How to Use an Iterative Loop to Dominate Your Niche

How to Use an Iterative Loop to Dominate Your Niche

Here at Rainmaker Digital, we’re riding an iterative loop. It’s how we do business.

We listen, we create, we offer, we improve, and the cycle goes on.

Approaching your content strategy as an iterative loop will help you create useful, in-demand information that serves your customers and builds your business.

Out in the business world, this approach is called design thinking. And design thinking is in the news right now. Harvard Business Review ran a cover story on it this past September. The New York Times featured it earlier this month.

Here at Copyblogger, we’ve been talking about design thinking since 2010.

Design thinking isn’t difficult — it’s just different. It requires a mindset shift that will change the way you create products, content, and customer experiences.

What is design thinking?

It might be easiest to answer this question by comparing design and design thinking.

Design is about making objects functional and pleasing to the eye. Traditionally, design has been a discipline that was practiced by the small percentage of people who’d studied it or those whose aesthetic sense made them especially qualified.

Design thinking is about developing products and services using a methodology that puts the customer’s needs and experience at the forefront. It’s a different way to approach the development process.

Design thinking is driven primarily by audience needs, and the fruit it bears is based on the challenges and problems they face. It’s about looking at how real people interact with your products and services, and adapting them so they truly meet their needs.

Companies that practice design thinking put an imaginary sticker on everything they produce that says, ‘Designed by our customers.’

IBM bets their future on design thinking

Profits are down at IBM, but I’m not too worried about it.

How many technology companies can boast that they’ve been around for more than 100 years? It’s only through aggressive adaptation that IBM has succeeded despite all the changes in the technology landscape since they started back in 1911.

Their latest adaptation is to incorporate design thinking as an integral part of their business. They’re using design thinking to change their culture and the way they do business.

IBM is in the process of hiring 1,100 designers, with a long-term target of 1,500. They’re training a large portion of their management staff in the principles of design thinking. They’re “embedding” designers inside product development teams throughout the company. To date, 8,000 people company-wide have received some type of design thinking training.

It’s a small percentage of the total employee population, but it represents a significant investment of resources in a new way to look at their business.

They’re banking on design thinking to improve their long-term outlook.

How to apply design thinking to your content and your business

The goal of design thinking is to make your content, your website, and your products and services inherently simple and useful.

Aim for something that is so well designed that people don’t notice the design.

The goal? Design that doesn’t call attention to itself. Design that isn’t ‘precious,’ or even very noticeable.

It all starts with one important question.

“What is a better way to do ___?”

Ask this question of any process, product, or service.

Then grab a physical object — a pad of sticky notes, some pieces of paper, a whiteboard and marker — and map out what your customer experiences now and what you’d like them to experience. Even better, get a customer or two in the room with you to tell you firsthand what they’re experiencing.

Very basic prototyping gives you insights into the important customer touchpoints in your business. It shows you where you can improve their experience either through better content, a streamlined interface, or a more robust solution.

When thinking about your content, incorporate a customer experience map. Create a content strategy that serves customers along every step of their journeys.

Design thinking. Do. Iterate.

Iterative loop graphic

Graphic courtesy of Diagrammer on

Here’s an example from our own company.

A couple of months ago, we launched the Rainmaker Labs feature within our Rainmaker Platform software.

Labs is a place where a select group of users are invited to experiment with features that are currently in development and provide feedback directly to the team that’s working on those features.

  • Design thinking: We’re thinking about our customers as we develop new features — they’re often a result of direct requests.
  • Do: We develop the feature enough to be tested in the real world. It’s the software version of a physical prototype that real end-users can try out.
  • Iterate: Based on the feedback we get, we improve and polish the software enough to release it as part of the platform that all users access.

We’ve built design thinking right into our software. Pretty cool, huh? :-)

The downside of design thinking

Design thinking sounds great, doesn’t it? What’s not to love?

Here’s the thing: people who live by the rules of design thinking welcome failure. Often. If you’re going to ride the iterative loop, you have to be prepared to fail and learn from that failure. You’ve got to embrace the fact that things will have to be pulled apart and re-done when the best customer experience demands it.

You’ve got to put your ego to one side, and recognize that the customer is king and their experience rules the process.

If you haven’t done business this way, it can be uncomfortable. But when you see the final results, you’ll recognize that it’s worth a little discomfort.

Design thinking makes space for emotion

Traditional design is about functionality and aesthetics. “Does it work?” “Does it look good?” These are the questions you consider.

Design thinking folds in emotion. “How do our customers feel when they use our product or service?”

This might sound a little woo-woo. But design thinking means having deep empathy with your users and producing experiences they’ll remember. Those memories are sealed in with the emotions they experience when interacting with your business.

And those emotions make your business memorable — remarkable, even.

The iterative loop and where to use it

This iterative loop — design thinking — do — iterate — is something you can use to make deep cultural changes within your business, whether it’s a one-person shop or a 412,000-employee corporation.

The iterative loop can touch every single aspect of your business, even down to elements like your shopping cart software and the copy on your invoices.

Adding design thinking to your process leads to products that are simple and human.

Every aspect of your business, from the front end to the back, can be designed around your users’ needs.

Let the iterative loop guide your strategy

One warning: design thinking often makes your future unpredictable. Planning months ahead of time is difficult. You have to be willing to ride the loop wherever it takes you.

Your customers will lead the charge, not you.

You’ll be alongside them, serving up what they need with a dose of memorable emotional appeal.

About the author

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital. Follow her on Twitter, and find more from her at

The post How to Use an Iterative Loop to Dominate Your Niche appeared first on Copyblogger.

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The Single Best Way to Create Hit Content in Record Time

how to refurbish and republish your best content

Once in a while, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to publish a piece of stunning content without writing it from scratch?

You’re in luck, content marketer, there is.

But wait … No doubt right about now you’re wondering if I’m depriving some village of their idiot.

If maybe I hit bottom and kept digging? If maybe I’m about to introduce you to the content creation version of the ShamWow?

Relax. What I’m saying is completely achievable. It’s called republishing.

Republishing is the process of updating and polishing an old article — and then publishing it on a new date. That’s it.

It’s something we do here at Copyblogger. It isn’t necessarily an easy publishing option either, if you want to do it right.

Dedicating time and effort to republishing benefits your content marketing efforts in several ways.

Today we’re going to explore five, as well as the steps to take to republish your own content.

1. Expose old content to a larger audience

When you update and republish a piece of content from the past that your audience enjoyed, your current audience gets a chance to consume and enjoy this content as if it were new.

For instance, excellent articles Brian Clark wrote back in 2007 can be updated and shared with the much larger audience Copyblogger has today.

That new exposure has positive effects …

2. Attract more links and social shares

Here’s one of those positive effects: because the URL stays the same, republished content gets a new chance to earn more links and social shares.

We all know that content receives the bulk of links and social signals during the first week after it’s published. Over time, the number of new links and social shares drops dramatically.

But when you update an old article and then republish it, the new audience you expose it to initiates a new round of linking and sharing (check out number four below to see what I mean).

3. Punch Google’s freshness button (again)

Listen, Google loves to see fresh content, particularly on certain topics. (Check out their freshness factor.)

So even if the original article was published four years ago, a republished article that has been upgraded with recent information will appear higher in search engine rankings simply because of the surprising effect of freshness.

If you would like to learn a few more reasons why Google loves republished content, watch this nine-minute video by Rand Fishkin.

And there’s more …

4. Test the success of a piece of content

Let’s look at one of my past articles on Copyblogger: Master This Copywriting Formula to Dominate Any Social Media Platform.

From a purely social media shares perspective, you’ll see this article was popular. Why? I have several hunches:

  • It’s about social media.
  • The headline taps into a meaningful, big promise (dominate).
  • The headline is also conditional (you cannot cash in on the promise unless you do something).

I’ve since used a similar headline to test my hunch that this is a strong headline style that inspires social shares.

If you look at the social share numbers for Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series, you’ll see I think I’m onto something.

Republishing an old article with this headline style will allow me to test it in a new way.

Will I be able to double or triple the social shares on an old article with a new headline that matches this style?

You can record an article’s social-share numbers and then monitor how your current audience responds to the optimized, republished version of the article.

5. Seize an opportunity to improve

Finally, as writers, we get better at what we do over time.

As you write more and more, your newer posts will be better than your older ones. Yet, there might be some gems in your archives that, with a rewrite, could look as good as the newer ones.

So, why not review your archives and single out some of your favorites?

Then, schedule them into your content publishing calendar. You’ll give new life to old content — and potentially republish a hit.

But there is a very specific way in which you must do that. Let me show you.

How to republish old content (without breaking anything)

We’ll look at an article I wrote on my blog, The Copybot, titled “Starting a New Blog? Assume Nothing” as an example, and I’m going to go through the steps of republishing it.

This is what it looks like from inside the Rainmaker Platform.


In the upper right-hand column under the “Publish” options, you see that this article was originally published on May 21, 2014. To republish it, I’ll click “Edit” under “Published on” …


And then enter the current date (November 4, 2015, for this example).


Your final two steps are to click “Okay” and then “Update.”

When you go to the front page of The Copybot, you will see the post at the top with the new publish date. Voilà.


We recommend you create a list of articles you’d like to update and republish some day. We keep a list of classic Copyblogger posts in a Google Doc.


For each classic article, we make a note of the headline and URL.

What exactly should you refresh?

Republishing is not a new practice. Both print and digital publications regularly republish old content.

In fact, for one week in December 2014, the digital news site Vox asked their writers and editors “to update and republish a number of articles — one each day — that were first posted more than two months ago.”

They called this “Refreshing the evergreen.” Here, they updated their articles and didn’t add notes explaining the articles were old content being republished.

You can use their following list to help you refresh old content before you republish:

  • Edit the text to be up-to-date and accurate.
  • Change the headline if the previous headline didn’t work well.
  • Add new information.
  • Present new ideas or opinions.
  • Rewrite sections that are bland.

But that’s not all!

At Copyblogger, we also recommend that you add an image or update the current image if you can find a better choice to complement your article.

And there you have it. A simple way to create tantalizing, potentially hit content without starting from scratch … you might even have a little extra time to take a breather.

Or if you’re like me, wash and dry your car for the third time this week with your new ShamWow!

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Chief Content Writer for Rainmaker Digital and host of the podcast Rough Draft

The post The Single Best Way to Create Hit Content in Record Time appeared first on Copyblogger.

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3 Content Marketing Infographics to Help You Present Your Ideas with Style

Copyblogger Collection - three infographics to inspire your content

Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing.
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it.
To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.
– Charles Bukowski, Style

The concept of style has multiple layers of meanings, and this week’s Copyblogger Collection contains multiple layers of insights.

At first glance, the following is a series of three handpicked content marketing lessons that will show you:

  • How to tell a meaningful marketing story
  • How to optimize every blog post you write
  • How to avoid landing page pitfalls that make you lose business

Within these lessons, however, you’ll also discover three different types of infographics.

Infographics visually depict your unique perspective and immediately communicate style.

As you work your way through the material below, consider how you can attract new readers with intriguing illustrations that complement your written content.

The Amazingly Simple Anatomy of a Meaningful Marketing Story [Infographic]


If you think silent films are outdated in our current talkative world, think again.

Demian Farnworth never misses an opportunity to pay tribute to outstanding storytelling practices.

The Amazingly Simple Anatomy of a Meaningful Marketing Story [Infographic] breaks down the elements of stories that get under our skin and stick with us.

When you understand these elements, you can use them to craft powerful messages for your audience.

11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs [Infographic]


The content you produce to tell your marketing story needs to be unparalleled in quality and value.

In 11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs [Infographic], Demian says:

You’ll want to choose your words carefully so you say what you mean.

This will allow you to shed excess copy so that you have a lean, muscular article.

But you’re not done. You also must ensure that your blog post has all of the essential ingredients it needs.

Study Demian’s tips to ensure your content provides complete satisfaction for your readers.

9 Landing Page Goofs that Make You Lose Business [Infographic]


Henneke has an enchanting writing style that makes you smile, and she also consistently presents exceptional advice.

So you know she cooked up a winner for you in 9 Landing Page Goofs that Make You Lose Business [Infographic].

Check out how she compares landing pages to road trips as she takes you on an adventure that will ultimately help you improve conversions.

Stamp your content with your style

Use this post (and save it for future reference!) to create stylish content that compels readers to take a closer look.

In the spirit of rugged individualism, quench your audience’s thirst with something refreshing.

About the author

Stefanie Flaxman

Stefanie Flaxman is Rainmaker Digital's Editor-in-Chief.

The post 3 Content Marketing Infographics to Help You Present Your Ideas with Style appeared first on Copyblogger.

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How to Write Email Subject Lines that Make People Stop, Click, and Read

subject lines that get attention

Email subject lines are our first (and sometimes only) chance to make a good impression on our subscribers, so making them interesting and compelling is essential to your email marketing success.

If you miss your chance to capture and hold their attention, your subscribers are less likely to open your emails, read your content, and click on your call-to-action links.

Today we’re going to cover the elements of captivating subject lines and how to discover which types of subject lines work best for your specific audience.

Let’s get started.

General guidelines for effective email subject lines

Writing subject lines that inspire people to open and read your emails is both an art and a science.

To get your subscribers to open, read, and click on the links in your email messages, thoughtfully craft the subject line of every message you send.

Your subject line is like the headline of a piece of online content — you get one shot to encourage your recipient to keep reading.

If you’re just getting started (or you’re not sure where to begin), here are some guiding principles for crafting compelling subject lines.

Your email subject lines should:

  • Provide a succinct summary. Forty characters or five-to-ten words is standard.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Why should your reader open your email now?
  • Match your content. Don’t misrepresent the content of your email — it annoys your subscribers and could increase your unsubscribe rate.
  • Arouse curiosity in your readers. What will inspire them to open your email and check out your message?
  • Convey a strong and clear benefit to your readers. What will they get out of reading your message? Will they get a new piece of educational content? Or can they take advantage of a limited-time 50 percent discount?
  • Adding personalization to your emails — should you or shouldn’t you?

    Should you customize your subject lines with your recipients’ names? The jury is still out on this topic.

    To see if personalization works with your community members, test out personalized subject lines by inserting dynamic tags. Most email service providers offer a fairly straightforward way to do this.

    Of course, you can only personalize subject lines if you’ve collected people’s names through your opt-in form when they signed up for your email list. If you don’t have this information, personalization isn’t an option.

    If you do collect names through your email list opt-in form and decide to use personalized subject lines, review the names on your list regularly to ensure a valid name corresponds to each email address. You never want recipients to see, “Sign up today, [NAME ERROR]” in the subject line of an email in their inboxes.

    After your tests, you’ll be able to determine if personalized subject lines perform better than other types of subjects.

    A process for generating winning ideas

    To create effective subject lines, get into the habit of brainstorming ideas for every email you send.

    Grab a piece of paper (or open a document on your computer) and set a timer for 10 minutes. Brainstorm subject lines for your latest email, and don’t stop until the timer goes off.

    Then set the timer for another 10 minutes, and try to brainstorm the same amount of headlines again. For example, if you wrote 25 headlines in your first 10 minutes, try to write 25 more in the second brainstorming session.

    Then choose the one headline you’ll use for your email — or pick two or three if you’ll be split-testing your subject lines. (More on this below.)

    How to find out what subscribers really want

    Split-testing (or A/B testing) can be a powerful tool for improving your email subject lines.

    When you split-test emails, you send one subject line to one part of your subscriber list and a different subject line to another part of your list. Then you track both emails and monitor which one performs the best.

    You decide which performance metrics to track, but open rates, links clicked, sales generated, or a combination of these actions are typically measured.

    Most email service providers equip you with a way to split-test your subject lines. Check with your email service provider’s knowledge base or tech support team if you have questions about implementing a split-testing campaign.

    When testing your email subject lines, consider:

    • Including your recipient’s name in the subject line (personalization) vs. no personalization
    • Trying short vs. long subject lines
    • Experimenting with specific vs. general language
    • Communicating the same topic in different ways (For example, test “Are you dreaming big enough?” against “Why you must dream bigger”)
    • Capitalizing the first letter of each word (title case) or only capitalizing the first letter of the first word (sentence case)

    As you split-test your subject lines, track your results so you can continually learn about what your audience likes and what causes them to take action.

    Captivating subject lines move the needle

    Optimizing your subject lines to increase opens and clicks is one of the best ways to improve the results of your email marketing campaigns.

    Dedicate time to writing benefit-rich, curiosity-provoking subject lines and testing them with your audience to learn more about what they want and need.

    When you implement this practice, you’ll see a noticeable increase in the amount of people who respond to the calls-to-action in your messages!

    Read other posts in our current email marketing series

    About the Author: Beth Hayden is a content marketing expert, author, and speaker who specializes in working with women business owners. Want Beth’s best blogging tip? Download her free case study, How This Smart Writer Got 600 New Subscribers by Taking One Brave Step.

The post How to Write Email Subject Lines that Make People Stop, Click, and Read appeared first on Copyblogger.

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An Advocate Who Helps People Change the World with Content Marketing

Hero's Journey - helping make change happen with content

There’s a certain type of client who’s naturally drawn to Amy Butcher’s work. And there’s a certain type of client Amy Butcher is naturally drawn to.

The common thread?

Amy helps nonprofits, research institutes, and public sector agencies craft ultra-effective content. Her words help them get more support and more donations.

Her words help them change the world.

Once a month here on Copyblogger, we tap the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world.

For this month’s Hero’s Journey feature, I asked Amy to remove her superhero cape momentarily to tell us more about her business — who she helps, and how she helps them.

Here are her answers in her own words.

The universal theme that ties her clients together

Amy Butcher: I’m a translator, writer, content marketing consultant, and editor. I help organizations use content to get more support.

And I help self-published authors take their memoirs, business books, and novels to the next level to drive book sales.

Overall, I tend to connect with people who are passionate about helping others and changing the world.

Solid content and a dash of spice

Amy Butcher: I offer my clients both structure and style. I help them organize their content in clear ways while adding a dash of ye’ old razzmatazz.

I don’t sit around talking about content problems. I get on with hunting them down and fixing them with my trusty utility belt, courtesy of Copyblogger.

The content I create serves as a vital bridge between my clients’ visions and their audience’s needs. This can be so hard for people to build themselves.

A content marketer who’s a word nerd at heart

Amy Butcher: I’m a translator and editor by trade, and I started my career in communications, so my freelance business started from those contacts and grew by word of mouth.

When I was but a wee lass, I pictured myself becoming a writer who would teach grammar at a university, but my love of French led to a career path in translation and editing. I went that way because I thought that was what any self-respecting language nerd should do.

A few years ago, I had that look-in-the-mirror moment and said, ‘Is this it?’

I had chosen the easier way to make a living, but the writer in me finally woke up from her coma and seal-slapped me across the face.

Then I found Copyblogger and discovered content marketing and content strategy. I was able to shift gears and provide more value than just your average bilingual comma jockey. And this approach is working for me.

How even a superhero sometimes gets in her own way

Amy Butcher: The problem with being a superhero? With great power comes an even greater superhero complex.

My penchant for self-reliance has led to not only burnout but also hair-pulling, jaw-grinding, and a deep despair that they don’t sell parts to my Self-Cloner 3000.

I always felt that I had to go it alone.

But a while back, I listened to an Unemployable with Brian Clark webinar featuring Chris Ducker about this very topic.

I came to the hard realization that the problem isn’t other people: it’s me. I’m the one who hasn’t taken the time to truly explain to assistants or subcontractors what I need them to do.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow but also a wake-up call, and I’ve been thinking about processes to hire people to help my business.

Right now, I have help for a website coding job that I used to try to solve myself, so that is at least a step in the right direction.

As a small business owner, putting on the big-league jersey and claiming your rightful place on the field means understanding the value of a team. I’m still learning that.

The unsexy secret to a superhero’s success

Amy Butcher: My writing work and guest blogging are going well. Although I’m just starting out with guest blogging, I can already see its power in getting the word out about my business.

Also, for all clients, I try to communicate an extreme passion for what I do and figure out how to “wow” them and exceed their expectations.

These basic principles should surprise no one, but it’s amazing how far simple things like a solid work ethic, intense discipline, and respect for others can take you.

Which Rainmaker Digital products do you use, and how do you use them?

Amy Butcher: I’m a Certified Content Marketer, so I’m a member of Authority. With the Teaching Sells course, I built a new site for my nonprofit clients that I’m really proud of and has received a great response, and I’m going to use this as a platform for future educational products.

Some of the greatest value I’ve gotten from Copyblogger are the monthly Content Marketer Certification calls, which have given me a direct line to Sonia Simone and Brian Clark. They solved problems for my business in two minutes that I would agonize over for months!

My advice to anyone in a similar situation is don’t waste time agonizing. Just get over yourself, fork over the cash to talk to an expert, and then just do whatever the heck they say.

Don’t hem and haw. Don’t give excuses about why it won’t work for you. Just get in the damn ring.

Building a media empire, one baby step at a time

Amy Butcher: Even as a one-person operation, I’m bent on developing my own little media empire, even if it’s somewhat dollhouse in size.

And my initial idea of teaching is now something I can easily do, and I don’t have to wait around for a university to hire me or (even better) conform to their ideas of what a curriculum is supposed to be.

Why you should “think like an author”

Amy Butcher: I get really jazzed about helping clients figure out what they want to say or helping them shape a creative vision into something logical and structured.

Sometimes I have to rein people in from going off the deep end, but I mostly have to push them to develop their ideas.

We all have to combat “first draft syndrome” — that’s when you fall in love with your initial ideas, as though every single word or thought from your head is dripping with honey and gold.

Big-time authors rewrite their work dozens — if not hundreds — of times.

Content marketers often say that you have to ‘think like a publisher.’ But I personally don’t give that advice, as many publishers are actually not very successful and don’t make a lot of money!

Instead, my advice to any client — whether they’re a writer, small business, or nonprofit — is to “think like a bestselling author,” which means gaining a deep understanding of your own “genre” so that you understand the obligatory conventions while giving your prospects a new experience within those constraints.

As business owners, we have to understand the genre in which we’ve decided to produce value. And in business, our genre is made of the real needs of real people.

Find Amy Butcher online

Thanks to Amy for appearing in our Hero’s Journey series.

We’ll be back next month with another story to teach, inspire, and encourage you along your journey.

About the author

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital. Follow her on Twitter, and find more from her at

The post An Advocate Who Helps People Change the World with Content Marketing appeared first on Copyblogger.

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How to Rev Up Your Article from the Start

innovative ways to start your article with drama

Cartoonists don’t think straight.

If you tell them about cars, they think of chewing gum.

If you talk to them about dinner, they think of heel balm.

In short, they force-fit thoughts that may have no connection to each other. 

But what’s a cartoonist got to do with the opening paragraphs of your article?

When you think about it, most of us get stuck while writing introductions.

Let’s say we want to write about “growing tomatoes in a small space.”

What are you thinking of right now? Sure, “tomatoes in a small space.” Which is fine to start, but it’s plain and boring.

How can you find an enticing angle to fascinate readers?

Think like a cartoonist to grab attention

As you likely already know, your article is only part information — the other part is entertainment.

An analogy or story helps wake up readers and attract them to your writing.

They add surprises we don’t expect. A surprising outlook grabs our attention — and keeps that attention.

In a world where everyone starts articles the same boring way, you have a chance to stand out.

Instead of yet another drab opening to your article, think a bit creatively — a bit like cartoonists do. 

And as a cartoonist/writer, here’s my advice on how you go about creating a perky start to your article.

Let’s look at an example about an article on the topic of “malware”

Now, “malware and computers” are related. So again, what are you thinking of?

“Malware and computers,” right? Or you might go a bit further and think of a virus attack, or a break-in, or monsters. 

All of those ideas, however, are terribly predictable.

How do you work your way around this dilemma?

Method 1: Look around the room

It doesn’t matter what room you’re in, just look around. Let me help you get started by looking around my workspace, so you can see how I’m going about this exercise.

Hmm, there’s a kiwi bird figurine sitting on my desk.

What’s that got to do with malware? Kiwis possibly had some kind of attack that nearly wiped them out.

In fact, they did. Unlike other birds in New Zealand, kiwis are flightless, so dogs and cats that people keep as pets have threatened the species.

You have an opportunity to draw a comparison between a threat to the kiwi population and the threat that malware poses on computers.

That’s the first method. Let’s look at the second.

Method 2: Open the pantry

There’s a skinny bottle of habanero (that’s a really, really hot chili pepper) sauce staring back at me.

I can probably tolerate a small amount of it, but if I consume too much, that’s malware down my throat. 

Now my brain is humming …

It seems that malware can represent more than just malware — it’s rocky times, it’s grotty stuff. So I can dig into my past.

When did I have “malware?” How about that pesky kid that hit my head with a hammer as I got off the school bus? That’s a good story.

Or how about the time I had to sit at a boring job for six months, doing nothing at all. My brain was rotting.

And when I got sacked, I was free. I felt free of the malware.

Since we’re buzzing with all these concepts, let’s look at one more non-boring article-starter method.

Method 3: Scan the news

Here’s an example from “Spain’s unemployment rate rose to a record high of 27.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013, the Spanish National Institute of Statistics said Thursday. The figure represented an increase of 1.1 percent from the previous quarter, as recession continues to take its toll on the debt-stricken nation.” 

Ah, that’s malware. And it’s spreading, even getting worse.

We could tweak that story, find out more about the cause of the unemployment, and have a great opening to an article, report, book, or presentation

Can you see a pattern here?

Not one example has anything to do with:

  • Viruses or break-ins
  • Technology
  • The malware concept itself

So, should you completely stay away from anything obviously related to malware?

No, you can talk about the time you had such a bad cold you felt you were going to die.

Or you could describe the worst or the most short-lived malware attacks. Or the first-ever documented attack.

These simple approaches may work for you.

But, the most obvious approach is often the most boring.

Cartoonists take seemingly unrelated ideas and connect them to the topic:

  • Like flightless birds and malware
  • Or hot sauce and malware
  • Or unemployment statistics and malware

Find that unusual connection

The force-fitting helps your brain make a connection that’s fascinating. And the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Until one day, your desk, your computer, your newspaper, and your very brain becomes an endless universe of inspiration.

How cool is that?

One of the biggest challenges of writing is the factor of resistance. But is resistance a friend who’s misunderstood? Find out how to overcome resistance and move ahead with your writing at:

Illustration courtesy of Sean D’Souza.

About the Author: Sean D'Souza runs a zany marketing site at Psychotactics and deconstructs headlines in his spare time. Learn how to assemble (and audit) your headlines in seconds with Sean's powerful headline report, when you subscribe to the Psychotactics Newsletter. And don't miss his binge-worthy, music-filled podcast, The Three Month Vacation.

The post How to Rev Up Your Article from the Start appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Last Chance to Save: Our Sale Ends in a Few Hours

Only a few hours left - SALE ENDS TODAY - MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9 through MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16

Only a few hours left.

This year’s Black Monday-to-Monday sale ends later today (November 16, 2015) — at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time to be exact.

Here are the two deals you can take advantage of, plus one important point to remember:


Get our StudioPress All-Theme Pack for $150 off

With the StudioPress Pro Plus All-Theme Pack, which normally costs $499.95, you get immediate access to:

  • 37 StudioPress themes (with more on the way)

  • 3 third-party themes, for the first time ever (with more on the way)

  • Updates for the life of your account

  • Support for the life of your account

  • Access to new themes for the life of your account

All you have to do is claim your Pro Plus Pack before the Black Monday sale expires.

Click here to claim your Pro Plus Pack for just $349.95 (which is $150 off the normal price).


Claim the lowest-price-ever Charter Membership in Digital Commerce Institute

We extended the Charter Membership offer for Digital Commerce Institute so it could be part of our Black Monday-to-Monday sale.

So it’s your last chance to claim your Charter Membership in Digital Commerce Institute.

Once the Black Monday sale ends, the Charter Membership offer is never coming back.

The bottom line:

  • The price will never be lower.
  • The value will never be higher.
  • The opportunity for you to start building the online business of your dreams will never be better.

Click here to claim your Charter Membership in Digital Commerce Institute (before it’s gone forever).

Important: Don’t forget about the money-back guarantee

Remember that you will have 30 days after your purchase to decide if you want to keep it.

This applies to the Pro Plus Pack as well as your membership in Digital Commerce Academy and your ticket to Digital Commerce Summit.

If you want a refund for any reason, just contact Support and we’ll issue one immediately, no questions asked.

Click here to claim your risk-free access to the Pro Plus All-Theme Pack.

Click here to claim your risk-free membership in Digital Commerce Institute.

Both deals expire later today, Monday, November 16, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

About the author

Jerod Morris

Jerod Morris is the VP of Marketing of Rainmaker Digital. He hosts The Lede and The Showrunner, as well as a daily show about living a balanced life called Primility Primer.

The post Last Chance to Save: Our Sale Ends in a Few Hours appeared first on Copyblogger.

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