Pop quiz: What was the last thing you looked at online?
Chances are, whether it was an article about productivity on Buffer or a decidedly unproductive cat GIF on an anonymous Tumblr blog, the only reason you clicked on it in the first place was because it filled a need that you wanted serviced.
Sometimes the compelling content you’re looking for takes the form of a long-form case study; other times it’s packaged as a listicle; still others come in the form of a video or GIF.
What all great web content has in common, regardless of whether the information it conveys is financial or feline, is that it fulfills the need you have at one particular moment to consume said content.
If you want to grow your business through creating compelling blog content, everything boils down to asking the fundamental question of what your customers want and how you can use your blog to help them get there. That’s where we’ll begin.
What if your customers wrote for your blog?
Darren: “In order to achieve any amount of success with your content, you need to remember who you’re writing for. Certainly any successful blog post is written with the audience in mind.”
Nathan: If you misinterpret what your audience wants, or what they’ll react to, you’re writing a post that simply will not connect, regardless of how technically superior it may be. The best way to put yourself in those shoes is to be an audience. Sit down as a reader and consume content from a similar outlet, and see how it makes you feel. Pick apart what resonates and what doesn’t from other work you admire, and learn from that.
What content would your customers create, if they wrote your blog? As long as you’re wedded to concepts that appeal to your audience, you’re on the right track to building the sort of remarkable, enriching content that will establish your reputation as an authority in your industry, drive traffic to your website, and increase your revenue.
Start with a title and go from there.
Darren: “The first step I take to create compelling blog content is conceive the title for a blog post. I spend as much time as needed hashing out the ideal title, which forces me to think in advance about the opener, the closer, and the crux of the story. The title should, in some way, tell the story. By deciding on the title first, I create something of a quick outline for the whole piece in my head, and that allows me to spot any holes and instantly judge whether it’s a post worth pursuing.”
Nathan: If there wasn’t so much data on the subject it would be a trite cliché, but about 40% of readers never make it past the title when they click—if they click—on a blog post in the first place. No matter how useful your content is, it needs a title that speaks volumes to elevate it above the white noise. A particularly handy gadget for conceiving killer blog titles is the free Coschedule headline analyzer, which grades potential headlines on the type of words they contain, sentence structure, and other metrics which have a direct impact on clickability.
There’s no need to resort to using clickbait titles to draw in readers—in fact, I discourage you from doing so because it will probably drive away loyal audience members—but your title should be a worthy reflection of the content it speaks for.
Compelling content is genuine.
Darren: “Over time, I became a Top 50 blogger on the Techmeme Leaderboard. In my industry, that serves as a great resource for determining how much you’re connecting with the broader tech industry. Not every industry has that, but I’d recommend opening up comments and asking for feedback on social media. I was course-corrected countless times by commenters. It was tough love, but it was effective.”
Nathan: Try to appeal to emotions as well as reason. Be both informative as well as entertaining. That’s a significant step in grooming a loyal and effective readership.
A good tactic for engaging with your audience is to combine some level of personal anecdote with data. If you’re as stoked on the new iPhone 6S as everyone else and your piece is about the iPhone launch, then tell people! Your audience probably feels just as excited as you are, and only good things will come from building off each others’ excitement levels.
Once you’ve established an emotional connection, it’s important to reinforce your content with qualitative support. Share a relevant case study, an interview with a noteworthy source, or a link to compelling data that supports your main talking points.
The best method for getting a piece to go viral is to be genuine, and offer up something that can’t easily be found elsewhere. If you put in the effort to get a scoop or a highly unique perspective, it eventually pays off. That’s about as close to a “secret” as there is when it comes to creating viral content.
Finishing with a Jedi mind-trick call to action
Darren: “It really boils down to how impactful the post is. If it’s full of useful, new, pertinent information, it’ll probably do well. If it’s largely rehashed material or a flat opinion, it probably won’t. For some articles, I do like to ask for commenters to share their own experiences, but in many cases, simply having a strong opinion will imply that you’re yearning for conversation. To me, that’s the best kind of call to action – the subtle one that doesn’t require an outright question.”
Nathan: On the other hand, if your content is largely rehashed material, or your opinion about the topic at hand comes off as flat, there’s very little chance of engaging with your audience. The best way for your content to avoid vanishing off the face of the Internet the moment you write it, is to have an opinion that’s strong enough to inspire conversation in the comments section without you even having to ask a question at all.
If you can write blog content with that degree of subtlety, you stand a great chance of cultivating a dynamic audience and building a successful business.
Join Darren’s class on How to Write Blog Content that Drives Traffic and become a blogging pro, today.
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