Do you want to attract thousands of readers and keep them coming back for more?
Do you want to write posts that you know will go viral, even before you publish them?
Of course you do – and you can!
Let’s define what a viral blog post means
It’s the holy grail of blog writing – the type of post that takes off because everyone is talking about it and wants to share it.
Unfortunately, most people define viral by some crazy number in the millions because of highly publicized music and prank videos. But doing so makes going viral not only unrealistic, but nearly impossible for written blog content. You already know you’ll never reach those numbers, even with the best blog post ever. So it’s important to define what going viral means to you.
For me, a viral blog post is one that has an extremely high number of shares compared to the number of shares for your average post. For example, if your average post gets shared 10 – 20 times on Facebook, then viral might mean 200 Facebook shares and up. For another blogger, it may mean more than 500, while for some, the magic number might be 10,000.
But writing a blog post that goes viral is just luck, right?
Right – until it’s not.
A while ago I told a fellow blogger that my blog post of the following day would go viral. I already knew. No doubt about it. And it did, exceeding even my expectations. This wasn’t a one-off event. I’ve written several blog posts that have gone viral.
And you can too!
One of the reasons bloggers strive in vain for success is that they’ve either skipped or do not know the 3 fundamentals of blog post writing.
1. Know your niche
The first secret is to have a blog in a specific niche. The more specific your niche, the easier it is to create content that is written for your readers.
Many fledgling blogs publish posts on a wide range of topics, without focusing on any one. The problem with this is that each post may appeal to only a fraction of the blog’s readers. This reduces the potential for content to spread. Worse, if readers are uninterested in the ever-changing topics, they’ll stop reading altogether.
Become an expert in your niche.
You’ve probably heard that if you write a blog, you’ll be considered an expert in that field. This isn’t always true. If you don’t know your subject well enough, readers will sense it. The sad part is they may never let you know; they’ll simply not come back, and certainly won’t share your work.
Stay on top of industry news and trends.
Whatever your niche, be sure to know it thoroughly. Research it, read other blogs on the same topic, and stay up-to-date on related news.
If your blog is about pool-billiards, you may want to share news about upcoming events. An easy way to stay updated is to set up Google news alerts with keywords such as “Billiards” and “Pool”. Google will then send the relevant articles to your inbox.
When you know your niche well, you’ll be able to write content that matters to your readers, and they’ll see you as an expert, a go-to person in your niche.
2. Know your community
Let’s say you know your subject matter in and out, but your content is still not spreading. The next step is to get to know the community within your niche.
Find out where your ideal readers hang out online. Visit the most popular blogs in your niche. Read everything that’s discussed in the comments, especially for the most popular topics. Get involved by providing helpful input on other blogs’ comment sections, without mentioning your blog.
The more involved you are, the more likely it is that fellow commenters will click your name and discover your blog.
As you get to know your community better, you’ll be able to tailor content to them. You’ll learn what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, what makes them angry, happy etc.
Above all, you will learn what makes your readers want to share content.
If you know why your community shares certain content, you can frame your posts to pique their interest and (almost) compel them to share it.
Mostly, you’ll discover that readers share content that relates directly to them, inspires and motivates them, and makes them feel better about themselves. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that readers are more likely to share content about people who are dealing with the specific challenges they face, and are finding unique ways to be happy and succeed despite their obstacles.
When you discover content that is spreading, look for the common denominators. Are the posts funny, serious, or about certain situations or lifestyles? Make a list of what readers are sharing the most, because that’s what they enjoy reading.
This by no means selling out!
It means you know and understand your community. They’ll share your content because you get them. There is no greater compliment to your readers than to let them know you understand and appreciate them, and you can do that simply by writing content the way they want it.
But remember: this will happen only if you are an active member of your community.
3. Know your world view
Everyone has a world view; it is the most important aspect of blog writing.
I describe world view as the way we see things, and what we believe about those things. It’s your personal spin – your opinion, if you will.
Your world view sets you apart from everyone else. It will attract readers to your blog and keep them coming back or, heaven forbid, it can be the reason readers reject your blog. The odds are you already know what your world view is.
But do you know how to express your world view in a way that readers will relate to and appreciate?
Unfortunately, not everyone realizes how their world view affects others. If a writer tends to rub people the wrong way, it’s mostly because of how he presents his world view.
For example, you may believe that the sky is green while everyone else believes it’s blue, and you share your view in such a way as to discredit others’ belief. This often happens by accident because the author did not know how his view would affect others.
“The sky is not blue, it’s green. Anyone who thinks it’s blue is an idiot.” Yikes!
Know the difference between your view and that of others. You could modify your point to be thought-provoking by writing something like: “The sky looks blue, but what if it is really green?”. And then clarify why. This way you’re not discrediting anyone’s beliefs, and others will be willing to consider your view.
By sharing your world view in this way, you will come across as understanding and considerate – this is what makes you likeable and your content more likely to go viral. The more people see aspects of their beliefs in your writing, the more they will share your posts.
Niche + Community + Inclusive world view
If you look under the hood of a successful blog post, you will discover that the author knew her niche and her community well. By sharing an inclusive world view, she made her opinion matter to her readers.
In the post How to Write Better: 7 Instant Fixes by Mary Jaksch, you realize right away that she knows who she is writing for.
Write to Done’s niche is writing. Right at the beginning, Mary shares her world view by describing how people worry about whether their writing is good enough. She effortlessly includes us by adding: “I can see you nodding your head. You are not alone. Every writer has doubts about his or her writing.” And we do.
Readers relate to the post so strongly that they feel compelled to share it, making it one of the most popular posts on the blog.
Mary provides 7 fixes which are practical, and – well, instant. The blog post currently has over 100 comments and went viral via StumbleUpon with over 200,000 shares!
Additional strategies to encourage readers to share your posts
- Have obvious sharing buttons on your posts to all the major social networks. I’m surprised how often this is overlooked, especially when simple plugins like sharethis and sharebar are available.
- Share your content within your community on social networks. Remember: it’s considered bad manners to share your own content in unrelated groups; they may even ban you for it.
- If you’re writing about hot topics in the news, ensure you write a compelling blog post. Exciting news is often highly shareable, but make sure you are timely – news becomes old fast. Put your personal spin on it and how it affects your readers. Google alerts will help you keep up and stay on top of niche news that might not make front page headlines.
I’d like to wish you luck, but you won’t need it. Applying the 3 secrets will help you attract the readers you want and deserve. You’ll be on your way to writing posts that are highly shareable with the potential to go viral, but more importantly, you’ll be writing content that matters to you and your readers.
Have you written posts that have gone viral? What sharing strategies do you use? Share in the comments.
About the author:
Image: Match lighting a fire courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com
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