Whether you’re blogging for fun or growing an author platform to plug your books, you want success.
And while we’re being honest, you know exactly what you want each time you click the publish button: a viral post!
But knowing what you want isn’t enough, is it?
In fact, the more you want it, the more elusive it becomes.
You’ve tried everything you can think of:
- Crafting catchy titles,
- sharing your work on multiple social media channels,
- adjusting your word count to mirror the latest trends.
You’re putting in the time, but you’re spinning your wheels.
You can’t stop wondering why those A-list bloggers seem to hit the jackpot every time they publish a new post while your latest update seems to fizzle out after a disappointing trickle of traffic.
And you probably wrestle with self-doubt, too, wondering whether you’ll ever crack the secret code to steady traffic and blog success. You might even begin to worry whether your writing’s good enough.
Otherwise, how could you keep failing time and again?
You’re not alone.
Nearly every writer and blogger on the planet struggled to gain followers, shares, and a reliable audience.
So how do you move forward, especially when everything you’ve tried has let you down?
You need a better plan, and you need a better way to conceptualize the content marketing process.
There’s more involved than writing, publishing, and advertising. There’s a logical sequence involved, a sequence with particular steps that work best in a particular order.
Somewhere along the line, you missed a step or two, or you tried to implement an important step in the wrong order.
Are you tired of paying the price?
Continue reading to discover the 10 stages of the viral-ready blog post.
Stage One: Ideation
This first step is key, and most bloggers get it wrong.
Get it right, and the stages that follow will be easier to activate.
You, like everyone else, understand the need for exceptional content ideas, but how do you actually find them? And how do you know they’re the right ideas for your readers?
The fastest route for coming up with great blog post ideas is asking the right questions. Before brainstorming or committing to a specific blog post idea, make sure you can answer the following questions:
- Who is your audience?
- What does your reader really want?
- What does your audience care about?
- What does your audience prioritize above all else?
- What motivates your audience?
- Why would a reader come to your site? Are they looking for help with a problem or for entertainment?
Tip: It helps to create a single person in your mind, a composite of your readership, the type of person you can write to, have a conversation with, a person who is open to your ideas and products.
And forget about what you want to tell them, what you care about… It’s time to consider what they truly want, the things that occupy their minds, issues they’re desperate to solve. Prioritize what they desire over what you think they need.
Desire trumps need.
Think about it. Most people need to eat healthy and follow a budget, yet their cravings win at every turn.
So how can you satisfy a craving?
People crave pleasure, wealth, and prestige. How can you get them what they want faster, cheaper, or easier?
- Answer the questions above.
- Create a reader profile.
- List your reader’s top ten problems, fears, and weaknesses.
- Choose a problem, fear, or weakness to focus on, something you can help them solve.
Now that you have a focus area, hop over to Portent’s Content Idea Generator to come up with a list of engaging ideas, some interesting angles for exploring your topic.
After you’ve created a composite reader, begin listing topics for blog posts.
Study your list, and pick a problem, fear, or weakness you can help with.
Stage Two: Outlining Your Blog Post
Now that you have your focus area and problem to solve, it’s time to outline. However, before jumping into an outline, you must decide between writing a list post or a narrative post.
For list posts, quickly list every possible solution. Start with what you know. Include your own past experiences and daily problem-solving methods. When you exhaust this list, begin listing two or three subtopics for each point.
If you’re aiming for a narrative post, start with the simple five-paragraph essay formula: an introduction, 3 main body points, and a conclusion. Although it’s well-known in academic circles, you can easily adapt this five-paragraph approach to a blog post or article. Take it a step further. List three subtopics to cover for each section. This simple outline will yield 15 topics. At 100 words each, you can quickly and easily complete a 1500-word blog post.
If you’d like to take your article further, familiarize yourself with the keyhole method during the revision process.
Now we’re ready to add a layer of depth.
Stage Three: Conduct Your Blog Post Research
Research will provide your post with greater authority and credibility. Just remember to cite your sources.
After listing everything you know about the topic, make a list of questions for research. Ask yourself whether you’ve provided enough information. What topics beyond your current knowledge base could help your readers? What resources already exist? What tools, apps, and software products could help your readers solve their problem?
Research solutions via Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Look for statistics, expert opinions, and quotes to add credibility to your blog posts. If you’re coming up short, comb through popular forums, social media communities, and Q & A sites like Quora for ideas.Look for statistics, expert opinions, and quotes to add credibility to your blog posts. If you’re coming up short, comb through popular forums, social media communities, and Q & A sites like Quora for ideas. Click To Tweet
Stage Four: Drafting Your Blog Post
Now that you have a problem to solve, an outline, and supporting research, it’s time to begin drafting your post. Remember, drafting means writing without editing.
Don’t slow your progress trying to write, evaluate, and edit at the same time.
Write without judging. Shoot for 100 words per point on your outline. Write as quickly as possible. You CAN outrun the internal critic by staying a step ahead.
Try to draft your entire piece in a sitting. Write until you’ve run out of ideas for each section. Add a few questions where you’re coming up short. It’s easy to return and flesh out the weak spots during the revision stage.
Make sure to include a call to action at the end of each post, enticing your readers to take the next step:
- sign up for your mailing list
- read a related article
- add a comment
- share your post on social media…
Stage Five: Revising, Editing and Assessing Your Blog Post Keywords
After finishing your rough draft, set the piece aside for an hour or two. Better yet, set the piece aside until the next day. Your mind should be clear and fresh to tackle editing.
Read your draft and smooth out the rough spots. Consider the following questions:
- Does the piece flow logically from section to section?
- Does it solve the reader’s problem?
- Does your piece make sense?
- Would a beginner understand?
Look for ambiguity, for weak sentence structure, for anything that could be misconstrued.
Simplify wherever possible.
Read your paragraphs aloud, looking for awkward phrases, for clunky language.
When you’re happy with the prose, look for adverbs to eliminate, for excessive and unnecessary adjectives, for passive voice. When you’re happy with your draft, run it through the grammar and spell check options in your word processor. If you’d like to take it to another level, check out the Hemingway app or the Ginger Grammar Checker.
When you’ve completed your writing, look for natural opportunities to add or substitute important keyword phrases to help with search engine optimization. With Google’s new semantic search features, less is definitely more; keep it natural.
Stage Six: Your Blog Post Title
If you take anything away from this post, make sure that you begin prioritizing titles. Write at least ten titles before choosing a winner. Make sure that your title addresses a craving or a pain point.
Stir curiosity with your title. Never give everything away.
Make sure that you’re familiar with the keywords your readers will use when searching for answers on your topic. Intrigue them; make them want to click through to the full post.
If you’re serious about blogging, check out a few books on copywriting techniques. Begin learning headline-writing strategies. It’s a science and an art.
When you’ve chosen your strongest title, go to Coschedule Headline Analyzer and evaluate your blog post title for strength.
Make sure the title entices your readers, but be careful not to mislead them. Deliver on your promise, and they’ll be primed to share your post with their own social media circles.
Stage Seven: Formatting & Publishing Your Blog Post
Now that your title’s in place and your blog post’s ready for consumption, take a few minutes to create logical, intriguing subheadings. Incorporate keyword phrases when possible (and applicable).
Don’t force anything.
Break your text into short paragraphs for easy digestion. Remember, readers will scan your post before committing to a full read. After organizing your text and your headings, find an image to publish beneath the title.
Keep the reader engaged. Break up your text with additional images.
When you find yourself shaking your head in the affirmative, saying, “yes, this is it,” your post is ready. If you can stand it, wait until the following morning to click publish. Give it a final read before launching.
Stage Eight: Recycling Your Blog Post
Now that your post is live, your work is just beginning.
To create multiple links to your post, consider turning your blog post into a podcast, a slideshow, and a video. Upload these new forms to a few media sharing sites like Podbean, Youtube, and Slideshare.
While you’re at it, grab some quotes from the post and place the text over images. Recycling helps you maximize your time, exposing your work to new audiences.
After posting the new content forms to various media sharing platforms, make sure you link back to your original post. You’re now ready for the next phase: marketing.
Stage Nine: Marketing Your Blog Post
Here’s where most bloggers fail.
Instead of actively marketing each new post, they begin writing new ones, hoping something will miraculously go viral on its own.
Tweeting about your new post on the publishing date doesn’t count. You need a plan. Consider growing a minimum of three social media accounts.
You can make great strides over the course of several months. In a year you could have an impressive, engaged following.
Think long-term, and take action in the short-term.
Sprinkle your own blog posts and recycled content among your daily tweets and social updates. Don’t forget to market older posts.
Join communities on Reddit and Facebook. Share your posts, but make sure you participate in the communities.
Comment on high traffic blogs. Network on social media, and find like-minded users to retweet your content. Brush up on your SEO skills.
Stage Ten: Syndicating Your Blog Post
After Google has indexed your post, you can extend its lifespan and reach by republishing it on other websites and blogs. Make sure to create a resource box linking back to the original post.
Conduct a Google search for sites that accept previously-published content. Match the site with your content’s genre. Here are some generic examples:
- The Good Men Project
- The SITS Girls
Here’s an excellent resource on syndicating your blog posts.
Now that you understand the life cycle of a successful blog post, look for ways to expand or improve upon each stage.
- Maximize the ideation stage by finding three or four related themes to write and publish as a series.
- Outline a few posts in a sitting. You’ll be using the same areas of your brain, and you can get more done by grouping similar activities together. It won’t feel like multi-tasking, so you can maintain focus.
- Recycle a few posts at a time into new forms.
- Add a new syndication site to your list each week.
For more information about creating viral-ready content, download our free guide:
****The Viral Content Blueprint
What’s your favorite viral-ready content tip? Leave a comment below.