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5 Simple Ways to Discover What People Are Dying to Read

This guest post is by Brad Smith of FixCourse.com.

Blogging doesn’t have to be hard.

It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, but it’s not technically difficult. Anyone can (and should) do it.

One of the hardest challenges to overcome is figuring out what your audience wants to read. You know, the type of epic content that gets shares, links, and traffic.

If you read through any blogger’s archives, you’ll notice that their writing evolves tremendously. But it’s not just the topics: the tone changes, the style changes, and even the format changes.

And if you look even closer, you’ll start to see a pattern of what people want to read.

You can do the same thing on your blog. You just need to know where to look for it. Here’s how.

The successful formula … and the clues you need to find

Most successful blog posts follow a formula. Here are the key elements that you need to get right.

Topic + Theme (USP) + Style + Format

  • Topic:Some topics are in more demand than others. For example, there’s a bigger demand for articles on social media and blogging than there are for plumbing.
  • Theme (USP): Now, how does that topic fit into your blog’s overall themes and unique positioning? It’s not enough to simply rehash popular topics. You need to take popular topics and connect them with a deeper meaning.
  • Style: Style is all about copywriting 101. The words you use, the way you write, your “voice,” and how you get people interested enough to read your entire blog post.
  • Format: Finally, the structure and format of your post will have a huge impact on your success. For example, how-to and list posts are some of the most common posts you’ll see, because they always work.

Your job is to pick up on these clues, and try to string them together in every blog post you write. Here are five ways to start finding and using what works well, while avoiding what doesn’t.

1. Start with your own most popular posts

Start by looking at your own blog. Which posts have been the most popular, and why?

Sometimes you think a post you’re about to publish is definitely going to go viral … and then it flops. Other times you’re afraid to publish a post because you hate it, and then people can’t get enough of it.

The truth is that you don’t really know what’s going to work before you try it. So learn how to innovate and start making little bets or experiments. Then let data be your guide, and see how they worked.

Take a look at your blog analytics and focus on a few key metrics. You can find the most popular posts by looking at visitors, views, social sharing, and comments.

If you have a large, active Facebook audience, then you can also use Facebook Insights to determine what people like. Focus on the engagement metrics and you’ll start to see the same patterns.

Now comb through these popular posts, and try to determine why they were so successful. Did you write more persuasively and go into greater detail? Maybe your use of storytelling made the lesson easy to connect with. Or maybe your topics were simply more popular. Whatever the reason, you should start to see patterns emerge that you can carry over into future posts.

2. Scan the popular posts of big blogs

Whenever you’re stuck, go back to the most popular blogs in your niche.

Take a few hours to scan through their popular posts, and take notes on what they write about and how they write. You can also start incorporating some deliberate practice to learn from the best and improve your writing.

In the book Talent is Overrated, you’ll find that deliberate practice is one of the main reasons Benjamin Franklin became such a great writer.

He literally took the best examples of writing that he admired, and began copying them word for word to pick up on the author’s voice and style. Then he would try writing the same passage in his own words, and compare the two. This was hours of painstaking work. But he was determined. The reason he became such a successful writer was because he isolated the specific elements that he wanted to improve, and then worked tirelessly.

Take a look at your favorite blogger’s popular posts. Print them out, and sit with pen and paper to write it out word by word. Then try rewriting it in your own voice and compare the two. Before long, you’ll start to internalize these lessons, and your writing will improve dramatically.

3. Submit your posts to social voting sites

Voting sites can give you insight into what people like, and what they don’t. The good stuff will be voted up quickly, and everything else will be ignored.

Each time you hit your blog’s Publish button, submit your posts to different voting sites. After some success, you’ll start to come across a certain topic or style that resonates with people. And if the post does take off, then you’ll know you found a winner.

Here are a few social voting sites that you can use today:

4. Write an article you know will be shared

There are certain types of posts that always do well. So before you even start writing, you should know if it will be successful or not. Let’s look at two of these post types: the how-to and the tactical article.

How-to articles

How-to articles are always successful because people love step-by-step detail. However don’t confuse length with depth. You should go over each section in great detail, but don’t just write fluff to fill space.

Instead of just telling readers about a specific technique, show them your thought processes, the actual implementation, and a real-world example. Use images and statistics if they help prove your case.

Valuable how-to posts have a level of attention to detail that makes the information easy to understand, and lets readers take action on the advice. Focus on providing value first, and the length will take care of itself.

For more information on the elements of a how-to post, read this great article from Neil Patel.

Tactical articles

People love tactics. They want that idea they can use today, or a secret shortcut that will save them from hard work. That’s why a post called “5 Twitter Hacks” will do well, even though these kinds of posts are so common. People are bombarded by messages all day long. They want simplicity. They want instant gratification.

So what’s an easy way to come up with these kinds of posts? Just think about your daily routine. How do you update Facebook, and why? The actual process and routine that you ignore could be helpful to other people who are struggling or just starting out. Show them a faster, better, or more beneficial way to do something, and they’ll love it—and likely share it with their friends.

5. Focus on topics using simple keyword research

People are already looking for specific content around your topics. You just need to give it to them. Start using keyword researchas a quick guide to figure out what topics are popular.

The easiest solution is to head over to the Google Keyword Tool, and start writing your major topics and keyphrases into the search box.

Then switch Match Types from Broad to Exact,because you want to narrow down the suggested keyphrases  to the closest matching options. Now start looking at Local Monthly Searches to get an idea of how popular these phrases are. All you’re looking for is the relative number ranges (because this data isn’t completely accurate). Here’s how the results might look.

AdWords research

Create a list of relevant, long-tail keyphrases (with about 500 Local Monthly Searches or less) and start creating content around these areas.

If you want to take this strategy one step further, then read Ian Lurie’s execellent post on data-driven content strategies.

Conclusion

Blogging takes determination and perseverance. But it’s not brain surgery.

You can use these five simple techniques to quickly discover what your audience loves and wants to read more of. Remember: the key to building a successful blog is doing more of what people like, and less of what they don’t.

Brad Smith is a digital marketing consultant who focuses on lead gen for businesses by getting more traffic, leads and sales online.

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Comments

  1. Great post Brad! I’ve used Google Adwords keyword tool in the past for some SEO tips which has worked really well. In addition, I’ve always tried to stay on the right side of my popular posts widget on my blog whilst mixing in some challenges and all so far have been quite successful.

    Thanks for sharing the rest of the tips! I’ll be checking them out on my own blog.

  2. Thanks for the great article! The “will it go viral” question always troubles me! Are there any non buisness related social voting sites you could recommend?

  3. tips4techs says:

    I just want to say I am all new to blogs and absolutely liked you’re blog site. Likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You definitely have really good articles. Regards for revealing your web page.

  4. Ehsan says:

    Hi Brad,
    This is wonderful post. Thanks for sharing such a great information with us.
    I have a question please answer it to me. I also want to write guest post for ProBlogger but don’t know where to send it?
    If my post is ready than where should I send to to get submitted at Problogger.net?
    Sorry for posting my question here, I have contacted Darren but he didn’t replied me yet. Can you please tell me how to get my guest post submit at ProBlogger?

  5. Sean Chang says:

    Hi Brad, thanks for the great tips.
    (And I seriously didn’t know there’s a social voting site for insurance articles!)

    Another tip I’ve found useful is to look at the the questions and comments left by the readers.

    Recurring topics in the comments usually indicate that there’s a need for a post that addresses it.

    Sometimes, a simple survey of the readers can also reveal what they’re interested in reading (which may often be different from what we thought).

    Looking forward to reading more of your articles.

    Cheers!

  6. Aj Banda says:

    This is great.. I must try this list of yours to drive more traffic on my sites. Thanks!

  7. Great Post Brad, I think now on social media people loves to read simple and easy to read article and that should not be too long but it should be concise as well as comprehensive so people easily understand that.
    I also doing in the same way as mixing my post’s with the popular post from my own blog and I also have widget on side bar where I shown popular post’s so people can go and read them any time they want to check.

    Thanks for sharing great tips!

  8. Chris @ NPI says:

    Thanks for great post, Brad. Especially your list of social voting sites looks encouragingly.
    BR, Chris

  9. Rags says:

    A great round-up Brad. Let’s see if I can implement some of these tips :)

  10. We just taught this last week, in our teen travel blogging mentorship program. Great tips – I’ll definitely share this with them!

    I also think that one key to a popular post is if readers can tell you’re passionate about the subject. Often, my most popular articles are ones where I felt strongly about the topic, and wrote relatively quickly because it just flowed.

    Thank you!

    • Brad Smith says:

      Great point. I think your personal interest in a topic/subject can shine through and get other people to feel emotionally engaged.

  11. Hi Brad, Thank you for these tips.
    It is very useful.

  12. Andreas says:

    Really nice article :)
    Every article on your blog is absolutely readable. I can learn something new here everyday.

    Thank you very much!

    Andreas

  13. financefitz says:

    Brad,

    Great tips. I have a question about your recommendation for using Digg, as I recently launched my blog. Should I submit my own posts to Digg or wait for someone else to submit the posts? I have read bloggers are penalized for submitting their own posts. I have found differences of opinion on the correct protocol, and would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks again for all the info.

    • Brad Smith says:

      Thanks for your question. Digg is a little different, in that you need more help from other people. You can try submitting your own content, but you probably won’t have great success. Instead, focusing on making connections first and helping/promoting others, then when you want to submit something, other people will help you out.

      Also, please keep in mind that Digg isn’t what it used to be. So don’t rely on it too much.

  14. Great tips. Thanks for the info.

  15. Naukri says:

    Thanks for the great article! The “will it go viral” question always troubles me! Are there any non buisness related social voting sites you could recommend?

  16. Praveen says:

    The very important part of blogging has been explained and made easy. Thanks for your posts :)
    This will surely help bloggers to build traffic and reader-ship.

  17. As usual, stellar post Brad!

    Awesome formula. I’m starting to get it…

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  19. Jube says:

    Every article on your blog is absolutely readable. I can learn something new here everyday.

    Thank you very much!