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…]

Want a Unique Writing Style? Misuse the Software


My new favorite podcast is Song Exploder.

According to the tag line, it is “a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.”

The best episode in my opinion (and I think in many) is the one where John Roderick (singer and songwriter for The Long Winters) deconstructs his haunting piece “The Commander Thinks Aloud.”

However, the episode that concerns us is “Plastic Soul” by YACHT. (I love the ALL CAPS.)

Claire and Jona from YACHT describe the song as a fun neo-disco piece about human suffering (that’s certainly one way to think about it) inspired by technology and French disco singer Amanda Lear.

But I’m not so much concerned even about the song. [Read more…]

Will People Trust Your Copy If You Ignore Their Objections?

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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…]

5 Reasons Why You Should Use the 5 W’s When Writing Online Photo Captions


Editor’s note: This article was first published on April 20, 2011 — the very first article published on The Copybot.

Who. Where. When. Why. What. The 5 W’s.

Originally used as a method of Bible study in the late 1880s, journalists eventually adopted the 5 W’s method to write newspaper leads.

By 1917, it was a staple of journalism — taught in high-school classes. In the 40s, it was considered old-fashioned. [Read more…]