7 Rules to Writing Blog Posts That Get Read and Shared

I’m finally getting around to watching the recordings from Social Media Marketing World 2014 and these notes came from the presentation by Michael HyattMichael Hyatt

 

He started out by sharing his own story of growing his blog – it started out very slowly for the first four years and then in 2008 jumped up to 20,000 unique visitors per month.  These slides are also available on his site at http://michaelhyatt.com/smmw2014

Michael Hyatt blog traffic

He then went into the 7 rules he’s developed from his own blogging success.

1: Focus on the reader

People want to know what’s in it for me?  You need to know more about your reader so that you can give them the information that they can use.  Conduct a reader survey using something like Survey Monkey

He said in 2007 he was thinking about giving up.  But in 2008 he conducted a reader survey that allowed him to change his content and focus on the reader.

Use some language like ” I want to make my blog better and more relevant to your needs and interests. To do that, I need to know more about YOU. As a result, I have created my 2013 Reader Survey”

He suggests collecting this demographic data

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Education
  • Marital Status
  • Children
  • Income
  • Location

And then also collecting psychographic info such as

  • Habits (where do they spend their time, or their money)
  • Frustrations (what’s keeping them awake at night)
  • Aspirations (what would they like to have if they could)

ACTION ITEM

  • Create an audience survey and ask your current readers or clients to participate
  • Collect responses for a week or two, then summarize insights in a blog post

 

2: Speak in YOUR authentic voice

Be yourself – people have a BS meter.

Think about using one of three voices:

Sage-expert.  They can speak with the voice of authority.  Only be a sage if you are a true expert.

Sherpa-guide.  They have been to the mountain and will lead you up the mountain.  They have some experience and share their experience.

Struggler-fellow traveler.  The will go along with you on the ride.  They sometimes have misadventures but it’s still powerful.

Don’t try to be someone you are not.

ACTION ITEM:

  • Decide which of these roles is most authentic to who you are and begin writing more intentionally with this voice

 

3: Create a Powerful Headline

So many blog posts get missed because of a weak headline.  People are scanners- you need the right bait.

Two great resources that can help:

It’s ok to use templates for your headlines:

His 3 favorite:

The Numbered Sequences Headline

  • 5 reasons why you should take a nap every day
  • 12 ways to get more Twitter followers
  • The 7 benefits to keeping a daily journal

The Provocative Question Headline

  • What is the Internet doing to our brains?
  • How do you kill 11 million people?
  • Should you hire someone to proofread your blog posts?

The How To Headline

  • How to launch a self-hosted blog in 20 minutes or less
  • How to organize Evernote for maximum efficiency
  • How to become a morning person

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Buy and read Ray Edward’s book, “Writing Riches”
  • Buy and read David Garfinkel’s book, “Advertising Headlines that Make You Rich”
  • Write at least three headlines for every new blog post

 

4: Include a RELEVANT photo

Michael Hyatt blogDON’T use searched images-images that you don’t have permission to use.

Shutter Stock

I personally like 123rf.com

Avoid cliché photos (people shaking hands, overused photos, etc.)  You can even use a personal photo that will help connect your audience to you.

 ACTION ITEM:

  • Start including a compelling photo with every post

 

5: Lead with a personal story

If there is a secret formula, this is it.  Telling people your own story gives people a way to connect with you and makes you a real person.

Mine your own experience.  He told a story about how his dad was injured in the Korean War and walked with a limp.  Michael thought that was how men walked so he also started walking with a limp until his mom told him that he didn’t need to do that, his dad had been injured.  He used that story in the blog post Leadership and the Law of Replication.

Be vulnerable.  He also told a story about how he had failed at a business which he wrote about in this blog post:  Turning Failure to Your Advantage.

I love this quote that he shared as well.

Michael Hyatt quote

ACTION ITEM:

  • Start keeping a journal

 

6: Write scannable copy

People are scanners.

Use sub-heads to break it up.  This gives people a sign of progress.

Use lists – bulleted lists, numbered lists are so scannable.

Use simple words, short paragraphs, direct sentences

 ACTION ITEMS:

  • When you’re finished writing your post, go back and add subheads, bullets, and or numbers
  • Break up compound sentences and long paragraphs

 

7: Make your posts easy to share

Use widgets,plug-ins, Social media buttons, share bar.

Make sure these pop up in a formatted post.

Get Noticed theme from WordPress (Michael uses this theme)

Add This plug in

Share This plug in

My favorite share bar is Digg Digg

ACTION ITEM:

  • Install a social sharing plug in

His summary is that there is no silver bullet.  Just focus on the fundamentals and don’t give up.

 

  • I LOVED his session… and had to wait to watch on replay too as I couldn’t exactly just duck out of my session to go in and see him…tempting ( I did really wish I could clone myself that morning haha). He is an amazing presenter and I remember reading a couple of years ago that he had taken 4 years to get to 1000 unique visitors and it really gave me a boost of confidence to know I was on the right track. It’s also great to hear him talk about inflection points, as they do happen and so many bloggers give up! His blogging story is such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing Andrea!

  • Marketing Mercenary

    Great reminders for effective blog writing! Thanks for sharing this. — JR

  • Donna Brown

    This is very helpful information. My blog sometimes doesn’t get read by anyone for days on end. Thanks for showing me what I haven’t been doing.

  • I loved his session too! It was inspiring to see that growth and have the reminder to be patient! Thanks Donna!

  • Thanks Jerry!

  • Glad it helped – and it’s a good reminder to be patient as it takes time to build!