Blog post formula for authority-building

Presented live on Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018

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Opinion pieces, short lists and roundup posts just don’t move the needle today. For content marketing done right – with killer results – you need to produce content WORTH promoting and sharing. In this tutorial, conversion copywriter and pro blogger Joanna Wiebe walks you through a straightforward formula for writing and reviewing better blog posts.

Joanna is writing in Airstory writing software


Joanna Wiebe: This month is all about content, and that’s because we are thinking a lot about content at Copyhackers, at Airstory, and also in my 10X Freelance Copywriter program, we’re talking about building your authority with content this month. So it’s a really good time to fill in the gaps for those people in that training program as well as expose those people who aren’t in that program to some of the things that we’re talking about there.

So we’re talking about content this month. Next month, we’re going to be talking about onboarding for SaaS, so that will mean in-app, that’ll mean putting your onboarding funnel together, that will mean SaaS onboarding emails. We’re going to bring in some guest experts who are working in this space and killing it, so more about that going forward. If you registered for this, then you are already registered for all of those. So every Tuesday just have this in your calendar to pop in, and you’ll be able to go over to this URL, to see what is coming up.

This is the one we’re doing today, the formula for authority-building blog posts. Next week we’re going to talk more about research, and then, we have a very special Tutorial Tuesday that’s going to be longer, and it’s going to walk you through how to write an ultimate guide. If you ware focused on content this year, if you’re like, “We’re really going to nail it this year,” cool.

Then you’ll probably want some form of a large piece of content that’s often an ultimate guide or some sort of special report or something that’s bigger. You’re going want to attend. Block out a full hour on January 30th. We’re going to give you a premium template at that point, and we’re going to go through how to fill it in. It’s intense. It’s good to be intense, and I’m really looking forward to having that, actually.

So that’s what you can expect going forward. If you want to see past tutorials, it’s at the bottom of that page. You can just click, it’ll open in a new tab, and you can see all of our past tutorials, which are slowly loading here, but which will appear in the sidebar as well. So it opens up, everything’s loading, there’s a lot going on with my system right now, but there will be a video. There you go. And then, you’ve got all of our past tutorials off to the side as well. Okay?

So let’s get into the topic today, which is all about the formula for authority-building blog posts. Now, awesome Terry, I love that you love it. So the reason that I want to start with the formula is not just because a formula is something you should use to shape anything you write because it will dramatically reduce all that guesswork, that waste time, and generally ends with you not feeling really good about the work you’ve done because you were guessing at it. So when we start with a formula, we save a lot of time immediately.

This formula that I’m going to share with you is something that you should be thinking about as you go into writing a blog post, and it’s something that you should use as a sort of checklist before you’re done or before you hit publish on that blog post.

So we put this formula together, we shared it with our mastermind over the past couple of years as well as, as I mentioned, this most recent group of students in the 10X Freelance Copywriter. So it’s something that some people in attendance may be familiar with already. If you’re not, this formula is based on us going through a bunch of our top-performing posts over time and those of the other posts that we really liked and shared, and trying to find what’s going on in these posts?

What can we learn from these, and then use, and then, obviously, offer to you as well that can help us all produce better content because if you are trying to build your authority, content, great content, is an incredible and actually quite affordable way to do that. It gets shared really well, and when it performs really well, if you do spend money on driving ads to that content, you know it’s a great piece that’s going to do good things for your business.

But you don’t even have to go to the point of sending or paying for ads that drive to your great content. You can just largely depend on people sharing this stuff for free, and you just getting that traffic. Our whole Copyhackers business is based on getting traffic in from the content that we’re creating. So a big part of the content we create is the blog posts that we write on our own site as well as on other sites.

So knowing that’s true and that I can’t spend a lot more time talking about the importance of authority-building content, just know that it’s an important thing. Let’s talk about the formula itself.

Okay. So the formula goes like this. 2S plus 5E plus 10O, and then, times point of view. Okay. So what are those things that we’re talking about there? Every post that you write in 2018, I want you to measure it against this. Now, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve on this in your own way, but this is a base. You have to have this in there. Make this a challenge for yourself in 2018. You won’t publish a post unless or until it has all of these qualities in common and available, obviously readily accessible, inside the post itself.

Okay. So those are two studies, two studies. Now, that means studies that come from outside of the world that you live in, necessarily, although you might run the studies. Usually when I say studies, I mean academic studies. So if you go to, that’s D, E, E, P, D, Y, V, E, dot com,, yes.

If you go to that, that’s a great place to find studies that people haven’t really been exposed to in the marketing world or whatever world you’re in. You can find journals there that have the most recent academic studies if you don’t mind reading through academic studies, which can be a pain in the butt, But usually the abstract will tell you if it’s even worth, of course, reading through it, if you’re going to get good stuff out of it, so you don’t have to read that much to know if you should. We’re going to talk more about all of this research stuff next week when we focus on how to do great research for this type of post.

But a study might be something that you’ve done. Did you guys learn something at your business? Did you put an event together and have a AB test for your landing page? Something like that. It doesn’t always have to be an AB test either, but is there a study, is there something that’s like, “Here’s some proof that what I’m saying is not just something I’m making up.” So have two studies.

Five examples. Now, examples are often screenshots or things from a swipe file or whatever it might be, but five examples to support the point that you’re making. And then, 10 links that go to places off your site. So you might have links that are going internally when you’re writing a blog post and it’s a topic you’ve written about a couple times and you have other blog posts on your site that you want to link to.

Cool. We also want to make sure that we are showing we’re not just making our own point again and again, but that other people are supporting our point. And that’s where those links can be, of course, just a really good signal. That blue underline that people see when they’re reading through your post, that can be a really good signal that, again, you’re not just making stuff up.

Thanks, Sarah, for chatting out the URL for And again, we’ll talk more about some of the research opportunities next Tuesday.

Final part of this formula is critical. The first three parts that I just talked about are going to give you a nice, dry piece of content to read. So nice and dry are not the stuff of share worthy content. We want to do better than nice and dry. We want to make it a really compelling piece. So that’s where your own point of view can go a long way. That means that often that will mean you’re going to write your post in the first person. That’s not a necessary part of this formula, but I strongly recommend it.

A point of view is really what we’re talking about. You’re going to pick a fight with an existing concept or idea, something that people believe is true. Are you going to compare old trends or old ideas versus new trends? That’s a point of view as well. You’re saying something. What are you really saying in the post? Are you going to use your background or your personal history or forgotten history?

If you happen to know a lot about cool stuff that’s happened in the past, can you use … What can you do to tell a story that is more interesting than simply putting out studies and saying, “Hey, here’s what you should do, guys, and here are some examples to prove that this is what you should do and to illustrate what you should do.”

So you want to think through your point of view. It doesn’t have to be an aggressive point of view. It doesn’t have to be something that people can easily point to, but you have to know that you have a perspective on the thing that you’re writing.

And that’s where a lot of people struggle to produce content regularly because you have to keep coming up, you have to dig inside yourself to try to understand what do I think about this? And what do I care about this? Does this matter to me? And then, be able to recognize what you think about that. And that is a challenge, but that comes with practice. So do try to use a point of view, your point of view, in every post you write this year.

Okay. Now, this is what you should be thinking about going into writing your post. And again, this is based on all of our top-performing posts and those that we’ve seen other people use as well in posts that have performed really well for other people.

Let me show you what that looks like. So going into writing a blog post, think about these things. Don’t go into … If you don’t have this stuff in there, you probably have an opinion piece. And unless you’re Seth Godin or someone whose opinion is instantly and automatically an important thing to read about, which might be you, I don’t know, it’s not me, so I have to prove my point all the time, again and again, and this is where I start my writing is gathering this research, adding my point of view, and then, starting to shape that story.

So going into the writing, have this formula in mind. Then, when you are done writing, you should also go back and review this formula as a sort of checklist. So you can go back through, and if you’re really … If you’re a new blogger or if you have bloggers, content creators on your team, they might want to fill in this at the end of every blog post that they do. So if you have guest bloggers that come and write on your blog for you, you might have them fill in this sort of worksheet at the end so you can make sure that, yes, they’ve got two studies, yes, there are five examples.

And they don’t have to show you the examples. They just have to say, “Study by Cialdini,” “Study by Joanna Wiebe,” whatever it might be. The five examples, list out their five examples. So it might be screenshots from Basecamp. It might be some image on some eCommerce site. Whatever those examples are, they just tell you what those examples are.

What are the links? Where are you linking to? And of course, when someone, or yourself when you fill out this or anybody fills this out who’s writing for you, if you have those out … if you know what those outbound links are, if you’re like, “Oh, well, you linked to Kissmetrics here,” or “We linked to Brian Dean here,” when you put those in there, then you can reference this list of 10 plus, however many more there might be, but at least 10, you can reference that when it’s time for you to promote your post as well. So you’re not like, “Who did we mention in here? Who should we reach out to?” If you have them listed right here, all you have to do is take those URLs, or the people who owned the URL originally or who created that content that’s on that URL, and just reach out to them directly.

Your point of view, this way you’ll know that your … And it doesn’t always have to be the ones that I already talked about. It could be some other point of view, but the point is that you want to make sure that you have, yes, absolutely, I’ve nailed all of these points. You can go through and make sure that you have.

Now, as a bonus for the formula, there’s the application side of what you’re teaching. So if your blog post is there to instruct people on something or to show people how to do something or to help people make a change in their lives, if you can actually demonstrate in some way how that happens, like you do a quick demo of … For myself as a copywriter, if I’m going to show you or if I want to teach you about Amazon review mining in a blog post, at the end of that I’m going to do the application side of it, which is show how that actually works, and that’s going to be an embedded tutorial.

So this is like taking it up a notch, right? Can you actually move people up to really start applying what you’ve taught in a real way, which might be attend this webinar, so you would embed an invitation to attend a webinar. It might be what we call insta-content, which is a lot like a Tutorial Tuesday. Can you get people to watch you do your job on camera or do the application of this on camera?

So that’s me hauling butt through the formula itself. Now, I know people are like, “Okay, can we see this in play?” Absolutely. So the best way to do it is to go through a past post that I wrote over on Copyblogger, which I want to share with you. It was a well-shared post, had good comments, good engagement on it. What I would do at this point and what you should do as you go through, once you’re done the writing process, go through that post and, again, use this as a sort of checklist.

And that’s just a matter of look at it, okay, do I have two studies? Okay, I’m going to go through, look at this, and I’ve already looked at this in advance, so I’m not going to pretender I’m looking through because I’ve looked at it already. But we do have two studies. I have a lot of studies that are in here, but I have two proper academic studies.

Of course, there’s Dan’s Ugly Tom/Ugly Jerry experiment, which we could say is a study. Okay. But there’s also two of them … This is a popular jam experiment that was mentioned in Cialdini’s Influence and has been mentioned in many other places, as well as this other study. So yes, we have at least two studies in here. Cool. Good, we’re already getting somewhere.

Do we have five examples? You simply go through, and examples, the best way to think of examples or the best way to identify if you have examples is do you have a screenshot, or do you have a video, depending on what you’re teaching. But if your post is about helping people understand how to do X or deal with X or whatever that might be, can you give them examples, and are those examples visual? That’s usually how they’re going to end up, doesn’t mean it’s always the case, but it’s often the case.

So we just go through and look. Yeah, there’s one example. That’s still the same example. That’s the study. Here’s another example. That’s a zoomed in version of the example. We’ve got two so far, three, four, five, six. So we’re already good at, yeah, we’ve got six examples total. We only want five or more, so we’re good.

And then the links, I’ve already gone through, and all you want to do is look at what’s blue and underlined. And if you have blue and underlines, just make sure that a lot of those or at least 10 of those are pointing to some other reliable source. So again, it should be reliable, not just a random URL that’s just going somewhere, but a reliable source.

So this one in this case is going internally, optimized calls to action is actually going to another Copyblogger post, so that’s not one that I want to mention. But here we’ve got a couple of Copyblogger, so that’s not one, but that is, that is. Just go through and look and see if you’ve actually got those 10 outbound links, and this one has nearly 20 of them.

So again, you don’t have to go as long as this is, and I know that there’s this idea that oh, if I write really long content, that’s the stuff that performs well, and that’s not always true. If you can nail, you can talk about two studies quickly, give five examples and have links to support it, that could be a shorter post. And I know Carrie said that’s a really long post, and again, it doesn’t have to be.

It is a pretty long post, but it’s also going to be something that people refer to a lot, that helps you establish your authority, and the point is not to go long. The point is not to produce some long piece of content at all. The point is to build your authority by showing that you are well-read on the subject and you know how to apply what you’ve talked about or what you’ve learned what you’ve said is important to do. Then, you find those examples to support that, and of course, all of those other links that also support it as well.

Okay, great. So we will see you next week for the next Tutorial Tuesday. Thanks guys.

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