#017: 7 Keys to Writing a Killer Blog Post [Podcast]

In this episode, I talk about how to write killer blog posts. I define what constitutes a killer blog post and then share seven keys for writing one.

This Is Your Life Podcast, Episode #017

In Episode 13, I shared how my blog traffic has grown from a few hundred unique visitors a month when I first started in 2004 to about 300,000 unique visitors a month now.

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Episode Outline

One of the things I love about blogging is the analytics. I can tell exactly how popular a blog post is. I know whether or not it resonated with my audience—or fell on deaf ears.

So when I talk about writing a killer blog post, I mean something very specific. I’m not talking about whether or not you, your family, or your friends liked your blog post.

My definition of a killer blog post is one that performs well as measured by three specific metrics:

  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • Shares

Frankly, if you want to boil this entire episode down to one statement, it is this: The secret to creating killer blog posts is to write stuff people want to read and share.

Here’s how: You can unlock the potential of your blog posts with seven keys:

  1. Focus on your readers.
  2. Write a powerful headline.
  3. Include a relevant photo.
  4. Tell a relevant story.
  5. Make your posts scannable.
  6. Keep your posts brief.
  7. End with a question.

If you put these keys to use, you increase the likelihood of writing killer blog posts.

Listener Questions

  1. Bill Kerr asked, “What tip do you have for finishing blog posts that you start?”
  2. Dana Pittman asked, “How do you do a blog post that is gives enough information but not too much?”
  3. Jon Stallings asked, “How to you write a killer blog post without manipulating your audience?”
  4. Mary DeMuth asked, “Have you ever had the experience where you have written a blog post that you didn’t think was very good, and it was a raging success?”
  5. Melissa Taylor asked, “How do you tell personal stories and yet have the keyword in the first paragraph?”
  6. Ron Cantor asked, “What do you mean when you encourage people to write a controversial blog?”
  7. Shannon Milholland asked, “What metrics do you use to determine if a blog post was really a killer post?”
  8. Sharon Swing asked, “What is the best way to get your customers to talk about what has wowed them about your products or services in a way that makes it easy to share on your blog or website?”
  9. Travis Dommert asked, “How do you come up with a steady stream of great ideas for blog posts?”

Special Announcements

  1. My book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is continuing to sell well. As you may know, it hit all the major bestseller lists, including the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.

    If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will buy a copy. This is a book for authors, speakers, comedians, small business owners, realtors, mortgage brokers, corporate brand managers—anyone with something to say or to sell.

  2. I will be speaking at “A Day About Books” with my friend, John Maxwell, this coming Saturday, June 23, in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is an unprecedented opportunity to learn from someone who has written seventy-plus books and sold more than twenty million copies. He is one of Amazon’s top 25 best-selling authors of all time.

    I will be speaking on ”How Authors Can Build a Powerful Platform.” If you are an author or have ever thought about becoming one, this conference is for you.

  3. If you are interested in having me speak at your event, please visit my Speaking page.
  4. In the next episode of my podcast, I am going to talk about how to maximize your vacation time by going on a “digital detox” and reconnecting to what matters most. If you have a question about this topic, please leave me a voice mail. I will try to answer it on the air.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a transcript of this episode here.

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Question: What tips do you have for writing a killer blog post? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://blog.cyberquill.com/ Cyberquill

    As per your definition, my posts aren’t killer. Mine are paramedic. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      CQ, have you defined what a killer blog post looks like to you? How would you describe one?

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com/ Cyberquill

        Sure. To me, a killer blog post is one that kills me every time I re-read it, but I don’t have many of those. After about 48 hours upon publishing, most of my posts make me cringe.

        • http://twitter.com/aaronlage Aaron Lage

           A killer post doesn’t have to slay you… if you’re like me I tend to over-analyze and be overly critical of myself, but we’ve got to learn not to let that stop us!

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          I get that way too. The post feels like a knock-out when I read it the first time. Rarely does that feeling stick with me. But I think it’s our own self-doubt creeping in. We start to over-analyze and doubt our work. I’ve learned I need to get it done to a point I feel is great and then publish. What happens from there happens.

        • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

           me too.

  • http://www.hansvanbergen.nl/ Hans van Bergen

    Let the reader feel that there is is a human being behind the blog. Reveal yourself, not only by showing your strength en knowledge, but also by showing your weaknesses, doubts en emotions.

    • http://www.thegeezergadgetguy.com/ Thad Puckett

      Very good suggestions.  Excellent in fact.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       You’re right. Frailty and weakness connects more than strength.

    • http://sickchurch.wordpress.com/ Brent Dumler

      Great point!  Authenticity always trumps knowledge.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       I have always been impressed that Michael has been willing to share the “challenges” that he has gone through (the ones he listed in this podcast for example) with his readers. It has definitely helped me be more transparentin my writing!

  • http://themarriagechecklist.com/ Dr. Ann

    Thanks for a killer post on, well, killer posts.  One of the many great things I’ve learned here is that to maximize stewardship of our gifts, we should strive to reach (serve!) others effectively. I agree that tracking analytics is one concrete way of keeping ourselves along that path!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great way to look at it, Ann. Numbers can be great indicators of whether or not our message is meeting real needs.

  • http://www.thegeezergadgetguy.com/ Thad Puckett

    Traffic I am getting.  Sharing I get.  Engagement?  I need help with.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Thad, have you invited discussion in your posts? Ask a question at the end or throw a call to action such as “Share a time…”

      • http://www.youthleadersacademy.com/ Rachel Blom

        Yup, I recognize this. I get comments, but like one every other day or so. I do ask a question at the end, but that doesn’t seem to do the ‘trick’. I read a post on Copyblogger that you have to leave more open instead of sharing all info, that that invites people more to comment and engage. But that’s hard for me since my blog is very practical and how-to oriented…

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

           Rachel, checked out your blog and really enjoyed it. You do provide great tips and ideas for youth ministry. Your questions look good to, from the ones I checked out. One suggestion, maybe ask about their experience in relation to what you’re writing about. That may provide the incentive to comment.

          • http://www.youthleadersacademy.com/ Rachel Blom

            Wow, I appreciate you going through the trouble of having a look at my blog! Glad to hear you think my questions are okay, I will definitely try out to ask for experiences more, see if that helps. 

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

            My pleasure Rachel. I really enjoyed the blog and subscribed. Hoping to snag some good youth leader tips from you.

  • http://www.youthleadersacademy.com/ Rachel Blom

    Thanks for this great podcast Michael, very helpful and practical. For me, my best posts indeed had to do with needs from my readers. It’s something I constantly need to be aware of. A second tip I would add is that those posts where I wrote with a lot of passion and emotion, often with a personal connection, also did very well. An example is a post titled ‘It was never supposed to be easy’. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve had the same experience, Rachel. Those posts I wrote in the heat of frustration, disappointment or another significant emotion often turned out to have the greatest impact, at least as far as I could tell. A word of caution, however. I write in the middle of the emotion, but save it for review a day or two later, when the emotion is tapered and I’m thinking clearly. Then I post.

      • http://www.youthleadersacademy.com/ Rachel Blom

        Definitely. I’ve made it a rule to never post anything out of anger anyway. Frustration is one thing (especially when it’s aimed at things or process, like Michael talked about in the podcast about setting up a Google calendar), but anger is dangerous. Anger often leads to posts you regret later…

  • Mrs. Hill

    Thank you Michael again for a terrific podcast. I think all audiences come to a blog post with a certain level of trust and with particular expectations. They assume you have been educated or have actual experience with the subject you boasted about in the headline. They trust you to a degree simply because you wrote about it to begin with. They also have expectations of what the content will convey. They expect that it will give them some insight or be a condensed version of the enormous amount of information they might otherwise have to sift through themselves if they hadn’t found your post. As a content writer, we should be honoring our audience treasuring their trust and building a relationship deserving of their referrals and loyalty. Their trust from the start is a gift. There is no other area in life where we so freely give our trust than to authors of any type of content. Be humble not seeking the place of honor, but let your audience honor you.

  • MarkJCundiff

    Michael,

    Thanks for this great post! It is very helpful. You obviously have the heart of a teacher because you do an excellent job of teaching your readers the things you have learned in simple very understandable ways. In other words, you put the cookies on the bottom shelf where we can all reach them and take a bite and enjoy.

    Thanks for all your great work and for adding so much value to our lives and work.

    Mark J. Cundiff

  • jmilligan

    Loved this podcast. Very practical and useable. Many bloggers struglle with creating content on a consistent basis so this is extrememly helpful! Looking forward to the “A Day About Books.” I am planning on being there!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Me too. I think it will be really good.

  • http://www.jonstallings.com Jon Stallings

    Thanks Michael, for taking the time to answer my question.  As always, I still have a lot to apply from your wisdom. 

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Michael,  

    I have sometimes felt guilty about reading during the day (business-relevant content, of course)…perhaps because I am kind of task-oriented, so I can get restless while reading.  Knowing that reading is one of your greatest sources of inspiration for quality content is encouraging.

    Thanks for your feedback on my question on the podcast today.  I appreciate it!

  • http://bit.ly/hWr7Cw Rob T

    wow, great list of 7.  thank you.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Rob, I know! Michael did an amazing job with the list. How could you take one of the 7 and apply it to your blog?

  • Dannoman88

    I’ve started ending with a question recently.  I hope it will help create more interaction.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I’ve started asking questions at the end of my posts.  I’m hoping it helps to create more interaction.  

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I’ve followed Michael’s advice on asking questions at the end of my blog posts and it seems to work well. Many posts receive 10-20 comments answering the question. The greatest reward is the knowledge that your readers are able to share by answering the question.

      • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

        Thanks Joe.  I will take a look at your blog.

        • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

          Nice blog, Joe.  Simple and sincere.

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

             Thanks Dan.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I’ve also finally got a gravatar and disqus account.  I hope that helps, too

  • http://twitter.com/Ceronomas steven sarff

    Haven’t even finished it and I am impressed. Thank you so much for do this. I am learning a lot. Have registered my own domain name and will start putting together my own ‘brand’. I look forward to each podcast.
     

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    Great podcast Michael, I’ve been using your tips to revamp my posts!

  • Tim McDonnell

    Very helpful… and WOW… in depth! Michael I especially appreciate the production values in your podcasts… shows a level of class and caring that supports your content. Just curious… is the Switchfoot clip (my sons turned me on to them) fair use or licensed? I’m thinking forward to “extra mile” elements like that for my future podcasts. Many thanks for your commitment. See you at “A Day About Books.”

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Tim,
      I am almost certain Michael has said he licensed the Switchfoot song.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    This isn’t completely related to the post, but I wanted to say thank you for accepting my comments even when I respectfully disagree with something.  I’ve discovered some blogs don’t like any disagreement or prompts to promote critical thinking.  I think that’s a shame as it can overlook new ideas and avoid truth at times.  

    I also have a question: there seems to be a fine line between promotion and spam in regards to mentioning your product or blog in your comments.  Could you address that in a future post?

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Dan, thanks for sharing!  Great conversation does NOT happen when everyone agrees.  We all learn from honest, respectful feedback so we’re all glad that you are sharing!

      I also look forward to a post on promotion vs. information ratios.  Of course,  the key is to gain goodwill from your community that allows you to “cash in some chips” for promotional opportunities.  Looking at Michael’s example I see a very low ratio of promotional material vs. useful free info (maybe 1:20).

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    Great podcast, Michael. One additional tip is to keep the subject specific and daily. How will reading this post meet a reader’s need today? The more specific and actionable (verses general and nebulous) the more likely they will discuss and share. It also helps to include a couple short, poignant, and quotable phrases in the content. Makes for an easy tweet and link.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great stuff, Michele! This would make a great blog post from you!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       Michele,
      Great point!

  • http://sickchurch.wordpress.com/ Brent Dumler

    This is a great reminder.  Sometimes we think we’re hitting the mark…when in reality we are simply aiming in the right direction but completely missing the target!  Keep up the great work and leadership.  Your ministry is making a difference! 

  • JD Maher

    I’m not up on all the jargon yet. What did you mean by making your blog scannable?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I mean that someone can scan through it without reading every word and see the value.

  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

    My favorite point was when you said to not make your images as “monochromatic.” I love that point. My readership is not where yours is YET, but I love the idea of thinking globally—especially in the little details like images.

    Also glad you gave creative commons stuff a chance! Good stuff. 

  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    Be authentic and tell lots of stories.  I know I’m repeating our Sage Conversation Leader.  But its true.  People read my stuff more often when I tell stories.  Peace!

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    I love that you include the transcript to your podcasts – they’re an excellent resource.

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    Finally got to listen to the entire podcast.  Enjoyed the time you spent with your own suggestions and taking questions from the audience.

    The emphasis on audience was a great takeaway for me, as was the continued emphasis on the “powerful” headlines.  I think I do a better job tweeting about my posts than actually naming them and am hoping to add to it with the Garfinkel book.

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  • http://christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Thank you Michael.  This gave me good guidelines and things to keep in mind.

    K, bye

  • http://twitter.com/thecreditletter Credit Card Compare

    Thanks for the solid advice Michael. My advice is simply to know your audience better.

  • http://elisafreschi.blogspot.com elisa freschi

    The only point I disagree about is the one about telling stories. I may enjoy stories which are directly related to the point but I greatly dislike stories which are too personal. As a reader of intellectual blogs (i.e.: I do not read blogs about how much one loves one’s spouse or children) I am not interested in YOU as a person (or I might, but then I would send you a private email). I am interested in you as author and as willing to share your expertise/methodology/skills and to discuss about them. Thus, you might tell me about a mistake you did while starting blogging, but I dislike having to read about your dog or what happened to your son’s fiancee. In most cases, I just skip stories, also because I feel like spying at someone’s window if the author starts telling me about her family or friends.

  • http://heartstonejourney.com/ Tim Young

    Informative podcast, thanks for sharing! There were good nuggets of commentary, but one that rang loudly was writing your bog posts for that ‘one’ person!

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  • http://twitter.com/gupster Glenn Smith

    This was great timing, was pulling together some ideas for a blog post and I think this really helped. Time will tell if it made any difference.

    Thanks

  • Carolyn

    Thanks for your killer blog post. Would you recommend blogging excerpts from a manuscript not yet published?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Like everything, that depends, BUT, as a general rule, yes.

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  • Cliff Morgan

    Absolutely loved this podcast Michael. Will definately be saving the link to this episode for future reference. I know I will be listening to it multiple times in the future. Thanks for the investment. 
    C.

  • http://www.twitter.com/MDteachNET Brian Harris, M.Ed

    I’ve found many of the questions at the end of the show seem more focused on self-promotion of the caller’s blog than on an actual question.

    This week in particular the questions seemed forced.  A few had been so thoroughly covered I could (and did) answer them quite easily.

    I wonder if eliminating the blog plugs would improve the quality of the questions.

    Of course the operative word there is “seem”.  I could be (and often am) completely wrong.

    Regards,
    Brian

  • http://elisafreschi.blogspot.com/ elisa freschi

    Sorry for being so late in commenting. I have a marginal question, i.e., which metrics-app. do you recommend?

  • PNO

    Thanks for this post.

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  • Tips on Blogging

    Thanks for Innovative approach. I usually get inspiration on what to write from reading other people’s post. It is fine to do what you have outlined as there is always a unique perspective on every topic. Thanks for sharing.

    Tips on Blogging

     

  • $44621433

    Hey Michael great post.

    I would like to thank you because all this information is gold for me.

    Personally when i start writing i end up with about 1000+ words on my posts witch i think is great.

    my question will be: Do you think people will get board of how do i manage that (maybe that’s just in my mind) please tell me what you think..

    Allan

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, Allan, I do not understand your question. Could you say it another way? Thanks.

      • http://allanurizar.com/ Allan Urizar

        i guess my question is if i write long posts (1000+) do you feel people will get bored because my posts are too long or that’s just on my mind

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          I have read short posts that were boring and long posts that were fascinating. It all depends on your skills as a writer. In general, I recommend shorter posts. Master those first and then you can try longer ones.

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  • 洪 敦龙

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog http://www.arm2teeth.com posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  • Patent Attorney

    Some seriously good advice, the problem with blogs is they straddle that line between publication and diary so it’s hard to know exactly how to appeal to readers!

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