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How to Write a Blog Post That Drives Traffic

Lesson 6 of 10

What Makes a Great Story?

Darren Murph

How to Write a Blog Post That Drives Traffic

Darren Murph

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Lesson Info

6. What Makes a Great Story?


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:08:21
  Class Trailer
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1 What Makes a Great Story? Duration:15:22
2 Blog Post Components Duration:19:12
3 Understand Traffic & Growth Duration:08:33

Lesson Info

What Makes a Great Story?

I want to start this segment talking about a great story and more on the question of what makes a great story uh it's pretty easy to see t just say oh that's that's a great story I heard this that was an awesome story but breaking it down into why it was a great story is really helpful for bloggers trying to put together their own great story remember I mentioned that blogging is more like storytelling then then actually writing and so if your storytelling probably makes sense to know what a good story is so I want to go to the second point here give tangible, actionable advice you know, a lot of great stories uh they have a hook of some kind and when it comes to blogging oftentimes that hook is in the form of advice and so you have to assume that people are coming to you uh they want to be informed they want to be entertained but they also want something out of it you have to give them some reason to return and giving them actionable tangible device is a great way to do that be relata...

ble of sympathetic this always this goes back to conversational but it's an important thing to remember on the the case of the flood victims being relatable and sympathetic is crucial without that you're going to come across as tone deaf and probably won't get a lot of repeat visitors solve problems and offer opinions if you understand your audience, then hopefully you understand their problems and their needs especially with small businesses you understands the things that the client needs maybe even before they know they need it. So if you really understand the wedding photography business, you understand what goes on throughout the day grable toe think about that in advance and talk to them about what they're going to need on if you offer the solution before they even think about it uh it resonates quite well, so I wantto want togo the whiteboard here and just ask this question and get a few answers what's an element that seems to appear in every great movie book played drama that you've seen and there are many it's not like there's one element but I'm just I'm just curious what comes to mind romance all right, complex conflict that's an amazing one suspense green growth all right, surprise, surprise relatable characters yeah, so the reason I asked you to do this is that regardless of where you're at and what you're blogging about, they're going to be some elements that I need to be there uh and these are things that are in most every block post particularly conflict relate ability if you're telling a story or writing a block post and there's no friction at all there's no conflict there's no problem where's the hook like why are you going to stick around? And I'm not saying it has to be a problem in the sense of something very negative it could just be you're looking for x I offer why that's a problem that's a conflict and if you present that someone will say yeah, that that's exactly what I'm looking for I'm gonna hang around for the conclusion the conclusion is another thing that is in every great movie book or drama there's some sort of resolution to whatever that conflict is and relatability it's it's the reason why people go to comedies and they laugh because they relate to whatever it's funny movie romance is an interesting one because while we might not have romance in the traditional term, uh, you do have some elements of that and everything you're right. If it's not romance again from a technical perspective, people probably are going to stick around. So even if you don't have romance in the traditional sense, it is nice to think about. So I want to look at a few examples here on what makes a great headline. So we're going we're going to go over a few elements of what makes a great story and we're going to start from the very top literally with with a great headline your article can be made with a great headline, but it can be ruined with a terrible headlines so headlines are very, very important on in some of the bonus material lay out a template for what is involved in every block post and things that you can think about with every block post regardless of what your writing and it really all starts with the headline and when I was training people in engadget, I told them to focus on the headline first before they thought about anything else and that's actually counter to what a lot of people think they just want to get right into it they just want start writing and then they'll come back and then they'll try to put a headline toe whatever they wrote but actually don't agree with that. I think if you put together the headline first off so much thought has to go into that that much of your block post will already be written at least in your head by the time you get to that if you've put in the upfront effort for heaven so let's look at a few examples here um the unfair truth about how creative people really succeed I like this headline for a couple of reasons first of all, the conflict is very obvious you have the word unfair and they're so immediately you're just thinking ah what's unfair I have to figure this out I have to read maur what what is what is unfair and then you tell me that there's truth, so you already hint at the fact that there's going to be some resolution, I'm going to get something out of this. There will be a truth if I read further and then the really that's a subtle word there, but it gives me a clue that you're going to talk about you're gonna dispel the myth may be multiple myths and get to the core of something, so I'm really hopeful that this is really going to deliver for a couple of reasons. I'm not a huge fan of list ical lt's things that have numbers in the headline like twenty seven ways you know you're from north carolina. Well, if your birth certificate says way really need an article this says twenty seven reasons you know you're from north I am, uh if if you couldn't tell, very very proud of that, but I'm not a huge fan of lis tickles, but the reason I pointed this out is that this is a list ical headline that is done well. Thirty questions to ask your kid instead of how was your day? The reason I love this is that is actually a real problem if you talk to any parent and they rushed through their work day, they pick up their kids. How is your day is the first thing that comes out of your mouth? I mean I've just been around enough parents to know that happens more often than not and so if this is this was on a parenting block it's it's they know the target audience that's a great thing to have is a headline because immediately when I read that I say I'm actually interested in knowing what this is because I think I'm going toe learn something that will help build a relationship with someone I really care about and who can argue with that? So these air two good ones I want to take a look at a terrible headline or two so we'll start with this one here on the left the on ly one skill that comma if you have comma will completely change your life like a great I'm glad I'm glad I'm getting cem cem laughs from the crowd because I was hoping I wasn't crazy and thinking this was really bad first of all it's basically a paragraph the fact is you have two commas in a headline I mean there aren't many headlines that that are deserving of of two commas the other is that it's just incredibly sensation channel and I have to say in the blogging realm sensationalism has taken off off late and there have actually been some publications that have done quite well milking the sensationalist aspect but again thinking long term how are those publications gonna hang around? Is that really going to work long time? Is that really the thing you want to build your reputation on the quick hook, the quick sensation? Probably not so this one is just way over sensationalized there's there's just no way there's one skill that if you have it will completely change your life because if there were we'd all already know about it it would be on every medium everywhere on every billboard it wouldn't be on someone's black trust me so this other one how to lose weight in four easy steps okay, so right out of the gate all cabs you're yelling it like I already have a weight problem and now you're going to yell at me, it's just a just a terrible introduction, you know, I feel like we're getting off on the wrong foot right away if I'm coming to this blogged it's about it's, a fitness blogger health flog you really don't need to be condescending please don't use all caps and yell at may and honestly for easy steps. It's not easy to lose weight it's not easy to commit to a workout or commit to a diet so by saying easy, it really you're you're sensationalizing and you're kind of putting down the real effort that's going to be required likes oh yeah a thousand lice but the thing is are those likes that you really want to need we're going to get to that in a bet it has a thousand likes and that's a fair point and four hundred comments but if if I drilled down into that, those comments were from people that will never come back because this headline is very catchy and you might be tempted to click into it but will you return? Is this the kind of thing that you want to build your reputation so let's make it better I wantto take to the board here let's see if we can improve these headlines just a bit and there's no necessarily a right or wrong answer but let's start with this really long winded one over here does anybody have just any any suggestions for maybe what to remove or what to change be gay skill that will change your life okay let's go with a skill instead of the on ly one we're just toning it down yes okay I'm still gonna put that I'm gonna put that down here as well so tone it down, okay? Anything else? Well they can because they're making a promise they probably can't I like that so don't promise something that you can't make good on don't over promise all right anything else your life because change doesn't necessarily mean it's a good thing I like that very good is proven going with the tone it down take out the word completely yeah completely uh it's an unnecessary word that just further complicates things all right, anything else before we moved in the next one I think just in general what I want to drill home on this one is that simplification goes a long way. So when you're thinking about creating your own headlines tell as much as you need to get the point across without going way over the top so whenever you look at it think can this be simplified? And if the answer is yes then then do it all right, so let's goto number two anything we can do here to make this one a little less insane? Yeah, I would want to go back to what makes a good story because you see in the first paragraph that it's told through the first person yeah, so the author might say, uh I lost weight in these four steps agreed okay, so yeah, I'm going to say relatability is is a big key and, uh first person yeah, the real tragedy of this post is that a lot of the content is actually pretty good, but the headlined that did did it no no services whatsoever so eight thousand likes it could have done a lot better with a better headline because the content is actually pretty solid, all right, any other suggestions on this one eighty pounds in the headline because us that's attention grabbing yeah and it's a tangible number that this person actually can make the promise on like we actually lost eighty pounds so it's not a sensational thing in this context so if you've got amazing statistic that you can make good on your mind it's all use it yeah, I'm just going to state the obvious we gotta lose the all caps all cats are terrible as I as I write in all caps that's right that's, right? So a question about that though it seems like some wordpress programs default all caps for headlines yeah weekend of course change that but anyway that's just something I've run into yeah, it is it has been used stylistically it's been an intentional thing in the past, but I wouldn't if anything I would say capitalize the first letter is like here take it or leave it there if you wanna have caps on the beginning of the other letters but all caps is it's a bit of a turtle, a question in the chat room relating to this creativity muse says how about putting the headlines in the form of a question? Would you maybe want to say like, do you want to lose weight in four easy steps? Would that be a good change? It would be having a question in the headline can be a great call it action. If you can't deliver on it, I still would recommend not putting easy in there just because it's sort of degrades what it actually takes, because it may seem easy to him now that he's done it. But honestly, in the process, it's, not it's, not very easy, that's, one of those things of being a bit tone deaf to the audience, especially if people are coming to this block for help on that. Telling them is going to be easy, is not necessarily providing them with hope. It's probably a big going, going to come across as a bit condescending, so that's good. Well, we've got some practice on shaping that up.

Class Description

New writers routinely have trouble finding steady work, but it doesn’t have to be such a struggle. Put yourself on a path to long-term success and learn how to thrive in the freelance workforce in How to Write a Blog Post That Drives Traffic with Darren Murph.

Darren is the former editor-at-large for Engadget and holds the Guinness World Record® for being the most prolific professional blogger.

 In this class, Darren will help budding writers and bloggers:

  • Improve your writing skills
  • Spot the details others are missing
  • Build a portfolio that's too impressive to ignore
You’ll learn about the inner workings of publications and what editors are looking for in a writer or blogger. Darren will tell you which authors and publications to pay attention to and he’ll explain what kind of, and how much, work is involved in becoming a great writer. You’ll develop more clarity on how to improve, market, and monetize your work.

Develop the skills that will give you a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace in How to Write a Blog Post That Drives Traffic with Darren Murph.


Tom Jamieson

As a new writer, I found this fantastic. Darren was a pleasure to listen to and I would happily recommend this to anyone who is starting out writing for the first time in regards to a small business blog, which is the area that I am coming from. He probably has taught me to use fewer words, but that can wait until tomorrow. Great class Darren

Dawn Pedersen

There was a lot of good content here for anyone new to blogging. I am not new to it, but I did gain some insight. Just a note: the 4 EASY STEPS TO LOSE WEIGHT was an intentionally satirical/ironic headline, which you discover once you get to step 3. Step 3 was "getting your heart broken", which I'm guessing anyone would agree is actually far from easy. The humor and sudden depth of meaning are the reason the post got so many likes and comments.

a Creativelive Student

I thought this was a good course on writing effective blog posts. It didn't seem to be too focused on driving traffic, however, his way of presenting his thoughts and tips were easy to watch in a single shot. Great course for non-writers who are trying to become writers!