You have several articles but nobody wants to share them. People are having a look but then leave never to return again. You don’t really know what to write about. You tried sharing your post on Reddit, but it withered and died with no upvotes. Or maybe it did attract some traffic - just not from the people interested in your services.
But what if you knew exactly what your audience wanted? What if your content resonated so well, that people would eagerly upvote, share, and subscribe for more? And what if you knew how to reach precisely the people who needed your services the most?
There is a process for that, but it requires some work.
Here is an article about writing style from this very blog. A few days ago it reached the number one spot on lobste.rs:
#1 on lobste.rs
This resulted in 150 visits and three signups. Those that didn’t sign up yet might do so in the future. And that’s just one site.
This is evergreen content, too. The article contains timeless knowledge and can be used and reused. I can submit it again in a year or two. I can rewrite it and use it as a guest post. I can use portions of it to answer questions in online forums. I put a lot of work into it once, and now I have a valuable marketing tool.
So without further ado…
There’s a common misconception that you need to be a renowned expert to be able to help people on the internet. The only thing that you need is to be more knowledgeable in one particular area than the person you’re helping. Is there something you’ve spent months or years doing? Surely it’s conceivable someone else is only just starting. And even if not, nothing is stopping you from doing a little research.
The best articles make the reader feel understood like you are talking directly to them and solving their exact problem. Here’s how to achieve that effect.
To look for topics that your audience is interested in we’ll need to do a little online spying.
Where do they post? Forums, Slack channels, Facebook groups, subreddits - I have a big spreadsheet with over seventy communities. If you have clients then ask them. If not do a little investigation.
If someone took the effort to start a thread then something must have bothered them. If someone took the time to reply then they must have gone through it as well. If someone upvoted the thread then they must have benefited from the discussion.
If a particular topic pops up every few months and has a few comments and upvotes then you’ve found your topic.
What are some common complaints? What do people wish they knew, but don’t? Is there any recurring advice? Write it down and you’ll have everything you need to write an engaging blog post.
When a friend asked me to review his write-up I happily obliged. Then I thought that I could make the reply into an article. I checked a few of my favourite communities for entrepreneurs and indeed, people were asking for writing advice. I collected some of that advice, added it to my own, and got a great piece of work. It reached the first spot both on Indie Hackers and Lobste.rs.
Here is how Lukasz from Personal Discount does it:
How Lukasz does it
Congratulations! Now you know how to write an engaging article.
That’s all nice and good, but the purpose of a blog is to sell. What’s the use of writing if people will come and go? Let’s see how we can make them stick around.
This post from Mark Manson contains 16 links to his other articles. By the time you’re done with it, you’ll have more tabs open than you did the last time you had to check something on Wikipedia real quick.
Did you finish a new article? Update your old ones to mention it.
How many problems did you encounter this week? How many of them have you solved by doing a Google search? Can you recall the names of any of the sites that helped you? While some websites support themselves with ads, that’s not you - you’re selling a product and you have to be remembered.
A CTA is a Call To Action. You can either ask the users to sign up for your mailing list or invite them to create an account. Add a Call To Action in the middle or at the bottom of your article.
There is never an audience reading your article, it’s always just one person. That’s why you should maintain a conversational tone throughout your writing, and that includes your calls to action. Make it a logical conclusion of the article.
“Sign up for my mailing list” is nice, but I think the one I made at the bottom is better.
“Create a free account” seems good, but would anyone on their deathbed ever say “I wish I’d created more free accounts?”. I can, however, imagine someone saying “I wish I focused more on promotion”.
For this article I’d do something like this:
Here is a great example of a CTA from Mark Manson’s Blog:
Ahrefs does more subtle calls to action:
I keep a list of my articles in a spreadsheet and rate them with on the following scale:
Congratulations! Now you know how to write good articles and how to judge their value. That was the easy part.
But you can’t rely on people stumbling upon your articles randomly. Blogging experts say you should spend 20% of your time writing and 80% promoting.
See how to do content marketing next.