One of the most effective ways to find great content ideas is to study the most popular content from your favorite sites.
Here’s an example: last week I published 21 Quick Actions You Can Do Today to Set Your Blog Up for Massive Success. That post quickly became one of my most popular posts ever, and I wasn’t surprised one bit.
How did I know that post would be a big hit?
Simple. I copied a proven formula from one of my favorite blogs. Adam Baker from Man Vs. Debt published a post the week earlier called 24 Quick Actions You Can Do Today That Can Change Your Financial Life Forever. It was his most popular post ever (which is saying a lot considering how popular Man Vs. Debt is).
I adapted his post formula to suit my own needs and hit publish. Hundreds of you retweeted it and liked it on Facebook, just like Baker’s readers did for his post.
Pretty cool, right?
Some posts just have the right combination of headline, attitude, length and format to become big hits. When you discover a formula like that it can greatly increase your chance of producing a major success yourself.
Side note: when you copy a formula, it’s good form to link to the original post and give credit where credit is due. I don’t think you necessarily need to ask for specific permission, but a link is nice. Plus it gives you a reason to reach out to whoever you’re borrowing from (relationships are key to growing your traffic).
Share Your Best Post Ever!
Here’s how this will work. Think of this post as a “give a penny take a penny” tray. Only, instead of sharing pennies, we’re sharing proven formulas for epic and viral content.
I want you to share your best post ever. I’ll link to your post here so other people can borrow the format if it makes sense for their audience. If enough people contribute we’ll have an awesome compilation of killer content ideas right here.
Here’s how to contribute your link:
- Analyze your site’s traffic.
- Find the content that was most popular on your site.You can also use your most commented content, most retweeted, etc. if it makes sense. This doesn’t have to be a blog post. It can be a video, ebook, interview or any type of content that you’ve used.
- Submit your post using the form below. Give a 1-2 sentence description of the post, why you think the post was so popular or your results. We’re asking for your email address just so we can contact you if there are any problems with the submission. Your email won’t be shared.
Optional: write a new post analyzing your most popular post and talk about why you think it was so successful. Be sure to ask your readers for their input (you’ll probably find it an incredibly valuable exercise). Link to this post if you want to tell people what you’re up to.
Follow-up suggestion: if you use one of the formulas below, please come back here and leave a comment to report on your results. Did the formula lead to a popular post for you? Let us know!
Keep in mind that you should never copy content directly. This exercise is about borrowing post formulas and effective headline structures. It is NOT about stealing content from other sites. Adapt what you find for your own audience and put your own spin on it.
Alright, ready to submit your link? Share your content here: (Editor’s Note: The project is now closed to new submissions.)
If you have more than one post that was a big success on your site, feel free to share both. If your site is new and you haven’t had any popular posts yet, try some of the formulas below and report back on your progress.
Your submission will be reviewed by an editor and is not guaranteed to be included in this list if we don’t feel it is a good fit, or if there are other very similar examples of your post’s format already in the list.
Reader Submitted Links: Borrow These Formulas to Create Epic and Viral Content
Note: *** denotes editor’s picks for posts with especially useful formulas
Fitness, Health and Wellness
- *** 7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running (Strength Running) From Jason: “This content appeals to beginner runners and helps them learn from my own mistakes after ~13 years of experience. This article exploded on the social site Reddit, having over 6,000 views so far and one of my most commented post to date.”
- 11 Bits of Priceless Advice From Some of the World’s Top Health Experts (Wild Movement) From Logan: “Simple. I interviewed popular bloggers in my niche and complied their answers into one post, then I e-mailed the bloggers who contributed and they were generous enough to tweet and share it.”
- 7 Lessons I Learned From Going Bankrupt (Vic Magary) From Vic: “Sure, it was a list post and those often do well. But I think talking about one of my “skeletons in the closet” and showing the lessons learned was the draw.”
- 25 Traits Of The Not So Well To Do (Free From Broke) From Glen: “I think this was popular because it looked at everyday reason many people are broke. For many, the traits were some that they displayed at some time or saw in others. Some though, might have seen a little too much of themselves and argued against the article. I think it was a great balance of controversy and joining in to identify financial problems.”
- All-In: How I Made $800,000 in a Lifetime and $15,000 Last Week (Perfecting Parenthood) From Alex: “The headline, and because people are curious as to how a lot of money was made by someone. I think it’s a little too long, but I did get some good comments.”
- Decluttering and Making Money (Ex-Consumer) From Jenny: “I actually don’t feel that this was my best post, but it was the most popular in terms of traffic and comments. Much of traffic for this post came from a couple of other bloggers linking to the post as part of a round-up of weekly favorites.”
- 20 Financial Milestones You Want to Reach in Your 20′s (Gen Y Wealth) From RJ: “Received two links from blogs with over 80k subscribers and around a dozen others. Gave readers a chance to measure themselves up against a benchmark. Plus, bloggers wrote about their progress towards the milestones. (Oh and I got the idea from this Think Traffic’s article about blogging milestones)”
Blogging, Social Media and SEO
- *** THE Backlinking Strategy That Works (Smart Passive Income) From Pat: “This post, which has nearly 600 comments and has been viewed over 50,000 times in 6 months, is popular because of two reasons: transparency and over-delivery. The post reveals in epic detail (step by step with video, info graphics…the whole 9 yards) a particular strategy I used to climb a brand new niche site to #1 in Google. In addition, there is actual proof because of how transparent the case study was, so people could check for themselves in the search engines and see that it wasn’t just all talk.”
- *** Women in Blogging: 125 Fearless Female Bloggers (Kikolani.com) From Kristi: “Aside from being a monstrous list, I think the things that helped with making it viral was simply that 125 women were excited to be in the list and were more than happy to share it with their network. Including recent posts by the bloggers also helped in spreading the word about the list automatically via WordPress trackbacks.”
- *** Why Guru Strategies for Blog Growth DON’T WORK… and What Does! (Firepole Marketing) From Danny: “To start with, I think the content of this post is really awesome. I wrote it after the whole process of growing a blog sort of crystallized and clicked in my mind, and suddenly all the noise made sense. I shared the insight in the post, and I think that was valuable to people (as evidenced by 96 comments, more then double our next most popular post). I also pulled out all the stops promoting it, including running it while I had a guest post on Problogger running, so it definitely got that “traffic injection” to get it over the critical mass part.”
- *** 5 Kinds of Bloggers You Meet in The Blogosphere (I Luv Empire) From Mars: “It’s popular for 2 reasons: Number 1, it’s a comic that’s easy and fun to read. Number 2 – it addresses the stereotypes of the blogosphere in visual form which is rather unique, hence viral.”
- *** Is It Time For ‘Comment Love-Ins’ To Stop? (One Spoon at a Time) From Paul: “130+ Comment (the norm is 50) Subject struck a chord with people and had an element of controversy. The interaction via the comment threads was provocative and continues fully two weeks after the post was first published (again, not the norm for my site).”
- Blog 4 Cause (Jungle of Life) From Lance: “This was the compilation of over 150 writers, sharing a meaningful piece of their work – and for the benefit of raising money for breast cancer research. The sheer number of people that contributed created new connections, many people spreading the word, and a large sum of money raised for cancer research.”
- Bright Lights. Big Shadows. The veneer of social media is fingernail thin. (Bridget Pilloud) From Bridget: “I was surprised at how much this post resonated with people. It’s about how easy social media can hide the truth about the people we feel we know.”
- What’s Happened to Facebook Pages? New Upgrade Explained (MarketingGum) From Anna: “Quite proud of my little blog getting around 600 shares for this 1 article on Facebook. Timing was a major factor, being in New Zealand we were one of the first countries to see the new and quite major changes to Facebook Pages when the upgrade happened. I also wanted to add as many visuals as possible and always think that helps readability / scanability and how ‘useful’ someone finds an article. Then it was down to sharing it everywhere I could, digg, twitter etc.”
- 15 Top Bloggers Share Their Most Valued Advice (Beyond Norms) From Rob: “Receiving input from 15 amazing bloggers, many of whom shared the post with their readers really catapulted this article forward. Now, every few weeks, I aim to put together a list post after seeing how well received they can be.”
Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Online Business
- *** 10 Inspirational 21 And Under Entrepreneurs (Epic Launch) From Ben: “Was an inspiring post about young entrepreneurs. The post was well designed and asked readers to share.”
- *** How to Become an SEO Freelancer in 48 Hours (Location 180) From Sean: “This was popular, because the title was bold enough to garner attention, yet its true, which encourages people to share. It was also SEO optimized which has led to dozens of organic hits every day since posting it 4 months ago.All of that along with the fact that the post is highly useful to just about anyone with a website.”
- *** 24 networking tips that actually work (Passive Panda) From James: “Mostly because people enjoyed the content, which is highlighted by the comments. Also, the headline — including a number and providing a hint of something different — made a big difference when it came to sharing on Twitter and Facebook.”
- *** 10 Examples of Killer Unique Selling Propositions on the Web (Think Traffic) From Corbett: “Over 12,000 views on this post, 75% of them from Google search. When I wrote it I had no idea so many people were searching for the term ‘unique selling proposition.’”
- 15 bloggers reveal: What is the most important mindset that an online entrepreneur needs and why (TimoKiander.com) From Timo: “It was popular, because I had so many different bloggers sharing his/her opinion on a same topic (the most important mindset).”
- How I Made $5000 Online in One Month by Writing for Others (YoungPrePro) From Onibalusi: “This post was highly popular both in terms of comments and traffic because I have been consistently reporting earning thousands of dollars monthly. This built up my credibility and made it what people wanted to read thus making it an instant success.”
- My Journey from a Poor Fatherless Kid to a Successful Blogger (YoungPrePro) From Onibalusi: “The content was highly popular because it talked about how I started my blogging journey from being a poor kid who lost his father at a very tender age. I borrowed the formula from one of Glen Allsopp’s posts on Journeying from a cloth worker to lording the internet.”
- Tu primera operación en Bolsa ¿Qué necesitas para operar? (Novatos Trading Club) From Uxio: “This post is about trading the stock market for the first time. It shows how tu buy shares and a few basic rules for the newbie. It’s highly appreciated because it is detailed but not techie and it’s one of the very few posts about the topic in Spanish.”
- Top 10 Tuesday: Quotes from UnMarketing (#UnBook) (L.I.F.E by Ashley Pichea) From Ashley: “Thanks to Scott Stratten’s promotion of this post on Twitter, it is one of my most read posts. Great content and great promotion!”
Personal Development, Creativity and Minimalism
- How to Go from 9-5 on Friday to Aussie Bum by Monday (Life Excursion) From Dave: “This post was so popular because it detailed why I left the grind and how others could do the same. Readers were able to relate to my story while also being taught how they too could leave the mediocrity they were living in and start living their life to the fullest.”
- A Student’s Guide to a Minimalist Diet in 5 Steps (Minimal Student) From Jessica: “More and more people are finding out that eating foods the way we used to (before it became junky and processed) is the best way to get on the right track to good health. This post has been consistently popular because everything is explained clearly and there are helpful step-by-step guidelines for people to follow if they wish to go back to fresh and simple food.”
- How to Live an Interesting Life (The Friendly Anarchist) From Fabian: “The title was intriguing. It had lots of ridiculous bar charts and footnotes. Most importantly, it was about a topic that matters, so many people were happy to recommend it to their friends and peers.”
- So what the hell are you waiting for? (What’s Dave Doing?) From Dave: “Late last year I was sitting in my guesthouse in Penang, Malaysia thinking back over my previous few months of travel and wondering why so many people always seemed to talk about doing the same thing – but most never did. This post was the response to that question, and I was amazed at its popularity. I think it was the forthright question in the headline and the positive, no-excuses-accepted style of the content that made it my most popular post to this day.”
- the free ultimate minimalist resource guide (and a fond farewell.) (Minimalist Adventures) From Dusti: “I link articles on virtually every question there is to answer about minimalist living, then gave it away. It was my last post for that website, and it’s received over 9,000 views to date because it has tons of trackbacks and links leading to it.”
- My Minimalist Journey: Clothing (Pocket Changed) From Caleb: “(Pocket Changed) 18 Facebook Shares & 13 Tweets on this post where I minimized the amount of clothes I have. Took more work than normal, but took the model of showing “X Items I Own” that many minimalist bloggers use.”
- People-Pleasing: The Price Of Being Too Nice And What To Do About It (Enhance Life) From Shamelle: “Being too nice can sometimes lead to various problems. Looking through the comments, I see that many readers were able to relate this post, to their own life experiences.”
- Beer and Skittles: Life though To Do Lists, Bucket Lists, Fuckit Lists and Impossible Lists (Almost Bohemian) From David: “Unfortunately I haven’t been blogging long enough to really generate a popular popular blog post. But my most popular blog post is about my goals and hopes in life. Damn, thats kind of embarrassing.”
- How to be More Creative by Being a Slasher (Catfish Parade) From Baker: “Even though my blog is still new, this post has been my most commented, retweeted, and viewed and continues to get traffic. It was a response to a post on Mars Dorian’s blog, directly challenging some of his ideas and pushing that conversation further (it even got enough buzz that Mars himself came over and commented on my post!).”
- Why Most People Dream and Only Some Do: The Go-Getter Theory (Davy Kestens) From Davy: “Because it’s a very powerful and inspiring post. Not to long and filled with short tweetable power-sentences that people want to relate to. 357 facebook likes, 43 comments and 42,430 unique hits so far.”
- Dreams Without Action Are Like Farts in a Windstorm (The Hairy Edge) From Ellen: “Dreams Without Action Are Like Farts in a Windstorm had a catchy title and a call to action. It had 40 shares and 145 views which was pretty good for a one-month-in blogger! Still gets lots of pageviews.”
Travel and Global Issues
- A case for conformity (The Pan Americans) From Mark: “This was my first rant. I was ‘stuck’ in Brazil, and wanted to be in Austin. I think people resonated with the irony of loneliness en masse, while I brooded on ‘classical’ loneliness. No advice. Sad stuff. Grumpy stuff. Human stuff.”
Art and Writing
- *** 33 Things I’ve Never Told You (or, How to Re-Introduce Yourself and Kick Your Watered-Down Self in the Ass) (Corbett Barr) From Corbett: “169 comments and 30+ links on this post where I spill my guts. It was fun to write and led to some really great connections with readers.”
- Knock it Down! How to Destroy the Writer’s Block Once and For All (Grad Money Matter) From Sam: “This article got a lot of traction on stumbleupon and received several hundred visitors within a span of a couple of hours. I think it is the “How to” + “once and for all” combination in the headline that did the trick.”
- 2010 Book and E-Book Sales Data for the United States (Productive Writers) From John: “I actually built this post around a press release and I wrote it quite rapidly. I focused on good SEO, and that, along with a lot of tweets and some links from other sites, has resulted in a lot of continued traffic from Google.”
- Is your blog more like Riggs or Murtaugh? (Hollandz) From Brad: “Even though I don’t have a lot of traffic since I just stepped into the blogging world with cool moves like Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, I’d say that this post was my most popular content because it made people think about their writing style and hopefully take action to write without fear.”
- Saggar Firing – Lessons Learned (Brian Fields Pottery) From Brian: “This post got 1674 pageviews, which is really good for a small artists blog that was just starting out. It gave a glimpse into my process, and gave some practical advice about what I was learning at the time. My Gallery page and About page also get a lot of traffic.”
- How to Become a Freelance Writer in One Step (The Coffee House Wordsmith) From Joe: “This was the first post on my blog to go viral, at least on a small scale (It received several hundred views in the first few hours after release). I think the post’s success resulted from a combination of having a catchy title and telling an aspiring story that encouraged aspring writers to take action NOW in order to achieve their goals.”
- *** Academy Award Winning Avatar Photoshop Tutorial (PSD Tutorial) From Jerry: “This tutorial received over 20k views and 2k shares within two weeks. I think combining a trending topic in a unique way really sparked the readers’ curiosity.”
- *** 38 Fashion Blogs You Should be Following (The Emerald Closet) From Adria: “It compiles a list of all the industry leaders, which not only attracts readers who want to know what they should be reading, but also attracts the bloggers themselves because you mention them. It’s a great piece of content that can really turn into a linkable asset for you. Just insert a different niche of blogs and you’re golden: (#) _____ Blogs you Should be Following.”
- *** 10 Ways To Love A Woman (Male eXperience) From Graham: “Most views (after subtracting Stumblupon views!!), most comments, most facebook recommendations. It was clear it was a list post (amazing how they are strill popular) and it hit a chord with men and women. It was honest and helpful to people.”
- 10 things I wish I had known about web designing 10 years ago (Rob Cubbon) From Rob: “This post took off on StumbleUpon like no other I’ve ever seen. At least 4,000 visitors from SU in 2 or 3 days. SU becomes a virtuous circle, the more people see it the more people are likely to give it a thumbs up, the higher it goes up the page on SU, the more people see it, and so it goes on. But it was popular on Twitter and keeps on drawing in traffic and comments.”
- My biggest secret (Disrupting the Rabblement) From Niall: “I publicly revealed my biggest, most personal secret, a secret I’d only ever shared with two people before, and for a long time thought I’d take to the grave with me. I believe the post was successful because I came with a level of honestly and vulnerability that most bloggers avoid, and it got my readers to reconsider keeping their own skeletons locked up.”
- 38 Ways To Keep Busy After A Break Up (Dumped Days) From Persha: “A list post content strategy that work out well. After a breakup you suddenly feel like you have so much more time on your hands and this is a popular search term in Google. The post received over 3000 views and was also popular within Stumble Upon.”
- A Baby Shower Alternative: Blessingways (Hip Chick Pregnancy Guide) From Heather: “This post was very popular for me, I had over 150 facebook shares. I think it’s unique because of the subject matter. Not many pregnant moms’ realize there is an alternative to the common baby shower. The fact that my community thought it was good enough to share and pass around showed me this is a recipe for future posts.”
- How to Hack a Facebook Account Without Ever Knowing the Password (Guide Goods HQ) From Edwin: “I think my post was popular because I discuss a method on a popular site (Facebook) and share a technique many people are interested in.”
- How to Spot a Fake Match.com Profile (Honey and Lance) From Lance: “I wrote the post in a fit of inspiration after I was frustrated by fakes on Match.com…little did I realize there were a lot of searches for the same thing. This post ended up tops in SERPs inadvertently, so I went back and tweaked the SEO and cleaned up the writing several months later. This post, along with a couple of others, are now tentpole posts that draw in hundreds of web surfers per day to honeyandlance.com. They’re so popular, I’ve actually changed my site from a personal experience blog to dating advice, specifically for the online crowd.”
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