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The awful truth about single-page websites

September 18th, 2018 by Bob Bly

A big fad in website design today is “single-page” sites.

This is where, rather than create separate web pages for each
major topic (e.g., testimonials, client list, about the company,
products), where you reach each page by selecting the topic from
a menu …

…all the topics are on one long home page, and you reach them by
scrolling down that home page.

Usually there is also a menu.

But when you click the topic button on a one-page website menu,
instead of taking you to a separate page, it just takes you
immediately to where that information appears on the home page —
eliminating the need to scroll.

Single-page sites are popular today, even “all the rage.” But I
don’t like them, and I recommend most businesses do not use them,
for three reasons:

>> First, Link-Assistant.com and others note that one-page
websites are not good for search engine optimization.

With a one-pager, you usually can’t drive a lot of organic search
traffic via SEO.

The reason is because you won’t have enough content to target a
wide range of keywords and topics.

So if you hope Google organic search to be the key source of new
customers for your business, a one-page website could be your
biggest mistake.

And if you already have a one-pager, and you seek Google traffic,
consider changing your site from single to multi-page.

>> Second, a lot of people like single-page websites because they
find them to be aesthetically pleasing.

Turns out, that’s not a good reason to have one.

According to a study by NN Group, 76% of users surveyed said the
most important factor to them when on a website is that it’s easy to
find what they want.

Traditional multi-page sites make it easy for visitors to quickly
go to the content they seek.

A beautiful design came in a distant second, with only 10% of
users saying the design is first in importance to them when
visiting websites.

Single-page websites were innovated for their cool look, not
their SEO or usability.

>> Third, your prospects prefer to consume content in small
chunks rather than big, huge gulps.

That’s why books are divided into chapter …

Why white papers have multiple sections …

Why CDs have tracks …

Why the high-school day is divided into one-hour periods …

And why symphonies are broken into movements.

Traditional multi-page sites accommodate the visitor’s natural
preference for modular content.

Single-page sites violate it, presenting all the content in one
enormous page that is intimidating to search and to read.

The “4 S” formula says that to make writing easy to read, you
should use small words … short sentences … short paragraphs … and
short sections.

Single-page websites violate the “short sections” part of the 4 S
formula for clear, comprehensible writing.

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Category: Online Marketing | 3 Comments » |

Does it pay to go to marketing seminars?

September 14th, 2018 by Bob Bly

In a recent Facebook thread on the relative value and merits of
copywriting and marketing seminars, my FB friend BM wrote:

“I haven’t been to a live seminar in years. I’m too busy doing
work for clients. How do I sharpen the axe?

“I have every book, ebook, and CD set that Bob Bly has published,
plus I’m an AWAI Infinity member and I have lots of good stuff
from Steve Slaunwhite and Ed Gandia. I’ve cut the number of other
gurus I follow to three.

“It’s all recorded or printed so I can go back to school on my
own time. After taking this inventory I realized that if I did
nothing else I would not live long enough to read/listen to all
of them again. And you want me to sign up for your seminar in Las
Vegas? Egh!”

There are many who, like BM, are highly skeptical that the value
of seminars outweighs the time it takes to attend, especially if
the event requires plane travel.

And many others for whom the tuition is too stiff. They search
for less expensive education and can almost always find it.

My take on expensive seminars and conferences– those with
tuitions in the multiple thousands of dollars — and how to get
essentially the same knowledge for less money and time — is as
follows:

1–I always prefer to sample an expert’s free information before I
pay.

Almost all gurus have websites with a ton of free content — yours
for the taking.

Study that first.

If you don’t like that content, then why would you pay for more
of the same?

(I just saved you a ton of money!)

If you do like the free content on the guru’s website, then one
of two things can happen.

Either it’s so useful that it answers what you needed to know,
you don’t need to buy anything else, and you’ve solved your
problem for free.

Or, it’s so good that you are now confident in getting more
training and advice from this expert, and thereby improve your
odds of successful learning while reducing risk.

2–After I study the free content (e.g., blog posts, articles,
e-newsletters, free reports) … but before I move to a big
purchase … I look on Amazon to see whether the guru has written a
traditionally published paperbound book on the topic.

A dirty little secret many info marketers don’t want you to know:
often their books contain more content, better organized, and
more clearly presented then their expensive courses and products.

Reason: mainstream publishers require a degree of editing,
rewriting, copyediting, fact-checking, and proofreading that 99%
of info marketers don’t come close to. Result: clearer, more
complete, and better organized information.

3–Now, if you have gotten all you can from the guru’s
low-cost/no-cost content … and you still want to study with them
… you can safely and confidently invest in their higher-cost paid
info products.

But … and this is a warning: do not overbuy.

Listen, I love it when I get an email showing a subscriber who
just spent a grand with me buying a dozen different products; I
like money same as anybody else.

But at the same time, I worry about that customer and information
overload.

It’s like going bonkers at Barnes & Noble, buying every book that
looks good to you, and then putting them on your shelf and never
getting around to read them.

At least traditional paperbound books are a nice decorative touch
in a room. You don’t get that with PDFs, mp3 files, and streaming
audio. So unless you actually consume and use the content, buying
info products is pointless.

I know this list isn’t conclusive. But these are the primary
factors that weigh into my decision whether to pull the trigger,
shell out the dough on an expensive seminar, and fly hours to
attend … or walk away.

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Category: General | 4 Comments » |

9 tips for webinar presenters

September 11th, 2018 by Bob Bly

There are a boatload of articles giving smart, savvy, strategic
advice on marketing with webinars.

This isn’t one of them.

Instead, here are 9 rather mundane — some might say trivial or
even silly — tips for webinar producers and presenters.

They won’t make you rich or famous.

But they’ll help your webinar go more smoothly while making it
easier for you to give:

#1–Go to the bathroom.

Ten minutes before you call into the webinar line, hit the head
and empty your bladder.

Trust me: There are few things worse than having to take a leak,
because when you are the webinar presenter, you can’t step away
from the phone or microphone to do it.

And the alternatives are all unpleasant.

#2–Have a box of tissues handy.

And, in case you have a cold or allergies, blow your nose —
thoroughly — before you start.

If the listener hears you sniffle or snort during your talk, it’s
awfully distracting.

#3–“Do not disturb.”

Whenever I am giving a webinar, I close my office door and tape a
sign to it that reads:

“Webinar in progress from [hours] — do not disturb UNLESS you are
mortally wounded or the house is on fire.”

#4–The dog trick.

If you work at home and have a dog, have someone take the dog for
a walk or car ride. Or put the dog outside, far away enough from
your office that if he barks, your listeners won’t hear it.

#5–Liquids.

Have a big glass of water — and I mean large enough to last you
through the entire duration of the talk.

#6–Eat.

Eat a light snack before your webinar so you can focus on your
presentation and not be distracted by hunger.

#7–Hard copy.

Print hard copies of your slides and have them on the desk next
to your phone.

That way, if you somehow get disconnected or lose the video
portion of the webinar, you can work from the print copy.

Also, it ensures that you can read the slides clearly in case the
screen shot is low resolution or too small.

#8–Have a back-up plan.

You and the webinar company should have a way to contact one
another in case of a technical glitch.

I have my smartphone and the webinar producer’s phone number at
the ready just in case.

#9–Always record your webinar.

Even if you don’t plan to sell or offer access to the recorded
webinar, record it.

That way a participant who doesn’t get in or is somehow
disconnected can view and hear it later.

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Category: General | 4 Comments » |

How often should you check your email inbox?

September 7th, 2018 by Bob Bly

One of my mentors, GN, is one of the top direct response
entrepreneurs.

GN advises us to check our emails only once a day, saying doing
so more often is a waste of time that lowers your productivity.

But GN is a business owner and therefore also a client for people
in service businesses — including freelance copywriters like me.

And while clients can afford to check email just daily, if you
are a vendor, you should do so much more frequently — ideally,
once every hour.

The reason: When your clients or prospects have a need, a prompt
response not only provides superior customer service.

But if you do not reply quickly, they may, if the job is urgent,
email your competitors who, if they answer more quickly than you,
may just get the assignments that you wanted.

In addition, for me, checking my email hourly does not interfere
with my productivity. In fact, it improves it.

I divide my daily writing into one-hour increments, between which
I take a 5-minute break; the great Gene Schwartz worked in
half-hour increments with a 3-minute break between them, though I
am not even close to his level.

During those short breaks is a perfect time for me to take a
quick look at my email inbox.

I quickly delete the irrelevant emails — and respond to the
important ones from clients and prospects on the spot — so they
are never kept waiting too long.

Emails that are less urgent but still important because of their
valuable content, I file for later reading or reference in the
appropriate Outlook folders.

This short break energizes me to get back to copywriting for
another hour.

And if I am worn out on my copywriting project, I switch to
another one, which further refreshes me so I can tackle it with
renewed energy.

So if you are a service provider, I advise you to check and
respond to emails in a timely manner, as it boosts your energy,
productivity, and customer service.

It works well for me and might for you too. Give it a try.

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Category: General | 7 Comments » |

10 ways to increase your writing confidence

September 3rd, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber RF writes:

“Bob, I would love your advice on how you silence the derogatory
voice in your head that says, ‘You’re not a good writer.’ Writing
can never be a pleasure if one is haunted by negative thoughts.”

Here’s how I handle it:

1–I post testimonials from satisfied clients and readers on my
website, and when I doubt myself, I click on the links and look
at a few.

2–I thank my subscribers who say they like my writing, always.

3–My 95 published books are in two bookcases in our living room.
I go upstairs and briefly look at them on the shelves.

4–I take pleasure in writing copy that I think is particularly
strong — and I’m even happier when the client likes it, runs it,
and the copy performs well.

5–After work, I often read books by writers in all genres whom I
admire. Most are out of my league … but not SO far out of my
league that I can’t learn from and emulate them.

6–If my deadline schedule permits, I turn to the project on my
to-do list that is the most fun and the most engaging to me, and
I work on it for several hours.

7–I realize that if I was really as bad as the voice in my head
is telling me on any particular day, I would not have the repeat
clients, income, or longevity as a copywriter that I do.

8–I take comfort in these words from copywriter Lou Redmond: “We
never write as well as we want to; we only write as well as we
can.”

9–I also heed these words from Max Ehrmann: “There will always be
those greater and lesser than you.”

10–I take a writing course or go to a lecture or reading by an
author I like. The most recent one was going with my sister and
daughter-in-law to hear Stephen King reading from his novel
“Sleeping Beauties” in Brooklyn a few months ago.

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Category: Writing | 12 Comments » |

Copywriting for clients or for your own products — which is right for you?

August 31st, 2018 by Bob Bly

Ben Settle and I had a brief email exchange last week on the
fact that there are two types of copywriters today:

“Traditional” copywriters write copy on a contract basis for
clients.

“Alt” copywriters write copy to sell their own information
products.

So which do I recommend for you — the first? The second? Both?

I recommend you either become a traditional copywriter or do both
… but do NOT limit yourself to being an alt-copywriter only.

Today, I am primarily a full-time traditional copywriter earning
a six-figure active income stream from writing copy for clients.

I have a second, spare-time, passive income stream writing copy
to sell my own line of information products and at one site,
merchandise.

I like this set-up because I think it’s beneficial for writers to
have multiple streams of income.

I have several including contract copywriting, info marketing,
writing books, professional speaking, and consulting.

Ideally, strive to have two six-figure income streams, one active
and one passive.

This is the surest path to financial stability and even security
for freelance writers.

Now, while I love info marketing, I think that, if you want to
develop into an A-level copywriter, you cannot limit yourself to
writing for your own products only.

Reason: An essential skill to become an A-level copywriter is the
ability to rapidly understand all sorts of products and markets,
and to write copy to sell those varied products to those
different markets successfully.

In other words, you must be a quick study. Here — yours free — is
my “discovery process” for rapidly getting up to speed on
different products and markets:

https://www.bly.com/newsite/Pages/documents/HTPFAC.html

But if the only products you write copy for are your own —
products you created and sell to an audience which you know well
— you will not master the discovery process, which in turn will
hold you back from being the best copywriter you can be.

And if your product line is strictly about marketing and
copywriting, you’ll be even more limited and less well-rounded as
a copywriter.

I always tell my subscribers that if the only thing an author of
expensive courses in copywriting and marketing has sold is
courses in copywriting and marketing, save your money and run in
the opposite direction.

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Category: Writing | 4 Comments » |

Can’t decide which book you want to write?

August 28th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber TT writes:

“Maybe you can help me with my issue: If you have three ideas for
books in your head — how do you go about deciding to commit to
one?”

Many writers, including me, face this problem frequently.

We have so many interests, so many subjects we want to write
about, that we have a hard time choosing the one we want to do
next — especially with bigger projects like books.

So I told TT my simple formula for deciding which of multiple
book ideas will be the one that I commit to writing.

To begin with, here are the 6 criteria I evaluate when deciding
whether I want to write a given book:

1–Will it be fun for me to write?

2–Do readers need yet another book on this topic?

3–Will having written it benefit me in some way; e.g., elevate my
reputation or bring me more business?

4–Is it important to me personally to write it and get it
published?

5–Do I have something worthwhile to say in it?

6–Does it have the potential to sell many thousands of copies,
and am I in a position to help make that happen?

Rate each book idea in each of these six categories on a scale of
1 to 5 with 5 = highest and 1 = lowest.

Then add up the total score. And do this for each book you are
thinking about writing.

And whichever book has the highest total score is the next one
you should write.

TT also asks: “If you DO commit to writing a book, how do you
stay committed until it’s done?”

I accomplish this by writing virtually all my books for
mainstream publishers.

When you do that, it is easy to stay committed — because you have
signed a contract promising to deliver the manuscript to a
publishing house on or before a given date.

If you don’t hand in a publishable manuscript by the deadline,
you don’t get your money … the book won’t be published … and your
name will be mud with your publisher.

That’s all the motivation and incentive I need to stay committed
… and probably all you will need, too.

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Category: Writing | 6 Comments » |

On turning 61

August 24th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Last month, I turned 61.

Which means if I live to be 90, my life is more than two-thirds
over.

Now, as I sail into the sunset of that final third of my
existence, here’s some of what I’m going through … and what I
see, feel, and think.

#1–Energy.

I feel fortunate that I still have enormous energy during the
work day — and I still work 60 hours a week.

But after quitting time, then I feel drained, don’t have much
energy, and am content to sit in my favorite easy chair and read
a book or newspaper.

I even turn on the boob tube, look for a good movie, and watch it
for half an hour or so — more than that is too much TV and brain
rot.

This routine is not a huge problem for me, as work, writing, and
reading are most of what I like to do best anyway.

When I was younger, my major energy-consuming activity was
playing vigorously with my kids — a lot.

Now they are 25 and 28, and the play is less vigorous — mainly
board games (which I play with them) and video games (which I
watch but do not play myself).

#2–Materialism.

I was never terribly materialistic, though I liked having a lot
of vinyl records and books.

But when we moved a few years ago, my wife made my get rid of
most of these collections.

And much to my surprise, I was happy to do so.

The older I get, the less stuff I want.

#3–Marriage.

The love of our marriage deepens, at least for me, with each
passing year.

My wife Amy, along with my sons, is the center of my universe.

#4–Dog.

I have always liked dogs and we have had a few over the years.
They were all wonderful.

But our latest, Bailey — a rescue dog from North Carolina and a
Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever — is the most affectionate of
all.

Other people with rescue dogs say the same. I think because these
dogs were abandoned, they appreciate their new owners and homes
even more than other dogs.

I just love him to pieces, and he wants to be with us all the
time.

#5–Patience.

I have never suffered fools gladly.

And as I age, my tolerance for rudeness, ignorance, and stupidity
declines with each passing year.

#6–Socializing.

I prefer to be at home, read and write, spend time with my family
and my dog, and stay in the comfortable, familiar environment of
the house.

My wife drags me out to socialize, and while I enjoy it when we
do, I probably would do it very little if left to my own devices.

#7–Travel.

Pure torture for me. If my wife, my oldest son, and his wife did
not want me to travel with them, my only travel would be to give
seminars, an activity I love.

#8–Books.

I am addicted to reading books and even more so to writing them.

Perhaps paperbound books will vanish one day, and I’ll stop.

But as long as I have publishers who will have me write paper
books for them, I’ll keep doing it.

#9–Mortality.

If I live to be 90, I have only 30 years left, and there is so
much I still want to do that I am running out of time. And it’s
beginning to bug me.

#10–Risk-taking.

If you are over 60 and lose a big chunk of money in the market or
another investment, you may not have the time or future earning
potential to make up for the loss. So I am less of a risk-taker
as an investor, though I was never a big one to begin with. (My
biggest speculation was buying thousands of ounces of silver
years ago when it was at $10 an ounce.)

“Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.” — Robert
Browning

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Category: General | 8 Comments » |