Blog post formula for authority-building

Presented live on Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018

Register for our live tutorials

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

Access the authority-building blog post formula here.


Joanna Wiebe:                     Hello, good morning, good afternoon, depending on where you are. Good evening, even. Joanna here from Copyhackers and Airstory. I’m joined by Sarah, who is also here, obviously because I just said I’m joined by her. She is on chat. She just chatted, “Hello,” to everyone. People are filing in. Awesome to see people showing up and coming back for the first tutorial Tuesday of 2018.

We have some cool stuff planned for Tutorial Tuesdays in 2018. Last year was our first year of doing this, and we’re going go stay the course. We’re going to keep doing it but optimize a little bit. So I’m just looking at some of the chats coming in. You should be able to see my video. You can’t see Sarah’s video. She doesn’t want to go on camera for some reason. Eventually we will persuade her to be on camera with me. It can’t just be me, Sarah. It can’t just be me.

Sarah Dlin:                              Can I just say-

Joanna Wiebe:                     [crosstalk 00:00:55] says.

Sarah Dlin:                              Can I just say the host has to allow those permissions?

Joanna Wiebe:                     Oh, so I can allow that. Next time you’re on camera. [inaudible 00:01:04] you. All right. So cool. All right.

We have, again, people filing in, and this is a 20-minute tutorial. I totally want to respect the 20-minute thing. I’m really going to try in 2018 to keep things to 20 minutes, and that’s largely got a lot to do with why we’re doing themes every month as well. So I’m going to share my screen and kind of dive in right away, but before we dive in, some really quick housekeeping.

Thanks, I’m seeing some chats about going overtime. Thank you, and hello from all the cool places that you’re in that are starting to be chatted over too. It’s awesome. It’s not snowing here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the first time in [ba-jills 00:01:44]. It’s not even that cold. So life is pretty good, pretty solid.

Okay, housekeeping. I’m going to focus. Housekeeping. We are recording this session right now, and it will be available to you after, when we produce it and all that kind of stuff. So a couple hours from now, it will be available. If you want to chat something over, just as people are doing right now, people are saying “Hi,” from Guatemala, and it’s snowing in Houston, which is shocking, but if you want to just chat something and you want a quick reaction to it, or you just want to say something or share a reaction, then please go ahead and use chat for that.

If you have a question you want me to answer at the end of the tutorial, please put that in the Q and A area. When you’re chatting, if you want to chat to everyone, I think it defaults to chatting to panelists, so that’s myself and Sarah. If you want other people to see it, like let’s say if you … if I talk about a software solution and someone is like, “What’s that software name?” And you know the answer to that, you can chat that over, but just make sure it’s to everyone.

Okay. So we have three minutes in. I’m going to share my screen right now. If you have any questions, again, chat those or use the Q and A area, depending. All right? Cool. All right.

So here, quickly because this is the first Tutorial Tuesdays of 2018, I want to show you a quick update so you know what to expect going forward. Again, every month we’re going to be themeing our months. This month is all about content, and that’s because we are thinking a lot about content at Copy Hackers, 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. That is how that works. Now, I know Todd asked for a template version of this. It is something that you can simply see and use, but if you want to have a template, it’s very easy for me to create that inside Airstory, so I’m going to do that while some questions … If you have questions, now is the time to pop those into the Q and A area while I quietly type. All right. Cool. And I’m not going to categorize it, but …

Okay. I can templatize that, and I will share this URL out with y’all right now. Okay. It’s coming your way, and I’m going to have a look over at … If you use Airstory, it’s free. It’s 100% free right now, so go ahead and use it, and you can grab that template and use it immediately if you want to or all this year as you write blog posts and just keep starting from that template and turning it into new projects.

Okay. There are 12 questions in Q and A, so I am going to stop sharing my screen at this point. Some of these look like they’ve already been answered. All right. So DK asks, “What about a great headline?”

I assume you’re asking for the formula itself, why don’t I mention that, I assume, is what you’re saying, but this is about the content of your blog post. Is it going to build your authority? A headline is a separate question entirely. Is that going to get people to read your posts? Is it going to get them to click on your posts? Is it going to get search engines to rank your post? That’s not the important part of the authority-building blog post formula. So that’s why I don’t mention it in that. Cool?

Okay. I don’t know, DK asked, “100 or 10?” If that was 100 outbound links, oh no, it’s 10 and then an O, so that’s part of the problem with Os and 0s, but yeah, it’s 10 outbound links.

Okay. Sarah said, “Hi, Joanna. Can you please share some of the top-performing posts you’re referencing?” So that is one example. Basically any post that we’ve done anywhere off the Copyhackers site where our goal is to prove to an audience that’s not already in our world, to prove to that audience that we’re authorities that you should listen to. So if you go to Kissmetrics, and I think it’s the blog on Kissmetrics, the URL is /a-total-steal, so I can look that up and chat that over to you. Once second while I do that. Yeah.

Okay. Just let it catch up, and then, I’ll chat it over to you. Okay. Here we go. I’m sharing that in chat. Okay. So that’s another example, and they’re really just all over the place, everywhere. We aim to always hit this on our site as well, bu tit’s not always the case on our site. Usually it is, though, but I’m sure you could go on there and be like, “Joanna, that one doesn’t fit,” and I’d be like, “Yeah. It’s true. It doesn’t.” But when we are in other spaces where we’re trying to build our authority, again, that’s the whole point of this formula. It’s not to come off as someone’s best friend, which might be a very different formula entirely. It’s all about how do you build your authority on the subject? So that’s hwy we use it in places where we’re working very hard to build our authority outside of our existing world. Okay?

Todd, examples, screenshots, and images, yeah, exactly. So that’s where keeping a swipe file goes a long way. We may in Tutorial Tuesdays this year show you how to create a swipe file really easily, but I want to have a great Gmail integration with Airstory before I demonstrate that. You can use Zapier right now to turn a lot of the stuff that comes in your inbox into stuff that goes into your swipe file, but I want it to be easier than that, so I won’t be showing you how to build a swipe file until then. But you should, you should put a swipe file together, then you’ve got examples at your fingertips all the time.

Tamara asks, “How long should I budget in my schedule to write a typical blog post of this nature? It seems like it might be a pretty time-consuming although valuable process.” Yeah. But the thing about spending your time on this is it’s time well-spent. So we could all write a bunch of kind of looser blog posts that nobody really wants to read, or you can write this kind of post, pitch it to different publications, and be far more likely to succeed and actually have them say, “Yeah, okay. We’ll publish this,” because it’s really good. So if you take … It’s just better. I didn’t even mention your point of view at the end when I was going through the copyblogger post, but if you read through that copyblogger post or any other post that we write, there’s always a sense of not just delivering information but having a perspective on that. Why are we sharing? Why is this important? Not just randomly important, but actually important.

So that’s a side note. The question there is how much time should you budget? So we did one of the posts that I talk about a lot when I’m talking about writing content is the one that we did on, which is all about how to demo SaaS. So if you search how to demo SaaS plus A Better Story or something like that, it’ll still come up, I think, pretty well on just how to demo SaaS. That got huge results for us, 25,000 visitors in a single day with zero promotion from us outside of, I think, one tweet that we did. But it was just really well accepted. People got excited about that piece of content, which took 10 hours from start to finish, 10 intense hours, to be really fair. 10 intense hours … Oh, thanks, sorry, Hemma, for chatting that out.

But yeah, it’ll take some time, and the first few times you do it, it won’t ebe that easy, but if you keep a swipe file, if you do go on a place like DeepDyve or Google Scholar or if you read a lot of books on the subjects that you’re going to be talking about, like on persuasion and influence and things like that, you’re going to start collecting in your head, at least, examples and studies. What you need to do is make sure that you’re putting those into a place where you can use them when the times come to write, and that’s exactly why we built Airstory with your notes library right next to it. So you can send those notes off to your Airstory project from wherever it is that you’re gathering them especially online using the Airstory researcher. And then, when you’re ready to sit down and write, you’ve got what you need to put that post together. And your whole job becomes outlining it, organizing things, and figuring out what your point of view really is on it, which dramatically cuts down the amount of time it’s going to take you.

So start with, for this type of post, start with blocking out a day to just maybe do the research and start collecting your ideas, but know that as time goes on, it’s going to get a lot easier.

Don asks, “What is insta-content?” So I did mention insta-content is really what we call things, content that you create instantly. And that’s usually because it’s something you’re doing that you just start recording or you start sharing, and it’s not about blogging at that point. It’s insta because you don’t have to write it, it’s just happening live. So a Tutorial Tuesday is a form of insta-content, although it’s scheduled. Someone like Todd Herman will walk around with his phone. A lot of people do this where they walk around with their phone in their city and they’re talking about something. That’s insta-content. So what can you do instantly?

And in this case, when we’re talking about the application of something where you’re applying something that you just taught in your blog post, that might just be you, yeah, hopping on video and demonstrating it. That’s it. Right? But it’s just quickly created content, usually as part of applying what you’re taught. Okay?

I know that we are at the far beyond the end of the 20 minutes, but I will note that the tutorial was done at the 20-minute mark, so well done, me. If you have to go … I just pat my own back all the time. If you have to go, the recording will be available afterward. I’m still going to answer the questions that are here. Thanks for the encouragement. The recording will be available. Sarah’s just chatted that out, so that’ll be available later today. I’m going to stick on and answer these questions, but if you have to go, thanks, we’ll see you next week to talk about how to do the research that’s at the core of making a blog post like this happen. Cool?

All right. But I’m still staying, so if you just got here, don’t jump off. There’s still more here. Okay.

So Leanne asks, “Somewhat related, when you have images in the post, what’s the right way to handle that if you don’t want to pay for 10 stock photos every time you write a post?” So I wouldn’t recommend that you do … At no point in the formula do I say you should use stock photos, just to be clear. And I know … I’m not trying to give you hell for that or something, but you don’t really need stock photos. When you have a featured image, that featured image could come from a place like Unsplash. So all you have to do is go to, I believe it is, and then, make sure at the end of the post you just give credit to the photographer, but that’s a really good way around that.

Images in the post that are stock, I would say pull them immediately. They’re not helping anything. They’re not an example unless you’re doing a post about stock photos, in which case, then they do fit, and they’re a perfect fit. But outside of that, yeah. That’s not a thing.

So Brian added, “I like to use Pablo Buffer,” with quotes. Brian, you send that just to panelists. I’m not sure what that … I know Pablo by Buffer is a thing that I haven’t used, so if you want to share more about it, please do. But hopefully that helps, Leanne.

Anonymous asks, “Have the numbers been tested for variation? If you include four examples instead of five, in your experience, does it usually affect engagement?” No. So no, this is to help you. This is not like, “Oh, here. Scientifically absolutely proven. Go forth and only do it this way.” This is a way to combat a lot of the weak posts that are out there where bloggers then get frustrated because they’re investing time in writing something and it’s just not getting any traction. So I want us to do our best to help you fight the fatigue and the beat-down you’re going to take as you’re writing content and publishing it. It’s not an easy job. It’s just not an easy job to write content. So the less that you have to guess at things, the better. That’s why if you decide you’re going to include four examples, I would just say, “Do you have a good reason for only including four? Why not do five?”

And again, because this comes out of us assessing past posts that we’ve done where five is really the minimum. If we have fewer examples, I would ask you to question why you have fewer examples, and if you have a good answer for that, cool, and if the answer is I just don’t have time to find another one, that’s not a very good answer.

Okay. Virginia says, “Can you again share the places we can search for studies?” So I’m going to talk more about that next week Virginia. Tune in for that, but DeepDyve is something that Sarah already chatted out. She’s just chatted it again. It has a free trial, and it’s very affordable. If you’re serious about content and you are good with reading through some of that academic stuff, then go ahead. And I have a subscription to it. I don’t use it every month, but when I do use it, it’s beyond helpful. So that’s a place. Google Scholar is another place, of course, which is free. I just don’t love it, myself. I don’t find it that … It’s not as valuable as DeepDyve. That’s for sure. And more about that next week.

Okay. Sarah … Wow, there are three Sarahs so far that we’ve talked to. Okay. Sarah says, “If we use a screenshot of, say, the first items we will show as [inaudible 00:31:45] product. Can you use that within a post, or is that infringing copyright on the images?” I’m not a copyright lawyer, so I won’t say yes or no. I know that we have actually been stung once on our blog for using an image that we didn’t know was copyright protected, and we had to pay $300 for it afterward, which sucked. I wouldn’t have used it if I had known that because it wasn’t that great an image anyway, so look into it. I’m not going to give you any rules around that, but taking a screenshot of public-facing content and sharing it … I do it, but I’ve done the other thing too and then got stung by it. But we see this all the time, right? Every content creator and online teacher, really, does this, and that goes to people who are giving talks at conferences.

So Bryan Eisenberg gave a whole talk years ago on Amazon and what Amazon does, and I’m mentioning this as an example because it stood out to me. He wasn’t working with Amazon. He just decided to give a talk on how Amazon optimizes their website. And that was just a bunch of screenshots with his narrative around it, of course, a very important narrative around it, but it was a bunch of screenshots of the Amazon website. So know that others do it, but that doesn’t mean you should absolutely do what other do and then hope you won’t get in trouble. But I don’t know. I do it.

Andrea says, “What kinds of studies should I be looking at for the studies? Can it be case studies?” Yeah, it can be. I wouldn’t make it only studies that are your own. So your case study I would see, honestly, in most cases … Unless it’s an AB test, if it’s a case study like a before and after, I would use that as an example more than I would use it as a study. The point of the study is to say, “Some person out there other than me is also thinking this, and they’ve got proof to support it,” and then, you take what they’ve said and you help your audience understand how to use that in their lives. So case study, if it satisfies that, then cool. If it doesn’t, then it might just be an example, and that’s okay because it can be a fantastic example.

Kristen says, “How many authority-type posts do you recommend in a month or year? I’m guessing that not every post has to be a big deal heavy-hitter. What’s a good blend?” This is something that I teach in-depth in my training program, so I don’t want to go too far into it because I know people in there will be like, “Hey, that’s private for us.” But the point is not every post has to be super long. Not every post has to be a big deal. Your job when you’re figuring out what you’re going to write is what is my goal? Is your goal to try to get a bunch of traffic to your site for a keyword phrase? If it is, then you may not have to write an authority-building post at all, right? You’re not trying to build authority. This formula is when you’re like, “Hey, I’m a freelancer. I’m a consultant. I am trying to get speaking engagements. I have built a product that is supposed to help with expertise or show my expertise in a certain area. I need to go out and prove to the world that I’m an authority.”

If that’s the thing, then that is a very different goal from saying, “This is a blog post about generating more traffic for a keyword phrase,” or, “This is a blog post that’s actually a disguised long-form sales page, and its goal is to get people to say yes to something by the end of the post.” So it depends on the kind of post you’re writing, the goal that you’re looking for. If you want to build authority, start here. It doesn’t always … And it doesn’t have to be a big deal heavy-hitter. It might feel like that in the end, but you don’t go into it again thinking I’m going to write a long piece. You go into it thinking I’m going to show my authority on the subject.

And the better the research you do, which we’re going to talk about next week, the better the research you do and the more research you have, the more you can then turn all of your research into different posts. So you might find that if you do a bunch of research on how to build authority, you’re going to do a big blog post on how to build authority, if you do that, you get 100 notes, let’s say, that you gather, those might all make it into one epic guide, a huge piece, but they don’t have to die there. So you would want to also use that research in lots of different ways where you could write a really short post that, then, supports the other authority-building posts you have.

So if you’re like, “I’m always … I’m going to own how to be an authority,” that’s my thing for some reason, let’s pretend that was. Then, you could do a epic post on how to build authority, and then, a bunch of supporting posts on how to build authority as a millennial, how to build authority offline, how to build authority online, how to build authority with an email plan, or something like that, right? But whatever the case is, they don’t all have to be epic. You should be reusing your research, and then, having multiple posts support your authority-building initiative. So I hope that that helps with that.

John asks, “If one was to use this formula for an email, how might you abbreviate it?” I wouldn’t. I don’t have anything, unfortunately, to say about that because I haven’t tried it for email. This is fully about writing an authority-building blog post. So if you have ideas, John, I would love to hear them, but I have not done it, so that’s the best I can say.

Nick asks, “I have Airstory, and I’ve never used it because I don’t know exactly how to use it properly. Is there a crash course on it?” There will be. I know. There absolutely will be. Airstory is still new enough with some core features that will be ready, and they’re not feature, they’re part of enhancing the existing features that we have. So by the end of April we intend to have a course available for how you can use Airstory to do X, Y, or Z. But part of why we do Tutorial Tuesdays is to walk you through what Airstory can do for you. So next week, when we’re talking about the research side of things, you’ll see Airstory in full play, right?

So today I showed you a bit about how to templatize. I could have put a template together beforehand, but I wanted to show you how to create a template inside Airstory just by clicking a button, and then, sharing that link out with anybody you want to. But this is just the stuff we’re going to cover week by week in these tutorials. But I love that you want to know. I’m very excited about Airstory too, so that’s cool.

Karen says, “Are you measuring post effectiveness only in terms of visits, or are there other measures?” So largely, when I’m looking at if the post is effective in building your authority, we want to make sure that people are sharing it, that people are linking to it, and that people are coming to it again and again. But sharing it and linking to it are important factors, so if it has a lot of shares on the post, that’s the biggest thing for us when we’re measuring it. It helps, it’s a good kind of signal kind of, not noise, more signal when you see a lot of comments, but that doesn’t mean it’s an authority-builder because it has a lot of comments. You could be just saying something really contentious in your post, and you get a world of comments, but it doesn’t actually build your authority on the subject. It just makes for a good kind of click-bait-y read for people.

So yeah. The number one thing that we’re thinking about with authority-building is are people looking at you as an authority because of it? Is it a share-worthy and shared post? There are other ways that we can’t really measure around did it lead to more clients for people? Among the posts that made it onto our list of our top-performing posts are the copyblogger button post where we got so many companies writing to us afterwards saying, “How can you help me with this conversion stuff? How can you help me write better copy? I need you to do this for me.” We had big opportunities come out of it, and that’s why we use it as an example of an authority-builder. But it’s very hard to measure on other people’s sites. Well, did they get a lot of people reaching out to them afterward? Did they make $30,000 after this blog post, or what?

Ross, hello, Ross, if you’re still here. Question from Ross. “Yo, Jo. What do you use to find your outbound links for referencing? Do you store them in a folder for future?” So when I’m using the Airstory researcher, that’s when I’m collecting all of that research from other people’s blog posts and articles and things like that or just pure content that they have in other forms on their site, and when I clip it with Airstory researcher, it captures that original URL, so then, I just use that URL when I’m doing the writing of the post. So I don’t know if that answers, Ross, you’re super good at all the SEO stuff, so don’t ask me a really hard question there, but if you’re asking how I actually collect them, I don’t put them in a folder. I do just keep them attached to the clip that I took using the Airstory researcher.

Okay. Steve asks, “What are your thoughts on quantity of posts for your blog?” I have zero thoughts on quantity of posts. I have lots of thoughts on the quality of the posts. Who was the guy … I forget his name, but J. Bear, he was the one who said that you really only need one … I think he was the one that said you really only need one stellar post at this point in the history of content in order to start kind of exploding on the scene. So you don’t need to have this world of posts on your site or to try to get published on other people’s sites to … What is that trying to tell people? A better thing to tell people is I know this subject super well. Look, I can teach it to you. I have a point of view on it. You’re going to like reading it because I have a point of view on it. You’re going to get a lot out of it.

Nobody really cares if you’ve written 700 posts like that or if this is the first time they’ve heard of you. As far as anybody might know, they’re just dealing with the information in front of them. And if they’re like, “I like this post. Who wrote this post? How can I hire this person? How can I work with this person? What tool are they using, or what tool do they work with?” Etc., etc., that’s the most important thing to worry about at that point, really.

I know people are leaving. Thanks for all your good comments. Rick says, “Are you not concerned about sending people away from your site with the links? The common direct response principle is to keep reader focused and guided to one call to action.” That is true. Not for authority-building content, though. So if we’re writing a landing page, if we’re writing an email, we would focus on getting people to do one thing. We wouldn’t want to send them off to links all over the place.

This is an authority-building piece of content, like a blog post. I am not in any way concerned with that, with sending people away with other links because, again, we’re not trying to send them away. We’re trying to give them, basically, again, signals, I don’t know why that word is stuck in my head today, that the content they’re looking at is not just someone’s opinion. They’re going to see blue underlines and know that those are links, and as long as they look at a … If they look at a few of them and they’re actually good links, they’re going to good, reputable places, that makes the whole better, right? It makes your argument better. It makes all the parts of it … The reader feels like they’re actually learning something that’s not just one person’s opinion, but really well-formed, a very well-formed argument.

Steve added that quality outbound links can help with SEO. And this is like … Of course, it always does seem to come down to again and again, and I’m no SEO, but often just comes down to just do right by your reader. If you have good support for the argument that you’re making, use that. It’s only going to help things. It’s only going to get things better. Sorry, I’m starting to stammer now.

Wow, it is quarter to 11:00 my time. Okay. 12 questions left. I don’t know if I’m going to get through them all. We’re going to cut this off at 10 to, so I’m going to try to haul ass through.

Teddy says, “Hi,” something about Larry Kim’s unicorn content. I don’t know about Larry Kim’s unicorn content. Is it similar? Oh, is that for your opinion, your point of view? So the question is, “Hi. For your opinion, is it similar to Larry Kim’s unicorn content? I like the idea. Your formula sounds great.” Thanks. I don’t know because I don’t know his … I like Larry Kim, but I don’t know about that. Okay, cool.

Tiago asks, “Do you think the new Facebook policies,” oh lord, “will favor these kinds of posts?” I have avoided learning about the new Facebook policies. They’re through … Everybody is talking about them, and it’s been all weekend or starting Sunday or whenever it started. I’ve just avoided it, so I have zero to say about it. I will learn what those policies are. I was just like, “Oh my god, we can’t deal with all of this stuff all the time. We can’t have Facebook become the new Google where they’re constantly changing algorithms.” It was just too much for me. So I don’t know. What do you think? I have no idea. All right, cool.

Brian says, “Finding out Airstory’s available for free right now was worth it. Ha, ha, that’s awesome,” and he’s trying it now. Wicked, I’m so glad to hear it.

Andrea says, “Hi, Joanna. Can you explain the case studies a bit more, what type of case studies should I be looking at?” So study isn’t necessarily a quote end quote case study. So when people talk about case studies, they often mean for their clients or for people who are using their solution in some way. When I’m talking about studies, I don’t mean case studies. I mean, for lack of a better, academic studies as a starting point. So what are people who are serious about really figuring out solutions, what are they learning? And that’s where just … All of Cialdini’s Influence, the entire book is a bunch of other people’s academic studies that have then been synthesized, collected together and said, okay, here are the six core rules of persuasion or ways to persuade in these six categories. Here are a bunch of academic studies to support them. I’m Cialdini. That’s the whole … That’s the book.

So it’s that kind of thing. It’s not case studies. And again, Google Scholar and places like that, if you read Tim Ferriss, if you read … Oh, I forget his name too. Wow, my brain. A couple other good content creators out there, a lot of them take some new study that they read about and just try to teach it to people, what this really means for you. So that’s, again, where if you’re going to write a post about how to optimize your eCommerce site for millennials, then you would go on DeepDyve and search millennials in a journal for eCommerce or commerce or consumer decision making, and you would start to see what academics are learning about how to get millennials to say yes to you. And you would use that kind of thing instead of a case study. Okay? Hopefully that helps.

Adele, hello, Adele, has a tangential question about images. Use literal on the topic or metaphor. If it’s image as example, then it would be literal. If it is image as featured image for a blog post, then whatever you think. I have zero opinion on that. Does it look good when it’s shared socially? That’s really what it comes down to for me. And by good, that could mean any number of things, but there are people who are far better qualified to talk about what images to use. When you’re talking about using images that are images of examples, like a screenshot or something like that, then yeah, the more specific and easy to understand. So really, the more literal, the better.

Dan says, “Are there copyright issues around using research studies?” You cite it. You cite it like you would if you were a student at a university, and you’re learning about a subject, and you say, “Here’s the person who said it first.” That’s it. That’s why. And that’s, again, a link out. This is the point is not to act like you took it, like, “Oh, I came up with this.” Nope. Your job as an authority is to be able to say, “Look at this smart thing that this person said, and look at this one over here. If we put those things together, what can we learn with that?” And then, you have a point of view on that. So as long as you are citing the sources, you’re covered by basically every standard. I don’t know about countries outside of North America, but by our standards, you’re covered.

Don’t take that as legal advice. So this is being recorded, but don’t take it as legal advice. Okay. I’m a copy writer, not a copyrighter, get that? The other copyright? All right.

Okay. One last question. Dave says, “What about hints toward copyright protecting your own posts? Idea for a later session.” Sure, except I don’t know why you would copyright protect your own post. I live in a world of open. I prefer open, not walls around things, and I have found that that has been better for me than not. A lot of things that are copyright protected still get pirated and whatever else it might be. So I think it’s interesting, Dave, worrying about that. I just don’t worry about it. Maybe in the future, I’ll be like, “That was naïve of me.” But for the past 15 years of my career, I haven’t, and it hasn’t been negative in any way for me. So I don’t know.

That wrap … Oh, one minute left, so I’m just going to try to haul ass through these.

Ansa says, “Can we use our own images if [inaudible 00:49:22] photographer?” Yes, you should. Absolutely. Well done, you, if you’re a good photographer.

Debra says, “Do you think this formula can work for any subject matter?” I think try it. Yeah. We live in the world of startups, of tech, of online marketing, of [inaudible 00:49:37] optimization, and it works in those. Will it work for you if your clients are [woo-woo 00:49:43]? Try it. Just try it. That’s not the world I live in, but give it a shot. The point with the formula is that it is reusable across different spaces, so when we put a formula together, we also go back and try to use it, to put something else together, and it stood up well. But again, that’s always going to be for things that we’re actually writing for.

Last thing. Todd says, “Does word count matter on authority content? 2,000 plus, etc.” Word count is never the point. If something looks like it’s a long read, that often makes people think, oh great, this is a good piece, but that doesn’t have to be true either, right? A really nice 700-word piece that’s got all of these points covered could do extremely well because people will actually read it, and that’s good for getting people to share it.

Okay, great. So that is everything. Thanks for all those who stuck around for this, what turned into 50 minutes, but 20-minute tutorial, and we will see you hopefully next week. This recording will be available online very shortly, so we will see you next week for the next Tutorial Tuesday. Thanks guys.

Copywriting tutorials

Fix these 5 things in your copy to look more pro stat
How to use VoC to create outlines
How to validate your copy
How to make your writing sound good
Getting creative with conversion copy
How to write headlines
How to be specific in your copy
How to write great bullet lists
How to write a long-form sales page
How to write compelling “agitation” copy
How to write holiday copy
3 essential copy techniques to use daily
How to write a sales page
How to optimize crossheads/subheads

How to optimize Facebook ad copy
How to write an Adwords ad
How to write Facebook-compliant ads

How to evergreen your course sales
How to use SEO landing page
How to get more subscribers
How to script the first sales video
How to script the second sales video
How to script the third sales video

How to write welcome emails
How to write a launch-day sales email
How to write a last-day launch email
How to write a cold email
How to write cold emails for services
How to write a trial-ending SaaS email
How to write a post-welcome SaaS email
How to write TOFU emails

How to win enough clients for a whole year with a single blog post
Creating and selling packages
How to write a project proposal
How to present your copy to clients
How to get more proposals approved
How to wireframe your landing pages
The art & science of pestering
How to pitch your copywriting services
How to create a biz-worthy home office
How to handle awkward client convos
How to master customer interviews
How to keep your copy reviews on track

How to Marie Kondo your VoC data
Optimize your email sequence with Trello
How to research a blog post
How to plan a SaaS onboarding funnel
How to use Amazon review mining
How to do a content audit
How to know what your visitor’s thinking
Creating a launch command center
A 3-part copywriting process for newbies

Top 10 KPIs for conversion copywriters
How to optimize a headline
How to optimize a SaaS sequence
How to optimize content for SEO
How to validate your copy
How to optimize Facebook ad copy

How to write an epic blog post
How to write a mass-appeal blog post
How to write funny content
How to keep readers reading
Blog post formula for authority building
How to write an ultimate guide

Sweep 1: The Clarity Sweep
Sweep 2: The Voice + Tone Sweep
Sweeps 3 & 4: The Believability Sweeps
Sweep 5: The Specificity Sweep
Sweep 6: The Heightened Emotion Sweep
Sweep 7: The Zero Risk Sweep