How to Create Online Content Like an Immortal Renaissance Artist

How to Create Online Content Like an Immortal Renaissance Artist

Reader Comments (74)

  1. Dear Matthew,
    Reading this blog has always been a great great great pleasure for me…but this pleasant crosses all limits when I see I am getting just what I need. Leonardo is my dream intellectual. I respect all of his works all the time. Now I got your post. It is my first time to go through your post and for the first time I have got a wonderful combination of information-rich post and example of one of the greatest artists…People should be wordless reading this article…
    Thank you (but thanks is not enough here though)…

  2. Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for this post! It’s a really inspiring one.
    I especially like this bit:
    “those iconic and enduring creations that withstand the tests of space, time, and short attention spans”

    Anyway, you use words that I really love.
    This post will stand the test of time, I hope.

    • Hi Akos-

      I greatly appreciate your mention of my words. I do in fact love the fine art of finding the just the right word to convey an idea. I’m certainly no grand master. But I do strive for such a benchmark.

      Thanks for anointing this article high in your pantheon of articles ๐Ÿ™‚


    • I knew someone was going to ask for Donatello!!

      It’s not that I don’t like the staff weapon or the purple accents, just that i couldn’t find a trustworthy quote. The historical Donatello, though famous, didn’t seem to leave behind a usable quote. Sigh!

      Thanks Mary!


  3. That’s what I’m talking about!

    Wanna win? Start putting out masterpieces, or… fail!

    Bloggers, unleash NOW the awesomeness you are full of!

    • Well put Raul. Going full-tilt on your writing abilities is among the few fantastic ways of unleashing your potential.

      I agree with the famous quote that most are more afraid of their genius than of failure. We must strive past that barrier if we are to create masterpieces.


  4. Great post, what sucked me in was the pic of the old man. I just had to see where that was going. Epic Shit is something we all should strive for. Finding a place to write is very important especially if you have tons of distractions around you. I find that blogging at my day job on lunch gives me tons of creative ideas, but when I get home, I am at a loss. I am just glad I found that median balance so I can get shit done.

    • Here here Sonia!

      The decompression zone (aka our turtle shell) is perhaps the most important element of the creative masterpiece creating process. Find that best place for you and maximize your quality time in it.


  5. Great article! Cleese’s tortoise mind reminds me of a quote by Virginia Woolf: If a woman is to write, she must have money and a room of her own. If we’re going to write, we need the space to create, and the drive to follow through.

    • HI Kathryn-

      Nice corollary with Virginia Woolf. And I particularly enjoy, and echo, the need for drive. It’s not near enough to just create the cavity of space and time, but to also fill that cavity with resolve.

      Great point ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. My inner child is pretty sure this article is awesome simply for your Ninja Turtles references ๐Ÿ™‚

    Chris Guillebeau’s writing strategy is spot on as far as I’m concerned. When I was 15 years old I wanted nothing more than to be a novelist. I decided that summer to write my first novel. Within 2 months I had a 86,000 word rough draft as a sophomore in high school. Sure it was terrible, but I did it by committing to write at least 2,000 words every single night.

    I never let myself go to bed without those 2,000 words and some nights I cranked out 4 – 5,000. It cemented pretty quickly how important it is just to START. Just to get the words on the page no matter how uninspired they might seem at the time. That’s what editing is for, right?

    • Starting is everything. Our Renaissance Artist friends would never be where they are today (which is to say permanently etched into human memory) if they hadn’t at some point put ink quill to parchment and chisel to stone for the first time.

      And yes, editing comes next. Let me know if I can help on that front ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. I really love it when you merge your academic knowledge with your article. Very convincing!

    • Hi Hayley-

      It’s fun to be a geek on both the academic and cartoon side of things at the same time; makes life a little more enjoyable ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks for the comment!


  8. I saw the angel’s flaws in the rough draft and edited until I set him straight.
    ~Shane Arthur ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Nice post. I like your writing style.

  9. Matthew:

    Really great post. Very well organized and full of good approaches, many of which I know work beautifully, like the 3 building blocks you list, and the practice of setting a daily writing goal. I recently read something that worked well for Earnest Hemmingway, that’s been working well for me: write the first paragraph the night before of what you intend to work on the next day. It makes for a very productive morning because you’re already started!

    You mentioned flow, which is something I’ve read a lot about. It’s a mental state originally identified and studied by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi. I wrote about it in this post (see section 2).

    Tenacity and squashing inner gremlins are key as well. There’s a very specific way to go about squashing gremlins (which does wonders for one’s tenacity). I recently posted about it:

    Thanks for a very well written, useful post. I’m quite sure it’s going to help a lot of writers. I look forward to reading more of you.


    • Great commentary Susan.

      I adore Hemmingway’s wisdom, but hadn’t heard of that piece of advice before. Thanks for contributing that. It makes a ton of rational sense in an otherwise crazy endeavor, writing.

      I’ve read research on Mihalyi before too. Genius stuff! Glad we share that interest.

      All the best!

  10. My shell is always the period I take off from all of my responsibilities. I always come up with tons of ideas while I take that much needed physical and mental break. I even forbid myself from making any lists, so by the time the period is over, I’m jotting down tons of ideas.

    I hate to give such a standard thank you, but… thanks for this post. It rocked. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • There are no standard Thank You’s ๐Ÿ™‚ I greatly appreciate it Elizabeth!

      I like your approach to idea generation and just getting in the “flow”. Keep those ideas coming.

      Best wishes,

  11. Cowabunga dude!!!
    What a beautiful run down memory lane, and loved how you connected it all together!

    Thanks for inspiring me to keep doing what I am doing, only to do it with more urgency.

    I do not want to stop at being a writer, but a content creator. Videos, songs, stories, what have you. What’s stopping me? Only me, myself (and sometimes Irene? :/ )

    • Hi Momekh-

      The future of digital publishing is bright for multi-media specialists who offer stories in more than the written word. I think you should absolutely keep your dream alive and keep pushing.

      There’s nothing stopping you; go make it happen!


  12. Wow! This was just the precise information that I needed to really take my blog ‘over the edge’. I had sensed I was doing something wrong…but you pinpointed the exact problem. I KNEW I needed to edit more and take more time in my writing. I’ve always had the problem of being too verbose. But I didn’t allow myself to admtit that it was critical to good writing because that meant more T-I-M-E. I know..pretty dumb!

    Creativity–that’s the easy part. I love that flow and go with it. I’m a fabric artist, song writer, and organizational guru..and I love being ‘in the groove’. I never lack for great ideas. But here was the one little kink–I’m a mom with three super busy teenagers, two adult kids and grandkids. Lots of people–lots of needs. Too often, my writing has been just one of many tasks.

    Thanks to you, I realize I need to find that quiet place and focus JUST on my writing. I’ve worked hard to develop my photography skills this year. I have lots of great ‘real life’ projects to share..but the writing needs that same drive and attention I’ve been giving everything else.

    Thanks seems like such a paltry word to describe my feelings! I’ve been hooked on your blog for some time now thanks to Maria of Colour Me Happy. But today–well–you just hit the spot! Great post!

    • Hi Donna-

      You and I are quite similar in that I can be quite verbose too. A natural glitch with me ๐Ÿ™‚ So it takes concentration and devotion to edit well, which is why I love it. It’s both challenging and rewarding!

      I’m thrilled that I brought some new wisdom into your day. Indeed, find that quite space to let your creativity not only flow but funnel down into those sharp edges. Then unleash them!

      I’m honored to have along for my writing adventures. Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful comment.


  13. Really inspiring post! In your blog you don’t set apart us from the great minds. You tend to combine us all and let us know that we can write and be great writers like many great minds have been. Great job!

    • Wonderful observation Brian. We each possess the innate ability and strength to become immortal titans of creativity. All that stands in our way is the false fear that we aren’t worthy of such greatness.

      Absent that falsehood, we gain more experience, which refines our skills and hones our creative eye. That experience yields more, better concepts. It’s quite the uplifting cycle.

      Good luck on your own adventures!


    • Nice!! Many would do well to follow suit and unleash their inner Raph ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m the same way. But default I’m more like Leo. But I’ve been working on harnessing the power of the Red bandanna more.


  14. Pure greatness. Illustrating the techniques in this fashion really helps it all make sense. New bloggers or writers of any kind will get a great benefit from this, but even those of us who have been doing it for a while should come back and read this as a refresher from time to time.

    • Thanks Bill! It’s always tricking trying to create a useful article to both ends of the writer spectrum – beginners and veterans. I’m thrilled you think I struck a good cord for both.

      Hope you’re well.


  15. Hey Matt

    Found this post through a RT to your little black book. Read that post – very cool, tweeted it out. And while following you on Twitter through I’d come over and check out your Copyblogger debut.

    Dude, you wrote a great post.

    With the explosion in self publishing – love the quote in one of the ‘In Treehouses’ magazines that i read earlier: We are not bloggers who publish, we are publishers who blog – anyone, back on track, with this explosion it’s become imperative to create quality content to stand out.

    Editing is one of the ways to create higher quality content.

    Actually practicing writing is another way. I’ve written about this on posts on my blog in the last few weeks, tied it in with the field of Talent Aquistion/Deliberate Practice – and have been amazed at the response. It’s a topic that ‘bloggers’ seem to be blissfully unaware of. Hopefully your post will open the eyes of a few people – and lead them to re-examine the quality of their output and strive to raise the bar.

    Excellent post. Looking forward to reading more of your Epic Shit – either here or back at your site.


    • Hey Paul-

      Killer comment and observations. My great thanks!

      The quote you shared of Thom’s is a personal fave of mine as well. Publishers are we – and many (most?) would do well to take that responsibility to the heights of its potential. As you say, editing is vital to that process. No magazine worth its salt ever (EVER) goes to “print” without exhaustive edits.

      I like your interlay with Talent Acquisition. I have some years under my belt at a Fortune 100 giant. Needless to say, the metaphorical need for more writing and editing is rather apt for such mindless environments.

      In all, I’m thrilled you’ve discovered my simple writing ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad to have you along for the ride. It’ll be fun, promise!


    • Excellent question. While I wouldn’t say that this article is an “epic,” I do humbly think it’s of high quality. And this one took (draft to final revision) 6-8 hours.

      I could have been more efficient, maybe. But in the digital universe of more, I’m perfectly content publishing less so long as it’s effective to the highest quality possible.

      Hope that helps!


    • It’s funny, too, because sometimes the best posts (or any kind of writing) come in a kind of flash. But you don’t get that until you’ve put a whole lot of hours in writing other things. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Hi Matt, this was the perfect post for me today. I started blogging two months ago and today I was just not motivated at all to write a blog post. Fortunately, I subscribe to Copyblogger and read your inspirational post. It is relevant because I live in Italy and see how much influence these three artists have until today (they are sure immortal!). More importantly, there were some points you made that really hit home.

    I wrote a post about this and want to personally thank you for motivating me to not only write one post but two today.

    Many thanks!

    • The pleasure is mine Diana. It’s wonderful to make a new friend from Italy. I adored my time there a few years ago. Breathtaking!

      I’m grateful to have brought some usable inspiration into your creative process today. That’s the best part of what we do online – help lift up people precisely in their moment of need. It’s the best of feelings ๐Ÿ™‚

      Congrats at being two months into your online writing journey. Keep it going. Believe in your talents and push yourself to publish the best ‘you’ possible.


    • For me personally, well, I should actually come clean and admit that Michelangelo does all my ghost writing – that is when he’s not screwing around with his nunchucks ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Matt, your post is awesome! I loved how you tied in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Raphael was always my favorite.

    I agree about writing, editing and then publishing. In Stephen King’s On Writing, he talks about putting the manuscript away for at least one month before taking it out to edit.

    When writing, I wait at least one day before looking back over the blog post and always find something to edit, whether the sentence was too clunky or it needed more detail.

    Love that post 1,000 True Fans. So true. Thanks again! Printing this one out for a reminder.

    • Lovely comment Gabrielle!

      Stephen King’s On Writing is a fantastic read. All writers (yes, bloggers too) should read it. Stephen would know the extreme value of a smart edit. Even his works go through the full process. And if I had to guess, I’d say that Stephen is glad that they do!

      All the best!

  18. Great article, Matthew. It’s a good counter to the ‘pump out content for three years = success’ approach. I think that view is missing something… no one will listen if all you do is bad content.

    My contribution here is that people should really invest in everything they do. If doing something costs you plenty of time and money, there’s a lot of motivation to do it right, rather than just put up just another ‘me too’ blog post.

    That means research from actual books, attention to layout and typography, all sorts of stuff that isn’t often done. If I did all that and posted just a ‘me too’ post, I’d feel annoyed at myself for wasting my time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I agree very much Patrick with your sentiment that the quantity approach is “missing something.”

      Mass production of content alone isn’t a winning strategy anymore. There is simply too much to consume.

      Standing out for quality in unique and impressive ways is the timeless way to become a leader and legend.

      Thanks for the sharing this important point ๐Ÿ™‚


  19. It’s been proven over and over again, on this blog and many others, that if you overcome the distractions of social, SEO, and all the other things you have to worry about daily, you can create something that will bring all those other pieces together.

    People I work with get so impatient and A.D.D. that they start marketing their blogs without having spent the time to first make their content remarkable enough for readers to care.

    They say they don’t have enough time to write, research, etc. everyday, but that is the core of every popular blog on the web today. The other stuff – popularity, following, SEO, links – it all follows epic content. So you’re actually doing most of your work by clearing your head and desk and sitting down to do something great.

    • Well said Jack. Many still aspire for overnight success, and (I think) turn to Twitter schemes, SEO, and other tools to try to make that happens. These tools are useful, no question. But they’re tools, not strategies.

      Thoughtful content that probes deep into questions, examines new perspectives, and offers new conclusions from valid research are smart content aims that return lavish dividends. Build to last; don’t just build to build.


      • Some smart dude somewhere said something like “Twitter and Facebook are where people go to get the highlights among their interests. Blogs are where they go to dig deeper into them.”

        Actually I think I just improved on what the smart dude said – or ruined it. But hopefully you get the gest…er, gist.

  20. There’s nothing quite like another inspirational CopyBlogger piece, My website would probably have been confined to the scrapheap a long time ago without this site.

    The urgency part in particular is very though provoking – mental note: stop procrastinating.

    • Hi Gareth-

      Procrastination is a menace all writers confront. So you’re not alone. The writers that do well don’t try to run in the opposite direction. They confront the challenges of procrastination and then blow past them.

      Good luck on your ventures. Keep pushing!


  21. Great advice, especially about writing epic content. Sometimes we just go with the flow and churn out content like a drone, simply because it needs to get done. This doesn’t make it bad content, but it doesn’t make it great content either. Being great takes a lot of work and even more time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it!

    • Everything can’t be epic…that’s for sure. But we should all strive to improve the ratio between good and great. And while there might be some short term costs (e.g. more time commitment, more drafting/editing required, etc) the long-term rewards are well worth it.


    • The past has a tendency to repeat itself, so it’s fun to apply the lessons of legends to tomorrow’s potential ๐Ÿ™‚

      So thrilled you enjoyed the read. Thanks for the kind words.


  22. Nice job, Matthew.

    Of course your title was really amazing, and that, (besides the fact that it’s a post on Copyblogger) gently encouraged me to read it.

    I wish had had headline copy down that good.

    Thanks for mentioning Jonathan Fields. He’s a great writer, and has been a huge help to me.

    I could go on, but now I’m trying to think of an amazing headline for a post…

    The Franchise Kingยฎ

    • Thanks for the kind words Joel. The title went through a few revisions itself. I ardently believe, as any good Copyblogger disciple should, that the headline is a supremely vital component to any article.

      I hope yours turned out well ๐Ÿ™‚


  23. Hi Matthew,

    I am a huge fan of comparing bloggers and online content creators to Renaissance artists.;)

    This is delicious, very absorbing writing. Thanks for putting these two worlds together like chocolate and cream filling!


  24. In a world of free article directories and PLR with their abundance of poorly written and obviously unedited items, your post is a timely reminder of what we should really be doing. For those who regard writing as an art, this is, if I may say so, the flagship article to remind us that in our distract-me-now, slap-dash, quantity-without-quality world, we have good reason to “construct our own ‘tortoise enclosure.’โ€ Not for us the mediocrity of Grub Street, but rather “the unlocking of [our] full creative potential.” Thank you, Matthew, for this inspiring article and the eight hours you spent creating it.

    • “…flagship article…”, I’m honored ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re very kind Owen!

      You really nailed my sentiments on the subject; namely the gross over-abundance of low-quality articles force fed into an unassuming readership. I don’t at all demagogue people’s genuine spirit to get online and share their stories. But writers (as well as readers) have a responsibility, I think, to learn their craft well and “do no harm” when publishing content.

      Thanks again for the comment!


  25. Hi Matthew!

    I so love this post! Made me relive my fascination with the Ninja Turtles. Was really expecting you’d say something about Donatello, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love the quotes from the great artists themselves. Will definitely serve as an inspiration for me this week.

    • Hi Elmar-

      I’m glad I could spark a trip down memory lane for you! Go Ninja go ๐Ÿ™‚

      Agreed on Donatello – I just couldn’t find a reliable quote. Shucks.

      Hope you’re well.


  26. Hi Matt,

    Absolutely loved this post! I do social media for an art museum, so it was great seeing you apply communication strategies to Renaissance artists. Also, I grew up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so the childhood nostalgia earns you an extra bonus of appreciation. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Keep up the great work!


This article's comments are closed.