, tactical considerations (like “exclusivity vs. going wide” and whether to use print-on-demand).

Key Takeaways:

  • Even if you don’t personally read ebooks, many people do, and most independent authors make the vast majority of their money from ebooks, not print books.
  • However, it’s also well worth publishing in print. It can be very personally rewarding to hold your finished book … and some readers will want to buy the print version for their bookshelf. Even those who don’t buy print books will see the “comparison pricing” showing what a great deal the ebook version is!
  • These days, you can publish a print book as “print on demand,” so you don’t need to pay for and store any inventory.

#26. 8 Self-Publishing Secrets for Designing An eBook Cover

Author: Rob Nightingale
Source: MakeUseOf

If you’re self-publishing, you need a professional-quality cover.  It’s always best to hire a professional, but if you’re determined to design your own cover, read this article first. It’s packed with great tips, with lots of examples and links. If you’d rather bring in a pro, this post is still useful because it tells you what to check for once they’ve completed their design.

Key Takeaways:

  • Designing covers that work online is very different from designing a good print cover. In particular, the author name and title need to be visible at small sizes.
  • When you’re looking for images to use, avoid clichéd stock photos, think about mood and feelings rather than specific keywords, and be willing to pay for a good image.
  • Pay very careful attention to typography as this can make a huge difference to how professional the cover looks.

#27. Monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards

Author: Joel Friedlander
Source: The Book Designer

One of the best ways to see what works in book cover design is to look at lots of different examples. Each month, Joel publishes a whole load of ebook covers (mainly fiction but some non-fiction) that have been submitted to him — along with his comments.

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s very hard for authors to design a good cover! Unless you’ve got significant design experience, you’ll be best off hiring a professional.
  • Typography can let down an otherwise good book cover: the font may be difficult to read, too small, or wrong for the genre.
  • All the elements included on the cover need to fit together seamlessly: they shouldn’t look like they’ve been pasted on or added as an afterthought.

Stage 8: Get Your Book in Front of (the Right) Readers Without Spending a Fortune on Advertising


Publishing your book is far from the end of the process of creating a bestseller: you need to market, too.

This is the case even if you traditionally publish. Unless you’re already an established name, your publisher will not have a huge budget for promoting your book — and you’ll be expected to do a lot of the work yourself.

Stage 8: After publishing your book, get busy promoting it, too.

Marketing can seem a bit daunting or mysterious at first, but these resources break down the process and make it much more straightforward:

#28. The Author’s Guide to Building an Email List (and Selling More Books)

Author: Tom Morkes
Source: TomMorkes.com

This very thorough guide explains how to market a book effectively, explaining why you need an email list and how to go about setting one up. Tom includes case studies, screen shots, and lots of links. You may well want to bookmark the post so you can refer back to it.

Key Takeaways:

  • You can’t use Amazon to market your book. It’s a great sales channel, but you need to drive attention to your book through marketing channels.
  • Having an email list is essential: it allows you to get in touch with your audience directly and easily.
  • You’ll need to give away something to encourage people to join your email list: many authors use a free book or course. This could be something short or something full-length.

#29. 15 Tips for Promoting Nonfiction Books Successfully

Author: Nina Amir
Source: Write Nonfiction Now!

This round-up post brings together lots of excellent advice from different authors: some of the suggestions are high-level strategic ones and others are very specific, like suggestions on what to include in your online media kit.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are many different ways to promote your book. Find out what’s effective for you, and what you enjoy (or at least don’t actively hate!)
  • Your email list is crucially important, and your marketing should point people toward your free gift for opting in.
  • Partner up with other authors, coaches, experts, etc. who have an on-topic audience for you and offer them a guest post, interview, or whatever might work for their blog/podcast.

#30. Should Indie Authors Put Endorsement Quotes or “Puffs” on Self-Published Books?

Author: Debbie Young
Source: Self Publishing Advice Centre (the Alliance of Independent Authors’ blog)

The use of “puff quotes” (endorsements on the cover of your book) is a divisive one. Some authors feel they’re a huge boost to sales and marketing efforts, and feel they’re useful for adding extra information on the cover … but other authors think they could be actively off-putting.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you are going to use a puff quote, get one from the right person — it needs to be a name that your readers will recognise, and someone whose opinion they’ll trust.
  • Use puff quotes that add something to the information already on the cover (for instance, they might give readers an idea of the tone or style of the writing).
  • Consider using reviews as a source of puff quotes: take a sentence or phrase from a review, check the reviewer is happy with you using it, and put that on the cover.

#31. Self-Publishing Success Stories: How I Do It — with Joseph Alexander

Author: Joseph Alexander
Source: Self Publishing Advice Centre (the Alliance of Independent Authors’ blog)

This post doesn’t just cover marketing; it also looks at some other areas like integrity and quality, prioritizing, and moving into publishing other people’s books as well as just publishing your own.

Key Takeaways:

  • Creating a branded series of books can be particularly powerful; if people have bought one, they’ll likely buy others. This also allows you to partner up with other writers (who can write books on topics that aren’t quite your area of expertise).
  • Consider getting your work translated into other languages, so you can reach a worldwide market.
  • It’s hugely rewarding to hear from people who’ve read your book and who’ve benefitted from it. When you’re writing, do your best work and have integrity.

What’s Stopping You from Writing a Bestseller?

Writing a book isn’t easy.

Writing a bestselling book is considerably harder.

Of course, nothing can guarantee success. But if you start with a great idea and a strong sense of your target audience, come up with an outline that includes exactly what that audience wants, get your first draft down, edit carefully, publish in a professional manner, and put some energy and thought into marketing …

… then you’ve got as good a chance as anyone.

If you’ve never written a book before, it might feel like an almost impossible task. It isn’t. Take it step by step, and you will do it.

When New Year’s Eve rolls around, will you be entering yet another year with your book still unwritten, or will it be out there solving problems, bringing in a steady income, and even changing lives?

You’ve got all the resources you need at your fingertips.

The rest is up to you.

About the Author: Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. If you’re worried that you’re not cut out to be a writer, or if you’re going through a difficult writing time right now, check out her post Seven Things to Do When You Feel Like Giving Up on Writing.