I yet to find a person that can give me a one sentence response to this question. If you are the one, please write it in the comments section.
If there’s one thing bloggers and writers are good at, it’s self-promotion. Everywhere you look, anything you read, you can be sure that someone is telling you just how epic their content is, how killer their blog posts are and how your site will go viral if only you publish their content.
I’ve spent a great deal of time searching for writers that can create the kind of quality content we’re talking about. I’ve looked at all of the freelance websites and marketplaces you can think of; time and time again, I’ve been disappointed.
Each and every sample article I received needed to be filed “forever.” (I guess you understand what this means).
I couldn’t hire anyone (except here and there for a trial article) because the content just wasn’t good enough.
We throw around these terms – “epic,” “killer” and “viral” so frequently that they seem to have lost their meaning. We even come up with new terms like “bleeding edge,” which only serves to muddy the waters.
What we’re really talking about here is creating “great”, or “outstanding” or “insanely useful” (I like this one) content.
These contents are well written, useful to the reader and generates significant search engine and organic traffic to the website.
If you really want to create these types of content, there are some things you must do before you ever sit down and start to write:
1. Recognize that you can’t control what happens to your article after it’s published.
You might create the most amazing piece of content ever seen in your niche. You might follow all of the SEO rules and do everything in your power to promote the post. Yet, sometimes, it just won’t click. It won’t generate traffic and interest.
You can’t sit down at your computer and say “I’m going to write a killer article now,” because there are factors you just can’t control. Learn to accept that from the beginning.
2. Understand that a killer article in one niche may be very different in style from a killer article in another niche.
The topic, niche or specialty you’re dealing with has a lot to do with what makes a particular article outstanding. If you’re writing in a technical field, you need a very different style and format than if you’re writing in a gaming niche.
Understand your niche and your target audience. Know what format and style works best for them and you’ll increase your chances of creating a “killer” content.
3. Know what a killer article looks like.
There are examples of killer articles on the Internet that can help you understand what people are looking for.
Hugh McLeod’s How to be Creative is a classic example of high-quality content, and one of the very first “killer” blog posts ever published.
Another well-written and well-received article in the blogging niche is Pat Flynn’s How to REALLY Profit from Your Blog.
Some of the older posts on Copy-blogger (mostly those written by Brian Clark) are also great examples, including 15 Grammar Goofs that Make You Look Silly.
Each of these articles tackles its subject matter in a very different way, yet each achieves a certain level of greatness.
4. Identify the purpose of your killer article.
Why do you want to write a killer article? Usually, the principal purpose includes increasing traffic to your site, encouraging repeat visitors, improving conversion rates and get readers to share the article organically via other blogs and social media. That’s why you’re writing the article, and you should keep that endgame in mind at all times. How you make that happen is a different story altogether.
5. Know what ingredients you need to create a killer article.
Any piece of copy that has a chance to go viral and really make an impact in your niche needs to have several characteristics and components:
- It needs to be unique. If the ideas themselves aren’t unique, you need to at least be able to express them in a new way that’s not been used before.
- It needs to have an appealing and/or seductive title (headline)
- It needs to have a topic that is either controversial, trendy, taboo, elicits strong emotions, or
- It needs to add value to a conversation
- It needs to engage the reader
- It must contain an irresistible call-to-action.
I’d like to inject here Seth Godin’s definition of blogging:
“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.” by Seth Godin.
This is a good motto to follow,
6. Write the perfect headline.
You should leave the writing of the headline to be the last function. With this method you will be able to match your text, or rather add the “punch” to the text. Moreover with this method you will have an easier time to add a relevant, irresistible and engaging headline that readers find it as a “must read.”
A killer article with a poor headline will never get to a reading stage.
7. You must start the article with a question.
Questions have two purposes. The first is to cause the reader to pause and think, and then read on in hopes that they were right.
The second is to lead the reader down a path. You can use questions to start your readers’ saying yes, and feeling they agree with you.
Questions are also conversational and bring focus to the article.
And lastly, kids use questions to find out about the world; I think they know something that we do not.
8. Write in a format that is known to make it into the “killer” category.
The truth of the matter is that there is no strict format that your post needs to adhere to in order to make it into this top category, but it does help to have a loose “template” to increase the post’s chances.
Lists and step-by-step guides seem to have a good affinity to succeed. I believe it has to do with the fact that usually these types of posts provide high value to the reader. For ease of reading, it is a good idea to use lots of bullet point sentences, which also creates larger white space. Lastly, use of quotes (especially from famous people) seems to elevate the post to a higher level.
9. Compare your article with other killer articles.
Once your article is complete, take a look at some of the example articles I’ve identified above, as well as some killer articles you’ve come across in the past.
How does your compare? Is it as insanely useful as the others? Is it just as engaging? Does it keep the reader wanting more? Does it have a headline that will draw in new readers?
If you answer no to these questions, it’s time to go back and work on the article. In some cases, you might even be able to ask a trusted colleague or friend to review your article. If you can do so with an established figure in your niche, even better.
Creating killer content is as much art as it is science. So many writers and bloggers believe they know how to create killer content when what they really know is how to write well for a small audience.
That’s not what you need. You need content that appeals to everyone in your niche, and maybe even beyond.
All of us strive to create killer content. Every time I sit down at the computer to create an article, I go through these seven steps. Even then, hardly ever that an article makes it to a higher level as compared to others.
However, if that article doesn’t go viral, I’m determined to make sure that it’s not because it’s not written well, but rather because the whims of the masses and the winds of fate have passed it by. (That is a good one, right?)
Do this every time you write and you’re guaranteed to create a true killer article from time to time.