Wouldn’t you like your next blog post to become your most popular post ever? If you’re trying to build a big audience, that’s something you should always be shooting for. Keep striving to outdo yourself with each post, and you’ll maintain a level of quality that will keep readers coming back.
Just how do you go about writing your most popular post ever? Think back to your best posts. What was special about them? Why did they attract so many readers?
There’s a formula that has helped me consistently create my most popular posts. That formula can be broken down into 5 steps.
Here are the 5 steps to write your most popular post:
- Research posts that have done well for other blogs.
Much of building a popular blog is about learning from other bloggers who have already grown big audiences. When trying to write your most popular post ever, you can learn a lot by researching the most popular posts from some of your favorite blogs.
Take a look around. Many blogs have a list of most popular posts right in the sidebar or footer.
Study the top 2 or 3 from a few different blogs. What about each of those posts do you think made them so popular? Notice any similarities?
When I look around at the most popular posts from my favorite blogs, I notice a few common elements. I repeatedly see these elements: passion, controversy, saying something that everyone is thinking but afraid to say, taking an opposite stance on a popular topic, providing a rich list of resources, inspiring people and praising (or dissing) other people.
Those type of posts get people talking. They generate comments and compel people to share the posts on social media.
One of the keys to writing a really popular post is that it spreads like wildfire across social networks. Notice how many tweets or other shares the popular posts from your favorite blog attract.
- Choose a proven structure.
There’s a reason you might have noticed so many posts with similar formats across the web. Some types of posts consistently do better than others. If you’re trying to write your most popular post ever, it will help to use one of these formats:
- How to (like this post)
- Lists (“10 Reasons…” or “101 Resources For…”)
- Inspiration (helping people get past fears or common sticking points)
- “Why” posts (explaining something)
That’s not to say you absolutely have to use one of those (or any other) proven post format. But it is more likely that a post will become more popular if you write a post using a proven format. Creating easy-to-read, scan-able content also helps.
- Invest above-average time and energy.
I’ve noticed something about the posts I’ve written over the past year that have become the most popular. Most of them took much more time and effort to create.
Readers are looking for value on the web. They want the time they spend reading your post to provide them with something meaningful. Usually that means to provide that level of value in your post, you’ll have to spend more time creating it than the average post out there.
By far, the two most popular posts here at Think Traffic so far have been 17 Traffic Building Tips from Some of the World’s Most Popular Bloggers and 101 Essential Traffic-Building Resources. In addition to being modeled on other popular posts, using structures I thought would work and having solid headlines, more than anything those two posts took much more time to craft than average. I wasn’t surprised either of them became so popular.
- Develop a killer headline.
The headline can make or break a potentially great post. Your headline absolutely has to grab the reader’s attention and compel them to read the article. If you don’t get the headline right, everything else you wrote may as well not even exist to most readers.
A great headline will get people to read and will also make it more likely a reader will share the post with their online posse.
If you’re trying to write a popular post, you should spend extra time working on the headline. Study other headlines that have worked for you and other bloggers. Keep working and refining the headline until you have something especially compelling.
- Give people a reason to share the post.
I mentioned before that getting readers to share your post across social media is one of the keys to writing your most popular post. If you follow the first four steps, you’ll be in good shape when it comes to sharing.
But there is one other thing you should do to push your chances even further. Give people a reason to share the post. Build into your post some benefit that the reader will claim by spreading the news on Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, etc.
Here are some of the reasons people might share a post on social media:
- Vanity / returning the favor: if you write about someone in a post they are 469% more likely to share that post (ok, I don’t really know it’s 469%, but in my experience there is a much higher chance). Haven’t you noticed that about yourself? If someone links to your blog or writes about you in an article, how likely are you to Tweet about that post?
- Potential tastemaker status: people like to share things that they think will become popular and things that help them become known for sharing good stuff. It’s a viral cycle. That’s part of the reason why your most popular post is probably 5 times (or more) more popular than your average post.
- Awesome content: really useful content gives people a reason to share it on its own. Produce something valuable and people will want to tell their friends about it.
- Requiring a share: build a contest or produce a special report that people get access to only if they share the blog post with other people.
- Asking for a share: sometimes all you have to do is ask. Just make it a special occasion for special content.
- Bonus step: prime the pump.
If you think you’ve written a post that’s especially worthy of sharing, you can prime the pump by sending a special email out to friends and fellow bloggers about it. If your post truly is of special value, people will be happy to hear about it and will help you get things going by sharing the post. Don’t be obnoxious about it or overuse this technique though, or it will lose its effectiveness and it can affect your reputation.
Which step do you think is most important?
What do you think is the most important step in writing your most popular blog post ever? Is it one of these? Maybe you have another tip to share. Let’s discuss in the comments!
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