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About This Club

This club is for the writers out there. Do you write articles in the ThriveThrough columns, books, blogs, detailed posts? This club will go into techniques for becoming a better written content producer.

  1. What's new in this club
  2. You know what’s better at paying attention than a homo sapiens with a mobile phone? A goldfish. I wish I was joking, but goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds. Your average visitor gets distracted after just 8 seconds. Kind of like this: Statistically, most of you won't make it this far... But I'm happy YOU did! Source This is rather depressing when you’re a content creator. And it’s getting rougher... Did you know a visitor reads on average only 20 to 28% of your content and 80% of their time is spent above the fold? Basically you’re spending countless hours researching and writing this epic content just to realize nobody actually reads it. You get zero comments to cheer you on, no shares on social media and your online business is still in the same spot when it should be growing steadily considering all of your efforts. You start to believe that this content marketing stuff is not working. Wait, don’t commit content marketing suicide just yet! There is one thing you’re completely overlooking when creating your content, and I’m going to teach you how to make your articles so hypnotizing your readers won’t be able to stop reading… How to Make Your Articles So Hypnotizing Your Visitors Won't Be Able to Stop Reading Your role as a content creator is to help your readers consume your content. The truth is that most people will first skim your article, before deciding if it is worth their time reading. After this first scanning phase, they should: Know what the article is about Get the most important message Be tempted to read the whole article in detail Be willing to share the content with friends and strangers Making your content hypnotizing is not about making it look pretty. It’s about helping your readers skim the article quickly, grab their attention and make them read and share. Ready? Let’s take a look at the different steps! STEP 1: Let's Breach the Wall of Text Has this ever happened to you? You go to bed early and you just want to read a little bit before dozing off. You open up a novel and 30 minutes later you want to go to sleep. But the story is so captivating you’re tempted to read the next chapter. You browse forward to see how long it is… perfect, it’s only 5 pages. “Just one more chapter” you think to yourself. Before you know it, you’re 10 chapters further and you’ve lost another hour of sleep. Which one seems easier to read? To captivate your reader you should do the same with the paragraphs of your article as the chapters in the book. Make them short (3 to 5 sentences), this will make the text seem less daunting to read. Once you’ve divided your article into short, catchy paragraphs, you can add subheadings to group several paragraphs. The right way to use subheadings in your articles Main Point of the Article (h1) First important idea of the article (h2) Develop on the first idea (h3) Second important idea of the article (h2) Develop on the second idea (h3) Third important idea of the article (h2) Develop on the third idea (h3) Using subheadings the right way will not only help your readers scan through the content and help them decide what paragraphs they want to read, it’s also useful for SEO purposes. When writing online, you should use the HTML title tags (<h1> to <h6>) for your headlines and subheadings. STEP 2: Don’t Dodge the Bullets You’re at a cocktail party, you look around the room and something grabs your attention. You notice her. She is the only women dressed in red, while all the other people are wearing black and grey. She grabbed your attention because she stood out. As Patrick Renvoise explains in his book Neuromarketing: understanding the buy buttons in your customer's brain. Use bullet points to put a red dress on your content. Bullet lists make your content: Scannable Shorter Comprehensive Use bulleted lists when the information has no hierarchy and numbered lists if the order of the elements is important. You should not use bullet points when you need several phrases to explain a point, when you cannot start every bullet the same way grammatically, if you’ve already used lists several times in the text before (too many lists kill the purpose of using a list to stand out) or if you need semicolons to make sense of your bullet points. You should use a list to: Create a visual break for your readers. Easily show a lot of information. Give hierarchy to the information. Pull out the significant parts of a text. You should not use a list if: The information needs multiple phrases to explain. You can not start every bullet in the same way grammatically. You’ve already used lists several times in the same text before. You need semicolons (;) to explain the text. Tell me, did you read the bullet list? Or the text just above it? STEP 3: Be Bold I bet you probably read these words, and what about these ones. I bet I got you to read these ones, too. That is the power of bolding. You can direct the reader's attention. As you can see, bolding certain words in the text allows the message to come across even without reading the whole paragraph. Don’t overdo it! Too much bolding will just make the text harder to read. STEP 4: Think Outside the Box With more than 2700 titles, chances are you’ve read a “for Dummies”-book. What makes these books so popular? The Dummies-books all use the same structure. And they master visual elements to facilitate the reading and the consumption of the information of the book. Source Heck, they even explain what you should not read (the grey boxes in the sideline) or what you should read only if you’re interested in the technical stuff! This gives them the opportunity to make the information interesting and easy to read for many types of people. Total beginners will appreciate skimming only the most important information without getting overwhelmed, and more advanced readers will use the “grey boxes” and the “technical stuff” icons to get the most out of the book. And you can do the same with your article content! How to use text boxes in your blog articles Use text boxes (Quotes, Spoiler, Code) to make content stand out and grab attention or conversely, show supplementary information they can ignore without missing out. You can use these boxes anywhere in your content, and put as much information in them as needed to help your reader have a good reading experience. But stick to this one rule: be consistent. If you want to “teach” your readers how to read your content, you should always be consistent with the use of your text boxes. To make sure the reader knows how to interpret these boxes, every “bonus tip” should appear in the same type of box, with the same colors and fonts. Another way of highlighting important information in the text is by using quotes. Have you ever read something on a blog or in a book and thought: “This is brilliant, I wish I would have written this!” Unfortunately, you cannot just copy the phrase, that’s called plagiarism… But you definitely can borrow their wisdom by quoting! 5 Good Reasons to Use Quotes in Your Blog Articles They help you boost your credibility. They act as a second voice to reinforce your ideas. They can lead the way into a new subject or idea. They add variety to your articles. They are memorable and shareable. But don’t take my word for it… STEP 5: One Image is Worth a Thousand Words Let’s play a game… Look at this picture: Source Now try to explain this to me in words! It would take you several sentences to explain everything that is happening in the picture and it would be hard to convey the same emotion. When used correctly, images can illustrate your point quicker than words. But watch out… Not all images are equal and some can hurt your article’s readability more than helping it. The 4 Commandments of Making Your Article Images Not Suck. Rule 1: Thou shalt not use stock images. Feel free to ignore me! Source Irrelevant, generic stock images will do more harm than good. They lower your social shares and are ignored by your readers. Your readers don’t want you to fluff up your text. If you insist on using stock photos follow the instructions Tommy Walker is sharing on Conversion XL Check who is using the same picture. Get the proper rights to the picture. Alter the picture enough to really make it your own. But there are other ways to use images in your articles that will actually help your readers. Rule 2: Thou shalt look for opportunities to illustrate your text. Your brain processes images 60000 times faster than text! This gives you 60,000 reasons to look for opportunities to illustrate a part of your text with a visual. Create a graph for number heavy information. Take a look at the example of the Busting the Exit-Intent Myth article. Which one is easier to understand? OR In the second trigger test, we’ve tested showing the lightbox on exit intent, after 10 seconds and instantly on page load. The exit intent had a 1.73% conversion rate, which was the worst of all triggers. Triggering the lightbox after 10 seconds had a conversion rate of 3.27% and the instantly triggered lightbox converted at a 4.07% which is 235% better than the exit intent trigger. The graph allows you in a split second to understand and process the information, while the text demands a lot of effort. Another way to show data is to put dynamic visual elements in your articles. These elements can showcase data heavy information in a visually attractive way. Use screenshots when appropriate. Screenshots are perfect for tutorial style articles. To make your screenshot really interesting, use annotations. Here is an example of an opt-in form screenshot with annotations. Look for relevant multimedia content. Often you’ll be able to find multimedia content to support your message. You can add: Youtube, Vimeo or Vine videos. SlideShare or Prezi presentations. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest posts. Infographics (You can find tons of them on Pinterest, Visual.ly or Alltops) Rule 3: Thou shalt include an image every 350 words. After analyzing 100 high ranking blog posts, Blogpros found out that they all had, on average, an image every 350 words. To give you an idea, 350 words is about the equivalent of 5 paragraphs of 5 lines in "Lorem Ipsum". Rule 4: Thou shalt add captions. This carrot told me I was fat. So I started my new healthy diet with him, and his family... Your images attract the eye and the captions underneath your images will get a lot of readers. Use this real estate wisely to make the scanners want to read the complete text or to help them get the content. STEP 6 : Where Most Content Creators Miss Out. Reciprocity in social psychology refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. (Wikipedia) This means that after reading your article, your readers are more likely to do something kind for you. But you have to ask. If you're not asking anything at the end of your article, you're missing out on an opportunity to connect with your readers and deepening your relationship. What Is the Perfect Call to Action? The action you’ll ask from your readers will entirely depend on you and your style. Ask yourself: What would be the most valuable for you and your business? What is the next logical step for your readers to take? Don’t try to ask for the moon. After reading an article, your visitor probably isn’t ready to buy. First, try to get them more involved with your column or business. You could ask them to: Share your article on social media Subscribe to your column Become a fan on Facebook Follow you on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, … Leave a comment Sign up for a free trial Download an ebook Read another article Sign up for a webinar ... Choose one call to action to include in your article. Multiple call to actions will dilute the effectiveness because when your readers have too many options on what to do next, they won’t do a thing. So avoid the “Share this article and comment and follow us on social media and read the next article and…” Amazing, you’ve come to the end of the article! Now it’s up to you. Get more readers without writing more content. The fastest way to start optimizing your column is by reformatting articles you’ve already created. A good place to start is an old article you know has good content, and is still useful to your audience, but that your current readers probably never read because it’s hidden in far down your list of articles. Reformatting this kind of content will help you to get more readers, more traffic and more shares without having to write any line of text. Don’t just take my word for it, test it! Choose an article Go through the 6 step process Bump the article back to the top of your column (by setting the publish date to the current day) Share your article on social media and announce your new article in relative discussion throughout the site. Next, let me know what happened!
  3. If you can write content like this, the world's your oyster. The article I'm referring to is this article by Precision Nutrition titled: The Ketogenic Diet - Does it Live Up to The Hype? No matter how you roll with your food preferences, if you do any content writing, this article is a must read. And in this guide, we'll explore exactly what makes this article so brilliant and excavate some valuable lessons for our own content marketing. Key Takeaways There are many things to love about this piece of content. Here are some key takeaways - the things we can learn from this post to make our own articles better: It's All About Structure The article goes into a lot of detail and is over 6,000 words long. An article like this could easily feel overwhelming. But thanks to clean, clear structure and a consistent use of short paragraphs, highlights, lists and headings, the reader never loses their bearings. To infuse excellent structure into your own posts, start using Content Patterns and follow these 6 rules for excellent content formatting. Intro & Self Segmentation In the intro, the article provides "how to read this" guidelines that lay out which parts are important for what kind of reader. For example, a professional fitness and nutrition coach will approach this content differently than a hobby fitness enthusiast. The authors are aware of this and help the readers self segment. Blue Content Boxes The article contains many blue content boxes, each titled "Let's take an even deeper look". These boxes always contain some extra geeky details for the interested reader. The genius here is that the blue boxes help give the content structure, break the page up visually into easily digestible chunks and help readers know which parts they can safely skip if they just want the gist of it. Character & Tone The article is a deep-dive into the biochemistry behind and research done on the ketogenic diet. It's the kind of content that could easily be dry, difficult to follow and boring. The authors manage to keep the post light, entertaining and at times even funny. Importantly, they do this without sacrificing the information content and without wasting the reader's time. Segmented Conclusions The article opens with the "how to read this" guidelines and echoing that, it closes with similarly segmented takeaways. Instead of simply presenting a single conclusion to the post, there are several conclusions, again aimed at the different types of people who might be reading the post. A Seamless, Unashamed Promotion A piece of content should conclude with a call to action. Ideally, one that will drive visitors towards an important conversion goal in your business. The Precision Nutrition article we're discussing concludes with a call to action, but does it better and bolder than most. There are 2 aspects we can learn from: The transition from the content to the promotion is seamless. The promotion doesn't feel tacked on or out of place. And that is brilliant because as a general rule, the more relevant and specific your offer is, the better it will perform. The promotional call to action is part of the post itself. It's several paragraphs long and it's not confined in a little "box of shame" at the end of the post. Walking a Fine Line The ketogenic diet is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of proposition. Like any diet, really. People tend to be very tribal about their food choices and talking about high fat or low fat or plant based or gluten free eating is polarizing. In general, it's good to create polarizing content. Polarizing content is better than bland, forgettable, middle-of-the-road content. But it can be overdone. That's how we end up with shock-jock talk radio hosts, overly sensationalized "news" and gurus peddling all kinds of nonsense. What I love about the Precision Nutrition article about the keto diet is that it walks a fine line: it's not heavily in favor of keto, it's not totally against it, but it also doesn't shy away from presenting strong and clear opinions. It's objective, fair and useful. The Reader's Choice A common thread in this article is giving the reader freedom of choice. You want to just skim through and come away with a conclusion in 2 minutes? No problem. You want to know all the details? This post has got you covered. You're somewhere in between? That's fine too. People don't read online content word for word. We skim and skip and scroll up and down. And we often reach a point where we're satisfied that we've read and understood enough before we've read half the words on the page. And that's fine. As a writer who publishes online, you're not going to change this. Instead, embrace it! Make your content equally useful for the ADHD content skimmers and for the geeky super fans.
  4. What if there was a magic formula that could help you write articles faster than ever before? And what if this formula also made your content clearer, easier to follow and more engaging for your readers? If only, right? I don't have a magic formula for you, but I've got something just as good: content patterns. In this guide, you'll discover how to use content patterns to create articles in a structured way, beat writer's block and cut hours from your usual content creation process. The Basic Structure of an Article A universally useful structure for any piece of content you create looks like this: The intro always explains what your article is about, whom it's for and why it's worth paying attention to. The intro explains how the reader will benefit from continuing to read. The content pattern is where you explain your core ideas, list your products, provide your step-by-step recipe or outline your strategies. The call to action closes off your post. This is where you tell your readers what to do next, whether that's leaving a comment, checking out another, related post, signing up to your newsletter or anything else that's important to your business. Even if you do nothing else, you'll already benefit greatly from creating a "scaffold" for each article, with these thee building blocks. In this guide, we're mainly concerned with that middle section of the basic layout: the content pattern. What is a Content Pattern? A content pattern is a layout that repeats several times throughout a post. A typical example is a list: every item in the list has an image, a title and some text. For each item in the list, these same elements are repeated in the same order, using the same formatting. The structure of the content ends up looking like this: One of the advantages of this is that you only have to think about the formatting and layout once and then you simply repeat that pattern for every list item. This content pattern makes up the majority of an article. Use it well and you can easily create beautifully formatted, content rich articles. Below are specific examples of how you can construct content patterns and what they might look like in practice: CONTENT PATTERN 1: What, Why, How The headline is a summary of what this section of the pattern is about. This can be a product you're reviewing, a step in a multi-step process or recipe, a core idea you want to convey. The first text section ('what') elaborates on what it is that you're describing in this section. Think: objective, factual description. The second text section ('why') describes why it matters. Why are you mentioning this core idea? Why is this step in the process important? The third text section ('how') describes how to make use of this new information. How to put this core idea into action. How to perform this step in the process or recipe. Example: Article About Healthy Habits Here's what one loop of the "what, why, how" content pattern could look like on a health blog: CONTENT PATTERN 2: Person, Problem, Solution The first part describes a person or a story. It sets the scene and helps readers relate. The second part describes a problem this person has. An obstacle they face, a challenge they must overcome. The third part describes the solution our protagonist put into place. You can think of this as a storytelling format for providing actionable information with a personal touch. You'll find this type of pattern applied in almost every bestselling non-fiction book. Example: Ways to Eliminate Stress for Every Personality Type Here's what this content pattern could look like on a lifestyle column: CONTENT PATTERN 3: Pros, Cons, Action The first part is about the pros. The good stuff. What you like about a product, what a case study object does well. The second part is about the cons. What you don't like about the product. Where the case study object has room for improvement. The third part is a summary of what we can learn from these pros and cons. What action we should take next. How we can decide whether or not to use this product. Example: Which Flagship Smartphone is Right for You? This content pattern is very well suited for product reviews and list posts. Here's an example of how it could be used on a tech column: CONTENT PATTERN 4: Facts, Opinion This is a pattern that's very well suited for curated content or any kind of content where you pull in various facts and stats to make your point. The pattern is simple: in the first part, introduce the facts. In the second part, provide your personal opinion. The second part is also where you can provide context and write about what the facts mean, combined with all the other facts you list in your post. Example: Scientifically Proven Study Hacks Here's an example of how this pattern could be used in a article about effective learning: Using Images to Upgrade Your Content Patterns In the examples, you can see that I also like to incorporate images in my content. Images add to the visual structure of your content and make it look more professional. And in many cases, you can use screenshots and illustrations to better get your points across. A simple way to add images to your content patterns is to use "chapter images". These are images that go along with each main heading in your content pattern. To find the right images to use check this out: How to Craft a Visual Identity for Your Column. Using Content Patterns as a Tool Initially, it will take some effort to think about content patterns and figure out how to use them in your articles. It may even feel a bit uncomfortable, at first. But stick with it. The payoff comes once you get accustomed to the basics of using content patterns. The more you get used to content patterns, the more ways of using them open up. They become a way to add structure and flow even to the most complex topics and the most epic articles. Over to You I hope this guide inspires you to try content patterns and I'd love to know how this approach works for you. If you have any questions or you encounter difficulties when trying to implement this strategy, let me know by leaving a comment!