How I Wrote a Story-Based Sales Email That Landed Me in the Top 5 in a Copywriting Contest

sales emails

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash

I came in 4th place, to be exact. Now, that might not seem like much, but there were roughly 78 entries from copywriters who ran the gamut from fairly new to quite successful and experienced.

I’ve been doing this here copywriting and marketing thing since about 2001, but some of my fellow copywriters participating in this? Let’s just say I was a little (and by little, I mean a lot) intimidated.

In fact, initially I thought, “No way am I entering a contest I likely won’t do well in given the competition, especially since it’ll take me hours to write an entry. I’m already at capacity with work right now.”

[Can ya hear all the limiting beliefs nonsense going on there? Yikes!]

But deep down, I really wanted to do this. Because if you’re not making yourself uncomfortable from time to time, you’re not growing. So say the personal development geeks. Of which I am one. 😊

I’m sharing the contest details and my entry here, because if you pay close attention to the rules, template, questions, and other guidance Kevin and Chris presented, along the prep work I did before submitting my entry, you’re sure to learn a thing or two about what it takes to write a story-based email that sells.

The Background

The contest took place inside the Copy Chief community, which I’m a proud member of.

The emails were judged by Kevin Rogers, founder of Copy Chief and expert direct response copywriter who has helped clients earn $100M in sales, and fellow Copy Chief member Chris Orzechowski, email copywriter & consultant extraordinaire who helps e-commerce companies earn big paydays with email.

Kevin and Chris critiqued the email entries via video inside Copy Chief, and chose the top 5; we lucky 5 received a coveted Copy Chief “Nobody Writes Alone” t-shirt. Yee-haw! The grand prize winner also won a scholarship to Chris’s Email Copy Academy and an email sequence review.

The Challenge: Write a “story-based” email that sells

The fellas did a fantastic presentation explaining the elements of, and psychology behind, storytelling emails that sell to help us prepare for the challenge.

The Rules

We were given three products to choose from to write the sales email for:

A pillow, a pressure washing service, or a productivity course.

We were to pick the product, write a story-based email that sells people on buying the product, then post our entry inside the Copy Chief forum.

I chose the pillow, and used Casper for my model. But I renamed my “imaginary” product the Euphoria Pillow. 😊

We were graded on:

  • Subject line
  • Strength of the story/hook
  • Clarity & readability
  • Call to action language

Emails That Sell Need to Do a Few Important Things

In order to write a persuasive email that moves people to action, we had to do three things: determine what our ideal customer’s current beliefs were, tell stories to implant new beliefs that would get them interested in our chosen product, and give them an action to take that would bring them closer to their goal, such as making a purchase.

To determine what to say, we were instructed to:

  1. Talk to people in our market – I did this by chatting with couple of friends who had sleep issues and had recently purchased pillows. I also did lots of review mining: I sifted through pillow reviews on the Casper website, plus positive and negative reviews of other premium pillows on Amazon. I saved loads of this voice of customer data into a doc to use while writing my sales email. (You need to understand where people are now, the challenges and struggles they’re facing, and where they want to ultimately be – which is what your product or solution offers. You can’t write persuasive copy without research and voice of customer data. Full stop)
  2. List out their problems – The review mining mentioned above gave me lots of intel about problems and challenges. For example, many people suffer poor sleep and wake up with a stiff neck and other aches and pains because they don’t have a quality pillow. And we all know poor sleep has a hugely negative impact on everything else we do in our day-to-day lives.
  3. List the outcomes (results) they want in their life – On the surface they just want to wake up pain-free. But what they really want is to wake up feeling refreshed, well-rested, and ready to tackle the day. To slay the day. To handle everything with grace, ease and joy, the way you do when you’ve gotten eight glorious hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep.
  4. List their “false beliefs” – Some could include: “Spending $80 on a pillow is crazy, it’s not worth it.” “A premium pillow isn’t going to make that much difference in my sleep quality.”
  5. List “new beliefs” they need to gain in order to make a buying decision – “$80 is a small price to pay for something that can seriously improve your sleep, and because quality sleep is so important to health and overall happiness, it’s worth every penny.”

The Template

Chris shared a basic outline of emails that sell:

  1. Subject line
  2. Story
  3. Segue/The ‘Turn’
  4. CTA

(Optional): P.S.

(You’ll see these things in action in my email entry, below)

He also talked about eight kinds of subject lines, along with eight different story frameworks.  I chose the personal story framework for my email.

And of course, we covered the uber-important call to action: you must tell people what to do, why they need to do it, and why they need to do it now.

BUT … even after all this, we’re still not quuuuite ready to begin writing.

Nope, first, we needed to answer the following questions. My answers included here:

1. Where does this email fit into the context of the marketing funnel?

It comes after web visitors have read some info on the Casper website, or have otherwise been exposed to the brand, and they’ve signed up for the Casper email list to learn more.

2. What is the objective of this email?

To make a sale

3. What’s the new belief you want readers to have?

That an $80 pillow is totally worth it and can change their life

4. What’s a story/hook that can implant that belief into their brain?

Talk about how quality sleep is the most important health action they can take, as illustrated through a personal story about the before-and-after results of getting quality sleep; demonstrate through a story that shows – not tells – the transformation. Could also consider using data on sleep; benefits of quality sleep, etc.

5. What is your call to action going to be?

Buy now

6. What ‘reasons to act now’ do we need to add?

Don’t miss one more night of quality sleep and go through your days unable to do all you want to do, to the best of your ability. Life is too short, and you have too much you want to do, for that.

The presentation Chris and Kevin gave was so good, and so thorough, it’s not possible to share all of it here, but I’ve outlined the very basics above.

Prep I Did Before Writing

Once I decided to enter the contest, I was all in. Meaning, I did what I do with every actual client copy project I take on – research, research, and more research, which comes in a few varieties:

:: I talked to a couple of friends with sleep issues. I asked how the sleep issues presented, and what they did to resolve them.

:: I signed up Casper’s email list to see how they do email.

:: I spend loads of time on the Casper website, reading about their pillows (product research), AND, more importantly, reading customer reviews (to gather voice of customer data).

:: I did review mining of other premium pillows on Amazon to gather more voice of customer data on things like: where people are in their solution-seeking journey when they arrive at the place of deciding to spend upwards of $80 for a single pillow, what problems they’re trying to solve, what they’ve tried before that didn’t work, and to suss out the transformation they really want. Sure, they want a good night’s sleep, but more than that, they want all the benefits that derive from a good night’s sleep.

:: If this were a real project with a real client, I also would have: had the client fill out my intake questionnaire, had a call to review completed questionnaire and discuss the direction and goals of the copy, talked to a handful of actual customers, done loads more product research, and undertaken more competitor analysis.

My Sales Email Entry

(Chris and Kevin’s feedback is pasted in at the end of the email.)

Original email subject line ideas:

Red wine, tough love, and clouds made of rainbows

Alternative SLs:

Pairs nicely with success

$80 for a pillow?!?! You’re crazy.

A handful of other subject lines I considered, but didn’t post as part of my entry:

BOOM! This is how you improve every area of your life … for just $80

There’s not an app for that

As soon as I laid down, I was in love

This 5-letter word changed EVERYTHING

Why aren’t more people talking about this?

Is this the missing link to a better life?

You can’t put a price on this

__ % of adults don’t get enough of this

Pillow talk

Driving drunk or driving underslept … which is more dangerous?

Sixty percent of adults have done this life-threatening thing

EMAIL BODY COPY

One Saturday night a few weeks ago, Ronda, my BFF of 30+ years, committed one of the kindest acts a trusted friend can ever do.

She called me out on my bullshit.

Over a bowl of creamy cacio e pepe and a glass (or three) of Poggio Bonelli Chianti Villa Chigi 2016, I shared with her for what felt like the 187th time how my terrible, fitful sleep over the previous few weeks was really beginning to wear me down.

The truth?

My crappy sleep habits were actually wreaking havoc on my career.

Last Thursday was a typical night, I told her.

I woke up in the middle of the night with shoulder and neck pain. Again.

Tossed and turned for hours, couldn’t get back to sleep.

And the whole time I’m lying there, I’m stressing out more by the minute each time I look over at the clock, knowing I’m gonna have to go into work on the next day and give one of the most important presentations of my career, to our agency’s highest-profile potential client yet, on 3 freakin’ hours of sleep.

The stress and exhaustion made me want to weep.

“Well that sucks,” Ronda said.

I told her that wasn’t the worst of it.

After the presentation that Friday my boss called me into her office. Told me she didn’t think I brought my “A” game. Said if we don’t land this big account . . . then she kind of trailed off and didn’t say much else.

“Uh oh,” Ronda said.

Uh oh is right. Like me, Ronda’s worked in advertising. She knows the drill.

If the agency didn’t land this big client we’d been wooing for weeks, I might get fired.

“Crap, I can’t get fired, I just bought a house,” I said.

That’s when Ronda dropped the tough love.

“Kimberly, you’ve been complaining about this since early April. It’s now May. I told you 6 weeks ago about the Euphoria pillows I bought that totally eliminated my shoulder and neck pain. I told you how I’ve been sleeping through the night for the first time in years since buying them. I told you how I’ve never felt more well-rested. I waxed so poetic about these pillows you accused me of being a rep for the company. Hell, you even slept on one when you spent the night here a few weeks ago and said it was like sleeping on a cloud made of rainbows. BUY THESE PILLOWS, girlfriend.”

I’m embarrassed to say that’s when I nearly shouted, “But those pillows are $80 damn dollars a piece!”

With a sigh and what I swear was a little bit of an eye roll, she said, “Kimberly, I say this with love as your best friend: you can be kind of a miser sometimes. I know you spent well over $80 on this bottle of wine and the ingredients for the dinner you made us tonight. Why wouldn’t you spend $80 bucks on something that’s actually, you know, going to improve the quality of your life in an honest-to-god real way?

I had to admit she was right.

“Oh alright,” I said, “give me the damn Euphoria Pillows website link. [à Link to website] And pour me another glass of Chianti.”

I’m happy to report that I ordered two Euphoria pillows that very night.

And while it took me a minute to get over the mild shock of spending $160 (I could buy four bottles of pretty decent Chianti for that sum), a few weeks on, I can say it was more than worth it.

Now I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in a very long time. I’ve never felt more well-rested. I’m ready to wax so poetic about these pillows you might accuse me of being a rep for the company.

And it’s not hyperbole to say that sleeping on Euphoria pillows is like sleeping on a cloud made of rainbows. [à Link to website]

Now, you might be asking yourself, “What the devil is Kimberly emailing me about pillows for? I got on this list to learn how to rock an ad agency career.”

But hear me out on this:

Think of superior quality pillows as a career enhancement tool.

That’s right.

A career enhancement tool, one of many in your arsenal.

You wouldn’t show up to the interview for the senior copywriter position at your dream agency with a resume written on a piece of paper ripped out of a spiral notebook would you?

Of course not.

You wouldn’t knock back two martinis at your agency welcome lunch the first day of your new job, right?

No. No, you wouldn’t. (Unless you’re Don Draper, in which case, you don’t need my career advice.)

So why would you rely on pillows that make it damn near impossible to get a quality night’s slumber, and potentially screw up your chance of landing & keeping that hot new agency career, all because crappy sleep prevents you from bringing your “A” game?

Don’t do that.

And don’t be me – don’t wait until a poor night’s sleep practically derails your career.

It just so happens that today – next Monday the exact kind of Euphoria Pillows I bought and swear by are on sale for $50 bucks off when you buy two.

$110 bucks to improve the quality of your life and, dare I say, your career prospects too.

Go on over to the Euphoria Pillows website right here, and get your $50 off today through Monday only[à Link to website]

Your shiny new ad agency career prospects will thank you.

XO,

Kimberly, reformed miser

P.S. My hesitation about investing in Euphoria Pillows is now a small speck in the rearview mirror. It’s been overshadowed by 6 weeks of kick-ass quality sleep that’s seen my agency land that high-profile client (and I was even made the account lead after redeeming myself with a second presentation to the client last week, woohoo!).

Get your career-enhancement tool here for $50 off, through Monday only.

[END OF EMAIL COPY]

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So, there it is.

Once I knew my entry placed in the top five, the next step was to watch the video Chris and Kevin recorded breaking down the email and pointing out what worked and what didn’t.

If I’m honest, I was terrified to watch that video, and put it off for days.

Turns out, it wasn’t so bad. Everything they pointed out that needed improving was spot on, and super helpful to know.

Sure, I winced a couple times, but as Chris said in his review, “I’m being nitpicky, but yeah, you know, you’re on the leaderboard, so I reserve the right to be.” LOL.

Feedback from the Experts

(The feedback below comes from the video review Chris and Kevin did. I took notes while watching the video, so they’re a bit rough.)

Kevin’s feedback:

This had me hooked top to bottom.
Although you risked losing me in detail here…

Over a bowl of creamy cacio e pepe and a glass (or three) of Poggio Bonelli Chianti Villa Chigi 2016, I shared with her for what felt like the 187th time how my terrible, fitful sleep over the previous few weeks was really beginning to wear me down.

I love how you framed the value in STORY.

Really well done, @KimberlyHouston

Chris’s feedback:

First up, the weaknesses / what needed work …

He said the subject lines were just “ok/decent.” He said there was some curiosity in the main subject line I chose.

Curiosity is critical to persuasive copywriting, and subject lines are one of the key places we need to be using it. If your SL isn’t compelling, ain’t nobody gonna open that sales email, and you know what that means … no sales.

He also called out this section, saying that I was erring on the side of “a little too much detail” –> Over a bowl of creamy cacio e pepe and a glass (or three) of Poggio Bonelli Chianti Villa Chigi 2016, I shared with her for what felt like the 187th time how my terrible, fitful sleep over the previous few weeks was really beginning to wear me down.

Detail is necessary and good, and it’s sadly missing in much of the underperforming copy I see when I do copy reviews. However, as Chris pointed out, “There’s a fine line into crossing into too much detail territory.”

He said he would break this up into two sentences –> And the whole time I’m lying there, I’m stressing out more by the minute each time I look over at the clock, knowing I’m gonna have to go into work on the next day and give one of the most important presentations of my career, to our agency’s highest-profile potential client yet, on 3 freakin’ hours of sleep.

I say this to my own clients all the time: If people see long blocks of uninterrupted copy, they’ll usually be turned off and not read it, so this is good to keep in mind, whether you’re writing web copy, sales emails, landing pages, or anything else you write for your business.

He said about this paragraph, “It’s ok, but a little much,” and suggested I might want to pare it down. –> “I told you how I’ve been sleeping through the night for the first time in years since buying them. I told you how I’ve never felt more well-rested. I waxed so poetic about these pillows you accused me of being a rep for the company. Hell, you even slept on one when you spent the night here a few weeks ago and said it was like sleeping on a cloud made of rainbows. BUY THESE PILLOWS, girlfriend.”  –> Oh, and he didn’t like the “wax poetic” thing either, lol.

Here he cautioned against using “wax so poetic,” again, and suggested I not overdo that. Ditto, “accuse me of being a rep for the company,” which he pointed out, “is kind of redundant from before, so let’s not have that twice.” –> Now I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in a very long time. I’ve never felt more well-rested. I’m ready to wax so poetic about these pillows you might accuse me of being a rep for the company.

Here he said, “Ok, I don’t really know what that means, but alright.” –> And it’s not hyperbole to say that sleeping on Euphoria pillows is like sleeping on a cloud made of rainbows.

He said to tighten this up a little. –> You wouldn’t show up to the interview for the senior copywriter position at your dream agency with a resume written on a piece of paper ripped out of a spiral notebook would you?

Here, he mentioned something that has always been one of my weaknesses as a writer – long sentences. Sometimes lengthy sentences are 100% necessary, but when writing copy, generally not. –>  So why would you rely on pillows that make it damn near impossible to get a quality night’s slumber, and potentially screw up your chance of landing & keeping that hot new agency career, all because crappy sleep prevents you from bringing your “A” game? –>So Kimberly you really have this tendency to, you know, these long sentences. They’re ok. I mean, you have that, then you have a 3-word sentence, and then you have a medium-size sentence. [Which is good, he confirms] So with readability, let’s try to make this a little bit better.”

And here, Chris made a smart observation about how he would have done this differently. –>“Oh alright,” I said, “give me the damn Euphoria Pillows website link. And pour me another glass of Chianti.” –> He said, “Now here, I might handle this a little bit differently, I might transition and zoom out from the story. ‘You know, she was absolutely right. So I went to the website and actually I got a link for it right here.’ Blah, blah, blah, ‘you can buy it through my link. And it’s changed my life and here are the benefits,’ you know really quick, and then, ‘I think you should buy one too, and it’s honestly changed my life and I started sleeping better, my performance at work started improving,’ and blah, blah, blah. That’s how I would have probably taken it. Instead of putting the link in the dialogue, just segue directly into it.”

Finally, he pointed out the “the whole CTA (call to action) could be tightened up just a tad bit.”

And now, what worked about the email:

Chris said he liked the storytelling, and the one-to-one conversation. He said it was very natural and flow-y, “very email.”

He mentioned that a lot of people tried to shove a sales letter into an email in this challenge, and he told people not to do that; my email was a story-based email, “which was exactly what we were looking for.”

He said this was a great opener:

One Saturday night a few weeks ago, Ronda, my BFF of 30+ years, committed one of the kindest acts a trusted friend can ever do.

Chris –>  “It’s a great opening line, because it hooks you to the next one. And both lines pull you into the email copy. And that’s what you want to do at the beginning of an email.”

Here Chris said, “Yeah that’s a real fear, the fear of underperforming. There’s all these problems in people’s lives, how they manifest, how they appear, how they are dimensionalized in people’s lives, those are a good kind of demonstration.” –> After the presentation that Friday my boss called me into her office. Told me she didn’t think I brought my “A” game. Said if we don’t land this big account . . . then she kind of trailed off and didn’t say much else.

“Here you’re piling on the fear, but it’s ‘good fear,’ not like, ‘you’re gonna DIE!!!’ A lot of other people took that angle. But this is like a real fear.” –>  “Crap, I can’t get fired, I just bought a house,” I said.

“I like this because it’s telling your customer, ‘buy my thing!’” –>  “Kimberly, you’ve been complaining about this since early April. It’s now May. I told you 6 weeks ago about the Euphoria pillows I bought that totally eliminated my shoulder and neck pain.”

Here Chris pointed out, this is “an awesome way of handling an objection. This is a nice job.” –> With a sigh and what I swear was a little bit of an eye roll, she said, “Kimberly, I say this with love as your best friend: you can be kind of a miser sometimes. I know you spent well over $80 on this bottle of wine and the ingredients for the dinner you made us tonight. Why wouldn’t you spend $80 bucks on something that’s actually, you know, going to improve the quality of your life in an honest-to-god real way?”

He said this worked. –> And don’t be me – don’t wait until a poor night’s sleep practically derails your career.

And he liked this. –> Kimberly, reformed miser

And finally, re the P.S., he said, “Good, there’s some resolution to the story.”

P.S. My hesitation about investing in Euphoria Pillows is now a small speck in the rearview mirror. It’s been overshadowed by 6 weeks of kick-ass quality sleep that’s seen my agency land that high-profile client (and I was even made the account lead after redeeming myself with a second presentation to the client last week, woohoo!). I was even made the account lead after redeeming myself with a second presentation to the client last week, woohoo! –> Chris:This is kind of aspirational, an implied benefit. People will read that and go, ‘I want that too.” They start to place themselves in your story and they’ll be like, ‘maybe if I . . .’ and they start to connect the dots. ‘Maybe if I get better sleep, I might perform better at work, and good things can happen for me too.’”

In the end, according to Chris –>“Overall, nice job. I thought this was strong, and demonstrative, and very email native I guess is maybe the right way to describe it. So, awesome job, Kimberly Houston.”

Key Takeaways

#1: Do things that scare you. I came very close to not entering this contest, for all the reasons mentioned at the top of the post. And if I hadn’t? I wouldn’t have honed my story-based sales email writing skills, I wouldn’t have gotten one-on-one feedback from two uber-successful & skilled copywriting experts (<– priceless), and I wouldn’t have a valuable piece of content to post to the blog.

#2: Get in a supportive community of your peers. To quote the Copy Chief guiding motto, “Nobody writes alone.” There’s nothing like knowing a wise and experienced group of industry peers has your back anytime you need help with challenges or problems in your business, or simply when you want to share a win. The Copy Chief community is about so much more than copy feedback. Copywriters, marketers and business people of all experience levels are there everyday providing feedback, answering questions, seeking answers to their own questions, and as an added bonus – having a damn good time doing it. It’s no exaggeration to say it feels like a family.

#3: If you want to write persuasive copy that sells, you must do the pre-work before ever putting fingers to keyboard. See above, “Prep I Did Before Writing.” This is imperative if you hope to connect with your ideal customers and convert them into buyers.

#4: When it comes to selling via email, stories tend to work better than strictly transactional emails. (NOT in every case, but in many.) You can probably see why. Would you rather read an interesting story that actually demonstrates how a product can improve your life in real-world ways, or an email that whose sole purpose is to sell, at all costs, and screams something like, “Our biggest pillow sale of the year!! 75% off through midnight tonight! Click here to buy now!”

 

Next time you’re writing an email to sell your products or services, consider using a story-based approach. It can be a lot more fun for you – and importantly, your audience – than writing a standard sales email. And it may get much better results, too.

 

Want More Email Subscribers? Implement These Two Ridiculously Simple Tips

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

I’ve been doing loads of web copy & messaging strategy sessions this week, and here’s something I’ve noticed:

Pretty much everyone I talked to KNOWS that building a healthy, robust email list is non-negotiable if you want to build your business and get clients and customers online (without having to do the constant client-getting hustle).

Yet, most of the fine folks I had calls with had their email opt-in forms buried in a hard to find spot on their website, and/or the copy asking people to sign up for the list was the standard, “Sign up for updates here,” or “Join My Newsletter,” or similar.

And in most cases, there was also no dedicated landing page for the email opt-in opportunity.

That situation will not convert very many web visitors to email subscribers, if it converts any at all.

This wasn’t news to most of those I spoke to – they get it.

But keep in mind, every day your website isn’t optimized for email opt-ins is a day you’re not building your audience; therefore, you’re “leaving money on the table,” to use a terribly cliché phrase. (Cliché, yes, but TRUE? Also, yes.)

During every consult where the above was the case, I shared the following advice.

Two tips anyone can implement simply and quickly to increase email opt-ins

Tip #1: Create persuasive opt-in copy

What you want to do is create opt-in copy that gives people a compelling reason to sign up for your list. Make it about the benefits of signing up, and tell them how often they can expect to hear from you, if you can fit that info in.

So, not this:

Or this:

 

No, no, no no no. That will not do. No one wants to enter their email address into a mystery form like the ones above with no information about … anything.

Instead, give your opt-in copy some personality, and share those benefits! For example, the copy on my Home page opt-in says:

“Enter your email below to get instant access to the FREE Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client-Attracting About Page (so you never have to accept work from someone simply because they have a checkbook and a pulse, ever again.)”

The pop-up opt-in on my website says:

“Get Actionable Copywriting Tips to Grow Your Creative Business: Weekly copywriting & web marketing advice for creatives, solopreneurs & other non-marketing types. Sense of humor and Southern twang included at no extra charge.”

And check out the copy on Ashley Ambirge’s opt-in form for her “25 Days to $100K Freelancer Challenge”

Notice how much more enticing the idea of handing over your email address in exchange for valuable, interesting content becomes when the copy conveys benefits AND personality.

Tip #2: Create a dedicated landing page for email opt-ins

Create a dedicated landing page for your email list, and have access to that page it in the main navigation menu at the top of your website.

This link is what you’ll use in your social media bios. Because, again, you want to build the email list, and this will help you do it.

Here’s the power of a dedicated landing page for your opt-in:

The small opt-in form on my website Home page converts about 1.9% of website visitors. My email opt-in landing page converts around 48% of website traffic.

HUGE difference.

If all you have on your site is a tiny email opt-in form, especially if it’s hard to find AND the copy on it is not that compelling, you’re missing out on potential subscribers every single day.

And if you’re doing things to drive traffic to your site so you can GET more subscribers, that effort will be wasted.

So, what should you write on your email opt-in landing page?

You can go into a little more detail about the kind of information people can expect to receive once they sign up, and how often they’ll hear from you. You can share more about the benefits of signing up.

For example, on my email opt-in landing page, I say:

Enter your email below to get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE …

You’ll also receive free weekly updates: tips and advice on how to use personality-driven web copy and bespoke web marketing strategy in your creative business to:

  • Instantly captivate clients who are perfect for what you have to offer . . . and subtly shoo away those who aren’t
  • Get client inquiries rolling in consistently so you can get off the feast-or-famine roller coaster for good
  • Book more projects & make more folding money

All while keeping your creative integrity intact.

Enter your email below and click “Give Me the Guide!”

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To recap, if you want to get more email subscribers:

#1: Create opt-in copy that gives people a compelling & benefit-driven reason to sign up for your list

#2: Create a dedicated landing page for your email list

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LIKE A LOT OF PEOPLE I SPOKE TO THIS WEEK, I TOO WAS AFRAID TO MARKET TO MY LIST IN THE BEGINNING

I’ll admit, I wasn’t always about sending offers to my list when I first got online. 

Sure, I started an email list from Day Freakin’ One, but even as an experienced marketer and copywriter, I was hesitant to send anything other than high value free content.

“What if people get upset?” I wondered. “What if people unsubscribe?” I whined, to no one in particular.

Now I realize none of that matters. If someone unsubs because you sent out an offer, they aren’t your people, and were never going to buy from you anyway.

Or maybe they unsub because you’re just not their jam. That’s cool. You don’t want those people on your list. Let them go.

OH, BUT THEN …

Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like sending an offer to your subscribers, and getting people raising their hand, eagerly saying, “Yes, I want that!,” in return.

A few years ago, when I sent my very first true sales email to my list, I was pretty nervous, because up to that point, I’d ever only sent “value bomb” / educational emails.

But I got over my fear and hit “send.” The email announced a small $500 offer, and 5 people replied yes within 24 hours.

And no one died!! AND I generated $2500 in revenue!

I’d always believed in the power of email marketing, even if I was too afraid to make an ask at first, but after that first experience, I was well and truly sold.

Sold, I tell you!

$2500 in 24 hours from sending one email?

I’ll take it.

And I’m small potatoes. My list is TINY. Embarrassingly tiny.

There are folks out there sending one or two emails and making 5 or 10 times that. They’re more well-known, have pricier offerings and bigger email lists, but I’m living proof there’s still much you can do with a small, dedicated list of email subscribers.

Of course, it goes without saying that you have something valuable people actually want and are willing to pay for.

But you can start building your email list now, before you have all your products and services worked out; that’s what I did.

 

I hope by now you’re sold on optimizing your website for email opt-ins.

It’s one of the very best things you can do for your business, especially if, like me, you’re an introvert, and love the idea of doing most of your marketing online.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Want me to write your persuasive opt-in form + email sign-up landing page copy so you can start getting more subscribers sooner rather than later, and build your audience of raving fans?

Email me at: Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com with “Email opt-in copy” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you ASAP with details of how we can work together.

If building your email list is important to you, then let’s connect!

How High-Quality Content Drives Sales: A 3-Point Primer

Creating High Quality Content

I talk a lot on the blog about creating regular high-value content each week so your business gets noticed online and you get more clients, customers and sales.

Actionable content geared toward helping your audience solve their problems will drive targeted traffic to your site, help you get seen as the go-to person in your niche, get more people on your email list, and get more warm bodies in your bricks-and-mortar business.

How does this happen?

 

In a nutshell:

1.  When you offer unbiased and valuable information on your topic through your blog or website, your newsletter, and your social media outlets, you earn trust with those who interact with your content. Increasing the trustworthiness of your brand helps increase business.

2.  In terms of SEO and search traffic, the more content you create, the more search engine traffic you’ll accumulate because you’ll be increasing your longtail search visibility. Plus, well written content gets linked to, and backlinks are key to better search engine rankings.

3.  Consistently creating compelling content gives people a reason to return to your site again and again to sample your expertise. Which gives you multiple opportunities to potentially sell to them. The more often potential customers engage with your carefully crafted and high-quality content, the more open they will be to a sales message from you at the right time.

Creating amazing content for your site and your newsletter, posting it on a reliable and consistent schedule, and following a strategic plan for sharing it on social media will get more people interested in your products and/or services and increase the number of client and customer inquiries you get.

 

And that’s the down-and-dirty Cliff Notes version of how excellent content, consistently posted, can help you in your small business.

Since I know one of the biggest challenges is coming up with ideas for blog posts and newsletters on a consistent basis, I’ve linked up 3 articles below that outline some dead-simple and effective strategies for coming up with loads of killer ideas.

Check out this post for 3 Killer Resources for Sparking Dozens of Content Ideas.

Go here for 3 More Resources for Easy Idea-Gathering.

And check out this simple but highly effective strategy for creating EXACTLY the kind of content your audience wants to read.

Content Creation Case Study: Blog Topics for an Interior Design Business

This is the second in a series of Content Creation Case Studies, where we explore a few dozen blog topic and newsletter ideas for small business bloggers in the creative space.

(Marketing online with killer free content is one of the most effective ways to up your business visibility, increase your search engine traffic, and establish yourself as the go-to person in your niche. All of which, if done correctly, will result in more sales. To do that well, you need to add fresh new content to your blog at least weekly, if possible. And to do that, you need topic ideas. That’s why I’m adding these content creation case studies to the blog on a regular basis, to get you, my creative friend, to start creating your own killer content. Check back frequently for your creative biz type – I’m sure to be covering it in a case study sometime soon.)

Last case study I laid out my system for easily and consistently coming up with dozens of content ideas, and put a clothing and accessories boutique through a brainstorming session, generating 34 potential topics this business could blog about.

Today we’re going to apply the same brainstorming & content creation system to an interior design business.

(Check out the links at the end of this blog post for more information about the system I use. Also note, the topic ideas here are slightly generic; you would obviously trick these ideas up to gear them to your specific audience.)

Amazon is a great place to start the brainstorming, so let’s begin there. What you want to do is search for books in your topic area, then look at book chapter titles. Next take a look at magazines on Amazon in your topic area, and note article headlines.

From these two resources I noted 28 blog topic ideas someone in the interior design business could write about.

From Amazon Book Chapter Titles, these ideas surfaced:

How to Decorate Like a Pro, Even If You’re Design-Challenged

How to Define Your Interior Design Style

How to Set a Decorating Budget

3 Investment Pieces Everyone Should Own: Which Pieces to Spend the Big Bucks On

Design Basics: What You Need to Know Before You Get Started on Your Next Project

Guide to the Best Decorating Resources Online

How to Build a Room Around a Signature Piece

How to Tie a Room Together with Color

A series of Home Design 101 and How-To Shop posts would make a great category for a weekly blog post (again, using Amazon book chapter titles):

Using Color 101

Lighting 101

Rugs 101

Room Layout 101

How to Shop for Furniture Online

How to Shop: Dept. Stores

How to Shop: Vintage and Second-Hand and/or Consignment

How to Shop: Catalogues

How to Shop: Yard Sales and Flea Markets

Ideas Generated from Magazine Headlines:

How to Create the Perfect Beach House Décor on a Budget

How To Do Rustic

50 Best Kitchen Ideas

50 Best Bathroom Ideas

Little Changes for Big Impact

How to Perk Up Your Rooms with Color

How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Retreat

Transform Your Home with Details

10 Picture-Hanging Tips

How to Create Big Style in a Small Space

Best Buys for Every Budget

The 28 ideas above came from 20-30 minutes of brainstorming on Amazon, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there were over 33,000 books listed in Amazon in the interior design category alone. **I don’t suggest using the headlines you find on Amazon verbatim; instead, use them as writing prompts — you’ll want to tweak them for your specific business and target audience.

After signing out of Amazon, I came up with a few ideas of my own:

* How to Hire an Interior Designer: 5 Must-Know Tips (other variations on this idea: When to Hire an Interior Designer, Why Hire an Interior Designer, etc.)

* Essential Design Principles Every DIY’er Needs to Know

* How This Home Got Style: A Before & After Story (turn this into a weekly or monthly series on your blog and use it to show off your kick-butt design skills)

* One Couple, Two Very Different Design Aesthetics: How to Combine Your Styles for Maximum Impact (and Happiness!)

* From Ho-Hum to W-O-W: How to Use Luxe Accessories to Spice Up a Boring Room

 

And there you have it – 33 blog topic ideas from 30 minutes of brainstorming.

Now it’s time for you to give this brainstorming technique a try and let your creative freak flag fly, baby!

—–
**The Amazon generated ideas are somewhat generic; if this were a real client of mine, I would suggest much more specific blog topics based on their particular brand personality and target audience.**

For blog content brainstorming and content creation, I use the process I outlined in “3 Content Creation Hacks That Work Every Time,” and “How to Generate Blog Post Ideas, Part 2.”

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

Content Marketing for Small Business: 3 Articles You Need to Read Now

flickr photo by Rennett Stowe

Today on the blog, an OPC (Other People’s Content) Round-up of killer content marketing & strategy articles.

You’ll find thousands of articles about content marketing out there on the vast interwebz, but if you read these three now, you’ll be able to create your own content marketing plan (at least the 101 version) and start implementing it tomorrow.

Check ’em out:

Small business owners, get your content strategy ducks in a row for killer results. This article will give an excellent overview of how to make it happen:
http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/03/08/9-hard-hitting-content-strategies-for-small-business-blogging/

Next, use these 10 content marketing templates to get everything organized. Templates for content planning, keyword tracking, sales communication, and more:
http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/08/content-marketing-templates/

And finally, 3 things your content must do — be entertaining, strategic and shareable. Get the details here:
http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2012/07/02/the-3-essential-elements-of-successful-content-marketing/

So there you have it, enough information to get you started on your own content marketing plan.

Leave your questions or insights on content marketing in the comments section below!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

Content Creation Case Study: Blog Topics for a Clothing and Accessories Boutique

Fashion - Clothing and Accessories Boutique

If you’re dipping your toe in the content marketing water, then you know that marketing online with killer free content is one of the most effective ways to up your business visibility, increase your search engine traffic, and establish yourself as the go-to person in your niche.

All of which, if done correctly, will result in more sales. And who doesn’t want that?

To make content marketing work for you, however, you have to commit to creating original content on a regular basis. Yet I see so many blogs and websites out there that I know must have started with the best of intentions, but at some point ran out of steam.

You know the ones – blogs that were posted to twice a week for a few months, then once every other week, then, oh, about once every other month, until the sad day when you visit the blog and you can see the blogger just gave up. Because all that’s left is the ghostly shadow of a blog that hasn’t been posted to in months.

Ahem . . . is that you?

Of course when you’re trying to run a business, creating killer content on a weekly basis can seem overwhelming. The complaint I hear most often is, “but I don’t have enough ideas to write about every week.”

Today I’m going to take you through the exact process I use when working with a client to brainstorm blog topic ideas and create a content plan, using a fictional Clothing and Accessories Boutique as an example.

**The examples below are somewhat generic; if this were a real client of mine, I would suggest much more specific blog topics based on their particular brand personality and target audience.**

For blog content brainstorming, I use the process I outlined in “3 Content Creation Hacks That Work Every Time,” and “How to Generate Blog Post Ideas, Part 2.”

Essentially the steps are:

1. Keep an “Ideas” file and set aside an hour or two each week to brainstorm topic ideas

2. During that time, go through the resources below and “idea gather,” adding the best ideas to your ideas file

3. At the beginning of each week/month/quarter or whatever time increment works best for you, review the ideas in your file and plan out your content for the week/month/quarter, etc. How you plan out your content will depend on your goals, products or services you’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks and months, and any sales, events, promos and so on you have planned.

The resources from which you will gather ideas are: magazine headlines, Alltop, Amazon, Google Alerts, blogs in your niche, and HARO queries, to start. (For more information on these resources and how to use them to generate blog topic ideas, read the blog posts linked up above.)

Let’s take this fictional Clothing and Accessories Boutique through the paces, using just two of the resources above:

From Magazine Headlines in the fashion industry, I noted these ideas for blog posts:

The Best _________ for Every Body Type (swimsuit, dress, etc.)

How to Look Like You Hired a Stylist (Even When You Didn’t)

Best Colors to Wear Now

Hot Trends and Amazing Accessories for Every Budget

5 Minute Styling Tricks

The One Accessory Every Woman Needs Right Now

How to Dress for Your Body Type/to Flatter Your Body Type

From Amazon Book Chapter Titles, these ideas surfaced:

How to Shop Like a Stylist

Top 5 Fashion Misconceptions

10 Glamour Essentials Under $100

How to Shop for Vintage/How to Wear Vintage

How to Go from Demure to Daring with a Signature Wow Piece

15 Must-Own Accessories

3/5/7 or 2/4/6: Guide to Understanding Clothing Sizes

How to Personalize Your Look with Vintage

How to Camouflage with Color

The One Must-Own Item That Complements Every Body Type

10 Wardrobe Staples Every Woman Should Own

(That’s 18 blog topic ideas, and that bit of brainstorming took me less than an hour to do. Once I used the magazine headlines and book chapter titles shortcuts, the ideas below also came to me. )

A series of Fashion 101 Posts would make a great category for a weekly blog post:

Why You Should Spend More on the Basics

5 Investment Pieces Every Woman Should Own

Steps to Developing Your Personal Style

How to Shop: Dept. Stores

How to Shop: Sample Sales

How to Shop: Vintage and Second-Hand and/or Consignment

How to Shop: The Internet

How to Shop: Catalogues

How to Decide if a Trend Works for You

A series of Definition Posts would also work well:

Haute Couture

Prét-a-Porter

Sample Sale

And how about a “Style Icons” category for this fashion blog?

The Grace Kelly Guide to Looking Sexy in Pearls

The Jackie O Guide to Finding the Perfect Pair of Sunglasses

The Marilyn Monroe Guide to Dressing Like a Bombshell

The Betsey Johnson Guide to Creating Your Own Signature Style

That’s 34 total ideas for blog posts; if our fashion blogger posts twice a week, that’s over 4 months worth of material. And I only used the Magazine Headlines and Book Chapter Titles shortcuts to come up with these 34 ideas — if I finished out the exercise using the 4 other resources mentioned above, I could come up with enough ideas for an entire year.

The same will happen for you: once you get into this process and let it flow, you are going to come up with many of your own killer ideas for blog posts, whatever your topic happens to be.

**I don’t suggest using the headlines you find on Amazon verbatim; instead, use them as writing prompts — you’ll want to tweak them for your specific business and target audience.

Now you try it. Go ahead, let your creative freak flag fly, baby!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Write the Perfect Blog Post

I love to share a good resource when I find one, because hey, sharing is caring.  Check out the uber-useful cheat sheet below before writing your next blog post, from Derek Halpern at Social Triggers (link to his info below, under graphic).

PerfectBlogPost
Like this? Get more marketing tips from Social Triggers.

What is an Editorial Calendar and Why Do I Need One?

Editorial Calendar

Simple Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar, or “ed cal,” is nothing more than a publishing schedule.  If you decide you’re going post to your blog twice a week and send out your newsletter once a week, and you plan out that content in advance, say by keeping an ideas file or similar, then you have yourself an editorial calendar.  It doesn’t need to be formal or fancy, just so you have some kind of system for planning and scheduling regular content.

 

Why do I need an editorial calendar?

To be successful online, whether your business lives strictly online, or you use online marketing as part of the marketing mix for your offline business, you need a content marketing plan.

If that sounds too oppressive, think of it as your communication plan (or your content planning system, as I do). This communication plan will consist of posting free high-value content to your blog, newsletter, and social media profiles regularly, content  that “inspires and instructs” your audience, as our good friend and mentor Marie Forleo says.

Great free content is the cornerstone of your online success, so you want to have a system in place for making it happen.  Using an editorial calendar is part of that system.

I can tell you from vast experience (World’s Biggest Procrastinator here), that it’s much less stressful to look at a calendar with several working blog post ideas jotted down and start writing, than it is to sit down in front of a blank computer screen with a blog post looming and the feeling you got nothin.’  In which case every sentence feels like torture.  This is bad for your creative juju.

Establishing an editorial calendar is the fastest, easiest and best way to establish consistency with your content marketing and get your audience coming back for more on a regular basis.

 

My Content Planning System

My system is simple, and has just two steps:

#1:  I keep a Notepad document open on my desktop, and anytime I think of an idea for a blog post or weekly newsletter, I add it to my running list in Notepad.  I’ve got more ideas there now than I can write about for the rest of the year, and that’s where Step Two comes in.

#2:  I go through the Notepad doc at the beginning of each month, and plan out by week precisely what I’ll post to the blog and send out in the newsletter for that month.  Note, I don’t plan more than a month in advance because, A., it feels completely doable this way and doesn’t cause undue stress, and B., I might come across some great thing I want to respond to or write about right away, and I want to leave room for random inspiration.

So think of an editorial calendar as the foundation of your communication plan.  This bit of planning will keep you consistent and help you get the most audience reach from your free high-quality content.

Your system can be whatever you want it to be – but do have a plan. Because it’s consistency that separates the amateurs from the pros online, and an editorial calendar will keep you consistent.  Just a little tip from me to you.  ; )

What’s your system for planning and scheduling content?  Please share it in the comments section!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Generate Blog Post Ideas, Part 2

Last blog post I talked about my system for consistently generating dozens of ideas for blog posts and weekly newsletter content, and shared three resources you can use to find kick-butt ideas of your own.

This time I want to talk about three other good resources for idea-gathering:

1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts will allow you to monitor any topic or search term you choose; when results are found for that search term, Google sends them to you in an email.

You choose result type:  “Everything,” or, news, blogs, videos, discussions, books, etc., frequency:  once a day, as they happen or once a week, and how many: “only the best results” or “all results.”

This is a great tool for generating content ideas, but you can also use it to gather market and competitor intelligence, and who doesn’t want that?

Go here to set up your own Google Alerts.

2. Blogs in your niche

I love this as an idea generator, because it’s essentially killing two birds with one stone – you’re likely reading the blogs in your niche anyway, so why not gather some ideas while you’re there? Just pop over to a few of your favorites and note what’s being written about.

But don’t stop there – you’ll also want to pay attention to which blog posts get the most interaction in the way of comments and social shares.  This will give you an idea of some of the hot topics in your niche.

You’re not going to copy these ideas verbatim, of course, but use the material to spark your own ideas, and add these to your Ideas File.  You can then write about these topics from the opposite viewpoint, or go deeper into them for a more nuanced view, etc.

3. HARO Queries

HARO is an email list you sign up for to receive daily queries from reporters who need sources for their stories; it stands for “Help A Reporter Out.”

There’s a whole other blog post waiting to be written about how to mine HARO for sharing your expertise and getting publicity for your business, but today I simply want point out what a great tool it is for generating blog post ideas.

Why is this a such a great short cut for getting content ideas?  Because each HARO email alert will have several queries in multiple categories, and since journalists are looking for sources for these stories on a deadline, you already know they are super hot, timely topics.  Just a little tip from me to you.  ; )

Sign up for your own HARO email alerts here.

 

There you have it, 3 more excellent resources to add to your blog post idea generating toolkit.  And for still more idea gathering, you might want to check out forums in your niche, Tweetmeme for trending Twitter topics, Google Trends, or simply address questions your customers frequently ask .

So tell me, what are your go-to tips for coming up with blog post and newsletter topic ideas?  Please share in the comments, I’d love to know your tricks!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

3 Content Creation Hacks That Work Every Time

If you have a blog, a newsletter, social media accounts you post to daily, or any other venue that requires fresh new content on a regular basis, you’re familiar with the never-ending hunger of the content beast.

The content beast is devoted to gobbling up the very best and meatiest content you can provide, but come next week, or next day, or next hour, that content eater wants to be fed again.

And creating this content on a regular basis is what prevents a lot of harried, overworked small business owners from engaging in content marketing at all, despite its many benefits.

I get it. It seems overwhelming.

But you’re smart – you know that for marketing and SEO purposes, positioning yourself as an expert in your niche online by providing juicy new content on a regular basis is a critical piece of your marketing pie.

What you need is a system.

Because here’s the thing:  great blog post or newsletter ideas don’t materialize out of the blue, like an inspirational lightning bolt from a Greek god/goddess — well, sometimes they do, but you can’t count on this bit of serendipity on a weekly basis – you need a system for coming up with ideas.

So I’m a gonna tell you what I do, then I’m going to give you the no-fail techniques I use that work like a charm, every single time, to generate fresh content ideas daily, weekly and monthly.

My personal system for consistently generating ideas for blog posts, newsletter content, guest posts, social media status updates, and so on, which can be adapted to any niche you happen to do business in, is this:

1. I keep an “Ideas File” – a Notepad doc is open on my computer at all times while I’m on the interwebs.  Anytime I see anything that sparks an idea – blog post, newsletter, newspaper headline, social media status update, video, etc. —  I paste the link to that resource into my Notepad doc and add a few notes about it.

2. I set aside at least one hour each week to get really quiet and do some serious brainstorming for content ideas.  Early in the morning at my desk with a strong cup of coffee, a legal pad, and the patio door open seems to work best for me.  (The key is to treat this hour each week like a firm it’s-written-in-ink-in-your-day-planner appointment with yourself.  )

3. I commit an hour each week to go through the resources below and “idea-gather;” again, making a note in my Notepad doc of every idea that comes to me while doing so. These content creation “hacks” have served me well, and I bet they’ll do the same for you.

That’s it — that’s my current “system,” which I constantly tweak, but which works extremely well for me.

Tried-and-True Methods for Generating Heaps of Compelling Content Ideas

I’m going to take the broad topic of “small business marketing” through the paces of the content creation hacks below to show you how I do it.

1.  Magazine Headlines

One of the best ways to spark ideas for blog posts your audience wants to read is to grab a bunch of magazines in your niche and read through the headlines, a handy little shortcut I wrote about in more detail in How to Create Blog Posts Your Target Audience Wants to Read.

Publishers spend thousands of dollars and do exhaustive research to figure out which stories will generate the strongest response among their readers, so why not piggyback on that research to gather some ideas for your own business/blog/newsletter niche?

Want some examples?  I thought you might.

From Entrepreneur (online), I spied these headlines:

• Need Ideas for Your Business Blog?  Here Are 50

• How to Create a Social Media Marketing Schedule

• How to Adopt a Sales Mindset

• In Amish Country, A Lesson in Niche Marketing

My creative juices are already flowing with ideas for a blog post and a couple of social media status updates I can do, using just the headlines here.

2. Alltop

Alltop bills itself as “an online magazine rack for your favorite topics.”   Essentially, Alltop aggregates the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover a particular topic.  They then group these collections, or “aggregations,” into individual web pages, and display the five most recent headlines of the information sources as well as their first paragraph.

From the “small business” topic page on Alltop, I found these interesting stories (among hundreds):

• How to Grow a Business with Little Cash

• Don’t Confuse Passion with Competence

• Do Your Services Pass the Sniff Test?

• The 5 Biggest Email Marketing Mistakes

• 7 Low-Budget Small Business Marketing Ideas

• How to Write A Business Story Pitch

3.  Amazon

There are hundreds of ideas hiding in plain sight inside Amazon you can riff off of for your own content ideas.  Here’s what you want to do here:  search on your topic in the books category, then pick a few books in your niche from the returned results.  Once you get there, click on the “Look Inside!” option on the book cover image.  Once there you can cruise through the Table of Contents of said book, and let the idea sparking begin!

I searched the Books category on “small business marketing,” which returned 5193 results.  Gold mine!  : )

From the book “Duct Tape Marketing” by John Jantsch I see these chapters in the Table of Contents:

• Identify Your Ideal Client

• Discover Your Core Marketing Message

• Get Found Online in Your Town

From the book “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port, these:

• Why People Buy What You’re Selling

• Develop a Personal Brand

• The Book Yourself Solid Web Strategy

I’ve already written about getting found online in your town a little and I know it’s a topic I want to produce more content on, so that’s going into the “Ideas File,” ditto “Why People Buy What You’re Selling,” because I find the psychology of business and sales so fascinating, and it would make for a great blog article.  So there ya go, I just got at least two ideas for blog posts from spending just 10 minutes on this exercise.

Now don’t you know that if I spent an hour going through the chapter titles of a few more of those 5193 books on small business marketing, I’d come up with dozens more ideas? You betcha, and you can do exactly the same thing.

There are several other resources I use regularly to generate ideas for content, which I’ll talk about next time on the blog.  Until then, why don’t you give these three methods a try and see what you come up with?

What are your tried-and-true methods for coming up with great content?  Share them in the Comments!

 

[Don’t have time to do this yourself, but want an editorial calendar of solid content ideas for your blog and newsletter for the next 60-90 days?  Check out the Content Coaching/Strategy Session option on the Work With Me page!]