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How Jon Morrow Crafted the Most Popular Post on Problogger

This guest contribution from Ahmed Safwan.

Writing viral posts.

That’s what we all dream of.

We hope that we can write the next popular post on our blog.

But what if you make it on one of the most influential blogs on the Internet (like Problogger) and get a lot of visits out of it?

Well, Jon Morrow did that with his post, How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World. The post attracted over 70,000 visits in the first 24 hours and it’s on track to get nearly 1 million visits.

Darren was astonished. That’s why he called Jon the best writer on the web.

He was able to attract over 9,000 subscribers to his guest blogging course solely on the strength of this post. Many of them had signed up to the premium program because of that one post, and he was able to make a great amount of money.

It’s pretty amazing, right?

But how did he do it? That’s what we will cover in this post.

You need compelling content

… not just another 5-tip post that’s generic.

Compelling content is essential to get traffic, engage your readers and turn them into paid customers.

It’s the dream that most bloggers have. We all want to quit our job and move to paradise. Not only that, he shows you how to get paid to change the world.

The content is compelling and he crafted the post well. But a lot of us could do this. It’s true. So why aren’t our posts going viral?

Well, it’s not just about the content.

Jon Morrow included some ingredients that made his post spread like wildfire.

Hundreds of posts are created about how to quit your job and move to paradise, but this post has some ingredients that other posts don’t have.

happy_time

Image courtesy stock.xchng user lusi

1. Evoking Explosive Emotions

Jonah Berger co-authored a research paper with Katy Milkman called “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?”  In this paper, there are some insights that you need to care about.

One of these insights is that content that evokes high explosive emotions is more viral than content that doesn’t. Basically, you need to evoke emotions in your content to make it spread online.

After you readJon Morrow’s post, you feel inspired and that you have the power to do anything.

Another key insight Jonah Berger found is that positive content is more viral than negative content.

That’s why Jon’s Problogger post spread more than his Copyblogger post, On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas. In his Copyblogger post, he intended to make people cry and he evoked that emotion explosively. With his Problogger post, he wanted to inspire people.

The difference is that the emotion he tried to evoke in his Copyblogger post was negative but in his Problogger post, the emotion was positive. That’s why the Problogger post spread like wildfire.

But how to evoke that emotion?

Jon Morrow has a great answer to this question.

In his post How to Be Unforgettable, he explains how you can connect emotionally with your readers.

“Instead of sitting down and writing cold, imagine the emotion you want to create in your reader, and deliberately cultivate that emotion in yourself. Cry, laugh, get so mad you nearly beat your keyboard to death.” Jon says. “Then let it loose. Let it flow through you and into your words.”

“Your readers will feel it. They’ll wake up. It’ll make them feel alive.” Jon explained. “And they’ll remember you forever.”

It’s simple but really effective answer. It’s worth reading the post word-by-word to learn more about how to evoke emotions and how to be unforgettable.

2. Telling a Story

This is one of the most effective ingredients Jon added in his post.

He shared a story that was incredible. It inspired a lot of people to continue facing their difficulties. It made people connect with Jon.

He shocked us with his story.

That’s exactly what you need when you craft a compelling story. If it’s something usual and people will predict what will happen next, then it’s boring.

You don’t need to create specific posts to share your story as Jon did. You could add a story in the opening of your blog, to start it with a bang, as he did in his “How To Be Unforgettable” post. Thanks to Brian Clark for this awesome tip.

To prove that telling stories is an effective way to make your posts spread more, check out James Chartrand’s story on how he is a she. It got over 540 comments and was one of the most popular posts on Copyblogger.

3. Having Irresistible Magnetic Headlines

“8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.” ~ Brian Clark

John Wisely from Pick the Brain wrote a post that got him only 100 visits. The post itself was great; that’s why he was disappointed. He thought that the problem may be in the headline. He deleted the post, changed the headline and published it again with the same content.

It got 5,000 visits.

(You can check the case study here)

Jon Morrow knew that headlines are really important. He started to learn the art of creating magnetic headlines for years until he was able to master it. He is now the master of creating headlines online. His headlines are always irresistible.

Luckily, he created a cheat sheet that contains the top 52 headline formulas that always outperform when they’re used right. I really recommend you to check this cheat sheet before you choose any headline.Choose one of these formulas, and then fill in the blanks carefully to create your irresistible magnetic headline.

Try to include power words and you’ll have better results. Jon also created a list of 317 power words you can use not only in your headlines, but also in your content.

His headline was very specific and it has power words like “paradise” and “paid.” This headline is really effective to capture your attention, even at 2am!

Grow your value

Copyright Gorilla – Fotolia.com

4. Picking an Established Platform To Go Viral

To make your post spread like wildfire, you need to seed the traffic at the beginning. Then, if it has some of the ingredients shared above, your visitors will do the rest.

Jon Morrow had the platform ready for him to share his astonishing content and to make it go viral. He made use of it to create the most popular post in the blogosphere.

That’s why you need to share your best stuff on other blogs as a guest post.

It’s true that Jon would have seen a spike in traffic if he posted it on a new blog, but it wouldn’t have reached such a large audience of people.

So, when you’ve got something amazing that you think should deserve to get 100,000 visits, post it on other blogs. Your mission will be easier after that.

guest posting secrets

Image courtesy guigo.eu, licensed under Creative Commons

The truth about writing viral posts

You need compelling content to go viral. But it’s not enough.

You need to add some other ingredients to the post to make it engaging so that people can’t help but share it with their audience.

Yes, you can actually do it.

If your blog is small or you don’t even have a blog launched yet, find a bigger blog that has 10,000+ subscribers and share your brilliant idea there.

Craft it well, add some of the above ingredients, and you’re set to go and have your viral post.

It may not happen every single time, but you can still make it.

Jon Morrow did it on Penelope Trunk’s blog when he was still a beginner blogger, and created one of the most popular posts there to this day.

You can do it too!

So, get out there and write something amazing!

Try it and see what happens.

 

Ahmed Safwan is a blogger and marketer that teaches how you can get your posts shared, tweeted, and talked about. If you want more people to read and interact with your content, check out his free Blogger’s Handbook for Writing Viral Posts!

Your Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazing Content that Draws Readers Into Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Ali Luke.

Does your blog lack something?

Maybe you post regularly, but your posts aren’t getting many comments or shares. It feels like no-one’s reading.

What you need is pillar content. (Also known as “cornerstone content” and “evergreen content”.) These posts get links, shares, and comments. They’re posts that you’re proud to have written; ones that readers can return to again and again.

They’ll often be longer than your usual posts.

They may well be more carefully structured, and more carefully edited.

And you might well be thinking…

Where Do I Find the Time?!

Frustrated blogger

Image copyright Renee Jansoa – Fotolia.com

There’s a very, very simple way to make enough time to create really good posts:

Cut down on the number of posts you currently write.

You don’t have to publish every day. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.

(And just in case you’re not convinced … Michael Hyatt agrees, and even Daily Blog Tips no longer publishes content daily.)

Think about it. Have you ever unsubscribed from a blog that provided amazingly valuable content … just because they didn’t post every day?

I haven’t. But I have unsubscribed from blogs that kept putting out content day after day after day – even if it was good stuff. I just couldn’t keep up.

(If you’re writing in a fast-moving newsy niche, it might be harder to cut back. You could narrow your focus a little, or you could pick a particular day of the week to focus on longer-lasting content.)

Your Objectives and Your Post Ideas

Before you write any pillar post, think hard about what you want to accomplish with it. Don’t just write a post for the sake of it.

Depending on your broader blogging objective, the aim of your post could be one or more of these:

  • Create a portfolio piece that you can use to impress potential clients / employers.
  • Impress first-time readers to your blog and encourage them to subscribe.
  • Prompt readers to buy one of your products.
  • Get lots of shares on social media.
  • Receive more enquires from prospective clients.

By having a clear aim in mind before you start writing, you can tailor your post toward it.

For instance, let’s say you blog about parenting, and your goal is to encourage readers to buy your ebook Help Your Teen Pass Any Exam.

You could simply tack on a paragraph about your ebook at the end of a post on any topic – but ideally, you want the post to get the reader into the right frame of mind to buy it.

In this case, posts like these will probably work well for you:

  • Why Our Schools Are Failing Students
  • Ten Tips for Parenting Teens
  • How to Help Your Teen Study for an Exam

Posts on other aspects of parenting won’t bring in the right readers, or get readers thinking about the right things. You might want to rethink topics like:

  • Five Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep
  • How to Prepare Your Pre-Schooler for Starting School
  • Ten Moms Confess Their Guilty Parenting Secrets

Those might well be great, valuable posts – but they’re not ones that will help you sell your ebook.

It’s often useful to come up with a whole bunch of ideas at once. If you can, set aside at least 20 minutes to brainstorm – often, once you get past the first 10 or so ideas, you get into some really interesting and valuable ones.

Keep your ideas somewhere safe, and turn to your list whenever you start a new post. Think about what goal you’d like to meet – and choose a topic that fits well with that.

Crafting Your Title

Although many bloggers write their title after writing their post, it’s a good idea to come up with a “nearly-there” title before starting on your post. If you just have a topic in mind, it can be tough to figure out how best to structure your post, or what to include it in.

Your title should:

  • Be clear. Get keywords in there – don’t try to be too clever. Both readers and search engines need to know what your post is actually about.
  • Be specific. “Five tips” is better than “tips”, because readers get a better sense of what your post involves. (Copywriter Steven Slaunwhite has a great, short video on this technique here.)
  • Create interest. Adjectives are great for this – “five powerful tips” or “five simple tips” rather than just “five tips”. You can also  try words like “secrets” or “little-known”.
  • Avoid excessive hype. If your post title is “Ten Insider Secrets the Experts Don’t Want You to Know” then you’d better have something impressive to share! A hyped up title might get clicks, but readers won’t stick around long (and you’ll lose their trust).

For more tips – including advice on personalising titles, using keywords, using power words, and much more – see How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers Into Your Blog.

Jon Morrow Headline Hacks

Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks is a great resource, if you want some ready-made ones for inspiration. You could also look at any popular blog or magazine and borrow from them – take a title you like and switch around a few words so that it works for your blog.

Structuring the Main Body of Your Post

One key aspect of writing that many bloggers struggle with (or don’t understand the importance of) is structure.

If your posts are poorly structured, they’ll not only be hard to write, they’ll be hard to read. You’ll spend too much time staring at the screen, wondering what to write next … and your readers will often click away after a few paragraphs because they’re struggling to find the value in your post.

One basic structure that you’re almost certainly familiar with is the list post. Even if you think these are overdone, get to grips with this structure, because it can be used as a basis for many others.

Here’s how a basic list post might look:

Introduction

#1: Subheading

Paragraph

#2: Subheading

Paragraph.

… and so on until …

Conclusion / call to action

A how-to post looks almost identical in structure. In fact, the only real difference between list posts and how-to posts is this:

  • Readers can use one or several of the points in a list post and still get something valuable.
  • Readers need to follow the points in a how-to post step-by-step.

It’s a really good idea to number your points, because it helps readers orientate themselves – they know how far they’ve got through the post and how far they still have to go.

Using Subheadings

One of the best ways to structure your post, whether or not it’s a list, is to use subheadings. This is especially crucial in longer posts, where readers might be dipping in and out, or skimming for information. (You can see plenty of them at work in this post!)

Some bloggers simply use bold text for their subheadings, but it’s better to use the Heading formats built into your blogging software. This makes the text larger so it stands out more – and you can also use different levels of subheading to split long sections into several parts.

If you want to try something a little different from a standard list post or how-to post, use one of the fool-proof forumlas below.

Three Fool-Proof Post Formulas (Plus Examples)

Fool proof lock and chain

Start with one of these formats, and you’ll find it easy to come up with a great post. These ideas will all produce a post that’s great for linking to in your guest post bios, highlighting on your About page, including in your sidebar, and sharing on your social media accounts.

Idea #1: An A-Z Guide

Example: 26 Essentials for Blogging Success: What You Need to Know, Social Media Examiner

These types of post are fun to write, they suit almost any topic, and they have a ready-made structure. They’re also a really good way to tackle a big topic that might normally be too much for a single blog post.

Creating an A-Z post is simple. Just come up with a topic (like “the A-Z of vegan cooking” or “the A-Z of board games). List the letters A to Z on a sheet of paper, and think of a word or phrase that goes with each. Then all you need to do is write a sentence or paragraph for each item.

Idea #2: A “Why and How” Post

Example: Why You Need to Create and Sell A Product Now (And How To Do It)

Going beyond a simple “how to”, these posts work brilliantly because they help readers understand why something is important. It won’t necessarily be obvious to readers why they’d want to do something unless you spell this out.

You’ll structure your post like this – make the subheadings specific to your topic:

  • Introduction
  • Why This Matters
  • How to Do It (with numbered steps)

Idea #3: Top Experts Answer…

Example: The Experts’ Views on Content Marketing

Even if you don’t have a lot of experience in your topic area, you can produce a great, in-depth post that readers will want to share and link to … by using experts in your niche.

The key to doing this is to choose one question that you want lots of people to answer. Most experts are really busy, and they’re much more likely to get back to you if you ask one question instead of ten. (This is sometimes called a “one-question interview”.)

You don’t even have to approach experts directly. Instead, you could write a post that collates lots of ideas on a particular topic, quoting from and linking to posts that these experts have published.

These three ideas aren’t the only possibilities, of course: there are dozens of other post formulas that you can use too. (Whenever you come across a great post, see if you can break it down and figure out how it’s structured.)

How Long Should Your Post Be?

Some bloggers will say “how long is a piece of string?” – but I’ll give you a proper answer.

Aim to make your posts between 600 and 1,500 words.

If they’re under 600 words, it’ll be tough for you to deliver something really valuable.

If they’re over 1,500 words, you’ll struggle to keep the post structured and coherent.

Of course you can write shorter posts and longer ones – but stick to a standard post length until you’re comfortable there.

Writing Your First Draft

Some bloggers love coming up with ideas and planning posts – but they struggle when it comes to getting words onto the page.

Here’s how to get your first draft written:

  • Plan first. Make sure you have a clear structure in place. That could mean getting all your list points written down, or using one of the ready-made ideas below.
  • Avoid distractions. Yes, you’ve heard this one before – but are you doing it? Writing takes a lot of focus and energy, so try using the Pomodoro technique or similar to write in short bursts … and don’t check Twitter / Facebook / your email until the time is up.
  • Don’t try to make it perfect. You’ll have as much time as you need to edit, so don’t worry if a sentence has come out a little weird, or you’re missing a piece of crucial information. Keep moving forward in your post.
  • Jump straight in with your first major point or section, rather than starting at the introduction. Once you’ve written the post, it’ll be easier to create an introduction that fits.
  • Imagine you’re writing an email to a friend. What advice would you give? How would you write it? Use this as the basis of your blog post. (A great way to go further with this is to do a “Q&A” post where you answer questions from your readers – you may well find your writing flows more smoothly than ever.)

Great Beginnings…

Your introduction has to do a lot of work – almost as much as the title. It needs to hook the reader, making them want to read on. It also needs to pave the way for what’s to come – you could write an amazing, attention-grabbing introduction that falls flat if it doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of your post.

Some easy but powerful ways to begin your post are:

  • With a question. These help the reader to engage by getting them thinking (or at least agreeing!) For instance, “How do you keep yourself fresh, inspired and creative as a blogger?
  • With a quotation. This can be a great way to begin if your post is building on something that another blogger’s written. Some bloggers use motivational or inspirational quotations at the start of all their posts – Alex Blackwell from The Bridgemaker is a good example.
  • With an anecdote – a mini story from your life. If this is relevant to your post, and if you keep it fairly short, it can help your readers feel connected to you.

For lots more ideas for your post introduction, check out Darren’s in-depth post 11 Ways to Open a Post and Get Reader Engagement.

…And Great Endings

Although it’s clear that introductions are important, endings might seem less so. However, they have a crucial role to play. In fact, if you end too abruptly, you’re missing out on a great opportunity.

As Darren writes in Calls to Action – 12 Tips To SNAP Readers Out of Passivity:

The vast majority of visitors to your blog are paralyzed by passivity. They never comment, they don’t vote in polls, they won’t subscribe to your feed or newsletters, they won’t buy the affiliate products that you recommend, they won’t email a friend about your blog, they won’t vote for you in social bookmarking sites and most of them will never come back.

Let’s say you’ve written a ten-point list post. Don’t just stop at the end of item ten – add a couple of sentences beneath the list to round off the post. A list post is a great one to use to get comments, because you can ask something like:

Do you have a tip to add to this list? Share it in the comments below (or let us know which of the existing tips you liked best).

A “call to action” simply means asking (or telling) the reader to do something. It might look like one of these:

  • What do you think? Leave a comment below.
  • If you enjoyed this post, please hit the “Tweet” button to share it with others.
  • Want to know more about [topic]? Click here to read my post [title].
  • To learn more, check out my ebook [Title and link].

Some bloggers worry that calls to action sound pushy or even desperate. The truth is, readers are used to them – and will often welcome them. After all, if you visited a new blog for the first time and read a great post, wouldn’t you appreciate a link to another relevant post?

It might seem a little silly to ask directly for comments – surely readers know the comment box is there! – but some readers, especially shyer ones, will be much more likely to comment if you specifically invite them to do so.

Editing Your Post

It’s often a relief to get to the end of your post … but don’t hit publish just yet.

Your first draft probably needs a bit of tidying up before it’s ready for the world. In fact, you’ll probably want to run through two separate edits – a “big picture” overview and a “zoomed in” look at the details.

Editing the Big Picture

Before you get too caught up in changing words or checking your use of commas, focus on the bigger picture. Read through your post and look for:

  • Anything superfluous that you can cut. Save what you remove, in case it can be used in a future post.
  • Anything missing that you need to add in. You might need a better transition between your introduction and first section, for instance.
  • Anything that’s not in the right order. Perhaps it would make better sense to start your list with the current item five, for instance.

You might also want to show your draft post to a friend or trusted reader – ask them if there are any major changes they think you should make.

Editing the Details

Once you’re happy that your post contains the right information in the right order, it’s time to make every sentence pull its weight.

At this level of editing, you’re looking out for:

  • Words or phrases that you’ve overused. If you use the phrase “content marketing” five times in a paragraph, it’s going to look like you’re blindly following some outdated SEO keyword-stuffing practice (even if you didn’t mean to and just ended up writing it that way).
  • Sentences that read oddly. Perhaps it sounded right in your head, but looks a bit weird on the page. It’s a great idea to read your post out loud – this will really help you spot any awkward bits.
  • Spelling mistakes and typos. Double-check anything your spell-checker flags up (you do run your posts through a spell-checker, right?) but also look out for common spelling mistakes.

Most writers find it really hard to edit their own work – so even if other people’s typos jump right out at you, go slowly and carefully when editing your own work, or ask a friend to help you.

Don’t get too anxious or caught-up here, though. Yes, spelling and grammar matter – but readers will forgive the occasional slip. If you do spot an error after hitting publish (or if a reader points one out to you), it’s easy to update your post.

Formatting Your Post

Looks are important. You could write a brilliant, useful, entertaining post that doesn’t get readers simply because it looks hard to read.

If you have long paragraphs in a small font, readers may well not bother making the effort to read your post at all. In case you’re not convinced, take a look at these screenshots. They show an identical post, formatted in two different ways:

Post formatting example 1

Post formatting example 2

The second version instantly looks more interesting and attractive.

It’s easy and straightforward to add formatting in your blog editor. Some great ones to use are:

  • Subheadings. These split your post into easy-to-read chunks, and help readers find information that they’re skimming for.
  • Bold text. This is a great way to highlight key points. Don’t overdo it, or it can start to look choppy and distracting. Aim to put whole sentences (or at least long phrases) in bold, rather than individual words.
  • Italics. These are useful for foreign words, individual words you want to emphasise, or “asides” that you want in a different font. (For instance, I use italics at the start of guest posts, where I’m introducing the guest blogger to my readers.)
  • Bullet points. Lists are easy to take in, and they also have extra white space around them – making for easy readability. You can use either unnumbered (usually round, black) bullet points or numbered ones.
  • Short paragraphs. One of the simplest ways to make your posts more readable is to split up any long paragraphs. If you’ve gone over four lines, then think about splitting part-way.

Some bloggers add formatting as they’re writing, others add it at the end. Whichever you choose to do, always have a quick look at your post in “preview” mode and check that everything looks OK. (For instance, make sure all your subheadings are the right size – it’s easy to muddle up H2s and H3s.)

Adding Images

Although it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, you’ll find that most major blogs include a large image at the top of their posts … and there’s a good reason why.

Images grab our attention. They draw our eyes, and ease us into the post. Usually, they help create a professional, polished feel on your blog. In some blog themes, they also get picked up as thumbnails on the front page, alongside the excerpt – and they appear on Facebook if you link to your blog post.

There’s really no reason not to enhance your post with an image. You have plenty of sources, like:

  • Your own photography. This works really well for bloggers like Benny Lewis (who uses photos of himself) and Farnoosh Brock (who uses photos she’s taken, sometimes overlaid with text). If you have a strong blogging voice or if you want to build a deeper connection with readers, try this out.
  • Stock images that you’ve bought. There are plenty of sites like iStockPhoto which will sell you images you can use on your blog. This isn’t a cheap option, but if you’re writing a post that needs to look great, it could be worth doing.
  • Free images from Flickr. Lots of kind artists put their creations (photos, illustrations, etc) onto Flickr, where you can browse for images licensed under “Creative Commons.” Make sure you find images that are marked for “commercial use” if your blog makes any money or might do so in the future – e.g. you’re running ads.

Even if you use other people’s images rather than your own, you might want to come up with some simple guidelines for choosing them perhaps you always use black and white shots, or always use colourful, fairly abstract ones, or use illustrations rather than photos.

An important “don’t”: it’s not OK to use images that you’ve found from a simple Google search. Unless they’re licensed under Creative Commons, you need to get permission from their creator.

Getting and Using Feedback

You can easily strengthen your blog posts if you get feedback and use it. A good way to do this is to ask someone to read your draft post, and get them to tell you how they think you could improve it. You might not be able to do this for every single post – but doing it even occasionally can help give you a new perspective on your blogging.

The best people to ask are:

  • Fellow bloggers who understand the medium. Sure, your old high school buddy might have been brilliant at turning out A grade essays – but he may not have a clue about what works in the blogging world.
  • Thoughtful readers who’ve been following your blog for some time. Maybe you’ve exchanged comments or emails with a reader and built up a great rapport: they might be delighted to have the opportunity to review one of your draft posts.

Don’t approach top bloggers in your niche and ask for feedback on your draft posts. Yes, they might well have great advice to share – but they’re unlikely to have the time to do so, and attempting to begin a relationship by asking for a favour isn’t a great idea.

You don’t have to use all the suggestions you get, but pay particular attention to anything that didn’t come across clearly, or that your reader misunderstood. Even if it seems obvious to you, rewrite it.

If you’re not sure about a particular suggestion, get a second opinion. It’s also a good idea to wait overnight before implementing (or rejecting) feedback – you may find that a break from your post helps you see it in a more objective light.

After You Hit Publish…

Your post is out there for the world – but your job isn’t done.

Unless you have a huge audience, hitting “publish” almost certainly isn’t enough to draw lots of readers to your post. Although some bloggers like to believe that truly great content will be found and shared, the truth is that you’ll almost certainly need to give it a helping hand.

(Of course, it’s crucial to write great content in the first place: aim to find a balance between creating content and promoting it.)

Promoting Your Pillar Post

There are plenty of ways to promote your post. These are some basics that you can do for every post:

  • Link to your post on Twitter. Although there are plugins that auto-tweet your posts, I prefer to craft an individual, custom tweet each time.
  • Link to your post on Facebook. You may want to add a brief blurb about the post, or ask a question to encourage comments on your Facebook page.
  • Include your post in your newsletter. Not all of my newsletter readers subscribe to my blog, so I put links to my posts in monthly roundups.

For really good pillar posts, you might go further, and:

  • Email a blogging buddy and ask them to consider linking to your post. Don’t email the top five bloggers in your niche for this – choose people who you already have a relationship with (perhaps through Twitter or commenting on one another’s blogs).
  • Link to your post from your sidebar. Many bloggers have a widget of “Recommended Posts” or “Popular Posts” to highlight their best content. Some even create eye-catching image banners to link to their best posts.
  • Go back to old posts and link to the new one. If you have an older post on a similar topic, why not link forward? Check in Google Analytics to see which of your older pieces are getting the most search engine traffic.
  • Link to your post from a guest piece on another blog. Be cautious with this, as if you write a guest post just for the sake of links, it may well not be accepted. Only put a link in the body of your post if it’s truly relevant – otherwise, use your bio. Joseph has some good tips on guest posting for backlinks here.

Answering Comments

Once your post is live, set aside time to answer comments. Lots of readers who don’t leave a comment will still scroll down and take a look at the comments section, so this counts as an important part of your post.

You’ll ideally want to:

  • Respond to all your comments (unless they’re very short ones like “Thanks, great post!”) You don’t have to reply to every single comment instantly, but if you let comments remain unanswered for days, it doesn’t create a great impression for new readers.
  • Remove any spam comments. Plugins like Akismet do much of the hard work for you, but it’s still a good idea to act promptly in removing any spam that does get through. You may also want to remove any offensive comments (e.g. ones including racist or sexist language).

If you’re struggling to get comments, you might email a blogger friend (or a loyal reader) and ask them to start the ball rolling. There are plenty of other great tips on getting more comments in Want More Comments? Let ProBlogger Help!

Your Action Plan

I’m aware there’s a fair bit of reading here!

What matters is that you have a go at creating pillar content for your blog – and here’s a simple action plan to help you do that this week, in just 30 minutes per day.

During those 30 minutes, turn off distractions and set a timer. Tell yourself you’ll concentrate until the time is up – so if you get the sudden urge to check Facebook, ignore it!

Day 1: Come up with several ideas and choose the strongest one. Plan out your post (you might want to scroll up a bit and check the advice on structuring).

Days 2, 3 and 4: Write your post. Get as far as you can in 30 minutes each day. If you get stuck at any point, imagine you’re replying to a comment or sending an email to one of your readers – write as though you’re talking directly to them.

Day 5: Edit your post, focusing on the big picture. Cut any tangents, rearrange paragraphs and add in new sections if necessary.

Day 6: Edit your post again, this time focusing on the details. Watch out for typos, grammatical mistakes, and other slips.

Day 7: Add formatting, including an image, check your post in preview mode, and hit publish.

Of course, some pillar posts will need a bit more time for some of these stages. An A-Z post, for instance, might well take an hour or two to plan, and a post that rounds up lots of expert views could involve a lot of emailing and waiting for responses. But this plan should get you up and running with a great post quickly – and hopefully you’ll find the results well worth the time you spent.

I’d love to hear how you get on with writing pillar posts: share your experiences and tips in the comments below. If you have any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them too.

Ali Luke runs Writers’ Huddle, a community / teaching site for writers and bloggers who want to take their craft further. Along with lots of seminars and other resources, Writers’ Huddle includes her Blog On e-course, which takes you step-by-step through the process of creating great posts and pages for your blog. Find out all about Writers’ Huddle, and read what members say about it, here.

The Truth about Food Blogging

This is a guest contribution by Amy Murnan, writer of TheFreshFresher. 

It is slim pickings in the world of food blogging.

I know this because, about a year ago, I had a bright idea. I said to myself – hey, don’t worry about your lack of job prospects after graduating University! You like writing and you like cooking, so start a food blog – you’re bound to get a book deal!

Needless to say, I was a tad naïve. In reality, the truth about food blogging is tougher than any other blogging niche. You may not want to believe it, but food blogging is no picnic.

I didn’t want to believe it either, but the fact is that anyone who has ever tried food blogging knows that it is near impossible to get noticed. And why?

Because, these days, anyone can do it.

With the dawning of sites like Instagram, anyone can be a flash-food-blogger. We all know at least one foodie updating the world on every morsel they chew. So why would anyone want to see yet more food on the Internet when so many people are writing about it? And it isn’t just the technology that has changed.

Simply being a good cook won’t get you noticed.

Being (or knowing) a good photographer with a good camera is a standard requirement. You have to be able to transfer that taste – that smell – through the screen. You have to provide something enticing. After all, nobody is going to find my recipe for profiteroles when Good Housekeeping’s looks tastier.

But the fact remains that it is only near impossible. So, how to make food blogging work? I am by no means an expert, but I have learned a few lessons on the subject and mainly from other food bloggers:

Go Niche

And I mean really niche. Diet blogs are slightly more viable, although even gluten-free and vegan sites are becoming more competitive.

Find a gap in the market (easier said than done, I know, but that’s blogging for you) and fill it.

Go Luxurious

Live a jet-set lifestyle? Luckily for you, people love to read about glamorous lives, and glamorous food. Just take a look at The Londoner’s blog. Unfortunately this option doesn’t apply to many.

Go Somewhere

Travel-on-a-shoestring, travel around one city, travel to the middle of nowhere – as long as your posts are good, you’ll have a chance. Food lovers love food culture, and if your blog reveals cultures and dishes they’ve never seen before, they’ll like it. Take a look at The Road Forks.

Go Expert

If you work in catering, food prep or some other food-related profession and have other knowledge to pass on – industry insights, career tips and advice – you will gain an advantage. SugarHero is a great example – it is written by an ex-pastry chef with a book deal.

For me, food blogging was a huge learning curve, and still is. If you are ready to take on the blogosphere and make mouths water, be prepared to think, plan and work hard. But most importantly, be prepared to learn.

Amy Murnan is the writer of TheFreshFresher, a food blog aimed at students and young people craving fresh and flavourful food. 

5 Intellectual Property Laws about the Internet Bloggers Need to Know

This is a guest contribution from  JT Ripton, a Freelance writer from Tampa.

An image depicting IP Law

Image via Flickr by auggie tolosa

Intellectual property law protects much of the content that you enjoy on the internet. Though you aren’t always required to pay to enjoy this content, that doesn’t make it free for all types of use. Since many intellectual property laws haven’t yet been adapted specifically for the Internet, here’s a rundown of the basics you can use to safely guide your decisions.

Photos and Images are Not Free for Use

Quick and simple searches like Google Images make it seem like the Internet is overflowing with free photos and images. However, copyright law protects most of these photos. If you’re looking for images you can post on your blog, you need to look for those with a Creative Commons license. You can also pay for rights to use certain images.

Creative Commons Licenses Come in Different Forms

Creative Common licenses give you access to various forms of intellectual property. There are many different types of Creative Commons licenses. Before using something that’s protected under this type of license, you must carefully look at it to decide exactly how you can use the image. Some licenses allow commercial use while others do not. Some allow you to alter an image while others stipulate that it must stay in its original form. Attribution is typically required.

Most Movies, Music, and Television are Protected

Although there are many sites where you can get access to movies, television shows, and music for free, these downloads are typically illegal. Though the sites themselves are not violating any laws, you are if you share or download copyrighted material. You can legally view some movies and shows online, but you cannot download them. Network sites often show recent episodes of popular shows and sites like Netflix and Hulu offer access to movies and shows with a paid subscription.

Plagiarism Isn’t Just for School Papers

You undoubtedly learned about the dangers of plagiarism in high school and college, but these laws’ importance doesn’t end when you’re finished writing term papers and dissertations. Whether you have a blog yourself or you write for others, you cannot reproduce another’s intellectual property and take credit for it as your own. Cite your sources, use quotation marks when needed, and try to limit your works to your own unique ideas as much as possible. Referencing another article and quoting from a book are fine. Reposting an entire article or chapter of a published piece are not.

Permission Trumps All

When in doubt about a work, simply ask for permission to use it. Just as the Internet make it easy to find works, so too does it make it easy to contact creators. Many will gladly give you the necessary permissions when requested.

The Internet is a great forum for sharing everything from thoughts and ideas to your original photos, films, and musical works. However, it’s essential that you always think about who has the rights to the content in question and act so that you do not violate them.

JT Ripton is a Freelance writer from Tampa, FL, he’s been using the internet before most people even knew what it was.  JT writes about several of his interests including, blogging, all things tech, and useful tips and idea’s for a myriad of things. He likes to write to inform and intrigue.

Blog like Hemingway: 5 Writing Tips to Improve Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Victoria Elizabeth, writer for the Ometria Blog.

Type writer - in the beginning

If Ernest Hemingway were around today, he would have made an excellent blogger. From online news sites to individual industry experts and straightforward enthusiasts, people are using blogs as a way to attract consumers to their goods, services and information. With all the blogs out there on the internet, it can be difficult to weed out the good from the bad.

Although what makes a good blog post can differ with context, you should keep in mind that bloggers and content marketers are always pressed for time. So making your blog posts as digestible as possible will ensure that you keep them interested and engaged with your writing.

Hemingway’s short, snappy prose delivers a clear message and his writing scarcely strays into flowery descriptions. Online content writers in-the-know understand why his style is worth emulating, and so should you.

Here are 5 blog writing tips that Hemingway would have definitely approved of:

1. Short Sentences are KeyScissors with letters

This tip seems obvious but if writing isn’t a regular habit for you, then it’s easy to fall into writing longer run-on sentences. Hemingway was fond of short clear sentences and thought little of elaborate language.

You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.” Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.

Your writing should be similarly straight to the point as an online audience won’t hesitate to leave your webpage with a click once they get bored or confused by your language.

2. Research the Truth

Hemingway wanted to find the truth within stories, and his research heavily drove his writing pursuits. Research is vital to writing truthfully, and this should always be your priority as a blogger.

If you want to move people with your message, then you must convince your audience of the truth in your writing. Hemingway also wasn’t a fan of adjectives, and bloggers who use words like ‘great, exciting, amazing, etc.’ tend to betray their creative insecurities. These words detract from your message instead of adding value so beware the verbose adjectival pitfall (See what I did there?)

A laptop with books - Internet research

3. Brief Clear Introductions

Not only do short clear introductions allow your readers to gauge whether they will read on, it is also the best opportunity to hook them in. No one likes to read four paragraphs if they can read four sentences instead. In marketing, time is money, and reading time is something that people are less likely to extend solely for your long elaborate blog post.

4. A Specific Beat or Topic of Specialty

You can’t write about all of your knowledge in one blog post. Your purpose should be to educate and convince people, and you should always have material left for another time. Never give away all your secrets as this will shorten the lifespan of your blog, and leave you with no material to keep writing about. The trouble is figuring out what the right balance should be. How much is too little, or too much? Evaluate your topic to see how much information should be included in one post and try to stick to a consistent word count as well.

5. Writing HabituallyNotepad and coffee - a writing habit

Writing effectively means that you form a habit of doing it everyday. This is difficult for most people, but if you train yourself it will undoubtedly become easier. Hemingway typically wrote about 500 words a day from daybreak till noon, and tried not to think about his writing until the next day.

Hemingway’s habit had a twofold benefit. First, the morning is a good time to write because your mind is fresh and the day’s distractions are limited. Second, leaving your writing aside for the afternoon allows you to digest and process what you write, while you focus on other important things. You will find your afternoon workload lighter because you already accomplished so much, and may get more ideas from subconsciously digesting what you wrote earlier.

Stick to these simple little tips and you will ensure that your writing style stays clear and concise for your readers to enjoy.

Victoria Elizabeth writes for the Ometria Blog. See her recent article on the Wild West of Big Data.

20 Quick Tips on Writing Great Blog Posts

In preparation for an interview on writing great blog content, I jotted down some ‘quick tips’. While they are all short I hope that they might spark some ideas – enjoy!

    1. Tell your story – it is what makes your content unique
    2. Share how you feel – it will take your readers to a deeper place
    3. You’ll never please everyone – the sooner you come to peace with this, the better
    4. Write about things that matter to you – passion is infectious
    5. Inform, Inspire and Interact – aim to do these things every week!
    6. Experiment with different styles of writing – it will help you find your voice
    7. Mix up the length of your posts – short can be sweet but long can be epic!
    8. When an idea strikes – drop everything and capture it!
    9. Do everything you can to understand who is reading your blog – it will make you more useful to them
    10. Before you publish – ask what you want your reader to do after reading your post – and edit accordingly
    11. Become hyper aware of problems – and obsess over writing posts that solve them
    12. Put aside time to create quality content – it doesn’t just appear
    13. Put aside time to edit and polish your posts – it will take them to the next level
    14. Get a life – you’ll be a much more interesting writer if you’ve lived a little
    15. Ask your readers questions – it will make them feel like they belong and you’ll learn a lot too!
    16. Take your readers on a journey – posts that build from one to another can be powerful
    17. Brainstorm regularly – generating ideas for future posts now can save a lot of pain later
    18. Not every post needs to go viral – shareable content will help you grow but it may not serve your current readers best
    19. Write, Write Write – the more you write, the better you will get
    20. Publish selectively – you don’t need to publish everything you write

    What quick blog writing would you add?

Jeremy Schoemaker’s Ninja Tricks for Long Form Sales Pages

This is a guest contribution from  Stephan Spencer.

Web entrepreneur and founder of hugely successful ShoeMoney Media Group and the Shoemoney blog, Jeremy Schoemaker has found incredible success in the use of long form sales pages. Although at an early point in his web-marketing career he questioned the effectiveness of such approaches, once he actually started using long form sales pages to market his online products, he was amazed by their success.

Surprisingly, they work.

People actually take the time to read the page and become familiar with the product you are offering. And if you’re still hesitant to believe this, consider that Jeremy uses these pages to generate well over a million dollars in annual infoproduct revenue.

The long form sales page alone won’t necessarily make you millions, but the use of Jeremy Schoemaker’s personal Ninja tricks to optimize your page will take you well on your way to online riches.

Ninja Trick #1

Pre-populate fields on your sales page 

Pre-populate your sales page using information you have already gathered from people visiting the site. This will shorten the time it will take to fill out the form and decrease the amount of effort visitors to your site will have to put forth.

Some information you can gather from affiliates, like the visitor’s email. The affiliate will encode it, you can decode it, and then on the actual form when people submit it, you can pre-populate their name and their email. You can do that for all sorts of information based on whether the user sends that information.

You rarely see pre-population in action, but it helps conversion incredibly because of the amount of people that type in their email or name wrong or make an error filling out the form for whatever reason.

In addition, you can use geo-targeting data to help you pre-populate location-based data. You can fill in the state they live in and the city for the most part. By the time you are done pre-populating fields for the visitor on the form there are only a small number of boxes they will have to do themselves. It makes signing up convenient and simple, thus increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Ninja Trick #2

Take actions based on the merchant response code

In addition to information you can gather from affiliates, be sure to take advantage of the information you can gather from your merchants. When you’re logging this stuff in real time, you can see that some of the merchant response codes give you valuable information. For example, a 201 code means “insufficient funds” and a 202 code means their “credit card is over the limit”.

This is interesting in that you can pitch that potential customer instantly at a lower price point if they qualify, offering them a special deal, knowing that they would be unlikely to purchase at full price. A message like “Congratulations! You’ve been randomly selected to receive 50% off!” would help to legitimize your offer.

In addition, if you see a number of visitors fail to sign up due to language difficulties or for whatever reason, it may be beneficial to automatically take them to a PayPal checkout or to show them a PayPal icon on the page. These consumers may not have a credit card readily available, but they tend to have a PayPal account.

It is important to use the merchant codes to your advantage, so you can take advantage of otherwise lost sales.

Ninja Trick #3

Include international traffic first

If you are going to do an offer like this and you’re going to optimize it, Jeremy highly recommends including international traffic first. This is because you can get it for around 12-13 cents CPM and it will actually help you to optimize, using very cheap traffic.

You could look at this like a “cart before the horse” scenario: you can’t really optimize until you have traffic, but you don’t want to buy traffic until it’s optimized. International traffic helps you solve this conundrum.

Ninja Trick #4

Make use of Visual Website Optimizer 

Visual Website Optimizer is Google Analytics Content Experiments (formerly known as Google Website Optimizer) on steroids. You can tell it which URLs you want people to go to and assign goals to it just like you would do with Google. However, while Google’s tool has problems with delay and cross-domain tracking, Visual Website Optimizer excels at those things.

The best thing about Visual Website Optimizer is that it is amazingly simple to set up.  It offers a simple interface to continually edit and optimize your pages through real time multivariate testing. Changes are made as soon as you save, so it eliminates the painful delay you can have with other testing tools.

Once you load in everything you want to test, Visual Website Optimizer will try out all your variables in varying combinations and then hone in on the very best performing combinations and only run those, cancelling out the poor performers.

This is really what Google Analytics Content Experiments should be, and it will help your optimization efforts incredibly.

Ninja Trick #5

Make use of ClickTale

ClickTale tells the story of what your visitors are doing. It records the sessions of each visitor to your site so you can see exactly how they interact with its elements and its sales form. You are also able to create funnels and perform form analytics that identify the stumbling blocks on your form (where people are constantly having trouble) and demonstrate how your form converts.

ClickTale records each person that visits your site, allowing you to watch their session and see in real time how they interact with your page.  It also combines all of those sessions into heatmaps so you can see where people are moving their mouse on your site.

In addition it shows JavaScript errors that your sales pages may exhibit. It will show you the error, what page it was on, and offer you a chance to replay that and see the popup box the visitor received. This will help you build a bulletproof sales page that works on every browser.

The online world is very competitive, so every little advantage helps. Whatever gives you that extra edge, use it, because the competition doesn’t play by the rules. Jeremy’s aforementioned Ninja techniques will help you gain this advantage and thrive online.

Stephan Spencer is co-author of The Art of SEO, now in its second edition, and author of Google Power Search. He is the founder of SEO agency Netconcepts, acquired by Covario in 2010, and inventor of automated pay-for-performance SEO technology platform GravityStream. He is a contributor to the Huffington Post, Multichannel Merchant, Search Engine Land, Practical Ecommerce, and MarketingProfs.

When You Have Nothing Unique to Say…

I’ve got nothing unique to say.
It has all been said before.
There are so many people who are smarter than me.
Why would anyone listen to me?

Have you ever found yourself thinking like this?

If so – you’re not alone. At one point or another most bloggers do, and many would be bloggers have been stopped in their tracks by them.

Here’s the deal:

Nobody has lived your life before.
Nobody has your story.
Nobody has faced and overcome what you’ve overcome.
Nobody thinks in exactly the same way that you do.

So write – but infuse what you write with your story.

Your story is what makes it unique.
Your story is what’s never been said before.
Your story is something nobody else could ever know better than you.
Your story is why anyone would listen to you.

5 Tips To Writing Irresistibly Clickable Blog Titles

This is a guest contribution from Jackson Nwachukwu, lead blogger at DailyTipsDiary.com.

You’ve just been inspired and you’re ready to write the blog post you hope will be a hit.

The title not might be the first step in your planning process but it’s fair to say that most people automatically start thinking about what they will call their hit post.

After all, you don’t just want any blog title. You want one of those blog titles that gets readers excited before they’ve opened your post.

An average of 8 readers out of 10 will read a blog post title, while less than 3 out of the same 10 readers will read the rest of the article. This simple statistic shows how your post title greatly affects the entire content of your post.

So you stop.

Image courtesy of artur84 on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In order to quickly get a reader’s attention, you need to find smart ways of coming up with ckickable blog titles.

Imagine a reader typing a few keywords on Google search engine. Google returns a list of search results and your post title has emerged along side with other related blogs in your niche. What do you think your reader does first?

It’s very simple. He or she will scan through the list and choose for the best post title. Based on my “3E’s Blogging Rule exposure, experience and expertise, here are 5 tips that will help you write irresistibly clickable blog post titles.

1. Let Passion in

Search engines aren’t the main audience you need to write for, so it’s important to let some passion into your post title.

I made passion first on the list because it can determine the mindset your readers has when they open your post.

You can’t do well at something you have no love for and the same applies to writing a blog post. The only way to breathe life into a post title is to let passion take control of your writing. Once there is passion every other ingredient needed to write a catchy post title will surface.

2. Keep it Short but Focused

Your primary reason for writing a blog post is getting people to read it. Right?

To help connect readers to your blog post, you need a post title that clearly spells out what the post is about. The era of writing super long titles is over. When writing your post title, try to keep it short but also informative and compelling.

These two titles can give you a heads up:

A post title like “5 Tips To Writing Irresistibly Clickable Blog Titles” is much better compared to “Writing a Post Title: Top 5 Tips on How To Write A Post Title That is Clickable”.

3. Strike a Balance on Keywords Used in the Post Title

When it comes to thinking about SEO, using keywords in your blog title is advised But it’s important not to overdo it. A clickable post title should makes sense and be easy to read so don’t try to stuff awkward keywords into your title.

Looking at our two blog post titles again. The first title has eight words while the second has later has 17. In most cases, post titles with 10 words containing at least 2 keywords is considered SEO rich and will do better both in ranking and in attracting the attention of readers.

4. Make the Grammar look Good

Just because search engines don’t care about grammar doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Today, every reader wants to read well-structured blog posts that includes good grammar!

It becomes even more important when writing your post title because that is the first thing a reader will read before deciding on whether to read further or not.

More than once I have skipped over an article because of the title. If you don’t pay attention to grammar, you never know how many readers click away without reading your posts.

5. Know Which Special Characters to Use on your Post Title

There are handful of special characters you can use on your post title and those that I consider a no use characters.

The following special characters can be added in post titles: single dash (-), colon (:), question mark (?), exclamation mark (!)

  • The single dash (-) can be used to separate words in post headline
  • The colon (:) same goes for the colon, it can be used to separate words in titles
  • The question mark (?) this usually used when a title begs an answer, which means the title itself, is a question.
  • The exclamation point (!) this character is used when a title is meant to make the reader excited about a thing.

The following special characters CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be added in post titles: Ampersands (&), Greater than/Less than Symbols (< and >), the Pound Sign or Hash (#) the “At” Symbol (@).

Here is a Breakdown of these NO USE special characters

Ampersands (&) : This makes your post title URL to error out because you had the web browser  confused as to detecting  where your HTML code either begins or ends

“At” Symbol (@): The “At” Symbol (@) is a commonly used character associated with email addresses.  However, when it’s written as @ in post title URL, it confuses the web browser or RSS reader which interprets it as part of an email address rather than a web address.

Greater Than and Less Than Symbols (< and >): The two are used as tags to enclose HTML elements. This is usually used in text formatting, styling and other mark up languages and these characters, when used on your post title, cuts off your title URL.

Pound Sign or Hash (#): This character works specifically on links in certain sections of a webpage.

Let’s see how this works. When you look at the comments on each post written on ProBlogger, it has this Hash (#) symbol. So I picked this post:

Don’t Be Lazy: 9 Ways to Blog Smarter and Harder. When you click on the comment stats or icon on post pages, to access the comments on this post, you will see the link look like this http://www.problogger.net/archives/2013/06/18/9-ways-to-blog-smarter-and-harder/comment-page-1/#comment-5204560 .

Hope you have seen the Hash (#) attached to the suffix of the post link? Now imagine you added this tag on your post title. You will confuse the browser by directing you to the comment page!

In a nutshell, using any of these special characters (apart from the ones I specified earlier) on your post title kills your chances of getting your blog post translated properly by web browsers and above all confuses your readers.

In Summary

There is no right way to write blog post titles. However, learning writing tips like these will put you ten steps ahead of your competitors.

Which other methods have you been using to write blog post titles that attract readers?  

Jackson Nwachukwu is an entrepreneur, a freelance writer and the founder of Content Practical Media. Are you looking for a creative web content writer or copywriter to help grow your business website/blog’s traffic and increase sales? Hire Jackson to write for you.