Is there a formula for writing a great blog post every time?
Some doubt that a magic formula exists. I disagree.
I know it’s out there. In fact, I can feel in my bones when I’ve written a zinger. I bet you can too. Better yet, I’m 90% accurate in predicting when another blogger’s post will go viral. I’m not special. I just believe that all of us know a great story when we hear one. The story-telling gene is hardwired into our DNA, and subconsciously, we know when a blog post “clicks.”
What is it then?
My Search for the Great Content Formula
My office bookshelf is cluttered with evidence of my decade-old obsession. Headline-writing books, copywriting courses, back issues of the National Enquirer – all offer clues of how my journey has meandered between the arcane and the fanciful. I would like to say that the answer lay hidden in these marketing tomes. But that’s not the case.
Actually, I didn’t get my first real clue to the Great Content Formula until I read Patrick Lencioni’s book Death by Meeting. The book presents a business parable (“One-Minute Manager” style) about an executive management team struggling to have truly productive meetings. Strange place to get blogging help, right?
Well, in the book, Patrick highlights a critical component of capturing and holding a groups attention: conflict.
Get the book for an in-depth romp through Patrick’s thinking here. But recall any amazing movie or television show. I’ll bet you that there is a healthy dose of conflict. The hero (protagonist) must battle the villain (antagonist) to achieve a goal. Your attention is riveted to the unfolding story as you wonder how the conflict will be resolved.
Taking a cue from Patrick, I thought about the blog posts that go viral and capture attention. Guess what?
They all had conflict.
Hold on to that for a second while I explain the second ingredient for “Great content.”
I believe that the devil’s most useful weapon is inertia. We go about our lives living each day like the last. We get into a rut, call it comfort, and slowly waste away our potential with remote in hand and butt firmly affixed to the couch.
However, every once in a while, we see or hear a story that makes our heart race or our blood boil. Immediately, we lean forward in our chairs and decide to do something. The inspiration is mental adrenaline that kicks us out of our lethargy. Inspiration is powerful stuff.
In Dan Zarrella’s latest ebook, Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness, he highlights the power of “good news” for building a large social media following. Simply, positive, upbeat tweets attract followers. Interesting. For that matter, I’ve seen firsthand how my inspirational posts outperform my “Debbie downer” rants.
We’re not done yet, though. We need to add one more practical variable to the formula.
People love to hate “list” posts. These quick-hit, how-to posts are wildly popular on the one hand and reviled by substantive publishers on the other. I’m in the love ’em camp. Why? They are incredibly practical and immediately useful. I don’t have to plow through 1,000 words of prose to get to the useful stuff, just scroll to the bullets and start applying.
If you take a step back, you can see that offering info that is practical and applicable is a win-win. That’s why the best posts always have a bit of application tucked into them.
You put it all together and get:
Great Content = Conflict + Inspiration + Application
Here’s How It Works…
Before you start writing, find the conflict in your story.
For example, if you write about Attention Deficit Disorder, then your hero can be holistic, non-pharmaceutical alternatives for treatment. The villain could be rampant misdiagnosis. Start your post by setting the scene and introducing the characters.
Offer your perspective. Make your viewpoint authentic and positive. Give your readers the gift of the “silver lining.” Show them all the ways that the hero wins in your story.
Show them how to get positive results in their own life. Simplify complex solutions, and break them down into repeatable steps. Make your application so easy that it feels natural.
At first, the whole process will seem too hard, but stick with it. You’ll be rewarded with a breakthrough blog post that will get noticed and shared.
One More Assignment…
Tell me about your post when you write it. Leave a comment below telling me about how you plan to apply the Great Content Formula to your blog writing. I can’t wait to celebrate your work with you.