Bad Ass Bloggery: How to Write Perfect Blog Posts in 90% Less Time

Even after you’ve found your personal writing style or voice and figured out what to write about, you may still struggle with how to format the information you’re trying to communicate. The best way to avoid falling victim to “blogger’s block” is to give your creative juices a bit of a jumpstart in the form of a blog post template.

The following Fletcher Method Blog Post Template represents a super-simple structure that can be used for just about any type of article. Use it to get started and, as you become more comfortable structuring your content, experiment with your own structures that work for you.

SIX ELEMENTS OF A PERFECT BLOG POST

Depending on the subject matter, you may choose to add or reformat specific sections of your articles, but every piece of content you publish should follow this structure:

#1. ATTENTION GRABBING HEADLINE

The headline is the core element in any form of advertising or copy. In fact, I’ve heard several copywriting experts say they spend 70-80 percent of their article creation time developing a great headline! This is for good reason: most Web surfers view Web pages and content in “scan mode,” glancing over content for anything that stands out.

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Your headline should grab your readers’ attention and make them feel like skipping your article could be one of the worst decisions they’ve ever made! Each of the following headline formats is designed to hit certain well-known psychological triggers (such as curiosity, fear of loss, relevancy). These triggers work very well, as humans are often pre-programmed to react to certain stimuli on a subconscious level.

Ten Headline Formats to Make Your Content STAND OUT:

  1. Use Humor (“Why SpongeBob Would Make a Great Accountant”): People will always gravitate to content that makes them smile, even when researching something as non-comedic as the best grout to use with mosaic tile.
  2. Use Numbered Lists (“The 5 Best Electronics Gifts for Father’s Day”): Numbered lists are the linchpins of effective headline writing, used often in all formats, both offline and online. Numbered lists work well because they provide the reader with a sense of focus and curiosity.
  3. Personalize (“How to Tell If Your House Is Safe From Burglary”): Relevance is a powerful tool used in all forms of copywriting. Making your headline personal (i.e., directly addressing the reader with words like “you” or “your”) aids in grabbing the reader and making her think, “Hey, this is for me.”
  4. Ask a Question (“Does Your Website Contain the 5 Secrets of Higher Conversion?”): Asking a question can be useful in getting readers engaged through curiosity.
  5. Use Controversy (“10 Reasons Why Your ______ Is Killing You”): Controversy will always turn heads, as it connects with sensitive and emotional parts of the brain. Any time you mention an issue in your headline that divides folks, it’ll surely get attention. But be careful what you wish for—to avoid negative feedback, use controversy in a lighthearted manner.
  6. Leverage Mistakes (“The 8 Biggest _________ Mistakes and How to Avoid Them”): No one likes to make mistakes, especially when researching a need, product, or service.
  7. Reveal Secrets (“4 Secret ___________ Tips That Only the Pros Know”): Secrets make us feel like we are being granted access to rare and highly valuable information. We can’t help but try to find out what the “prize inside” is, especially when these secrets are relevant to our questions, needs, and interests.
  8. Use Similes and Metaphors (“Why Facebook Groups Are Like Your High School Prom”): People are drawn to metaphors because we have a natural desire to connect something new with something familiar.
  9. Promise a Fantastic Result (“How to Save 70% on Your Next Grocery Bill”): This example would work very well for an article covering home gardening or farming, for example. Results-focused headlines work so well because they focus on the “promise” or ultimate results and benefits of something, rather than on the features or tactics required to get there. Results-based copy works in all forms and sections of your content.
  10. Leverage Current Events and Pop Culture (“Top ___________ Lessons from Dancing with the Stars”): Using popular icons or events allows your content to piggyback off of popular issues that are already in the minds of your audience. Try to relate your copy to celebrities, news, or even gossip once in a while to help your articles STAND OUT.

KEY CONCEPT: Don’t Forget SEO

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Recall from the last chapter that your Content Road Map serves as your compass for creating content that’s highly targeted towards your audience. Remember to include one or two of your target search terms in your title whenever possible. A good rule of thumb when it comes to balancing SEO with human interest in headlines is to think of your readers first, with a little SEO love thrown in for good measure.

For example, if you write an article targeting the search phrase “best wedding invitation designs,” preserve the target search term in its exact form when devising a headline. Just add one or more of the ten headline formats above. You could use any of the following:

“The 5 Best Wedding Invitation Designs for Your Spring Wedding” (Use Numbered Lists):

“Are You Using the Best Wedding Invitation Design for Your Wedding?” (Ask a Question); or “3 Secrets to Choosing the Best Wedding Invitation Design” (Reveal Secrets).

Learn More: How to Write Headlines That Work (copyblogger.com)

#2. THE INTRODUCTION AND HEADLINE

After you’ve crafted the perfect, show-stopping headline, it’s time to write the introduction. The introduction is an important element of your article, serving as a gateway between the attention-grabbing headline and the body section or “meat” of your article.

It’s important to remember the “slippery slide” concept here, as the headline did its job of making your reader take notice of your article, but only long enough to read the introduction, where she will make an ultra-quick decision as to whether your article is worth the investment of time.

An effective introduction should connect with your reader by repeating the problem, issue, or question that brought him or her to your article, while creating some suspense and compelling him or her to read more.

A solid introduction is made up of three components:

  1. State the problem. The problem is the main question, concern, or issue to your reader and the risks of not taking action and/or finding a solution.
  2. Point out the risks: The risk is what happens to the reader if he or she does not read your article and gain the information needed to make a good decision or take the right action.
  3. Reveal the promise: The promise is a very short, direct statement that explains what your article will cover. Think of the promise as a succinct description of the benefits your readers will gain from consuming your article.

 #3. THE BODY SECTION

The body is the meat of your article, outlining the simple steps, points, or resources that your reader tuned in for. For this section, dig right in and get going with the details of your blog post.

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Make Your Content Highly Readable

Before visitors start to read or consume your content, they’ll likely give it a “what am I getting into” once-over, trying to gauge how easy it will be to read. If your visitors see long droning paragraphs (or the fact that your video is fifty minutes long), they’ll likely bounce, searching for a more concise or more easily readable source of information.

To make your content more readable, use small paragraphs, bulleted lists, and clearly defined headings. For video content, break up longer videos into smaller stand-alone segments of information. Think of each piece of content from an overall visual perspective. Does it seem long and droning, or concise, clearly organized, and “punchy”?

  • Short paragraphs: Just about every person on the planet appreciates ease when it comes to reading content. There’s no rule book that requires authors to write dense, text-heavy prose organized into ultra-long paragraphs. These days, most folks have grown to accept and appreciate less formal, more “conversational” formats, for both Web-based and printed content.
  • Clear headings: Headings are powerful visual queues used to let your readers know how your content is organized. Most readers will “scan” your article before digging in, as a “second check” to make sure your content will meet their needs.
  • Bulleted and numbered lists: Whether your article has three or twenty-three steps or points to be made, the structure is the same. Your bullet points could be arguments, specifications, steps in a process, lists of resources, or reviews. What’s important is that you present your content in small, digestible chunks and use a clearly organized.

#4. THE SUPPORTING GRAPHIC

The supporting graphic plays a critical role in reader engagement, providing a powerful visual that grabs your reader’s attention while also revealing some clue as to what the article is about.

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Countless studies have revealed the effectiveness of using photos and graphics in all forms of media. Use a photo or image in every blog post.

Best Practices for Using Images in Blogs

Many of the best practices for blog images share the same goal as other forms of content: to grab your reader’s attention, add value, and keep them engaged. Here are a few of my top tips for ensuring that your blog images STAND OUT:

  • Consistency: Make a decision to either use or not use images in your articles. Your readers will grow to expect constancy in the way your content is presented. I recommend including an image in every article.
  • Relevance: One of the cornerstones of all things content-related, relevance plays an important role in the use of graphics in blogs. An article about “3 Delicious Gluten-Free Pizza Recipes” shouldn’t have a picture of a gas pump. Don’t treat your image as an afterthought, quickly adding whatever image you stumble upon. Be sure your image(s) are relevant to your copy.
  • Humor: Just like headlines, your photos have a big job to do with a small amount of “real estate.” Humor is on the short list of tools for grabbing your reader’s attention. As long as you don’t go overboard, a funny graphic or image will beat a dry stock photo any day.
  • Attention: The use of bold colors, text, or graphics within your blog images can really help your article STAND OUT. We are all pre-conditioned to filter out advertising messages and bland content, making it more difficult to make an impact. However, certain images, like a stop sign, still demand our attention. Leverage attention-getting elements in your blog photos whenever possible.
  • People and Animals: People and animals sell and grab attention like nobody’s business. The younger the better—babies and kittens have been proven to garner more eyeballs than all the market research-driven fancy graphics combined.
  • Value: If you’re using a chart, graph, or other data containing graphics, it’s important to add value right away. For example, an image labeled “New House Prices in Dallas” showing current median prices for several neighborhoods would stand on its own, providing readers with immediate value.

#5. THE SUMMARY

The summary section is a short but very important section. This is where you “bring it on home,” leaving your reader with a succinct conclusion or takeaway from your article. This is also where you should use social proof, further establishing yourself as the expert in your niche, and also list additional resources that were not included in the body of your article.

It’s important to use all three of these elements in your article summary and properly set up the article’s call to action.

  • Sum up your content into a concise takeaway. This is a simple one- to three-sentence summary of the article you’ve written. It should quickly remind the reader of the problem, risks, and solution.
  • Build social proof and authority. Add one or two quick sentences about your particular expertise in the topic that your article is about. Nothing over the top, just a quick injection of social proof that reminds your readers that you and your business are the best at what you do.
  • List additional resources. In many cases, your short blog article shouldn’t be considered the comprehensive resource for the topic being covered. Therefore, the last element of the summary section is a place to list additional resources related to the article’s topic. Doing this adds great value to your readers—value that they’ll be sure to pick up on and reciprocate in the form of repeat visits, referrals, and patronage.

Let’s create an example article summary by combining the aforementioned three elements:

{Takeaway}: “As stressful as asking for a raise can be, not doing so can result in worse consequences than asking and getting denied. When you consider how much is at stake, it’s critical to follow a proven, three-step process to increase your odds of obtaining the promotion you deserve: Go above and beyond the call of duty, quantify your contribution, and present your offer with options. {Social Proof}: Over my fifteen years as a career consultant, I have helped hundreds of employees get well-deserved promotions and raises using these three powerful techniques.

#6. CALL TO ACTION

Each time you develop a piece of content, it’s important to keep the goal in mind. This keeps you focused on which topic and related keywords you should be using, as well as the desired action(s) you’d like your readers to take. Of course, all of your content should add value to, educate, and increase engagement from your target audience.

hookMany writers make the mistake of leaving a clear call to action out of their content. Even bloggers who do include a call to action at the end of their articles often miss the mark by not being clear or direct enough in communicating the desired action.

Your call to action needs to be clear, direct, and compelling. If you can include a special offer, even better. At first, using a strong call to action might feel uncomfortable, almost like handholding or overt salesmanship. However, if you believe in the value your business delivers to customers, you should be almost evangelical about ensuring your offers get seen and heard.

Types of Calls to Action For Blogs

  • Asking for feedback: One the greatest benefits of blogging as a content publishing platform is its emphasis on two-way communication. Your WordPress website and blog allow user comments for every post. While your blog might initially seem like a ghost town, you’ll soon start seeing comments, questions, and feedback on your articles. These comments are a great source for leads, information, and additional website traffic (each comment is user-generated content!). By asking a question at the end of your articles, you’ll increase the number of interactive comments. Using our sample article, the author could include the following call to action: “Have you asked for a raise lately? Please tell us about your experience in the comments section below.”
  • Phone calls: Regardless of your type of business, few things work as well in building your business as phone calls from potential customers. At the end of your blog posts, simply state your offer and strong call to action: “For a complimentary consultation/appetizer/$20 coupon/room of carpet cleaning, call now: (800) 777-7777.”
  • Lead or opt-in forms: For some offers or types of business, phone numbers may not be the preferred contact method. If you’re building a subscriber list, the end of a blog post is a great place to position a special offer and opt-in form. The same goes for lead generation forms. Lead conversion is about giving your readers several options for contacting you—options that are placed in prominent positions on your Web page.
  • Social shares and likes: Given the amazing power of social media to increase your online visibility, and the increased emphasis Google is placing on “social signals” in their ranking algorithms, options for social shares and likes should not only be visible on all pages of content, but you also shouldn’t be shy about directly asking for shares and Likes on your website.

KEY CONCEPT: How Many Calls to Action Is Too Many?

If you’re new to content marketing and conversion, you’ll be sensitive to “asking for the lead,” concerned about appearing too pushy or “salesy” on your website. This fear of over-promotion almost always leads to under-promotion. Although you look at your website often, scrutinizing every element and noticing every opt-in form, phone number, and social media widget, your audience does not. They’ll likely miss a great number of conversion and lead generation elements on your Web pages. This is why many of the top online marketers and large brands use multiple “conversion units” on every page. I recommend you use at least four conversion elements on each page of your site. The key is using different types to avoid over-promoting while still achieving a high conversion rate. For example, on one article page of your site, you could use the following conversion elements without pushing the envelope on usability:

  • A phone number in the header
  • An opt-in form in the sidebar
  • A special offer (e-book or video) in the sidebar
  • A call to action at then end of the article
  • A social media sharing widget within your content
  • A “leave a comment” section below the article

In the example above, there are six potential actions the visitor could take, all working together without detracting from the high-value content itself. The key is that you measure conversions, paying attention to which pages and offers convert the best and changing your Web page layouts accordingly.

Use this Fletcher Method Template to jumpstart your content development efforts and produce more high-quality articles more quickly. Don’t view this template as “rudimentary”—this simple six-step approach to copywriting is used by some of the most popular sites and brands around. What matters most is that you publish something as soon as possible. As you start to earn your stripes in content development and blogging, you’ll surely expand your palate of article formats and customize them to your liking.

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