You’re sitting at your desk, sipping coffee, gearing up for a productive day and…
Out of nowhere, an idea for a great blog post pops in your head.
You know it would be a huge mistake to let this idea slip by, so you immediately start pecking at the keyboard.
Thirty minutes into the writing session, you lean back in your chair, put your hands behind your head, and say to yourself, “Wow, what in world is this BS?”
Backspace, backspace, backspace. Now you’re frustrated and that frustration instantly kills the creative process. So you take a break. After your blood has stopped boiling, you decide to take another stab at it…and the exact same thing happens again.
Maybe you try a couple more times, but to prevent further self-destruction, you eventually convince yourself the idea wasn’t so good after all and toss it in the garbage.
Sound familiar? Let’s figure out how to put an end to that.
Pinning Down the Disease That Plagues Unsuccessful Bloggers
The writing process above — if you can call it a process — is the single most devastating disease that plagues would-be successful bloggers. It’s one of the primary reasons tens of thousands of blogs are updated for a couple months, and then quickly turn into an abandoned wasteland.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re up against a wall every time they try to take an idea from mind to paper (or computer screen).
The thing is you can’t change how ideas are generated. They fly in at the strangest times — while you’re taking a shower or thinking about everything except blogging.
Ideas come to every blogger in basically the same fashion — randomly and spontaneously. They give no warning. They bring no set of instructions about how to most effectively use them. They just show up, sit on your desk, and stare at you.
(Ideas are actually creepy little guys when you think about it.)
The beginning of your creative process is always going to feel like it’s on a crumbling cliff edge, because getting an idea is little more than a random, spontaneous burp of the universe.
If You Can’t Change the Way You Generate Ideas, What Can You Change?
What separates you from the successful bloggers who seemingly have no trouble pumping out amazing content in short periods of time?
If it’s not the way they generate ideas, it has to be how the ideas are managed once they spring up, right?
Surprisingly, the answer isn’t all that complicated: You need a structured writing process and a post template that has been proven effective.
There’s No Such Thing as “Sweating Out” A Great Blog Post
You get from Point A to Point B by having a strategy, not by stressing and cursing at a keyboard. I’ve had days where I fumbled around on the keyboard for hours only to come up with a mediocre 1,000 word post.
That’s not the way blogging should be and it’s downright destructive to the creative mentality.
Efficient and effective bloggers — the Brian Clarks, Derek Halperns, and Danny Inys of the blogosphere — are those who follow a simple, yet flexible, structure when they get an idea.
And the beauty of it all? Anyone can replicate the process even if you’re a beginner. That’s not to imply replicating the process will instantly put your blog on the level of Copyblogger or Problogger, but it is a major step in the right direction.
So what is this post structure I keep alluding to?
The secret is in the image below.
Start funneling your ideas through the structure below and I guarantee the creative block described at the beginning of this post will become less and less threatening.
(Click the image below to enlarge – Credit to Derek Halpern of Social Triggers)
Like this? Learn how to use psychology to get more traffic and sales with Social Triggers
Let’s walk through the most important parts of the image, shall we?
The purpose of your headline is to grab attention and get people to read your opening. That’s all.
- Lose the fancy adjectives and SAT words. Speak in simple English.
- Lose the puns. They’re rookie comedy and lack persuasive value.
- Tell the truth. The truth is the best marketing gimmick around.
If you’re creating headlines for any purposes other than increasing click-throughs and scroll-downs, you’ve missed the point.
I highly recommend Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks if getting people in the door is a struggle for you. Jon is the Associate Editor at Copyblogger, so let’s just say he knows his way around creating effective headlines.
(Side Note: You’ll probably start noticing a trend soon.)
The purpose of your opening is to get people to read your opening and get hooked into the content. That’s all.
This section of your post should illustrate a problem your target reader is experiencing and leave them wanting to read more.
If visitors read the opening of your post, it means two things:
- Your headline grabbed their attention and this is a post that interests them.
- They’re very likely to continue reading your post, because they’re interested in the topic and they’ve already made a time investment.
The takeaway? Work disproportionately hard on your opening. If you can get people to read your intro, you’ll have people reading the rest of the post more often than not.
The Importance of Images in Your Opening
Surprisingly, there’s been a fair amount of research done on the subject of online reading behavior.
For bloggers, one of the most relevant conclusions of this research is sentences which stretch far across the screen tend to discourage reading.
This means you should do your best to include an image (usually right-aligned) in your post’s opening, because it decreases the perceived length of your sentences and increases the likelihood of people reading your opening.
Your First Subheading and Content Section
Back to the trend: Getting people to read the beginning of your content is the purpose of your first subheading. Nothing more.
Readers are investing time and energy into reading your post — they need to know there’s a benefit for reading further.
Your first subheading should make a promise to the reader telling them exactly why reading your post will benefit them.
- “A Simple, Yet Powerful Formula for Generating Traffic”
- “How to Convert One-Off Customers Into Regular Customers”
- “How to Discover What to Sell Your Blog Readers”
Of course, it doesn’t end there. The content immediately following your promise should describe why the benefit is worth the time it takes to read your post.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a post endorsing a certain strategy used to grow your traffic three-fold. This first section is where you’ll want to show the reader this strategy works and why.
How do you show that?
Bring out the graphs, charts, and stats. Describe the time investments needed. Explain why this strategy is superior to any other strategy being used to grow traffic levels.
Then, give the reader a small piece of what’s to come in the next section of your post. Hook them just like you did with your opening.
Now you have eyeballs. You have an interested reader. You’ve made a promise. You’ve outlined the why of your post. The reader is waiting.
Your Second Subheading and Content Section
It’s time to deliver the prize: a step-by-step “how to” guide.
Lay out practical steps your reader can effectively start using tomorrow morning to solve whatever problem your post addresses.
Let’s face it: In a blogosphere where thousands upon thousands of people are trying to solve problems for readers, being known as a blogger who provides practical solutions and tangible results is sure to land your name in high places.
Don’t take this section lightly, because this is where you make or break the loyalty of your readers. No pressure!
Your Call to Action
Never leave yourself empty handed after investing so much passion and time into a blog post. You did the hard work and provided a service, so you deserve a reward for that.
Quite a few people, especially in digital marketing, believe consumers don’t like to buy things.
It’s a myth.
The truth of the matter is people love to buy things. What they hate, on the other hand, is buying something that doesn’t live up to its expected value.
If your post delivers results — true value — and you prove you can continue delivering on your promises, most readers won’t take issue with you asking for their email address or money.
Always have a call to action at the end of your post whether it’s a question that encourages comments, an email subscription opt-in box, or a relevant product for sale.
Making This Structure Your Own
If you notice, this post doesn’t follow every single detail of the post structure described. Everyone has a different approach to writing and it’s perfectly reasonable to find your own groove and comfort zone.
What’s really important is that you take away the core aspects of this structure and mold them into a process that helps you better manage your ideas.
- Describe a problem your reader is having.
- Promise the reader you have a method to solve this problem.
- Prove your solution is worth following — show them why they should listen to you.
- Promise the reader you know how to solve their problem.
- Walk them through the solution using actionable steps they can walk away with and immediately start putting to good use.
- Call them to action — encourage comments, ask for the sale, or prompt for an email subscription.
That’s the structure you want to follow. The details can be filled in to fit your personal writing style and approach.
What Do You Think?
I’d love to get your feedback in the comments. Have you used this structure to write any recent posts? Do you follow a similar posting template and find that it helps you manage ideas?
This post appears courtesy of MySocialGamePlan.com