Seth Godin said in an interview a couple of years ago that everyone should start a blog.
The first thing I thought to myself was “Yeah right! As if I have anything useful to share with anyone”.
Fast forward a couple of years down the road and I find myself writing a blog post that grew my e-mail list from 0 to 1000 within two months.
And here is how I started.
When I first did some research on how to start a blog that people would actually want to read, most of it was tactics. How to set up a blog, SEO guidelines and headline copy. There was no clear guideline on how to write hardcore value that brings a unique perspective.
I decided to learn how to write content that connects with people. I did this by experimenting on multiple online platforms such as Quora, Medium, and Reddit.
I made sure that in my signature I would link to a newsletter that people could sign up to. I did this using the Tiny Letter tool. After I broke the 1000 subscribers milestone I decided to shift to MailChimp.
I got 614 subscribers in my first month of writing and 420 more in May with just 5 blog posts. I didn’t focus on SEO. I didn’t focus on spamming my work all over social media. I just wrote until I found a formula where I use psychology and powerful storytelling techniques that help me understand my audience and connect better with their needs.
I did this by incorporating these 6 elements in most of my blog posts.
Every time before I publish I check if I have these elements present. Below you will find a more detailed description of each.
The 3 types of blog posts that get read are usually the following:
- Useful ones that show you how to achieve something
- Entertaining ones that keep your audience amused or hooked
- Stuff that is trending like major events in a certain period
No matter which angle you approach while writing your content you must make it interesting. The key is to tell a story. Wrap it up in a personal experience. Present it as a journey. The reader should feel like they are discovering something together with the writer.
Is your content something that solves an urgent need? Or is it just something that’s nice to know.
Learning how to knit gloves might be more important for someone living in Alaska than someone who is living in Hawaii.
Learning how to do yoga might not be that important when your target demographics are more interested in how to ace job interviews or get promoted faster.
Learn what your audience actually needs. Focus to solve that problem. You could even write a really long blog post about a certain topic and then publish it in episodes. This way your content is easier to digest. It also builds up like a journey.
When writing a blog or creating content in general, everyone tries to adopt the image of the ultimate expert. More often than not that creates a huge distance between you and your readers. They can’t relate to your content because it seems that you come from totally different realities. That’s why movies have such a big success when implementing the Hero’s Journey. Someone starts from an unfavorable situation (that most of us can relate with) and wins.
Most common examples, especially in writing, are headlines like the following:
“This is how I went from being homeless and broke to making my first million $”
“This is how I got 100k views on my first blog post without any connections”
“This is how I lost 30 kg of fat and gained 10 kg of lean muscle”
4. Self Interest
What’s the key to appealing to someone’s self-interest? Simple, you develop your empathy first.
Most people start a blog because they want to develop their passion or make some passive income. The problem with this mindset is that all the focus is on the “I”, rather than the reader.
5. Has a Twist
3 million blog posts get published each day on the internet. You might believe most topics are already covered. This is the main reason a lot of people never start a blog. They feel like the market is saturated.
What sets apart an extraordinary writer from the crowd? The key is to bring your own personal touch.
- Every person thinks differently.
- Every person has different experiences.
- Every person communicates in a unique way.
Bring your own twist by incorporating unique graphics in your blog posts. Use clever anecdotes that approach subjects from a different angle. Write counterintuitive advice nobody has mentioned before.
If you want your content to be more than just a good feeling you need to provide a solid action plan. Your readers need a framework they can start implementing right away.
This can come in the form of a checklist, Gantt chart or an outline. For example, this is the outline I used in one of my recent posts about overcoming anxiety.
This is the general outline I use:
- A common issue that affects a lot of people (interesting)
- The empathy build-up:
- Why it is important to be informed about (need)
- How it affected me (relatable)
- How to improve your own situation (self-interest)
- The twist is provided by the catchy drawings
- Specific lessons you can use to better yourself (actionable)
Here are 3 tools that will help you understand what people are looking for.
- Go on Quora and type in the search box keywords related to your interests. See what people are asking for. Check what are the most upvoted answers and try to understand why.
- Go on Buzzsumo and type your interest in the search box and see what the most shared blog posts are related to that topic.
- Go to Answer the Public and type in your interest and you will see the format of questions people are asking online.
To create content that connects with your audience, implement these elements in your writing process. The key is to understand that you are not just publishing words on a web page – you are writing to actual people that need your help.
After I grew my e-mail list I decided to start my own blog where I have all my posts in one place. I write about habits, psychology and how to create remarkable work. Check it out here: Rule Your Way
Guest Author: Andrei is a blogger that deconstructs topics regarding creative work, human behavior, and methods to break through procrastination. You can read his personal blog at www.ruleyourway.com