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Rough Draft

English, Marketing, 1 season, 102 episodes, 17 hours, 11 minutes
Demian Farnworth delivers the essential writing advice you need to succeed online, in about four minutes a day, four days a week. If you're a pure writer, and you wonder how you'll be able to build your own online platform that actually gets seen, this show is your shortcut.
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102 The Beautiful Message Joseph Campbell Was Really Trying to Tell Us

In the last episode of Rough Draft, your host explored storytelling from a myriad of angles, culminating in a thorough vetting of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey concept. This time we thoroughly vet Campbell, the man. And we do it with superstar Campbell scholar Robert Segal. Professor Segal is an unstoppable fount of knowledge about Campbell... Listen to episode
10/21/201555 minutes, 15 seconds
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101 The Greatest Storytelling Guide This Side of Saturn

Marketers are agog over stories. For good reason … A story lifts a person out of her ordinary world … and stories take her on a journey that ultimately leads to a vision of herself as a better version of herself. This is marketing that educates your audience through the storytelling arc. And one way... Listen to episode
10/8/20151 hour, 11 minutes, 3 seconds
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100 The Episode That Explains the Future of Rough Draft

So, we are making a few changes here at Rough Draft. Good changes. Three in fact. One, after this episode, I m taking a month break. A month to clear my head. A month to plan the next 100 episodes, namely the content and the format. Listen to this twelve minute episode to learn about the... Listen to episode
9/1/201513 minutes, 5 seconds
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099 A Better Way to Find Big Ideas (That Make You Stand Out)

Some astronomers and philosophers make the grand, if not absurd, claim that we are ten thousand things, but one substance. Perhaps ancient stardust. Fair enough. I have my own absurd claim: behind one single article by a seasoned writer is the weight of one thousand books, one hundreds movies, hours of lectures, a litany of... Listen to episode
8/31/201518 minutes, 12 seconds
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098 How to Grab Great Ideas (Without Using Your Hands)

It s funny. How we forget things. Sublime reflections and exalted ideas. Like they were never even there. But if they were so sublime and exalted, why did they not remain with us? And it s funny how we fear losing these ideas. The lengths we will go to preserve them. The legends are legion. Keeping waterproof... Listen to episode
8/27/20158 minutes, 17 seconds
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097 The Problem with the ‘Hell-For-Leather’ Writing Movement

As of late, it s fashionable to write hell for leather. In fact, there s a hot cottage industry in the writing culture. But is it good for the writing community? Or detrimental? For lack of potentially better terms, let s call this trend the The Hell-For-Leather Writing Movement. Or HFLWM. You see, HFLWM in titles like How... Listen to episode
8/26/20156 minutes, 54 seconds
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096 Why These Famous Time-Management Techniques Are Ruining Your Productivity

Most creative people will take your head off if you butt in while they are flowing. Man. That’s for good reason. But that s exactly what the Pomodoro technique does, a popular time management trick designed to boost your productivity. The concept is simple: set a kitchen timer for 25 minutes and work until it rings.... Listen to episode
8/25/20155 minutes, 27 seconds
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095 Freaking Out Over the Thought of Writing a First Draft? Try Scaffolding

Your idea stretches out to the end of nowhere. One hundred words? One thousand? What s the angle? The structure? That s just one decision among many you must make before you write. And just one more decision that adds to your anxiety. Fail to figure this one out and your idea sits idle. Deserted. Should this... Listen to episode
8/24/20157 minutes, 22 seconds
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094 How to Avoid Obscurity by Misusing Language

Language is software (your brain, the hardware). A form of coding. It communicates information, and ideas travel from one person to the next through language. As babies, our first goal is to learn the language. Master the fundamentals. Learn your scales. And most of us are fully satisfied with this. Great writers, however, aren t. They... Listen to episode
8/20/20157 minutes, 1 second
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093 A Creative Email Trick for Becoming a Plain Spoken Writer

Writing is weird. Unlike speaking, it’s not something we do naturally. And unless we train ourselves out of it, that weirdness renders some creative, but wooden and dense prose. Speaking is a natural act. Every single human being has the ability to do it. And at a very young age. The reason why, says cognitive... Listen to episode
8/19/20156 minutes, 50 seconds
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092 Let This Stupid Machine Read Your Copy Out Loud

You know that conventional wisdom that you should read everything you write out loud? Let’s put a twist on that advice. Say you lost your voice. Or are simply lazy. But you just finished a 300-word article, and are ready to refine it. It’s natural to read it out loud to see how it sounds.... Listen to episode
8/18/20154 minutes, 57 seconds
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091 This Free App Will Help You Write Bold and Clear Copy

So there s this new browser app that allows you to write/drop content into a text box and click Edit to determine if your writing is bold and clear. It s called the Hemingway Editor. It’s simple to use, but the question remains: does it work? And how does Hemingway actual stack up against his own app?... Listen to episode
8/17/20155 minutes, 16 seconds
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090 Four Writing Lessons I Learned from This Depressing Music Project

Hey, because this is episode 90, let s do something a little different today. Let s talk music. Tell me if you recognize any of these names: – The Antlers – Real Estate – Tune-Yards – M83 – Beirut – Wye Oak – Feist – Tom Waits – The Head and the Heart – James Blake –... Listen to episode
8/13/20159 minutes, 55 seconds
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089 The Clear-Copy Rule of Writing for the Web

So many English teachers shoved complex sentences down my throat that now a simple sentence almost makes my skin crawl.” That s Tim Biden, during a Twitter conversation about writing for the web. He was responding to a tweet where I shared a link to my first Copyblogger post: The Disgustingly Simple Rule for Web Writing... Listen to episode
8/12/20157 minutes, 18 seconds
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088 Three Ways Writers Must Adjust in a World Dominated by Social Media

So the job of the online copywriter is to attract attention, stoke interest, create desire, and incite action. AIDA. Attracting attention used to be mainly concerned with stopping the reader dead in his tracks. A good headline will do that. Before the web in the world of print advertisers bought space in magazines... Listen to episode
8/11/20158 minutes, 3 seconds
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087 How This Social Media Thing Kicked Web Writing Right in the Feels

Before social media entered the stage a marketer s job was two-fold: write a compelling landing page and drive traffic to that landing page. But the internet has changed all of that. Not so much the internet, but social media. In particular — networks like Twitter, Reddit, 4chan, and YouTube the most potent platforms for... Listen to episode
8/10/20157 minutes, 31 seconds
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086 An Elegant Story on Outsmarting Career Obsolescence

Ever meet someone who completely revamps the way you look at an issue? This is the story of how an older gentleman changed my mind about what it takes to be successful. The first time I met Peter Hut was in a swank, open-air lounge where the concrete floor shone from a glossy finish. Peter... Listen to episode
8/6/20159 minutes, 40 seconds
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085 Raise the Stakes! 13 Writing Ideas That Really Work

Never forget that the formula for writing for the web is simple: it must be clear, concise, and compelling. We’ve covered how to make it clear and concise. Let’s look at what it really takes to make it compelling. Yesterday we saw how you can make copy compelling by raising the stakes with cancer and... Listen to episode
8/5/20159 minutes, 37 seconds
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084 The Two Things That Make a Dull Product Irresistible

When you say the word “data” few people perk up their ears. It s a cold word that brings to mind row after row of zeros and ones. Yet you and I need data to help us make sound business decisions, uncover lost opportunities, and perfect our current efforts. So how do you talk about software... Listen to episode
8/4/20157 minutes, 13 seconds
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083 Proof That Stories Can Increase the Value of Even ‘Worthless’ Items

Marketers are agog over stories. For good reason. Your stories lift a prospect out of her ordinary world … and then takes her on a journey that ultimately leads to a vision of herself as a better version of herself. In 1984, Apple brought it s own story to the market, one in which agile, nonconformists... Listen to episode
8/3/201510 minutes, 59 seconds
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082 Could Podcasting Make You a Better Writer?

Indeed, it can. It can also make you a more visible writer. But that depends on how you go about it. On this episode of Rough Draft, I interview Jerod Morris and Jon Nastor. Jerod is one of the VPs of Rainmaker.FM, my co-host on The Lede, and a co-host on another Rainmaker.FM show called... Listen to episode
7/30/201526 minutes, 33 seconds
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081 When Do You Abandon the Editing Process?

Like gravity pulls objects to the earth, the web pulls people across the landscape of connected information — whizzing by landmarks (content) at break-neck speed. Thus, when people arrive at your blog they should be able to size up your content in an instant. From the headline down the subheads to the call to action.... Listen to episode
7/29/20157 minutes, 12 seconds
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080 Four Ways to Get Attention by Rocking the Boat

Lots of people make careers out of controversy. But constant controversy can take a toll. You could get by with a lot of controversy in the early days of your blog or books in order to gain critical mass. But soon you’ll need to take your foot off that particular pedal. The goal (when it... Listen to episode
7/28/201511 minutes, 42 seconds
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079 A Brief Introduction to the Art of Catching Hell

There are about 100 ways to become a better writer. For example, you could … Read 100 books. Listen to Ira Glass This American Life. Cultivate a sick sense of humor. Think like a psychologist. Rack up rejections. Write like mad. But did you know catching hell can help you sharpen your copy chops, too?... Listen to episode
7/27/20157 minutes, 20 seconds
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078 Six Storytelling Lessons from a Famous Urban Legend

Don t panic, but one of your kidneys has been harvested. That s the punch line for one of the most successful urban legends in the last fifteen years. What makes it so successful? It s hypnotic: understandable, memorable, and effective in changing thought and behavior. How do you create stories that are like that? Just follow these... Listen to episode
7/23/20156 minutes, 58 seconds
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077 Vexed by Your Bankrupt Vocabulary? Listen to This

You can spot a mediocre writer from miles away … Flat verbs. Obtuse nouns. Lame metaphors. Absence of stories. I should know. I used to be one. In regards to the mediocre writers, it seems to me that they d want an edge. That they d kill to get their hands on words that crank out power... Listen to episode
7/22/201510 minutes, 30 seconds
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076 Why Writers Need to Develop a Sense of Humor

Who would you prefer to write for you: somebody with a vanilla personality or someone with an awkward, funny edge to them? Someone who sees the unique and can find the angle that will differentiate you from the mob? I m going for the awkward edge because, when getting attention and visibility online is SO difficult... Listen to episode
7/21/20155 minutes, 39 seconds
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075 Listener Challenge: Could You Read 100 Books in a Year?

That’s a lot of books out there. What’s the benefit of reading as many of them as you can lay your eyes on? One of the fastest tracks to mastering the art of compelling copy and seductive story-telling is to observe how others do it … both the masters and the flops. In fact, you... Listen to episode
7/20/20155 minutes, 45 seconds
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074 How to Get Massive Attention with a ‘High-Concept Pitch’

There s an old-school trick to selling ideas to movie executives. It s called the high-concept pitch. A high-concept pitch lays out the entire story premise, promise, and execution in one simple sentence. Here are a few famous examples from Hollywood: – Backdraft: Top Gun in a Firehouse – Ghost: a man dies and becomes his wife s guardian angel... Listen to episode
7/16/201510 minutes, 16 seconds
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073 A Lesson in Swagger from a Wooden-Legged Civil War Soldier

Anybody out there know who Cyrus Trask is? Anyone? You won t find out who Cyrus Trask is if you eyeball a list of country singers. No. The only way you can find out who Cyrus Trask is is by reading John Steinbeck s novel East of Eden. John Steinbeck describes Cyrus Trask as the father of... Listen to episode
7/15/20157 minutes, 27 seconds
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072 Six Ways to Becoming a Completely Original Writer

Let s admit it: in a world where blogs and blog posts proliferate, it s hard to be original. But it s not impossible … … as long as you’re willing to do a little work. So the question is, what can you as a web writer or blogger do to write a post that stands out? That s... Listen to episode
7/14/201510 minutes, 5 seconds
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071 The Oldest Writing Trick in The Book

Web readers are people on a mission. Cramped for attention. Bent on skimming rather than diving deep. They don t go to the web to window shop. They go there to drive 60 miles per hour and look at billboards. That s the unbreakable rule of the web. So what can you do as a web writer to... Listen to episode
7/13/20156 minutes, 25 seconds
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070 Eight Things Every Writer Should Know about Landing Pages

First things first: What is a landing page? Landing pages are those web pages that are specifically designed to perform one task … one task and one task only. One goal, one page. It could be to sell your product, encourage people to sign up for an email newsletter, or recommend an event. No matter... Listen to episode
7/9/20155 minutes, 58 seconds
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069 The Fascinating Truth about Boring Topics

It’s actually quite simple: there is really never a topic your audience takes for granted. See, the problem is that most of us overestimate the sophistication of our readers. That s not a condescending thing to say. Even in a saturated market like weight loss, most interested readers don t know the basics. And sometimes what we... Listen to episode
7/8/20155 minutes, 53 seconds
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068 How to Craft an About Page That People Actually Read and Share

There really is no right or wrong way to create about page. The only question is this: is it interesting? Remember, people will read a lot if it is interesting. However, there are a few best practices you can follow. Let s look at those … In this 5-minute episode you’ll discover: The wrong way to... Listen to episode
7/7/20156 minutes, 51 seconds
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067 The Psychology Behind Winning Email Subject Lines

A good email subject line will remind you what it s like to taste blood in your mouth. What it was like lying on your back, dizzy and nausea. Granted, it s a fleeting moment. Normal, healthy people s BS detectors kick in after 4 or 5 seconds. By that time, though, it s too late. They re hooked. They... Listen to episode
7/6/20159 minutes, 12 seconds
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066 All Great Writing Boils Down to These Four Emotional Appeals

Great writers write to the emotions of your readers. And they focus on just four emotional appeals. The appeal is the reason you give the reader to read, subscribe, donate, share, or buy. And the appeal is almost always expressed in the headline. John Caples, in his book Tested Advertising Methods (a must-read for any... Listen to episode
7/2/20157 minutes, 29 seconds
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065 A Mildly Spooky Illustration of Reason Why Copy

During the past four months one of the things I ve been trying to experiment with is telling more stories. Historical stories, fake stories, personal stories. See, what I m trying to do is make the audio more visual. And I ve found that best way to do that is to share stories. Illustrations. Anecdotes. Et cetera. Audio... Listen to episode
7/1/20158 minutes, 13 seconds
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064 A Mild Warning for All Headline Writers

These days, you want to write a headline that will blow up on the social web. A headline that will get people to pound the Share button … a headline to clog our Twitter feed with thousands of retweets. But there s a problem … We on the web can watch our website traffic rise like... Listen to episode
6/30/20159 minutes, 3 seconds
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063 How Every Creative Must Think about Marketing and Advertising

Albert Lasker. Mel Martin. Eugene Schwartz. Robert Collier. Victor Schwab. David Ogilvy. John Caples. Maxwell Sackheim. Bill Jayme. Copywriters who wrote beautiful copy. Ads that drove results. As David Ogilvy said, We sell or else. This is the point. Advertising comes in two flavors: artistic and mechanical. One obscures the message and is judged by... Listen to episode
6/29/20159 minutes, 12 seconds
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062 Do Millennials (Really) Hate Long Copy?

Allow me to tell you a story. A story that you will probably be able to relate to in some sense. It s about a stout, whiskered man who thinks sound decisions can come only from a cool head. And that copy should always be short. “I would never read this. It s too long.” That s a... Listen to episode
6/25/20159 minutes, 40 seconds
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061 These 4 Sales Principles Can Improve Anyone’s Writing

In spite of being a literary snob, one who turned up his nose at anything that smacked of business … when I was first introduced to the world of direct-response copywriting … I fell in love. I fell in love with the thought of using my writing to influence and persuade people. I also fell... Listen to episode
6/24/20158 minutes, 20 seconds
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060 How to Use the 5 Stages of Audience Awareness to Dominate Online

In the last episode I walked you through the magic that is an Upworthy headline as an introduction to a concept called The 5 Stages of Audience Awareness. The actual name is The 5 Stages of Market Awareness. A concept originally developed by Eugene Schwartz. But I modified it for our purposes. Every product or... Listen to episode
6/23/20158 minutes, 31 seconds
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059 Why The Most Hated Headline Structures Work So Well

A few years back Upworthy stormed the publishing world — and eventually proclaimed to be the fastest growing media company ever with 47 million monthly uniques after just 17 months of existence. So what s their secret? Tantalizing headlines. Headlines you love to hate and hate to click but you click anyway, because you hate not... Listen to episode
6/22/20158 minutes, 18 seconds
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058 This is the Most Fun You’ll Ever Have “Explaining the Mechanism” …

Here’s yet another way to build credibility and trust when it comes to making a bold claim … which is simply this: explain the mechanism behind your claim. Here s what that looks like. Let s say you re a fitness trainer that makes the claim that in just 14 minutes a day customers can add muscle to... Listen to episode
6/18/20158 minutes, 10 seconds
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057 The Doomsday Cult School of Specificity

Imagine it s late afternoon, Sunday. You are curled beneath an afghan, still bloated from the fried fish you inhaled for lunch. You are sleeping heavily. Until your doorbell erupts. A young woman in a peasant top and floral pencil skirt is standing at your doorstep. She looks over her shoulder. A tall man wearing a... Listen to episode
6/17/20157 minutes, 26 seconds
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056 How to Sweep Away Skepticism with a Dramatic Demonstration

If you want people to believe in something that’s true-but-hard-to-believe — you simply demonstrate that your product does what you say it does. Show them how it works. Here’s one famous example … The history of the elevator is long and rich. But the first elevators weren’t installed until the mid 18th century. While these... Listen to episode
6/16/20157 minutes, 48 seconds
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055 Meet the Tragic Poster Boy for the Emotional Brain

While Enlightenment-era thinkers like Denis Diderot, Benjamin Franklin, René Descartes, David Hume, and Thomas Jefferson — giants from the age of reason — would like you to believe otherwise, we are not as rational as we think we are. Recent books like Irrational Exuberance, Emotional Intelligence, and Descartes Error teach us that even the most... Listen to episode
6/15/201511 minutes, 17 seconds
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054 A Straightforward Research Method for Finding a Potent Hook

You could have a great product, a revolutionary idea, or a compelling piece of content, but unless you position it with the right approach that instantly captures the imagination of your ideal prospect, forget it. Listen. People will rush to do business with you if you can help them achieve their dreams, calm their fears,... Listen to episode
6/11/20159 minutes, 45 seconds
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053 What You Don’t Know about Your Product Can Kill Your Copy

Your product has two identities. But your customer buys your product because of just one of these identities. Oops. See, when you pay $5,000 for your son s braces, you aren t buying a middle-aged man to follow you around in a white coat … nor are you buying stainless steel rods to stick in your son’s... Listen to episode
6/10/20157 minutes, 9 seconds
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052 Three New Ways to Write a Headline (and When to Use Each)

Which desire you lead with in your headline matters. Get it wrong, and even the greatest copy won t matter. Get it right, however, and the world will beat a path to your door. See, your headline is the bridge between your customer and your product. And there are basically three ways of channelling that desire... Listen to episode
6/9/20156 minutes, 52 seconds
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051 Want Copy That Actually Works? Start with Mass Desire

We all long for something. Love that will last. The ability to influence people. Scenic vacations. Financial independence. Less anxiety. Copywriters call these mass desires. And copywriting that actually works connects your product to one of these mass desires. When that is done when you ve convinced your prospect that you can satisfy their desires... Listen to episode
6/8/201511 minutes, 15 seconds
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050 The Curious Secret to Building Trust and Credibility

Ever wonder how you could get more people to believe you? To trust you? It s easy, actually. And quite odd the way it works. What s the secret? Never tell anyone more than they ll believe. Sounds like a moron statement, right? It’s not. See, the moment your claim passes the point of believability, credibility drops off... Listen to episode
6/4/20157 minutes, 43 seconds
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049 My Second Most Favorite Copywriting Formula in the World!

Do you want a simple, sticky formula that turns your listless copy into something that rivets attention, stokes desire, and gets action? I mentioned it in yesterday s episode. I called it the 4 Ps. Promise. Picture. Proof. Push. . In this episode I’ll work through a short example ad (about a pill that makes ugly... Listen to episode
6/3/20157 minutes, 46 seconds
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048 How to Get Lazy People to Care about Your Ideas

This is what you have to remember: your reader has hunkered down, intending never to move again. Unless of course you give him something to get worked up over. So we ve all done it. We ve all given away the farm. We ve satisfied the interest of a reader or buyer by giving away too much information.... Listen to episode
6/2/20156 minutes, 32 seconds
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047 My Favorite Copywriting Formula … Ever!

I ve got a nice little treat for you today. My go-to formula whether I m writing an article, landing page, email, or a LinkedIn profile summary. I ve used it so much this formula has become second nature. And should become second nature for you, too. It will help speed things along, allow you to structure difficult... Listen to episode
6/1/20157 minutes, 8 seconds
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046 How to (Rapidly) Build an Audience with Content Syndication

Content syndication is sort of like guest posting on steroids. You get all the benefits of guest posting without the work because you are using one article to show up on on different websites. But which websites you publish on matters. Which is why I asked Belle Beth Cooper to come on today s special interview... Listen to episode
5/29/201519 minutes, 47 seconds
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045 Solve Your Online Proofreading Problems With This Simple Trick

This episode is for any one with limited time and limited proofreading skills. Like me. There’s a common myth web writers fall for: this idea that proofreading online isn’t nearly as important as writing for print. If you believe that, you would be wrong. Proofreading is essential. So today I m happy as a kitten to... Listen to episode
5/28/201517 minutes, 35 seconds
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044 The Profanity Princess on Finding Your Voice

Are you comfortable in your own skin? Or do you feel awkward and out of place? If the latter, then today’s episode is for you. Whenever I talk about authenticity or finding your voice, Erika Napoletano is always my go-to person as someone who s owned their personality with an unapologetic, straightforward flair. Don t let her... Listen to episode
5/27/201521 minutes, 55 seconds
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043 The Oddest Story About Overcoming Obscurity You’ll Ever Hear

Today is a monumental moment in the history of Rough Draft because we are going to break for the first time ever the monologue mold of Rough Draft. In fact, we re going to do it all week. See, I have four short interviews for you from four superb web writers. People who will... Listen to episode
5/26/201518 minutes, 39 seconds
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042 10 Odd Books That Will Improve Your Writing

You don t have too look far to find a list of the best books a writer should read. This is a benefit for new writers, no doubt. Unfortunately, those of us who have been around for a number of years often own every book that tends to make these lists. And we read them. And... Listen to episode
5/21/20159 minutes, 15 seconds
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041 How to Read a Book in 2 Hours

If you re like me, you like to read. And you like to read a lot. In fact, some people might call you obsessed. I get that all the time. No surprise, since I try to read 100 books every year … But it can be frustrating. Daily demands. Lack of time. Big books. You get... Listen to episode
5/20/20156 minutes, 10 seconds
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040 The Shocking Way to Master Any Book

What I m about to say might make you grit your teeth. Clench your fist. Or even pick up a crow bar … I want to show you why marking in a book is a good thing. And I want to show you that unless you do this, you re likely missing out on the best kind... Listen to episode
5/19/20157 minutes, 21 seconds
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039 Nine Copywriting Books for Web Writers

I don’t care who you are — blogger, freelance journalist, ghostwriter, ad copywriter — if you are writing on the web then you need to read these copywriting books. Two are more recent than the others (and Influence by Cialdini is not technically a direct response copywriting book). But these are the books I would... Listen to episode
5/18/20159 minutes, 23 seconds
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038 The 8 Rules of Ruthless Editing from David Mamet

No one wants to write dull, lifeless copy that lulls even the most hyper people to sleep. Certainly not you, right? But why do we find it so hard to write what we want to say in the least amount of words — and still maintain potency? It s not easy because we tend to fall... Listen to episode
5/14/20158 minutes, 59 seconds
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037 Revealed: The Perfect Blog Post Length

Here s a million dollar question: is there a magical blog post length? In other words, should you aim for a word-count sweet spot? The answer is no, there is not an ideal word count for a blog post. But there s is an ideal number of questions you need to ask yourself before you write. And... Listen to episode
5/13/20157 minutes, 58 seconds
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036 The Aggressive Work Ethic of Highly Creative People

Listen. You have control over inspiration. You run the show. Look at magicians, for examples. Curious bunch. They pull furry mammals out of their hats. Levitate humans. Hide automobiles out of sight. The great ones make a killing, jet set around the globe, and beat groupies off with a brass-tipped wand. The not-so-great ones —... Listen to episode
5/12/20155 minutes, 3 seconds
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035 The 10 Rules of Rough Drafts

I am about to destroy the lie that suggests your first draft must be perfect. The illusion that great copy is born in a single moment of white hot inspiration. One of the most famous white-hot inspiration ambush stories in American literary history involves Jack Kerouac, Beat Generation pioneer. As the legend has it, Kerouac... Listen to episode
5/11/20155 minutes, 29 seconds
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034 5 Ways to Create the Perfect Ending that Your Content Deserves

The end of your article is one last final opportunity to catch and keep the attention of a reader. Don’t screw it up. The sad thing is is that the close of an article, sales letter, or an email is usually an afterthought. It s something we writers rush to get to, and wipe our hands... Listen to episode
5/7/20158 minutes, 48 seconds
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033 6 Simple Rules For Writing Effective Dialogue

Why talk about dialogue in a podcast about online writing? Dialogue builds tension. Allows you to show instead of tell. And so much more. People love to read dialogue. We gravitate to the words on the page that are surrounded by quotation marks — the speech marks — because we know that two humans are... Listen to episode
5/6/20157 minutes, 7 seconds
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032 Use Internal Cliffhangers So People Never Stop Reading

So your visitor loved your headline. Will she read the rest of the article? One of the best ways to increase your chances is by using internal cliffhangers. A cliffhanger is a scene in a book, movie, newspaper story, or TV show that holds something back from the reader or viewer. More than likely you re... Listen to episode
5/5/20157 minutes, 9 seconds
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031 226 Transitional Words and Phrases Every Writer Should Know

Good writing uses transitional words and phrases to help the reader smoothly work through what you wrote. It’s strange how simple, but powerful, these words can be. Basically, these words and phrases are used to connect one idea to the next. Look at the word Consequently for example. Consequently means as a result. So when... Listen to episode
5/4/20158 minutes, 57 seconds
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030 The Great Paragraph Hoax

On the Internet, there is no shortage of answers to the question “What is a paragraph?” From prestigious universities to forums. Unfortunately, they are all wrong. The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill defines a paragraph as the building blocks of papers.” Fair enough. What else would you expect from... Listen to episode
4/30/20156 minutes, 34 seconds
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029 5 Ways to Write a Seductive Sentence

Here s the thing: your sentences don t have to say much. They just have to say the right things. Here’s how to do that. When you are trying to get people to respond to your articles, subscribe to your email newsletter, buy your products, or donate to your cause … you need to write seductive sentences.... Listen to episode
4/29/20159 minutes, 38 seconds
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028 How to Be Smart in a World of Dumb Verbs

Sentences are pretty simple little things. Noun and predicate. So why do we screw them up with lame verbs? Good question. Even in the complex sentence, we still depend upon the noun, we still depend upon the verb. So those constructions better rock. And because the difference between a brilliant sentence and a bad sentence... Listen to episode
4/28/20158 minutes, 32 seconds
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027 How the Perfect Article Is Framed by White Space

White space sounds like a design issue. So why should you, dear web writer, care? Because words matter. I want you to imagine a statue. An aged bronze sculpture of a young girl, possibly eight years old, in a long dress. She stands about 50 inches … roughly four feet tall. Her head is cocked... Listen to episode
4/27/20158 minutes, 18 seconds
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026 The Best Articles Always Have This (and a Great Headline)

Everything up to now — all these markers that flag a reader to come in for a landing — traded in words. But not the next element. And curiously enough, it s probably as important and powerful as the headline. Remember the episode about the headline experiment involving Google Reader? Remember how I said I learned... Listen to episode
4/23/20158 minutes, 49 seconds
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025 The Anatomy of a Hyperlink That Woos Readers

Want to improve your chances a visitor will actually read what you wrote? Then take a look at these easy guidelines for writing meaningful, compelling links that please both people and search engines. Links are hugely important for the web. In a macro, 30,000-foot way, links are the currency that help search engines evaluate the... Listen to episode
4/22/20159 minutes, 15 seconds
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024 The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Bullet Points That Work

In this Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat world, who needs words, right? Well, we all do. But only if they are readable. Enter bullet points. Why bullet points? Like it or not, they keep people reading your blog posts, pages, articles, and copy like nothing else … In the online attention economy, studies show us that readers... Listen to episode
4/21/20157 minutes, 36 seconds
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023 How to Create Exquisite Subheadlines

The purpose of the subheadline is two-fold. Standing out is its first purpose. The second purpose is a little more complex. Imagine your average reader. She s fallen in love with your headline. It s a good one. It s a humdinger. And now she is scrolling down the page, evaluating whether she wants to invest the time... Listen to episode
4/20/20158 minutes, 42 seconds
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022 Four Safe Ways to Find Your Writing Voice (and One Dangerous One)

One of the hardest things for a writer to uncover is her voice, her style, her flair. Here are four safe ways to help you find it — and one dangerous. Writers start to peel away from the crowd when they find their voice. That strong, distinctive voice that people easily recognize. But finding your... Listen to episode
4/16/20159 minutes, 35 seconds
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021 The Two Kinds of Knowledge Every Writer Needs

So far I’ve asked “Do you have the right strategy? Do you have the right technique?” Today s question is … Do you have the right knowledge? American theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman said, Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent, and original manner possible. I can t think of a better... Listen to episode
4/15/201513 minutes, 14 seconds
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020 The Crazy Thing Writers Do to Become Exceptional

Wrestling with a 2,000 word essay is not unlike birthing a calf. A life is at stake here. Your job is to make sure it survives. In my experience, great writers have always been socially odd. They’ve resisted invitations to birthday parties from close relatives, pretended not to hear when people are talking to them,... Listen to episode
4/14/20159 minutes, 44 seconds
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019 How to Answer the Most Important Question About Becoming an Exceptional Writer

Have you ever asked yourself why you want to become a writer? You should. Because writing can be a thankless job. Like doing the laundry. Listen. There will be times where you will hit a wall. You are exhausted. Lost. Broken. And you ll ask yourself, “Why?” Why am I doing this to myself? You have... Listen to episode
4/13/201512 minutes, 6 seconds
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018 Four Things That Can Make Writers Famous

You don’t become an exceptional writer by galloping recklessly into the ring. There’s more to conquering obscurity and overcoming neglect. Four things, in fact. I’ve always considered myself more lover than fighter. A soft-skinned, head-in-the-clouds poet. If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on the Internet. “Swallow up the swan in two... Listen to episode
4/9/20159 minutes, 56 seconds
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017 A Small Gift for Your Dark Days as an Obscure Writer

This episode is personal. I offer you something that helped me during one of my most difficult times as an online writer … It was in late September 2011. Occupy Wall Street was everywhere. And I longed to drop everything and join the movement because what I was doing at the time was killing me.... Listen to episode
4/8/20159 minutes, 5 seconds
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016 Steal This Episode

Don’t feel guilty. It’s okay to steal ideas from other writers. In fact, it’s essential. As long as you do this one thing … As a writer you should be swiping ideas nonstop. Stealing ideas nonstop. William S. Burroughs said, All writing is in fact cut-ups. A collage of words read, heard, overheard. Your content... Listen to episode
4/7/20158 minutes, 35 seconds
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015 David Sedaris’ Guide to Writing Brilliant First Sentences

Captivate readers with these 8 examples from one of the best living writers on the planet. In previous episodes we ve established that beyond headlines the first sentence dominates. In fact, it s responsible for hurling the reader into the story. The headline captures the reader’s attention. The first sentence keeps it. Great writers like David Sedaris... Listen to episode
4/6/20157 minutes, 2 seconds
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014 Six Proven Ways to Open an Article With a Bang

Master these six principles on first sentences and you’ll not only grab people’s attention — you’ll keep it. Master copywriter Eugene Schwartz often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece - the headline and the opening paragraph. Sound excessive? Well, just imagine how disappointed you d be after reading a... Listen to episode
4/2/201511 minutes, 6 seconds
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013 How I’ll Make You Read Every Single Line of This Article

Quite a challenge, right? Especially given this is a podcast. Trust me on this one. My daughter and her strand of pink hair. The first ever triple BMX back flip. A throbbing finger. Strange way to begin a podcast about getting people to read every single line you write. But it’s a proven method to... Listen to episode
4/1/20156 minutes, 11 seconds
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012 The Ugly Truth About How People Read Online

These four research studies will prepare you for the fight ahead — a fight you can win In this episode I want to put some teeth to the things I’ve been teaching. Some substance behind my claims. In this case, I’ll present four research studies you should know about. They’ll help you understand the true... Listen to episode
3/31/201510 minutes, 35 seconds
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011 The 3 Pillars of Great Web Writing

Creating great web content is not hard if you understand just three simple words … If you summarized every single book and article written on writing for the web, you d get the three words I’m about to tell you. Yet, no one not even the experts, authors, or pundits — has, to my knowledge,... Listen to episode
3/30/20159 minutes, 21 seconds
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010 How to Use RSS to Write Better Headlines

Is 90 minutes of your time worth learning about which headlines actually work online? Then listen on … Ever wonder why some headlines are better than others? I mean what makes some headlines irresistible and others fall flat? More importantly, ever dream of actually writing headlines that clothes line people and then flings them into... Listen to episode
3/26/201510 minutes, 1 second
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009 How to Write Headlines that Get Results

A simple 4-step formula to writing one helluva seductive headline. Headline writing is probably the first and most important skill you need to learn as a web writer. John Caples called it the most important part of an advertisement. That s why he dedicates four out of eighteen chapters to headline writing in his book Tested... Listen to episode
3/25/201511 minutes, 37 seconds
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008 Where Headlines Have Gone Horribly Wrong

Here are 10 reasons your humdinger of a headline won’t save the catastrophe that is your blog post When I was young, I sported pink hair, suede sneakers, raver jeans, and punk t-shirts. Sure, I was cool, but strike up a conversation and you’d wonder if something was wrong with me. I had nothing... Listen to episode
3/24/201510 minutes, 19 seconds
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007 A 12-Minute Crash Course on Link Building (Ugh)

The number one SEO practice you can employ to get people (and Google) to pay attention to your online content. Links have become the online content creator’s currency. Get a lot of links, and you get “wealthy”. And the more quality links that point to a particular page, the higher that page is going to... Listen to episode
3/23/201512 minutes, 25 seconds
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006 An Idiot-Proof Guide to Writing Blog Posts That Google Loves

These 21 questions from a Google engineer will help you create original, high-quality content … If you re a good web writer, then February 24, 2011 was your day. Bad web writer? Not so much. February 24, 2011 marks the day Google took low-quality content sites out to the woodshed. It s the day they rolled out... Listen to episode
3/19/20159 minutes, 50 seconds
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005 Keywords: Your Love Affair With the Language Your Audience Uses

In the end, keyword research has nothing to do with SEO. It goes way deeper than that … Will anyone actually read the online content you create? It s a terrifying question, but an important one. If you re committed to building a popular and profitable media property, you ll have to write, read, and talk about your... Listen to episode
3/18/201511 minutes, 22 seconds
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004 How Search Engines Work, Part Two

Where you find out how Google learns what a page is about, and how it ranks that page. Imagine you love jaguars. You have a blog about jaguars. You publish seven times a week about jaguars. On your site, it’s jaguar all day and all night. But Google doesn’t seem to know you exist. What... Listen to episode
3/17/20155 minutes, 57 seconds
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003 How Search Engines Work, Part One

A few important details every web writer should know about how Google does its job … So we need to back up just a little bit. We need to talk about how people actually find anything on the web to begin with. Why? Because as web writers we have to face that ugly monster called... Listen to episode
3/16/20155 minutes, 7 seconds
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002 The Unbreakable Law of the Web

Like the law of gravity, when you break the law of the web things may not end well with you. The law of the web says people blaze through the web like it were an autobahn. And they blaze on the autobahn to do one thing Look at billboards. When they re driving at 170 miles... Listen to episode
3/3/20155 minutes, 31 seconds
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001 Two Challenges All Digital Content Must Conquer

The web gives you the opportunity to have a voice. The only problem is there are two almost-insurmountable obstacles standing in your way. We all love the web. It’s changed the way we communicate, research, and write. More importantly, it’s opened up opportunities for you. To build a website, publish a blog. You now have... Listen to episode
3/2/20154 minutes, 47 seconds