How to Write a Brilliant Long Sentence


Our world is full of useful guidelines on how to write for the web. Sensible, everyday guidelines. But, over time, we morph those guidelines into laws. Unbreakable rules that spoil the fun. Sour the adventure.

Take writing short sentences, for instance.

It’s a useful guideline. Full of benefits. Meant to be inviting. Easy on the eyes. Breezy for the brain. Certainly the short sentence is a boon in this mean, cold world. Where a busy reader is likely to give your humdinger of a headline a once-over, your first line a second glance, then disappear.


But the short sentence can become boring. Breathtakingly boring. It can become repetitive. Monotonous. Monotone. Routine. And dry. Which frustrates the reader. [Read more…]

Starting a New Blog? Assume Nothing


Darren Rowse, founder of Digital Photography School, wondered if a post on how to hold a camera was too basic. Was his audience more sophisticated than that?

He took the risk, wrote the post, and it became one of his most popular.

When it comes to content marketing most of us overestimate the sophistication of our readers. That’s not a condescending thing to say. Even in a saturated market like weight loss most interested readers don’t know the basics.

And sometimes what we do know is flat-out wrong or more complex than we think.

As fitness authorities will tell you, losing weight can not be reduced to “burn more calories than you consume.” There is more to it than that.

Thus, if you are starting a new blog, start with the basics. This lays the foundation for your advanced work. Never, however, abandon the basics.

You will experience reader turnover. Every blog does. And your new readers need to be taught for the first time — or simply reminded in a fresh way — of the basics.

By the way, if you need help with your blog, see this. I might be able to help.

Will People Trust Your Copy If You Ignore Their Objections?

skyline - non

Even in a beautiful language like French, “no” still hurts.

But objections are a simple fact of the business life. They’re like octopus tentacles — everyone has at least eight of them.

Of course this is perfectly natural. Most potential customers are primed NOT to spend money and stiff-arm sales copy.

And the reasons why they may object are just as numerous: [Read more…]

The 10 Best Rough Draft Shows (So Far)


Online readers are a surly bunch. Mean, lazy, and stupid. I mean that in the best possible way, mind you. And, naturally, I lump myself in to that group.

See, when it comes to reading online, everyone is mean, lazy, and stupid. Makes you wonder if there’s something wrong with anyone who chooses a career as web writer.

The origin behind that harsh designation, though, is interesting. It’s how New York University philosophy professor Jim Pryor suggests his students view their readers.

His reasoning? It forces the writer to write clear, concise, and compelling copy

Which is what my podcast, Rough Draft, is all about. In just a few minutes a day I deliver essential writing advice you need to succeed online, four days a week.

But unlike most business podcasts (where interviews rule the roost) Rough Draft is a monologue.

It’s just you, me, and 15 years of experience working with top brands like KISSmetrics, Salesforce, Hubspot, and, of course, Copyblogger (where I am Chief Content Writer).

Tomfoolery included. [Read more…]

A Silly Primer on Search Engines (for Web Writers)

writing desk with some butterflies because that's what SEO is all about

Listen to this article here: How Search Engines Work Part One and Part Two.

How do people find things on the web? Search engines.

Google, as you probably know, is the dominate search name. There’s also this thing called Bing. Then smaller boutique search engines that specialize in narrow fields. Academic, medical.

The job of a search engine like Google is to find content that matches your query (the question you are asking):

  • How far is the earth from the sun?
  • Who is the leader singer of Led Zeppelin?
  • What is a freemason?

The better it can match your question to a good answer, the better the user experience. [Read more…]