With a title like that I’ve really put the pressure on myself to make this one good! But I’m not scared, because I have a system. A system for writing great blog posts!
If you’ve been following this blog in chronological order (you learned how to install wordpress, then how to optimize wordpress, and finally followed the steps of how to style wordpress) you might be thinking, “Great Jeff, I have an optimized, stylized, bloggified, googlized, amped-up, plugged-in, slamma, bamma, jamma, in-yo-face, momma-betta-be-in-her- place blog! But I’ve got nothing in it. Now I have to fill it up with great posts. How in the world wide web do I do that!?!?”
Well have no fear, follow my 2.5 Ways to Write a GUARANTEED Killer Blog Post and you’ll be well on your way to a happy following!
**Author’s note**: There are more than 2.5 ways to crush it with your blog posts. These are just a few good ones. I’ve asked people to comment below with their own secrets to killer blog posts.
#1 – Write your posts using numbered lists
What do I mean by this? Offer “5 ways”, “7 tips”, “28 to do’s” for your readers on whatever topic strikes your fancy. People react to these much better (we’ve tested this many times) than just about any other types of headlines. They are easy (both to read and to write), they are fun, and they often read like a check list. People like check lists.
Since the beginning of marketing copywriters have known that lists are powerful. Scour the internet and you will find FREE reports, white papers, videos and podcasts using this format. Heck here’s a list of reports that my clients alone are offering right now:
- The 7 Biggest Mistakes When Hiring A Contractor
- 7 MUST READ Lessons for Anyone Considering Kitchen or Bathroom Renovations
- The 4 Part Income Booster Toolkit for Coaches, Speakers, Trainers and Consultants
- 11 Week Millionaire Mindset Home Study Course
- 10 Mistakes You Want to Avoid in Your Practice
- 33 Headlines that Will Fill Your Schedule
- 3 Ways to Double Your Clients in 30 Days that are Practically Free
You can focus on the positive side (tips, tricks, strategies, ways, tactics, secrets), but I’ve find that fear is the strongest human emotion (mistakes, no-no’s, blunders, gaffs, short-falls, pit-falls, to-don’ts).
No matter how you choose to do it, it is powerful. And it’s easy. You’ll see I’ve chosen this format for the title of this post. I subscribe to the Jeffrey Gitomer way of thinking and that’s why I chose to make it 2.5 ways, instead of 2 or 3. It’s just different, adds a level of curiosity (at least I hope it does), and helps me not feel bad that #2.5 doesn’t have a tonne of uummmmph behind it 😉
#2 – Write your posts by telling a story
Many people are afraid to try to tell a story. They feel that they aren’t good story tellers, or that they aren’t funny, or that they don’t have any good stories to tell. To hell with that! Now don’t get me wrong, story telling is a skill. But just about any story can be a good story. Just follow my system…
There are a few elements to telling a good story: context, dialogue, a problem, a premise, a payoff, keeping it concise, and telling it in the present tense. I will break each of these things down for you.
- Context – This is putting the story in a place where the audience can relate. For this you can use a specific place (ie, Times Square, Disneyland, the Eiffel Tower) or it can be a common location (ie, in the back seat of a cab, waiting in line at a busy breakfast joint, in the pews of a church during a wedding). The point is you want the audience to be able to actually picture the scene without you having to explain everything. By setting the scene like this you can take advantage of their past experiences to fill in the gaps.
- Dialogue – This brings a story to life. In fact, a story without dialogue is like a song without words. It can survive without it, but 9 times out of 10, it’s the dialogue/lyrics that make the story/song memorable/catchy. I recommend adding ethnic personalities into this mix. This gives your story some texture and depth. When writing a story this can be done by incorporating some bad grammar and spelling things phonetically (the way they sound).
- A Problem, Premise, and Payoff – I learned this from Steve and Dawn Seibold at the Bill Gove Speech Workshop (which I can’t recommend enough!). In every great story the hero must face some type of problem that she must overcome. There must be a premise, or a plot, which is usually the meat of the story. Then there must be a payoff. Now the interesting thing is the payoff doesn’t have to be the victory that the hero earns. But instead, a payoff is a feeling of emotion, some empathy, that the audience member feels. That victory that she earns is part of the premise/plot, and in some cases may not be a victory at all. Ah, hell, this bullet point is going on too long; Payoff, you’ve just earned yourself your own bullet point.
- Payoff – Any time you can elicit an emotional reaction from your audience, that’s a payoff. In the professional speaking world they aim for one payoff ever 60 seconds, with the best speakers averaging one payoff every 30 seconds. The best type of payoff is laughter, but other payoffs count as well. Let me show you – I want you to imagine you are down in your grandmother’s basement helping her clean out some boxes from a cubby hole under the stairs. Each box you lift out you find another one further and further back there. Finally you get to the last box but it’s so deep into the cubby hole that you have to crawl right into the cubby to get at it. As you put your torso into the darkness and lean forward onto your hands your right hand goes right onto a nail which passes all the way through your hand between your thumb and your first finger. I’ll bet that half the people reading this just had a shutter go right down their spines! Unfortunately for me, I may have just lost 1/3rd of my readership for good, oops. But you can see that you can elicit emotions other than just humour by using your words.
- Keeping it Concise – Voltaire once said, “The secret to being a bore is to tell everything.” Nuff said!
- Telling it in the Present Tense – Stories are a million times more engaging when it feels like we are on the journey with the hero. One easy way to create this is to tell the story in the present tense. Instead of: “I arrived in NYC and decided to take a cab downtown where I ate lunch and met with Warren and Christina,” say, “So I get off the plane in NYC and decide to take an authentic NYC cab downtown. When I get to the heart of Manhattan I set out on foot to meet up with my friends Warren and Christina for lunch.” In the second example it really feels like we are part of the adventure!
Ok, now you know the secrets to telling a great story. To get a bit of an example of a few of these elements in play, read ‘My Story’. It’s important that you take advantage of story telling because although numbered lists are great, they can get boring really fast if that’s all you push out. (SIDE NOTE: George Castanza’s account of saving a whale is possibly the best short story ever told, and it only follows a handful of the elements above)
#2.5 – Use multimedia in your posts
This one is probably the easiest. You can do this with video (see Nervous about starting a blog? (alt title: ‘JeffMcLeod.ca, a coming of age tale’)), pictures (see Big bank tries its hand at online marketing and doesn’t fail, kind of), and/or audio (I don’t have a good example for that…yet). Pictures is the bare minimum. Aim for about one picture per 300-400 words. There is no hard and fast rule, but that should work for you and usually 150×150 pixels is plenty large enough. I usually just search Google Images, or whenever possible use my own pics (here’s a great example of using your own pics to help tell the story: Year of Passion Blog) . Really what you want to do is make sure that you aren’t posting some massive brick of text that is hard on the eye. Even if the story, or bulleted list is great, break up the words with some eye candy.
What are your secrets to a great blog post?
There are more than 2.5 ways to skin a cat, and I’m pretty sure that cliche works for blogging too. What tips can you share? If you post a tip I will send you a copy of my whiz bang, super-duper, sales-driving, schedule-filling, I’m-gonna-make-a-client-out-of-you-yet, “Expert’s Guide to Writing Great Copy: The Definitive Quick and Dirty Guide”. Believe me, you don’t want to miss this!
Original post here.