Do you create your own products, publish a blog, or distribute content?

32 replies
Many marketers on this forum self publish content of some kind: blogs, ebooks, courses, training programs, sales letters, etc. Here is a bit of advice for all of us:

Did you know that, according to USA Today, 43.6% of American adults read at an elementary school level (6th grade or below)? Fully half of all high school graduates can't effectively fill out a job application. Sad, but true.

In your publishing, it often pays to speak in a common English conversational style - not trying to impress your audience with your "big boy" vocabulary and grammar.

Be sure to keep your content to the point and without a lot of unnecessary verbiage.

Larry Winget, "the Pitbull of Personal Development," tells the following enlightening story:

"A few years ago I did a press run of 10,000 copies of my self-published book, The Simple Way to Success. After selling over 9,000 copies, we received a phone call from a man saying he had discovered . . . that pages 158, 159, and 160 were blank. I did not believe him. I checked, and sure enough those pages in every copy were blank. I had already sold 9,000 copies of that press run and apparently not one person ever made it to page 158. That realization did a lot for my ego."

How many of us purchase a published product thinking how much we really need the information in this thing . . . only to get part way through it and stop . . . or worse, never even crack it open?

If you self-publish and want to have your writing actually read, keep it elementary and brief. If you publish a course or a comprehensive training of some kind, think about dividing it into bite-sized chunks that are very easily digested. It goes without saying that you should gear your publishing to the audience for which it is written.

The very best to you all,

Steve
#blog #content #create #distribute #products #publish
  • Profile picture of the author aizaku
    that's unfortunate..


    that being said, what about industry lingo... (squeeze page, lead magnet, email funnel etc..)

    do you pepper it into a post for a person with 6-grade reading level?

    and what about 1500 to 2000 word posts? surely a person with a six grade reading level doesnt have the stamina to read all that...

    maybe our marketing efforts shouldn't be focused on them..

    -Ike Paz
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    • Profile picture of the author multimastery
      Originally Posted by aizaku View Post

      that's unfortunate..


      that being said, what about industry lingo... (squeeze page, lead magnet, email funnel etc..)

      do you pepper it into a post for a person with 6-grade reading level?

      and what about 1500 to 2000 word posts? surely a person with a six grade reading level doesnt have the stamina to read all that...

      maybe our marketing efforts shouldn't be focused on them..

      -Ike Paz
      But with Google rewarding long-form content, everyone is now compelled to write long-form content, like super long content darn near on every post. It's like the standard now. So it's a catch 22 to satisfy the strive for SEO and a visitor's attention the may be on a 6th grade reading level and/or attention span. Guess one just has to try their best to strike a balance and concentrate on the strategy that works best for them.
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      • Profile picture of the author aizaku
        Originally Posted by multimastery View Post

        But with Google rewarding long-form content, everyone is now compelled to write long-form content, like super long content darn near on every post. It's like the standard now. So it's a catch 22 to satisfy the strive for SEO and a visitor's attention the may be on a 6th grade reading level and/or attention span. Guess one just has to try their best to strike a balance and concentrate on the strategy that works best for them.

        there is no balance and i dont see how u can strike it..

        someone with a 6th grade reading level is NOT going to sit through a 1500 word long post..

        this is why sites like buzzfeed which offer sensationalized bits of content reign supreme.

        -Ike Paz
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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    Sound advice, Steve. The key is to publish content that's appropriate for your intended audience. That's especially relevant for any sales or marketing material, but also for products and courses.

    Regarding content published on a blog or intended for distribution, I try to pitch my writing at the kind of level I see in books I like to read - and trust that it's my sort of audience. But then, I'm not particularly bothered about appealing to 6th grade students.

    For those who'd like to reassure themselves that their writing isn't too elitist, there's a free readability checker here:

    Readability | The Writer

    Just paste in a sample of your writing and the program will assess the "reading age" someone needs to be to understand what you're saying.
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  • Profile picture of the author drschool
    Probably, the majority of the 43% who read at an elementary school level will be searching for videos more than reading.
    "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug is worth the read.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ajay Joshi
    Agree you have to scale down to the average buyers educational and grasping power.Use Hemingway Editor to scale down,do give it a try.Regards
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  • Profile picture of the author multimastery
    Originally Posted by Steve B View Post


    Did you know that, according to USA Today, 43.6% of American adults read at an elementary school level (6th grade or below)? Fully half of all high school graduates can't effectively fill out a job application. Sad, but true.
    It's really sad to hear this. Believe it or not, a lot of this is due to the downfalls of technology and the rise of the Internet. People's writing and communication skills have diminished greatly due to the lack of using them in real life. Instead, their brain and skills has gotten dumbed down watching cat videos all day and communicating in web and text chat. Some people have developed such a bad habit of this that they do it all the time - even in important real life situations such as filling out a job application or doing an interview. Sad. What is our society coming to?
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  • Profile picture of the author maxsi
    As an author of different products & ebooks I found this topic very interesting:
    Did you know that, according to USA Today, 43.6% of American adults read at an elementary school level (6th grade or below)? Fully half of all high school graduates can't effectively fill out a job application. Sad, but true.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    It isn't just lack of education. It's a lack of attention, or should I say too many sources competing for attention.

    I read a study awhile back that was done with college graduates in a technical field. White papers written at a Flesch-Kincaid score of 6th-8th grade level had more retention than those written at a graduate level.

    Ike mentioned 1,500-2,000 word articles. Again, the problem isn't with the word count. The problem, mostly, is with the content. Many of the longer articles I find myself abandoning have 2,000 words with about 200 words of content.

    The same can be said for video. There's a famous marketer with a ton of fans on this forum who is doing a Jeff Walker style launch. The first video was almost 30 minutes long, and addressed the actual promised topic for about 2 minutes. The rest was a basic hero story and some fluff. The second was a bit better - almost 5 minutes out of 30 on the promised topic. The rest was a recap of the hero story and some generic, anonymous video testimonials. I won't be able to tell you what's in the third video, because I won't waste my time.
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    • Profile picture of the author Sid Hale
      Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

      The same can be said for video. There's a famous marketer with a ton of fans on this forum who is doing a Jeff Walker style launch. The first video was almost 30 minutes long, and addressed the actual promised topic for about 2 minutes. The rest was a basic hero story and some fluff. The second was a bit better - almost 5 minutes out of 30 on the promised topic. The rest was a recap of the hero story and some generic, anonymous video testimonials. I won't be able to tell you what's in the third video, because I won't waste my time.
      In other words, "How NOT to achieve a 4-hour work week".

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    • Profile picture of the author Gregg Boethin
      Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

      It isn't just lack of education. It's a lack of attention, or should I say too many sources competing for attention.

      I read a study awhile back that was done with college graduates in a technical field. White papers written at a Flesch-Kincaid score of 6th-8th grade level had more retention than those written at a graduate level.

      Ike mentioned 1,500-2,000 word articles. Again, the problem isn't with the word count. The problem, mostly, is with the content. Many of the longer articles I find myself abandoning have 2,000 words with about 200 words of content.

      The same can be said for video. There's a famous marketer with a ton of fans on this forum who is doing a Jeff Walker style launch. The first video was almost 30 minutes long, and addressed the actual promised topic for about 2 minutes. The rest was a basic hero story and some fluff. The second was a bit better - almost 5 minutes out of 30 on the promised topic. The rest was a recap of the hero story and some generic, anonymous video testimonials. I won't be able to tell you what's in the third video, because I won't waste my time.
      I'm new to this forum and I'm just browsing now, to get a feel for the topics being discussed here. I wonder, though, if in addition to the length and literacy level of readers, people producing content ever consider how engaging their content is?

      IMO this is a different assessment than the "quality" of an article. Even articles that might be lacking a little in professional writing prowess can still be engaging for readers. One example is the simple asking of questions to get the reader thinking, or excited.

      Again, I was just wondering if this is something typically discussed here...techniques people use for getting their readers more engaged?
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve B
        Originally Posted by Gregg Boethin View Post

        I wonder, though, if in addition to the length and literacy level of readers, people producing content ever consider how engaging their content is?

        No doubt they should.

        Some have said the #1 sin in writing copy is to be boring. If you can't connect with your audience on some level, they won't stay in your audience very long.

        As a writer, IMO, it's important to develop your own "voice," persona, style - whatever you want to call it - that your followers will soon recognize as genuine (for you). They will forgive little mistakes, goofs, failures if they are engaged by your words. But don't be boring because no one has time for that.

        By the way, welcome to the forum Gregg. You can start threads on whatever you like - just keep it relevant to Internet marketing (IM).

        Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    Another awesome post Steve. At least the part I understood... (just kidding).

    I agree with everything you wrote. One thing I do not like is when someone says you need to "dumb it down" so people will understand it. I know what someone means by that but I just don't like that phrase. In most cases it is not a person's fault that they do not have high reading comprehension skills. Also there are many people with poor reading comprehension that are very intelligent and also many that will work extra hard going over material several times and using a dictionary until they do understand it. Of course, none of this changes or refutes your good points about writing appropriately for your target audience.

    I also believe it is possible for a very skilled writer to write profound, complex, motivating, instructional, and deep content in a simple and straightforward way that the majority can comprehend.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sid Hale
    After re-reading this Steve...

    Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

    Did you know that, according to USA Today, 43.6% of American adults read at an elementary school level (6th grade or below)? Fully half of all high school graduates can't effectively fill out a job application. Sad, but true.
    That kinda says that the average reading/writing levels are pretty well matched, doesn't it?
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  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    Very true - it has to be simple, simple, simple. One of the most challenging aspects of being a digital product publisher is simplify sometimes complex processes or activities. That's part of where the value comes in.

    One of the other major areas is making sure that the product is not JUST informational, but that it sets out clear lessons, steps and feedback mechanisms so that your buying can actually USE the material to see an impact - that way they are far more likely to work their way through and to give you word-of-mouth around the product improving their life (Rather than just "liking" the product or other generic statements that don't really influence others to want to buy)
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  • Where is the bar here?

    An' by what means do we desire it to be set?

    Plain is popular, evryone knows that — an' simplicity is not dumb.

    But nuthin' persists in stasis.

    For the record, bars gotta inspire higher leaps.

    What this post says to me is how too many people don't read too good.

    In a world increasingly fuelled by mutual discourse, fingertip evident, this appears to me to be a disadvantage for alla us.

    So I would always wanna flex my pitch.

    Offer sumthin' beyond groundya know — minuscule teases for hopea novel breezes.

    I am mebbe naive in trustin' to this viewpoint.

    Save me a seat at the bar

    ...ometer.
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    Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff togethah.

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  • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
    This is especially true for website content. I have a lot of clients who want flowery, creative writing. I have to explain to them that people don't read a majority of web content as it is. Simple is better.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cesar Sampaio
    That's a quite problematic statistic but then it's a good wake up call to make our products as accessible as possible.

    I always have in mind that people want to absorb products fast and many will have a problem if we make things too, let's say, erudite,
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  • Profile picture of the author stevetickolo
    Adding to the fact that mentioned that the challenge in creating content is readability, is comprehension. True they are able to read, but are they able to comprehend it as well? It's really sad to think about it, and here we are making sure the t's are crossed and i's are dotted when they are not getting the bottom line of our posts. Let alone complete them.
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  • Profile picture of the author discrat
    Originally Posted by Steve B View Post


    If you self-publish and want to have your writing actually read, keep it elementary and brief.
    Steve

    Hey Steve,
    I agree but only to a certain point.

    Your simplistic view does not take into account all the various niches, sub ones and general ones,that this would NOT be suited for.

    It all can depend on what kind of Products you develop and what areas you are involved in.

    If talking about niches that are highly technical and involve a lot of Complex issues then many times a relaxed brief, Conversationalist tone that the majority can understand... more likely would not be appropriate


    It's unfortunately not a one size fits all scenario that you speak of.

    Sure maybe in the MMO Niche it is, but definitely not applicable to all Niches.
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  • Profile picture of the author zdivine
    Creating your content is a lot more work, but it's also a LOT more rewarding.

    In my opinion, working for yourself is the best possible option. Why else would you want to do online marketing?

    You want full control of your business, profits, back-end profits, and lifelong customers. The list goes on and on.
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  • Profile picture of the author elmo033057
    Steve B.

    Excellent advice!

    If you do write and want to keep your writing at a certain grade level, you can always use the Hemingway Editor (Hemingway Editor) It will help you keep your sentences simpler.

    You can also use the Flesch-Kinkaid standard located in Microsoft Word under options. Go to File--> Options-->Proofing - and then put a check int the box that says "Show Readability Statistics".

    Then when you are writing, you can click on Review --> Spelling & Grammar. A little box will pop-up and tell you what grade level you're writing at.

    God Bless!
    ELMO
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Singletary
    Good post Steve.

    There are other threads, here and elsewhere, that claim that only 1000+ word blog posts work these days. That seems like it may be a bit much for the group you refer to in your post. Or what do you think?

    Maybe infographic type content would be a good fit?

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author boblyle
    Thanks for the tip Steve. I knew literacy rates were falling but 43% is horrible. Makes me want to rewrite all my content.
    Be on the look out for my next blog post..."See Spot Run"
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  • Profile picture of the author minishuu
    When you finally get published, that's a dream come true. That's a breakthrough. When you discover that something's wrong with your published copy, I'm sorry but honestly, it's a bit embarrassing. Same goes for all the typos I read in books.
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  • Profile picture of the author madstan
    IMO if you are willing to buy a book to improve your knowledge about a certain subject you should also be interested in trying to improve your reading and comprehension skills the same time.
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  • Profile picture of the author roy mag nuson
    I publish my own blog and I am glad that slowly, the interactions grew from a few to a hundred. I've also earned a lot of followers over the long run. It takes time to make things perfect but when you invest your time and improve as you go along, you'll make it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Winnipegtech
    I think you should just use what words you normally use as a professional- just be you. You don't have to dumb it down and you can use industry terms because they have specific meanings and people interested in entering the industry would want to know them or understand how to use them.

    Don't dumb it down. People buy books to learn. Lower type of information is readily available in the internet. People buying books means they want to learn something at a higher level and want more extensive and in-depth coverage of the topic from an expert--an insider.

    Put a summary or key takeaways at the 'end of the chapter' to make it easier to digest but don't skip/skimp on the discussion.
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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

    If you self-publish and want to have your writing actually read, keep it elementary and brief. If you publish a course or a comprehensive training of some kind, think about dividing it into bite-sized chunks that are very easily digested. It goes without saying that you should gear your publishing to the audience for which it is written.
    Thanks for opening up the discussion Steve.

    Publishing to a level your audience understands or resonates with might be the key.

    I'd prefer to target the percentage that can read and do have either employment or are self-employed.

    Would you think it better to aim a little higher when targeting successful employed individuals with disposable income if even to just position yourself slightly above the target market you are going after rather than trying to catch all?

    With the example of 9000 books sold before anyone contacted the author about the blank pages. . .

    . . . in my mind this kind of sums up a lot of IM stuff because many people think just by buying something they have consumed the product and will now succeed.

    It would make a good experiment to eavesdrop on if someone like Jeff Walker or Brendan Buchard if they just left out swathes of content from their high ticket programs whether anyone would notice.

    In many cases it is only years later when you review some of the content from these type of programs that you realise how little attention or retention you exhibited.

    At least that is one of the good things in this market that you can look at material you've seen previously and still extract gems that you originally trampled over looking for the mother load.

    Best regards,

    Ozi
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  • Profile picture of the author beat ship
    I haven't really reached the part of being published. I'd love to be published someday but I think it'd be a long time before that happens. When I'm working on something, I'd be sure to keep my target market in mind.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve B
      Originally Posted by beat ship View Post

      I haven't really reached the part of being published. I'd love to be published someday but I think it'd be a long time before that happens. When I'm working on something, I'd be sure to keep my target market in mind.

      Beat ship,

      I think you believe "being published" means having your content displayed by a major player.

      I am way more lenient than that when I talk about publishing content. You could do it today if you want. Write you own article on a subject that you have some experience and post it online . . . to a blog, on an authority site, or wherever your targeted prospects might see it.

      Steve
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

        Beat ship,

        I think you believe "being published" means having your content displayed by a major player.

        I am way more lenient than that when I talk about publishing content. You could do it today if you want. Write you own article on a subject that you have some experience and post it online . . . to a blog, on an authority site, or wherever your targeted prospects might see it.

        Steve
        The bold part is very important. You are looking for human eyeballs and human attention.

        Too many people get fixated on SEO-related factors like domain authority, page authority, etc., along with strict formulas for keyword usage, structure, and so on.

        Going back to Steve's original point, you want to communicate effectively with your targeted prospects. Maybe that means 'dumbing down' the language or writing style. Maybe it's adding an explanation the first time you use an acronym or other jargon. Maybe it's using multiple formats (text/images, audio, video).

        Whatever you need to do to communicate effectively is what you should do.

        This lesson was driven home by something that happened to me while listening to a political candidate's stump speech at his party's booth at a state fair. I overheard a couple nearby. The man said to the woman, "he sure talks pretty, but I got no clue what he said."

        Don't talk pretty if your listeners won't know what you're saying.
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