Over 2,000,000 blog articles were published to the internet today.
But it doesn’t mean that all posts are worth reading. In fact, the majority of marketing articles you read are actionless, boring, or poorly rehashed versions of someone else’s hard work.
On the other side are a few writers and bloggers who continuously churn out amazing, poignant and dare I say, jaw-dropping content.
These are the authors who fill your news feed, hold the coveted first page SERP ranking, and who are regularly featured in major publications.
So what separates the great from the not so fabulous?
Is it that other writers aren’t trying?
Is it that other writers simply don’t know how to write good blog posts?
The problem I see is that most of these writers simply do not have a clear system and strategy for writing content that their customers want to read and share.
In this article, I am going to reveal a system to do exactly that.
And by the end, you’ll have a systematic process to create mind-blowing posts day after day.
Let’s get started.
The First Commandment of Better Writing: Know Thy Customer/Reader
Nothing will have a greater effect on the quality of your writing and your audience’s engagement than having an intimate knowledge of who you are writing to.
A subpar writer who deeply understands his or her customers will always be able to craft a more compelling message than even an excellent writer who lacks a basic understanding of their audience.
Just think about this blog for a second.
Would you be reading this article right now if my content consistently focused on health and fitness?
Would you read it if the language I used in each article was written in a way that was designed to resonate with teenagers?
If “lol”, “wtf”, “and “atm” littered every paragraph, would I be able to hold your attention?
I know that my ideal customers are typically entrepreneurial men in their late twenties to early forties looking for guidance regarding their online business, lead generation, or local marketing efforts.
And this knowledge informs every outline that I create, every sentence I write, and every word that I type.
You need to realize that it doesn’t matter how great your style might be, or how beautifully you are able to weave ideas together.
If you cannot write in a way that resonates with your ideal customer, then no amount of style or advanced grammar will help you.
So before you move on to the next section of this article, I want you to take out a pen and a piece of paper (or for you true champions, pull up your Evernote), and answer the following questions.
- What is the age of the potential customer to whom I am writing?
- What are my ideal customers biggest needs, pain points, and desires?
- Where do my ideal customers spend their time online? What blogs, websites, and social media pages can I use to draw inspiration and gain a deeper understanding of my audience?
- What sort of language and slang will my ideal customers understand and respond to? Are they clean cut? Do they swear like sailors? Do they understand “hip” lingo or are they more traditional?
- Why would my ideal customer read my blog over the thousands of other blogs on the web? What unique value do I offer that keeps them coming back?
Once you have spent some serious time pondering and answering the following questions, you are ready to move on and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard in our case).
The Brainstorming Process
One of the biggest problems that online marketers and entrepreneurs encounter on their quest to create epic blog posts is that they don’t have any ideas about what to write.
Luckily, with the power of the internet, this is a simple problem to fix.
1. Use Competitive Analysis Tools
Whenever you are brainstorming potential article topics, you want to make sure that your idea is validated before you invest your hard-earned time or money into creating new content.
The best way to accomplish this is by using tools like semrush.com to analyze what your competitors are doing.
In today’s market, there is simply no reason to do any of the heavy lifting yourself.
Other companies have already done all of the testing, all of the market research, and all of the optimization so that you don’t have to.
By taking advantage of competitive analysis tools, you will be able to all but eliminate incongruent content and wasted time.
Let’s walk through the process using Kissmetrics as the “competitor.”
First, simply type in semrush.com into your search bar.
Once you are on the page, insert the URL of your competitor into their search box, in our case, kissmetrics.com
Now, you can peruse through gigabytes upon gigabytes of competitive research regarding search engine ranking, paid traffic, and tons of other online goodies.
However, what we are looking for is their organic keyword data.
Click ‘View Full Report’ in the bottom right-hand corner of the Top Organic Keyword box and you will be taken to the following page.
From this report, I can see that topics regarding SEO, Facebook marketing, Google Webmaster Tools, and Google Adwords are all popular topics.
Now, you have two options.
You can take one of the above topics, plop it into Google, find a few ideas, and call it a day.
Or you can use the skyscraper technique.
2. Find Content Where You Can Use “The Skyscraper Technique”
The skyscraper technique is an incredible tactic that allows you to (almost) instantaneously find a topic to write about and rank on the first page of Google for that topic’s keywords.
The way it works is to find a piece of content that already has a proven track-record of attracting links and social shares, and then creating a similar piece that’s more thorough and actionable.
For example, this post is about 7 lead generation tools that marketers can use.
So I decided to create one that had 27 lead generation tools for marketers.
But it’s not just about giving more tools. It’s about offering 10X the value.
Let me show you how it works.
There are two tools that will help you identify content that’s worthy of attacking.
Tool# 1. Google
Using our previous example with kissmetrics.com, we are going to skyscrape their content on the keyword “Kissmetrics Facebook Marketing.”
Now, as much of an optimist as I can be, I am also a realist.
I realize that at this point in my blog’s development I will probably not be able to rank for the keyword “Facebook Marketing”.
However, SERP #4 “30+ Resources to Help You Excel at Facebook” looks like it might hold skyscraping potential.
Upon further inspection, we find something interesting.
This particular article was written almost 3 years ago.
Even though the information might still be relevant today, because of this article’s age, it makes it prime for “scraping”.
Now, not only do you now have an excellent topic for your next article, but you have found a topic that has the potential to put you on the first page of Google.
Not too shabby for 10 minutes of research, huh?
From here, you can use tools like Ahrefs to reverse engineer where the backlinks are coming from and reach out to website owners letting them know about your new guide.
You might send them an email like this:
I came across your post [Post Name] and thought it was a killer piece. I couldn’t help but notice that you linked out to Kissmetrics post “30+ Resources To Help You Excel at Facebook Advertising in 2014.”
I’m sure you know, Facebook advertising has changed a lot since 2014 and there are newer and more robust resources that have come out since then.
I just published a new article: “275 Resources To Crush It With Facebook Advertising in [Current Year]” that is extremely actionable and thorough. I thought it might make a good fit for your post.
Let me know if you want to check it out.
At this point, it’s a numbers game. The more sites you reach out to, the more links you’ll get. If you write solid emails, you can get anywhere from a 5-12% conversion rate.
Tool #2: Buzzsumo
Buzzsumo is one of my favorite content marketing tools and is the perfect companion for the Skyscraper Technique.
Here’s how you get social shares using this tool.
Step 1: Go to Buzzsumo.com and type in your target keyword phrase.
Step 2: Find a topic with a solid share count.
Step 3: Create something similar to the topic, but 10X better.
Step 4: Reach out to influencers who have shared the article and ask them to share yours.
Using this tool, you can find hundreds of topics to write about and keep busy for the rest of your life.
3. Poll Your Audience
If you are too nice to complete a competitive analysis or not willing to put in the time to skyscrape your next article, you can always take an easier approach.
Ask your audience.
If you have already built up a healthy email or social media following, then you can eliminate the brainstorming phase altogether and allow your audience to tell you what they want directly.
Create a short survey and email your list asking what they want to see. You an use Google forms for free and get a wealth of data that may surprise you.
Ask them what their biggest problems are or what they need help with the most.
Ask them which of the following they would benefit from the most.
I can guarantee that these posts will elicit a positive response and give you a plethora of article ideas.
Creating a Killer Headline
Your headline is the connection between user and content. If your headline sucks, then no one will click through to read your content.
Don’t believe me?
Copyblogger suggests that 8 out of 10 people will read the headline, but only 2 will read the rest, making the quality of your title the most critical part of your entire blog post.
With the vast number of voices vying for your customer’s attention, learning how to stand out from the crowd and capture their interest can be the difference between a thriving blog and watching Google relegate your blog into the darkest recesses of cyberspace.
Luckily for you, writing a catchy and attractive headline is actually a lot simpler than it sounds.
Follow these instructions and headline formulas (more on this in a bit), and you’ll be on your way to creating clickworthy headlines.
1. Make a Big Promise (that your audience wants)
The first step to writing a catchy headline is to promise your audience something that they want.
In this article, for example, I make the promise that I will teach you how to write better blog posts even if you are a terrible writer.
Now, I want you to imagine that I simply titled this article: “How to Write Blog Posts”
Even though there is nothing inherently wrong with that headline, it doesn’t speak to anyone on a deep and visceral level.
By changing the title to How to Write Jaw Dropping Blog Posts (even if you are a terrible writer), I promise my readers (you) that by the time you are finished reading my article, you will be able to write amazing content… even if you suck at writing right now.
But here’s the catch.
I am so confident in the content that I am creating and the knowledge behind my writing that I know I can deliver on this promise.
If I wrote the headline “How to Make $1,000,000 in 3 Days by Writing Epic Blog Posts” not only would the article be perceived as clickbait, but I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my promise and would lose my audience’s trust.
The bottom line?
Make a big promise and make damn sure that you can fulfill your promise.
2. Use Powerful Language
Read the following headlines and tell me which one you would be more likely to click on.
How to gain 10 lbs. Of muscle
How to Effortlessly Pack on 10 lbs. Of Muscle in Record Time
I think the answer is pretty obvious.
You see, whenever you are crafting your article headlines, you want to make sure they pack a linguistic punch.
You need to use powerful adjectives and adverbs that will entice your customers and create a tangible emotional impact.
Here are a few examples to get you started.
- Mind Blowing
3. Follow These Formulas
The two simple formulas that I am about to share are responsible for more epic headlines than anything else you will find on the internet.
They are simple to use and understand, have been tested by thousands of marketers, and are still the most popular formulas to date.
Formula A: Number + Adjective + Noun + Keyword + Promise = Success
17 Awe Inspiring Pictures of South America that Will Make You Buy a Plane Ticket Today
22 Simple Marketing Hacks that Will Double Your Traffic in 60 Days
Formula B: How to + Action + Keyword + Promise
How to Write Jaw Dropping Blog Posts (even if you are a terrible writer)
How to Build a Six Figure Company in Six Months with No Experience and Money
While the above three points should be sufficient to get you started, if you want a more in-depth guide on writing killer headlines, then check out the awesome infographic that the team over at Hubspot put together.
How to Create a Captivating Introduction that Will Leave Your Readers Begging for More
In the same way that customers will not read your content unless you are able to craft a compelling headline, no one will read your article unless you create a captivating introduction.
Just read the following examples.
It was a calm beautiful day in the meadow. Birds chirped and frogs hopped along the tranquil pathway.
The bear looked up. Locking eyes with Peter, it charged.
Which of the above introductions would you be more likely to continue reading?
Unless you have some sort of weird fascination with tranquil meadows, most of you are going to want to know what happens to Peter after the bear charges!
And while most of you are not going to be writing articles for National Geographic about Grizzly Bear encounters, the lesson you can distil from these examples is axiomatic across all writing.
Your introductions need to captivate.
They need to interest people.
They need to grab your customer’s attention, reel them in and get them to keep reading.
Here are a few simple ways that you can create better introductions that keep your audience engaged and result in more success for you and your blog.
1. Master the Art of the Opening Sentence
The opening sentence is where your article will be made or broken.
All too often, I see entrepreneurs who get lazy with their writing and create subpar, unengaging, or downright boring openers to their articles.
The problem is, most people think that writing an awesome opener is much harder than it really is.
The truth, however, is that writing an awesome first sentence can be accomplished quite easily and without much brain power.
By using one of the following three tactics.
- Use a Quote
By quoting an industry influencer or renowned leader in your field, you will pique audience interest and immediately create a certain level of social proof that will “force” your audience to keep reading.
For example, if you are writing an article on lifestyle design, you could open up the article with the following quote.
- Use a Statistic or a Fact
While we all know that roughly 76.345% of statistics are made up on the spot, using a statistic or fact is a powerful way to begin an article.
For example, if you are writing an article on starting your own business, you could cite the following.
According to Inc.com, 63% of 20 somethings want to start their own business.
In the same way that using an influencer quote gives your writing a certain level of social proof, starting your articles with facts will give you more authority in the eyes of your readers.
- Make a Promise that Speaks to Your Audience
The third way that you can intrigue your audience is by making a promise that they want you to keep.
For example, if you are writing an article on becoming a six-figure consultant, you could start the article off with the following question/promise.
How would you feel if I told you that I can teach you how to make an extra six-figures a year from anywhere in the world using skills that you already have?
The only drawback of this tactic is that you need to have a high level of pre-established trust before you can effectively pull this off (similar to what we discussed with headlines).
Unless your audience already knows that you follow through on your promises, they will likely discard any wild or audacious promises and move on to the next article that strikes their fancy.
2. Speak to Your Reader
A common mistake that I see among many amateur bloggers is that their articles do not speak directly to their audience.
And I mean this literally.
They choose to use words like “marketers”, “entrepreneurs”, and “athletes” instead of a simple “you”.
Remember that the human brain responds strongly to the concept of self and using words that speak directly to your readers is a sure-fire way to easily spark engagement.
Speak conversationally using words like “you” and “I” over “they” or “one.”
3. Tell Your Reader What the Article is About and Why They Should Care
Another fatal mistake that many writers make is that they forget to explain the topic and importance of the article to their reader.
Never assume that your reader knows exactly what you are talking about (even if you have a great headline).
And never assume that they know why it is important for their life.
For example, in the introduction to this article, note how I specified that this article was about writing blog posts for your business, not satirical or news-based blogs?
I also went on to detail exactly how this topic pertains to my audience (you) and why the words contained in this post could change their business.
How to Write an Awesome Body and Conclusion for Your Articles
Now it’s time to dive into the good stuff.
You have successfully come up with an idea for a post that will resonate with your customers and have crafted a headline so powerful it would make David Ogilvy blush.
You also have the tools and knowledge to create a masterful introduction that will allow you to capture your audience’s attention.
Now it is time to write an article so powerful that your customers will need to pick their jaws up off the floor after they are done.
1.Start with the end in mind
Most authors recommend that before you begin writing your article that you create a simple-to-follow outline that details the flow of ideas and helps you organize your thoughts.
And as you will see in the next point, I couldn’t agree more.
But before you do that, there is another tip that I have used to great effect.
Write the conclusion before you write anything else.
Before you write an article outline, before you write your introduction, and before you write any of the article’s body, write out your conclusion.
Because when “You begin with the end in mind” as the late Stephen Covey said, you will have a mental road map of what the purpose of your content is.
By writing your conclusion first, you are forced to mentally determine why you are writing this content and figure out exactly what you want to leave your audience with
When you write out your conclusion, your brain will reverse engineer and determine the most pertinent talking points and tips that you need to discuss.
If you are a bit skeptical, just try it.
It works for me and I’m confident that it will work for you.
2. Organize Your Content and Ideas
There is an old saying that “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
And truer words have never been spoken.
In my own journey as a blogger and online author, nothing has made a greater impact on my ability to write compelling articles quickly and effectively than learning how to properly organize my thoughts on paper.
Before I ever begin writing the article.
I used to be one of those writers who adopted the “ready, fire, aim” approach.
And guess what?
I would regularly spend 2-3 hours revising, editing, and reorganizing a simple 2,000 word article!
The day that my life as a writer changed was the day that I committed and disciplined myself to never begin writing without a clear plan in place.
This process should only take you a few minutes, but it will allow you to visualize the flow of your article and determine potential sticking points before you are knee deep in the creative process.
I recommend that you simply start with an outline of what points you are going to discuss, a parenthesized explanation of what you will be covering, and a word goal for each section.
For example, when I was writing this article, the outline for the following section looked like this.
3. The Inner Game of Writing TONS of Content
Ok, so now that you have written your outline it is time to get to the actual writing of the article.
I discuss actionable tips on how to improve your writing later in the article.
But for now, I want to talk about the “inner game” of being a great writer, a topic that I personally feel is forgotten all too often.
Most writers, simply sit down, open their WordPress or Google Docs… and then stare blankly at the screen for hours on end, generating results that look something like this.
To overcome writer’s block and actually get your thoughts down on paper, you need to take a systematic approach to content creation.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Set your intention before you sit down: Write out on paper exactly what you want to achieve in the next hour and why this article is important for your business
- Set up a timer and just start writing: Use the Pomodoro technique and set a word goal for each “sequence”. For example, decide that you want to write 1,000 words for every 45 minute Pomodoro (e.ggtimer is a great resource for this)
- Don’t worry about perfection: You can edit later, the most important thing is that you are creating content and getting something out there.
- Read similar articles: Check out similar articles before you start writing to get your mind focused.
- Just WRITE!
4. Revise and Edit
Ok, so you overcame your writer’s block and wrote your 2,000 words!
Now it’s time to revise and edit your content.
I recommend that after writing for several hours, you take a 30-60 minute break and complete some sort of physical activity to recalibrate so that you can edit your work with a clear mind.
Once you have cleared your mind, the first step in the writing and revision process is to copy and paste your content into Grammar.ly to check for mistakes and errors.
With the grammar and syntax edited, it’s time to begin the revision process.
Whenever I am revising content, I go through each sentence and section and ask myself two simple questions.
- Does this paragraph, sentence, or word provide value to my audience? If not, cut it out, no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’.
- Could I have said this in a clearer manner? How can I make this particular phrase easier for my audience to understand?
As long as the content I have written provides value and clearly conveys my message, the content is ready to publish.
Right after the final step.
5. Tie it All Together with a Compelling Call to Action
The biggest mistake that you can make whenever writing content is to conclude an article without some sort of call to action.
Unless you are a true philanthropist, most of you are not writing content out of the kindness of your heart.
You are writing content to give value to your audience while increasing audience members and customers.
But you cannot achieve this goal without clear CTAs.
Conclude every article with some type of call to action.
Whether it is a simple “Comment below” or an invitation for readers to opt-in for your free course, you need to request that viewers take some action in return for the free value they received.
Here are some examples.
My CTA inviting readers to download my ebook.
The CTA socialmediaexaminer.com put at the end of their articles while promoting their live event.
With your call to action clarified, it’s time to add any pictures or links that you like and hit that publish button!
5 Simple Tips to Effortlessly Improve the Quality of Your Writing
So now that you understand the creative process for brainstorming a topic, writing a killer introduction, and creating lead generating blog posts, let’s dive into a few tips that will help you write Stephen King level blog posts in no time.
1. Use the First Person
The first and simplest tip to improve the quality of your writing is to write all of your content in the first person.
Whether you are writing content for a personal brand or an international business, readers will connect with you on a deeper level when you write in the first person.
Use the phrases I, me, my, and our to instantly build rapport with your audience and give your writing a more personal tone.
2. Master the Art of Brevity
In his viral article “The Day You Became a Better Writer”, the creator of Dilbert, Scott Adam’s, masterfully explains why simplicity is the key to all great writing.
Unless you are writing an academic essay for an audience of Ph.Ds, superfluous language and verbose sentences rarely add any value to your content.
As Scott put it:
Simple means getting rid of extra words. Don’t write, “He was very happy” when you can write “He was happy.” You think the word “very” adds something. It doesn’t. Prune your sentences.
Never say in two words what can be said in one.
And never say with one word what shouldn’t be said at all.
3. Vary the Beginnings of Your Sentence
A simple tip to instantly improve the style of your writing is to vary the way you begin each sentence.
Here are a few examples:
- Start with ‘ing’ words e.g. Beginning each sentence in a different way will improve the flow and style of your content.
- Start with ‘ly’ adverbs e.g. Succinctly sharing your message ensures that you will hold your audience’s attention.
- Start with paired adjectives e.g. Simple and easy to read, Scott Adam’s work will be seen as the pinnacle of humorous writing for years to come.
- Start with a preposition e.g. Outside of simplifying your sentences, nothing will improve the quality of your writing more than varying how you begin each sentence.
Be aware of how you are beginning your sentences in order to instantly level up your writing.
4. Use the Active Voice
As a writer, your goal is to make your content as simple and easy to digest as possible.
One way to do this is by using the active voice instead of the passive voice.
For example instead of saying:
The article was written by Sam Oh.
Sam Oh wrote the article.
The brain comprehends sentences written in the active voice much quicker than sentences written in the passive voice.
This will ensure that readers remain interested in your content and actually understand your message regardless of the topic.
5. Eliminate Long Winded Paragraphs
Nothing will kill your writing quicker than writing paragraphs that drone on longer than a presidential speech.
Your content should never contain even one section that looks like this.
Ensure that you write in a conversational tone, limiting paragraphs to only one or two sentences.
This guarantees that your content can be easily read and understood by everyone in your audience.
Now that you have read this article, it’s time to go out there and start writing some jaw dropping blog posts of your own.
Follow the steps that I have laid out for you and you will be amazed at the results.
Do you have any questions about blogging that I didn’t answer? Do you have any “secret” tactics or special strategies that you use to publish badass content? Let me know in the comments below!