Top 21 List of the Best Free Stock Photo Sites on the Web

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FreeStockPhotosHere is my curated list of the best sites to scour for free stock images for your blog, facebook feed, twitter stream or whatever you’re into.  I suspect you’ll jump to these sites and see for yourself, so I didn’t bother with getting descriptive on most of them.  However, as you’ll see below, there were a few image sites that I did want to make special mention of.

First off, if you’re trying to make images quickly for web consumption, story telling, quotes and the like – take a look at Canva. It’s hand’s down the easiest way for anyone to design a photo with.

Now for the list.

No Hassle – Immediate download free stock photos.

These are the Free, fast, easy to download stock images.

Pro Flickr Photos from Thomas Hawk
“I’m trying to publish a library of 1,000,000 hand crafted, lovingly created, individually finished and processed photographs before I die. Mostly I’m focusing on America… I license my images Creative Commons Non-Commercial. This is one of several variations of the Creative Commons license. This means that people can use my images for personal use or non-profit organizations can use them.”

Ancestry Images
History buffs and cartography nerds and aficionados of all things visual will love this amazing collection of historical prints, maps, illustrations and photos. The site claims to have more than 31,100 images dating from the 17th century but mostly from the late 18th century and 19th century.

New Old Stock
Vintage photos from public archives

Death To The Stock Photo
Cool images by email. Patience, you must have.

Slight Hassle – Account required before downloading these stock photos.

These are free, but require you to have an account before you can download stock images.

Hope you found something good here. Did you notice the list was longer than 21 sites? Truth in advertising…

Special thanks to Jen, Bryon, Phil, Mallory, Sherri, and Nick for help with the list.

The Definitive Guide on How To Write a Blog Post with more than 50 Writing Formulas and Examples.

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typewriter

So, you’re looking for a blogging template or some sort of popular writing formula to help jump start your blogging (or maybe your book?).  You’ve searched for “blog template” or “writing templates” and found a wall of results, but none that really inspire your writing project.  I’ve been there too. In fact I started blogging back in 2007 and finally considered myself “officially blogging” in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2011 or so that I began to really concern myself with the art of writing.  And by 2012 I was looking for the writing templates for folks like Demian Farnworth, Seth Godin, Brian Clark, Neil Patel, Chris Brogan and Ann Handley.  I’ve always been fond of Copyblogger and Hubspot and they’ve always been great about sharing great articles on how to write for the web so you’ll find several links to them here.

Consider this a treasure trove, a definitive writing guide from my Evernote files. It is my hope this gives you the writing template you were after, while also sending you on a delightful journey into the interweb of great copy writers.

This post is the accumulation of what I found and logged over a three year period.  This includes online searching as well as my own personal journey reading and learning from books about writing.

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

― Ernest Hemingway

Writing Guides from Neil Patel

So let’s dive right into one of Neil Patel’s definitive guides to content writing with these 12 tried-and-true templates. These are some of the most popular writing guides  all wrapped up in a nice post.

Click each link to read about each framework. 

  1. Example
  2. Point-Illustration-Explanation
  3. Thought Leadership
  4. Inverted Pyramid
  5. Interview
  6. List
  7. Link Post
  8. Book Review
  9. Product Review
  10. How To
  11. Case Study
  12. Media Post

 “Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut


Writing Advice from Demian Farnworth

Before jumping to the next set of templates, let me share Demian Farnworth’s How to Write an Original Post (That Will Likely Be Copied). Here you’ll see style, interesting content, unique voice, facts, storytelling, and intellectual depth.  His advice, while not a template per se is absolutely spot on:

  1. Do/share In-Depth Research
  2. Provide Insightful Analysis
  3. Give Probing Commentary
  4. Use illegitimate Ideas
  5. Brazenly Borrow
  6. Ask/Answer Unusual Questions

Demian leads the way in truly unique composition that is both engaging and effective. I bring your attention to Demian’s post because this is where your writing can go once you’ve consumed these templates and guides and you’ve moved on to the higher levels of letting your own voice resonate above the framework of writing. And frankly, I think Demian is the best copywriter (by discipline and application) in the industry today.

In fact, Demian has provided several rich guides to writing, such as The Essential Copywriting Formulas Every Writer Should Know (and Why) Where he talks about the Four C’s (Clear, Concise, Compelling), The Four P’s (Promise, Paint it out, Prove it, Push for action) and the Four Us (Useful, Urgency, Unique, and Ultra-Specific). As well as the 10 Ways to Write Damn Good Copy  where he shows us the following:

  1. Plain Copy – No frills writing, no story, no conversation, no sizzle. Just introduce the product. This is about informing the reader about a product.
  2. Storytelling Copy – An interesting story the reader can relate too where there was a challenge that was overcome.
    1. Opening
    2. Conflict
    3. Dialogue
    4. Solution
  3. Conversational Copy – This is standard “you and me” style writing that relates to the reader in a passionate way. It often uses the feel, felt, found sales language.
  4. John Lennon Copy – Or said more directly, imaginative copy where you as your reader to imagine a better (fill in the blank). This taps into ideals and desires.
  5. Long Copy – The idea here is that longer copy is better.
  6. Killer Poet Copy – sell with style.
  7. Direct-from-CEO Copy – Writing that is grounded and shows the CEO as approachable and human.
  8. Frank Copy – Warts first, honest writing that is authentic, transparent, and creates trust.
  9. Superlative Copy – This is copy with a big bold claim that often sounds like hype when done incorrectly.
  10. Rejection Copy – Present the velvet rope and why you’re not likely to be the right reader. This is counter-intuitive but can be quite engaging.

And, for more great writing insights from Demian Farnworth, read the following posts:

 “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

― Natalie Goldberg,


 

And now for some heavy excerpting and copy pasta for more writing guides. As I mentioned, this post is all about sharing the accumulation of writing material I’ve gathered.  The following represent swaths of content and their sources. Please check the links for more details and more great content by those authors.

http://www.copyblogger.com/blogging-formulas/

The How to Post

Headline: “How to …”
Introduction: Explain what the post is going to teach, and mention any prerequisites (e.g. “You’ll need to be familiar with CSS” or “You’ll need an electric drill.”)
Main body: Go through “Step #1 …” “Step #2 …” etc, giving clear instructions for each. You may want to include a screenshot or image for each step.
Conclusion: Tell the reader what they should have accomplished by reading. You might invite them to ask for help in the comments, or point them towards further resources (like an ebook or ecourse).

The List Post

Headline: “21 Ways …” or “7 Tips …” etc
Introduction: Draw the reader in, and make the scope of the list clear.
Main body: Number each item, and ensure that each offers real value to the reader. Don’t pad out the list -– if you’ve only got 5 or 6 items, that’s fine.
Conclusion: Ask the reader to add to the list (or to mention their favorite tip) in the comments.

The Review Post

Headline: “Review: [Product Name]” or “[Product Name] Review”
Introduction: Explain the product briefly, making clear what it is/does.
Main body: Consider splitting this into separate sections. It’s up to you what you use, but “Contents” “What I Liked” and “What I Didn’t Like” could be a good basic structure.
Conclusion: Sum up –- should the reader buy this item? Who’s it best for? Make sure you include a link.

http://www.copyblogger.com/7-reasons-why-list-posts-will-always-work/

 


 

From Author, Joe Vitale and his book “Hypnotic Writing”
And a resource: http://www.ebiz-ebooks-togo.com/myweb2/HypnoticWritingTheCourse.pdf

Hypnotic Writing Checklist

My paraphrase  (in order to turn it into a guide).

  1. Attention grabbing open
  2. Setup a challenge to resolve
  3. Answer objections and fears
  4. Give proof and believable promises
  5. Give reasons to agree
  6. Give call to action

— Over arching laws

  • Engagement – keep attention, interest, progress
  • Choice – Give more than one option for next steps to create feeling of control
  • Ego – Be aware of the readers ego and stroke it
  • Reward – Give bonuses and wow experiences
  • Curiosity - Open their mind with an interesting itch, say your piece then scratch the itch with the answer

 

Vitale’s Hypnotic Formula

  1. Stopper – Get appropriate attention
  2. Reel in – Use Promise, benefits, curiosity, pain, or pleasure
  3. Build Desire – Through emotion, tell a story
  4. Give Reasons – Use logic, explain and develop
  5. Dialogue – Address objections (mind reading)
  6. Proof – Facts, Statistics, testimonials
  7. Guarantee – Risk reversal
  8. Action – Give next step and Why do it now?
  9. Reminder/ Close – PS, pain, pleasure, gifts

 

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

― John Steinbeck

 


 5-Step Formula for Effective Online Content

http://www.copyblogger.com/content-marketing-formula/

Like any formula, this one can be stated simply. Actually executing it is going to be more complicated. But if you use this framework, you’ll avoid the pitfalls that bring down most content marketing.

The formula: Effective Content = Education + Personality

Effective content teaches your audience something they want to know more about.

both educate and entertain.

If you’re going to put the work in to create strong content that educates in a reader-friendly way, please don’t bury it with a lousy headline.Great headlines make it easy for readers to share your content. They attract more links, more social media sharing, more readers, and more customers.

All of the “rules” of great content marketing come from one rule: put your audience first. It’s about them — the readers, prospects, and customers — not you.

  1. Effective content educates
  2. Effective content has personality
  3. Effective content has a great headline
  4. Effective content keeps SEO in mind
  5. Effective content puts the reader first

 

 


 

Persuasion Formula

Hugh Rank – “The Pitch” Book (as paraphrased by Joe Vitale)

  1. Get Attention
  2. Build Confidence
  3. Stimulate Desire
  4. Create Urgency
  5. Ask for Response

 

Aristotle

  1. Exordium – (problem) A shocking statement or story to get attention
  2.  Narratio – (promise) You pose the problem the reader / listener is having
  3. Confirmatio – (proof) You offer solution to the problem
  4. Peroratio – (price) You state the benefits of action on the solution

(this is the basis for AIDA = Attention, Interest, Desire, Action)

Attention – get attention
Interest – generate interest
Desire – create desire
Action – ask for action

 


 

Ann Handley’s Writing Formula

http://labs.openviewpartners.com/ann-handley-formula-for-creating-great-content/

Utility x Inspiration x Empathy = Great Writing

If you think about that equation, you can’t create a quantifiable output if any of the inputs are zero. If your writing has zero inspiration, it will have zero impact. If it has zero utility or audience empathy, it will have zero impact. You have to see the world through your audience’s eyes and help them in some way. In my experience, the very best writers aren’t always the best pure writers. Instead, they’re the people who possess incredible focus and pathological empathy.

And also this http://www.vidyard.com/blog/5-steps-to-writing-content-ann-handley/

 

 

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

― Stephen King

 


 

Derek Halpern

http://socialtriggers.com/power-of-curiosity/

[New, Cool, and/or Hopefully Remarkable Thing] [Desirable Outcome] = [Curious Reader / Viewer]

To use this formula, here are five templates for inspiration:

  1. How’d you like to learn about[new remarkable thing] that [desirable outcome]?
  2. Ever wonder how you can earn [desirable outcome]with [new remarkable thing]?
  3. There’s a way for you to[desirable outcome] with this [new remarkable thing].
  4. If you heard about a[new remarkable thing] that could [desirable outcome], would you be interested in learning more about it?
  5. The key to a[desirable outcome] is to make sure you use [new remarkable thing].

 

http://socialtriggers.com/perfect-blog-post/

How to Write the Perfect Blog Post

From Derek Halperns infographic

  1. Grab Attention (headline)
  2. Opening that gets reader reading
  3. Big Promise Statement (benefit message via subhead)
  4. Emotional Connection with reader (keeps attention)
  5. Soundbite (authority and actionable)
  6. Big Promise Statement (drive benefit of reading more via subhead)
  7. Useful Content (practical, how to, usable content)
  8. Call to action

Another post that elaborates on the details of persuasive copy (follows same structure) http://www.copyblogger.com/the-structure-of-persuasive-content/

 


 

The Four “P” Approach:
A Persuasive Writing Structure That Works

http://www.copyblogger.com/4ps/

The 4 Ps provide more expansive elements than AIDA, which is why it’s a favorite of many top copywriters, notably John Forde.

  1. Promise – Benefit based attention grabbing heading and supporting sentence or two
  2. Picture – Painting a vivid picture of the benefit or desire outcome with emotional ties
  3. Proof – Support for the promise such as stats, charts, facts, quotes,stuides.
  4. Push – Provide an outstanding and compelling offer

 

“I keep six honest serving-men, (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who” – Rudyard Kipling

 


 

5 Reasons Why You Should Use the 5 W’s When Writing Online Photo Captions

http://thecopybot.com/2011/04/online-captions/

Originally used as a method of Bible study in the late 1880s, journalists eventually adopted the 5 W’s method to write newspaper leads.

  1. Don’t make people think.
  2. Reward people with interesting information.
  3. Answer obvious questions.
  4. Approach each photo objectively.
  5. Write clear, concise and compelling copy.

Here’s what I like best about this approach: The 5 W’s will force you to write short, plain but persuasive copy. You’ll avoid the clever and cute, while successfully creating the concrete and convincing.

 


 

Five Ws and One H: The Secret to Complete News Stories

http://blog.journalistics.com/2010/five-ws-one-h/

  1. Who was involved?
  2. What happened?
  3. Where did it take place?
  4. When did it take place? 
  5. Why did it happen?
  6. How did it happen?

 


 

And now a lesson from the bible on writing.

Biblical Persuasion Model

http://www.biblica.com/niv/study-bible/philemon/

Approach and Structure To win Philemon’s willing acceptance of Onesimus, Paul writes very tactfully and in a lighthearted tone, which he creates with a wordplay (see note on v. 11). The appeal (vv. 4–21) is organized in a way prescribed by ancient Greek and Roman teachers: to build rapport (vv. 4–10), to persuade the mind (vv. 11–19) and to move the emotions (vv. 20–21). The name Onesimus is not mentioned until the rapport has been built (v. 10), and the appeal itself is stated only near the end of the section to persuade the mind (v. 17).

 


 

THE MOTIVATING SEQUENCE

http://www.actonfs.com/newsletters/issue5/newsletter5.html

“The Motivating Sequence” is found in Chapter 5 of Robert W. Bly’s 2002 book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Direct Marketing. Bly writes, “The copy in virtually all direct marketing promotions follows a well-established formula for persuasive writing known as ‘The Motivating Sequence.’ The steps are as follows:

  1. “Get attention.
  2. “Identify the problem or need.
  3. “Position your product as the solution or answer.
  4. “Prove your product is the best solution or answer.
  5. “Ask for the order.”

 


 

http://www.contentrulesbook.com/extras/

Kodak Blog Template

http://www.contentrulesbook.com/extras-files/Content_Rules_Blog_Post_Template.pdf

  1. Headline – Bold and Attention Grabbing
  2. First Sentence – A hook, question, controversial statement to grab the reader
  3. Next Paragraph – answers and followthrough on first sentence
  4. Bullets / Lists – Key takeaway points
  5. Ask Question – Create a next step such as leaving a comment

 

 Basic Generic Template / Liz Strauss

http://www.successful-blog.com/1/how-to-use-a-google-docs-content-template/

gdoc with full template: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1C63_MyNOscjBJHXKeZEYj7qU8qYdDJBDPG8ZcPi6QcU/edit

THE ARTICLE

  • Header<h1> compelling but includes the target keyphrase
  • Length400 – 600 words
  • Formattingshort paragraphs, headers, subheads, bullets and bolding
  • Imageat least one, should be interesting on its own, creative commons
  • Keyphrase usagefour to six times in the body of the article
  • Mentionquote or refer to someone with a social following
  • Linkfrom the post to a web page
  • Call to actionfor comments
  • Author boxshort bio, links to Twitter, Google+, etc.

 


Excerpted from http://www.copyblogger.com/persuasive-writing/

See the original blog post for more context and helpful information on each. These 10 strategies are used quite a bit because they work.

  1. Repetition
  2. Reasons Why
  3. Consistency
  4. Social Proof
  5. Comparisons
  6. Agitate and Solve
  7. Prognosticate
  8. Go Tribal
  9. Address Objections
  10. Storytelling

Writing lesson from MADE TO STICK, a book by Chip and Dan Heath

http://groups.haas.berkeley.edu/CTE/documents/Teaching%20That%20Sticks.pdf

Teaching That Sticks

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

(slightly elaborated by http://litlunchbox.com/2012/12/29/made-to-stick-now-extra-sticky/ )

  • Simple – Ten point PowerPoints are nine points too many.  The best, most memorable mesages are simple and profound.
  • Unexpected – Violate people’s expectations.  Engage their curiosity.
  • Concrete – We’re hard-wired to latch on to concrete info.  Lofty language and business-speak drift effortlessly in one ear and out the other.
  • Credible – Sticky ideas need to be believable, all on their own.
  • Emotional – Grab an emotion – fear, love, nostalgia – and an idea gains traction.
  • Stories – A list of facts is blah.  Add people and plot to the facts and suddenly, you’ve got a story to remember.

 

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

― Sylvia Plath

 


 

Seth Godin’s 3 u’s

http://cobrand.squidoo.com/ebooks/uuuEbook.pdf

There are plenty of tactics about how to get more traffic to your pages online. Dozens of blog posts and great advice, easy to find. WARNING: None of these tactics work without the three U’s that are covered in this book.
The three U’s? Yes, it’s simple:

  1. Useful
  2. Updated
  3. Unique

More from Seth Godin on Writing

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/11/how_to_write_a_.html

  • An appropriate illustration,
  • A useful topic,
  • easily broadened to be useful to a large number of readers,
  • Simple language with no useless jargon,
  • Not too long,
  • Focusing on something that people have previously taken for granted,
  • That initially creates emotional resistance,
  • Then causes a light bulb go go off
  • and finally, Causes the reader to look at the world differently all day long.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/04/write-like-a-bl.html

     Write like a blogger

You can improve your writing (your business writing, your ad writing, your thank you notes and your essays) if you start thinking like a blogger:

  1. Use headlines.I use them all the time now. Not just boring ones that announce your purpose (like the one on this post) but interesting or puzzling or engaging headlines. Headlines are perfect for engaging busy readers.
  2. Realize that people have choices.With 80 million other blogs to choose from, I know you could leave at any moment (see, there goes someone now). So that makes blog writing shorter and faster and more exciting.
  3. Drip, drip, drip. Bloggers don’t have to say everything at once. We can add a new idea every day, piling on a thesis over time.
  4. It’s okay if you leave.Bloggers aren’t afraid to include links or distractions in their writing, because we know you’ll come back if what we had to say was interesting.
  5. Interactivity is a great shortcut. Your readers care about someone’s opinion even more than yours… their own. So reading your email or your comments or your trackbacks (your choice) makes it easy to stay relevant.
  6. Gimmicks aren’t as useful as insight.If you’re going to blog successfully for months or years, sooner or later you need to actually say something. Same goes for your writing.
  7. Don’t be afraid of lists. People like lists.
  8. Show up.Not writing is not a useful way of expressing your ideas. Waiting for perfect is a lousy strategy.
  9. Say it.Don’t hide, don’t embellish.

 


 

http://drivingpeace.hubpages.com/hub/Article-Writing-Templates-The-Secret-All-Successful-Content-Marketers-Use

The “how-to”:

  • Article title: Grab the reader’s attention with a great title that makes it clear you’re about to teach them how to do XX.
  • Introductory paragraph: Open with a paragraph that talks about the problem your reader has, a solution they need and how you’re going to teach them to get there.
  • List of supplies: Provide a list of things they’ll need to accomplish what you’re teaching them.
  • Specific instructions to do XX: List of the steps to reach XX in specific order.
  • Summary paragraph: Brief summary of what you’ve covered. Include some advice about applying what they’ve learned, words of encouragement, product recommendations, etc.

 


 

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/12/15/your-how-to-post-will-fail-if-you-dont-use-these-techniques/

Create a compelling introduction using the PAS formula

You might think that when it comes to writing “how-to” guides that you can just jump straight into the steps. Don’t kid yourself.

Even if you have the clearest and most compelling headline and all the greatest data in the world, you need to prepare your reader for what’s going to come next.

But just writing a short introduction isn’t enough. You have to write a compelling one. Use the PAS formula to do that.

  • Pain: describe a real problem that your readers can identify with.
  • Agitate: make that pain seem even worse by bringing up more bad news.
  • Solve: tell your reader there is a solution…the blog post they are about to read.

 


 

How To Template

http://blog.ezinearticles.com/2010/02/how-to-article-template.html

  1. Great title
  2. Simple introduction
  3. List of tools or resources
  4. Chronological steps
  5. Create mental images
  6. Conclude with cautions, tips, advice

 

51 Writing Templates

Article roundup from ezine articles (from http://blog.ezinearticles.com/category/article-templates  )

  1. Looking Back Article Template
  2. How to Article Template
  3. Things to Avoid Article Template
  4. Goal Setting Article Template
  5. Expert Authors Article Template
  6. Reminders Article Template
  7. Discussion Article Template 
  8. Changing Times Article Template
  9. Tricks to Do X Template
  10. Pleasure Principles Article Template
  11. Quick Quiz Article Template
  12. Triumph Story Article Template
  13. Saving Time Article Template
  14. The Perfect Cure Article Template 
  15. Words of Wisdom Article Template
  16. Product Review Article Template
  17. News Analysis Article Template
  18. Overcoming Objections Article Template
  19. Personal Story Article Template
  20. Niche Jargon Article Template
  21. Secrets Article Template
  22. Traditions Article Template
  23. Symptoms to Watch Article Template
  24. “Dear Annie” Article Template
  25. Reflections on History Article Template
  26. Resolutions to Consider Article Template 
  27. Methods for saving “X” article Template
  28. Location-Based Article Template 
  29. Beware of “X” Article Template 
  30. What if? Article Template
  31. Motivational Triggers Article template
  32. Myth-Busting Article Template
  33. Question and Answer Article Template
  34. Controversial Opinion Article Template
  35. Predictions Article Template
  36. I’m Grateful for Article Template
  37. Holiday Seasonal Article Template
  38. Year in review Article Template
  39. Things I’ve Learned Article Template
  40. Industry Trends Article Template
  41. Current Events Article Template
  42. Pain Points Article Template
  43. The (3) Stages of “X” Article Template
  44. Traps and How to Escape them Article Template
  45. Things to do Article Template
  46. Golden Rules Article Template
  47. The Pain Avoidance Article Template
  48. The Checklist Article Template
  49. Principles of “X” Article Template
  50. Pros and Cons template 
  51. The I Love Article Template

 


 

You might also like these Hubspot resources

  1. http://offers.hubspot.com/blog-post-templates
  2. http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-blog-post-outline
  3. http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33295/The-Foolproof-Formula-for-Writing-a-Solid-Blog-Post-Template.aspx

 


 

Journalism – Inverted pyramid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_pyramid

http://blog.journalistics.com/2010/inverted-pyramid-press-release-writing/

Most formal instruction on writing in the inverted pyramid style advises you to break the pyramid into three parts:

  • Part One– the opening paragraph (lead or lede), where you answer the questions who, what, why, when, where and how. This is the information that has to be in there for you to get your message across – the must have information.
  • Part Two– additional information that is helpful, but not necessary. This can be information that adds color or supporting information.
  • Part Three– the least important information. This is the ‘nice to have’, not the ‘need to have’ stuff.

 


 

Blogging Architecture: How to Write Timeless Blog Posts Every Time

http://www.blogtyrant.com/timeless-blog-posts/

  1. Include a personal back story
  2. Write with consistent and stylized paragraphs, dot points and images
  3. Link generously and in bulk
  4. Solve a problem or make problems known
  5. Develop titles that get attention and hold attention

 

 http://linchpinbloggers.com/six-blog-post-templates/

1. The Michael Hyatt Template

Michael Hyatt uses the SCORRE™ method from the Dynamic Communicators Workshop (DCW) to prepare every post. You can view his Evernote Template here.

  1. Subject
  2. Central Theme
  3. Objective Statement
  4. Rationale
  5. Resources
  6. Evaluation

2. The Copyblogger Template

Here’s a general pattern found on one of my favorite sites:

  1. Craft a killer headline(hook the potential reader with great offer)
  2. Open with a bang(convert the browser into a reader)
  3. Write a really good list(list posts are easily digestible and scannable)
  4. If no list, then just deliver the promise(in a clean and easy way, using the inverted pyramid style)
  5. Call to action / engage reader in discussion.

3. The Seth Godin Template

Seth’s posts are like a rare art form. They are simple, powerful, usually short (200-300 words), variable, and hybrid.

He writes “snackable” content. It’s the quality over quantity model. The content is designed to inspire fast, engage the mind fast, provide actionable information quickly, pose a new problem, and/or inspire different patterns of thinking. They typically are spoken by people with great authority already.

It’s incredibly hard to template this kind of post, but here’s an attempt:

  1. Engaging, thought provoking question/share story/define new idea/call to action (highly variable)
  2. Use simple, short sentences(write less, impact more)
  3. Ship now (faster wins) – will force you to simplify and shorten.

4. The Jeff Goins Template

Jeff is a rising star in the blogging and writing world. His posts are engaging, inspiring, and enabling. There are several different types of posts he creates, but one I personally like is his the “Why” and “How” type posts.

Here’s a rough template to create such a post:

  1. Catchy headline.
  2. Open with personal experience/struggle/observation.
  3. Write a really good list. (either with numbers/bulletts/subheads)
  4. Deliver promise made in headline (with authorityscannability / simplicity)
  5. Call to action / engage reader in discussion.

5. The David Santisteven Template

Trying to blog for life change? I came across David’s post the other day where he shares this template from Andy Stanley’s book Communicating for a Change.

This formula is Me – We – God – You – We:

  1. Me – personally relate to subject matter.
  2. We – connect the subject matter to the reader.
  3. God – the main idea, in as few words as possible.
  4. You – the call to action.
  5. We – paint the vision, leave reader inspired.

Read David’s post here for more information.

6. The Chris Brogan Template

This is roughly how Chris Brogan writes his posts (he calls it the Writing Frame):

  1. Great Title
  2. Related Graphic
  3. Strong+Story First Paragraph
  4. First Example
  5. Second and/or Third Example
  6. Action Items
  7. Call to Action

 


 

Why I Write: George Orwell’s Four Motives for Creation

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/06/25/george-orwell-why-i-write/

I give all this background information because I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in — at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own — but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape.

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc.

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed.

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.

 


 

10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/02/07/david-ogilvy-on-writing/

On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write”:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelsonbook on writing. Read it three times.
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never use jargon words likereconceptualize,demassificationattitudinallyjudgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  6. Check your quotations.
  7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

David

 


 

THE FOUR TYPES OF WRITING

http://www.msdanielsden.com/html/four_types_of_writing.html

NARRATIVE

Narrative writing is defined as relating a sequence of events which occurs over some period of time. Both what happens and the order in which the events occur are communicated to the reader. Effective narrative requires a writer to give a clear sequence    of events (fictional or non-fictional) and to provide elaboration for it.

EXPOSITORY

Expository writing is defined as presenting reasons, explanations, or steps in a process. Logical order should be used with appropriate sequencing of ideas or steps in a process.    Effective expository writing should contain a main idea, supporting details, and a conclusion.

PERSUASIVE

Persuasive writing is defined as presentation of reasons and examples to influence action or thought. Effective persuasive writing requires a writer to state clearly an opinion and supply reasons and specific examples that support that opinion.

DESCRIPTIVE

Descriptive writing is defined as the clear description of people, places, objects, or events using appropriate details. An effective description will contain sufficient and varied    elaboration of details to communicate a complete sense of the subject being described. Details used are usually sensory ones selected to describe vividly what the writer sees, hears, smells, touches, and tastes.


8 Types of writing:

Consider what type of writing is assigned, and explore what will make it effective. For example, your diary has different purpose, components and style than an essay; a research proposal different purpose, components, and style than a white paper. The better you understand the task at hand, the more successful will be your writing.

The five-paragraph essay
Getting started means getting organized.
A good place to start if you are inexperienced in writing.

Essays for a literature class
Brainstorm the question/assignment: restate the key words…

Expository essays
When writing an expository essay, follow these eight basic steps…

Persuasive essays
In persuasive or argumentative writing, we try to convince others…

Position papers
Write a position paper to organize and outline your viewpoint on an issue…

Writing for the “Web”
The topic, its main idea, and its conclusion should be immediately visible, locatable, or knowable…

Open book exams
In an open book exam you are evaluated on understanding rather than recall…

Essay Exams
Before writing out the exam, write down its key words…

Research proposals
These recommendations do not guarantee a successful research application! They are intended to help you conceptualize and prepare a research proposal…

White papers
White papers introduce your product or technology as innovative…

 


 

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/10/18/neil-patels-guide-to-writing-popular-blog-posts/

Hook your readers

I really learned a lot about hooking your reader by reading blogs by Brian ClarkDarren Rowse and Leo Babauta.

These writers use some great tricks to compell readers to stop and read every word they write, which I think is something we all want to do, right?

The first rule of hooking readers is to write a great headline. Great headlines have four qualities. They are:

  • Unique:Unique headlines can only be used for your blog post, like this post I’m writing right now. It’s unique because there is only one Neil Patel!
  • Useful:A headline is useful when it promises practical information. The reason “how-to” guides are popular is because it gives answers to problems.
  • Ultra-specific:Adding numbers or stats to a headline makes it ultra-specific. My article, 6 Advanced Ways to Improve Your Search Rankings, is a good example of ultra-specific, since I used both a number and the word “advanced.”
  • Urgent:The best way to create urgency is to put some kind of deadline into your headline. “6 Days until the Stock Market Crashes” or “Your Last Chance to Get a Free Copy of My Book” are good examples.

The best headlines have three or four of these features in them. This formula is called the Four Us.


 

Writing for impact rather than page views

http://www.chrisg.com/80-20-rule-content/

Writing for impact is an art rather than a science, but there are certain things that you need to do:

  1. Write with a goal– what is the outcome you intend to create? If your writing does not have a purpose then it is difficult for you to know if you have succeeded or not. Can you guess the intention behind my previous article about cold-feet? There were a few goals with that one.
  2. Mine the emotion– if you want to get people to think a certain way or do a certain thing then you need to move  Inspire, motivate, tell emotional stories, reveal your inner truths and vulnerabilities. Share your challenges and struggles.
  3. WIIFM– most of human interaction has an element of “What’s In It For Me?”. If the reader doesn’t grasp what’s in it for them right away, well, then you have failed.
  4. Consumption– I am not super strict on grammar (as you can probably tell), but I do attempt to edit. Editing for brevity is great, but also edit  to make things crystal clear and remove any road-blocks to consumption. If your audience doesn’t consume your message all the way through then they won’t take action on it, and they won’t spread it. Make it skimmable, engaging, and easy to get through. Take a look how I formatted this article, can you understand why?
  5. It’s not what you mean, it’s what they understand– Closely related to the last point. I know for a fact there will be people who read this article and will take away a message I never intended. It always happens. Sometimes people take what you say out of context intentionally. Sometimes people hallucinate whole phrases you never wrote. People will second-guess your intentions. You can’t help that, but you can work on your message to get it across as well as you can. It’s your responsibility to communicate with as few chances of distortions as possible.
  6. Get agreement– If you want to persuade then you need to be on the page. Get agreement early and often. Build up to your main point with sound arguments. Don’t just bludgeon people with ideas or facts. Can you see where I asked questions in this post?

 


 

http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/03/08/9-hard-hitting-content-strategies-for-small-business-blogging/

 

  • Is what you wrote original?
  • Can you provide practical advice or relevant research?
  • Did you correct any spelling, grammar or factual errors?
  • Is the topic of interest to a reader or a machine?
  • Is the article well edited?
  • Does your site have authority?
  • Are you providing insightful or interesting information beyond the obvious?
  • Would you bookmark your article?
  • Is your article cluttered with call-to-actions, ads or promotions?
  • Would a magazine or journal print your article?
  • Is your article short, weak and useless?
  • How much time and attention did you give to detail?
  • Would someone complain if they saw this article?

 


 

http://www.firepolemarketing.com/2012/05/26/how-to-sell-more/

 

So, the first link in the chain of marketing is attracting the interest of the right people. Here are the key points again:

  1. Talk about their biggest problems (that you can solve).
  2. Use the language they can relate to easily.
  3. Create fascination to keep people interested.

 

Mental Hugging 101

There are countless ways to give mental hugs. Here are some of the most effective ways:

  1. Talk about the problems your product solves.Painkiller ads quite literally talk about the pain they solve. Note that the focus is usually the pain, instead of the relief (which is the benefit.)
  2. Showcase your product’s benefits.Pretty much every detergent bottle has a picture of a shining kitchen or a before/after pic. They both showcase the benefit of the product.
  3. Show how to become a “better” person.Clothing is almost always advertised with the idea that you become something “better” with the advertised clothes. H&M is young, cool, and trendy. Armani is classy, expensive, and prestigious.
  4. Engage with important values and tie them to your products.I can’t remember a car ad that wouldn’t be about values. The most common values in car ads nowadays are status, comfort, safety, and environmental thinking.

 


 

More helpful content on writing:

These are other links I curated during my journey to find writing guides and templates.  Honestly, these links are here just as much for me to come back to and refresh because they were helpful keeping me dialed into the craft, skill, art, and technique of good writing.

Trust me, these links are useful for your writing efforts.

  1. http://www.copyblogger.com/blog-post-formula/
  2. http://www.copyblogger.com/five-headlines-remixed/
  3. http://thecopybot.com/2013/02/raise-the-stakes/
  4. http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/CMI_Ultimate-Blogging-final.pdf
  5. http://www.michaelleander.me/blog/tested-and-proven-formula-on-how-to-structure-blog-posts-for-maximum-readership/
  6. http://blog.kissmetrics.com/joseph-sugarman/
  7. http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/12/15/your-how-to-post-will-fail-if-you-dont-use-these-techniques/
  8. http://alexisgrant.com/2013/03/05/writing-the-perfect-blog-post-a-formula-that-works/
  9. http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/10/29/a-simple-plan-for-writing-a-powerful-blog-post-in-less-than-2-hours/
  10. http://www.annhandley.com/2014/11/20/10-ways-create-culture-of-writing/
  11. http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/03/22/marketers-guide-to-blogging/
  12. http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/09/27/key-to-irresistible-copy/
  13. http://www.quicksprout.com/2011/11/14/neil-patels-guide-to-blogging/
  14. http://writemindset.com/writing/217/scannable.html
  15. http://www.copyblogger.com/blogging-writing-guide/
  16. http://www.deeptrancenow.com/hypnotic_writing_joe_vitale.html
  17. http://www.copyblogger.com/weekly-content-plan/
  18. http://www.copyblogger.com/12-writing-lessons/
  19. http://thecopybot.com/2013/01/25-blog-posts/
  20. http://www.copyblogger.com/how-to-read/
  21. http://thecopybot.com/2012/04/writing-killer-blog-posts/
  22. http://www.copyblogger.com/story-arc-content-marketing/
  23. http://blog.kissmetrics.com/44-content-marketing-resources/
  24. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/08/content-marketing-templates/
  25. http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33295/The-Foolproof-Formula-for-Writing-a-Solid-Blog-Post-Template.aspx
  26. http://www.copyblogger.com/7-reasons-why-list-posts-will-always-work/
  27. http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/03/23/the-better-blogging-formula-think-do-write/
  28. http://www.blogworld.com/2012/06/27/how-formulas-can-make-you-a-better-blogger/
  29. http://www.fuelingnewbusiness.com/2012/09/18/the-40-25-35-formula-for-effective-writing/
  30. http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/blog-post-formula.html
  31. http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/04/05/10-lessons-seth-godin-can-teach-you-about-blogging/
  32. http://www.copyblogger.com/the-first-rule-of-copyblogger/
  33. http://www.copyblogger.com/more-magnetic-copy/
  34. http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/
  35. http://theelearningcoach.com/media/graphics/alternatives-to-bullets/
  36. http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/08/28/ezra-pounds-types-of-writers/
  37. http://www.copyblogger.com/spreadable-content/

 

 

A Study Guide on the Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

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FastingStockImageFasting is God-Centered.

Throughout Scripture fasting refers to abstaining from food for spiritual purposes.  Unlike a Hunger Strike (political power) or health dieting (physical not spiritual).

Biblical fasting always centers on spiritual purposes. Always God-focused.

“First, let it [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in Heaven”  – John Wesley

Fasting can bring breakthroughs in the spiritual realm that will never happen in any other way.

It is a means for God’s grace and blessing that should not be neglected.

Keep God at the center of your fasting rather than the physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduring of power, and spiritual insight. See fasting as worshiping the Lord!

Types of Biblical Fasts:

  1. “Normal Fast” – abstain from all food (solid or liquid), but NOT from water. [Luke 4:2]
  2. “Partial Fast” – restriction of diet but not complete abstention. [Dan 10:3]
  3. “Absolute Fast” – abstaining from food AND water. In dire emergencies for a direct spiritual need*. In the natural, not more than 3 days but supernatural forty day fasts are recorded in the bible. *Note, should never engaged in unless clear command from God and for no more than 3 days. [Esth 4:16, Acts 9:9, Deut 9:9, 1 Kings 19:8}
  4. “Corporate/Public Fast” – during  Mosaic law they held a public on day fast during the day of atonement and in instances of group or national emergency. [Lev23:27, Joel 2:15,  2 Chron 20:1-4, Ezra 8:21-23]. Serious problems and relationships can be healed through unified group prayer and fasting in a church our close group.
  5. “Regular Fast” – participating in “normal fast” on set days of the week. {Zech 8:19, Luke 18:12}

Jesus on Fasting

Jesus himself fasted [Luke 4:2] and he taught correction on how to do it on the Sermon on the Mount [Matt 6:16] and he explained to the disciples of John the Baptists why, Jesus and his disciples were not currently fasting:

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” Matt 9:14-15

The point here being that while Jesus, the bridegroom was present, it was a time for feasting not fasting, but there would be a time when they would fast.

We find that time for fasting among the disciples occurs after Jesus ascended in Acts 13:2-3 (Setting apart of Saul and Barnabas) and was a common practice in the founding of the early church Acts 14:23 (ordained elders in every church).

Discipline brings freedom.

“Our human cravings and desires are like rivers that tend to overflow their banks; fasting helps keep them in their proper channels” – Richard Foster

More than any other Disciple, fasting reveals the things that control us. Often the good food and lack of discipline covers up what is inside us – fasting allows it to come to the surface and be seen. This revelation leads to transformation and freedom.

“I humbled my soul with fasting” David (psalm 69:10)

If you are struggling with pride, fear, anger, bitterness, jealously, etc those things will surface and we can then receive healing on those things through the power of Jesus Christ.

Seeking God.

Fasting reminds us that we are sustained “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). In fasting, we are not so much abstaining on food as we are feasting on the word of God. Fasting is feasting!

Benefits include personal transformation, healing, increased effectiveness in intercessory prayer, guidance in decisions, increased concentration, deliverance for those in bondage, physical well-being, revelation, and more.

Fast for greater and deeper rewards rather than to impress those around you. Do it in secret and only tell those that must know.  Otherwise you will impress others and that will be your reward.

God knows our heart and is happy to reward us with his riches in heaven.

Applying it. Progressing into Fasting.

Starter fast.

If you are uneasy initially, try a partial fast for 24 hours. Initially it is easier to do a Lunch to Lunch fast, so start there.  Drink water and fruit juice as you “try” this partial fast. Break your fast with a light meal of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Be mindful of the inner attitude of your heart. Work as normal, but inwardly you will be in prayer and adoration, song, and worship. In a new way, with new awareness apply your daily tasks as ministry to the lord.

Normal fast.

Do a full 24 hour fast with only water – drinking lots of water.  You can add lemon juice to your water to add flavor if desired. With success here, move to 36 hour fast (essentially starting your fast directly after dinner then thru all 3 meals the entire next day and then breaking fast the following morning).

Drink water when you have hunger pangs. You are the master of your stomach, not its slave. If you can, dedicated your normal meal time to meditation and prayer. Listen for the Lord to speak to your and provide revelation.

Directed longer fast.

After several normal fasting sessions with spiritual success, seek the Lord for guidance on if he wants you to go on a longer fast such as a three to seven day fast. Some have chosen to go ten days, 21 days, and even 40 days.

Things to consider.

  • This is God focused. Look to God, praise Him and seek him during your fast.
  • This can guide and direct your spiritual life and lead to healing and transformation.
  • Look for what bubbles up and seek to give it over to the Lord.
  • This is a way to learn your spirit is stronger than your flesh. You are the master over your stomach. And can apply that to other areas of your life such as anger, bitterness, jealousy etc.
  • Expect and listen for God to speak to you and share revelation.

Deep Dive / Extended Study:

If you want to dig into scripture and see how fasting was applied biblically, as well as when and what situations to fast for, you’ll find a wonderfully deep and well organized outline with distinct situations and specific scriptures here: http://www.dianedew.com/fasting.htm

About this article:

Disclaimer/Source Material – I wrote this as a study guide for the “Fasting” chapter in Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Disciplines.   Most of the contents of this article are verbatim excerpts and quotes from the book focusing on core messages from the chapter but arranged in a different order for the purposes of teaching the lesson on fasting to a small group at church.  I highly recommend this book for anyone studying spiritual disciplines in pursuit of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.