You know what it feels like to be ignored?
It’s like sweating a bucketful of blood, splitting your head in bits trying to write your best, drooling long hours over the laptop keyboard…and no one even noticed it.
That hardboiled, dogged work got you nothing but potatoes.
Better be “little ole dweeb” living in a cave than to bear such silence to your online effort.
I mean, who doesn’t want it?
To have a metric ton of eyeballs frolicking to your new blog post. To have oodles of visitors tooting the love on social media. To have a dollop of thank-you emails flooding your inbox.
Who the heck doesn’t want it?
But you see, on this web space, where this readers are always right, you’ve got to dance to their tunes, not play your tune and hope anyone would come running to dance.
Not getting the picture?
Taken, you pick some ideas off the top of nowhere (most likely a rejected pile of outdated web ideas), you slap together 500 to 750 words, mixed that with a blog image you ripped off Google, and published that piece….
Rubbing your palm. Licking your fingers. Salivating and watching how the crowd would troop to that little middling crap you just threw on there.
They never showed.
The last person who mistakenly landed on your blog thought your writing reeked of fart.
When you refreshed and saw 1 comment, you’re quick to check who’s found you.
It was just some stupid little trackback from an old post you linked to. Better be dead than watch your writings be ignored this way.
Anyway your blog and your dream can be salvaged?
Well, no one can promise absolute triumph for you (the grave truth, mehn), but you can wade through that water just fine if you learn a few writing tricks that work.
But first, what are you doing wrong? What’s making your writing disgust your blog readers?
Your Cheat Sheet For Writing Compelling Content
Do you know why thousands of readers flock to blogs like Boost Blog Traffic, Copyblogger, Goinswriter, Be A Better Blogger, drown their comments section with reams of comments, flood their subscriber list, shout their content on social media?
No, it’s not really because they have big names. Though that counts much.
It’s because you couldn’t not drool over every content they publish.
If you clicked back and not read their content, it’s for one of these reasons:
- It’s not exactly the information you’re looking for.
- You’re in a rush and would certainly get back to it.
- You’re darn too lazy to read.
All in all, you couldn’t not love the content those blogs produce.
Their writing is darn so good you think you’re before a nicely made dish, cutting them steak up and chucking them down your throat. Yummy thing.
Their writings taste (yes, taste) like a hot chocolate laced with a metric ton vanilla ice cream.
And so, besides their ability to simplify difficult topics, you can’t ignore the fact their writings draw you in, grab you hard on the butt, and lead you to change or cry out, “OMG, grandma’s got to see this!”
Think your writings can be like that, too? Think it’s no fat chance anyone would even pay attention to what you have written?
As I mentioned earlier, no one can outright promise absolute victory for you, but if you knew what made your writings akin to a toddler’s poop, you’ll be better off fixing the glitches and getting some flaring number of eyeballs on your writings.
Ready to quit publishing content that gets you squat? Let’s dig in:
1. You Don’t Story-Tell
Look at me, did I mention that you didn’t slap some good old-fashioned anecdotes to your posts introductions because you read it works wonder for drawing readers in?
Did I say you didn’t attempt to string some made up claptrap in the hope that someone would just appreciate you for it?
But I’m saying that if you did pull off storytelling well, you probably should be worried about your blog crashing due to traffic spike.
Because good storytelling gets the nasties, baby.
Or why do you think this post got over one million views?
Why do you think it’s sister post got over 493 comments and the comment had to be closed, meanwhile?
It’s because of good storytelling.
And the truth is, it is quite difficult to pull off an awe-inspiring story that would draw tears from your readers’ eyes.
If your stories aren’t doing that, making your readers want to beat down your comment sections, or if you aren’t using storytelling at all, it is time to learn this hard truth:
The web loves storytelling. And you better be giving it to them.
If you’re a greenhorn and you can’t shell out sensational, highly emotional, and lesson-packed stories in your blog posts, your fat chance is to read great stories.
Yes, great writers steal, that’s what.
John Keats gained mastery over poetry by reading and imitating the style of great poets in his time.
Zora Neale Hurston became a mind-boggling black writer by studying the works of other and writing exactly in their own style.
And here’s what Robert Greene says about gaining mastery over anything, especially storytelling in this case:
“As you continue to observe and follow the lead of others, you gain clarity, learning the rules and seeing how things work and fit together. Soon, you bring your own style and individuality into play.” [Emphasis mine]
Simply, the more you read (and practice) great storytelling by pro bloggers or classic writers, the better you get at it. And the more you’ll be able to infuse your style and individuality into it.
At least, that’s how I pulled off this compelling post without scratching my rear on spikes.
Read great storytelling, practice some and you’ll get better.
And if you think learning to storytell in your writing isn’t worth it, wonder how this post has gotten over a million view and over 5000 social shares.
Get your lazy arse to work.
2. You Don’t Use Analogies
Even Jesus’s best stories used tons of analogies. Duh! It was His favourite strategy for simplifying tough topics for the less-informed crowd.
Think the story of the good Samaritan to illustrate the need to love your neighbour. Think the story of the prodigal son to prove God’s love for a repentant sinner. And think “the Kingdom of God is like a man who went to obtain a kingdom for himself”.
What is analogy? Drawing comparison between your point and a relevant situation in order to foster clarity and deepen readers’ understanding.
You want your audience to get your point, so you compare a relatable instance.
In Jon Morrow’s description of the futility of publishing great content on your blog, he wrote: it is like teaching your best course to an empty classroom.
You can picture the frustration when you trot around in a classroom, giving your best lecture, only the classroom is empty.
And that’s exactly the foolishness of publishing remarkable content on an obscure blog.
What about comparing your writing to a toddler’s poop? Or marketing your business in a desert?
That means your writing is worthless (sorry, but true) and you’re giving your best on your blog; only no one is paying attention.
How do you get this little ole Sammy done?
Think of an event, situation, or life occurrence that relate to the point you’re trying to make. Then compare that to your point.
You’ll pull off engaging analogies if you learn to use humorous analogies.
It gets difficult and pretty nasty when your example isn’t known to your audience or it is totally off point.
For example, “Delaying to start your online business is like wishing a bowl of eba will make itself, ” is a less perfect example if your readers aren’t Nigerians. Most online readers don’t even know what garri is (just saying).
Make sure both comparisons fit.
Here are examples to stir your imagination:
Writing boring content is like stringing poop together and hoping your readers will pay attention.
Depending on Google alone for traffic is like waiting for the US President to find your blog soon.
Waiting for blog readers to find your blog by themselves is like arsing around a river and hoping a crab will blink its eyes. You’ll wait a lifetime.
As Glen Long wrote, “If you can get your reader to buy into your analogy, it can be hugely persuasive.”
What’s the power of analogy, you ask?
How did I pull you into this post in the introduction?
3. You Don’t Create Cliffhangers
What’s the lifeblood of a thrilling thriller novel?
Those small surprises that engage your curiosity and drag you on to open to the next page. They stir you to think “so what’s next”. And the only way to find that out is to flip on to the next pages.
See, web readers have the attention span of a fly. And getting them to read your masterly content, bond with it, and still comment is what you want.
You can’t get that done if you don’t their minuscule attention with entertaining details and breathtaking cliffhangers; giving them a reason to keep scrolling.
Jon Morrow is a master at doing this.
See jaw-dropping cliffhangers in these pieces:
- On Dying, Mothers, And Fighting For Your Ideas.
- How to be Unforgettable.
- How to Be Smart in a World of Dumb Bloggers.
- On Fear, Guts, and Finding The Courage To Launch Your Digital Business.
Cliffhangers are common in movies and novels. But are they common in blog posts? You bet.
How do you pull them off without sounding like a broken record?
As a web writer, you could:
- Leverage Curiosity: Who wants to be in the dark about a vital information? Nobody. If you were bedeviled by an obnoxious body mass, and you see this headline, “how would you like to lose 50 pounds in 5 minutes?” Seriously, that draws you in and you want to read on. So, sate your readers’ curiosity with an intriguing question. Like this: Why do some bloggers succeed while others fail? Trust me, you’d want to know.
- Introduce a story: Remember the power of storytelling? Enthrall your readers with one. Like this: The doctor cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, but I have bad news.” What in gawd’s name is the bad news? Yikes! Them suckers would want to know.
- Use depressing segue: We fall for empathy because we humans are highly emotional creatures. Keep your readers scrolling by employing a depressing segue in your sentences. Like this post: You drown your dreams with junk food or booze or shopping sprees, all the while telling yourself you’re doing the right thing.
But are you?
“No,” a little voice whispers inside of you. “No, this is all very, very wrong.”
Oh God… (then it leads on to the next sub-head)
- Yell Exclamation: “What tha heck!”, “What?”, “Heck”. Yelling at your readers (smartly) stops them in their tracks, itches their curiosity gland and sets them scrolling to read your reason for yelling in the first place. Mind you, you had better have a good reason for yelling. Just saying.
Examples of common cliffhangers:
- For example,
- Sound silly, uhn?
- Here’s my point
- Think it’s never possible?
- Let me tell you a story,
- She didn’t believe me. But I pulled it off. Here’s how I did it.
- What? You think you’re any better? Let’s see then.
Internal cliffhangers are made of suspense. You want your readers to transit from one sentence, one paragraph, one sub-head to the next and have fun doing it.
Tie a juicy carrot to the end of the rope, drag and twitch, then watch the bunny rabbit follow your bait.
But that rabbit has got to be rewarded real good. Know what I mean?
4. You Don’t Scream At Your Readers
Ever wanted a kid to poop in his pant or knock him out of hurting himself?
You scream his name.
How do you stop a toddler from playing into a Rottweiler’s mouth? You sing his name? Hell, no!
You shout the heck out of his name.
See, web readers are like kids, sometimes you have to knock them out of their delirium to get them to notice your point and take it to heart.
How do you do that?
Here’s Derek Halpern correcting the web’s stupidity with a daring yell. (He uses not a word, but a sentence instead: “If you’re not building an email list, you’re an idiot.”)
If you aren’t interjecting your writings with those staccato bursts, you’re like a mom who watches her kid dancing towards a beehive unprotected, and all she’s drawling is,”don’t go there, baby”.
Want to make a dog pull its tail between its legs and scram? You shout “Get!”
Want to snap your readers out of their doldrum? Sprinkle these interjections.
However, do it too often and you’ll come off as a swayback or a confused moron.
Or imagine the effect screaming often at a child has on him later. Nothing.
You don’t want that, see. But you’ll know when it’s time to use any of those.
Heck! You’ll know when it’s important to use them to emphasise a point.
5. You Don’t Laden Your Writings With Emotions
There’s no way this post could have gotten over 5092 comments and 1.8 million shares on Facebook without fretting people’s emotions.
There’s no way that same post could have beat the heck out of this mother post without really kicking up readers’ emotional spine.
There’s no way in the world your posts will ever move a fly or scare the brain off those crickets if they don’t stir readers’ emotions like wildfire.
Why did Martin Luther King Jr’s greatest speech, I Have A Dream, go viral?
Why did Winston Churchill’s speech against the Nazi’s barbarity cause a stir?
How do great men win the hearts of their listeners and get them to act against their own self-will?
They fret their emotions. They tickle the heck out of that sensitive gland. They poop a bucketful of empathetic words on their brains. And you see men running to do their bidding like they’re on coke.
Empathy still remains a way to grow into your audience’s heart, touch their heart raw, and get them to leave you comments like this:
And how do you pull off emotion-laden posts?
I could tell you to call the devil out of you the next time you sit to write.
I could tell you to smash your head against the wall till it hurts so bad you’re banging out hot, touching words out of pain and anger.
I could tell you to look on your past and find out what truly, truly hurt you and fix that into your next post and that’s sure to go viral.
But you see, I’ll be letting loose a lot of hell on the web that way. The post could go viral but you’ll likely go bonkers afterward.
So? Skip those routes.
These are better options though:
- Use power words.
- Understand your audience’s pain point and describe their problems in their exact language.
- Tell a truly touching story that’s packed with emotions.
If this trick doesn’t work, I wonder what else will.
*Okay, ideas are never used up. Totally forgot.*
Get Off Your Sulky Butt and Write To Win Your Readers’ Hearts
You know it.
That your writing deserves the attention you crave for it.
That you can write the next big thing that gets the worldbeats to stomp down your door.
That your readers should be flocking to your blog because you’ve got this talent made from heaven.
Now, that’s possible.
It is possible to write your way to your readers’ heart.
It is possible to set the entire web on fire with your next blog post.
It is possible to quit the mutt and start to enjoy grand result for your online efforts.
So, start to use the points exposed here. They work like hot burritos on an empty stomach. No doubt.
Because, you see, loads of posts go viral every now and then…but soon fade away into obscurity.
But a post that’s laden with great storytelling, laced with cliffhangers, peppered with analogies, and packed with emotions…will grow on to become one of web’s evergreen masterpieces.
I can betcha.
Go kick some butts.
Yes, starting NOW.
Image source: Attitudes4Innovation
Yusuff Busayo is a freelance writer, blogger and a nerdy chatterbox. Once a confused, witless and dead-broke writer himself, he now delivers beginners from their blogging stupidities and helps clients to cure ‘online obscurity syndrome’. Find out how he can rid your writing skill of fluff here and how helps small businesses to double their income here.