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Wale has announced that his upcoming album, The Gifted, will be released on June 25, 2013. The D.C. rapper recently gave a hint at why he chose that title. He said: “The hustler, priding his self on the very things they hate … More »
Kanye West’s album, Yeezus, was released today and, so far, critics are loving it. In fact, Metacritic, which lists a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, currently gives the effort an 87% rating. That’s amazing. After his appearance … More »
We’re now happy to be able to bring you the official trailer for “The Hustler”. This show will debut tomorrow night on Fuse (11/10c) and we’re already calling it the best hip hop show ever created for television. Check out … More »
The post “The Hustler” Trailer Video – New Hip Hop Show on Fuse appeared first on EveryJoe.
While shooting in New York City recently, Doutzen Kroes gave us all a special treat. What was it? An honest to goodness accidental nipple slip that wasn’t contrived in any form or fashion. Nowadays, you can never tell what is … More »
Tomorrow night, “The Hustle” premieres on Fuse at 11/10c. Following the show, The Hustle After Party will air. During this follow-up program, the show will be discussed, the actors will be interviewed and — most importantly — there will be … More »
The post Hot to Get Tickets to “The Hustle” After Party Show appeared first on EveryJoe.
If you define influence by the size of your Klout score, you can stop reading this right now.
If you believe influence is driven by the creation of a relationship between two parties, where one sees the other as truly knowledgeable about a particular product or service, then let’s talk about the science behind that influence.
Establishing influence is a multi-step process that moves the influenced through four key stages.
They move from awareness of the influencer, to knowing the influencer, to liking the influencer and finally finishing with preference for the influencer’s advice and counsel.
And, as an influencer, you’re going to earn your long-term living in that last stage of the relationship.
But you’re not going to get there by simply writing or talking about a particular subject matter. Instead, you need a strategic plan anchored in real science.
The law of propinquity states that the greater the physical (or psychological) proximity between people, the greater the chance that they will form friendships or romantic relationships.
The theory was first crafted by psychologists Leon Festinger, Stanley Schachter, and Kurt Back in what came to be called the Westgate studies conducted at MIT.
In the study, the strongest friendships developed between students who lived next to each other on the same floor, or between students who lived on different floors, if one of those students lived near the stairways.
In non-scientific terms, the Westgate Studies found that the frequency of contact between students was a strong indicator of future friendship formation.
There are two dimensions to propinquity, and they play different roles in marketing strategy.
There is physical propinquity and psychological propinquity. For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on psychological propinquity, as it most directly relates to creating influence through content creation.
Propinquity theory tells us that the more often people see your content, the better they get to know you. This makes sense. Each time someone is exposed to your content, they are interacting with you, your thoughts and beliefs. This leads to a feeling of knowing you, because it mirrors how we get to know people in the real world.
Repeated exposure to your content moves them from simply knowing you to actually liking you. Again, this mirrors the making friends context we’re all familiar with in the offline world.
The more we interact with people we know, the more we tend to like them — which has been repeatedly proven in numerous studies of romantic relationship formation.
Because they like you, they consume more of your content. As they do, a portion of the audience will find a common ground with your beliefs. This intersection of your beliefs, interests, or personality and your audience’s creates Psychological Propinquity. And that is what leads to preference and influence.
An important note: studies also showed that being a jerk invalidates the propinquity effect. If research subjects didn’t like an initial interaction with a person, subsequent interactions didn’t lead the subjects to change their mind and begin liking the person.
Because of the power of propinquity to create influence, it’s not something you want to leave to chance.
Instead, strategically map out a propinquity platform and then fill that platform with high-quality content. The process of creating a propinquity platform is a bit too complex for a single post, but here are four steps that you can use to begin the process today.
These last two are especially useful when you’re trying to create influence in a new industry where you don’t have extensive direct experience. Provided your target audience uses Twitter, these last two steps can help you quickly understand the key websites favored by your audience.
Your goal is to find online sites that your desired audience turns to for helpful information. Then determine if any of these sites will allow you to guest post or create content for their use.
By doing so, you will create multiple propinquity touches against your prospects. You’ll be the person “they see everywhere” and come to associate with category or product expertise.
By mapping (then managing) your prospects’ progression through the various “Propinquity Points,” you can exponentially increase the frequency of your content impressions against a specific audience over a shorter time period.
This higher frequency of impressions — combined with the halo effect of your content appearing within already-trusted content channels — will more quickly move the audience through the propinquity process.
Do you have other ideas for creating a trusted propinquity platform? Let me know in the comments below …
About the Author: Tom Martin is a 20+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and digital gadgets. He is the founder of Converse Digital and author of The Invisible Sale. Get more from Tom on Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Fact: Email is still (by far) the most profitable online sales channel.
That means an essential aspect of your audience is the segment that trusts you with their primary email address. So, it seems fair to say that enticing your prospective customers and clients onto an email list is crucial.
Once you start building that list, you always want more. It’s like crack, really.
Email subscriber count crack, to be exact.
And like any addiction, you start considering desperate measures to get more. Things like annoying the majority of your site visitors in order to increase your daily sign-up rate.
Enter the popup, hover over … what have you. That annoying thing that jumps up in your face while you’re trying to absorb information that interests you.
Funny thing is, those things actually work. You’ll definitely build your email list faster, although — ironically — the quality of your list will ultimately suffer, and you’ll make less money.
Is there another way?
Absolutely. We’ve done it, and we want to teach it to you.
Copyblogger Media COO Tony Clark and I will take you behind the scenes of the recent Copyblogger redesign, the addition of MyCopyblogger, and the launch of Authority – with a main focus on how the design strategy and free member area have increased daily email signups by over 400%.
You’ll get the inside story on:
Now, there are two ways to get the goods …
You like options, and we’ve got them for you. You can choose to:
Sign up for How to Build a Massive Email List (Without Being Annoying). This live webinar will be held on June 21, 2013 at 3 pm Eastern time. You’ll be able to ask questions during the Q&A session of the webinar, and barring unforeseen technical difficulties, get the recording of the webinar plus the optimized transcript.
Join Authority, our content marketing training and networking community designed to accelerate your skills and success. Get How to Build a Massive Email List (Without Being Annoying), all the other education we release in June and in the next 12 months, instant access to over 60 hours of online marketing training, participate in our interactive networking forum, and much more.
*Billed annually at $348.
One way or another, I’m looking forward to seeing you this Friday, June 21, 2013 at 3 pm Eastern time, and helping you grow your email list and your sales.
You’re a trustworthy expert right?
Of course you are, I know that, and you know that, but when writing sales copy it’s easy to take for granted that your readers should trust you.
Even if you’re marketing to an audience that knows you, it helps to have a checklist of trust-builders you can use.
So here we go:
When previous customers write to tell you how great you are, don’t just enjoy the warm glow and file away the compliment, use it in future sales pages. As consumers we know that a company is going to present their offer in its best light, so we love to hear what real-life customers think.
Having said that, we’re also savvy enough to know that on a sales page, the business will choose the most positive testimonials, but they are still effective in building trust so if you’ve got some great testimonials or are thinking of asking for testimonials, use ‘em.
A simple way of building trust in your product is to explain directly what you product has done for other customers in the past. You can even just include a section that lists these results.
But here’s a tip, try and make them as specific as possible. So instead of writing:
Our productivity workshop helped employees work more efficiently
You could try something like:
After our productivity workshop, one attendee managed to get from 1,245 emails down to zero in just 30 minutes.
Customers are pack animals and there’s safety in numbers. When it comes to making a purchase, it’s a small percentage that like to stick their necks out on something new.
Most people want to know that this product or service has been used by other people (see no.1 testimonials). Some of the ways you can build trust through social proof on your sales page are:
A guarantee is a classic risk-reversal copywriting technique to build trust. Guarantees are used to make your prospect feel comfortable making an order with you, even if he isn’t 100% sure that your product is right for him.
It also shows a lot of confidence from the seller and shows that you are approachable (especially if your guarantee terms are simple and you don’t make your customer jump through hoops).
You can also read this blog post on writing a money-back guarantee.
If you’ve got relevant qualifications to deliver your service or sell your product, let your reader know. It builds trust to know that the company or consultant has invested time and money in learning a specific skill that is used in the product.
It sounds obvious, but I’m listing it because many business owners assume that readers know what their qualifications are. Even if you work in an industry where you wouldn’t allowed to practice without your qualifications, list them anyway. It makes your customer feel safe with you.
If an organisation, newspaper, magazine TV or radio show feels that you are important enough to win an award or be featured by them, this can gain a number of trust points from your consumer.
So many businesses I know forget to use these in their future sales pages because they feel that the event has come and gone. One owner I spoke to recently happened to mention that her product had been featured in a major Hollywood film. But because it was a couple of years ago, she felt it was no longer relevant. Wrong.
Now, it goes without saying that the award or the press coverage you use should refer to your product or service or your business, (if you were interviewed on CNN as a bystander to a parade you shouldn’t use this…) but don’t be shy.
And use logos. If you were in the New York Times, you let people know about it. If you won an upcoming business award (even if you nominated and voted for yourself) you get it on there.
These elements show that you exist in a world beyond your sales page, and that makes you easier to trust.
Another valuable trust-builder that you might overlook is your experience.
And it’s not just the years you’ve been selling your product or offering your service, it includes:
Look over your business life-span and you’ll probably find more experience stories than you realised. They are perfect for building trust because it shows that you have been there, done that and succeeded.
As a copywriter, I love the power of words but I also know how powerful and persuasive photographs can be. If you have time to collect high-quality photos to sell your product, do so.
Good photo ideas for building trust include:
If you really want to build trust, take the rules for photos and turn them into a video.
If you’re a coach then a video can give readers a better feel for your personality, if it’s a product they can see it in action and if it’s an event they can get a better taste of the live atmosphere.
Ultimately, it’s about helping your reader (or viewer in this case) visualise what it is like to work with you or buy from you, and feel comfortable with it.
In the past I’ve worked with business owners who have been afraid to tackle possible objections in their sales pages because they feel it will draw attention to something negative.
The thing is, sometimes NOT talking about something can make it even more noticeable.
If there are aspects of your product or service that you think make your customer nervous, tackle them head on. Take that shaky spot and turn it into a selling point.
So there you go, 10 quick ways to build trust in your sales pages. You don’t have to use all 10, but this is a good list to look through once you’ve finished writing your sales copy.
You're reading 10 Ways to Build Trust in a Sales Page which was orginally posted on: HarrisonAmy Copywriting. If you liked it, you might want to sign up to Fast Copy Fridays to get free copywriting tips each week.
Content Marketing is a hot topic, no doubt.
What you may not know, however, is that it’s been around for a long time, and that it’s finding itself in the midst of yet another “Golden Age” with the rise of the Internet.
This is very good news if you’re a content creator. It’s even better news if you’re building authority online.
But, are you actually getting the job done?
Whether you have no idea what I’m talking about, or you do, and you’d like to take your content marketing skills much further online, we’ve got your back.
We’ve built an incredible training resource called MyCopyblogger, and when you register (at no charge) you’ll get instant access to nearly 100,000 words of proven marketing training in thirteen ebooks, (and our completely revamped 20-part Internet marketing course) …
Inside these ebooks you’ll find the very same tactics, strategies, and processes that allowed us to build Copyblogger Media from a simple blog into a content-fueled software and training company with 100,000+ customers.
Don’t ignore one of the most powerful forms of marketing of the last 100 years, sign up for MyCopyblogger today, and take advantage of months of valuable free marketing education.
You’ve got a product that will set your customer’s world alight.
You love it, previous customers have loved it and you want to reach more people.
So you sit down to write a sales page to let new people know all about the benefits of your offer. It’s not easy because you’re trying to fit in all of those selling points into a sales page structure that flows well, builds suspense, and reads easily.
What most business owners do next is look to get feedback on their copy. Which is smart. Having a fresh air of eyes can highlight benefits you’ve missed, and let you know if anything doesn’t make sense.
Getting feedback can also be where your pretty good sales page takes a dive for the worse.
When asking anyone to review your sales page, you need to be careful.
Because if you simply send it out to trusted friends, family and even colleagues you can find yourself more confused and frustrated than before. It’s not that your peers are out to get you, it’s just that, without guidance, they will look at your copy and review it based on what they like. Not necessarily based on your business model, audience and sales page goals.
So here are 5 things you must do when asking anyone to review your sales page:
Usually, business owners hand over their writing to friends who are writers, enjoy writing, or are good at writing.
For sales copywriting, this is a bad idea.
Good writers tend to get excited about punctuation, grammar, semi-colons, and whether or not you should write “while” or “whilst.”
That’s great if you want to turn in your sales page to your teacher at the end of the day, but you don’t. You want to make sales. I’m not saying grammar and punctuation aren’t important, I’m saying that being too stringent on these rules can cripple or kill the persuasive effect of your copywriting.
So who should you ask to review your sales page?
In short, someone who fits your target market. Someone who could turn into a customer.
A copywriter once stated that if he saw a client pick up a pen when they reviewed the copy his heart sank. It meant they were reading the copy as an editor rather than a customer.
So pick people who might be interested in your product. If they read your draft copy and say they want to find out more, that tells you a lot more than being told a preposition is a bad word to end a sentence with.
Okay, so you’ve highlighted the right people to approach with your sales copy, now we come to the second filter.
Make sure that those people have some investment in your outcome. I don’t mean they need to profit from your sales, I just mean they are sincerely interested in you doing well.
I’ve seen people ask for sales page feedback in online forums. It seems like a great idea, you post up your sales page, and wait for the suggestions to flood in before making your revisions.
But here’s the thing, it’s easy for someone to jump into a thread and say something they think will make them look important to other members. What you want is someone who will tailor their feedback to your business, your customers and your goals.
People who are invested in you doing well include:
And once you’ve found the right people, you need to:
This makes it easier for your reader to provide you with relevant feedback.
Don’t just ask your “what do you think?”
You risk ending up with either a “yeah it looks fine” or a long-winded but mostly irrelevant suggestion.
To avoid that, here are some common questions you can ask:
Notice that apart from “is this easy to read and scan through” these are not questions about the right words, they are questions focus on making sales.
Which brings me to the next tip:
Writing a sales page can be tough. Your writing comes under scrutiny by a whole set of different rules than you learned in school.
It is easy to get hooked on feedback that makes you feel good, or clever and it’s nice to be praised for a piece of work you’ve spent hours creating.
But the feedback has to drive you closer to your goal.
So when looking at the advice you receive, ask yourself if there is practical use, or if it’s just there to make you feel good.
If a reviewer tells you they love how you’ve described the product in your sales page, wait before you pat yourself on the back. Ask them which features stood out the most, ask them if they would buy it, and if not, why not.
You have to be okay with publishing a sales page that is not perfect in your eyes. If you wait for perfection, you may never publish it (and just think how many sales you might be missing).
What’s more, it’s only after you publish that you get the feedback that means anything at all, namely: are you making sales?
Use the tips on this page to gather relevant feedback on your sales page, but know when to put it out for the real test, which is to your audience.
The beauty of a sales page is that as you drive traffic to the page, make sales and look at your conversions you can start using that feedback to continue to tweak your copy until it’s performing just how you want it.
If you would like help reviewing your sales page, you might be interested in the copywriting coaching options on this site. One choice is a full sales page review with 3 feedback calls and a written critique. Click here to find out more.
You're reading 5 Things You Must Do When Asking Anyone To Review Your Sales Page which was orginally posted on: HarrisonAmy Copywriting. If you liked it, you might want to sign up to Fast Copy Fridays to get free copywriting tips each week.
This week on The Lede …
Want to grab even more useful links, beyond those that make The Lede, plus additional obscure references to The Six Million Dollar Man, adjusted for inflation?
You only have to follow @copyblogger on Twitter.
How a 40,000 Word Guide Earned 361,494 Site Visitors and 8421 Email Opt-ins
Mr. Patel is a master of taking action on real data. Through this dedication, he discovers, then delivers, what his audience wants. In this short case study he lightly analyzes the release of a recent PDF guide that ended up earning him the attention (and permission) of a wide new audience. But it wasn’t easy, and he didn’t get it right the first time …
The Overwhelming Force of “Gradual”
The home run. The hail mary. The half-court, last-second, game-winning bucket. The winning lottery ticket. We praise and immortalize these events, in my culture they are what you’d call a scene from the The American Dream. The Big Win. But nature doesn’t work that way. The natural order of things — generally — is a very slow, step-by-step process of growth and movement. If you saw a tree jump from sapling to 50 feet tall in one day, you’d wonder what the hell was going on in the world. So why are we obsessed with seeking the unnatural, sugar-coated growth of our work? Is there another way?
How to Write a Good Blog Post (Fast)
Ms. Duistermaat introduces us to her “Breadmaker Technique” of content creation, a process that cuts much of the angst out of getting started, and getting to a workable draft of your article. I find this, along with a little advice from Mr. Clark, to be very useful tools for getting good content done.
On Finding Real Pleasure in Our Work
It’s not often that a philosopher has the chops to not only teach, but make you laugh. Maybe it’s merely a 21st century sensibility, but Mr. de Botton delivers the goods in this smart, useful, and funny talk about the nature of work and success. Makes me think how much further Mr. Nietschze or Mr. Kant could have spread their messages, had they more finely tuned their respective senses of humor.
Twitter’s First Bona Fide Star
It’s well known that Copyblogger thinks digital sharecropping is a dumb move, but that’s never meant that we’re against the contextually smart use of social networking sites. This is one such case. Though Ms. Oxford’s story will certainly not be replicated (often, at least), the results of her producing the right content, in the right place, at the right time can’t be denied. You may never end up on Jimmy Kimmel Live, but do you really need to end up there in order to achieve your business goals?
About the Author: Robert Bruce is VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media. In his off hours, he files unusually short stories to the Internet.
What does it take to get people to pay attention to your content?
I think we’ve all read a great piece of writing and thought to ourselves, “Why isn’t this more popular?”
(And hey, maybe you even feel that way about your own work!)
I obviously can’t answer the entirety of that question in a single blog post, but I will tell you that there is a trait that many popular works of writing seem to share: they are controversial.
It’s easy to see why controversy spawns from strife between two (or more) groups of thought. It leads to debate, debate leads to recognition, and more and more people trip over themselves to share their thoughts.
You can see the powerful effects of controversy in action when you examine the work of Niccolo Machiavelli, the notorious political scholar whose magnum opus, The Prince, is still hotly debated to this day.
But one has to ask: Why is such a distinguished thinker only recognizable to the average Joe from a single book?
What about The Prince makes it so memorable? How is it able to stay relevant and widely discussed hundreds of years later? More important, how can you apply these lessons to your own content?
Honestly, when you think about Machiavelli … does anything other than The Prince readily come to mind?
For most people, that answer is No, even though he was a prolific political scholar with many published works. If that’s the case for you, don’t feel bad, there’s a simple reason why The Prince is so easily recognized and the rest of Machiavelli’s work is not, and that reason is controversy.
While the teachings from The Prince still stir debate even to this day (the sure sign of a truly controversial topic), you may not know that the book caused quite an uproar back when it was initially published.
It was outright banned by the Catholic church, after being officially added to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, and many scholars panned the book’s premise: how dare Machiavelli contrast the teachings of Plato and Aristotle!
Sounds like the book should have never found an audience with such a harsh backlash, right? And yet, the influence of the work on many notable figures throughout history is undeniable.
Not to equate the works of Machiavelli to your typical blog post, but I can’t help but notice that many aspects surrounding the book’s success seem to relate back to gaining attention online:
And here’s a fun fact about Machiavelli that you probably didn’t know …
A majority of modern-day academics now consider The Prince to be a work of satire.
(Notice I said a “majority”, as the debate has become something of, yes, a controversy.)
This is because there is ample evidence that the intended goal of The Prince was to inform the public of the insidious nature of dictators, and give a candid look at the tactics that they would use to control the populace.
Many scholars argue that those in power would have already known this stuff anyway.
To me, there are two clear answers:
Machiavelli was in danger of being forgotten, because many of those who pulled the strings were unwilling to allow something like his Discourses on Livy to see the light of day.
You, however, have a different problem: With the benefit of being able to write whatever you want, your concern is being forgotten and buried in a sea of less worthy content.
Fortunately, you can use controversy to avoid this dreadful fate and capture the attention you need to build a thriving audience online … and you can do it without making people hate you.
Here’s how …
One of the main reasons that The Prince is so controversial (and thus so memorable) is that it creates division among two different groups of thought.
The debate over whether or not ‘The ends justify the means’ is one that has raged long after Machiavelli’s death, and that will continue to divide people for years to come (despite the fact that Machiavelli never actually said it in The Prince).
There are a few reasons why this is important for creating controversy:
Let’s break this down, shall we?
1. Using division to get people invested
What’s a proven way to get people more invested in a cause, argument, or belief?
Give them an enemy.
According to the fascinating study on Social Categorization and Inter-group Behavior, the quickest way to get people to form groups is to give them another group to compete against.
The lead researcher Henri Tajfel found that when people were divided by even the most trivial of choices, they were still willing to hand out real rewards to their ‘in-group,’ and would readily discriminate the other ‘outsiders.’
As a behavioral psychology geek, this study fascinates me because it’s a proven example of why people can become so heated over arguments that seem pointless to a third party. Often, it’s the division between groups as much as the argument itself that creates the controversy.
Machiavelli’s work in The Prince created a clear divide that subsequently built two groups of thought that vehemently disagreed with one another, an essential ingredient for creating controversy.
2. Using division to trigger high-arousal emotions
As we’ve seen, division works because it turns a casual discussion into a heated debate by pitting people against each other.
But it works best when it’s able to trigger ‘high-arousal emotions’ from those who are partaking in the debate.
Recent academic research from Wharton on What Makes Online Content Go Viral shows that the content that is most likely to go viral is any work that evokes a strong emotional reaction from the reader.
Specifically, the emotions of Awe, Anger, Anxiety/Fear, Joy, Lust, and Surprise were most effective.
Content that inspires low-energy emotions like sadness is less likely to be shared, where content that inspires high-energy emotions like awe, anger, and anxiety is far more likely to be shared.
You might see an emotion like ‘Anxiety’ and think, “I’ll never write something like that! I don’t want to cause my readers anxiety!”
You’re over-thinking the execution of this strategy.
If you’ve read Copyblogger’s great guide on Magnetic Headlines, you will recognize headlines like ’7 Warning Signs that …,’ which create anxiety in the reader but still deliver solid value.
Now you know you need to plant your flag in an argument, you know your writing needs to trigger a strong emotion … but how can you keep people from hating you for it?
(Psst … pay attention, this next part is where most people get stuck!)
3. Using division to take advantage of ‘low-controversy’ topics
Most businesses stay away from controversial content because they are too scared that it may reflect badly on their brand.
It will … if you do it the wrong way.
The wrong way is picking a random fight or trying to be ‘shocking’ in order to stir up controversy.
The right way is being the voice of reason for a topic of ‘low’ controversy, and planting your flag on the side that you can argue the best.
But why would you want to pick a topic of low controversy? That defeats the purpose, right?
Actually, it doesn’t.
According to academic research on When, Why, and How Controversy Causes Conversation, if you want to get people talking online, it’s best to avoid topics of ‘high’ controversy on your business blog.
(‘High’ controversy means things like politics, religion, and tragedies.)
Why? According to the researchers:
[Data] shows that controversy increases likelihood of discussion at low levels, but beyond a moderate level of controversy, additional controversy actually decreases likelihood of discussion.
In other words, people don’t like to discuss highly controversial topics (especially outside of the news) because it can make them look bad for bringing it up.
There are a few other things to consider …
In a recent podcast with Derek Halpern and professor Jonah Berger, Jonah mentions how even toilet paper can be remarkable, and Derek offers up this example as a case study for how seemingly silly arguments can go viral online.
The topic of toilet paper orientation (yes, that is a 6,000 word Wikipedia article on the subject) is hotly debated online, despite the fact that no one could possibly be offended by it.
As the research and this silly example prove, you don’t need to be highly controversial or hurt people’s feelings to create something that divides people and stirs up debate.
Machiavelli has shown us that it often takes a bit of controversy to be remembered, and that the best way to stir up such a debate is to create division … but do we really have to start arguments about silly topics like toilet paper?
Consider these following examples of articles that took off because of the combination of division and controversy:
All of these topics were incredibly important within their tribe, and serious discussions formed in the comments of all three articles.
The point being, you don’t provoke mindless arguments to effectively use this strategy, you simply have to challenge a certain group’s 3B’s (behavior, beliefs, belonging), stay relevant, and you’ll be on your way to creating something the whole industry is talking about.
Now I want to hear from you. What’s your favorite piece of controversial content that you’ve read recently? What sort of division did it create? Let us know in the comments.
And to get more research-backed content on marketing, feel free to download my free guide on 10 Ways to Convert More Customers (Using Psychology).
About the Author: Gregory Ciotti is the content strategist for Help Scout, the invisible help desk software for startups and small-businesses. Get more data-driven content from Greg by visiting our blog.
Yesterday I received a direct mail package. I don’t know how the mailer got my address because the offer is to buy horse-racing tips and I can’t remember the last time I visited a track.
Because I’m not the target market, my instinct was to bin the mailer. I’ve written previous copywriting case studies on direct mail packages and thought this would be an interesting one for the collection.
Let’s see how the writer is using different techniques to try and encourage the reader to read the mailing in full and take up the offer.
This style of headline is intended to arouse our curiosity, and imply that a common belief of ours is false. (For examples of these headline styles and other quick headline types you can swipe, click here.)
The reader is supposed to assume: “Why is the writer telling me this. Have they found something that disproves this?”
The risk with this particular headline is that the reader simply agrees with the statement and decides there’s no need to read further. The headline also doesn’t actively tell the reader to find out more about the subject, and telling your reader what to do next can be very powerful.
Let’s take the first few paragraphs. In a sales letter this is where you want to make a promise to your audience, and encourage them to read more about your offer. In this case, the writer uses the following copywriting techniques:
Offering his version of proof to contradict the headline:
Providing a shortcut:
And making an attractive promise:
Making it risk-free:
He also reveals HOW this is going to happen. In my opinion it’s provided too early in the sales letter and I did laugh when I read how I was going to make my fortune (which is a shame):
Then we have another promise:
The reason he provides, that he does but he wants to capitalise more on his hard work is understandable, but it is lacking in the WIIFM copywriting technique (What’s In It For Me?) The reader is faced with an offer from someone who is basically saying: I’m doing this because I’m rich but want to get richer.” But it is believable and might just work for his target market.
Here the writer starts explaining what is expected from the reader. This is much too soon. Already he’s talking about needing a £1,000 investment, and betting £40 at a time. We’re only halfway through the first page. At this stage I don’t know if I’m paying him £1,000 to bet with (I’m not) and so this could be a big turn-off to potential customers.
This is also where we learn a little more about what the offer is – picking up recorded tips from his website. For me, there’s too much that doesn’t make sense.
After explaining how we’re going to be picking up tips and betting, the writer now tells us we won’t be betting anything in the first month. So we can assume that we will be getting tips for free for a month and we just check to see how they are doing and track whether we would have won or lost had we placed bets.
I have to say, this is a compelling offer of a free-trial because if you do this, you get to see the results in advance, and can decide from there the value of the tips you’ll be receiving.
But because this is introduced quite quickly, I’m assuming that there must be a catch. There isn’t enough explained about the process of how this works, or who this person is and why I should trust their tips.
Now our writer tells us what to do. We need to set up a standing order. There is an enclosed slip to set up a standing order for £85. The standing order slip and the stamped envelope are a good idea to make it easy for the reader to take up the call to action. However, the sales letter doesn’t mention the price, and it doesn’t mention what I get for that £85.
I’m pretty sure I’m paying £85 to get monthly racing tips, but that is never actually stated.
There is also some mention of a starter letter. As a potential customer, it would be good to find out more about these things.
When making an offer, make it clear what your customer will be receiving, explain what will happen after they pay or register or sign up. Stripping away that mystery is a key part of building trust in your prospect.
However, what the writer is doing is explaining how the process works, but for me, it’s too brief and I’m not sure I fully understand the reason behind using £40.
The writer uses numbers and questions to catch the reader’s eye because it breaks the content up and makes it easy to read if you were scanning through the content quickly.
What I like about the questions is that it is qualifying the audience: do you have the time? Do you have the money? Would you like to make more money?
They’re simple and they may find someone who answers a resounding yes to all 3 questions. This is to reinforce the desire for the offer. After engaging the reader with the questions, the writer reinforces the call to action.
I was bemused by this letter. I’m definitely not the target market and the offer doesn’t appeal to me, but I do like picking up direct mail examples to study how others are using copywriting in their business.
My biggest suggestion for tweaks is to lengthen the letter. As a prospect I would want to see:
Funnily enough, the writer does have a website with more details about the science behind the system. He could have used content from this site to explain in his letter why his system works.
For the full letter, click on the images below:
Can you spot any other copywriting techniques? Are you sold on the system or what would you like to see to make this more compelling? Let me know in the comments below.
You're reading Direct Mail Copywriting Case Study: Selling Racing Tips which was orginally posted on: HarrisonAmy Copywriting. If you liked it, you might want to sign up to Fast Copy Fridays to get free copywriting tips each week.
Already in this series of Content Marketing… Stripped! We’ve looked at creating a customer profile, choosing topics for starter content, choosing the right tone of voice and setting content marketing goals.
This is all good and well but there’s such a thing as too much planning. As you can see in this week’s episode:
You might be familiar with a saying that goes something like this:
A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own
If we’re not talking about mistakes that kill, I’ll put my money on the guy willing to take action and learn from his own mistakes than a smart-arse sitting quietly watching everyone else muck up.
Yes it’s important to learn the content marketing basics. As with anything, you need enough to get going, but if you’ve watched the previous episodes and read through the blog posts, you already know enough to start creating content for your audience.
And that’s when you learn the most about what works for your business.
You will learn more by writing 10 blog posts, sharing them and monitoring feedback than trying to start by planning your first 5 months of marketing topics.
Planning alongside creating is great. Planning instead of creating, not great.
It feels productive to watch a webinar, read a case study and make notes. But unless you’re applying that to action you can use in your own business, it’s really not worth much.
It would be foolish to do everything by trial and error.
But instead of downloading one more report, if you’re getting overwhelmed with your content marketing strategy promise me you’ll try the following:
1 part learning, 1 part action
Learn on the job.
If you want to read about the perfect webinar, then make sure you’re planning your first webinar. If you’re reading about customer profiles, create your own customer profile as you go along.
Reading about headlines? Use the lessons straight away on your next blog post, or by posting an old blog post on Twitter and use a new headline style.
Learn, practice, learn, practice.
That way you get experience that no-one else can tell you.
You’ll know what your audience likes, you’ll know what headlines work with them, what triggers make them buy from you. There are reports, ideas and information that can tell you what is likely to happen, but only you, by doing, will learn what actually happens.
In the video, our adventurous heroine started by taking a common customer question and turning it into a blog post.
Do the same.
Does your website have content that covers the basics of what you do? If not, start there. Even if you don’t think that these will be earth-shattering topics to cover (to you) it will pay you dividends by:
How long do you think it will take you to write a quick, but useful post covering a basic customer question? 20 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour?
You will feel great for having created a piece of marketing content, you will feel less overwhelmed, and you can start using that content to let more people know about you and your business.
Woah! You’re still here? What are you doing? Get writing
You're reading CMS! Ep 8: How to Start Your Content Marketing which was orginally posted on: HarrisonAmy Copywriting. If you liked it, you might want to sign up to Fast Copy Fridays to get free copywriting tips each week.
Every now and then you’re just not in the mood to master copywriting principles, you just need something you can swipe quick and use in your own copy.
I hear ya.
So this morning I did some research (aka hanging out on Twitter) to grab a sample of headline styles that use different copywriting techniques to get the reader’s attention. Use this list to give you some quick inspiration for your own eye-catching headlines.
A powerful headline technique is to address the concerns and insecurities of your ideal customer. Carol Tice, the writer of this tweet, helps freelance writers make a better living.
So in this case, her readers will notice this because they worry about making mistakes and worry that those mistakes will jeopardise their businesses.
Think about the service you offer and the clients you serve. What worries them about solving their problem? If you teach social media marketing do your customers worry about making a fool of themselves online? If you teach nutrition and fitness do your customers worry about making mistakes that might lead to worse health or injuries?
This knowledge about your customer can lead you to write some very compelling headlines.
Some headlines are sturdy workhorses that never go out of fashion and one of those is the old “How-To” or “How Can You.”
Your ideal customer wants to learn, do, figure out or master something. What is it? Once you work this out you can write some engaging ”How-To” or “How Can You” headlines.
Bonus tip – if you can add something to make it even more specific to your audience, all the better. So “How to Get More Sales By Friday” is more powerful than “How to Get More Sales.
Well one reason is because…
People want to achieve a lot in a little time. We know there’s no real easy button, but that’s not going to stop us looking for it. That’s why headlines that promise shortcuts are popular.
So can you offer your readers tools or services that help them achieve what they want faster than they would otherwise? Let them know about it in your headline.
Curiosity is a natural trait alive and well in humans.
We’re motivated to find things out and make sense of the world around us. As a result, tempting your reader with something they might not know (but sounds interesting) can tickle that curiosity button enough to make them click your link and read your copy.
What kind of curiosity can you use with your readers or customers?
The number headline is not going away anytime soon. We read them, love them and share them and more importantly, number headlines are very eye-catching. So don’t shun them. Instead, remember that:
[Number]+[subject interesting to your customer]= eye-catching headline
I remember learning the word “prurient” for a school speaking event and thinking it sounded fantastic and posh.
It actually means: “Having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters” and there is a little bit in all of us.
As humans, we are interested in something a bit “naughty.” That’s not to say that you have to create lewd headlines, but if you ignore the fact that people do have an interest in “dirty little secrets” you’re missing great headline opportunities.
Sometimes the content alone is strong enough for a headline. Use this headline style if there have been important developments in your industry that would interest your readers (a new Google update for example).
A word of warning, make sure your ‘newsworthy’ headline is news to your customer. Winning an award for your business might be news to you, but sadly might not be as interesting to your customer. (If you have won an award though, go you! I’m rooting for ya).
I think the headline says it all…
I love these headline styles.
They’re irresistible and challenge your reader to try and imagine what the article, product or service could possibly be about.
What ways can you turn some of your customers’ common beliefs upside down?
Our first headline looked at our customer’s insecurities, and I’m bookending this list with a headline that appeals to the reader’s dreams as well as curiosity.
This headline align’s the reader’s self-image or desire to be a “successful person.” So they’re encouraged to click the link to find out if they’re already acting like a successful person, or if there are things they need to tweak in their routine.
Twitter is a great place to find headline inspiration. Have you used it this way before? Share your blog headlines below!
You're reading 10 Twitter Headline Styles Readers Love to Click which was orginally posted on: HarrisonAmy Copywriting. If you liked it, you might want to sign up to Fast Copy Fridays to get free copywriting tips each week.
At the recent Drupalcon conference, Karen McGrane gave an awesome keynote titled Thriving in a World of Change: Future-friendly content with Drupal. (Although I didn’t attend the conference, the talk and her slides are online.)
In her presentation, Karen emphasized the need to transform content management systems away from the “content goes here” type of blob to a CMS that separates content from format, one that allows users to embed metadata into their content and maintain the content in a clean, structured way so that it can be ported to another platform and re-used elsewhere.
Karen said that structured content helps future proof the content, so that when you need to get your content into audio interfaces, digital signs, billboards, internet refrigerators, touch screens, watches, Google Glass, smart TVs, or some other platform, you can get your content out. She writes:
Because future-friendly content requires true separation of content from presentation. We have to support too many different outputs for content to assume that we can couple content with presentation. Do you have any idea what a huge shift this is in the way we think about content? For most of human history, it was impossible to produce a document without considering meaning and appearance together. All of our semantic cues as to priority, weight, relationships in content come through visual styling. But now we need new tools, new processes to achieve that.
Personally, I talk all the time about the limitations of what I call blobs, of giving content creators a big bucket into which they can dump whatever they want, style their content with tools that work “just like Microsoft Word,” add tables and custom bullets and make the text purple Comic Sans and float it to the right. Blobs are limiting, because all of this formatting, all of this meaning doesn’t translate when you try to take it to another platform.
She calls for “new tools, new processes” to embed “semantic cues” into CMS content. Although the reuse examples mostly point to getting the content onto different platforms, I think there’s also a strong case for dynamic repurposing on the same web platform.
Many times we build a table of contents for our content, following the same methodology as a printed book, and leave it at that, forcing every reader, for nearly every situation, to follow the same rigid organization through the content.
The web liberates us from the constraints of the physical world. Content doesn’t have to be in one place at one time. The chair or bed you’re probably sitting on can only exist in one place at one time, but your web content can exist in multiple places simultaneously.
Through metadata, you tag your content with terms from your taxonomy that describe the content’s purpose. You might have half a dozen vocabularies, some describing the content by its subject, others by function/task, others by audience, by subject, by format, by framework, by API platform, by component, and so on. You can then manipulate the metadata into myriad organizations to suit different purposes. The rules of your CMS govern where the content appears. The metadata can be exposed as facets in search results to determine how results get progressively narrowed.
Further, you can build sophisticated filters that combine the metadata in various ways. Say you want to find all content that fits the ACME API (a tool) and is used for configuring widgets (a function) and which suits a developer audience (a persona). Voila, either through a selection of faceted filters or pre-built queries, you can return this information to the audience immediately and dynamically.
In my opinion, liberating content from a static, single position in a table of contents is probably the most relevant, immediate benefit of moving content to the web. But until we start enriching our content with metadata and semantic cues, we can’t push or pull it in interesting ways.
That’s why I’m so floored about Drupal lately. I’ve never had a tool at my disposal that allows me to do all of this.
I also think the clean, structured content model that Karen describes is essential for building a sane authoring to publishing process. When you’re developing content, you’re often working collaboratively with other authors. You also have subject matter experts (SMEs) review and add/edit content as well. You may go through countless revisions, edits, and other updates to your content before it’s ready to publish to the user. Trying to do all of that content development in a simple wysiwyg box in a web CMS is a recipe for frustration.
Instead, I think it’s more practical to develop content in a wiki-like environment, and then port that content into a web CMS when ready. How do you connect content from one system to another in a seamless way? If all you have are content blobs, which get hopelessly polluted by rich text editors that insert their own inline formatting code, or which trap their content into a non-portable format, you end up with a huge headache. For example, ever try converting a Google doc to HTML and then put it into Drupal? It sucks. Or try taking content out of Confluence and putting it into Drupal? Also not ideal.
The CMS should store content in a clean format that doesn’t infuse formatting elements with the content. When you’re ready to move it to another system, the structure should be processable by the other system in a seamless way. Export from one system, import into another, and so on. You can’t do that without a common structure to your content, or without tools to connect one system to another.
I’m working on some slides for an upcoming presentation and wanted to post them here because they encapsulate a lot of my thoughts about organizing help content and findability. Let me know if you have feedback. I tried to create the slides as a storybook.
One challenge I’ve recently been considering is how to handle content re-use on a web content management system, such as Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, or some other web platform. Let’s say you’re writing about ACME widgets and have three different audiences: ACME developers, ACME sales people, and ACME administrators. All your help content is hosted on the same web platform.
In this scenario, you have a lot of different information, much of it overlapping. For example, with your ACME widgets, you have some conceptual info, some strategic info, some configuration info, some management info, some API info, and some server info — all related to the ACME widgets.
The sales people need the conceptual and strategic info but don’t want to be burdened by the configuration, management, API, or server info.
The developers mostly need the API info and server info, though they do need some light familiarity with the conceptual info as well. They don’t need the strategic info since the developers implement the spec from another team that formulates the strategy.
The administrators need the configuration and management info but not a whole lot of other info.
If you were working in a help authoring tool (HAT) or another model, you could create all your content as standalone topics and then produce three distinct outputs — one for each audience. Your developer guide could include the API and server info while providing light conceptual topics as well. Your sales guide could walk through the conceptual and strategic components while omitting the more technical content of the other guides, and so on.
The model of distinct outputs for distinct audiences is a model many technical writers are familiar with. It works because the information sets are walled off from each other in clearly separable ways — the help for the developer opens in its own web view and navigation. Search results are restricted to that web help file only.
But rather than publishing independent, standalone outputs, in this scenario you’re using a web platform for all your help content. It would be odd to have multiple instances of the web platform. For example, you wouldn’t have one Drupal instance for developers, one Drupal instance for salespeople, and one Drupal instance for administrators. You could technically do it, of course, but managing all those separate web platforms would be a headache. Instead, you have one web platform for all your content.
How do you re-use content intelligently on the same web CMS platform?
You could store the topics in a re-usable format outside the web platform and then push out the topics multiple times, sometimes including the topic in the information’s table of contents (TOC) and sometimes not.
However, having multiple versions of the same topic appear in different places on the same site gets confusing. Your search results would show redundant instances of the same topic, and the overall content on your site would perhaps double or triple in size. The user browsing around the various pages would see a lot more content, much of it the same but repeated. So this approach seems odd and inefficient.
You could write each topic as its own article and then pull the same topic into different content TOCs. For example, if you have a “Configuring Widgets” topic relevant to both administrators and developers, you could create one article about Configuring Widgets and put the same topic in both TOCs — in both the TOC for developers and the TOC for administrators.
The question is what TOC shows when you view the topic? You can’t have multiple TOCs appear, so viewing the topic would potentially decontextualize the user from the TOC he or she was previously navigating.
You could create each topic as its own article but tag the content with keywords such as configuration, sales, API, management, and so on. Users could navigate by tag and see all the topic results that have that tag. Clicking on the “ACME widget development” tag might include the server, API, and configuration topics. Even more granular tags inside of these tag buckets could allow users to further filter the information they see.
Although the same topic might include multiple tags and so appear in multiple views, this filtering of content is more familiar to readers as they would probably know that one topic can have more than one tag.
The problem with a tag-based navigation is that you lose the hierarchy of a TOC. All files become a flat, unordered list of topics. The lack of hierarchy makes it more difficult to understand the meaning and structure of the information at a glance.
In this approach, you pretty much abandon the TOC and instead provide a search field only. Vimeo’s help looks like this. The search provides instant results that take you to a specific topic, but the topics aren’t organized into different navigation TOCs and such. The book paradigm seems far left behind here.
The problem is that users can find only what they know to find. The search helps answer a question but not teach users what’s possible. There isn’t a logical path through the content to help users learn a new system. Instead, there are lots of disconnected, floating answers. There’s no clear progression to follow through the content, so it gets tiring.
Which approach do you use? I’m not sure, but here’s my point: On the web, the traditional paradigm of navigation via a table of contents breaks down. So do traditional tech comm patterns for content re-use. We have to consider new paradigms for how we organize content when we put all content on the same web platform. Companies that try to impose the book paradigm into the web end up with a content mess.
What do you think? What approach would you use?
5/22 update: This post generated a lot of controversy, and I believe part of the controversy could have been avoided if I had articulated my ideas better. I’ve gone through and updated parts of this post by adding notes. My additions appear in green.
5/22 note: The previous title was “Structured Authoring Versus the Web”. However, of course the web uses structured authoring. Every web form in this post — the title, body, category, tag, date, featured post — are all forms that take their input and semantically identify the content. My original contention was the highly structured DITA format that is geared for content re-use and conditionalization. Hence the title change.
I recently listened to the Scriptorium webinar on the State of Tech Comm, which I found well-worth my time. One theme I keep hearing is a trend toward structured authoring. In Scott Abel‘s benchmarking survey (which the webinar uses as a starting point), Scott found that 44% of companies are using structured XML content, with 81% of those companies using DITA for their structure.
Clearly structured authoring is a trend with a lot of momentum. At the same time, structured authoring doesn’t seem to include a website format. Mark Baker noted this absence of a website output in a discussion the other week. He said,
The thing is, at the moment, there are no structured authoring systems for the Web. DocBook was designed for book. DITA was developed for help systems. Both output to the Web, but they don’t produce Web-like output. In fact, their output looks pretty much the same as the output from FrameMaker.
We have lots of unstructured platforms for the Web, but no structured platform. This is why I am developing SPFE — to be a structured writing architecture for the Web, and for EPPO.
Although structured authoring is no doubt a major trend in help, an even larger trend is the move toward the web. Given my love of the web and web-based platforms for authoring, I’m a little mixed about structured authoring methods like DITA. I wish structured authoring were more compatible with a web paradigm. In fact, I think the next evolution of structured authoring will involve a stronger integration with web platforms.
In this post, I’ll pit structured authoring against the web and let the two go boxing for a while.
5/22 update: Note that when I say “web”, I’m not referring to the tripane help or CHM help or HTML help that is formatted with HTML and published onto a website. I’m referring to an actual website, like the one you’re reading now, or something like A List Apart or some other content heavy online site with comments, online content management, usually a database backend, tags, custom design, and more web-like features. Almost all tripane help (like this one) is contained in its own little frame that combines the content inseparably from its output format.
First, a brief definition of structured authoring. Structured authoring involves applying a consistent pattern to your content, such as always following a specific sequence of tags.
Most structured authoring models use XML to define these tags. The tags are semantic in nature and don’t include any formatting themselves. Instead, you use a transform language (XSLT) to apply formatting rules based on those tags. DITA, S1000D, and Docbook are all examples of structured authoring.
For a great explanation of structured authoring, see this white paper on Structured Authoring and XML from Scriptorium.
5/22 update: There are lots of varieties of structured authoring. In this post I’m referring mostly to DITA, not to all semantic tagging of content, HTML5, or some other markup. In tech comm communities, structured authoring usually refers to formatting content in a specific markup that is validated against a DTD before rendering it into an output. Of course there’s lots of structure on the web and the web wouldn’t be useful without structure. But does it make sense to use the DITA structure in publishing to a website? That’s my real question here.
Structured authoring gives you several advantages:
By removing formatting tags from your content, you liberate your content to go into more places. You can output to an infinite variety of formats based on whatever transformation engines you can apply to your semantic tags.
In Meaning and Metadata, David Farbey relays Karen McGrane’s advice in writing for mobile:
Don’t encode meaning in visual styling
In other words, don’t use a WYSIWYG editor to apply inline styling to your content. Most people agree that if you want to repurpose your content in more than one way, you need to separate the content from the visual display. Structured XML provides this separation of content from format.
Let’s say you write Topic A and want to re-use the same topic in another output. You can create various maps (or tables of contents) that have different combinations of the content. You might create a map that includes only beginner topics, or one that’s more comprehensive for administrators.
Your product might have various versions, with some topics applying to some versions but not others. By writing in small topics that can be combined in myriad ways, you have more flexibility for output combinations.
The reason these small topics are interchangeable is because they all have the same syntactically tagged structure and can be parsed predictably by the XSLT language.
If you need to translate your content, you’ll need to have it in an XML format that a translation memory system can handle. XML formats make this export-and-import workflow a sane process to manage.
If you acquire another company, you can easily integrate their documentation into your own, with your own branding and formatting, as long as their content (and your content) both use an XML format. When writers store content in XML, it can be exchanged and re-used more easily.
DITA was created by IBM in part to solve the problem of mergers and acquisitions that a large company like IBM regularly engages in.
Structured content follows a predictable format that makes authoring easier. When readers can predict the format, it aids comprehension more quickly. It also reduces the number of decisions technical writers must make as they author content. The recipe model is often cited as an example here.
Clearly structured authoring has a lot of advantages with content.
However, structured content has a hard time finding its way onto the web. Here are a few advantages of adopting a web platform for your help.
Separating content from format has both advantages and disadvantages. Although you free the content to be output to any format, you also suddenly have a challenge now to define the XSLT rules behind that content transformation.
The PDF output from DITA is notoriously plain, and the web help HTML output is not usable by itself. You either need to hire a programmer to create your output for you, or you need to pass the output into another tool, like Flare, to transform your online output.
With many tech writing teams constrained with small budgets and few resources, hiring a dedicated publishing engineer to handle the transforms, or contracting out the work at a high cost, really isn’t a practical solution.
Many web platforms already have a lot of attractive themes that writers can quickly leverage for a professional looking output. It’s tempting to just adopt one of these web-based themes for help instead of defining one from scratch.
One might think structured content leads to a better mobile workflow, since you can output content with a specific mobile view. The problem is that this model supposes that you should have a separate mobile output at all.
In contrast, responsive web design allows you to apply different stylesheets to the same content. The CSS3 style tags can be defined based on the viewport size of the user’s browser. Just add div tags with unique IDs to your heart’s content, and then you can style that content in different ways.
For example, this website has a mobile element to it. View it on your mobile device (or shrink the browser to a mobile-like size) and voila, the content responds to your device and still looks readable. You don’t need to go to a separate site that has a separate output with a mobile transformation. There’s just one source.
While you can generate a mobile output from structured content, you often end up with two different sites — one for mobile viewers and one for regular viewers. The problem is that you can’t determine what sort of device a person will use to arrive at your site — smartphone, tablet, or computer. Therefore you can’t always route people toward different sites, and even if you could, users often don’t want a different version of the content. They want the full content.
It’s possible to use structured content to generate a single responsive output for both desktop and mobile, but then what’s the point of the multichannel output that structured authoring yields?
When people talk about the benefits of structured authoring, they often talk about the various outputs, saying you can output to desktop, mobile, PDF, Kindle, ePUB, and more.
But if you break down these options, very few help manuals need to be published to Kindle and ePUB. In most cases, a mobile view and a desktop would probably be just fine. What about PDF?
I don’t offer a PDF output because I don’t want users printing off help content. The last time I created long manuals, users would show them to me and not realize they were outdated. Users don’t often know that help changes quickly.
In agile environments, help material potentially changes every two weeks. By giving users a PDF to print, you set up a situation for user frustration. As users follow the outdated manual and realize the steps are “inaccurate”, they’ll complain and your help will lose credibility. Better to maintain one source that is always up-to-date and online.
I think the PDF form is dying precisely because it doesn’t keep pace with agile environments. Information changes too rapidly to hold any kind of lasting permanence through print. As an example, go to your local library and peruse the computer books section. Most of the books are new but at the same time outdated. You get the sense that the information is no longer the most current.
In cases where you really need to provide a PDF, you might be better off creating a quick reference guide that is an abbreviated (for example, 2-5 page) version of the help content, written in an introductory, condensed way. You could try single sourcing that quick reference guide, but it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth (compressing 200 pages into 2 pages requires a different style of writing — one that is much more compressed).
Additionally, you can add a print stylesheet to your web pages. The print stylesheet usually strips off the navigation and any other web frames to provide the content only. You can also usually pull multiple pages into one printable view. For users who want to print content, this web printing capability might be just fine.
If all your help material is available on a single website, you have less of a need for content re-use. On a single web platform, there are different navigation options (tables of contents) based on different needs. And if one section needs the same information from another section, you simply link to the other section.
You don’t generate a beginning and advanced guide on the same web platform, repeating topics across the site — doing so would add a lot of confusion with search results, in addition to unnecessarily bulking up the documentation. For more on content re-use on a website, see What Does Content Re-Use Look Like in a Web CMS?
The one-platform-for-all-content model has some unique advantages. If users want to search for a term, the search looks at all content. You avoid the siloed situations that often result in No Results Found scenarios.
Additionally, all your content automatically inherits any change you make to your platform, so you don’t have to regenerate 20 outputs when you make an update (to something like your copyright notice).
For more discussion on this topic, see Two Competing Help Models: One Stop Shopping or Specialized Stores.
If I had to support different versions of the same software, I could see more of a business case for content re-use. However, in the software as a service model (SaaS), your platform is generally in the cloud, so users generally don’t have different versions of the software. You don’t have to push updates and hope people upgrade (like Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10). We don’t really live in that kind of world anymore.
Now software companies update their platform on a regular basis, and all companies who are subscribed to that service get the update automatically (because they didn’t download anything from the start). As such, the whole idea of versions is diminishing.
In the most radical example, Adobe recently announced that they are moving toward a cloud solution with the Creative Suite. Imagine the cheers from the tech comm department when this announcement was made. This means tech writers won’t have to support different versions of the Creative Suite going forward. There’s just one version — it lives in the cloud.
5/22 update: Okay, I overstated this a bit. Drupal, Atlassian JIRA, and other platforms do often have multiple versions simultaneously. This is because the latest version often changes dramatically from the previous version, which requires customers to revamp their hooks or other integration details. As a result, the companies can’t force all customers to upgrade to the latest version.
Some authors like how structured content enforces a specific form and pattern to help content. In a recent exchange on my blog, I compared this model to a straightjacket, while Mark Baker responded that it’s more like a tailored dinner jacket.
In a paradigm of “content first,” it seems like we should be writing in forms that fit the content. How many people have protested the designer’s use of lipsum dolor because it presents dummy content wrapped in a prepackaged structure, which may or may not fit the content?
But in the end, how is this dummy content on a web page mockup different from a help format that prescribes a similar pattern of sections?
At any rate, a simple style guide can help create consistency. You don’t have to enforce that consistency with an Document Type Definition (DTD) that prevents anyone from publishing unless they conform to the definition. Let’s lighten up, people.
I like to find a natural shape for content rather than restricting myself from the start with a general shape that doesn’t always work.
One thing I have learned recently is that my presence in any company is ultimately temporary. Whether I’m there 2 years or 5 years, one day I’ll be gone. And usually I transition from department to department, project to project with a lot more frequency. What happens if I write content in a structured format? Will the product managers and other subject matter experts (SMEs) be able to pick up where I left off to continue authoring?
As far as I can tell, all the help in my Flare files at my previous job remain untouched. I check the help sites every now and then to see if perhaps someone has cracked the code and figured out how to update the help. They haven’t. How I wish I’d simply kept the Mediawiki format as before, since it enabled so much better collaboration.
With so much information to know, it’s more important to collaborate with other SMEs. I want a format where all users can contribute and take some ownership. The idea of having a process or tool so specialized that only a technical writer with a special skill set can contribute leads to the same single-author paradigm that creates myopic help. I once wrote about this syndrome in Why Help Authoring Tools Will Fade.
In contrast, with a web-based platform, you enable collaboration. You distribute and share content ownership. This point alone about collaboration is worth adopting a web model for authoring and publishing.
Perhaps my final qualm with structured authoring is that it seems so offline. The direction of the web seems to be moving toward a more sophisticated in-the-browser experience, where you read and write directly in the browser.
Granted, authoring in a browser’s rich text editor kind of sucks, but If I had to compile my blog posts and render them out to an output and then upload the content to a web host every time I wanted to make an update, I wouldn’t make too many updates. You shouldn’t have to author outside the browser to publish on the web.
There are many web technologies that empower us to go beyond the old model to achieve so much more. If we’re on the web, we can take advantage of these technologies in a much easier way.
5/22 update: See Moving Beyond the TOC in Organizing Help Content for more info on the need for faceted browsing.
In contrast, a structured authoring model makes it much more challenging. Trying to continually port your structured content into a web-based platform for publishing seems kind of cumbersome. You can do it, probably, but not without some custom scripts. And then you run into other issues, such as how you overwrite an existing pages without removing its revision history, comments, location, tags, and so on.
The web wasn’t built with a model that involves continually deleting and republishing the same pages. Instead, many web platforms are built on a database model of dynamically pulling out the content you want and rendering it in a view. This is still a separation of content from format.
For example, I changed out my entire theme last week (from Canvas to Twentytwelve), and was able to do so in a few hours because the content is stored in a database while the theme files live in a separate file directory. And I didn’t need to hire a team of programmers to do it. The web simply makes it easy to publish and distribute information.
It amazes me to think that with all the web advancements, the 25,000 plugins created for WordPress alone, there has yet to be someone who has created a DITA microformat plugin for WordPress, or for Joomla, Drupal, any other web-based CMS (by DITA plugin, I mean a plugin that alters the authoring form, not an import plugin).
Is structured authoring so far from the concerns of any web designer and developer that no one has bothered to code such a plugin? Why don’t designers and developers seem to care much about structured content? Invariably structured content seems a concern of the technical writer only. Why is that?
I don’t want to come across as being against structured authoring. As I mentioned in the introduction, clearly structured authoring is a trend many companies are following. However, structured authoring has a few challenges before it can live in a web environment. In this post, I mentioned a few trends that I think pose challenges to structured authoring:
I would readily welcome a marriage between structured authoring and the web, and I’m glad to see pioneers like Mark Baker attempt to harmonize the two with his SPFE architecture. Already some DITA vendors are starting to integrate DITA authoring in web environments. See this promising Alfresco integration from Componize.
If DITA and other structured authoring forms want to keep pace with the web, they’ll probably follow a similar pattern as Componize. Hopefully at some point, the web CMS will eventually stand alone, with DITA perhaps running the engine but not showing itself to the user. But until then, one almost has to choose sides: structured authoring, or the web?
May 17 Update: For some other perspectives, see Sarah O’Keefe’s Structured Authoring AND the Web, Mark Baker’s Structured Writing FOR the Web, and this summary from Techwhirl: Can Structured Authoring and Web Content Delivery Co-exist?
In my previous post, Do Short Topics Make Information More Findable, I argued that shorter topics make it more difficult for users to find information. I ended the post by saying that topics that are more substantial make content more findable.
But how big should the topics be? Obviously not the length of a book, because that switches us right back into the book paradigm.
There’s probably not an exact way to determine topic length, because so much depends on the context of the information and the task at hand. But basically, a good topic answers a good question.
What’s a good question? Questions can scale to a low or high order, being very specific and mundane to being abstract and conceptual. A one-sentence topic might provide the answer to a question (e.g., How many feet are in a yard?), while a 300-page dissertation might provide the answer to another question (e.g., What was Chaucer’s influence on the Renaissance?).
In other words, you could construct the question so that it scales for any length of topic.
However, if you can construct an intriguing question (or at least a relevant question within the user’s business scenario), that question merits enough information for a good-sized topic.
The following table lists some good questions versus lower-order questions in what might be a help file for an SDK.
|Good Questions||Lower-Order Question|
|How can I get started with the SDK?||What does SDK stand for?|
|What kind of information can I access through the SDK?||What is the user list property that the SDK returns?|
|How do I make calls with the SDK?||What arguments does the constructor accept?|
|What methods are available to use?||What information gets returned when there isn’t data?|
|How do I troubleshoot errors with the SDK?||What does error msg 4555 mean?|
|What kinds of outputs can I use the SDK to generate?||Can I create a list of users via the SDK?|
|How do you include the SDK library?||Where should the library be included in the page’s code?|
|What are some best practices to make the calls perform faster?||Can I use local storage to cache the library and increase performance?|
The lower-order questions all lead to a quick one paragraph response. On the other hand, the “good” questions will require more detail.
Granted, not every system merits longer topics. For example, if you have an encyclopedia of birds, each entry is probably a bird description in your TOC. But for most help topics I’ve written, I think a good sized topic is usually around 500 to 1,500 words, with exceptions.
Why 1,500? In an earlier post I wrote, Making Help Content Enjoyable to Read — Impossible Question?, I noted that Clive Thompson of Wired magazine says the most popular blog articles are about 1,600 words in length (see “Clive Thompson on How Tweets and Texts Nurture In-Depth Analysis”). 1,600 words is about a seven-page double-spaced essay. Granted, that’s probably not a help article, but it bucks the idea that each web page should be short little snippets of thought.
Length alone isn’t much of an argument. So why do longer topics make content more findable? Here are several reasons.
First, the obvious argument. If a user searches the help, there are fewer results to sort through if the topics are lengthier. For example, if you don’t present the user with 37 hits for “widgets”, it’s more likely that the user will open (perhaps among 5 choices) the right search result containing the answer.
If users don’t find anything via search, they can browse the table of contents (TOC). Longer topics mean fewer TOC entries to browse through. The TOC that was once impossible to parse through is now something that users can glance at and get some meaning from.
Now for the insightful, compelling reason why long topics are better. Information that is grouped together increases the inter-relatedness of information, helping users see the larger picture about a topic they’re interested in.
For example, If you have 10 separate topics about widgets, the user may land on “adding widgets” and find a quick answer but not realize that he or she can also “fork widgets” or perhaps “decompile widgets.”
By grouping related information about widgets together, you increase the chances that users will broaden their understanding of a concept and leave with more knowledge than they arrived.
In short, browsing through a long page of content helps users discover what they don’t know.
Almost every grocery store uses the tactic of the long page. You arrive at a grocery store for milk, eggs, and bread. Almost always, the grocery store puts those items in the back of the store, forcing you to visually “sort through” all the other goods in the store. By the time you make it to the mlik section and then to the checkout counter, you’ve picked up a box of cookies, some lunchmeat, and some macaroni that was on sale.
Long topics create the add-on learning for your users. The user who just had a quick answer about hummingbird wingbeat speed suddenly learns that some hummingbirds weigh less than a penny, can live up to a decade, and are the only bird that can fly backwards. If all of that information had been separated out into discrete topics, the user would have probably walked away with the wingbeat speed answer only.
Try this experiment yourself. Click the following two images and check out the difference in content. The topic on the left, from Askville.com, is a short paragraph only, while the Wikipedia article on the right is quite a bit longer.
While the Askville page gives you a specific answer, the Wikipedia page gives you information that you didn’t even know to ask. Which approach to you prefer?
In summary, even if long topics don’t deliver information faster to the user, they’re a better practice because they help the user learn more through a tighter grouping of information.
I have a few other points to make about advantages with long topics — they are much more maintainable. If you have thousands of discrete topics in your system, not tightly connected together, maintaining the information as a coherent whole when you need to make updates becomes a nightmare.
For example, let’s say you have 20 topics about hummingbirds. Your subject matter experts push out new findings that change some aspects of our hummingbird knowledge. Now you have to hunt and peck around your help system for all the various topics that touch on hummingbirds. If the information were grouped together, you can more easily see the places you have to update.
So that my advice isn’t misconstrued, I’m not suggesting that every technical writer suddenly start creating long walls of text.
A page of long text needs to be broken up by subheadings, graphics, lists, and white space. A great reference for designing the visual aspects of a page (not necessarily adding graphics, but influencing the visual nonetheless) is Visual Composing: Document Design for Print and Digital Media.
Although I like longer topics, there’s a practical limit to a topic’s length. When I’ve gone over 2,000 words with my blog posts, I’ve noticed that the comment count plummets. The web form doesn’t work well with really long content. That’s why I actually broke this post and its predecessor into two parts.
While blogging and tech comm are separate genres, the predominance of blogs on the web has set a trend for expected article length and attention span online. A good editorial is usually about 800 words for a reason. Just as a Windows PC has trouble moving around information more than 2GB, our brains also have trouble working in 2GB topics. Shorter is cognitively easier to handle. But not too short.
A Guest Post by Diana Nadin
I mentioned at the beginning that studying by distance learning can be a bit lonely. So it helps if the college has a thriving student community where you can chat to others, share opinions – and hopefully successes. Also essential is a Student Services team who can be contacted quickly if you need help with admin or have a problem with your tutor – and yes, even the best college can team you up with a tutor that’s not right for you. If the college cares, they’ll be quick to find you a different tutor with whom you can build up a better rapport if you are not happy with the way your studies are going
About the Author
Diana Nadin has been Director of Studies at the Writers Bureau (www.writersbureau.com) since it was launched over 20 years ago. She ensures that the courses are kept up-to-date; tutors provide helpful feedback to students and any questions you might ask are answered promptly and fully. You can read her weekly blog at www.writersbureau.com/blog
The following promotional release landed in my inbox and looks like a great match for Inkthinker readers. Enjoy! -kk
Available at your local bookstore or online through indiebound.org, Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, other on-line booksellers, www.redbirdstudio.com or ask your local library. Published in print and ebook editions.
Inspires and instructs. Includes coaching on:
• what it takes to be a writer
• techniques for writing fact and fiction
• bringing real and imagined characters to life • organizing thoughts and material
• mastering point of view
• writing “from the inside”
• the “get and give” of critiques
• how to get happily published
• and much more
What they say:
“… a combination of tough-love coaching and humor that inspires and shows you how to become the writer you want to be”
~ Elfrieda Abbe, Publisher – The Writer magazine
“Encouraging, humorous, straight-talking. Shut Up & Write! is one of the best books I’ve read on writing.”
~ Shauna Singh Baldwin. Author of English Lessons. What the Body Remembers, The Tiger Claw, and We Are Not in Pakistan.
“Shut Up & Write! is one of those rare volumes that truly does it all. In addition to being a practical “how-to” guide, the book provides priceless advice on the care and feeding of the Inner Writer. Laced with wit and common sense, Judy Bridges serves as her own best example of what excellent writing can be.”
~ Marilyn L. Taylor, Poet Laureate, State of Wisconsin
“Judy Bridges is a driving force behind the many writers she has helped. If you want to write, do yourself a favor, buy this book and follow her advice. You will not only write, you will succeed.”
~ John Lehman, Founder of Rosebud Magazine and literary editor of Wisconsin People & Ideas
Judy Bridges is one of the few people who can say, “Shut Up and Write!” in a way that makes you smile. A renowned mentor and coach, she earned her living as a writer before founding Redbird writing center in Milwaukee, WI, where she taught (and learned from) over 6,000 aspiring and accomplished writers of all ages. She shares her wisdom with a no-nonsense, humorous voice that makes writing accessible and reading her book a joy.
There are still spaces available in this coming Saturday’s seminar “Say What? Writing Better Dialogue by Thinking Dramatically” with playwright Enrique Urueta. This seminar is for fiction writers, creative nonfiction writers, playwrights, screenwriters, anybody whose dialogue could use improvement. Whether you write fiction or drama, your ability to capture a reader’s attention and drive your story forward depends heavily on dialogue. But what makes good dialogue? How does dialogue drive a narrative? And how will thinking dramatically improve your writing? We’ll discuss what makes good dialogue work and practice a variety of exercises that will hone your ability to craft believable and effective dialogue. 9am-1pm, $55 members, $60 non-members. Register online or come by during open hours. See our website for details:
And the seminar will be followed at 2pm by a FREE discussion with Enrique Urueta:
“Does This Play Make my Brown Look Gay? Writing at the Intersection of Race and Sexuality”
Playwright Enrique Urueta discusses his experience writing in the context of race and sexuality. His award-winning plays Learn to Be Latina, The Danger of Bleeding Brown, and Forever Never Comes have been presented across the country. Free and open to the public.
WriterHouse is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and is partially supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
A Guest Post by David Sumner
Freelancers are typically over-worked and yet despite our best efforts in keeping on top of everything, those deadlines advance relentlessly. Deadlines can spur us onto bigger and better things or they can become our worst nightmares and cause a burnout. There are many things that can waylay your project timetable, some pleasant, some not so pleasant, such as distractions at home to handling the legitimate concerns of your customers.
In this economic climate you won’t have the luxury to work on one project at a time, so how can you ensure you will maintain productivity, cut down on these distractions and bring all projects to a successful conclusion? Here are my favorite tactics of mine that can help minimize distractions and ensure that your working relationship with the client runs as smoothly as possible.
Tip 1: Prioritize
If you are struggling to juggle enquiries from clients then you need to prioritize the concerns of some projects over others. Does one project require more technical skills or does another project come from a long-term valued customer with whom you have worked many times? These are the questions you will have to ask yourself.
Tip 2: Learn to say no
Sometimes a client will demand the impossible from you at the drop of a hat and expect you to carry out extra tasks simply because they are footing the bill. This is lethal to your deadlines. All aspects of the job need to be agreed on in advance in order for you to prepare the right materials and allocate the necessary work time. Thus, extra caveats and wishes from the client must mean either a rise in payment or a lengthening of the deadline; otherwise they must be diplomatically refused.
Tip 3: Communicate
To avoid misunderstandings and issues that will inevitably arise on a project, you must maintain open and fluid channels of communication with your clients. Creating milestones for the project means that the customer can follow your progress at every step and create ample opportunities to review the status of the project. This will reduce the number of anxious yet distractive phone calls and emails from clients.
Tip 4: Create an effective working schedule
Notify your clients that they must relay their questions and concerns to you via email or twitter. You can therefore assign a window in your daily schedule to check these messages, filter, prioritize and resolve them. This is preferable to simply leaving your Skype account open to face questions from clients all throughout the working day. This also simplifies the communication process for clients living in different time zones.
Tip 5: Maintain creativity and efficiency
We all experience a block in our creativity sometimes and for freelancers who are working to a tight deadline this could be potentially fatal to your projects. To avoid this happening you need to identify the problem as soon as it starts, because when you are stressed and overworked your work will suffer. When a block occurs, switch off and reconnect with your passion for the work. Plus, freelancing allows you to work flexible hours therefore if working in the afternoon or on weekends is your preference, you’re the boss.
These are just a few tips to help you meet your deadlines. Be careful of the projects you take for whilst there may be sense in opting for the long-term and extensive projects that pay more, the financial advantages need to be calculated against your own working sanity. After all you opted for the freelancing life to ensure that you could enjoy more of your down-time, not work the same 9-5 working schedule as before.
About the Author
A few weeks ago, I announced that I’d added four new products to the consulting start-up course and library: Become a Consultant. Well, due to strong demand, I’ve decided to bundle some of these products with my most popular books too.
Now, when you order Consulting Fees, you’ll also receive my special audiocast on The Three Things You *MUST* Do Before You Can Move to Solution-based Fees. You can play it back in any standard MP3 player, iPod or even your smartphone.
And when you order Discover Your Inner Consultant, you’ll receive a special package designed to help you manage your online reputation:
Special Offer: 20% off till October 20th!
Order by October 20th, 2011, and you’ll receive 20% off your entire order. That’s right – even if you order the consulting course.
So, avoid disappointment – buy before end of day on October 20th to get 20% off. Just put code october11 in the discount box when you place your order.
The second annual Words & Wine event, to benefit WriterHouse, will be held on October 23, 1-4pm, at Keswick Vineyards. Admission ($30 per person or $50 per couple) includes wine tasting, complimentary wine glass, light hors d’oeuvres, and one raffle ticket. Can’t attend the event? Raffle tickets are available for $5 each or 5 for $20. You need not be present to win. Writer House – 508 Dale Avenue, Charlottesville, VA / www.writerhouse.org / 434-296-1922
Consultant business plan template – Are you searching for a consultant business plan template because you’re interested in becoming a consultant?
If so, then you’ve come to the right place. Not only does Consultant Journal have excellent consultant business plan template resources, but we also have over 900 valuable articles that explain every aspect of becoming a consultant, from consultant finance to marketing your consultancy.
If you are working on a consultant business plan template you are taking the right approach to your business. Writing a consultant business plan is key because the act of putting your business plan together motivates you to plan for a successful business and to iron out a lot of kinks in advance.
Have you found a consultant business plan template that works for you? If not, check out these resources for compiling your consultant business plan:
How to start a consulting company – Outlines the main steps to starting a consulting business, including writing a business plan
Government funded small business loans – If your consultant business plan template includes a lot of financial detail, this article will help you navigate government-funded loans
Consulting business plan template – Outlines the main sections that you should have in your consultant business plan
Sample consulting business plan – Outlines elements of a strong consultant business plan, including an executive summary, business overview, confidentiality and outline of risk, financial plan, industry overview, marketing strategy and other important elements of a consultant business plan
Are you looking for a comprehensive consultant business plan template? In order to help fast-track the completion of your consultant business plan and to make sure that you use accurate numbers, check out our guides, workbooks and courses in the Consultant Journal store, including the invaluable guide on consulting fees: Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.
How many times have you been away from the office and come back to a missed opportunity unread in your email inbox? A last-minute request for a media interview that would have garnered national media attention? A spur of the moment invitation for drinks with a coveted client-to-be? Today, most invitations and requests come in via email or other online channels.
Turning missed opportunities into opportunities that you can act upon can mean the difference between staying at the status quo versus making more money. With a smart phone always at your fingertips, you’ll never miss another big opportunity due to being away from your email.
If you’re exercising one of the biggest perks of being a consultant–flexibility–it might mean you’re out during the day running children to swimming lessons, traveling to a seminar or picking up supplies for your business.
With a smart phone, you can turn otherwise frustrating times–waiting in the airport, waiting in the car to pick up a child from school, or other lost working times—into working hours. Answer client emails, communicate with sub-contractors, check status reports and perform other important tasks–all from your smart phone.
And more working hours means more money.
If disaster is piling up in your inbox, for example, if your website’s online shopping cart has been hacked or if a client is having an emergency, you can receive notifications in your pocket from your smart phone no matter where you are. Nip problems in the bud by checking your email frequently throughout the day. Catch problems from your smart phone before they become disasters and you’ll make more money.
As a new consultant, it can be difficult to determine where to spend and where to scrimp and save. For example, should you rent office space or work from home? Should you create your own business cards or have them professionally made? Land line or cell phone line? Smart phone or not? All of these business decisions are important, and balance is key when it comes to saving and spending in the right areas of your business.
In today’s business world, smart phones can be invaluable tools that will help you stay on top of your business, offer increased flexibility and increase your earning potential. These 3 big ways your smart phone can help you make more money are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making money with your smartl phone.
How does your smart phone help you make more money?
Consultancy – Have you always wanted to start your own consultancy? Not sure where to start? The good news is that starting a consultancy can be as easy as choosing a specialization, building your expertise, setting your rates, and finding your first client. In fact, depending on the type of consultant you are to become, there are very few rules governing most consulting industries so the time it takes to go from zero to having your own consultancy is shorter than you think.
In general, the more specific your consultancy is the easier it will be to make a name for yourself and identify potential clients. If you are unsure of what type of consultancy you should start, consider working through a guide or workbook that is designed to help you hone in on the perfect consultancy for you.
Setting rates is both an art and a science. Learn more about setting the right rates in this comprehensive article on setting fees or for the fast-track, inside scoop get Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.
In order to start a consultancy you’ll need to be considered an expert in your industry. But don’t worry, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have a graduate degree or even decades of experience. In fact, in order to start your consultancy you really just need more expertise than your clients have. Find out more about building your expertise here.
Marketing and networking are key to building up your consultancy. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a master socializer to succeed in marketing your consultancy. In fact, even if you’re introverted you can still succeed in networking on behalf of your consultancy.
Are you interested in starting your own consultancy but don’t know where to start? Check out the Consultant Journal store for a variety of resources, books and courses that will help you kick-start your journey to starting your own consultancy.
I just finished uploading new content to my consulting start-up course, Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap.
You’ll now also find:
I plan to add more content in the near future – just a reminder that, once you sign up for the course, you have ongoing access to all the materials, including updates and upgrades.
What information would you like to see in the Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap consulting course?
Here endeth the feed items.