10-Step Formula for Writing Great Content [Free PDF]
Thanks to the internet, everyone has a voice. And with millions of voices flooding the social sphere, both good and bad content is being published every second. In general, the great content rises to the top and the bad content gets lost in the shuffle. I've been blogging for a little over a year and, believe me, I've had plenty of posts get lost in the shuffle and it's no fun. Do you want people to read what you have to say?
After writing three 1,000+ word posts each week for over a year, I've slowly hammered out a reliable method to structure a post that creates a natural flow for the reader and makes it easier on you, the author. I've built my own method using a combination of ideas and practices from several authors including:
Michael Hyatt: The Anatomy of an Effective Blog Post
Donald Miller: How to Tell a Story
Paul Jarvis: Content marketing isn’t the dirty word you think it is
TRIAC: Paragraph and Paper Organization
The order that they are listed is the order in which they appear in the post. The numbers in parentheses show the order in which you will probably end up doing each step. For example, it's easiest to begin by writing down the main point you're trying to convey (the fifth item on the list) rather than with an image (the first item on the list).
1. Image (10)
A compelling image is often a great way to get people to take a second glance at your content. We are a visual culture and the quicker we can get striking imagery in front of the reader, the more likely we are to get them to spend time reading what we have to say.
2. Title (9)
Admittedly, this is one of my weakest areas. Which, consequently, helps me clearly see the value of it! A catchy title that isn't deceiving, clearly explains what the post is about, yet leaves you wanting more is just the thing to get people to click through to your page.
3. Set Up Your Argument (7)
Start off your post by setting up your argument. Imagine setting the scene in a movie. You're giving the audience all of the relevant information to catch them up on what you're about to say. Go back and reread the first paragraph of this blog post to see what I mean.
4. Introduce the Pain Point (2)
This is where you actually connect with your audience on an emotional level. Introduce the pain point that they can relate to. If you can give a quick anecdote about that particular pain in your life, that always helps to endear the audience to your message.
5. State your Thesis (1)
Give the reader a clear vision for what you are about to tell them. Let them know that the solution to their problems is just ahead and to keep reading! Try to keep your thesis short and to the point and don't use a bunch of fancy words. You're going for clear, direct communication here.
6. Flesh it Out (4)
This would be what you're reading right now - the body of the post. Give them the full, fleshed out content. Try to give three or more points just to give the content some meat on its bones.
7. Illustrate your Points (5)
People relate to story. Robert McKee - considered to be THE authority on story - suggests that story calibrates a moral compass in our brains. It gets us on board with the story teller. If you can add in personal anecdotes here, this is a wonderful way to show the audience that you've been in their shoes and you're teaching from experience. I asked my Dad not long ago about how I could improve my writing and he told me, "use more personal stories. People like to be able to relate to the day-to-day lives of the authors they read." Good call, Dad. You and Robert McKee should be friends.
8. Call to Action (6)
Sometimes your call to action is as simple as, "Use what I've taught you." Other times it's more direct and comes with a "Buy Now" button. Whatever the case, give the audience a logical next-step so that they aren't left hanging at the end of your post.
9. Describe the Outcome or Benefit (3)
Remind people of that pain point that you introduced in the beginning. You want to take them back to the reason they wanted to read this post in the first place and then give them the light at the end of the tunnel. What hope are you offering them? Give them a benefit of following your call to action and carrying through with what you've asked of them. The consequences for not following through? The pain.
10. Analysis and Conclusion (8)
However you see fit to wrap up your post, whether a short story, a quote, a recap of your points, it goes here. Tie it up in a nice neat bow and send it on its way.
Unless you're used to the process and it comes naturally, it helps to have this outline taped up to the wall near your workspace so you can reference as you write. I've created a downloadable PDF for you guys.
52 Blog Topics to Get You Started (one per week!)
The great thing about this method is that it's based off of the elements of story that our minds naturally relate to. Not only will it be easier for you to get your thoughts out on paper in a logical flow but it will make it both easy and enjoyable for your readers. Don't settle for mediocre content - make it great. By having a structure that you can reference again and again, you'll find yourself refining the process to fit your own style and audience. Even if you don't follow it religiously, it's a great framework from which to start.