Pooping Bowling Balls and Other Content Truths

Ian Lurie

Sleep-deprived delirium plus an attempt to ponder copywriting & content produces lists like this:

  1. Coming up with a good title for a post: Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s like pooping a bowling ball.
  2. I have to write a lot of crap to write anything good.
  3. If you have neither the time nor the money for good content, you have neither the time nor the money for good business.
  4. It’s perfectly OK to use contractions. I’m sure of it.
  5. Little things can make or break your digital content.
  6. End a sentence with a preposition. Live a little.
  7. Oxford Commas create rainbows, and feed unicorns. But I won’t hate you for hating them.
  8. It’s easier to talk than write.
  9. It’s easier to write than edit.
  10. It’s easier to edit than publish.
  11. Publishing is an act of will. At some point, you have to let go, say “This is good” and click the button.
  12. But never settle for second-rate content to hit a deadline, spare someone’s feelings, or meet a quota.
  13. Crappy content hurts your brand, even if no one says “this sucks.”
  14. No one can spell “license” when put on the spot.
  15. Using big words is fun.
  16. Only use big words when they’re the best words.
  17. If you steal my stuff and then tell me, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” I forever quote you in blog posts.
  18. “How much do I need?” is the wrong question. Try “What’s sustainable?” instead.
  19. Your readers don’t care what you like to read, buy, and discuss. They care about what they like to read, buy, and discuss.
  20. A subtle metaphor is a ninja for the wordsmith. Courtesy of @kyleeliason.
  21. Passive voice is something that will forever be hated by me.
  22. Writing isn’t a magical talent. It’s a muscle.
  23. The appropriate number of words for a post: Precisely as many as you need.
  24. In Seattle, never put “The” in front of a freeway number. Courtesy of @mwiegand.
  25. A massive audience isn’t always the goal.
  26. Links are a terrible content performance metric, on their own.
  27. Shares are a terrible content performance metric, on their own.
  28. Track content using several metrics. If that’s too hard, do it anyway.
  29. Write every damned day. I had a teacher/employer who told me that. He’s right. Use the Most Dangerous Writing App every morning. It’s like doing pushups for your brain.

Oh, also: It’s a lot easier to write smartass list posts than finish up the piece you were working on.

Where this came from

I have to give Gaz Copeland all the credit for this piece. While trying to write a post, I sent out this whiny tweet:

And he replied:

Which is one last content truth: When in doubt, steal an idea. But give credit.

Ian Lurie
Founder

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (that's more than 25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team, training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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