By Danny Iny
Writing a blog post isnâ€™t enough.
Sure, itâ€™s nice to see your words published for the world to see, but thatâ€™s a hollow victory if the world isnâ€™t interested.
What you want is a blog post that performs; a post that gets read, gets commented, gets shared, and maybe even gets people to buy your stuff.
And unfortunately, most blog posts donâ€™t fit this description. They donâ€™t lead to action, they donâ€™t evoke interest, and in many cases they arenâ€™t even read past the first paragraph.
The good news is that this doesnâ€™t have to be you…
â€œWhy donâ€™t people like my writing?â€
The cause of all these blunders is that most bloggers donâ€™t know what the problem really is.
These well-intentioned, hard-working bloggers think itâ€™s all about their writing. Why donâ€™t people like it? Why arenâ€™t people sharing it?
Well, the truth is that it isnâ€™t about the writing â€“ itâ€™s about the reader.
Your writing could be great, just not well-aligned with your target reader. And if thatâ€™s the case, it wonâ€™t get read, wonâ€™t get commented, and wonâ€™t get shared (even if itâ€™s great).
So how do you align your writing with your reader?
It starts with homework…
Blunder #1: Not Doing Your Homework
I donâ€™t just mean finding out who your target audience is.
Sure, you need to identify your ONE person, and do the demographic and psychographic profiling that will give you a clear picture of who they are and what theyâ€™re about.
But the homework Iâ€™m talking about is very specific. Itâ€™s homework to research the target blog that youâ€™re going to write for â€“ whether itâ€™s yours, or someone elseâ€™s. Hereâ€™s how you do it:
First, make a list of the 10 most popular posts on the site, based on whatever metric the site is tracking (comments, shares, etc.). Then, list the topics covered by each of these posts.
Odds are, youâ€™ll find that at least half of the posts are about the same 2-3 topics.
Ta-da: now you know what the blog readers want to read. So pick one of those topics, and get to work!
Now you need to avoid blunder #2, which comes with the headline…
Blunder #2: Bad Headline
Donâ€™t try to be clever, or reinvent the wheel. The headline is too important to mess with!
The best way to get it right is by relying on what you already know is going to work. You can do this with templates, like Jon Morrowâ€™s Headline Hacks, but the very best way Iâ€™ve found to create a winning headline quickly, easily, and without a lot of margin for error is by copying what works on the blog youâ€™re writing for (again, whether thatâ€™s someone elseâ€™s blog, or your own).
Go back to the list you just created of the blogâ€™s 10 most popular posts, and look for patterns. Youâ€™ll probably find that at least half of them follow the same couple of patterns. For example, on Copyblogger, about half of the most popular posts follow one of the following two patterns:
- [NUMBER] of [SOMETHING] about [SOMETHING]
- What [SOMETHING] can teach you about [SOMETHING]
These are fairly common patterns that will often work well, but the real key is to do this kind of analysis on the blog that youâ€™re targeting (even if itâ€™s your own).
This research shows you what sort of headlines the readers that you are targeting already respond to, and makes it easy for you to grab their attention and give them what they want.
Now thereâ€™s just one last blunder to avoid, and youâ€™re off to the races…
Blunder #3: Reader Isnâ€™t Hooked
The third common blogging blunder is jumping straight into the meat of the post, without giving the reader a real reason to care first.
Thatâ€™s what the hook is for, and itâ€™s critical to write a good one!
The hook is the few paragraphs at the top of the post, whose job it is to get the reader interested enough to keep reading through to the end.
So how do you write a good one?
The answer is by writing about symptoms. Not problems, not solutions, and not implementation, but symptoms â€“ the symptoms of the problem that the reader has, that youâ€™re going to show them how to get rid of (like I did at the top of this post: â€œ…unfortunately, most blog posts donâ€™t fit this description. They donâ€™t lead to action, they donâ€™t evoke interest, and in many cases they arenâ€™t even read past the first paragraph.â€).
Itâ€™s that simple. Describe the readerâ€™s reality in painful, excruciating detail. Thatâ€™ll get their attention.
Then you can get to the meat of the post and show them how to fix it.
How to Avoid the Blunders
If you can avoid these three blunders, youâ€™ll be way ahead of the curve â€“ but of course, these arenâ€™t the only blunders to avoid.
There are many, many more â€“ too many for me to list in a single post.
The good news is that they arenâ€™t all that hard to avoid, as long as you know what youâ€™re looking for, and how to navigate around them… as all successful bloggers have learned to do.
There are two ways for you to learn it, too.
- Thereâ€™s the time-old route of trial-and-error, which is great if youâ€™ve got some time, and youâ€™re good at paying attention to what is working and what isnâ€™t, and improving with every iteration.
- You can adopt a system that guides you towards a successful finish, without having to worry about the pitfalls along the way.
You can probably guess that Iâ€™m an advocate of systems.
Not just my own, but any good one â€“ just like crossing on green eliminates the hassle of navigating traffic, a good system will take the guesswork out of the process, and let you focus on great writing, and enjoy great results.
So find a system that works for you, and then fire up your word processor, and start writing!
Danny Iny (@DannyIny) skyrocketed his industry-leading marketing blog to success by writing 80+ guest posts on major blogs in less than a year (earning him the nickname â€œThe Freddy Krueger of Bloggingâ€). Now he teaches others how to do the same in his Write Like Freddy blog writing training program.
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