One popular post can bring your more traffic and links than a month’s worth of your usual content.
In this post, I want to set you a challenge with the potential to launch your blog into the stratosphere.
Make the next post you write your most popular post ever.
The following ten tips form my key advice for tackling this task. I used all of them when hitting the Digg front page for the first time. There’s no blueprint you can follow to write an incredibly popular post, but you won’t have a chance unless you try. I’m confident these tips will give you a good shot at success.
1. Time is more important than talent. Work on something for eight hours and you can bet it will be good. You don’t need to spend that long, however (though that’s how long it took me to craft the first post I wrote that hit the Digg front page). More time means you can refine, format and fill your post with plenty of value. Take the time to really craft your content. It will show in the finished product.
2. Use your best idea. A post will never become wildly popular unless it fulfills a need, and does so emphatically. What’s something your niche wants but hasn’t got yet? Can you assemble a whole lot of really awesome (targeted) resources in one place? The more your posts helps people, the better it will do.
3. Use formatting to your advantage. These days, social media is key when it comes to launching your posts into the stratosphere. Social media users are notoriously spoiled for choice, however. Use formatting to emphasize the best aspects of your post. Hone in on your funniest lines, your most profound bits of advice, your best resources. Make them stand out.
4. Brainstorm headlines. There are probably one or two bloggers who’ve completely mastered the art of writing headlines for social media (you’ll know who they are). The rest of us haven’t been blessed with such skills. When you see a great headline, chances are it’s option #12 of a dozen choices. Few of us can think of a great headline straight away. Spend ten minutes brainstorming and you’re bound to stumble across something that works. A weak headline will cripple your post’s chances of success. It’s essential that you put a lot of work into getting it right.
5. Invest plenty of value in your post. Ever bookmarked or voted for something without completely reading it? We’ve all done it. It’s because of the ‘Wow’ factor — the presence of enough promised value in one place gets the reader enthusiastic about the post straight away. Instead of 5 tips, why not share 50? Instead of 9 resources, why not 40 or more?
7. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If your post looks good, it will draw readers in. Take the time to add images, thumbnails and formatting to what you create. Make your post a visual feast. With so much web content presented in a bland way, your post is guaranteed to stand out.
8. Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Readers will skip your waffly introduction. You can say the same in less words, particularly when you’re writing for an impatient reader: someone who wants to get straight into your tips/resources/opinions. Use your introduction to highlight why the reader should stick with your post. There’s a reason my post introductions mainly consist of: “In this post, I’m going to do this, this and that.” It’s what people really want to know: what am I getting in exchange for my attention?
9. Send messages with links. The best way to get a blogger to investigate your blog is by linking to them. We’ve got a natural desire to know what’s being said about us. If your post becomes really popular, each link inside it should send enough traffic outwards to be worth investigating. Be generous with your outbound links when writing your most popular post. It gives other bloggers an incentive to link to you, because it’s ultimately more promotion for them.
10. Utilize your network. If you want people to Digg, Stumble or Reddit your post, there’s no reason why you need to sit back with fingers crossed and hope it happens. Ask them. Your loyal readers like you. You entertain them, or teach them, or help them. If voting is a simple matter of clicking a link they’ll be more than happy to do so. Ask for votes in your post and email readers and social media influencers. In most cases you will need to get the snowball rolling. After that, others will do most of the work for you.
11. Examine what worked before. Study your most popular posts so far. What’s common about them? Why did they work? What needs did they address? In creating your most popular post, it’s important to learn by example and build on what has worked for your blog in the past. Another good idea is to analyze the most popular posts on other blogs in your niche. Why did they work? What’s remarkable about them? You can transfer those qualities over into what you write.