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15 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Writing Persuasive Content

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Writing Persuasive Content

I have a confession to make: I hate trying to convince people to do something.

I understand that this is an important part of marketing, but writing persuasive content has never been my strong suit. That is, if I’m persuading someone to do something that will benefit me. I think I can argue my own point well to persuade you that I’m right about something, but persuading you to buy something, download something, etc. has never come naturally to me.

Luckily, there are people out there who are insanely good at it, and they’ve shared what they know in blog posts. I hope this week’s edition of Brilliant Bloggers is as helpful to you as it has been to me!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

henneke 58 Ways to Create Persuasive Content Your Audience Will Love by Henneke Duistermaat

I love this post on Copyblogger because it gives you a roadmap to making sure that your content is as persuasive as possible without crossing any lines. Internet marketers get a bad name because there are so many people using slimy, gray-area techniques to convince others to spend money. Henneke’s post, however, doesn’t encourage you to do any of that. Her tips simply help you take your content and make it more persuasive.

After you read the post, which includes all you need to know from writing the headline to editing before you publish, check out Henneke on Twitter at @HennekeD and visit her blog, Enchanting Marketing. (Psst…she also has a great guest post on Kissmetrics about this topic called “7 Lessons Apple Can Teach Us About Persuasive Web Content“)

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 11 Ways to Write Persuasive Content by Thomas Timely
  2. 48 Elements of Persuasive Written Content by Uttoran Sen (@uttoransen)
  3. How Do I Write Persuasive Content? by Jeff Hahn (@HahnPublic)
  4. How To Create A Persuasive Message To Motivate Your Audience by Aura Dozescu (@AuraDozescu)
  5. How to Write Persuasive Content? by Jeevan Jacob John (@JeevanMe)
  6. The Psychology Behind Persuasive Writing by Jani Seneviratne (@janiopt7)
  7. The Secret To Being Memorable And Persuasive by Joe Romm
  8. Ten Recipes for Persuasive Content by Colleen Jones
  9. Ten Timeless Persuasive Writing Techniques by Brian Clark (@copyblogger)
  10. What is Persuasive Content? by Ian Truscott (@IanTruscott)
  11. What’s more persuasive? “I think…” or “I feel…”? by Derek Halpern (@DerekHalpern)
  12. Writing a Persuasive Blog—The Key to Content Marketing Success by John McTigue (@jmctigue)
  13. Writing Persuasive Headlines with the FAB Formula by Julia McCoy (@expwriters)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about writing persuasive content? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Social Monitoring Tools

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

How to Use the Scientific Method to Write Better Blog Posts

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scientic method blog posts Despite science not being a strength for me in elementary school, lesson I do remember is the scientific method. I liked the step-by-step process of discovery, and even won the fourth-grade science fair because I was so good at executing this method of experimentation.

If you think elementary school science has no bearing in your life, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to use the scientific method to write blog posts. Not every blog posts lends itself well to the scientific method, but if you’re testing a theory or making an argument, it can help lend credibility to your post and explain your findings in a clear and concise way.

Need to brush up on your science skills? Let’s go through each step of the scientific method to explore how you can use it to write blog posts. In this post, I’m going to refer use “How Lying Can Vastly Improve Your Blog” as an example of a post I wrote using the scientific method, so you may want to open this link in a new tab/window to refer to it.

Step One: Ask a Question

The first part of the scientific method is to ask a question. This is what start the entire process. The question in my example blog post was: Can lying to myself help me improve my blog? You can leave it at that, but when writing my post, I prefer to take the route of explaining why I am asking whatever the question may be. We’re bloggers, after all. Telling the story is part of what helps draw people in.

Step Two: Do Background Research

This is a step that many bloggers skip over. However, adding some research to your posts makes it a much stronger final product. In the case of my example, I did some research on lying and what others say about self-deception. I included several links to my findings.

I find that in topics relating to blogging and social media, understanding the psychology behind our behaviors is extremely helpful. Depending on your topic, you may also want to find out what other bloggers have written about it before. If I were a scientist, opinion might not matter to me, but with this modified version of the scientific method for bloggers, opinions, especially of top bloggers in your field, matter very much. And if you confirm their opinion, you can reach out to them to let them know your results.

Step Three: Construct a Hypothesis

At this point, it’s time to narrow your focus and construct a hypothesis that you can test. This is a little more involved than step one, where you just ask a general question, and you want it to be a statement that you’re testing, not a question. In other words, what do you think your experiment will prove?

So, in my example, my hypothesis was: I will write better blog posts if I believe someone will be reading them as part of my portfolio.

It’s important to be honest about the concerns you have regarding your hypothesis. For example, I noted that because my lie was self-deception, I was aware that it was a lie. A lie told by someone else would be more powerful.

Step Four: Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment

This is the fun part: test your hypothesis. For kids, it means mixing baking soda and vinegar to watch a homemade volcano erupt. For you, it means writing blog posts or using social media or otherwise changing your behavior to see what happens.

Three things to keep in mind when doing an experiment:

  1. Work in a controlled environment as much as possible.
  2. Do your experiment several times.
  3. Have a plan for measuring your results.

I’m sure some scientists out there are cringing at my idea of an experiment, but we’re not trying to cure cancer here. It’s okay to be a little more relaxed than you would in a laboratory setting. But you’ll get better results if your experiment is structured. So, in my example, I told myself that I was applying for a new job and someone would be looking at my blog posts as a factor in deciding whether or not to hire me. I even browsed some job boards to make the self-deception more “real.”

Having a controlled environment is important. Otherwise, your results could be reflecting factors other than what you are testing. For example, my blog posts will automatically be better if I am super passionate about a topic. So, for my tests I trying to choose topics that I am moderately passionate about, but not that I had some kind of deep burning desire in my soul to write about.

I also wrote about a myriad of topics, from Twitter to business values to web TV. Whenever you experiment with your blog, its important to look at your results over time. I always find it extremely frustrating when someone tries something new on their blog for one day and then proclaims it doesn’t work. You need to give experiments a chance.

Lastly, you have to be able to measure your results. If your hypothesis is “Tweeting out more links will bring me more traffic” but you don’t have Google Analytics or another such tool set up on your blog, how will you know if it works? It might seem like you have more traffic, but maybe you in fact have the same amount of traffic, but more comments.

Step Five: Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion

Next, you have to take an honest look at the data you’ve collected from your experiment. It’s easy to manipulate data to believe what you want to believe. Try to keep an open mind! For example, once tested whether or not pop-up ads increased my subscriber numbers. They did. Even though people complain about pop-ups, they work. It was something I didn’t want to believe, but the numbers proved me wrong.

During this step, it’s also important to look at data holistically. Data can easily be manipulated if your only look at one piece. So, if you are testing pop ups, you might say that they work because you saw a spike in subscriber numbers. However, what happened to your unsubscribe rates? Or your bounce rates? Or the number of complaints you received from your community?

In addition, I believe it is important to sometimes say, “I don’t care what the data says. This is not right for my readers.” Sometimes we get too caught up in what works that we forget what’s the right thing to do. I wrote about this problem here. Scientists may not consider their feelings about a result, but they would consider the ethics, practicality, and side effects behind their experiment’s conclusions.

Step Six: Communicate Your Results

The last part of the scientific method is to communicate your results. Scientists publish papers and report findings, often struggling with this step. As a blogger, you should have no problem communicating your results! As you write your blog post about your experiment, keep the entire scientific process in mind. Talk about your question and the research you did. Outline your hypothesis/experiment and analyze your data. Using this process to structure your blog post makes sense.

You blog post doesn’t have to read like a technical report. After all, this isn’t a lab. It’s a blog. Even though I used the term “experiment” in my example post about self-deception, I don’t think people read that post and though, “Oh, she’s using the scientific method to test a hypothesis.” Give your post some flavor.

Overall, I’ve found that using the scientific method has helped my up my game when writing blog posts. I encourage you to try it out yourself–and if you do, definitely come back to this post to leave a comment telling us about your results.

How to Set Off Fireworks with your Content: 10 Tips for Writing Explosive Blog Posts

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Here in the United States, today is the Memorial Day holiday, and as with most summer holidays in this country, it’s an excuse to set off some fireworks. Fireworks are special. No matter how many shows you go to every summer, that first pop and burst of color leaves you ooo-ing and ahhh-ing. Want to see amazement in it’s purest form? Watch the face of a child seeing fireworks.

Wouldn’t it be great if those same feelings of wonder and amazement were felt by readers every time you wrote a blog post? We all talk about how “content is king,” but what does that really mean? How can you make your blog posts “explosive” so you build a community of people who can’t miss your posts? Doing this takes more than being helpful or even being personable. Here are the 10 tips you need to keep in mind when writing every blog post in order to make it truly awesome:

1. Write about things that matter.

So often we get caught up in the mundane, that we miss chances to start online conversations about topics that really matter. Of course, what “really matters’ is subjective, but if you have a social media blog and missed writing about how social media had a part in the Egyptian uprisings because you were too busy writing yet another post about how to write awesome headlines, you’re missing out on the big picture. It’s not that learning how to write a headline is unimportant. It’s that sometimes, we have to open our eyes to the world around us and prioritize topics, saving less important topics for another day. Bloggers have a chance to change the world, and I would even go as far as saying that we have a responsibility to help shape online content so it is more important and less trivial. Let’s not neglect our responsibilities.

2. Write about things you actually care about.

It’s pretty obvious when bloggers write something because they think they have to. That’s one of the great things about being a blogger, though – you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to take every opportunity to rank well for a certain topic, be the first to report a news story, or weigh in on an issue that everyone is talking about. Write about topics that matter, but make sure they matter to you, not just everyone else. If you honestly believe a subject you don’t care about at all needs to be covered on your blog, have a guest blogger write a post, hire a ghostwriter, or create a link list of resources where others are talking about the topic. But doesn’t waste another second of your time writing when you don’t care about the subject matter. There are more important things to cover.

3. Give yourself blogging freedom.

Having consistent features on your blog makes sense. For example, here on the BlogWorld blog, I post the New Media News Break every Wednesday and Brilliant Bloggers every other Friday. However, some bloggers fall so deeply into a routine, that they don’t have any room for flexibility. Unchain yourself! You need freedom to write spontaneously and cover breaking news. This also relates back to my first to points. You don’t want your blog to be so structured that you feel responsible to spend your time working on your regular features and have no time to write about thing things that matter (and the thinks that matter to you).

4. Choose words artistically.

Language is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, with today’s mindset that “anyone can blog,” language has been falling to the wayside. Sometimes, posts are total snooze-fests not because they have boring information but because the writing itself is boring. Think about the words you are typing. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, but take a little pride in your word and play with language in your blog posts. Remember, editing is key.

5. Tell interesting stories.

Storytelling is an important part of your online presence, as it can help build your brand and sell your products. I just created a huge list of resource where you can find people talking about the importance for storytelling and how to best tell your story. But storytelling isn’t just about manipulating the reader so they like you more or buy whatever you’re peddling this week. Sometimes, storytelling is just about being interesting and making it easier for people to understand your point. Not every story is in the form of “one time, this happened to me.” Here’s a really good example of a blog post/story from Elizabeth Potts Weinstein that breaks the traditional mold.

6. Clarify your message.

When readers reach the end of your post, can they answer the question, “So, what was the point?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read blog posts that were written with beautiful language and great stories about topics that really matter…and then, I reach the end and have no idea what the thesis statement was. You don’t have to smack your readers in the face with the point, but you should definitely ensure that your message comes across in at least two places: your introduction and your closing.

7. Stop worrying about length.

If I see one more comment about how important it is to keep your post under X number of words, I might scream! If post length was so important, Glen over at ViperChill would have no readers, since he usually goes on and on and on waaaay past the recommended word count. He’s not the only long-winded blogger either. People will read your content if it is good. Period. Does that mean it always makes sense to write 2,000 words? Certainly not. For some bloggers, that might never make sense. But don’t stifle yourself because someone else says you have to cap posts at a certain length. Write the number of words you need for the topic, edit to take out unnecessary content and tighten the post, and hit publish even if your post is super long.

8. Close the show well.

The end of a fireworks show is typically marked with a bunch of blasts in quick succession. It’s a kick, a punch, a POW to the already great show you just saw. Your blog posts show have that same fire at the end. Often, I see bloggers just kind of…well…stop writing. But if you do that, there’s no call to action, no reason for readers to leave feeling excited about what they just read. So don’t skimp on the closing paragraph. Make every word count.

9. Know your weaknesses and work on them.

As you look over this list, you might be thinking, “I do that well….I do that well…I need work on that one…I do that well…” and that’s a good thing. You don’t have to be perfect; you simply have to know where your weaknesses are so you can work on them. Otherwise, you’re just sticking your head in the sand and ignoring problems. As I’m writing this post, even I know that I need to boost my efforts with some of these tips, while others are tips I have down pat, almost like they are second nature. Whenever you write a blog post, be aware of your habits, both good and bad.

10. Blog often.

Lastly, I can’t stress enough how important it is to blog often. This is an art form, a craft, a skill. You need to work at it to get better. This does not mean you have to commit to a daily schedule, but if you’re only blogging once a month (or even less often), you aren’t going to get better as a blogger. Don’t have time? Make time. You make time to sit on Pinterest or Facebook. You make time to check your email seventeen times a day. You make time to do other things you like to do. Make time to blog. Blog when you have something important to say, but if you don’t have something important to say regularly, I question whether or not you should be blogging at all. And there’s nothing wrong with saying this blogging thing isn’t for you. Just make sure to admit that, rather than popping in every three months to write, “Sorry, guys, I’ve been really busy.”

Blogging is not easy. Writing good content is a talent that not everyone has, and even those with natural talent need to work at it, the same way a talented singer has to work on her scales or a talented baseball player has to work on his batting. Writing explosive blog posts – yes, every single time you hit the publish button – is possible, and hopefully the above tips will help you, but it doesn’t just happy. You have to be willing to work for it.

If you liked these tips about creating content, I hope you’ll consider joining us at BlogWorld New York next week for even more fantastic content tips!

Original image credit (without text): Tsuacctnt at Flickr Creative Commens

16 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About List Posts

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge link of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: List Posts

For some reason, most people are just hard-wired to be attracted to list posts. List posts have the potential to go viral faster than most other types of posts and they typically keep people interested longer since they are extremely easy to scan. This is a list post of sorts, but you can format them in a number of different ways. Some lists are “top” or “best” while others are comprehensive (like this one). There’s no doubt that list posts can be an asset to just about any blog – but there are downfalls as well. Let’s look at what some brilliant bloggers have to say about list posts.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

What Every Blogger Should be Aware of Before Writing List Posts by Ritu

This is an older post, but it should be the first one you read, in my opinion. List posts can be great, but there are definite disadvantages as well, especially if that’s all you’re doing at your blog. I absolutely love the advice Ritu gives in this post at Geekpreneur. You can follow the blog on twitter @geekpreneur.

7 Ways To Write With Numbered Lists by Joanna Paterson

I love this post, because it talks not only about the benefits of writing list for readers, but also about the benefits it has for you as a blogger. Joanna also gives some great examples of list posts from around the web and discusses why bloggers so often use the number seven when writing lists. After checking out her post, you can follow Joanna on Twitter @joannapaterson.

3 Ideas for Moving Beyond List Posts: Creating an Experiential Blog by Tara Gentile

I love Tara’s guest post on Problogger because it gives some great ideas for bloggers who feel stuck in the list post cycle. List posts (and posts in general) don’t have to be boring! Take a moment to read Tara’s post, then follow her on Twitter @scoutiegirlblog.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

      Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about list posts? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

      Next Week’s Topic: Getting More RSS Subscribers

      I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Blogger Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

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