Entrepreneurs seeking venture capital funding will often get asked “Are you selling vitamins or a painkiller?”
The investor wants to know if their new product is “nice to have” or “essential” to the startup’s future customers. There isn’t a “right” answer to this question. The key is understanding what type of product the startup plans to sell.
Your blog posts fall into similar categories:
These posts strengthen and enhance a current action, perspective, or belief.
My blog posts about goal setting, positive mindset, and being an expert are examples of vitamin posts. Vitamin posts are innately inspirational and self-affirming.
These posts remove danger or alleviate pain.
They are urgent, sharp and actionable. Readers read painkiller posts because their health, wealth, or self is in emotional and sometimes physical danger. Painkiller posts start with examining the danger, offering a solution, and pushing (sometimes ruthlessly) the reader to take action.
Both types of posts are essential for your editorial calendar. Both can and should be used to help readers in specific ways.
When To Use Vitamin Posts
Vitamin Posts work best with your existing repeat reader base. These readers have “bought in” to your style and approach. They see your blog as a place to rub shoulders with fellow tribe members and get information that reinforces their existing mindset.
These posts serve as a rallying cry for your readers deepening your relationship with them.
For Pushing Social, 60% of our posts are vitamins. My natural tendency is to write vitamin posts because I’m a motivator. But, while vitamin posts feel good to write they aren’t effective attention grabbers. They aren’t essential to read.
When to Use Painkiller Posts
What annoys, angers, or scares your audience?
What are they desperately trying to avoid?
Painkiller posts offer the antidote and the fix. You readers can’t ignore painkiller posts doing so could jeopardize their job, the next promotion, their health, or an important relationship.
Painkiller posts are insanely popular. Their siren song attracts thousands of readers and incite enthusiastic sharing. But like cotton candy, too many Painkiller posts will turn your blog into a fire and brimstone bully pulpit ultimately numbing and driving readers away.
Even though I don’t enjoy writing them, I studiously devote 40% of my editorial schedule to painkillers.
Tip: Blog update subscribers get a steady dose of vitamin email and posts.
How to Write Vitamin Posts
I use a simple outline and write these posts. It looks like this:
1. State the Shared Belief
Example: “The best content marketers are relentless creators who focus on shipping their best work everyday”
2. Establish A Connection
Example: “As a Pushing Social reader you understand the need to show up and commit taking action. We are entrepreneurs not wishpreneurs”
3. Give A Boost
Example: “Sometimes shipping is hard to do. Sometimes it is a lack of motivation or simply fatigue. Here’s how to inspire yourself to dig in and ship one more time….”
4. The Butt Slap
Example: “You rock. You have what it takes to make your dreams happen. Use what we’ve discussed to get over the hump today. The world is yours – take it.”
I usually spike the vitamin with music or a video like so:
How are you feeling? Reading the examples probably got your blood pumping just a bit and gave you a jolt of focus and energy. That’s what a good vitamin post does.
How to Write Painkiller Posts
I like to use my “Villain” template to outline painkillers. Take a look
1. Describe the Danger (AKA: The Villain)
Example: “Silence sucks. Are you sick of seeing blog traffic numbers permanently pegged in the single digits?
2. Describe the Implications of Doing Nothing. Be truthful. Just state the facts.
Example: “You can’t grow a business with a blog that isn’t attracting readers. You need readers to build a list of prospects. You can’t offer your product to an empty room.”
3. Outline the Solution (AKA: The Painkiller)
Example: “The easiest way to get an immediate bump in traffic is to get more traffic from your social channels. Start with Twitter…”
4. Push for Action
Example: “Tomorrow’s traffic report will look like today’s unless you take action. Select one of the tactics, put it into action, write “complete” in the comments when you’re finished.”
Reading the examples probably red-lined your adrenal glands. There’s real danger. There are real and painful repercussions for doing nothing.
These posts are powerful. But make sure you responsible, integrity focused, and generous with your solutions. You never want to leave your reader with half-an-answer.
Take a Look At Your Editorial Calendar
New Blogs (Less than 1000 readers a month)
Consider a Vitamin/Painkiller mix of 40% Vitamin and 60% Painkiller. You need to use painkillers to get new readers and define your approach to solving your reader’s problems.
Growing Blogs (1000 – 5000 readers a month)
It’s likely that 20-30% of your traffic comes from repeat readers. You want to keep these folks around so calibrate you mix to an even 50% Vitamins and 50% Painkillers.
Large Blogs (10,000+ readers)
At this point you should have a good idea of the type of posts needed to continue growing your blog while keeping your core readership happy and plugged-in. I suggest a 60% vitamin and 40% Painkiller split but watch your traffic to see if you need to add more Painkillers to the mix.
Time to get to work. What type of posts do you need to write?