The Ultimate Guide to Remarkable Content – Part 2:

From blank page to compelling post


The first time I sat down to write a blog post, I thought, “I talk all the time. And I never run out of things to say. Why can’t I just get this stuff down on paper?”

Writer’s block – that’s why.

Everybody hates staring at a blank page. So I’m going to show you how to do away with them for good. It’s all in the preparation. If you change the way you prepare, writer's block will be a thing of the past.

Below are 4 simple strategies I use to create compelling content every time I face the page.

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#1 - Write about what you know


There’s a reason I don’t write about learning foreign languages or computer coding. I don’t know how to do any of that stuff! If I tried to write about it, it would be really hard to get started.

But since I write about topics I’m interested in – like psychology, money or business – it’s 10x easier for me to find the right words. I care about those things, and, more importantly, I WANT to write about them.

Being interested in what you’re talking about and knowing about the topic plays a huge part in defeating writer's block. And, you don’t have to be an expert to get started. You just have to know enough to write about one thing. After you write about that one thing, you can learn about something else. Then write about that.

That’s what great bloggers do.

Eventually writing becomes fun and the ideas start flowing. And, you’re no longer staring at a blank page.

#2 - Gather your research


Do you know the number one reason people get writer’s block? They haven’t done enough research. They’re just hoping to crank out pages of material – without doing any work up front. That’s a bad strategy, and it sets you up to fail. The better way is to find the information you need – BEFORE sitting down to write. If you do that, it’s easy to produce pages of great work.

Simple ways to do lots of research without spending lots of time


When you read an interesting article, file it away.

(I save links in Delicious, but you can also use tools like Evernote, email, Google Docs, or even Word.) Just make sure to tag or name it in a way that will make searching for it easy. For example, label an article “productivity” if it talks about simple ways to get things done while you’re at the gym.

Later you can come back to this list for inspiration. These are ideas you’ve already captured and taken mental notes on – so you won’t have to waste time wondering where to start.

Google your topic and read the top articles.

This one may seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people skip over it. If you don’t know enough about a subject, do a simple Google search. I like to read the first few posts that show up. Those are typically the most successful articles – so I want to learn what the writer did well. As I read them, I jot down notes or any interesting ideas that stands out.

Read the comments on the best posts.

Comments can be very revealing. A lot of times people will say what they loved about something. And even more frequently, they’ll comment on what they disagreed with. Those comments are PURE GOLD. Why? Because they show you exactly what people want out of posts like this. Do more of what they like and less of what they hate. That's a guaranteed formula for success.

#3 - Outline now – so you can save time later


When I finished my last English class in college, I told myself, “Thank god, I’ll never write another outline again.”

But boy was I wrong.

Over the last few years, I’ve written thousands of outlines. I use them for everything from emails to blog posts to sales pages. I’m not kidding when I say I use outlines for everything. I won’t even jot down a few paragraphs without putting together a quick outline first. I started doing this because ALL of my favorite writers said outlines were one of the secrets to their success. And 99.99 times out of 100, if everyone is telling you to do something, they’re probably right.

Outlining works because it helps you accomplish three things:

  • You quickly get all of your ideas out. This is an easy way to see if they make sense.
  • You can easily move ideas around until everything flows – in a fraction of the time. If you just write the whole piece out first, you’ll waste time reorganizing and worse, you might even have to start over from scratch.
  • Once you outline, you no longer have a blank page in front of you. Getting started – even if it’s just a simple outline – is a huge relief. What’s the saying? A pen in motion stays in motion? Then all you have to do is fill in the gaps and you’re ready to publish.

If you’re curious about what my outlines include, here’s a quick peek at a typical blog post:

Notice how simple this is. It makes it easier to get started. Your outline can be as brief or detailed as you want. You’re not doing it for other people. You’re just giving yourself a framework to start writing. And once you have the skeleton, you can turn it into great content in a fraction of the time.

#4 - Flesh out your outline


Okay. You’ve done the research.

You have an outline. You know exactly what to write and in what order you should do it.

Next up? Start writing.

It doesn’t have to be perfect – and it won’t be. Just give yourself permission to write a “shitty first draft.” (I’ll show you how to polish it next.)

Real teardown

It’s one thing to TELL you how to write compelling content, but one of the best ways to actually be able to write content like this for yourself is to SEE the differences between copy that’s good and copy that’s truly great.

That’s why I wanted to go one step further and show you this difference. When you nail this down and know how to make good copy great, you won’t just get a few hundred more likes or a few dozen more followers.

No. Great content leads to dramatically different results. You can build a business around great content. But content that’s just okay...it falls on deaf ears.

So to show you this, I wanted to compare the copy that my friend, John Romaniello, writes on his site, Roman Fitness Systems. His content is truly remarkable.

And we’ll be comparing what he writes to another fitness writer. I purposely chose content that is already pretty good. But with a few tweaks, it could be truly excellent.

The first thing that we’ll be looking at is the hook. If you can’t get the reader past the first few lines, then you won’t get them to the meat of the post or, more importantly, to your offer at the bottom of the page. Let’s take a look at the difference in John’s hook vs that of the other fitness writer.

John’s Hook:

“Okay. Okay. Okay. OKAY. Look. I'm going to admit right off the bat that I'm making a bad decision. Something I shouldn't do. Something I always tell other people NOT to do: I'm writing this email in the midst of what you could call a heightened emotional state.

I'm not exactly pissed off, and neither am I perversely sad. But I'm definitely annoyed. And being annoyed gets my writing gears going, and makes me want to rant. In the interest of not being a total dick, I will do my best to keep this from becoming a rant, but I make no promises. Cool? Cool.

So. Here's the thing. I hate flakiness. I really can't stand it. It's one of the worst qualities in the world--for me, flaky people fall somewhere between people who don't like dogs, and those annoying couples who make JOINT social media profiles. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

*sigh* (don't rant don't rant don't rant.)”

Shabofit’s Hook:

“Let’s be real. You found your way here because you have an interest in becoming healthier, stronger, and sexier. Respect. Everyone deserves to be healthy, strong, and sexy.

It makes the world a better place.

But with a stressful and busy life, you don’t know where to start.

Most are looking for the magic solution – a crash diet, fad workout, or false promise.”

Key differences:

Right off the bat, you can tell that John’s hook is super engaging. He’s talking to you just like a friend would. You don’t feel like you’re being sold. You just feel like you’re being entertained, kicking back with a friend to hear a good story.

The other writer doesn’t do a terrible job of using short sentences and writing in a way that’s laid back. But notice that you already feel like you’re about to be sold something. Also notice that – while all the right buzzwords are crammed into this intro – there’s no emotional connection.

John is talking about being upset. John is using words like “total dick.” But it works because John is being a real person.

Today, we’re all bombarded by content – from hundreds of different angles – the person who talks like a real person wins. Because nobody wants to be sold something. We want to be entertained and talk with our friends.

Now, I’ve only skimmed the surface of the differences between those two intros. But read them one more time for yourself and ask, “How can I make my content more real?” “How can I avoid saying buzzwords for buzzword’s sake? “How can I talk like I would to my friends?” “How can I craft a narrative in my content – so that I’m not always just selling something or telling people what to do?”

John’s ask for more coaching clients:

“It's really awesome how much the program has grown and changed over the past few years. With the recent improvements and stream.

But one thing that HASN'T changed is the incredible results my clients get--they make changes in their bodies, minds and lives that you have to see to believe. It's what I was able to do for Claudio; and I would like to do the same for you.

In this section, John does two things very well. He's talking to YOU – the reader – specifically and he's also making it about YOUR results. He's not focusing on the ways that he's so awesome. He's totally focused on the reader and what they want.

So, if you're interested in working with me, one of the top coaches in the world, a New York Times bestselling author, and advisor to just about every company you can think of...WAIT.

This is a subtle way to add credibility markers without overselling himself. Also notice that he pulls back and says "WAIT." This makes the copy a little more fun, but he still gets the point across that he's a very credible authority on this subject. He's showing you that he's someone who really knows what he's doing, without being sleazy about plugging himself.

Seriously.

Even if you want to work with me right now, I want you to wait a moment – because I want to give you some insight into EXACTLY the kind of changes you can make.

For example, here's my client Ian. Well, Ian isn't a client anymore. After he made an incredible transformation (his was also included in my book), he became an intern, and is doing great.

This is brilliant. Notice how much power is in this transformation. By showing the side-by-side comparisons, John is conveying 10x more of a powerful message than any copy could do.

Ian was an incredible client, and he made incredible progress. In just 16 weeks, Ian lost 18 pounds of fat while gaining 5.5 pounds of muscle. PLUS, he added something like 40 pounds to his squat. (That was a while ago – these days, he's front squatting more than I am!)

And as astounding as that sounds, those results ARE typical–my clients make progress like that all the time.

This proves that anyone can do it. This guy – his client – wasn't a freak of nature. ANYONE can go through the system and get results like this.

But more importantly, Ian changed every aspect of his life: he's doing better in school. His social is way more active—the increased confidence has allowed him to meet new people, bringing new friends and a lot of dates into his life.

It's important to go beyond just talking about the benefits of fitness. John does an excellent job of this here. He's talking about all the ways that improving his fitness changed Ian's life. That's important to show the reader. They want to imagine all the benefits that being fit will give them and. by telling about the other ways it impacts his life, readers naturally make comparisons to their own lives.

In Ian's words, "I just feel like the best version of myself."

That's pretty awesome, huh?

I have to tell you, the most satisfying thing in the world is helping people take control like that. And that's why I'm freakin' amped to work with 3 awesome peeps.

This is giving some scarcity to his services, which is great for getting people to take action. He's excited to take on more clients and get them results like this. He's frustrated that a few people dropped off, but aren't you excited to join him on the journey to peak fitness? Getting people excited and giving this scarcity moves the copy forward in such powerful and compelling way.

In this section, John does two things very well. He's talking to YOU – the reader – specifically and he's also making it about YOUR results. He's not focusing on the ways that he's so awesome. He's totally focused on the reader and what they want.

This is a subtle way to add credibility markers without overselling himself. Also notice that he pulls back and says "WAIT." This makes the copy a little more fun, but he still gets the point across that he's a very credible authority on this subject. He's showing you that he's someone who really knows what he's doing, without being sleazy about plugging himself.

This is brilliant. Notice how much power is in this transformation. By showing the side-by-side comparisons, John is conveying 10x more of a powerful message than any copy could do.

This proves that anyone can do it. This guy – his client – wasn't a freak of nature. ANYONE can go through the system and get results like this.

It's important to go beyond just talking about the benefits of fitness. John does an excellent job of this here. He's talking about all the ways that improving his fitness changed Ian's life. That's important to show the reader. They want to imagine all the benefits that being fit will give them and by telling about the other ways it impacts his life, readers naturally make comparisons to their own lives.

This is giving some scarcity to his services, which is great for getting people to take action. He's excited to take on more clients and get them results like this. He's frustrated that a few people dropped off, but aren't you excited to join him on the journey to peak fitness? Getting people excited and giving this scarcity moves the copy forward in such powerful and compelling way.

Shabofit’s ask for more coaching clients:

“You’re intelligent, so you set out to figure everything out on your own.

After a few Google searches, you’re overwhelmed by the amount of contradicting and often misleading fitness information out there. You don’t know what to believe anymore.

This may be meeting the reader where they are, but it's not a super compelling way to move them to action. It's all about the pain. And it's not painting a positive picture of what's to come in the future by working with him.

You might even spend $99.97 on the latest generic product that promises to get you six-pack abs in 14 days.

Mentioning price here is jumping the gun. Even though he's not mentioning the price of his services, he's calling attention to the fact that you will be buying something. And in doing that, most people's defenses go up. They don't want to feel guilty about what they tried and be sold something. They want to hear more about the results your program can get them. Notice that John didn't mention price anywhere in his offer above.

Good luck with that.

This is an example of chatty copy that crosses the line. It makes people feel bad. Would you talk down to your friend like this when you're selling them? No. You'd keep painting a positive future of the benefits.

You need something personal that works for you as an individual:

- Your Lifestyle
- Your Struggles
- Your Goals

So you consider a Personal Trainer. This could be your saving grace, but keep in mind:

ANYONE WITH A NICE BODY CAN CALL THEMSELVES A PERSONAL TRAINER.

The thing is people want a nice body so there's no point in criticizing them. This copy unnecessarily draws attention to negative things. The reader may start to question this person: "Well, you have a nice body, are you really a good personal trainer?" There's no need to do this. A much better way would be to talk to what the reader wants. They don't care if you're a personal trainer or a guy living on the beach, if you can get them quick results and 6-pack abs they'll pay you thousands to solve their problems.

It’s hard to know if you’re dealing with a phony, or a certified professional that knows how to take an intelligent and proven approach towards your goals.”

Again, the reader doesn't care about this. Credentials don't matter nearly as much as results. That's what people want... so give it to them. That's the biggest thing missing from this copy, that is SUPER apparent in John's

This may be meeting the reader where they are, but it's not a super compelling way to move them to action. It's all about the pain. And it's not painting a positive picture of what's to come in the future by working with him.

Mentioning price here is jumping the gun. Even though he's not mentioning the price of his services, he's calling attention to the fact that you will be buying something. And in doing that, most people's defenses go up. They don't want to feel guilty about what they tried and be sold something. They want to hear more about the results your program can get them. Notice that John didn't mention price anywhere in his offer above.

This is an example of chatty copy that crosses the line. It makes people feel bad. Would you talk down to your friend like this when you're selling them? No. You'd keep painting a positive future of the benefits.

The thing is people want a nice body so there's no point in criticizing them. This copy unnecessarily draws attention to negative things. The reader may start to question this person: "Well, you have a nice body, are you really a good personal trainer?" There's no need to do this. A much better way would be to talk to what the reader wants. They don't care if you're a personal trainer or a guy living on the beach, if you can get them quick results and 6-pack abs they'll pay you thousands to solve their problems.

Again, the reader doesn't care about this. Credentials don't matter nearly as much as results. That's what people want...So give it to them. That's the biggest thing missing from this copy, that is SUPER apparent in John's

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From Blank Page to Compelling Post