Breakthrough blog post topics

Presented live on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

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“I’m out of ideas.”

It’s a line most creative and marketing types never think we’ll say.

But when it comes to dreaming up ideas for unboring blog posts –

you’re tapped out.

Nuthin left.

Ze well of ze ideas has run dry!

Is there ANYTHING you could POSSIBLY write that hasn’t been written a thousand times over already?


Let Joanna show you.

She’ll walk you through how to take really basic, potentially dull AF ideas, like “myths about A/B testing,” and turn them into blog posts that actually say something different.


Joanna Wiebe: Today, we are talking about something that we don’t often talk about at Copyhackers, which is weird because we are a content business. Everything we’ve done, the reason that you’re here, what you’re consuming right now is content. We do content all the time. We just happened to teach about copywriting, so we are today talking about content because we have something very, very cool coming out very soon. Today’s tutorial is probably brought to you by Content School, which is launching soon. You shall hear more about that in the next couple of weeks. So yeah, today we’re going to talk about something that comes up a lot. So we put together a training program recently for content school and one of the things that kept coming up in it was this challenge of finding a blog post topic.

So what do you actually write about and how do you make it work in a time when it feels like the interwebs are completely overrun with content, which they are. The web is built with it. We all know that content is everything. Content is basically at the core of most inbound marketing strategies. Most funnels depend on content. So what do we actually do to kind of cut through? The thing about the web being completely full of content is most of it is absolute crap. I’ve actually been pretty annoyed lately with Google and this is the like kind of a tangent, but I’ve been searching… When you search for almost anything in Google and you’ve done the same search repeatedly with different keywords, you still keep getting the same kind of crappy answers. Like there’s not like this depth of content that’s you’re looking for.

When I really want to dig in on a single subject, the same summary blog posts and articles keep coming up, which I find annoying and ideally in the future search engines will get better at serving up content, but part of the question is, is there just not really good content that goes deeper on a subject that really takes somebody who is read the overviews of something to a point of deeper understanding?

So I have all these questions about content and I know a lot of people who are trying to build their business, trying to grow their authority. Whether you’re a marketer in house at a software company or an eCommerce company, or you’re like a service based business and you’re trying to drive local or other people to come and actually hire your services, or you’re a freelancer and you have to build your authority in order to make sure that you are not getting really crappy leads reaching out to you, which is so, so, so tragically common.

Getting people who are like, I’ve never heard of you, but you showed up on my search results. So I’m just going to ask you if you can write this page for 50 bucks, versus people who actually recognize you as an authority because you’ve writing stuff. Some freelance copywriters in particular, marketers know that you have to get out there and get really good content out there, whether on your site or on someone else’s. But the challenge continues to be, well, how do I actually come up with a really good topic? Like there’s so much crap. I don’t want to be white noise and I feel like all I’m doing is adding to the noise.

So I want to take some time to talk through how we find “breakthrough” blog post topics. Not every blog post is going to be a winner but you have to keep going at it and trying to get to a place of really digging into these better topics.

So when I was putting together this topic and had it posted on the calendar page for tutorial Tuesdays where you can see upcoming tutorials. I had it as like a simple way to find a breakthrough blog post topic, I think is what I called it. But when it comes down to it, there’s a couple simple ways. So I’m going to walk through three simple ways that we use and again we get a lot of guest post pitches that we then have to go in and edit to get on the Copyhackers blog. We have written countless posts for our site as well as for other people’s sites like blog posts that are all over the place. So how do we actually find that topic? Let’s talk through three really simple ways. So let me start out with this. So this is a blog post that was published in 2014 on by Jen Havice.

She worked with us on all of these button tests this one summer. And the blog post that she wrote at the end of that was a listicle. It was basically called three things to avoid with A/B testing. By the time I was done with it, it turned into, I spent all summer running A/B tests and what I learned made me question the whole idea. And then we get into the story of it, this became our most popular posts of 2014 like far and ahead of anything else that we published that year. And it continues to be a good post that ranks really high, but it was our most popular posts and we were posting all lot. At the time we were just building up the Copyhackers blog. We’re writing blog posts all over the place, so this is a key moment for us.

We turned this listicle into something that ended up being really well read. What people have read three things to avoid with A/B testing, will never know because we would never publish that and a lot of blogs would never publish something like that. Today it’s a really basic thing, but what’s going on here? What I think is going on is the first tip, your topic is actually good. Your topic is good. The topic of things to avoid with A/B testing is actually good. The problem is you’re not finding the story, so you have to go out and find that story. So technique number one in identifying a “breakthrough blog posts” is finding the story. So your topic, cut it a break it might actually be a really good topic. Now, you have to find the story. So how do we do that? One technique and we insist, everybody who pitches the Copyhackers blog and writes for us, we ask them to put it in the first person.

No one needs you to tell them three tips or two things to avoid with A/B testing. They need to hear your story. People are interested and then everybody knows it’s an increasingly lonely world. People are interested in getting that first person perspective that they can kind of see themselves in and align with rather than you attacking them with tips for what to do and things to avoid. Walk me through your story. So try rewriting your topic, your blog posts with a first person experience to carry that post instead.

Another tip is something that we’re actually going to talk about next week. So I’m being a little bit tricky here, but next week we’re going to dig into this and in particular it is how to cut out those boring introductions that can bring you closer then to actually hooking your readers. I’m going to walk you through some really tactical stuff for finding your story then.

But first things first, you don’t need 7,000 techniques on how to find your story. Start by taking that blog post topic you have and rewriting it with your first person experience. What did you go through? What did you experience and then what did you do to solve it? It’s a way better way to pull people in and have something that’s a bit more breakthrough than a typical listicle would be. Okay, that brings us to the second one, and this is one without fail. This is in like if you pitch Copyhackers on the pitch us page, we ask you to tell us what you are picking a fight with because conflict is at the heart of every story. You take any basic storytelling class, go on masterclass, take Aaron Sorkin screenwriting masterclass. He talks about conflict.

Take any buddies class or read any blog posts on really good storytelling. And conflict is always at the heart of that. So you have to find the conflict. You have to identify the conflict with the topic. So how do we do that? And what does that really mean when we’re talking about… What really don’t like it when people talk about storytelling in business, but never get down into like, but how? Because I’m not a storytelling sounds like this grand narrative with lots of room to build up a story and when it comes down to it, you have to still cut to the chase. So the challenge is we need to then say, how do we find conflict that we can actually use to write a blog post? Here’s what we do. Okay, so as I already said, we asked the thing of everyone, what is your post picking a fight with?

Here’s an example of a post that picks a fight. It’s picking a fight with the idea that Facebook ads are all about images. This is something that we’ve written about on the Copyhackers website that the face that better performing Facebook ads consistently have a lot to do with the images. You test different images and hear an expert Facebook ad copywriter wrote a post that totally picked that apart and said, that’s not right. That’s actually wrong. And that makes for a very interesting post.

It doesn’t mean the whole world will respond to it, but it’s actually saying something different and that’s where we’re getting to a place of like a breakthrough. So the conflict itself, where do you find the conflict? It’s hidden inside the things that your ideal audience, which we’ll call X, believes to be true, which we’ll call Y. And this includes best practices and of course that typically comes out as like myths.

But I really want you to think about what are those so called best practices that your ideal audience actually believes to be true. And that may in part not be true where there may be evidence to the contrary and you can find the conflict in that. So here’s what it looks like, really basic three part process, screenshot this, but that’s really straight forward and then I’m going to walk you through. Okay. You start with X, that is your ideal audience are getting disappointing results with Y and that is that thing that better practice that they’ve heard about. Then you move on to what X believes about Y and then you identify in that list which beliefs are not true. Which can you actually tear apart? Where is there actually a conflict sitting, people X believe something and it’s not true. Okay, so we start with what they’re getting disappointed results with because that’s the thing that’s going on in their head.

They’re getting disappointing results with something that they thought was supposed to get them great results. Such as if you were writing let’s say a freelance copywriter or you work for a software company that’s targeting other B2B marketers. Let’s say that. So you’re trying to X for you your ideal audience is SAS marketers. Let’s say that we’re going to show some other examples too in case this isn’t true for you. But SAS marketers are getting disappointing results with in-app messaging.

So you sit down and you think, well, what are they getting disappointing results with? Great. That’s where we start. So why is in-app messaging now we need to say what X believes about Y. So what do SAS marketers believe about in-app messaging? They believe then you just list those crap out. In-app messaging is the only way to engage your software users. It’s the easiest way. They believe it’s the fastest way. They also believe it’s the cheapest way.

They believe in-app messaging has to be short. They believe in-app messaging has to be dry. They believe it’s best when it includes videos and they believe it is best when it includes gifts. Okay, so you make a big ass list of all the things they believe in-app messaging is all about. Cool, so that’s step two. It’s really straight forward. We’re just filling in the blanks at this point and then we go through and we identify based on what you know, which beliefs are actually not true. Some will be true, some are like, yeah, okay absolutely, but some are not. In-app messaging is not the only way to engage your software users if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s not the easiest way either. It’s not the cheapest way.

For sure most of the in-app messaging platforms are quite expensive. It doesn’t have to be dry, it doesn’t have to be short. Why do you think it has to be those things? And maybe it is best when it includes videos and it is best when includes gifts. Okay, so we’ve gone through and now we have anything that has an X on it is potentially where there’s some conflict and conflict is we’re story is and that’s where the best topics are.

So what could that turn into? Well we could list out a dozen different topics at this point, but here are three things that that could turn into. The only reason to use in that messaging is to message users fast. So you could write a blog post called, the only reason for sass marketers to use in-app messaging is to message users quickly. There is no other reason that could be your whole topic. You make a really interesting argument for that.

Post that somewhere, pitch that to people who want to publish interesting stuff and suddenly they’re more interested. That’s like, okay, that’s an interesting topic, convince me of it. You’re in-app messaging isn’t working because you aren’t using videos and gifs. So we saw like, okay, well maybe videos and gifts are huge for it. Maybe we can go through and do an analysis of in-app messages that use videos and gifs versus those that don’t and actually make a compelling argument for that. Cool. SAS marketers are now learning something from you that reinforces what they believed, so it’s not a conflict anymore, but it’s really helping them eliminate the other things that are conflicting with their success and focus on the thing that’s going to get them there. And number like six easy cheap ways to connect with your users without using in-app messaging.

So the conflict there again is, hey, you thought in-app messaging was everything. It’s not getting you results. Here are six other easy, cheap ways since you thought in-app messaging was easy, you kind of knew it wasn’t cheap, but you thought it was. So we’re going to base ourselves in that conflict. Really quickly we go from having this simple list that we cut things out of to this. Great, we’re feeling good about these topics, find that conflict. Other things that you could do, and I’m not going to walk through every one of these because we have 20 minute tutorials and we’ve got a couple of minutes left. Course creators are getting disappointing results with launch webinars. So if your audience is course creators, you find out what they’re getting disappointed results with and there might be multiple things. So there might be seven different whys for them with it’s own bullet list underneath, which means you’ve now got a huge content calendar, so find out who your X is, find out what their Y is.

In this case, new moms, if you’re trying to target new moms are getting disappointing results with diaper delivery services with organic fruit shopping with whatever those other things are with their mothers in law, which there probably won’t be too surprised by. Professional photographers are getting disappointing results with DSLR lenses, with iPhones, with whatever that other thing is but you’re just going to go through and find the core of the topic there and then unpack it with those three steps.

Okay, so let’s look first three ways. The first one is the last one and that is just simply be direct response about it. Use those copy skills. You’re on here, I teach copywriting skills on countless tutorial Tuesdays and in all of our training as well. So be a copywriter with what’s your writing. And that really does say like, okay, take the topic you have and just rewrite the headline.

Honestly, it will make, you can make a seemingly and actually like kind of listicle come off as so much more interesting if you write a better headline for it. So for example, this is now on but it was originally on Kissmetrics. It’s where it brought us tons of good traffic over the years. It’s nine ways to make your expensive product look like a total steal. Some people might say like, here are nine pricing strategies for eCommerce businesses, won’t want, boring. That’s boring. Nobody gives a crap about that. They can read that anywhere. That’s a really easy Google search to serve up a bunch of listicles, typical listicles all over the place. We decided instead to rewrite that into something that’s going to be more interesting. So be a copywriter with your headlines and take what’s there as the topic and turn it into something that’s far more interesting as a headline.

That headline is going to show up all over the place. Compare it against the really boring headlines that are out there that might be SEO friendly. Not that this one isn’t, this one’s still ranks really well too for pricing strategies because Google’s smarter than that. They’re not that smart, but they’re smarter than that. So don’t overthink SEO in your headlines when you’re trying to write a blog post that is going to actually break through and either bring traffic to your site or get that guest post pitch that you have, get that more likely to be approved. So be a copywriter with your headline. Those are the three ways to go about finding a breakthrough blog post topic. Don’t overthink all the other ways you can go about doing it. Start with these if you’re like, I am stuck for topics. Do you find your story? Pick a fight or simply write the thing you were going to write anyway, and rewrite the headline to be more copy writerly.

All right. I hope that is helpful to you as you start coming up with your topics. That is our tutorial or today. Yeah, make sure you go forward and put those blog posts topics together and don’t let a worry about my blog post topic isn’t good enough keep you from moving forward with actually writing dope blog posts.

Okay, next Tuesday. Awesome. Thank you everybody was chatting over nice stuff. Next Tuesday we were also talking more about blog posts as well, so really digging in to what’s going on too with the writing of your blog posts. So I want to share with you next week some really essential editing techniques that you need to use on your blog posts in order to make them, as Juan just said, dope ass blog posts. All right, so we will see you next week. Thank you everybody for participating. Thanks Carrie for helping out and I’m looking forward to seeing you on the next tutorial Tuesday. Bye you all.

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