Two Ingredients of Awesome: Content and Metaphor

traffic jamThis is a guest post by Danny Iny.

Traffic isn’t the answer.

Don’t get me wrong – if you want your blog to grow, then you need traffic.

But that’s just the start, and it isn’t even that hard. You can write guest posts, do SEO, or buy traffic, but that’s all temporary traffic.

What you really need is for that traffic to become permanent – for someone who visits your blog to be so enthralled by your work that they return over and over again.

The magic key that turns temporary traffic into permanent traffic is content. If your content is truly awesome, then people will keep on coming back.

So the question is… how to create awesome content?

First Ingredient: Content that Matters

You may have heard this criticism leveled against Twitter, but it applies to the blogosphere, too.

When someone complains that they “don’t care what you had for breakfast”, they’re really complaining that your content is simply irrelevant.

This is the first step to making your content awesome: write about something that your audience is interested in reading about.

Your options for this aren’t all that broad:

  1. Write a post explaining what causes your audience’s problem, and how to solve it.
  2. Write a post explaining why your audience hasn’t solved their problem, and what they can change.
  3. Write a post identifying a problem that your audience didn’t know they had.
  4. Write a post about someone else who has their problem, and how they solved it.

There are other variations, but they are just that: variations. The key is to figure out what content will matter to your audience.

But that’s not enough…

“Six Things You Already Knew About Being Productive”

Before I tell you how to make your content truly interesting, let’s look at an all-too-common example of a terrible post, and figure out what it is missing.

Here’s the example, which I’m sure you’ve seen many times before: a post with a headline like “Six Tricks For Being More Productive”, followed by an introductory paragraph about productivity, six suggestions like avoiding multi-tasking, sleeping more, and creating to-do lists, and a concluding paragraph saying that now you should put it into practice.

I’ve seen dozens of these, and they’re terrible. But why?

The content may not be great, but it isn’t the content that is truly the problem – it is the delivery. Imagine, for example, that the very same post was titled: “Six Productivity Lessons That I Learned from Darth Vader”, and the list of six tips was:

  1. Force-choke one person at a time. Darth Vader knew that if he tried to force-choke multiple people at once, he would fail. If he didn’t multi-task, then why should you?
  2. Spend time in your rest pod. Remember the scene where Darth Vader comes out of his black sleeping pod? He knew to rest, and so should you.
  3. Focus on your Alderan. When destroying Alderan was at the top of Vader’s to-do list, nothing could distract him. Be as focused as Vader.
  4. Discipline Captain Needa. When your suppliers screw-up, you need to take them to task to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
  5. Find an Emperor to keep you accountable. Darth Vader was accountable to the Emperor, and that kept him focused. Find someone who can hold you accountable in the same way.
  6. Use the Force. Just as Vader’s strength flowed from the Force, so should you learn to trust your instincts and work with your strengths.

Now, granted, this isn’t my best work ever, but do you see how much more interesting it is than the boring list of six tips that preceded it? The content is exactly the same… so what’s changed?

Second Ingredient: Metaphor

The difference is metaphor; whereas the first example was just a list of tips, the second example actually illustrated those tips.

That illustration is the real key – it is a force multiplier when it comes to the value of your content, and there’s a simple template that you can use to put it into practice: “What [METAPHOR] Can Teach You About [YOUR SUBJECT]”. You can switch it around if you want (like I did with the Darth Vader example), but this simple line will serve as your blueprint for making posts a lot more interesting than they otherwise would have been.

So what kind of illustrations can you use? Here are a few things you can start with:

  1. A character from a popular movie or television show, or the name of the movie itself. Examples include Keep to the Code: Financial Advice from Captain Jack Sparrow. Savvy?, John McClane, CEO: What ‘Die Hard’ Taught Me About Marketing and Desperate Housewives on Writing, Storytelling, and Selling.
  2. A character from your favorite book, or even your favorite author. Examples include The Jason Bourne Approach to Business, The Freakonomics Guide to Making Boring Content Sexy and What Do The Roads of your Marketing Say about You?.
  3. A nursery rhyme or cartoon that you watched as a child. Examples include Social Marketing Lessons from Dr. Seuss, The 7 Childrens’ Book MBA, and Entrepreneurs in Never Never Land: Leadership Lessons from Peter Pan.
  4. The hottest celebrities in media, politics, and history. Examples include If Buddha Was CEO: The Four Immeasurable in Business, Aristotle’s Ancient Guide to Compelling Copy and Three Blogging Lessons from Leonardo da Vinci.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but using it you should be able to come up with dozens of interesting post ideas. All that’s left is for you to start writing!

Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the definitive marketing training program for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-marketers. Visit his site today for a free cheat sheet about Why Guru Strategies for Blog Growth DON’T WORK… and What Does!, or follow him on Twitter @DannyIny.

Image Credit

About the Author

  • http://bellybuttonringstry.com belly

    Nice very detailed post you have.

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say.

  • http://www.screwlife.com/ Chris-Vincent

    Good Post, surely content is the key. Traffic without content is pretty useless. Links will bring the traffic to your site but they will quickly run away since they will not find anything valuable on there…

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Exactly right, Chris. In the long term, it really is content that matters. :)

  • http://www.realityburst.com Eugene

    Well Danny, I don’t even know what to say any more. Every time I click on a new article in my Google Reader you’re the author. At least you’re writing good stuff :)

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thanks! :D

  • http://www.techatlast.com Olawale Daniel

    This is really powerful. It is a secret that can make you write like a king (with authority). It will certainly helps bring out the best in the write if the fellow makes use of this techniques.

    Thanks Danny for sharing this.

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thank you, Olawale – I’m glad you found the post helpful! :)

  • http://jesseoguns.blogspot.com Jesse Oguntimehin

    Daanny,

    You stated the points clearly and you gave a vivid example. I like that. One key take away for me from this post is: * Be observant of things happening around you, in books, real life, blogs etc, use Real examples [Metaphors] to illustrate whatever you are presenting.

    Personally, I like to relate with the problem that I am trying to help my audience solve and show them how I was able to apply the rules or steps.

    Whenever I do not have an experience I usually hold back. Now, I can use other people’s account to explain my point. thanks Danny. :)

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thank you, Jesse. You’re right – it’s always better to relate with actual experience if you can, because you’re that much more credible, and that makes the CONTENT so much more valuable.

      But in situations where you don’t have the direct experience, it helps a great deal to use an example or metaphor – people will be better able to connect with our writing, learn from it, and better their situations. :)

  • http://localhoncho.com/ Paul @ Fort Wayne Internet Marketing

    I agree that content is a need to get permanent traffic. This is an excellent guide for fellow bloggers to increase our web presence by using high quality content. The metaphor is also a good strategy since it can really attract readers. Very useful post, thanks Danny!

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thank you, Paul, I’m glad you liked it. Yeah, you’re right – I was focusing more on engaging readers, but it can do a good job of grabbing their attention, too. Thank you for pointing that out!

  • http://www.journeytopeak.com Wong Jia Jun

    Awesome Danny! Indeed get out of the boring box is crucial when information junks are everywhere nowadays. Some information might still be same all around, including many marketing and advertising. It is how we tweak and forming a new attraction over a same product that matters.

    Like the brand of Coca-Cola, they’re always selling the same drinks as 10,20,30 years ago, but how they continuously bring a refreshing experience to customers that does matter and keep them winning in the market share.

    Nice post Danny. :)

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thanks, Wong. I like your example of Coca-Cola having to continually refresh their marketing to keep the attention of their audience. In exactly the same way, we have to keep refreshing our approaches to conveying the same information (though new information is good too, of course!).

  • http://www.essaysale.com Thesis Writing

    Great post very informative information thanks for sharing this great post

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thank you – I’m glad you liked it. :)

  • http://www.sandfordhighschool.com/ Accredited High School Diploma Online

    Simply love this article, after reading it i am your fan.

  • http://www.pricewisefavors.com/bridal-shower-favors-c-3.html Ernest @ unique wedding favors

    I was actually expecting a post from Oni but then I got and read your post instead. I like it. :) Good job Danny. I hope someday I can be a great writer like Oni and yourself and be a guest writer in here.

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      I’m glad to hear it, Ernest – that’s high praise! It’s all about practice, and applying exactly the sort of thing that I talked about in the post. The more you practice, the better at it you’ll get. :)

  • http://www.incomepanel.com Income Panel

    Hi,

    The summery of this article is “The magic key that turns temporary traffic into permanent traffic is content”

    This is the thing, people can come to your site whether you send them emials or not when you have the right content.

    Thanks for this.
    Roy

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thank you, Roy. And you’re right – that’s exactly the point. :)

      • http://www.incomepanel.com Income Panel

        Ya, that is it.

        Hope to be a Guest Blogger on your site oneday.

        Cheers!

  • http://www.jonalford.com Jon

    Danny,

    High quality man. You got me to chuckle a few times as well. You know, you tell it like it is with no sugar-coating and I really appreciate it. You also didn’t go against your own advice in this piece.

    Thanks for the mention(s) here, now off I go to use the Force to help me catch a few winks…

    Jon

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Thanks, Jon! Yeah, I was trying to make the Star Wars part a bit lighter – I hope people don’t take me too seriously there. :)

      You’ve got it – use the Force, Jon… ;)

  • http://newinfomercials.com Esha Putra

    yeah, same stuffs but in a different metaphor and cover..
    i love it!
    I really love the idea….
    thanks for sharing it…

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      You got it, Esha – you can even find articles out there that you really like (in terms of the content), and then write new articles about the same stuff, but using a different metaphor. :)

  • http://www.tonergreen.com/Brother-DR350-Drum-Unit-Remanufactured-p/bdr350.htm Brother dr350 drum

    Content is the soul of your blog. Good content means a good soul.

  • http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/blog/author/jtropper/ Jana Quinn

    My knee-jerk reaction to most structure posts is to object and get all English-majory about art not being constrained and how apparent structures are tired, but then I step back.

    I step back and realize that not only does it make sense… not only does it work… but I also do it myself. And I am attracted to posts that have similar styles. Part of it is curiosity – what DO Razzles and “Of Mice and Men” have in common?” – and part of it is the imagery.

    Abstract concepts are constantly made easier by comparison and metaphor. This strategy also is likely to draw in those who may not be interested in your mainstream content but may know a guy who knows a guy who would be or may someday need your services. One brand impression can go a long way.

    P.S. Danny, thanks for the plug to my Die Hard post!

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Hey Jana, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, it’s a common refrain that creativity shouldn’t be stifled by structure, but really there’s always structure, and sometimes it’s the structure that produces the best work.

      It also relates to the fact that as human beings, we learn by metaphor and story, not by absorbing abstract concepts – it’s just how we’re wired. :)

  • http://www.openxcell.com Openxcell

    I think website reputation is based on Relevant & unique content. Points mentioned is really very useful in doing same. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Yup, you’ve got it! :)

  • http://www.wholesalependant.org/ Buy energy pendant

    Nice tips actually these are not 2 these are more then 2 but nice and very informative as i myself was not consider these things so much while writing a content but now you forced me to think about that thanx for the post

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Yeah, you’re right, it’s more than two, but these are the two broad categories. I’m glad you appreciated it!

  • Adeolu Akintimehin

    Though i am young in blog arena as i want to call it,
    I am certainly impresed with this content in its composition using metaphor to drive home the message and cushion up the readers knowlegde base.
    Thanks i hope to guest blog on your one day.

  • http://roz-bennetts.blogspot.com/ Roz Bennetts

    I don’t really have a blog that is professional in any meaningful sense, it’s just a bit of a showcase for my sales related thoughts, other peoples sales related thoughts and some of my hobbies. I’ve been questioning for a while the wisdom of having hobbies on my blog and have come to the conclusion that I really need two blogs like I have two Twitter accounts (one personal and one professional).

    I’m no where near in the league of some of the posters above (and don’t want to be) but I did want a bit more traffic and to know that people liked what I put up there (comments). I haven’t yet made the split into two blogs but when I do your guide will come in handy in forcing me to question the purpose of my posts and also make them more appealing.

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      Hi Roz, thanks for stopping by!

      It doesn’t really matter what the blog is about, or what it is showcasing – you want it to be interesting and engaging, right?

      That being said, two separate blogs might make sense, if they’re targeting two separate audiences. Is that the case?

      I wish you lots of success – with both of your blogs. If you have any questions about which I might be able to shed some light, feel free to shoot me an email to danny (at) firepolemarketing (dot) com.

      Have a great weekend, Roz!

  • http://www.learningedge.org Jose Lepervanche

    Very interesting tips about content and metaphors. I use nautical and other metaphors to keep students interested in the mix of management and innovative technologies. I am following several blogs to see how blogging can be used in management education.

    • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny @ Firepole Marketing

      I’m very glad you liked the post, Jose! I’m very interested in management education myself, so I’m heading over to take a look at your blog. :)

  • http://ww.blast4trafficnow.net Mike @blast4traffic

    Hi Danny, this post is superb. I’m glad it was published by Oni, the young blogger I respect so much. Your advice and tips in this particular post is definitely a must to put to work. Thanks a million!

  • http://www.cash4wealthng.com cash4wealth

    Danny this is a great post and quite revealing