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The Perfect Illustration for Anyone Who Wants to Write Great Copy


A good story begins with a character in conflict, amplifies that conflict so life is miserable, and then ends with a resolution …

Even if that means a happy ending in an opera where every character is knifed to death.*

Good copywriting also begins with a character in conflict …

As a copywriter you amplify that conflict so life is unbearable, and then end the story with a resolution (think subscribe to an email newsletter, listen to a podcast, or purchase a physical product).

Look at the copy forumula PAS for an example of what I mean.

PAS stands for Problem-Agitate-Solve. You start with a meaningful ProblemAgitate it so it is unbearable … and then trot out the Solution.

Who is the main character in your copywriting story? Your customer, the reader.

And of course they should see themselves in this drama.

Fortunately, in this drama, nobody is knifed to death, and, on average, everyone lives happily ever after. Depending on how well you write, of course.

Which reminds me …

Want more copywriting advice? Pick up a free copy of Copywriting 101: How to How to Craft Compelling Copy.

*Those are my daughter’s words.


My Failed Month on Medium

Failure Inc

Funny story: not long ago our CFO at Copyblogger went rogue on us. He published a post on our private company Google+ community telling us how much he loved Medium.

Within minutes we were roasting him.

His crime? Digital sharecropping. Sean is an oddball among oddballs, but this was out of character. Did he get a hold of some bath salts? Why in the world would he suggest that we create content on rented land?

Sean, true to nature, held his ground, and even published a post on Medium. Then his love for the platform quieted down.

Close the book, move on. Not so fast. [Read more...]

What Exactly Is the Plight of the Average Blogger?

Stop Dreaming

Mike Elgan is an established writer. He’s been a technology jounralist for over 25 years, even started his own magazine … and now is a paid opinion columnist. On any given day you might find Mike blogging from Eastern Europe or Southern Africa. I mention all of this to state that Mike is not your average blogger.

When Google+ launched Mike doubled down on the social site and pointed his own blog there — and now is the spokesperson for Google+ diet. His entire online life begins and ends there. He still publishes outside of that, but you will get a bulk of his writing only on Google+.

I recommend you follow Mike on Google+. You won’t be disappointed. What I won’t recommend, however, is that you follow Mike’s advice to abandon your blog for Google+.

Let me explain. [Read more...]

9 Ways to Write Clear Copy

Morons have spoken

I was fortunate to skip most of school as a lad so as not to be grammatically brainwashed. But I didn’t learn how to write either.

In fact, I enjoyed being obscure for obscurity’s sake …

As if my cryptic poems and self-indulgent letters pulled the rug over the eyes of my readers. Rightly so, everyone pretty much wrote me off.

Until I learned how to write direct-response copy.

Communication is about clarity. Simplicity in message. Simplicity in meaning. Logically leading from one sentence to the next, so readers can understand what you wrote …  and respond.

Here are some tips to help you write clearly. Enjoy. [Read more...]

6 Exercises to Help You Write Concise Copy

French Circus Poodle

If you’ve been with me for a while then you know the emphasis I place on the art of writing concise copy. In that particular post I taught you how to edit an article for brevity. In other words, I made the practice part of the workflow.

Now, I want you to step off the playing field and onto the practice field. We know the secret to going from good to great involves feedback … but it also involves deliberate, purposeful practice.

That’s what these six exercises are all about. Deliberate, purposeful practice. [Read more...]

The Writer’s Guide to Blog Design Bliss

Lao Zhai Mountain

Most writers know they need to build an audience online if they want to attract attention and establish a platform. The only problem is writers are not coders. Writers are not designers. And writers usually don’t have a lot of money.

So they buy a domain name, choose a free theme, and cross their fingers (if they get that far at all). [Read more...]

8 Ways to Nurture a Diabolical Bent for Originality

Need to Talk

You get content marketing …

Crank out some blog posts. Gush out some guest posts. Build links. Share content on Google+ or Twitter. Pin images to Pinterest. Hot dog it in a LinkedIn Group Discussion.

But your greatest problem isn’t creating enough content because we’ve been taught how to make content fast six ways to Sunday …

But since when was efficiency a mark of good content? Or that speed was even desirable? What’s the pay off? Most likely a fatigued, alienated audience (so don’t be afraid to break your content schedule).

This is where I agree with Mars Dorian on the notion of substance over style. But I’d qualify it to be substance with style. [Read more...]

The Misfit’s Guide to Finding Interesting Images for Your Blog Post (At Last)

Roy Lichtenstein

Image credit: Roy Lichtenstein

I say misfit because I’m not exactly orthodox when it comes to the images I publish. It’s complicated, so I’ll need to explain.

But first a word about the headline. [Read more...]

Why Google Reader Is Like an Open Bar (and That’s Not a Good Thing)


You’ve no doubt seen it … the signature-collecting pledge to save Google Reader. But why? Is it really that great of a product?

I argue it isn’t.

Google Reader is a neat product, but it has one flaw … it allows customers to do exactly what they want … without penalty. [Read more...]

A Cheat Sheet for People Afraid of Google+


Forgive me, but today’s Education of a Writer post is not ready. Austin ate me alive. I will post on Wednesday instead. The following article is a re-share of a post that went viral on Google+.    

You probably know them: people who trot out an excuse for not adopting Google+. I’ve been collecting them (the excuses, not the people). [Read more...]