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In this edition:

  • Wix’s head of branded SEO joins us live
  • Writing Inner Conflict
  • A popular marketer throws down
  • Why thumbnails come first
  • How to find a good idea
  • Ways to write better hooks

Let’s do this.

Coming Soon to The Cutting Room

We’re starting the year off STRONG with some of the content marketing space’s heavy hitters.

Joe Pulizzi – January -30th

Devin Reed – February 6th
Johnathan Dane – February 13th

Ross Simmonds – February 27th

Join us as we discuss their content marketing philosophy, process, and pre-game before they edit an article live.

And if you’d like that article to be yours, share a link to it by clicking the button below!

Share your content here

Top of mind:

Oooh the irony.

I’ve been trying to write about Inner Conflict for about two weeks and am absolutely stuck.

I’ve gone through 5 drafts, have crumpled everything up and thrown them in the proverbial waste bin.

There are a million fragments of thoughts, a half dozen solid movie examples, and can’t for the life of me figure out how to put it all together.

Well…Like they say, “done is better than perfect,” so here goes nothing.

Robert Mckee's three layers of conflict - Extra-personal (individuals in society, social institutions, and physical environments) Personal conflicts (Family, friends, lovers), Personal conflicts (emotions, mind, body)

Conflict, in general, is what drives the plot forward.

Because the character is pursuing their want, they will encounter conflict after conflict from scene to scene, and whether they win or lose is what dictates what happens next in the story.

Inner Conflict however, is what drives the character through their arc.

Robert McKee says Inner Conflict is:

“Where the thoughts, feelings or physical characteristics of a protagonist block the achievement of the goal.”

For example:

In “Inside Out,” Riley needs to embrace all of her emotions, specifically Sadness if she is to healthily adjust to moving to a new home.

Riley and her parents embrace near the end of the movie "Inside Out"

Now, “Inside Out” is quite literally about Inner Conflict, but in many cases, Inner Conflict is used as seasoning, not the whole dish….

Like in Toy Story, Woody and Buzz’s Super Objective is to get back to Andy, however, one of the subplots of the film is Woody dealing with his Inner Conflict of overcoming his jealousy to become a better leader and embrace change.

Now let’s apply this to B2B Content.

In our last issue, we used the example “how to get podcast sponsors” and discussed how the reader was likely to be thinking about monetizing their podcast as their Super Conflict.

Now, our obvious obstacles in getting this done are the lack of systems, insight, and best ways to frame the conversation.

But what’s really holding them back?

  • Fear of failure
  • Anxiety around pitching
  • Self-doubt in the show’s quality

Unsurprisingly, the top-ranking article for “how to get podcast sponsors” has sections titled:

Step 1: Consider your niche
Step 2: Search for potential sponsors
Step 3: Create your proposal

And it does exactly as you would expect…

Step 4: Send your proposal

Once your proposal is ready, it’s time to email it to your list of potential sponsors. This will be the first interaction sponsors have with you and your business, so it’s important to compose a quality email.

Summarize some of the points from your presentation, like who you are and the kind of podcast you host. It’s also a good place to drop some names of popular people who have been on your show or you know listen to your show.

See the problem?

Even if they know the steps, nothing acknowledges the reader’s Inner Conflict, so there’s no encouragement to actually execute.

Here’s how we might rewrite the section to add a little flavor (I’ll highlight the most important edits).

Step 4: Just hit send

​You’ve done the work, now take a deep breath and email your proposal to your list of potential sponsors. This is the first interaction, so it’s important to compose a quality email, but also, don’t get in your head.

Summarize some of the points from your presentation, like who you are, the premise of your show, and what makes it unique. If you do interviews, drop some names of popular people who have been on your show or listen to your show.

See the subtlety?

I made these revisions because the goal of the piece isn’t really to give them the steps to reach out to potential podcast sponsors. What the reader really needs is to gain the confidence to:

  1. Send a cold email
  2. Face rejection
  3. Press on

These needs don’t just apply to this piece either because they’re relevant to helping them with the entire Super Conflict of making money off their podcast.

If I were to rework the entire piece, I’d go through section by section to find small moments where we can that reflect and resolve minor conflicts they’d have going into the piece.

A word of caution

We want to avoid as best as possible telling the reader how they feel.

There is nothing that feels more contrived, and there’s no faster way to lose the reader than dictating their emotions.

Instead, create scenarios a reader might find themselves in and suggest how they feel by planting seeds on how they might respond.

In the revised section of the blog post earlier, I said, “Just click send,” “take a deep breath,” and “don’t get in your head” because those are universal responses for anyone doing something they’re intimidated by.

However, had I said, “Don’t be intimidated by pressing ‘send” then I invite the reader to say, even briefly, “I’m not.”

Get that wrong enough times and you’ll rob your reader of their agency.

What do you think?

This was a very difficult series to write, and we covered a lot of ground.

However, I think conflict is one of the most important elements of creating more useful and relatable content.

These “Tips and Tricks,” and “How To” pieces don’t live in a bubble and we’re doing our reader a huge disservice to treat them like they do.

Add a single layer of conflict into your writing, you’ll bring more dimension to your work than most.

Layer in all three and your work will be elevated from “content” into something else entirely.

Can I get your opinion?

In the spirit of the holidays, this will be the last issue of The Studio Insider for the year, however, we’ll be back on January 12th 2024 with more.

Next year, I’m thinking about holding monthly workshops based on the content we’re talking about in these newsletters, and about offering discounts for anyone who refers a friend.

Sound interesting?

Email me back if you’d like to be a part of that.

Want me to edit you?

Starting in 2024, I’m hosting a monthly writing workshop where we’ll explore the concepts through the lens of your work.
Join me, and a group of your peers live while I edit attendees work and discuss these concepts live.

What’s on our radar?

🦠 The emotions that make campaigns go viral
💰 How this YouTuber makes $5.72mm a year
👊🏼 Rand Fishkin’s picking fights with SEOs
📈 How to create an effective newsletter
📖 What I’m reading right now
🤖 A.I. prompts that don’t suck

Let’s get social

If you’ve been following our YouTube channel and my LinkedIn, you’ll notice we’ve been putting a lot more work into how we package our content with titles and thumbnails.

Neal hits the nail on the head and gives a cool little cheat sheet of some great examples of enticing thumbnails.

Episodes on finding ideas

How Ryan Law scrutinizes ideas.

How do you know it’s a good idea?

Ryan shares just how much pressure he applies to ideas before they’re made.

Watch here

How many ideas get burned?

Eddie’s always taking notes.

At the store, watching TV, in the shower. You won’t believe how many ideas he burns 🔥

Watch here

From “The Vault”

The Vault is a collection of articles that have been edited by guest editors on The Cutting Room.

Look at raw drafts and see how editors from companies like, Calendly, Airtable, and more give their feedback in the doc.

Alaura Weaver, editor in chief at says "This seems like a "water is wet" statement. Isn't that the definition of a marketing team's function? How is this different from other days?"

In this edit, Alaura Weaver from calls the author out for stating the obvious in an opening line and makes suggestions for finding a better hook and way into the piece.

This is the perfect balance of developmental and line edits, and one I refer back to regularly.

Want to be featured on The Cutting Room?

We’re looking for articles our guest editors can dig into on the stream.

Share your name or stay anonymous, either way, you’ll get edited by some of the best in the business.

Click on this link to submit an article to be edited on The Cutting Room

See you in the next one ✌️

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Tommy Walker | The Content Studio

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