Tag Archive | "Professional"

What Content Creators Can Learn from Professional Artists

Great to see you again! This week was all about art. Some people think of “art” as self-indulgent or impractical, but that’s a dangerous myth. We’re talking about the roll-up-your-sleeves work that adds more artistry to your content — which is what we all need to attract our audiences’ attention in 2018. On Monday, Stefanie
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Advice and Resources for Success as a Creative Professional

This week, we talked about some of the joys — and pitfalls — of the professional creative life. Your friends don’t get what you do, sometimes you don’t completely “get it” yourself — but when it’s working, the rewards can be glorious. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman explored the peculiar (and sometimes hard to understand) nature
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Three Killer Skills Professional Writers Need to Succeed in 2018

What brought you here today? What are you hoping to learn, be, become, do, or change by reading Copyblogger? We’ll be asking that question a lot in the coming year, but while we wait (feel free to answer in the comments below — we’d love to hear it), allow us to talk about why we
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10 Easy Tips for Professional Audio Quality

"Your sound should be a 'welcome mat' that invites the listener in for what feels like a face-to-face conversation." – Toby Lyles

I started working with podcasts because I was an avid podcast listener.

I would be listening to a conversation, hanging on every word, and then it would happen: the guest would bump his mic at the exact moment when he said the one thing I wanted to hear, and I’d miss out.

Our content should connect and engage, not frustrate and push away.

Since I run a podcast production company, I’ve learned that most people think any sound problem can be repaired with the simple twist of a knob. If only that were so.

Do you know how to avoid the most common podcast production pitfalls that distract your listeners?

Read on to discover how your podcast can stand out from the majority of the audio content available on the web.

Quality audio defined

Audio quality can be as subjective as Picasso’s art in a museum. One person says it’s brilliant … the next walks away scratching their head.

Let’s start with what quality audio is not.

You can tell audio needs to be improved when you hear:

  • Hum
  • Buzz
  • Hiss
  • Room reflections (echoes from the recording room)
  • Microphone handling, bumping sounds
  • Other foreign sounds: animals, lawnmowers, keyboard clicks, etc.
  • “Plosives” (the explosive sound consonants make when spoken into a microphone)
  • Extreme audio processing (audio effects that create an unnatural sound)

On the other hand, quality audio can be defined in one word: natural.

Quality audio sounds as if you’re talking around a kitchen table or with a client in your office. Your sound should be a “welcome mat” that invites the listener in for what feels like a face-to-face conversation.

How do you accomplish that? Here are 10 tips that will help you produce the “welcome mat” experience.

1. Value your listeners

Podcasts and blogs are similar.

In the same way that good website design helps attract and keep blog readers, quality audio attracts and keeps listeners around.

Quality audio isn’t about making you sound good, it’s about engaging your audience.

2. Invest in the right microphone

You knew this one was coming.

Microphones are the most important element of quality audio, but podcasters don’t need fancy, expensive ones.

If you record a monologue or interview-style podcast in an office or room in a home, a dynamic microphone is what you need. Other microphones work, but they can require more resources to coax out good sound.

Want some recommendations? My favorites are:

  • Audio-Technica 2100: a great USB microphone at an amazing price
  • RE20: the most popular microphone for radio for decades

The microphones listed above will produce quality sound, but remember that choosing a microphone is mostly about personality and taste. You need to ask yourself if the microphone is right for you, your voice, and your brand.

One way to answer the “which is best for me” question is to book a session at a professional recording studio and try out a variety of microphones. Take those recordings and get some feedback.

Between the engineer at the studio and your friends and family, you should be able to find a clear winner. Also, keep your target audience in mind. Does the microphone help communicate who you are? Does it match the tone your audience needs to hear?

Here are a couple guidelines about microphones to avoid:

  • The headset microphone that came with your smartphone. While those are great for appearing live on Facebook, they’re not ideal for podcasting.
  • A condenser microphone. They’re made for the acoustics in big, fancy, recording studios. Unless you’re planning to build a recording booth in your garage, leave these microphones in the store.

3. Use a microphone stand

Some podcasters like to record with the microphone in their hands. Unless holding the mic is absolutely necessary, avoid that technique.

Another common microphone-stand mistake is connecting it to a surface your hands or feet easily touch. If it’s a desk-mount stand, try connecting it to a nearby piece of furniture that’s not touching the desk. Or, if it’s a floor-mount stand, make sure the feet rest on carpet or padding.

Otherwise, the small movements you make during recording can transfer up the stand and into the microphone, which produces distracting sounds.

4. Find a great place to record

This item alone is a quick win for good sound.

Before you record, double-check that your room doesn’t reflect your voice back into the microphone. Carpet, furniture, wall decorations, and non-parallel walls all help calm the reflections. Trying a smaller room, or even a closet, is often easier than acoustically treating your current recording space.

You should also keep outside noises to a minimum. Common offenders are:

  • Fans
  • Refrigerators
  • Furnaces
  • Cars
  • Phones and other electronics
  • Open windows

5. Speak near the microphone

Nearly everyone shies away from the microphone. Don’t.

Even a slight distance from a mic makes you sound like you’re in a cave.

You’ll want to nearly kiss it. Make it your friend, and it will make you friends as you build your audience.

6. Set up a pop filter

The downside of speaking near the microphone is that it causes “plosives.”

“Plosives” are simply the air from consonant sounds disrupting the sensitive components of the microphone.

The pop filter, a screen that goes around or in front of a microphone, is a tried-and-true solution. Expensive or cheap, they’re all about the same.

7. Select an audio interface

Although many recommend using a mixing board, I’ve found that the never-ending knobs create more headaches than freedom.

The simplest solution is to plug your microphone into an audio interface, which converts your analogue microphone sound into digital, so your computer can understand it.

As a side note, even if you’re using the Audio-Technica 2100, it’s still a good idea to utilize an audio interface instead of the USB connection. It produces a much more detailed and clear sound.

My current audio interface favorites are:

8. Record separate tracks

Take advantage of multiple tracks to make sure every voice has its own separate recording.

With a two-person interview, it’s easy to pan the host to the left track and the guest to the right track. If your guest joins you via video chat, capturing a separate track of their local recording is helpful.

In the past, this was only possible if the guest was well-versed in audio or recording in a radio station. Thankfully, technology has advanced.

One of my favorite tools is Zencastr. It records via a web browser and uploads the best audio possible to your dropbox account.

9. Back up your recordings

Some people prefer to avoid a computer and record into a small recording device. I often do this myself, after having one too many recording sessions ruined by computer glitches.

I know of an author whose power went out while he was recording an audiobook. He lost four hours of recorded audio!

You can avoid that exact situation by recording into an external recorder. Or better yet, record into a computer for convenience and add an external recorder as a backup, just in case.

One of the fastest ways is to simply use an XLR splitter, which will split the signal into both the audio interface and the external recorder. If you have multiple sources, running an output from the interface into the recorder is a great way to use it as a secondary backup.

A couple external recorder favorites of mine are:

10. Edit and produce your content

While creating a good recording is the bulk of what’s involved in producing a podcast, quality editing and production wraps up the package.

If you have audio experience, go for it, but if you’re hesitant, grab someone who’s spent some time in the field. Even if you don’t hire a producer who specifically works with podcasts, their wisdom can help ensure you avoid expensive mistakes and end up with a quality product.

For those producing podcasts on their own, check out Auphonic. Auphonic has turned years of professional audio experience into an inexpensive piece of online software. Their specialty is leveling audio and removing background hiss and noise, an audio producer’s two most important jobs.

Bonus tip: loosen up

Before you record, have some fun: watch a cat video, laugh a little, do some vocal warm-ups.

Think about the person you’re aiming to help and the problem you can’t wait to solve for them.

Better recordings strengthen your message

Remember, audio equipment exists to enhance your message.

Who you are and what you have to say is invaluable … the gear is just a method of transporting the gold.

Special offer for Copyblogger readers only: Contact Toby on Twitter or at TwentyFourSound for a one-time, free podcast review. He’ll help you find the exact steps needed to match your audio to your voice.

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Rainmaker Rewind: How to Add Images to Your Book with a Professional Illustrator

Rainmaker FM rewind

This week on Rainmaker Rewind, D.J. Billings, a.k.a. Sparky Firepants, joins Pamela Wilson and Jeff Goins on Zero to Book to explore the world of book illustration.

Billings is an illustrator who’s worked with big names like Nickelodeon and MTV. He’s currently creating illustrations for Pamela’s book.

And, as always, be sure to check out the other great episodes that recently aired on Rainmaker FM.

  1. Zero to Book. Pamela Wilson and Jeff Goins welcome illustrator D.J. Billings to the show to discuss the art of illustration for print and digital, and the practical considerations of using images in an ebook: How to Add Images to Your Book with a Professional Illustrator
  2. Copyblogger FM. Sonia Simone and guest Chris Marlow review the rules of content marketing for nonprofits: Content Marketing for Nonprofits
  3. The Writer Files. Kelton Reid chats with Kevin Kelly, New York Times bestselling author and co-founder of Wired magazine: How Wired Magazine’s Senior Maverick Kevin Kelly Writes: Part Two
  4. Youpreneur. Brand expert Philip VanDusen chats with Chris Ducker about the importance of visual elements when it comes to personal branding: Understanding the Importance of Building Brand Visuals, with Philip VanDusen
  5. The Missing Link. Jabez LeBret and LinkedIn expert Viveka Von Rosen teach you what you need to know about paid versus free LinkedIn accounts: LinkedIn Premium vs. LinkedIn Free, Part One

And, one more thing …

If you want to get Rainmaker Rewind sent straight to your favorite podcast player, subscribe right here on Rainmaker FM.

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3 Resources to Help Beginners Become Professional Content Marketers

copyblogger collection - become a content pro

“Da” was the first pronoun I used to refer to myself as a small child. I think I was trying to say “I,” but I overcomplicated the word.

At any rate, whenever I encountered a new or challenging task — like growing human beings do — I would say out loud:

“Now how Da do dis?” (Translation: How do I do this?)

It became a running joke in my family, and it’s a phrase I still use today. When I sat down to write this article, I said to myself, “Now how Da do dis?” I say it to myself every time I write.

Ideally, content marketers of all levels are impassioned and driven, but beginners tend to be an especially enthusiastic bunch. There are so many possibilities and you want to explore them all. You know you can master content marketing; you just need to figure out how.

This week’s Copyblogger Collection is a series of three handpicked articles that will show you:

  • How to take advantage of exactly where you are right now
  • How to transform your business with a well-built brand statement
  • How to use specificity to build a profitable audience

As you work your way through the material below, think of the following lessons as a mini content marketing course for beginners.


5 Things to Take Advantage of When You’re Starting Something New

Benefits of starting out small

Your vision of success may look like having a large audience that helps sustain your business. That’s a smart goal, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

However, if you’re too focused on a future scenario that doesn’t exist yet, you may overlook important opportunities currently at your disposal.

In 5 Things to Take Advantage of When You’re Starting Something New, Sonia Simone demonstrates how to not just make the most of where you are right now, but also how to thrive because of it.


The Transformative Effect of a Well-Built Brand Statement

define-brand-grow-business

If you’re not quite sure how to succinctly communicate the benefits that you provide for your customers or clients, check out The Transformative Effect of a Well-Built Brand Statement.

Pamela Wilson shares a short exercise that leads to clarity and powerful results.

Once you’ve completed the three straightforward steps, Pamela says:

This simple exercise will help set the direction for everything you do. You can use it on your About page, in your social media profiles, and even when you’re doing in-person networking.


10 Ways Specificity Helps You Build a Profitable Audience

copywriting-specificity

Kelton Reid wants to help you win the battle for your audience’s attention with classic writing tips that are still highly effective today.

10 Ways Specificity Helps You Build a Profitable Audience contains guidance for all types of content marketers.

Before you make an offer to your prospects, you must familiarize yourself with their problems, fears, desires, and dreams. Ready to get specific?

Become a content pro

Review this post (and save it for future reference) when you’re ready to build upon your current reality and use your natural abilities to master content marketing.

To celebrate beginners everywhere, as well as honor how I first referred to myself when I was learning to speak, let’s dance:

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3 Resources to Help You Become a Professional Content Marketer

Copyblogger Collection - How to go pro with content marketing

Professional content marketers think like students.

They study all of the content they consume with a critical eye, looking for ways to learn from smart techniques that others use.

But how do you know what works right now in content marketing and what doesn’t?

This week’s Copyblogger Collection is a series of three handpicked articles that will show you:

  • How to become a well-paid writer
  • How to form a professional support network
  • How to craft cutting-edge content ideas that grow your business

As you work your way through the material below, use each lesson as an opportunity to refine the way you approach content marketing.


The 7 Things Writers Need to Make a Living

writers-make-a-living

A sustainable career as a writer seems like an urban legend to many people:

Non-writer: What do you do for work?

Writer: I’m a writer.

Non-writer: No, what do you do for work?

Writer: I’m a writer.

Non-writer: Huh?

Well-paid writers who work in content marketing do exist, and there’s something special about their traits, abilities, and strengths.

Sonia Simone shares The 7 Things Writers Need to Make a Living to help guide you along your journey to becoming a professional writer.


How to Earn More Money (and Keep Your Sanity) by Developing a Professional Support Network

professional-support-network

When Beth Hayden quit her day job to start her own business, she was naturally apprehensive about the unknown.

However, the support and encouragement she received from her network of media professionals gave her the confidence she needed to move forward.

In How to Earn More Money (and Keep Your Sanity) by Developing a Professional Support Network, Beth explains the steps you can follow to take your own leap and have a support-network safety net that will help you conquer challenges that may arise.


The Key to Innovative Business Ideas: Cross-Pollination

innovative-business-ideas

No content marketer is an island. We all know this. But we don’t always take the initiative to strategically collaborate to generate the best content marketing ideas.

Pamela Wilson says:

The birds and the bees do this naturally, and we can, too. It’s called cross-pollination. They fly from one flower to another, or one tree to the next, picking up bits of one plant and carrying it to the other.

The plant on the receiving end of this pollination is hardier and able to reproduce with greater variety. It meets environmental challenges more successfully because it’s genetically diverse.

In the same way, when you cross-pollinate ideas, you make your business stronger.

She reveals how you can get started in The Key to Innovative Business Ideas: Cross-Pollination.

Another way to advance your content marketing education …

If you want to join our private community of content marketers, this is the right time.

We’re going to be closing our doors to new members on Wednesday, September 30.

If you want to get smarter, more strategic, and more effective as a content marketer, we’d absolutely love to have you with us.

Join us for:

  • Master classes on key elements of content marketing
  • Q&A “mini consultation” sessions to answer virtually any business question you may have
  • In-depth and ultra-supportive “hot seat”-style Authority Business Coaching calls, where we look at what’s working, and what needs improvement in one member’s business
  • “Behind the Scenes” sessions from community members who have solved the problems you face

And, of course, instant access to our archive of more than 230 hours of marketing advice and strategy.

Click here to learn more and get connected with Authority.

About the author

Stefanie Flaxman

Stefanie Flaxman is Rainmaker Digital’s Editor-in-Chief. Don’t follow her on Twitter.

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A Preview of Rainmaker Professional (And How to Lock in a Steal of a Deal)

In case you missed it, back in September we introduced Rainmaker, the complete website solution for building your online marketing and sales platform. With Rainmaker, you can:

  • Create powerful content-driven websites on your own domains.
  • Build membership sites and online training courses.
  • Sell digital products like software, ebooks, and more.
  • Perform sophisticated online lead generation.
  • Optimize your content for search engines and social networks.
  • Absorb cutting-edge tactics and strategy with included training.
  • Avoid a patchwork of plugins, themes, and complicated code.
  • Forget about upgrades, maintenance, security, and hosting headaches.
  • Take your content and domain to WordPress at any time you choose.

If you didn’t miss it, but have been holding back on getting started, this may be the perfect time to get rolling.

Coming Soon: Rainmaker Professional Plan

Currently, Rainmaker is available as a single version, which we call the Standard Plan. It’s pretty powerful in what it can do, and more importantly, what it can take off your plate so you can concentrate on content.

By the end of March 2015, however, there will be a more advanced plan available called Rainmaker Professional. As you might expect, it will have powerful additional features that will carry a higher price tag.

Here’s what’s coming in Rainmaker Professional:

Advanced Reporting and Analytics

The way you see your business growing and changing each day will become even more useful in the near future. The Rainmaker Platform’s analytics and reporting functions will evolve with more advanced reporting options for those who want them.

You’ll be able to drill down into the stats that you really want to see, and slice and dice your preferences from within the dashboard itself. That means creating simple, at-a-glance views of the specific metrics you want (such as demographics, or specific segments of your customers and prospects).

This is exciting stuff, because you’d normally need a third-party tool to accomplish what we’re planning for analytics. For those who sign up this week, however, it comes standard with Rainmaker.

And yes, podcasting stats are on the way. Soon, you’ll be able to see how your podcast is performing, without the hassle of separate hosting and stats packages. We’ve got a few more ideas on the near horizon for Rainmaker Podcasting that we’re not quite ready to talk about (but you’ll get upgraded to). Just remember, we’re podcasters too, so you can bet we’re motivated to make this the best and easiest podcasting solution on the planet for entrepreneurs.

More Designs and Landing Page Templates

You may have noticed that there’s been a slight change in how we’re developing design themes lately. We call it the “Rainmaker First” philosophy.

Brian Gardner, Rafal Tomal, and Lauren Mancke are always hard at work designing and developing new themes and landing page templates, but now our (and their) focus has shifted to supplying our Rainmaker Platform customers with the best one-click web design in the world.

As of this week there are 29 design themes and 15 landing page templates (not including the custom landing page builder) available to Rainmaker customers, and there are many more on the way.

And no, this does not mean we are neglecting our beloved StudioPress customers. In fact, this philosophy will end up benefitting everyone in the end. As these Rainmaker designs are tested and used in real-world online business situations, they’ll only get better.

Social Media Posting and Scheduling

This is a big one, and a no-brainer. Very soon, Rainmaker customers will be able to — from within the Rainmaker dashboard — post and schedule updates, links, photos, and other content to their social networks.

Your Rainmaker site is the home base of your business, and the importance of using social networks to attract an audience and send them back to your home base is undeniable. We think social media posting and scheduling tools have become a necessity for the savvy online publisher, but they should be integrated into your website platform with your daily workflow.

Integrated RSS Reader

So, the ability to post and schedule social media updates from your Rainmaker dashboard will be cool, but how do you find intriguing content from other sources to share with your audience? And how do you manage the very real potential for information overload?

That tool used to be Google Reader (RIP), but now, for our customers, it will be the Rainmaker Reader. This coming integrated RSS reader will be the place you’ll be able to strategically track your industry feeds, find great content to share, and glean inspiration for producing your own content.

Curation-to-Content Tools

Want to easily manage and publish a curated topical newsletter? Want that link from your RSS reader dropped into an existing post? How about effortlessly sending it out to your social media accounts?

The Rainmaker Curator will — with the click of a button — allow you to easily port the great content you find via RSS directly into a new or existing article you’re writing for your own audience. This will become an invaluable tool in your broader editorial role as a content marketer.

Serious Learning Management System

The first product ever launched off of Copyblogger, Teaching Sells, shows people step-by-step how to create sophisticated online training courses, along with the business models that power them. And since 2007, people have begged us to give them the turn-key platform that allowed for content creation, membership management, marketing, and all the other technological tasks that go with running a legitimate online business.

We’ve built that platform with Rainmaker. But we’re creating course creation tools that constitute a true learning management system — one that will help you with the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of e-learning courses and training programs.

What does that mean? Effortlessly create an online course without a developer, optimize your course content based on student behavior and feedback, run quizzes and surveys, and drip out your content (either paid or free) exactly as you want to, plus much more.

Marketing Automation/Adaptive Content

This is one of the most important technology applications that you’ll ever put in place for online marketing. And finally, it won’t cost you a ridiculous amount of money as with the current solutions.

Marketing automation (more appropriately known as adaptive content for those without sales teams) is not just about saving yourself from repeated tasks, or the drudgery of unscalable growth. Beyond those obvious benefits, its primary functions are:

  1. To vastly improve the experience of your prospects and customers
  2. To intelligently, and eventually effortlessly, grow revenue and profit
  3. To make more of the traffic you already have without chasing more

Rainmaker’s automation and adaptive content features will allow you to tag, add, delete, and manage customers or prospects from your various email lists, build specific interest lists based on real-world actions on your site, nurture leads in a way that’s sensitive to their inbox, allow you to create different content experiences for different people, and much more.

You can use MailChimp, Infusionsoft, AWeber, or the other popular email services we’re in the process of adding. Or you can choose the integrated add-on Rainmaker email service we’re working on right now. Either way, Rainmaker Professional will go to work for you in previously unimagined ways.

Pay once instead of forever

Now, let me make this clear — there will be a charge for existing Standard customers to upgrade to Professional. It’s just that it won’t be an increase in the quarterly or annual recurring fee. It’ll be a one-time charge that locks you in to the Professional plan for the life of your account at the Standard pricing.

In short, you get to upgrade to the more powerful version of the platform that you’ll need as your site and business grow, but you’ll save a huge amount over time compared to those who sign up once the Professional plan is released to the general public. This is an option that will only be available to existing Rainmaker customers who get on board before the Professional Plan is released.

Take a look at what Rainmaker can do, then take it on a free test drive today.

About the author

Brian Clark

Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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What to Look for in a Professional Content Writer

poodle with glasses sitting at a desk

Every business needs content. Not the bland, me-too nonsense that so often clutters up our in-boxes and feeds, but genuinely useful, interesting content.

Content that lets a business stand out amid the clutter and noise. Content that moves prospects closer to a sale. Content that can become a powerful differentiator for your company.

And increasingly, businesses are having a tough time finding the writers who know how to create that kind of content over time.

According to some recent research by Content Marketing Institute, the demand for content writers has grown by 320 percent … just over the past year.

And while in the past, about 10 percent of companies struggled to find qualified professionals, that’s risen to 32 percent this year.

One of the reasons I think organizations struggle is, they don’t always know what qualities will make for a genuinely productive, profitable hire. And as you might guess, I have a few strong opinions about that.

So here’s what I think you should look for, when you’re looking for a content professional to create the marketing that will move your business forward.

First: A strong, confident writing voice

This is the big gun.

Strategy, marketing, and persuasion techniques can be taught (that’s what we’re here for). Voice, on the other hand, develops over time and needs to come from within a creative, intelligent, sensitive human being.

While a solid writing voice can be developed over time (here’s how), your writer won’t ever get there without a lot of passion and commitment. Talent doesn’t hurt, either.

Look for a writer whose work is interesting, funny, smart, perceptive, and convincing. Look for someone whose writing you just like to read.

Some have it and some don’t. Insist on hiring the one who does.

Solid spelling, grammar, and usage

There are a few amazing writers out there who need a professional proofreader — but unless you have the bandwidth to add such a person to your team, your writer needs to have a solid grasp of usage, spelling, and all those mundane issues that can make us look silly when we get them wrong.

Your writing candidates should get their feathers ruffled when someone uses it’s for its. Every writer makes a typo once in awhile — but for a professional, that should be rare.

Finds the intriguing angle

Well-crafted content is important — but if it’s not wrapped up in a fascinating package, it probably won’t get read or shared.

Strong content writers are capable and creative. They think about your topic in interesting ways. (Mainly because professional writers think about their topics all the time. Occupational hazard. Probably why we’re such odd birds.)

A pro knows how to deliver the usefulness that audiences need, but also wraps it up in unusual hooks and angles that will capture attention and engage curiosity.

Understands the elements of content that sells

There are plenty of writers out there who can write a pleasing sentence or paragraph.

But a content professional also understands how content can move prospects smoothly down the path from stranger to interested prospect to delighted customer.

They understand headlines, and why content gets shared. They know what kind of content works well in blog posts, and what’s better saved for a landing page or an email message.

A professional content writer lives and breathes strategy. Which brings me to my next point. A good writer …

Can articulate why they’re using a particular content strategy

If you have a writer working for you, that person should be able to tell you precisely why she’s taken a particular angle with a blog post, video script, or white paper.

She can explain how your content program ties into your search strategy and why she’s using the number 8.4 in the headline, rather than rounding it up to 9.

Give her a chance and she’ll talk your ear off about the structure of bullet point fascinations, benefits over features, and the call to action.

The people who revel in this stuff are the ones who create compelling marketing content that builds your business. Whether or not you find it exciting, your writer needs to.

She needs to be able to tell you why, so your entire organization moves in the same direction.

(And on your part, you need to take the time to listen to those explanations. Don’t hire a pro and then second-guess every move she makes. If you want great content, you need to give your writer the space to craft that greatness.)

Commitment to professionalism and ongoing education

If content is important to your business, you need a professional, not an interested amateur. (Or an admittedly adorable fluffy poodle, like the one illustrating this post.)

And one of the hallmarks of the professional is commitment. Commitment to getting better over time, to staying on top of developments in the field, to a lifetime of learning.

Raw talent to write is important, and an understanding of strategy is important. But you also want to find someone who takes the profession seriously — as a profession — and continues to sharpen and refine his skills.

From search algorithms to social platforms to what kinds of headlines are performing well these days — professional writers need to stay plugged in to what’s changing in our profession.

A serious content professional also takes the initiative to become an authority in the topics he writes about. Interviewing experts (some of whom might be within your company), doing independent research, poring over industry journals, and talking with customers.

You can find that from a dedicated freelancer who specializes in your industry, but you can also build a long-term relationship with a strong content generalist who takes the time to develop that depth of knowledge about your individual company.

What you don’t want is a pennies-a-word person from one of the cheap freelance sites. They simply can’t make the commitment to learning your topic the way a true pro can.

Where do you find these people?

I cheated when I wrote this post — because I went to the guidelines for our Certified Content Creator application evaluations.

These are the qualities we look for when we’re assessing the work of writers seeking our certification — and these are the qualities you’ll find in the writers who earn that badge.

We have a whole page of them (growing weekly) — some serving specific niches like real estate or healthcare, and others who write across several industries.

A member of the Copyblogger editorial team takes a close look at the writing of each applicant. (I’m on the evaluation team as well.)

We look for the qualities I talked about above — a great writing voice first and foremost, but paired with strategy, professionalism, and straight-up marketing chops.

If you’re looking for a serious content professional, this is where you’ll find her, or him. But don’t wait too long. Remember, the demand for this kind of writer has grown by 320 percent in this year alone.

The perfect writer for your business would love to get started making your content program more successful … don’t let her slip away to some other company.

Click here to view Copyblogger’s Certified Content Writers

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Francisco Martins.

About the author

Sonia Simone

Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

The post What to Look for in a Professional Content Writer appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Build a Better Professional Network and Transform Your Business

Authority

Did you know there is a direct correlation between who you spend time with and what your life looks like?

True.

You tend to be happier if you hang out with happy people, more successful if you hang out with successful people, more pessimistic if you hang out with pessimistic people.

So if you’ve got some audacious goals and want to nudge them closer to reality, one thing you can do is spend more time with the people who have the qualities you want.

Business savvy. Well-balanced. Optimistic. Knowledgeable. And yes, successful.

If you want to uncover career-enhancing opportunities, rewarding projects, and a better life, think about the kinds of people you can start to surround yourself with. Because success rubs off.

How do you find these folks? Well here are some ideas about how to get started.

Understand that influential people can dramatically change your life

This has always been true in business, but the effect is hugely amplified by the internet. Success in the 21st century isn’t created solo. It’s built within a web.

According to Lewis Schiff, if you are connected to six highly-connected people (as most very successful people are), they each open up their networks to you.

A handful of good connections can open out to thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of new connections — and one chance encounter could do unbelievable things for you.

These might be the web’s “movers and shakers” — the powerful voices with big audiences.

But it can also be the perfect business partner, or the striking creative voice that gives a vision to your business. Your next business-changing connection could be a vendor, a client, or just a friend who’s really smart about marketing strategy and is happy to lend a hand.

We all have something to contribute, and we all have areas where we aren’t strong. A network lets you find your complements, so you can do more of what you’re fantastic at.

Focus on building an effective network — not a massive one

There are some people who seem to make a profession out of networking. And given the amount of time they spend socializing online, it’s tempting to wonder when they actually do any business.

Being social is great, but you don’t need the world’s most massive network. You need a few strong connections with people you feel a real resonance with. Sometimes you get really lucky, and those people have audiences that are on your wave length as well.

When you start building your network, focus at first on a few people — maybe five or six. Make yourself damned useful. Understand their work, what they’re passionate about. If they have an audience, find out what that audience cares about.

Pay attention — not in a phony, creepy way, but because you’re interested in what they have to say.

Go beyond social media

Most of us who work at Copyblogger Media met Brian Clark through social media.

We didn’t stop with chatting on Twitter about Phineas and Ferb, 80s music, and Fight Club, though. (Although that didn’t hurt.)

Social media is great for starting relationships, but when you get the chance, take things further. Trade emails. Go to conferences. Do projects together. Get into real conversations.

Copyblogger Media was born out of this kind of networking leading to partnerships, and it’s evolved into a bunch of bright misfits doing meaningful work together.

Don’t be creepy

One of the best ways to build a professional network is to be the kind of person other successful people want to be around.

Be helpful. Be confident. Know what you bring to the table — even if it’s mainly boundless enthusiasm. Contribute. Know how to give, and also know how to ask. Treat everyone with respect, whether they’re “influential” or not. And remember not to squee on your shoes when you meet your heroes! Being a fan is great; being a rabid fan is a little … scary.

The best kind of success — the kind I value — is measured primarily by the number of people you can help. Not by selling yourself short (that doesn’t help anyone), but by building something worthwhile and getting the word out. Making honest, real connections can help you with that. When you’re on a cool mission, the people who can help will find that attractive.

Discover where the influencers hang out

So where do you find this network? Well, you start by figuring out where they hang out.

Do they have a blog? What conferences do they go to? Where do they speak? What forums do they haunt? When do they hit the bars?

If you happened to be in Austin for South by Southwest interactive this year, I hope you made it to our party. It was a hell of a place to connect with bright people — online influencers, creative business minds, talented artists and writers, and an assortment of rock stars, ninjas, and (my favorite) goonies.

We like bringing smart, successful people together. It’s fun and it’s interesting, and we learn a lot from the connections that are sparked. We’re going to have some more thoughts to share with you on that very soon, so stay tuned.

How about you?

Ever made a connection that’s made all the difference in your business or your life? Let us know about it in the comments.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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