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Archive for the 'Writing and the Internet' Category

Top 7 Reasons Why Anyone Can Succeed as a ?How-To? Content Writer And Make Money Online

November 4th, 2010 by Bob Bly

Excerpted from my new book, How to Write and Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit.

1. It?s easy to get started in how-to writing: ?How-to writing provides a quicker, surer entry into publication than many other writing categories. Vast hordes dream of writing the Great
American Novel, but the group of writers who dream of writing the Great American Guide to Growing a Greener Lawn is a bit smaller.?

2. How-to writing pays extremely well: ?Some of the best-selling books of all time are how-to books. If you follow the plan in How to Write and Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit, I think you can realistically get to the $100,000 to $200,000 a year income level within 12 to 24 months.?

3. You don?t need to be the world?s greatest writer: ?To succeed as a how-to, do-it-yourself, or self-help author, you don?t have to be the next Shakespeare or even the next Stephen King. Can you explain something or teach a skill in a clear, organized, entertaining fashion? Then you can succeed as a how-to writer.?

4. You don?t need to be the leading guru in your field: ?You do not need to be the leading practitioner, scholar, or expert in your field to write a book about it. As noted by author and speaker Fred Gleeck, you only need know more about your subject than 90 percent of the people out there. ?Don?t worry about the other 10 percent; they?re not your market anyway,? says Fred.?

5. Whether you know it or not, you have unique knowledge to share with a paying audience: ?If you think you are not an expert in any subject, I doubt that?s really true. Every person has unique skills, training, and experiences. You are an ?expert? in your life and many of the things that make up your life.?

6. Even when information is free, demand for knowledge is high: ?Even in a world dominated by Google, the wisdom, knowledge, and guidance people are seeking are in short supply. As librarian Richard Yates once observed, ?We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.? As a result, the public?s appetite for how-to material is insatiable, and?despite the Internet user?s mantra that ?information should be free??readers eagerly open their wallets to obtain it.?

7. The guided step-by-step plan in How to Write and Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit shows you everything you need to do to be a success: ?By following the comprehensive plan laid out in this book, you can earn a comfortable six-figure annual income from your writing. And you can do it when and where you want, while writing what interests and pleases you. You can work at home?no boss, no commute, no suit and tie, no alarm clock.?

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Category: Online Marketing, Writing, Writing and the Internet | 100 Comments »

The End of Western Civilization as We Know It?

March 23rd, 2009 by Bob Bly

For more than 4 decades, one of my favorite activities and greatest pleasures has been reading the newspaper.

Yet according to an article on today, at least 120 U.S. newspapers have shut down since January 2008.

“Newspapers are losing their relevance in the lives of a majority of Americans,” — an online news service — smugly proclaims.

My own kids get their info online and on TV. They don’t read the newspaper, even with daily deliver of a newspaper on our front lawn.

I read news every day online at, the page on which my web browser is set to open — and I love it.

But I also love reading the newspaper at the lunch counter where I have my tuna sandwich each day … or at the kitchen table on weekend mornings over scrambled eggs and coffee.

This is a singular experience — peaceful, comforting, and entertaining — which seems to be lost on young people today.

I am wondering: if you are under 50, do you read news online only … and are newspapers not part of your information mix?

If you are 50 or older, like I am, do you still cling to your newspaper habit — or have you given it up for lent?


Category: Writing and the Internet | 46 Comments »

Another Nail in Print’s Coffin

March 11th, 2008 by Bob Bly

One of my greatest pleasures is to read trade journals, newsletters, and business magazines at home or during lunch (like many of you, I don’t have time to read them during working hours).

But according to an article in BtoB (3/10/08, p. 28), I may soon be denied that privilege, as magazines discontinue their print editions and make their content available on the Web only.

The article notes that advertising in printed magazines plays “an increasingly subordinate role in marketing communications.”

Alan Meckler, CEO of Jupitermedia, comments: “I would think that every b-to-b magazine is being wound down and will ultimately be online.”

Publishing online saves publishers a king’s ransom in printing and distribution costs.

But I want a magazine I can read at the counter of the diner where I eat my lunch. And the highlight of my weekend is reading the Sunday New York Times while having coffee at my kitchen table.

How about you? Will you miss print publications when they are gone — and do you agree with Meckler that they will indeed soon vanish?

Or would you rather read your industry trade publications on your PC screen — and celebrate the impending demise of dead tree media?

Late-breaking development: according to a cover story in today’s DM News (3/10/08, p.1), Ziff Davis, the magazine publisher, just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The handwriting is on the wall….


Category: Writing and the Internet | 48 Comments »

Is E-Mail Creating a Nation of Bad Writers?

September 27th, 2007 by Bob Bly

My theory has long been that the replacement of the telephone and face-to-face meetings by e-mail has increased the average American’s writing skills considerably, especially in business.

Reason: in the good old days, managers wrote few letters, because so much labor was involved.

Most didn’t keyboard, so they either wrote by hand or dictated.

The secretary would type the letter, which the manager edited with a red pen — and invariably, it would be typed and retyped 2 or 3 times before approved and mailed.

In my first corporate jobs, the secretaries were so busy, it would often take 2-3 days to get a letter in the mail using this process.

Today, virtually every manager has access to a keyboard … virtually every manager keyboards … and virtually every manager writes multiple e-mails daily.

Based on the notion that writing improves with practice, writing dozens of e-mails a week should turn you into a better writer.

But journalist Janet Malcolm thinks just the opposite is true.

“E-mail is a medium of bad writing,” she categorically states in an article in The New York Review of Books (9/27/07). “Poor word choice is the norm — as is tone deafness.”

She explains that, although e-mail may make us write a lot, most people don’t bother “to write a carefully worded, exclamation-point-free e-mail when the occasion demands.”

So what’s the answer?

Does the sheer amount of writing e-mail usage requires help us improve our writing?

Or is our writing just as bad as ever because people rush every e-mail they write and never take the time to make it good?


Category: General, Writing and the Internet | 81 Comments »

Do You Close the Bathroom Door Even When You’re the Only One Home?

September 11th, 2007 by Bob Bly

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told: “Why is your copy so long? … People are too busy to read today … They won’t read all that copy … Use bullets, pictures, and white space.”

The late Bill Jayme, one of the greatest copywriters of the 20th century (he wrote the classic “Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one home?” for Psychology Today), disagrees.

“Pay little heed to talk about America becoming illiterate,” wrote Jayme.

“First off, unless you are selling reading courses, today’s illiterates are’t your market.

“Second, if cockroaches, fruitcakes, and opera can survive, so will the written word.”

But Jayme wrote this years ago, pre-Internet.

Do you agree that his advice still holds today … and that the ‘people don’t read’ crowd doesn’t know their anus from their elbow?

Or do you think reading is dead … and long copy doesn’t work as well as it used to any more?


Category: General, Writing and the Internet | 182 Comments »

Google’s Contempt for Copyright

April 3rd, 2007 by Bob Bly

Google makes no secret of its contempt for copyright and intellectual property ownership — believing, as so many Netters do, that “information should be free.”

To which I say, “Bull*(#$%*!!!”

In February, Viacom asked Google-owned YouTube to remove more than 100,000 unauthorized video clips of copyrighted TV shows from its site.

When YouTube did not comply, Viacom filed suite against YouTube and Google for copyright infringement, seeking over $1 billon in damages … in a case that DM News (3/19/07, p. 1) says “may determine the future of content distribution over the Internet.”

Some argue that the exposure of the video clips on YouTube is good for Viacom, promoting their shows to a wider audience — and so Viacom should be happy that YouTube is giving them all this free exposure.

But they miss the point, and the point is this: the decision of whether to let someone reproduce or distribute copyrighted material lies solely with copyright holder.

To take someone else’s copyrighted music, video, article, or story — and distribute it online or elsewhere without their consent — is stealing, pure and simple.

Internet types love to talk about the importance of “permission-based marketing.”

How about “permission-based Internet publishing”?

That makes sense.



Category: General, Writing and the Internet | 81 Comments »

Another Nail in Print’s Coffin

December 12th, 2006 by Bob Bly

“The American newspaper industry is on the brink of a collapse [and] nothing can prevent this,” writes media consultant Paul Gillin in BtoB (12/11/06, p. 10).

Among the facts he cites:

* The percentage of people under 25 who read newspapers is half the number of people over 65 who read papers.

* While the U.S. has added 40 million new households in the last 30 years, newspaper circulation has actually declined.

* One study reports that news aggregation Web sites have cost Bay Area newspapers $50 million a year in lost ad revenue.

The problem, says Gillin, is that “newspapers still operate as if they were the gatekeepers of news, but that gate has swung wide open.”

Gillin believes that over the next 20 years or so, most of America’s 1,450 daily newspaper will die — to be replaced by special interest online communities.

What do you think?

Are newspapers dead?

Or will they still be thrown on lawns daily in 2106?


Category: General, Writing and the Internet | 53 Comments »

Print Dead? Not Yet!

November 27th, 2006 by Bob Bly

The worst thing about the catalog business is the cost of printing and mailing all those catalogs.

So you’d think that catalog companies would drive all their sales online, and cut back on or eliminate print catalogs altogether.

Not happening.

According to the Associated Press (11/26/06), L.L. Bean expects to mail a staggering quarter of a billion catalogs this year — up 50 million from the 200 million they mailed 2 years ago.

Reason: “It is the best way for us to get lasting impressions in front of our customers,” says Bean spokesman Rich Donaldson.

“Most customers hang onto catalogs for weeks, using them for reference, making them far more valuable than Web-based marketing,” concludes the AP report.

So are print catalogs here to stay?

Or is this only a temporary reprieve, until the generation being born today — who are growing up with computers and the Internet, not print, as their primary information source — comes of age?


Category: General, Writing and the Internet | 71 Comments »