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E-Book Testimonials

"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 


"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"


“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics.com


“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 


Tuesday
Apr022013

Blog Post Writing: How to Create Consistent Content (in six easy steps)

Producing enough content (especially blog posts) for prospects and customers is one of the greatest marketing challenges facing organizations today.

After all, who has the time and expertise to consistently publish relevant and interesting content—quickly and effectively?

To help solve that challenge, I developed a six-step process that's highly effective, easy to use and makes writing blog posts a snap.

The six steps:
1. Create an outline
2. Audio record an expert interview
3. Transcribe the interview
4. Write and edit the blog post
5. Format the post for easy skimming
6. Proofread your blog post

Let’s look at each step more closely.

Step 1: Create an outline
Instead of writing an outline with statements or bullet points, outline your blog post by asking four or five questions. Ask “who, what, where, when, why and how” questions.

After those questions, raise an objection or a problem and then resolve it.

For example, an outline on a B2B copywriting post might look like this:
• What is business-to-business (B2B) copywriting?
• How is B2B copywriting different from business-to-consumer (B2C) copywriting?
• What elements of B2C copywriting can be used in B2B copywriting?
• Where can you learn more about B2B copywriting?
• Problem/objection/mistakes: What are three common B2B copywriting mistakes?
• Solution: Give an example or brief success story
• Summary
• Call-to-action

Step 2: Audio record an expert interview
Recording your interview is important because it will create an accurate record of the conversation. It captures not only the right content for your blog post but also the emotional words (often missing in business writing).

A side benefit of recording the interview is that you won’t be hassled with jotting down notes while you are listening.

Step 3: Transcribe the interview
Once the recording is finished, it’s time to transcribe the audio into text.

You can transcribe the interview yourself or you can outsource this job to a transcriptionist. Either way, having a transcript to work from will save you lots of writing time (and time from staring at a blank screen).

Did you know there are three hidden benefits of transcripts?

Step 4: Write/edit the blog post
Once your interview is transcribed, it’s time to write your blog post.

You can use some of the responses intact, or you may need to edit them. Feel free to move the content around and edit it until the copy flows smoothly from beginning to end.

Step 5: Format your blog post for easy skimming
When formatting your content for the web, remember to break your information into short, concise paragraphs like this one.

This creates extra white space and makes it easy for readers to skim and become more easily engaged with your copy.

To draw attention to your most useful points, you can also use:
1. Bold text
2. Bullet points
3. Numbered lists
4. Visual aids

Step 6: Proofread your blog post
The final, and often overlooked, step is to have someone besides you proofread your content.

Proofreading goes beyond correcting typos and grammar mistakes; it helps to ensure that your structure, tone and voice are on track.

If you don’t know someone who can proofread your work, there are professional proofreading services that you can find by searching the term “professional proofreading services.”

Find out more about the five benefits of having your work professionally proofread.

But what if you're not interviewing anyone? Can this process still work?
Yes it can. Write the outline and record yourself giving the answers.

Or you can answer the questions simply by writing the answers. This is what I do.

By the way, you’ll never have writer’s block using this method!

Summary
Creating consistent blog posts (and other marketing content) doesn’t have to be difficult.

Stick with this six-step process, or customize it to make it work for you.

Either way, having a simple and effective system will help remove most of the obstacles and simplify the content creation process.

Your next step
Find out from a customer or prospect which one or two problems they face and need answers to.

See if you can outline your response to the problem in a blog post. If you don’t have a blog, submit your article it to an organization for publication.

Need help kick-starting your blog?

I offer a special pricing on a 10-pack of blog posts, customized and custom-crafted for your website. Drop me a note if you're interested in learning more. Just click the "Let's Talk" tab at the top right of this page. We can talk about your goals and needs. Then we'll determine if we're a good fit.
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Looking for a few simple and effective ways to write faster, better and easier?

Grab my free eBook (a $37 value) when you sign up for free updates from this blog.

Google+ Written by ThomasCliffordB2BCopywriter

Wednesday
Aug102011

Can Music Improve Your Writing? Try This Simple Experiment 

It’s great having a few tricks up your sleeve to boost your writing speed. (Especially tricks that can “flip your switch” when writing from scratch.)

Can music “flip your switch”?

Music is one of those things we don’t pay much attention to—unless we have to. That is, we don’t pay much attention until we want to hear a specific piece; then it becomes important to us.

I recently wondered if music could improve one's writing. So I tried an experiment.

Try this fun experiment

If you haven’t tried using music to inspire your writing efforts, this could be a fun little experiment to try over the next few weeks (or days).

If you have a CD collection, choose about seven discs. Pick a variety of musical genres, genres that create different feelings or moods when you hear them.

Each time you sit down to write, play a disc. Observe how you feel when writing.

Most likely, you’ll experience one of two things:
1. Momentum
2. Distraction

1) Momentum

Momentum feels like a train leaving the station. The words are flowing, you have a general sense of direction and you feel clear in how you express yourself. It’s easy to write. You’re not fighting with ideas.

2) Distraction

Feeling distracted is easy to spot—you’re stuck. Creating a few sentences feels like it takes forever. For me, distraction means my attention turns outward—daydreaming without continuing to move forward.

When you catch yourself thinking of other tasks you want to do, that’s another sign of being distracted. Try changing the music. Go back to writing. Observe what happens after five or ten minutes. Are you still distracted? Or are the words flowing more easily?

In about a week, you’ll see patterns

Maybe music with vocals is too distracting. But classical guitar feels perfect. Maybe jazz is a bit too much. But ambient is just the right groove.

For example, I enjoy writing to ambient music

Right now, I’m listening to the Ambient Space Music station. The music is at a very low volume and the station is playing music continuously. For some reason, the steady stream of music keeps the words flowing.

 You’ll be able to tell which type of music works best for you after experimenting. Or maybe you discover that music doesn’t help you. Hey, at least you’ll know!

Try Internet radio stations

iTunes Radio (or something similar) has a huge selection of radio stations. Each station specializes in a musical genre: ambient, alternative rock, blues, country, jazz, hard rock, etc. Internet radio stations are free, and many are commercial-free. Search around to see if there's a station or two you like.

Try “flipping the switch”

The next time you’re struggling to write:

• Fire up iTunes.
• Or throw on a CD.
• Or spin one of those scratchy things they call “records.”

And start writing.

You might surprise yourself.

Google+ Written by ThomasCliffordB2BCopywriter

 

Monday
Jul182011

How to Work with Graphic Designers for the First Time

If you've never worked with a graphic designer before (and you have questions on how to proceed with one), there's good news.

My latest article for Content Marketing Institute, The ABCs of Working with a Graphic Designer (for the First Time), deals with some common questions many people have when working with a designer for the first time.

Judging by the number of interesting comments the article drummed up, it looks like I hit a nerve.

Be sure to check out the article and bookmark it for future reference.

And if you're so inclined, feel free to jump in and add your comments or questions.

Monday
Jul112011

3 (Often Ignored) Ways to Write Quickly 

It’s going to happen.

You get an idea while driving, walking or shopping.

You fire up the computer.

Then—you can’t write.

So how can you ramp up your ability to write quickly, without a lot of hoopla?

3 (Often Ignored) Ways to Write Quickly

1) Sporadic Writing

This technique nearly works miracles. Instead of writing in a linear fashion (top to bottom), start writing where you feel inspired. You might start at the end or the middle. Write faster with sporadic writing.

For instance, I started writing this post with this tip first. Then I wrote about the third tip, then the second tip. I then worked my way to the summary and, finally, I wrote the introduction.

Action item: There’s no writing rule that says you have to start at the beginning. Start where you feel most inspired.

2) Freewriting

Freewriting is simple: You write whatever comes to mind without stopping. (It helps to set a timer for 10 minutes or so.) The magic unfolds as you write about the mundane and then, out of nowhere, you start writing about something that sparks an idea for a future project.

Mark Levy is an expert in the area of freewriting. You can read my interview with Mark on how to solve problems through freewriting.

Mark has written a book exclusively about freewriting: “Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight and Content.

Action item: Write for 10 minutes straight—as fast as you can—without stopping. See if this reveals new ideas that may be hiding under the cobwebs.

3) Egg Timer Method

If you’ve never used a timer—with sound—when writing, you’re in for a treat.

When I first used a timer, the ticking noise drove me nuts. But after a few more attempts, the clicking sound now subconsciously drives me to write. In fact, it’s hard not to write with the timer ticking away!

If you want to learn more about using short sprinting cycles to increase your productivity, read the two articles I’ve written about the Pomodoro Technique.

You can even download a timer for your toolbar. It’s $4.99 and fully customizable. (You can also search for free timers.)

Action item: Get a timer and explore using it both with and without sound. Find out what works for you. Adjust the length of your sessions accordingly.

There you go—three simple techniques to boost your writing output.

• What about you?
• Do you use similar techniques to write quickly?
• Did I miss a technique?
• Any questions on these three methods?
• What (often ignored) writing tricks do you use to keep your writing flowing?

P.S. Receive my free e-book, 5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier when you subscribe to this blog’s updates. It’s over 20 pages and packed with simple writing techniques to help you boost your writing power.

Wednesday
Jul062011

5 Business Communication Books (and Free E-Books) That Inspire Me 

I’m forever on the lookout for interesting business communication books.

If you’re looking for some interesting reading, here’s what I’m reading now (or have read recently).

Four of the books are free e-books and definitely worth checking out. These books have inspired me and I’m hoping they’ll inspire you too.

1) 13 Business Blogging Mistakes & Their Easy Fixes (free e-book)

This e-book is from HubSpot and is packed with often-overlooked blogging tips. I love Chapter 8, “Ignoring Low-Hanging Fruit.” This chapter features 10 simple fixes you may not be using on your blog. There’s also a neat chapter on the importance of the call-to-action.

2) The B2B Marketing Handbook (free e-book)

This 90-page e-book, written by copywriting guru Bob Bly, has 19 chapters and covers a variety of topics, including:

  • 10 Tips for Increasing Landing Page Optimization
  • Should B2B Copywriters Avoid Jargon?
  • 7 Rules for Content Marketers
  • Are White Papers Dead?
  • Business-to-Business Headline Writing Clinic

I printed this out and am keeping it within arm’s reach for future reference.

(Go to the bottom of Bly's homepage for the e-book.)

3) The Copywriting Sourcebook: How to Write Better Copy, Faster–For Everything from Ads to Websites

I have all four books from copywriter Andy Maslen and each book rocks. This one covers 13 areas, from articles and e-mails to sales letters and headlines. You don’t have to read the book from the beginning; just open it up to the area you’re interested in.

4) Manage Your Writing 3.0 (free e-book)

This free e-book is the basis for the expanded version, 36-Hour Course in Business Writing. If you’re looking for a way to manage your writing process, start with this e-book.

If you like this e-book, I highly encourage you to check out Kenneth’s full book version, 36-Hour Course in Business Writing.

Author Kenneth Davis emphasizes, “Managing writing is largely a matter of managing your time.” And speaking of managing time . . .

5) The Pomodoro Technique (free e-book)

Technically, this isn’t a business communication book. But I have to slip it into this list because of its ability to increase your productivity. I use the Pomodoro Technique 90 percent of the time when writing.

In a nutshell:
1. Break your project down into 25-minute chunks.
2. Take a five-minute break.
3. Resume your project.

Just try it a few times and see what happens. The e-book is packed with extra ideas and tips to get the most out of the technique.

I wrote two articles about the Pomodoro Technique and how it can help you conquer the world (25 minutes at a time).

Side note: Chris Brogan has an interesting spin on this technique: The 20 Minute Plan. It’s worth checking out.

P.S. You can receive my free e-book, 5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier when you subscribe to this blog’s updates. It’s over 20 pages packed with simple writing techniques to help you boost your writing power.