Rainmaker Rewind: A Theory of the Universe of Nonfiction Books (and the Art of Creative Theft)

Rainmaker FM rewind

This week on Rainmaker Rewind, Pamela Wilson and Jeff Goins from the podcast Zero to Book explore the predictable structure of nonfiction books and what that means for your writing.

Pamela and Jeff also share their theories on “creative borrowing” and how choosing between the two main structures most nonfiction books follow can help you create a better, more cohesive presentation.

And as always, be sure to check out the other fascinating episodes that aired this past week on Rainmaker FM.


  1. Zero to Book. Jeff Goins and Pamela Wilson share their thoughts on the world of nonfiction writing: A Theory of the Universe of Nonfiction Books (and the Art of Creative Theft)
  2. The Writer Files. Kelton Reid interviews New York Times bestselling author of The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: How Bestselling Debut Novelist Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney Writes: Part One
  3. The Digital Entrepreneur. Brian Clark is going to start publishing articles on a site other than his own. Find out where: Brian Clark is Doing … What?
  4. Elsewhere. Brian Clark joins Travis Jenkins on The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show to explore the factors that make Rainmaker Digital so successful: Brian Clark on The Entrepreneur’s Radio Show
  5. Confessions of a Pink-haired Marketer. Sonia Simone is going to be featured in a new documentary. Find out the details and more: Up All Night to Get Lucky: Sonia’s in a New Documentary!
  6. The Missing Link. Jabez LeBret and Mica Gadhia discuss how to find vendors on LinkedIn and the best ways for others to find your business: LinkedIn and Vendors: Everything You Need to Know
  7. The Showrunner. Jerod Morris and Jon Nastor dive into the thought processes behind what they share on their podcasts and what they filter out: Beware: Authenticity Is Not Transparency
  8. Youpreneur. Chris Guillebeau joins Chris Ducker to talk about his latest book and why he wrote it after hearing from so many of his rabid fans that they had “won the career lottery”: How to Discover if You Were ‘Born For This,’ with Chris Guillebeau
  9. Copyblogger FM. Sonia Simone chats with Linda Formichelli about her new book and how it can help all of us fit a lot more great stuff into our lives: Self-Publishing, Side Hustles, and Doing It All: A Conversation with Linda Formichelli
  10. Unemployable. Brian Clark welcomes John Unger to the show to discuss the power of the perpetual side hustle: The Economics of Artistic Integrity

And, one more thing …

If you want to get Rainmaker Rewind sent straight to your favorite podcast player, subscribe right here on Rainmaker FM.

The post Rainmaker Rewind: A Theory of the Universe of Nonfiction Books (and the Art of Creative Theft) appeared first on Copyblogger.


A Step-By-Step Process to Tell Compelling Stories and Improve Conversion Rates

story telling

I’ve noticed that there’s something that scares most marketers.

We love our data.

Most marketers find it fun to review their traffic, engagement, and subscriber numbers. It allows them to test new things and measure their effect.

Data is logical.

But when it comes to content marketing, there’s a component that doesn’t always seem logical: storytelling.

I’m not talking about writing a fiction novel. I am talking about having the ability to write about even the most boring topics in a fun-to-read way.

It’s something that many marketers, even good ones, struggle to do.

Do you also have trouble with this part of creating content?

I see you nodding.

I’ll be honest: that’s a problem. If you can’t write persuasively, you’ll struggle to get subscribers, traffic, etc.

The good news is that it’s a skill that can be improved.

And if do it well, you can create content that sparks conversations across your niche. You’ll find that dozens of blogs start mentioning and linking to your content with very little effort on your part.

Although this skill might seem like something abstract and impossible to improve upon, it can be translated into a proven process that you can follow. This makes developing it a lot easier.

In this post, I’m going to show you that process, step by step.

If you implement it, your content should produce more traffic, referrals, backlinks, and subscribers. 

Step 1: Identify and describe the problem (3 parts)

A story can be really interesting to you but completely uninteresting to someone else, depending on how it’s told. That’s because we care about different things and enjoy things in different ways.

When you’re creating content, there are two places you can start:

  • The problem (that you intend to solve for your readers)
  • Your readers

Either can work, but starting with your readers is the most logical place to begin.

The more you understand your audience, the more you can tailor your content to them. Ideally, you want to be able to answer questions such as:

  • What are their passions?
  • What are their biggest problems?
  • Whom do they care about most?
  • What do they do for entertainment?

You can figure out some of this by doing some basic demographic and psychographic research.

The ideal way to figure out these answers is to talk face-to-face with some of your readers.

There are three ways to do this:

  1. Know some people in your target audience in your daily offline life. Offer to take them out to lunch and talk to them.
  2. Ask email subscribers to answer a survey, or have a quick chat with them. Offer a small reward if they agree (even a $5 gift card could be enough).
  3. Host webinars. Not only are webinars great because they convert subscribers into customers, but they are also great because they give you a chance to actually talk with your most engaged readers.


Once you’re having a conversation, you can ask most of those questions above although you should try to phrase them in a way relevant to your niche.

For example, since I write about marketing, I could ask questions such as:

  • Why are you learning marketing?
  • What do you hope to accomplish as a marketer?
  • How will marketing affect other areas of your life?

Analyze the answers from 10-20 different people, and you’ll start to see patterns.

Next, identify the problem and the pain: Each piece of content should solve one specific problem. And all problems produce pain, which is where the emotion behind storytelling factors in.

If you understand the pain, you can explain the problem better than most readers can themselves. If a reader sees that you can do that, they’ll believe that you have the solution.

All content and stories should start with the pain because that’s how you draw in the reader.

Before you start writing, you should be able to fill in the blanks:

The problem I solve for my reader is ______________________.


The reason my reader is motivated to solve this problem is because _______________(the pain).

Finally, you need to put that pain in the context of your reader.

For example, say you write about fitness. You identify that many gym-goers get wrist pain while bench-pressing. The pain is a clear physical one, and your reader wants to solve this problem.

But think of the difference in the pain for:

  • A casual gym-goer
  • A high level athlete

For the casual gym-goer, the pain is annoying because it makes it harder to get into shape.

However, for a high level athlete, the pain isn’t just physical-it’s preventing them from improving and achieving important goals in their life.

You can’t write a story to appeal to both audiences at the same time. That’s why the first part of this section was so important.

With all this identified, you can move onto the next step, which is where you can actually start the story.

Step 2: Drive the pain home

Now you’re beginning your content.

While you might want to remind your readers of the pain throughout your story, the intro is where you need to drive it home.

You want to use everything you’ve learned from step 1 and describe the pain your reader is facing in great detail.

Copywriters often call this “amplifying” the pain.

Let’s look at an example. Here’s the intro from an article on Smart Blogger.


I’ve highlighted a few different things here:

  1. A common fear the readers of that blog have.
  2. Illustrating the pain and frustration his readers feel (describing why).
  3. Amplifying the pain by connecting this specific pain (little traffic from each piece of content) to a bigger pain (failing to get traffic and subscribers on the overall blog).

So, how do you do this for your own content?

There’s no set formula, but to start, make a list of:

  • The problem
  • The pains specific to that problem
  • The bigger pains related to the problem

Remember earlier, our example problem was that our athlete was getting wrist pain in the gym.

At this point, you’d have some notes on your outline, like this:

  • The problem – You can’t work out effectively and can’t make progress in the gym.
  • The specific pains – Sharp wrist pain every time you try to bench-press a decent weight.
  • The bigger pains – If you can’t work out, you can’t achieve the level of play that you want. If you can’t get rid of this pain, you’ll see your teammates and opponents surpass you because they aren’t limited by it.

Those three points come together really naturally from there.

After pain, offer relief: You’ve effectively “broken down” your reader. They’re feeling the pain and worried about what happens if they can’t solve the problem.

But now, you turn it around and offer an answer. You’re the only one who understands their pain, and you know how to solve it. Why wouldn’t they be interested in what you have to say?

Make your transition, just like in the example post from above:


There are two parts to this:

  • State your solution
  • Give an optimistic example

In the case above, the author’s solution to traffic problems was to leverage Slideshare. Then, he gave an example of Michael Hyatt getting 70,000 views on his content on Slideshare.

In our example, the solution might be to fix our athlete’s bench-pressing technique. You could give a personal example or an example of a student who was able to get past their pain and add 50 pounds to their bench press within three months of implementing the solution.

Essentially, you’re saying that you understand their end goal and now want to show them how to connect the dots.

Step 3: Craft a narrative

Now we’re into the meat of the story.

It’s time to not only give your solution but explain why it works. The more context you can give, the better.

For example, Alex Turnbull (Groove HQ blogger) wanted to write a post about improving conversion rates through design.

But to make it more compelling, he crafted a narrative-a before and after story. He went through the steps that Groove used to increase their conversion rates by 100%.


If you can give detailed examples throughout your solution, you’ll make the story much more interesting.

However, it’s not always possible, so focus mainly on providing the best possible solution for your reader and then add examples if possible.

Step 4: You can only be compelled if you believe in the story

Here’s a part that many marketers miss.

If you did the first few steps right, your readers will read your content with an open mind. After all, you seem to really understand their problem and pain and claim to have a solution that works.

If you want your readers to be ready to take action at the end of your content or landing page, you need to give proof.

On landing pages, this is typically done with testimonials and case studies.


For blog posts, you do this with data and research throughout your story.

The more evidence you can provide to show that your solution should work for your reader, the more likely they are to take action.

For example, I wrote a post about “How I Generated $332,640 in 3 Months From Instagram.”

In this post, I outlined the strategy I took, but I also provided proof-a screenshot of the sales I made:


When you include proof like that, your reader will believe that your solution worked for you and thus might work for them too.

Want to make your story bulletproof? The key factor above is that the data and personal examples show that your story is true and that it worked in the main scenario you’re writing about.

Sometimes, that leaves some readers with the question: “But will it work for me?”

That’s where you need to pile on the evidence.

In that same article about using Instagram, I shared multiple examples (case studies) of other businesses using the exact same model to achieve great results:


The point is to remove as much doubt from readers’ minds as possible.

Step 5: Inspire action and bring it home

Your story (content) is essentially complete at this point.

You’ve done the following so far:

  • Described the pain
  • Offered hope of a solution
  • Detailed your solution
  • Backed it up with examples and data

As you know, simply reading a blog post alone is almost always useless.

The real value for the readers is in applying the information they learned from your posts.

Some readers are self-motivated and will figure out how to do that. However, many of your readers won’t know what to do unless you tell them (or at least give them a hint).

You’ve probably noticed I end all my posts with some sort of a conclusion. In that conclusion, I include a call to action.

For example:


It’s your chance to remind your readers of the main steps that they should take to apply whatever solution you showed them.

This is also an opportunity to include a call to action for anything further that might help them.

You might tell readers to try some strategy you laid out. And you can also include a call to action to sign up for a course you offer, subscribe for an email list, or download a content upgrade.



Truly compelling content inspires readers to act on your advice.

Making a big impact in your readers’ lives will help you get more traffic and turn more of those readers into subscribers and customers.

While creative storytelling isn’t the strength of most marketers, we’re not trying to write a fiction masterpiece here.

Instead, you should aim to tell stories to intrigue readers so that they keep reading and then take action. If you follow the 5-step process I’ve shown you, you’ll be able to do exactly that.

If you’ve read or written any great pieces of content lately, share them below so that we can all see more examples of compelling stories.

Membership Sites Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video]

content marketing glossary - what are membership sites?

Let’s imagine you’ve published more than 100 articles on your website and you have 500 subscribers.

Many of those articles drive substantial traffic to your site, and you’ve published 12 guest blog posts on other websites. Those guest posts also drive traffic and help you gain subscribers.

About once a month, you get an invitation to be interviewed or sit on a panel. Due to the authority you’ve established, people in your industry look to you for advice, direction, and education.

Launching a membership site might be an ideal way to monetize your authority.

But what exactly is a membership site?

Watch our short, fun video about membership sites

With help from our friends at The Draw Shop, we whipped up 12 definitions from our new Content Marketing Glossary into short, fun whiteboard animated videos.

Here’s our video for the definition of a membership site:

Animation by The Draw Shop

For those of you who would prefer to read, here’s the transcript:

A membership site is a private, password-protected website that offers exclusive content and training and (often) the ability for members to interact with one another.

These members pay you either a one-time or a recurring monthly fee for access to the site. You can also build a free membership site, giving access to exclusive content or products in exchange for a prospect’s free registration.

Or, you can offer a combination of free and paid levels within the same site, allowing your customers to upgrade their subscriptions according to their needs.

You’ve probably come across sites like these before – just like Authority, Copyblogger’s content marketing training and networking community.

So, if you’re an expert in something, and want to go beyond just blogging, creating a membership site can leverage your time significantly – and, if done right, can become a very sustainable digital business.

Share this video

Click here to check out this definition on YouTube and share it with your audience. You’ll also find 11 additional Content Marketing Glossary videos.

Grow and serve your audience

If you’d like additional information about membership sites, visit these three resources:

And with the Rainmaker Platform, you can build powerful membership sites without all the hassles of technical development and management.

Learn more from the Content Marketing Glossary

We’ll feature the rest of the videos soon, but if you’d prefer not to wait, you can watch all the videos now by going directly to the Content Marketing Glossary.

By the way, let us know if there are any definitions you’d like us to add to the glossary! Just drop your responses in the comments below.

The post Membership Sites Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video] appeared first on Copyblogger.

The Secret to Powerful Products that Sell: Meet Tara Gentile, Creator of ‘Quiet Power’

tara gentile - how to unlock the door between before and after

Tara Gentile is known for helping people grow terrific businesses – without sacrificing ethics or heart.

Tara works with “idea people” – people who have an idea that they want to turn into a product, program, or service, but who may not always see themselves as business owners or marketers. She helps her audience and clients find the right business models, craft marketing that resonates, and structure their businesses for profit.

She calls her approach the Quiet Power Strategy – and it’s a complete reversal of a lot of the “cookie cutter” advice you sometimes see around digital business.

Listen and observe

A while back, Tara spoke with Rainmaker Digital CEO Brian Clark about how to thoughtfully observe your audience in order to strengthen your business.

Listen to Win: How Actionable Observation Provides Profitable Answers

Brian and Tara share a deep focus on listening in order to uncover audience interests, fears, and desires. When you master this, everything about your business starts to work better.

It’s also the key to marketing that doesn’t feel pushy or creepy – because you’re speaking directly to the problems and concerns of your audience, using their own language. Marketing becomes a direct expression of audience empathy.

Listening is the key to building a business based on service rather than selfishness.

“I see [listening] as probably the biggest thing that’s keeping people from creating marketing that works and products that sell easily … and sales processes that don’t feel slimy.” – Tara Gentile

What do they care deeply about?

In Tara’s world (and ours), the journey always starts with the deepest goals and concerns of the audience.

“How are you going to help them go from before to after?” – Tara Gentile

Tara’s process unearths what she calls the Target Conversation. Who are the people having this conversation, and what are they actually talking about?

Most of the time, the road from their problem to the solution you offer isn’t a straight line; it’s a series of somewhat meandering connections. This sequence of relevant ideas will click with the people in your audience where they are right now – not where you wish they were.

Tara calls this step Connecting the Dots: starting with where they are today, then moving purposefully to the next dot … and the next, and the next.

In this way, you create a clear path between your audience’s problems and your solutions.

Solving audience problems … even if you aren’t a renowned expert

“Don’t call yourself an expert … just be helpful. If you’re two steps ahead of your audience on the journey, you’re still a leader.” – Brian Clark

Tara and Brian share the conviction that a business that’s built on solving specific audience problems is far more powerful than starting with a notion of some abstract “market.”

“When you look at real people with real problems – or with real desires – they’ve got blanks. There’s something missing that isn’t allowing them to accomplish what they want to accomplish … There’s sort of a locked door between that before and after … And we’ve got insight into how to open it.” – Tara Gentile

Once you adjust your approach to focus your business’s marketing and products on customer problems and the solutions to those problems, you’ve set yourself up for success.

How to approach writing a promotion

“My best tip for copywriting is to feed your customers’ words back to them … They want to know that you’ve actually thought about what their problem is.” – Tara Gentile

First, Tara listens for the themes and language that come up again and again for her audience. Her promotional copy is then crafted to provide answers and solutions that speak to those specific issues.

She builds each sales page around a single key insight that’s arisen from conversations with her audience and customers. That gives the promotion focus, connecting Tara’s expertise directly to what’s most important to her prospects right now.

Promotions crafted this way stand out from the general background of noise and clutter that we see every day on the web and in our inboxes.

“The opposite of quiet isn’t loud; it’s noise.” – Tara Gentile

Let Tara walk you through her process: 7 Ways to Listen to Your Audience

We’re so happy that Tara will be joining us this October in Denver, Colorado at our live Digital Commerce Summit.

Here’s what Tara had to say about the presentation she’ll be teaching:

“It’s time to stop guessing about what digital product to create (whether it’s your first or your next). It’s also time to stop wasting time and money building the wrong products (i.e. the ones people don’t buy). Learn seven distinct ways to listen to your audience and build a system for turning what you hear into profitable offers. You’ll never have to guess about what people want to buy again.”

Tara’s process is applicable to any business – from selling a single ebook to running a multi-million dollar SaaS.

Join us October 13-14 for a carefully chosen curriculum that will give you the momentum you need to level up as a digital entrepreneur. Tara is just one of 15 speakers who have walked the walk. Over two days, we’ll teach you how to take your digital project to the next level – or how to get something new off the ground.

Click here to get the details and snag the best price on your tickets.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

The post The Secret to Powerful Products that Sell: Meet Tara Gentile, Creator of ‘Quiet Power’ appeared first on Copyblogger.

6 Unscalable Tactics That Will Get You More Customers

The biggest problem most businesses have is getting more customers.

Business owners believe that if they could just find that one magic growth tactic, their business would be set.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of them will never find that tactic.

And while they’re searching for that magic bullet, they’re passing up on smaller, unscalable tactics that could be getting them a consistent stream of new traffic.

The confusion mainly comes from misinterpretation of the concept of growth hacking:


The only real condition to growth hacking is prioritizing customer/user growth above all else.

However, too many marketers seem to believe that growth hacking must involve rapid, viral growth that makes or breaks the company.

Sometimes, maximizing your growth potential means focusing on unscalable tactics. They cost more per acquisition but deliver customers when other tactics are failing.

These are best applied early on in a business, when scalable tactics (advertising, really high quality viral video campaigns, etc.) are not realistic.

I’m going to share 6 unscalable tactics that are often very effective for young businesses looking to grow. Probably, not all of them will apply to your business, but you should be able to identify at least a few you can try. 

1. Trialists rarely leave for no reason

It makes me want to bang my head against my desk.



Some marketers are so focused on getting new customers that they don’t realize that what happens after a signup or purchase is the most important factor behind growth.

Growth comes from creating a product that is as close to the needs and wants of your customers as possible.

You can’t create that kind of a product going on intuition, without any actual customer feedback.

No feedback is feedback: If someone signs up for a demo or a trial or purchases something from you, that tells you something.

It tells you that:

  • They need a solution to a problem you’re trying to solve.
  • They like the sound and/or look of your product.

But if a customer stops using your product right after they start using it (particularly for software products), that’s your feedback.

Their problem didn’t just disappear. What happened is they concluded that your product couldn’t help them sufficiently.

What’s the point of getting new customers if you barely retain any of them?

On top of that, you need to absolutely thrill customers if you want them to recommend you to others.

The solution? Get feedback: As long as you collect email addressed when people sign up, you can contact them.

If a large portion of your new signups are disappearing on you, personally send them an email and find out how your product fell short.

The customer is still in “pain” because they haven’t solved their problem, which makes them pretty receptive to outreach.

It’s not scalable to email every single new customer you get, but this type of feedback is how you’ll make your customers love your product. You could even survey a fraction of your customers and still get really valuable feedback.

You can also preemptively get feedback by sending your customers a welcome email, asking them how they found you and what they’re hoping your product can do for them.

Here’s how Groove did it with great success:


Try something similar, and you’ll get a high response rate with great feedback.

2. Don’t be afraid to sell one-on-one at first

I’ve started many companies at this point, and believe me, they weren’t all successes at first.

It’s a huge job to start a business from scratch. Getting customers is just one area, but it is indeed very difficult since you don’t have your perfect product yet or any word of mouth in most cases.

Sometimes, you can throw money at advertising and get your growth off the ground.

Sometimes you can’t. Whether it’s because of your budget or because of your product, advertising isn’t always a great option.

An option that I recommend is to have one-on-one conversations with your potential customers.

Where do you find them?

  • Forums
  • Sites like Reddit
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites
  • Friends in real life

Let me give you an example. Say you’re selling a website builder. You could spend time on the startups and entrepreneur subreddits, forums such as Warrior Forum, and many groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

It will take time, but you’ll come across questions and conversations like this one I pulled from Reddit:


Someone was looking for a website builder with search functionality.

Then, you can send the user a message. Something like this:

Hey, I saw that you were trying to create a search based website. I actually have a lot of experience with that sort of thing and even built a website builder for that specific reason.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about it. Just send me your email address, and we can hop on Skype or Slack or have a quick email chat.



Note that everything in this message is about how you can help them, and not the other way around.

It’s much easier to sell to someone when you have their full attention during a chat, and especially when you’re actually providing them with additional help and guidance.

3. Make customers come back with a little extra effort

Like I said above, the customer experience after they try or purchase something is what leads them to become return customers and to start talking about your product to others.

One way you could make sure they end their experience on a high note, which will encourage them to talk about your business and come back, is with a handwritten thank-you note.

Unless your customers are very young, handwritten letters are typically perceived as a caring, personal gesture.

For example, this is a simple card that a Jawbone customer received:


When the recipient of the note posted the above photo on Twitter, this one tweet resulted in over 100 shares (at the time of writing).

While a card will take you a few minutes to write and send (if you batch them), it will return much more to you if do it well.

Could this be scaled? If you have thousands of customers, it’ll be hard to write a real letter to each of them.

Some businesses, such as Bond and MailLift, offer services that will write the letters for you. You just need to provide the addresses and names:


Ideally, you don’t want to be writing the same thing to each customer. So, while this is an option, it’s not quite as good as writing your own letters.

4. Trade your product for something more valuable

I mentioned it earlier: it’s tough to get customers for a new product with no customer base.

People want to see that others have had a good experience with something before buying it themselves.

Translated to marketing, this is social proof, primarily seen in the form of testimonials and case studies.


Both can provide assurance to potential customers considering buying from you and often have a large impact on conversion rates.

You have to give to get: Great testimonials or case studies are worth several times the cost of your product.

One option, early on, is to give away your product or service in return for a testimonial or case study.

The hard part is finding a way to actually get this offer in front of people.

It will depend on your product.

For some, you can simply make a forum post or Reddit thread and offer a few samples of your product (say 5-10) to any users willing to give you feedback. You can get their emails and go into more details later.

If that’s not an option, you need to be more creative:

  • Offer it to anyone who contacts you with questions about the product.
  • Install live chat on your website, and offer products to anyone who engages.


  • Actively reach out to customers if possible (say you sell a product for bloggers)

Most people are pretty receptive to trying something for free.

Once you’ve invested in these testimonials or case studies, you need to make sure they’re effective. Luckily, I’ve written about it in the past:

5. Have a broad market? Consider stickers…

I’ve mentioned Reddit a few times in this post as well as many of my other posts. Reddit is now one of the largest sites in the world.

Do you want to know how Reddit got off the ground?

In 2005, the two co-founders got $12,000 from Y Combinator.

That’s $12,000 for the whole business, so not a ton to go around. They were left with $500 for a marketing budget.

They promptly spent that $500 on stickers of their alien mascot:


They plastered them in public everywhere they could and handed out the rest at events or to random people on the street.

Soon after, stickers started showing up on social media and other websites, and people learned about Reddit. The picture above is of Wil Wheaton in the background of a sticker.

I love this idea because you’ll always stand out. Just make sure that your site or product is identified on the sticker and that it ends up in view of the people you’re trying to target.

The Reddit stickers worked out well because they were placed on bus stations and buildings on college campuses. Reddit had a pretty broad audience, even at the start, but primarily focused on young, tech-savvy users (college students).

You don’t necessarily have to use stickers. You could try:

  • Backpack or luggage tags
  • T-shirts or hats
  • Bracelets
  • Glow sticks

Be creative.

6. Get out and speak

Speaking at events comes with a lot of benefits.

For one, it may lead to direct payment, which alone is highly rewarding.

But when you’re first starting out, the biggest benefit is having an audience in front of you.

Most crowds consist of customers and peers (other businesses in your industry).

As a speaker, you position yourself as an expert-an expert with whom many people in the audience will want to do business.

If you have something to sell to those businesses, you’ll almost always make some sales. More importantly, you can find ways to work together.

For example, a real estate agent could partner up with a home decorator. The home decorator could touch up houses for sale and leave business cards or pamphlets for people the agent shows the houses to.

The agent gets a better looking house to sell, and the decorator gets more customers. Win-win.

Where do you start if you want to speak at conferences? Unfortunately, you can’t just jump in and speak at the biggest ones in your industry.

You’re starting from the bottom, and you need to start with whatever experience you can get.

Focus on getting experience first so you can leverage it later to get speaking opportunities at bigger events. If you can get customers from these first few speaking gigs as well, that’s just a great bonus.

To find a list of conferences actively looking for speakers, Google “(industry) conferences speaker proposal”:


Put in some decent effort into your proposals, and you’ll get at least a few chances to speak.

Here are some quick tips on how to increase your chances of being invited to speak:

  1. Stick to the requirements – Different conferences want to know different things about their speakers. Always read all the details they provide, and try to describe yourself according to them.
  2. Don’t be a generalist – Never submit a proposal and call yourself something like a “marketing expert.” Instead, pick a specific area, e.g., “influencer marketing expert.”
  3. Your bio leaves a mark – You’ll get a chance to submit a bio most of the time. Put emphasis on your most impressive professional accomplishments.
  4. Talk specifics – Part of a proposal is a topic you could speak about and a short description. Try to think of something unique that the audience would love. That way, no other speaker could fill your spot.

Apply to several conferences at the same time because they can take a little while to get back to you.


Scalable growth is sexy, but it’s not always possible.

If your business is still struggling for customers, don’t be afraid to use unscalable marketing tactics.

I’ve shown you 6 in this post, so you should be able to get working on at least one right away.

If you have any experience with unscalable growth tactics, I’d love it if you shared your creative ideas in a comment below.

Get More Done and Boost Profits with This 3-Step Process for Hiring Help

gather a team to boost your success

Does your business card proudly proclaim “Content Marketing Professional, Chief Cook, and Bottle Washer?”

Now’s the time to change that to simply “Content Marketing Professional.”

We often take pride in the fact that we’re in charge of every aspect of running our businesses, from doing accounting to changing the light bulbs in the office.

But here’s some shocking news, especially if you’re new to content marketing and are still bootstrapping your way to success: Hiring help – outsourcing tasks you struggle with so you can focus on your strengths – will allow you to grow your business and your income at a crazy-fast pace.

Let’s talk about how to go from “doing it all” to “doing only what you do best.”

Step #1: Determine what you don’t need to do

Is there one aspect of your business that you despise – or that you’re just not that good at?

Chances are, there’s someone else who loves that task and offers it as a service.

And think about it: If you’re doing your taxes, you’re not polishing your prose. If you’re cleaning your office, you’re not sharing your content on social media.

Tasks you may want to delegate include:

Content formatting and finding images

Perhaps you love writing blog posts or email newsletters, but you don’t have a lot of experience formatting your content or finding compelling images. Find someone who does, so you have the time to write more.

Editing and proofreading

Even professional writers benefit from editing and proofreading. The bigger and more complex the project, the more likely you’ll want a second set of eyes on it. I hired a developmental editor for my new book, How to Do It All, and it ended up so much stronger after he took his red pen to it.

Social media management

Too busy creating content to share it on social media yourself? Hire a social media whiz to take care of it for you, so you have more time to do what you do best.


If you need to interview people for case studies, blog posts, or other content – and the idea makes you want to drive spikes through your forehead – there’s no shortage of professional writers who will take this task off your hands.

Check out Copyblogger’s Certified Content Marketers for experienced writers with a wide variety of expertise.

Graphic design

Unless you’re an experienced graphic designer as well, consider hiring a design professional to create stellar ebook covers, custom blog graphics, and infographics.


I hired a PR assistant to reach out to bloggers and other media outlets about my new book, and she’s doing a much better job than I would have done. Not only that, you also add a layer of sophistication to your business when someone who represents you approaches big-name podcasters or reporters.

Tax prep and accounting

Take it from me – you will likely save more than you spend.

House cleaning

If you work from home, it can be difficult to focus on your work when you’re preoccupied with the sticky kitchen counters and piles of unfolded laundry in your direct line of sight. Cleaning services help create an environment conducive to working (and earning).

Step #2: Decide you can afford to hire help

Hiring help may sound like a good idea for internet celebs who rake in millions by sending out a single email – but not for little old you.

I disagree, for several reasons:

Hiring help will enable you to work more, and faster

I’ve had months where I labored under 13 magazine deadlines, and that productivity has enabled me to make a damn good living as a writer. I could never have done that if I were attempting to transcribe 40 audio files in a month on top of researching and writing the articles.

In many cases, spending money equals making even more money!

Paying for help motivates you to only accept the highest-paying work

You’ll have a good reason to stop entertaining lowball offers from prospects. For example, I hire a transcriptionist to transcribe my interview files. If I were writing $10 articles for content mills, hiring a transcriptionist wouldn’t make sense – but I try to not accept assignments that pay less than $400, which is how I can afford this type of help.

Your helpers should pay for themselves

A business owner I know once told me that your job isn’t to earn enough to pay for help – it’s the job of the people you hire to pay for themselves. For example, if you pay a content marketer $500, they should bring in many multiples of that in terms of paid gigs or products sold.

It’s not always about money

You may be able to find a local university student who wants to gain experience. Years ago, I found a proficient transcriptionist by contacting the English department at a college near me.

Believe me: I’m far from loaded, and I’ve been hiring most of the types of help listed above since the early years of my business. If I can do it, you probably can too.

Step #3: Find your pro

So, I’ve browbeaten you – er, I mean – you’ve decided it’s time to hire pros to help you with certain tasks. Great!

Now, where do you find these people? And how do you know they’re any good?

Before placing an ad or turning to bidding sites, ask around in your business community. Someone you’ve connected with on social media sites or in an industry forum may be able to recommend the perfect pro.

Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake I recently made …

I tend to be overly trusting when it comes to hiring help because, hey, they’re small businesspeople like me! I ended up getting burned to the tune of $6,500 because I didn’t want to be a hard-ass and question the service provider about what they were offering, how it would work for my situation, and exactly how they were getting it done. (Expensive) lesson learned.

So ask, ask, ask until you’re satisfied, and don’t be afraid of offending anyone. Professional service providers will clearly communicate what they offer and their terms of service – a topic that will be covered in an upcoming Copyblogger post.

Over to you …

Once you’ve hired the help you need, you’ll be able to focus on your strengths, provide the most value to your clients, and generate more income.

Have you hired people to help you with your workload? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Need to hire a professional writer to help with your content marketing?

Browse Copyblogger’s Certified Content Marketers.

If you’re interested in getting certified yourself, the program will reopen to new students sometime soon. You can add your email to our waiting list below to be the first to hear about it.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program re-opens:

The post Get More Done and Boost Profits with This 3-Step Process for Hiring Help appeared first on Copyblogger.

Are You Cheap or Are You Exceptional? How to Price Your Services

how to command higher fees

The success of your service-based business will be built on the bedrock of how you answer this one simple question:

Do I want my services to be perceived as economical – or exceptional?

It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? I mean, of course we want to be perceived as exceptional.

But positioning your offerings as exceptional is more difficult than it sounds. It takes guts, unwavering faith in your abilities, and an unflagging devotion to producing quality work.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve sat down with a fellow creative person and said, “Look, you have to start charging more money. Just do it!”

In today’s post, I’m going to have that little chat with you, right here on Copyblogger. If you’re a writer, designer, or any type of service provider, this article is for you.

Why is it so tough to charge what you’re worth?

It seems like it should be easy. You want to charge more? Just charge more!

But in reality, being more expensive than the average service provider means:

  • You’ll lose out on some business.
  • You’ll have to keep a straight face while people overreact to your prices.
  • You’ll have to continue to believe in yourself even when people look you in the eye and tell you you’re being unreasonable.
  • You’ll need to navigate through potentially uncomfortable negotiation sessions.

The first “marketing tactic” many new service providers try is, “I’ll be cheaper than everyone else!”

Bad idea.

Positioning yourself as the bargain service provider sets you up for problems that are way worse than having to sit through some tough negotiations.

The pitfalls of positioning yourself as the “bargain” service provider

Bargain service providers attract bargain-hunting clients. And bargain-hunting clients aren’t your best clients. Actually, they’re going to be your worst clients.

Here’s why:

Bargain-hunting clients need education

Clients who buy services based on price don’t usually know what they need. They go into the process of contracting a service without a firm grasp of the solution that will take care of their problem.

They expect you, the service provider, to help them develop (for free) the solution they’ll pay you (a bargain rate) to create.

I ran my own design studio earlier in my career. It didn’t take me too many sessions of sitting down with clients who’d never worked with a designer before, holding their hands through the process, and receiving their teeny-tiny checks to realize, “Gee, this would be much easier if the client already understood what I offer!”

Bargain-hunting clients don’t appreciate what you bring to the table

Clients with a healthy budget for your services have developed that budget because they have:

  • Bought your type of service before, so they know what it costs
  • Worked on projects using the assets you provide (copywriting, content marketing, design, coaching, etc.)
  • Seen the value your service provides (that’s why they have a budget for it!)
  • All of the above

Bargain hunters, on the other hand, need to be “sold” every step of the way.

Wouldn’t you rather be doing creative work than selling creative work? I know I would.

Bargain-hunting clients view your service as a commodity

Service-based businesses are people-based businesses. And no person I know wants their creative work to be treated like a commodity that is sold to the lowest bidder.

How to begin positioning your business as exceptional – not cheap

Getting the best possible price for your services starts with the right mindset.

The first person who has to be convinced you’re worth what you’re charging is you.

You must go into the pricing process with the firm belief that you provide a quality service. You have to be prepared to walk away if the potential client doesn’t see the value.

Because after all, wouldn’t you rather earn a nice living while serving fewer clients?

That’s what we’re aiming for here: quality clients who value your work – and are willing to pay for it.

Get your mindset right and the rest will fall into place.

What’s the rest?

It’s one thing to believe you’re worth it, and it’s another to price your service in a way that protects you from “scope creep.”

Scope creep is the inevitable growth in complexity and time spent on a project that happens when you don’t carefully nail down exactly what you’ll deliver, when you’ll deliver it, and how you’ll deliver it.

This is the first of three articles we’re going to share on pricing your services. In the next article in this series, Stefanie Flaxman will teach you how to ask the questions and get the answers you need to precisely explain what your client is paying for. And she’ll provide some guidance on how to handle it if your project scope starts expanding.

Then, in the final article in this series, Beth Hayden will appear on her white horse with simple steps for pricing your service that you can apply to almost any business.

Stick around: We’ll be delivering this series to you over the next couple of weeks. We want you to have the confidence, techniques, and tools you need to earn the most you can from the work you do.

Some of our Certified Content Marketers have reported a little “problem”

We’ve noticed lately that some of the writers we’ve certified and are featuring on our Certified Content Marketers page have told us about this little issue they’re having.

Since taking the Certified Content Marketers course, passing their certification exam, and getting featured on the page, their business has exploded.

They can’t handle the volume of work they’re bringing in.

Such a terrible “problem,” right? <img src="http://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/72×72/1f609.png&quot; alt="