Architecture aims at Eternity. – Christopher Wren
My definition of a successful blog post is one that brings you traffic and subscribers for a decade.
Sure, one that gets tweeted and shared is fun but its not the ultimate.
Imagine being able to craft timeless blog posts that not only have the initial bursts of success but then go on to benefit your business for years to come.
In this article I’m going to show you the perfect architecture for crafting a blog post that is not only successful but timeless.
Why architecture and not formula or method?
I have to confess, I spent a long time thinking about the third word in the title of this post.
Formula and method are probably more catchy and vibrant. They are buzz words in the blogosphere.
But they didn’t quite capture the meaning behind this post. And that’s because the act of creating a timeless blog post is not a formula because it won’t always be correct.
Architecture, to me, is more flexible. A great architect will always get a building up and make sure it is safe but they won’t always produce something that everyone loves.
That is a bit what blogging is like. There is no real formula that gets it right every time. But there is some sort of architecture that you can work on, develop and occasionally build something that lasts for a thousand years.
If I had a formula that worked every time I would give it to you. What I do have is an architecture – building blocks, materials and know-how – that you can use to produce something with all the right parts and hope that the critics write nice things.
The architecture of a timeless blog post
Consider these as pillars that will hold your content up to the world.
1. Include a personal back story
All of my most successful posts have had a personal story injected into the subject matter.
There are a few reasons why this works well:
- People become loyal
The first reason is that people become loyal to the author without realizing. A personal story opens it up to the realm of emotions.
- It is engaging
Stories have been told by humans since the beginning of time. We respond to them and we are sucked in by them.
- It begs to be shared
Stories are the kinds of things people will share with their friends. As already mentioned, we’ve been doing this forever.
Inject a personal back story into all of your posts no matter what the subject matter. Even if it is just a few lines about what you went through when deciding on a word in a title people will be more responsive.
The more honest, open and detailed the story is the more you will find people want to read and share and bookmark your piece.
An example of a story:
One of the all time greatest posts in blogging history by my friend James Chartrand – a woman.
2. Write with consistent and stylized paragraphs, dot points and images
What I’m about to tell you is no joke. When I write a blog post I have the preview open in another tab and every few lines I refresh it and make sure the post “looks right”.
Seems anal I know but I have found it to be super important.
People are lazy. They like to scan.
People are also in desperate need of security and predictability. They like to know what is coming next and how to prepare themselves.
Now, this holds true of your look and feel as a blog and the look and feel of each individual post. Some things to consider:
- Make your spacing beautiful
Make sure your letter spacing is generous enough. You want a lot of white space to frame your words. Brian Gardener talks about this perfectly.
- Use bold to start each list point
Notice how my list points aren’t just regular text? I use bold first to really show you the point quickly and then expand underneath.
- Choose the right images and space them well
Images should be used to enhance content and generate emotions about points you are making. This is especially true of blog images. Put them underneath main headers only and use them to draw the eye down.
- Make sure your theme isn’t letting you down
I’ve talked about this before on my post on increasing conversions but sometimes your theme and style can impact your trust. Make sure your colors in particular are sending the right messages.
Make your content readable. How obvious does that sound?
And over time you should also try to develop your own style of writing. Make spaces and paragraphs and lists looks the same in whatever you do. Your readers will appreciate it.
An example of consistent styling:
Glen from Viper Chill always writes the same way; deliriously long content with the same formatting.
3. Link generously and in bulk
A lot of bloggers are afraid to add links to their post thinking that they will lose readers.
And you especially won’t if you add a target=”blank” code to your link code so that the link opens in a new window.
I have said it before but linking out to other blogs associates you with those blogs. People will remember that they first heard about such and such from your site. It builds your brand without costing you anything but a few clicks. Make sure you link a lot when relevant.
The second part to this is to link in bulk and that means having a resources section at the end of some posts. This is great for your blog’s SEO as well as making you appear like you have put in a lot of work to craft a super amazing post chock full of resources and help.
Remember, a real leader gains power by giving power to others. Link out and watch yourself appear and actually become more influential.
Example of good linking:
One of my old favorite blogs (no longer active) called Skelliewag had a hugely popular post called 25 Paths to an Insanely Popular Blog which is the perfect amount of big backlinking and generous writing.
4. Solve a problem or make problems known
It is uncanny to see how many of the most timeless blog posts solve a problem that is both universal and painful.
Every niche has problems. And quite often you will find that the people blogging and working in that niche aren’t aware of what problem is out there.
Your blog posts should always aim to help enrich some one else’s life. If it wasn’t for Darren Rowse’s 2004 series on making money with Adsense I would never have become a blogger. I wouldn’t be working from home and you wouldn’t be reading my drivel.
But in all seriousness, this series was all about helping people make a few extra bucks from Google ads. Darren always used to make his big posts about helping people in some way.
Example of making a problem known:
Brian Clark’s post called Is Commenting on Blogs a Smart Traffic Strategy? which totally freaked out a lot of bloggers who were, at the time, mindlessly commenting.
5. Develop titles that get attention and hold attention
Without a good title the rest is useless. Many of you will disagree with me but I think it is the title that gets attention initially but then also holds attention throughout the post.
Have you ever read through an ordinary article because the title seemed so promising? I know I have.
All of the great posts that were successful and timeless had amazing titles that drew you in and pushed you down until you found something else in the article that was useful, touching or fascinating.
- Titles should be Google ads
Remember that Google only allows 70 characters in the search result listings. Think of your titles as ads for future searchers and keep them under this amount. Use a plugin to help you.
- Pose questions
Some of the best titles are in question format. Its gets people curious and often helps you to get more comments.
- They should cause fear or sensed value
Humans respond to fear a lot more than they do anything else. For example, we’ll respond to a title about the threat of missing out on something more than we will about the promise of gaining something. That being said, a post title that promises something new and valuable (like 140…) will do extremely well if the list matches the promise.
- They should be super specific
Some of my best posts have had super specific titles: How I Sold a Blog for $20,000 in 8 Months (beats How to Sell a Blog), How I got 11,908 Visitors in My Blog’s Third Week (beats How to Get More Traffic), etc.
Sometimes I will revise a title 10 or 15 times before I publish a blog post. And I still don’t get them right.
That being said, I truly believe that if you can write amazing blog post titles you are more than 50% of the way to becoming a successful blogger.
Example of good titles:
I almost didn’t want to give this to you because it is so darn good. But I’m a giver. Here is John Morrow’s free report called Headline Hacks. This PDF is a permanent feature on my desktop now.
What else is there?
Of course this list is not extensive. There are lots of other strategies and pillars out there that can help you write successful and timeless content.
These five do, however, work really well for me when combined all into one post. Hopefully they will do the same for you.
I’d really like to hear your comments about any other absolute pillars of a timeless post’s architecture. Is there anything that you do every single time that you just don’t think could be omitted?