This 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:
- Write a post explaining what causes your audience’s problem, and how to solve it.
- Write a post explaining why your audience hasn’t solved their problem, and what they can change.
- Write a post identifying a problem that your audience didn’t know they had.
- 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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Discipline Captain Needa. When your suppliers screw-up, you need to take them to task to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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?.
- 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.
- 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.