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What’s the most powerful thing in the world?

Is it a word?
is it an action?
is it a feeling?

No. It’s none of those things.

The most powerful thing in the world is an idea. Ideas can begin small, but grow tall. Ideas can change the world.  Ideas make a difference.

Freedom is an idea.
Freedom is also a word.
And a word is a tool.

Words are the tools writers use to express ideas. That’s why a great piece of writing is still a great piece of writing even when it’s translated into another language.

It’s not just about the words.
It’s about the ideas behind them.

And that’s why, when you’re writing articles, press releases and blog posts to promote your business, it’s not the words you use that matter most.  Google, the great God of the Internet, demands regular sacrifices from its worshippers in a form that we call ‘content’. And content, so we’re told, should be original.

But once you’ve used the words, what then? How can you produce more ‘original’ content? Do you mash and mangle the words? Do you spin them into some great glittering garment suitable for sacrifice to the great god google?

Essentially – yes.

But you weren’t expecting me to say that, were you?

I’m not a fan of article spinners, because the result of their use is (usually) a badly written article. And while the words are not what it’s all about, their composition is part of the package. Grammar, spelling and even a good turn of phrase can help turn a blog from something that’s ignored to something that’s followed.

You can’t reuse the words, but what you can do is use the ideas.  Again and again and again. By storing the ideas, and not the words, you make it easy to create fresh original content.

And that’s what CHUNKS are all about. A way to keep your content fresh and original but easy and quick to produce.

Sound interesting?

More tomorrow.

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How to Blog With Passion

On January 18, 2011, in Content Creation, by lesley
Red Sky, White sparks
Image by Clav via Flickr

I haven’t blogged for a while.

O.K. That’s a lie. I have, but not here. Since the New Year most of my posts have been over at EasyContentBlueprints because we’re running some exciting webinars over there and that’s where my focus was.

So this is my first post here for the year. And because this is my own, personal site, where I don’t have to worry about what other people want, or like, I decided it would be a good one, a stirring post, something that would get the year off to a momentous start.

So here we are. Let’s get momentous.
And …


It’s not working. Come on lets go!  Put some passion into it!

Do you ever have days when you sit down, and somehow the enthusiasm is just not there?
If you said yes, never think you’re alone.
My inbox is filled with emails from people with webstores, or with products to sell, who chose their products for lots of good reasons, but without realy understanding what the job of selling on the internet entails. People who sit down, knowing they have to blog or write an article and all have the same question – what can I write about?

To misquote Monty Python – where’s the passion? It’s over there in the box. But it was squeezed out because the necessity and the boredom put on weight.

And just like no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition, noone expects that their major activity after launching their webstore will be writing.
But it is.

There are product descriptions, landing pages and newsletters.Press Releases, blog posts and articles.
and tweets and even (shudder)
facebook pages

And the worst thing about them all is that when you really don’t have any enthusiasm, it comes across in your writing. I know this and I’m still guilty of it. Here’s an extract from two product descriptions I wrote last year.

Blue chiffon nightgown with crossover straps

Delicate nightgown in shimmering blue chiffon

The first description tells you more about the nightgown
The second descriptions sells.
Can you guess which nightgown I liked best?

So how can you find a passion for your product and put some fire into your blog posts?

Most of the gurus will tell you you don’t have to know anything about the niche product you choose to sell.

They’ll also tell you that you don’t need to use it or like it.

And they’re right. You don’t.
As long as you can afford to hire other other people to do the writing for you.
If you can’t, you face long hard hours churning out prose you don’t believe in, a soul destroying activity for anyone.

So the easiest way to blog or write with passion is to feel enthusiasm for your product. Don’t choose a niche based purely on the figures. Don’t promote something you wouldn’t buy.

But what if you’e already chosen. Your niche is OK, but you’ve run out of steam?
It happens to everyone, including me, so here are some of the things I do.
Let’s start with the easy ones.

Take a step back. A biscuit and a cup of tea is restorative if you’re just feeling a bit tired.
Listen to music, something fast paced, something to pep you up.Some people go for short walk.
Whatever you do, don’t put the writing off.

Better now?

If not, here’s the harder thing.

Realize that if you feel fed up and bored it’s because you want to. Your mood is your business. Change it.  Because feeling bored and fed up while you write isn’t going to to do you any good. And that dream of financial independence and freedom will more than likely stay a dream.

So summon  those desires and take energy from them. Think about how great it will feel to sit by the pool or the ocean while your webstore fills your bank account and feel grateful for the opportunity to do it. Then grab those good feelings in both hands, top up with tea and biscuits and write as though your dreams depended on it, because they do.

Write about something you’ve never written about before. Forget your products and take a wider view.  Look to the side, to the future and to the past. If your product is cookware, for example,  you can write about recipes, about special occasion meals, about party planning. Take a wider view and you’re talking about interior design, move to the past and look at historic recipes, or move to the future and look at cooking trends. Somewhere, in there, is a subject you can talk about with passion and enthusiasm.

But you won’t find it unless you look. It won’t just fall into your lap. An e-commerce store can turn into a nightmare. Or it can be the realization of a dream.

Which will you choose?

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31 Reasons You Need a Grandpa

On August 24, 2010, in Content Creation, by lesley

My Grandfather, James Alexander Ogilvie

Today, August 24th, is my Grandfathers birthday. We won’t be celebrating because he’s dead.

I was going to write one of those terribly earnest and useful posts about using the active voice or common grammatical errors when, as often happens, I could hear him telling me it was the wrong thing to do.

So this post is for my Grandpa who taught me many useful things, but mainly that people like him are incredibly important.

I know that sounds incredibly obvious, but I think writers/bloggers in particular forget that in the people around them they have a huge resource, and here’s an example.  Yesterday I read a very interesting well written post about how to find ideas to write about and deal with writers block. It covered all sorts of techniques, but not the most simple one of all.

Ask someone.

If you run an internet business you need to look at things from your customer point of view. How can you do that? Ask. The people around you want to help and they don’t know the technicalities you’re dealing with. This often gives them a clearer, more straightforward point of view. What’s the essence of the internet? Dialogue with customers. I wish I had a dollar for every time my grandpa looked at me and said ‘ If you want to know – ask.’

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Great White Shark, South Africa
Image by doobybrain via Flickr

or should I say – ‘The Seven Secrets of Singing Sharks?’

OK. I’ll come clean. That was a pitiful way of trying to grab your attention. What I’m really talking about is ‘Seven Secrets’ articles, and why, given half a chance, you shouldn’t write one.  The reasons are simple.

  • The web is full of seven, three, five, etc secrets articles.
  • If you write the same things as everyone else, you won’t stand out, and it’s a crowded web.
  • I don’t want seven bits, I want THE secret.
  • Isn’t a secret supposed to be something you only tell one person at a time?

Does this mean you should avoid list articles? No, absolutely not. List articles are great because

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Peter Mark Roget (Roget's Thesaurus)
Image by dullhunk via Flickr

Tip: Write in your own voice. If you’re whipping out a thesaurus for every other word, your reader will reject your competency. Tweeted by

I spotted that tweet yesterday and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since because I do have a thesaurus, it sits here on my desk and I use it every day. But I don’t think you should reject my ‘competency’ as a result.

I use a thesaurus because I don’t like to use the same word too often and when I find I have, I look for a synonym.

I use a thesaurus because I like to play with words. Repetition is a powerful way to get a point across.

And I use a thesaurus because I want to be good at my job.

Does that make me incompetent?

I don’t use it to show off, or to find grand multi-syllable words, or to write something no-one will understand, but just to help me do the best I can at what people pay me to do, and I have a hard time working out what’s wrong with that.

Words are important. They’re not the most important thing in the world, but for the moment they are our only way to communicate. A thesaurus is designed to help you find the right word. It’s a tool. It can’t steal your voice or make what you write less authentically yours.

So back off My thesaurus is staying on my desk. Words are your business, just as much as they are mine. Why not enjoy them?

What do you think?  Would you reject the competency of an author who uses a thesaurus? I’d really like to know.

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