The 7 ingredients of a wildly successful blog post

The following is a guest post brought to you by serial guest blogger, James Duthie from Online Marketing Banter.

Two weeks ago Tad threw his blog over to me to write a raunchy guest post. While many would question the wisdom of his decision, it turned out pretty nicely for everyone’s favourite sombrero wearing German. In fact, my guest post helped spark Tad’s biggest ever subscriber increase in a single day, with almost 100 new subscriptions. Once I got over the initial heartache that I’d seen just a handful of new subscribers myself (*sob*), I realised it was a pretty damn fine achievement. Naturally, it got me thinking about how I could attempt to replicate the same results over at my own blog. What was it that made this article a subscriber magnet? Here’s my best guess…

1. Sex

Ok… it doesn’t take Einstein to figure out the first point. Sex sells. It’s probably the oldest cliché in the marketing text book, but it’s true. So it’s no real surprise that a post based around sex created additional interest & attention. However, it’s worth noting that you probably don’t want to pull this risqué tactic out of your blogging bag too often for a number of reasons:

  1. It will lose impact if you use it regularly
  2. Your personal brand may be affected. You don’t really want to be known as ‘that sex obsessed marketing guy’ do you…?
  3. You might starting ranking for some unfavourable keywords
  4. You’ll probably find your blog inhabited by more weirdos

Use sparingly!

2. Knock out title

The title of the post was both cheeky and provocative – sex, permission marketing & social media–the ultimate manage a trois. Feedback on the title ranged from ‘Ewwww’ to ‘brilliant’. Regardless, you know the title has managed to capture attention when people take the time to leave a comment about it. I also suspect the title created an element of mystery and intrigue from readers. After all… when was the last time you heard sex, permission marketing, social media & threesomes mentioned in the same sentence? I suspect some people would have been tempted to read on purely out of curiosity (or perversion… either way).

3. A punchy opening paragraph

If the role of the title is to draw people into the article, the first paragraph needs to grab them by the short and curlies. Most people reading content online have the attention span of a geriatric goldfish. The first few sentences are critical in maintaining their attention. If you’ve spent time crafting a witty and enticing headline, don’t waste it with boring drivel in the first couple of sentences. You’ve got their attention… now make sure you keep it. I did so by jumping straight into the topic of sex. Including your punchiest content at the start of your article gives you the best chance of captivating your audience.

4. Humour

Humour is the secret sauce behind many social media hits. Some of my favourite bloggers have a persona moulded heavily by their sense of humour including Tad, Dave Harry & Brian Carter. I also like to play the joker and believe humour can play a big part in maintaining interest from an audience. Indeed, I included a range of jokes with the sex, permission marketing & social media article. One reader seemed to like it, and I haven’t felt any virtual tomatoes being thrown my way (for now)…

‘100% accurate and humorous.’

Of course, humour isn’t for everyone. If you’re not funny, it’s probably best to leave the jokes to someone else. We’ve all got a friend who tries to tell jokes/stories but completely sucks at it. You don’t want to be that guy.

5. Analogies

Did you notice how many analogies were in that sex article? I counted six. While that may be overkill, people seem to love analogies. And of course it doesn’t hurt when they relate to sex! Analogies allow people to relate to the concepts being discussed. Comparing your topic to an everyday situation makes it far easier to interpret & understand (although sex may not be an everyday situation for all of us…). Analogies are also a great way to throw a little humour into the mix. Check out how these three popular posts combined analogies and humour to generate a great response from their audience:

6. Social media support

Tad’s a popular guy in the SEO and social media community, with an established audience of almost a thousand subscribers. Many of his readers are active social media users, which creates opportunities to attract new readers. Each time he publishes new work, his readers Stumble, Mixx & Sphinn it. The post in question went hot within both Sphinn and Mixx, while also attracting over 10 thumbs in StumbleUpon. I suspect that once the post hit the front page of the social news networks, the title helped draw more people into the blog. The power of a title is even more pronounced in social media where consumers have no exposure to you or your work. Unfortunately, heavy social media support isn’t something that can be replicated easily. This type of support can only be achieved by:

  1. Regularly producing quality content that people want to subscribe to
  2. Maintaining an active account in the relevant social media networks

If you’re not doing either of these things, don’t expect social media support.

7. Scannable structure

I’m not exactly the king of succinct blog posts. My ability to waffle is second to none! If you’ve read this far, I’ll make sure to send you a free prize. However, I try to compensate for my lack of brevity with a structure that is easily scannable. The sex, permission marketing and social media article isn’t the perfect example, but it is broken up by 3 distinct lists. In retrospect, a few sub headings would have made it even easier to read. If you’re like me and have an acute case of verbal diarrhoea, use bullet points, lists and sub headings to break up the monotony of endless paragraphs.

8. A call-to-action

Actually… I’m lying now. A call to action has nothing to do with a successful blog post. But now that I’ve contributed two quality posts to Tad’s blog, you should definitely subscribe to my blog. Don’t disappoint me again people…

Author Bio

James Duthie is an Australian online marketing expert. He writes on all things social media, blogging, SEO & digital marketing at his blog – Online Marketing Banter. Subscribe to hear more of his ramblings.