(Transcript continued from the Episode 132 show notes and audio podcast)

If you’re interested in getting more connected with me and the community around Late Night Internet Marketing, please come on over and join us at LateNightIM.com/fbgroup. Click the ask to join button and I’ll approve your request within 12 hours or so, depending on when I see it. It’s fun, so we’d love to see you there.

One of the things that we’ve been talking about on a daily basis in the Facebook group is the Product Creation Masterclass. You’ll remember a few weeks ago I talked about the fact that ConvertKit was going through a lesson per day for four weeks and after that you would have everything you needed to launch your product. The rate of that information that is coming out of ConvertKit is at a blistering pace, but we’re taking the time every day to talk about the lesson that’s out.

I’m doing my best to keep up with that, I’m doing a small little product of a beginner’s guide to search engine optimization. I get a lot of requests for that. I’m doing it on the Teachable platform and I’ve made quite a bit of progress on that.

Hopefully that will be coming out at the end of May. Members of the Facebook group will be in the beta test of that and they’ll get a very good deal on the first copy of that as we improve that and make it ready for primetime and release it to the general public. If you’re interested in that, that’s another reason to be in the Facebook group.

As a matter of fact, if you want to help me with that, I’m interested in incorporating your questions about SEO (search engine optimization) in that course. No matter how silly you think the question is. Those are the best questions, because this is a course that is going to be targeted at people who really don’t even know where to start with search engine optimization. I want to get them bootstrapped and up and really teach them everything that they need to know to have success with search engine optimization.

You can help me by going to LateNightIM.com/seosurvey. If you would do that and fill out that three minute survey, that would help me a lot and that will also get you entered to win a free copy of the course if you’d like and some other stuff like that. Please go over and check that out.

I’ve been doing the Facebook Live thing over there in the private group. In fact, I recently got some software that was recommend to me by my buddy Leslie Samuel, it’s called LiveLeap. What LiveLeap does is whenever I go live on my Late Night IM fan page it broadcasts the fact that I’m live all over the internet. It tweets it out to Twitter, it syndicates the broadcast in other channels, like in the private Facebook group and other channels. It’s really cool because I can go live in one place and have it shown in a bunch of other places. That’s a really neat feature.

Thanks so much to Leslie for showing me that. If you guys don’t know Leslie, he’s over at BecomeaBlogger.com.

I’m going to tell you a little secret about Leslie. He has this blogging course membership area over at Become a Blogger where he teaches people to create a blog and change the world. Basically, that’s his mantra. If you want to change the world, let’s build a blog. It’s a super cool thing and it’s incredibly affordable – and he’s about to open it up again. It’s been closed for a long time and he’s going to open it up again one last time at a very shockingly ridiculous low price.

I hear he’s doing that this week. If you’re interested in being in a mastermind community that is about blogging that has a tremendous amount of content archived in it and new content coming every month, I would definitely recommend you go over to BecomeaBlogger.com and check out Leslie.

No affiliate link there. Leslie is a friend of mine. If you get over there and see Leslie, tell him that I said hi. He’s an awesome guy and he’s in my mastermind group, as you guys know. Go check it out, BecomeaBlogger.com.

How to Write a Blog Post Even When You’re Stuck for Ideas

I wanted to talk about this thing that happens when you’re a content creator. That is that you’ve got content to create and you have no idea what in the world you’re going to talk about. This happens when you are in a situation where you’re a blogger, like we were just talking about, podcasters have this problem, people who are shooting video have this problem. It’s time to release an episode or a blog post and you don’t know what you’re going to say. That’s a real challenge.

That is one of the things that shuts down enthusiastic bloggers and podcasters. They’re all enthusiastic, they crank up their blog, they beautify their theme, they get everything going, and then they kind of run out of steam and they’re not quite sure why. One of the reasons why is they have this obstacle of deciding exactly what they want to talk about.

If you’re going to be smart about what it is that you’re going to talk about, you’re going to have something like a content editorial calendar that describes exactly what you’re going to talk about throughout the year is the best way to do it strategically.

I’m going to talk about Leslie here again for a second. One of the best things that I’ve ever seen is this free content calendar that Leslie gives away over on his blog at Become a Blogger.

If you go over to BecomeaBlogger.com there’s this giant picture of Leslie on the header at the very top where Leslie is pointing to this screen, it looks like it might be at Social Media Marketing World, and I’m sure the audience is laughing or smiling really big because whenever Leslie is on stage he sets the whole place on fire. I can remember this talk, he had everybody fired up.

If you look at the “Leslie, tell me more” button, if you mash on that button one of the things that you get is this blog content calendar spreadsheet. This is actually a brilliant thing that Leslie has done where he helps you for an entire 52 week period to break down the things that you want to talk about over the course of the year in themes by quarters and themes by month and then week by week exactly what you want to talk about. That’s really awesome, that’s a very good way to do it.

One of the challenges that you get down to is when it comes to this idea – I know I want to talk about affiliate marketing this week, but I’m not really sure exactly what to put for the title of this thing. I need an idea for a specific topic. Leslie has this great thing in this calendar that you should be using so that you can be organized; or you can be maybe more like I am sometimes and you can just sit down at the keyboard and you want to write something but you don’t know what you write. That’s not recommended. Do it the way that Leslie does it, don’t do it the way I do it.

When you’re in this situation and you need to know what to write, sometimes it helps if you can have a killer blog post title to inspire you. One of the most awesome things that I’ve ever seen for this sort of problem is something called a headline generator for blog post content. You just enter your subject and hit the “Amaze Me” button, or whatever, and it will give you ideas for what you can write about. You just keep mashing the button until you find something.

My very favorite one, one that was shown to me some time ago by Ray Edwards, another good friend of mine, is the Portent Content Idea Generator. If you go to Portent.com and click on the Tools, you’ll find it there. It’s free to use.

It’s really fantastic. You go there and you just put in the topic. Let’s say we want to talk about affiliate marketing. You hit return. The first blog topic that comes up is “17 Ways to Become the MacGyver of Affiliate Marketing.” I love that. I used to love that show. It’s back, but I haven’t watched the new one.

MacGyver is this guy who can solve a problem using duct tape and coat hangers. The world is about to end and the bomb is about to go off, all MacGyver needs is duct tape and a pocket knife and he can fix everything. It’s funny. These are pretty sophisticated because there are these callout boxes that say, “Or MacGruber,” and MacGruber was the Saturday Night Live spoof off of MacGyver. If you’re driving and you’ve seen the MacGruber stuff on Saturday Night Live, you’re probably laughing. Please be careful and don’t crash.

You can use this to generate ideas. Maybe you don’t have 17 ways and you only have 7 ways. That’s okay. This is basically a blog post title that talks about 7 Cool Tricks or 17 Cool Tricks.

Here’s another one. “17 Things Spock Would Say About Affiliate Marketing.” I really love this one, especially because I’m a huge Star Trek fan. In fact, my 8-year-old daughter has gotten into Star Trek and we are currently in the process of watching every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation from front to back. We’re in Season Three right now and she’s digging that at the ripe old age of 8. That has been kind of fun.

“How Affiliate Marketing Can Make You Sick.” I don’t know if affiliate marketing can really make you sick, so maybe I wouldn’t like that one.

“Why Our World Would End if Affiliate Marketing Disappeared.”

“15 Ways Knowing About Affiliate Marketing Will Land You in Jail.” This is actually a good blog post, because you could imagine that I might write an article about all of the ways – and maybe there aren’t 15 – the legal mistakes that affiliate marketers might make. FTC violations, or failing to keep their finances straight, like we talked about several episodes ago, copyright violations, stealing images, that sort of thing. That would be a great blog post.

“How to Fight Lex Luthor Using Only Affiliate Marketing.” That’s awesome. That’s really cool stuff.

I love Portent’s Content Idea Generator. I think it’s really good because it will inspire you to write helpful content using headlines that are really attention grabbing. That will help you with your social media exposure when you go to share these posts, but it will also inspire you to create really helpful content for your readers, and I really like that.

You might say, “That’s fine, that’s the title. But the title is only a tiny percent of the battle.” I get that. If you don’t have an idea or a title, it’s 100% of the battle when that’s where you are. If you’re sitting there looking at a blank WordPress screen or a Word document, then the title is everything. But, sure, once you have the title you have a lot of work to do.

One of the things that I often muse about is; is there a formula for writing blog posts where you can systemize it? My favorite thinker on this topic, the best article and the one that I like the most on this topic is an article from Michael Hyatt that he wrote years ago, Anatomy of An Effective Blog Post. In this article talks about all of the things that he uses as what he calls an effective blog post template.

It’s interesting because he talks about just six things that he has in every blog post. I thought we could talk about these six things and see how they apply to us as affiliate marketers.

Compelling Title

The first thing he talks about is a compelling title. We just talked about that. I think you should think of your title of your blog post as a headline. That’s why I like the Portent Content Generator, because it’s sassy, it creates ideas that catch people’s attention.

I think if you use good copywriting techniques you’re going to also want to deliver value, describe a benefit or what value you’re going to be delivering in the blog post at the same time. I don’t think there’s any reason you can’t do both of those at the same time.

You’re going to want a compelling headline, something that makes people want to read what is below.

Lead Paragraph

Once you get that eyeball opt-in where someone sees the headline and decides to read the first paragraph, you really need to nail what Michael calls the lead paragraph.

You need to capture their attention, either with storytelling or something that really gives them a reason to want to read the remainder of the article and builds trust that if they invest in reading the rest of this article that is going to be worth their time.

Relevant Image

Michael talks about the third thing being a relevant image. I used to use iStock Photo years ago, but they got too expensive for me and the value that I felt like they were delivering. Occasionally, I still use iStock Photo, when I need a truly superior image that is exactly what I want. What I use now is something called DepositPhotos.

It’s very affordable and if you’ll watch AppSumo, they will periodically have incredibly good deals that allow you to pay way less than one dollar per image. They’ll send out a coupon that will allow you to buy DepositPhotos in bulk ahead of time, so you prepay for a bunch of images and then you can use them over time. I do that and every time that coupon comes out I restock. I really like DepositPhotos a lot.

Personal Experience

Once you have this great paragraph and a great image, Michael talks about item four, which is to relate your personal experience. I think this is really important and here’s why.

Almost anybody can make a list that is the 17 ways vitamins help you survive whatever, or 17 sales techniques for affiliate marketing. Almost everyone can cruise around the internet and take snippets and ideas from other people’s blog posts and collect them up. That’s just curating content. That’s very useful, but that’s not unique.

The one thing that you have, your unfair competitive advantage, whether you’re a podcaster, a blogger, or someone who is offering a course, is that you are the one who is offering. It’s you.

Even though there are billions of people on the planet, there are some people that you need to go to find that will uniquely be helped by you. There’s something about you; the way that you talk, the way that you present ideas, the way that your past experience overlays onto their past experience and they identify with you, the way that you talk or the fact that you have the same kind of accent that they have, or whatever it is.

There are things about you that are unique to you that uniquely enable you to help people. A specific set of people. You need to go find those people. One way that you leverage this advantage that you have, that there are people who are uniquely matched to your message, is to open up and share the personal pieces that relate to what it is that you’re talking about so that people that would naturally identify with you will have that opportunity. I think that’s super important.

That personal experience can be a story about something that is relevant. You’re talking about 17 tips for affiliate marketing and the story is about how one time you did this goofy thing on an affiliate website that you had. Maybe it’s how you and your daughter watched Star Trek. Whatever it is, you relate some of your personal experience in the story.

Main Body

The fifth thing that Michael mentions is that you’re going to want to have a great main body, because everything prior to this has been the introduction.

It needs to be compelling and you want it to draw people into the main body, but this where the meat is. All of the stuff above this is sizzle, which is super critical to get people to the table, but now you need to deliver the steak.

You want to spend an amount of time writing something that is really helpful, but be careful here. Don’t write a master’s thesis on this topic. Don’t create a giant wall of text. “We’re going to build a wall. Make blogging great again.” Don’t do that.

Make it small bite-sized stuff. Understand that people are skimming your content, especially in the main body of the content. Make sure that the key points are there and in subheadings, so that they can skim the content easily.

Put things in the subheadings that will catch their attention and stop their eyeball, like numbers are famous for this. If you have numbers in your titles, a lot of times that will stop people’s eyeballs and cause them to read whatever is there.

Make sure your paragraphs aren’t more than three or four sentences long each, because you want people to have enough whitespace so they’re not overwhelmed and get this “too long, didn’t read” sort of feeling with your post.

Keep it looking nice. Don’t make your main body attritious. If you feel like you have 10,000 words to write, that’s fine. Write a series of 10 blog posts, don’t do it all in one blog post.

Discussion Question

Finally, Michael suggests that you want to end this post with a discussion question. He talks about the fact that you want to create a conversation.

I think this used to be more relevant than it is now in general, people comment on blogs far less than they used to. I still think it’s a good idea, because it’s inviting to people. I think you want to seem approachable and one of the best ways to seem approachable is to actually ask people what they think.

This is true in life, it’s true at cocktail parties, and it’s also true on your blog. You’re going to want to find out what people think about stuff and actually demonstrate somehow that you care about their opinion, which would be by replying to their comment if they leave one.

Post Length

One thing Michael does say in this article that I don’t agree with is that he recommends that you make the post short. I do agree that you don’t want to them to be super long, like we just talked about, but he’s talking about a target of 500 words. Of course, this is a relatively old blog post here.

I think you need to be targeting more around 1,000 words. We know that if you want these posts to rank in search that you’re going to need a little more meat behind them, because Google – fairly or unfairly – is making some judgment about the quality of your content based on its length. In my opinion, from an SEO standpoint, 500 words is just too short.

Of course, Michael Hyatt, with the amount of traffic and the authority his blog has, he has latitude to do a lot of things that you’re not going to have latitude to do. Google is going to give a site with high domain authority the benefit of the doubt in these cases.

If you’re just getting started and you don’t have the domain authority of MichaelHyatt.com, I certainly recommend that you lean towards the longer side, head towards 1,000 or 1,200 words on your blog posts. That will really help you with your search engine optimization.

Provide Internal Links

Another thing that Michael says in this blog post that I emphatically agree with is that you need to link internally to your other content. Even to the point that I wouldn’t hesitate to go out of your way just a little bit to make a reference in the article so that you can link to your content.

I think you should strive to have four links in every article. Two links to your internal content that take people to useful relevant stuff that will keep them on your site, and then two less important, less relevant, less enticing links to external authority content.

For example, one of the really good things that you can do in an article is if you have a word where the definition may not be clear, you can link to WedMD, Wikipedia, or whatever is appropriate for the definition of that word. Most readers aren’t going to click that, but from an SEO standpoint Google is expecting good content to use references.

What you’re doing there by showing that you’re referencing legitimate authorities in whatever niche you’re writing in is signaling to Google that you’re for real, too, because you’re relying on these authority sites to backup the claims of whatever you’re writing about in your blog post.

Definitely recommend those four links per article. Two to your own content to keep people on your site, very prominent, maybe you underline an entire phrase and link to an old blog post that helps people understand what you’re talking about there. Two smaller less prominent links that link externally and point to authority content like WebMD, Wikipedia, and other major sources of news and information in your niche.

Wrapping Things Up…

I hope that was helpful. You should be able to write some amazing content this week.

I would love to see you over in the Facebook group. In fact, here’s a challenge for you. Go join the private Facebook group and then go find the coolest blog post title that you can find on the Portent Content Generator and post it in the Facebook group. We’ll see who can come up with the most interesting title. That would be really fun.

Whatever reason you come over for, we’d love to see you there. It’s a great group. We’ll see you there.

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