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How to Be Profound

Before you ask, let me start by saying that I don’t feel that I’m a profound writer, or that many of the things I have to say fit the description of “profound”!

But in some blogging niches—self help, personal development, and other emotive categories—”profound” is a word that’s often used to describe posts. I don’t have any stats on it, but I think profound content is probably more likely to be read all the way through, to encourage comments from readers, and to get shared.

It’s probably fair to say that profound content draws more readers, and may have a better chance of going viral in some cases. For bloggers, profound content is a worthy goal.

So what is profound? And how can you and I, who may not write on such an emotive level, create “profound” content?

What is “profound”?

I think “profound” content usually unravels something for us and make us see that thing in a different light. It takes a common concept or idea—something we take completely for granted—and recasts it so that we can see something new or undiscovered in it.

If you think about it, this is really what Apple does with its products. The idea of a portable colour touchscreen computer may not seem like a massive leap from, say, a laptop. After all, touchscreens were already popular in many applications. But it took Apple to recast what we saw as “computers” and “computing” in the form of an iPad for people to sit up and say, “yeah, that’s great!”, and to use it, and love it.

I think this is pretty much the definition of “profound.”

Making profound content

A profound idea is, I think, the basis for profound content. You need to start by thinking—though I’m sure many ideas come from an “ah-ha” moment, the fact is that even those sparks of inspiration take mental energy.

Beyond that, I think there are probably several writing techniques that can make or break your profound content.

1. Clarity

The clarity of your expression is important in communicating a profound concept. The aim is likely to be to communicate what you need to with as few words as possible. This leaves the reader the mental space to take in the information and digest it as they read.

So avoiding lengthy, repetitive descriptions, unnecessary humour or undue seriousness, is important. A post doesn’t need to be “weighty” to be profound, but it does need to be effortlessly comprehensible.

Above all, make sure that every word in your profound post is necessary—that every word counts.

2. Length

Some posts are profound because they say so much in so little space—if you follow The Dalai Lama on Twitter, you’ll know what I mean.

The shorter the post, the more pithy it’s likely to be. That doesn’t mean a longer post can’t be profound, but it probably does mean that sentences are likely to be short, and the overall post contains no fluff.

3. Word choice

I think the most profound posts communicate, so that means the words you choose for the post need to be easily understood by all readers.

This doesn’t mean you need to “dumb down” your post, but a profound post is usually one that, as I mentioned above, takes little to no effort to comprehend. So word choice is important. Make your posts as accessible as possible by using words that your readers won’t struggle to understand—that will allow them to focus upon your message, and give their full attention to what you’re communicating.

4. Formatting

A trend I see often on blogs is that of using formatting to emphasise “profound” or meaningful points within a post. We might separate already-short sentences onto separate lines, bold them, or italicize certain words in them.

That’s fine, but it’s important to remember that formatting doesn’t make for profundity. More often than not, I see it used to draw attention to points that, if the blogger had taken more care with the text of the post itself, would happily stand alone and have impact without formatting.

If you craft the post well, you may not ned to use formatting to drive your points home at all. A truly profound post draws readers through its length by virtue of its power.

Do you have a profound post?

Is there a post in your niche that fits the description of “profound”? Share it with us in the comments so we can take a look and get a feel for how profound content works in different situations.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. A profound post about writing profound posts! I’ve always known to make my content important or helpful and this will help.

    It’s really easy to add fluff into a post as much as I try not to. I am going to mix this type of post with my personality type posts over time and see the reaction and results.

    Thanks a bunch!
    -Gabe

  2. I’ve not had any profound posts yet. I’ve got 2 planned that I think can change the world, but we will see.

    I actually thought this guest post I did was profound http://www.mazzastick.com/2012/07/02/how-to-eliminate-lifes-anxieties-and-prepare-yourself-for-anything/

    But nobody commented on it. It’s about getting rid or anxiety and building confidence by using lucid dreaming to reprogram our brains and control our flight or flight response, without anyone needing to expose themselves in public.

  3. John Banks says:

    Hi,

    Great Post! I don’t think I have any specific profound post – I try to keep all my posts simple and to the point. I tend to hover from topic to topic until I know what to write that will help people (within my niche) This whole blogging lark is still fairly new to me (about 2 months – part time) so I am learning all the time. People would have to make the call on whether they are profound or not……..

    Thanks for the interesting article…..
    John

  4. “Profound” isn’t a word I’d associate with my blogging. However, it does fit Seth Godin. He has a way of expressing deep thoughts in simple language. When he’s done, he stops. The posts are short, even the “long” ones.

    I’ve got a question about length for those of us with smaller audiences.

    Google probably doesn’t have a way to rank the profoundness of a post (yet!). Doesn’t Google require a post to have a minimum length to be considered “real”? If so, our shorter posts might not show up in web searches.

  5. I actually hate to say it because it sounds like such egregious self-aggrandizement, but my last post was fairly profound.

    But first, some context, I make my living carving wood sculptures. My blogs are all about promoting “Brand Rick,” not e-commerce per se. My main blog is hardly a “blog” at all. It’s just where I show my sculptures. I promote face to face. It’s like an e-portfolio. But “name recognition” is how you make the big bucks as an artist. You all get that, right? So there’s a blatant confession. The more famous my name, the better prices I get.

    But the post I have in mind is in my more literary, artsy blog.

    Tell me, is this is profound? I offer a theory about the dumbing down of language in America, a refutation of Karl Marx’ fundamental axiom, discuss how the American middle class mercantile mentality is not so wicked and greedy as some would have it, suggest that the American military has rather more regal attributes than are ever portrayed by popular media, and explain how through a series of experiences I took a big chip off my shoulder as I moved from a starving artist to the beginnings of a successful career, and thus, admitted that I had been wrong about a lot of fundamental things in life.

    And I did it all under the pretense of a completely banal post about the vanity of blogging about blogging. It is not even a very long post. It’s a quick read, actually.

    I guess you’ll just have to read it to see how I weaved all those seemingly disparate thoughts together in a natural, speaking voice, kinda way. In fact, I thought it was kinda sloppy work. I was writing fast, but what is done, is done.

    Oh yeah, I even have a picture of a cute cat. My artist’s sensibilities saw that as an extremely subtle bit of postmodernism.

    One last thing. I’ve been up all night working out a cleaner design for my blog, but it’s still over on my test page. So please, if you do check it out, try to just look at the content. There’s a link to my contact page that previews the primal simplicity of the new look, including a picture of me in GQ mode instead of my usual lumberjack get up.

    Great post, Darren. Thanks for the opportunity to comment on something I willing to put my head on the chopping block for. Since I got serious about promoting myself, I’ve gotten serious about reading your blog. Don’t take that as ass kissing. I never kiss anybody’s ass. I’m serious. You have great stuff.

    Cheers, Rick

  6. Justin Mazza says:

    I love it when you share your profound insights and knowledge in your posts Darren. Please keep them coming because you got the “goods my friend”. :)

    I have one post on my blog that discusses that the Moon is an artificial construct built by Reptilian beings.(The Moon is a Death Star). This post has gotten me thousands of visits to my blog because it is profound I believe.

  7. I have been blogging for years, but I have not really committed to anything, not even commenting on Pro Blogger even though I read the majority of the new posts.

    But for the past two or three weeks I have been speeding up my posts. My leading post, which I would say is Profound in idea is You are Insignificant (http://anaestheticdiscourse.com/2012/06/you-are-insignificant/). It has no comments, but a ton of views and people ask me about it in person even though it deviates from my blog’s main ideas.

    Anyway, just wanted to share. My first time sharing. ;)

  8. Graham Lutz says:

    I pride myself on making the flood of information that is scientific health and fitness research consumable by the “normal folk.”

    For some reason, scientists don’t seem to be the best communicators…

  9. This is good. I love the idea of being profound. I think you hit the nail right on spot when you said, “make every word count.” This is what I’ve been incorporating into my writing lately. See if the post below resonates with profundity. Good post Darren!

    http://contentmarketingup.com/guest-posting-lies/

  10. Ben Troy says:

    Another great post =)

    Yes, too often, we forget that we have choices.

    When we look outwards and say things like… “Because he/she did this to me, that’s why I got angry”, we’re giving our power away.

    We have the choice to choose your response… to choose to become better… to overcome your limitations… What we choose in life is what we get.

  11. Wade says:

    I like it. Making yourself seem above the cut from everyone else can keep your readers coming back. Keeping fresh and relative content that makes the reader WOW is a good thing to do.

  12. Robert Sake says:

    Knowledge of the subject you are discussing and making them available in the simplest possible way to be understand by your readers will certainly make your article profound.

    Some of us have the ability to make our post or article profound but only few of us have mastered this technique of providing profound information.

    Another great post about a profound article from one of the master profound article writer. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Hi Darren,

    I feel being profound is the ability to say a lot with a few words. No need to stretch out your message just to hit a certain word count. Simply express your take and exit stage left. Wise words here.

    Being clear helps you create profound posts. You know exactly what you want to say, state your case and leave it at that. No fluff. No extraneous wording.

    Seth Godin is another master of profound. Similar to the Dali Lama, he simply says a great deal in a few words. This is real writing and communicating power; be able to make a real impact with few words.

    Thanks Darren!

    Ryan

  14. I am brand-new at writing and blogging and I found the information in this article to be enlightening. It makes sense to be profound, i.e. pack a punch in just a few words. I personally enjoy reading articles like this. I’ll keep this in mind when I’m writing. Thanks, Darren.

  15. My readers liked this post, perhaps because I used a poem about socks to make a deeper point about not complaining:

    http://friendfortheride.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/s/

  16. Joe Burnich says:

    An important point about being Profound is to stay real and true to yourself. Basically don’t try to fake it or pretend to be something your not. If you look hard enough you will find that your own qualities are Profound.

  17. Adrienne Knight says:

    Hugely inaccurate and overuse of the word profound by pretty much everyone in my opinion. Even the Dalai Lama cannot be profound in every tweet as the “insights” there are pretty much available in a million self help books and websites. Profundity will hit you at your very core. Stop you in your tracks. Move you to change. The effect would be enormous. And that could take a few paragraphs. But it would still be profound. Trying to be profound for a good blog article cannot hope to work. I doubt anyone sits down thinking “I’m going to be profound today”. How many times in your life do you think you will hear or read something that is actually profound? It is profound because it is rare. I do agree about Seth though. :o)

  18. Surminga says:

    If you aren’t striving to be a profound writer and person then what are you doing.

  19. Sharing my latest post with you:

    http://marthamoravec.com/2012/07/856/

  20. Profound? That’s for the reader to judge, not me the writer. However, here are two that I feel could be candidates:

    http://madcitywriter.blogspot.com/2012/06/heroes-in-my-eyes-spending-fathers-day.html

    http://madcitywriter.blogspot.com/2012/04/belly-dance-celebration-of-womanhood.html

    Loved your article! It gives me much to think about and strive for. Thanks for the profundity!

  21. This is a timely post because I’ve seen a trend lately at least in the circles I read, of more profound posts. Those of us that work on the internet, many times, are following our passion in our work and that comes through in our writing in the form of profound posts about life and work. I love it! More profundity less SEO! Maybe they’re not mutually exclusive. : )

  22. i am REALLY enjoying your blog and getting some great ideas and valuable insight from it. i just included a link to this wonderful post in my own blog post today. :-) thanks for sharing your insight and wisdom.

  23. Curious how you talk about being “profound” and ask for “profound” posts. Your definition doesn’t actually fit mine… Yet you got a point: a “profound” post is a thousand times more appealing than a normal one. It have own personality, life.

    If I were asked to share any “profound” article of mine, I’d say my blog is made of that: profound content. The meaning, as a said, is different (I think it’s got something to do with me having Spanish as my native language…). But, curiously enough I’d be lying: you can’t make a blog of golden pieces; some will have to be plain stones to let others shine, right?

    But well, as you for it, here’s actually my last post, my 100th post in this blog, remembering old “great” articles: http://mathiasblog.com/2012/special-100th-post-my-favorites/

  24. Laura says:

    This seems like common sense to me as I live my life with a disability and from a wheelchair but my post about the top ten things relating to disability etquette is still the most popular post on my site
    what are your thoughts about this
    http://lifeofthedifferentlyabled.com/2010/top-10-things-relating-to-disability-etiquette/

  25. As a reader of many blogs, I tend to like short to the point posts best. Seth Godin is a terrific example. I think he’s profound more often than not. Recently I wrote a post in the faith/inspirational niche about prayer. Most people of faith believe in prayer and pray often. My title was…”What? Not Pray?” http://anextraordinaryday.net/what-not-pray/ That will raise a few eyebrows, surely.
    I’m a new blogger, so I don’t have a larger readership. But, the few comments I received led me to think that this was something, well maybe, profound. You decide. I certainly can use plenty of feedback on this whole blogging thing.

    Thanks for the challenge.

  26. Glynis Jolly says:

    Although all three points you brought up are important, the one that I think really makes an article profound is Clarity. If the article is making sense to the reader, for me that’s profound.