Thursday, May 27, 2010

ETR: Taking a Stand

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Issue No. 3033 - $1.00

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Got Writer's Block?
By Jason Holland

As an online entrepreneur, one of your biggest challenges is the blank screen. I'm talking about coming up with fresh content for your newsletters, website, blog, letters to your subscribers, and all the rest. And not just "content" but new ideas, concepts, and advice that will stir your readers' emotions, make them think, and maybe even rile up the Web.

In his essay today, Internet marketing consultant David Cross gives you a simple formula for overcoming writer's block and coming up with engaging material.

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You Don't Need Much to Start an Internet-based Import/Export Business

The Internet has made doing business so much easier in so many markets and niches. And that includes importing products from China for pennies on the dollar and selling them online for mark-ups of 500%, 1,000%, even 2,000% or more...

  • You don't need a huge amount of start-up capital. In fact, you can get started with as little as $50 or so... and start making deals almost immediately...

  • You don't need a storefront, employees, or equipment. It's just you, your computer, and your Internet connection...

  • You don't need to quit your day job -- yet. You can do Internet import/exporting "on the side" at first. And once your business takes off, you can go full-time.

This really could be one of the greatest professions in the world. And ALL you need to get started is the insider knowledge you'll get from The China Wholesale Secret Alliance.

"If you've got a big mouth and you're controversial, you're going to get attention."

Simon Cowell

Put Some Lead in Your Pencil!
By David Cross

I've written before about what to write about when you're "stuck."

How-to articles are the perfect antidote to writer's block. But if your goal is to create content for your e-mail newsletter or website to attract search engines, you cannot rely on them every time. Thankfully, there is another type of article that's remarkably simple to write. Your readers will love it -- and so will the search engines.

I was reminded of this by recent events here in rural Oregon. Last deer hunting season, I was in a local store and overheard a heated debate about lead in deer meat. It turns out that researchers in North Dakota had found lead fragments from bullets in commercially sold ground venison. That set off a health scare that rippled through the hunting community nationwide.

There are strong opinions on both sides. Some hunters have eaten their kills for years and report no ill effects. On the other side are folks who think the meat should be banned.

Your business probably isn't concerned with this issue. But there are any number of controversial topics in every market, niche, industry, hobby, etc. You're probably thinking of one now... and maybe even getting riled up about it.

That's good. Use it. Share your opinion with your readers and/or customers Or share both sides of the debate and act as commentator and independent expert.

Perhaps you run a gardening business. If so, you may remember the controversy some years ago concerning Monsanto's patent on a new strain of wheat. The wheat was derived from a variety that farmers in India cultivated for millennia. But when the patent was granted, it gave Monsanto the legal right to (among other things) prevent those farmers from saving and planting their seeds from harvest to harvest, as they had always done.

This is the kind of hot button issue that would be perfect for someone in the gardening business to tackle. You would ask yourself where you and your customers stand. Do you believe that Monsanto was guilty of "bio-piracy" -- stealing a product developed by generations of native farmers and then modifying it? Or do you believe that Monsanto was the "inventor" of this new strain of wheat and, as such, should be allowed to protect its investment?

Taking Sides

Lead in venison and wheat patents are just two of the millions of controversial topics in the world. It won't take you long to come up with dozens, or even hundreds, that you have a strong opinion on... and that could be of interest to your customers.

In fact, take a moment to start a list right now... right off the top of your head. Jot down your initial thoughts on subjects you really care about. (You can do research later to back up your point of view.)

Then use those notes when it comes time to put together a blog entry, article, or essay.

You don't even have to be a "writer" to produce good content. Speak your mind into a recorder and then transcribe it. Or record a conversation with someone who feels just as passionately as you do about a particular issue.

This is even better when you take the opposing position!

For example, what if I called Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's Executive Vice President, and started carrying on about gun control. You think he'd have a word or two on the subject?

Or what if I called Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace in the USA, and told him that all this crap about protecting whales is a load of bull. You think he'd have something to say?

You can bet he would!

What about you? Do you have an opinion about:

  • Your business...

  • Your industry...

  • The use of your products...

  • The way a competitor is doing it wrong (or right)...

  • Some new law that pisses you off...

  • Some topic that your customer service people are starting to receive an increasing number of questions about...

Write about it! And take an aggressive stance. Although people say they want "balanced reporting," balanced reporting is bland.

And encourage your readers to give you feedback. This keeps the debate going. If your site is set up to allow comments, invite those comments. Or ask your readers to share their thoughts via e-mail.

You can then base your next article on all that input.

It starts with simply taking a stand -- one of the best sources of content for your e-mail newsletters and website.

[Ed. Note: Expressing your opinion on controversial issues is just one strategy for creating quality content for your Internet business. You'll learn many others, as well as dozens of Internet marketing techniques, tactics, and "secrets" from the experts at ETR's upcoming 5 Days in July Internet Business Building Conference.

Even if you're a total beginner, are a bit (or very) tech-phobic, or have never run a business, you can start your own profitable online venture. And the Early to Rise team, including experts responsible for the success of Agora Inc., can help you do it in just five days.

Come with nothing... and leave 5 days later with a fully functioning Internet business... and the skills and expertise you need to make it thrive. Our special early sign-up bonus offer ends this Friday. So don't delay. Find out more about 5 Days in July here.]

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"Now if I can just get him to read it."

"Great article. I've printed a copy to give to my 20-year-old grandson. The grandson that buys $20-$30 T-shirts, $100+ basketball shoes, $100+ replica basketball jerseys of famous players, and, of course, the $35 shaving razor that a famous baseball player uses. The grandson that drives a 1998 Chevy Malibu (that I pay $187 a month for). The grandson who put a $650 sound system into that same car. The grandson who talks about going to college someday. The same grandson that delivers pizzas for a living. Now if I can just get him to read it."

Al Tremaglio

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If There's One Thing Truly Successful People Know...

It's that "dreaming" about success won't get you anywhere. You must take action. That's first. Next, you need somebody who's been there before to guide you. Success mentor Bob Cox has built multimillion-dollar businesses, advised billionaires, and helped people around the world achieve their dreams. Why not let him help you?

The Language Perfectionist: "Who That?"

By Don Hauptman

A reader of this column asked about the proper use of who and that.

Here's an often-cited quip by George Bernard Shaw: "The government who robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."

Shaw is regarded as a skilled writer. But is his use of who correct? Not according to language guru Charles Harrington Elster. In his useful and entertaining style guide What in the Word?, Elster writes: "It is a grave sin to use who of things, as in 'the company who.'"

Thus, when referring to corporations, industries, marching bands, animals, plants, stones, and other nonhuman entities, always use that.

Now consider these examples:

  • "I have a good feeling that he's an actor that can do well given the strength of the script."

  • "The surgeon that performs the operation should warn you that after the procedure you will experience both discomfort and bruising...."

  • Newspaper headline: "CEOs That Rock"

Several authoritative sources I consulted insist that the above uses of that are entirely acceptable. And after all, even Judy Garland sang about "the man that got away."

But in this instance, I disagree with the experts. To my eye and ear, that in reference to people has an awkward and inappropriate effect. It reduces humans to the status of inanimate objects.

So my advice is to stick with who for your fellow humans, and that for everything else.

[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]

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