This guest contribution from Ahmed Safwan.
Writing viral posts.
That’s what we all dream of.
We hope that we can write the next popular post on our blog.
But what if you make it on one of the most influential blogs on the Internet (like Problogger) and get a lot of visits out of it?
Well, Jon Morrow did that with his post, How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World. The post attracted over 70,000 visits in the first 24 hours and it’s on track to get nearly 1 million visits.
Darren was astonished. That’s why he called Jon the best writer on the web.
He was able to attract over 9,000 subscribers to his guest blogging course solely on the strength of this post. Many of them had signed up to the premium program because of that one post, and he was able to make a great amount of money.
It’s pretty amazing, right?
But how did he do it? That’s what we will cover in this post.
You need compelling content
… not just another 5-tip post that’s generic.
Compelling content is essential to get traffic, engage your readers and turn them into paid customers.
It’s the dream that most bloggers have. We all want to quit our job and move to paradise. Not only that, he shows you how to get paid to change the world.
The content is compelling and he crafted the post well. But a lot of us could do this. It’s true. So why aren’t our posts going viral?
Well, it’s not just about the content.
Jon Morrow included some ingredients that made his post spread like wildfire.
Hundreds of posts are created about how to quit your job and move to paradise, but this post has some ingredients that other posts don’t have.
1. Evoking Explosive Emotions
Jonah Berger co-authored a research paper with Katy Milkman called “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?” In this paper, there are some insights that you need to care about.
One of these insights is that content that evokes high explosive emotions is more viral than content that doesn’t. Basically, you need to evoke emotions in your content to make it spread online.
After you readJon Morrow’s post, you feel inspired and that you have the power to do anything.
Another key insight Jonah Berger found is that positive content is more viral than negative content.
That’s why Jon’s Problogger post spread more than his Copyblogger post, On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas. In his Copyblogger post, he intended to make people cry and he evoked that emotion explosively. With his Problogger post, he wanted to inspire people.
The difference is that the emotion he tried to evoke in his Copyblogger post was negative but in his Problogger post, the emotion was positive. That’s why the Problogger post spread like wildfire.
But how to evoke that emotion?
Jon Morrow has a great answer to this question.
In his post How to Be Unforgettable, he explains how you can connect emotionally with your readers.
“Instead of sitting down and writing cold, imagine the emotion you want to create in your reader, and deliberately cultivate that emotion in yourself. Cry, laugh, get so mad you nearly beat your keyboard to death.” Jon says. “Then let it loose. Let it flow through you and into your words.”
“Your readers will feel it. They’ll wake up. It’ll make them feel alive.” Jon explained. “And they’ll remember you forever.”
It’s simple but really effective answer. It’s worth reading the post word-by-word to learn more about how to evoke emotions and how to be unforgettable.
2. Telling a Story
This is one of the most effective ingredients Jon added in his post.
He shared a story that was incredible. It inspired a lot of people to continue facing their difficulties. It made people connect with Jon.
He shocked us with his story.
That’s exactly what you need when you craft a compelling story. If it’s something usual and people will predict what will happen next, then it’s boring.
You don’t need to create specific posts to share your story as Jon did. You could add a story in the opening of your blog, to start it with a bang, as he did in his “How To Be Unforgettable” post. Thanks to Brian Clark for this awesome tip.
To prove that telling stories is an effective way to make your posts spread more, check out James Chartrand’s story on how he is a she. It got over 540 comments and was one of the most popular posts on Copyblogger.
3. Having Irresistible Magnetic Headlines
“8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.” ~ Brian Clark
John Wisely from Pick the Brain wrote a post that got him only 100 visits. The post itself was great; that’s why he was disappointed. He thought that the problem may be in the headline. He deleted the post, changed the headline and published it again with the same content.
It got 5,000 visits.
(You can check the case study here)
Jon Morrow knew that headlines are really important. He started to learn the art of creating magnetic headlines for years until he was able to master it. He is now the master of creating headlines online. His headlines are always irresistible.
Luckily, he created a cheat sheet that contains the top 52 headline formulas that always outperform when they’re used right. I really recommend you to check this cheat sheet before you choose any headline.Choose one of these formulas, and then fill in the blanks carefully to create your irresistible magnetic headline.
Try to include power words and you’ll have better results. Jon also created a list of 317 power words you can use not only in your headlines, but also in your content.
His headline was very specific and it has power words like “paradise” and “paid.” This headline is really effective to capture your attention, even at 2am!
4. Picking an Established Platform To Go Viral
To make your post spread like wildfire, you need to seed the traffic at the beginning. Then, if it has some of the ingredients shared above, your visitors will do the rest.
Jon Morrow had the platform ready for him to share his astonishing content and to make it go viral. He made use of it to create the most popular post in the blogosphere.
That’s why you need to share your best stuff on other blogs as a guest post.
It’s true that Jon would have seen a spike in traffic if he posted it on a new blog, but it wouldn’t have reached such a large audience of people.
So, when you’ve got something amazing that you think should deserve to get 100,000 visits, post it on other blogs. Your mission will be easier after that.
The truth about writing viral posts
You need compelling content to go viral. But it’s not enough.
You need to add some other ingredients to the post to make it engaging so that people can’t help but share it with their audience.
Yes, you can actually do it.
If your blog is small or you don’t even have a blog launched yet, find a bigger blog that has 10,000+ subscribers and share your brilliant idea there.
Craft it well, add some of the above ingredients, and you’re set to go and have your viral post.
It may not happen every single time, but you can still make it.
Jon Morrow did it on Penelope Trunk’s blog when he was still a beginner blogger, and created one of the most popular posts there to this day.
You can do it too!
So, get out there and write something amazing!
Try it and see what happens.
Ahmed Safwan is a blogger and marketer that teaches how you can get your posts shared, tweeted, and talked about. If you want more people to read and interact with your content, check out his free Blogger’s Handbook for Writing Viral Posts!
What a great post Ahmed. You really understood the psychology behind John Morrow’s viral post. I agree with you that having a compelling idea is the ultimate key. Story telling is powerful and ever since I started using it, it’s been a solid improvement for my blog. Thank you.
Jon Morrow was able to make use of all this + crafting it well, so he was able to create the most popular post on Problogger. He is a genius.
Thanks a lot Micheal for your comment.
Great post and summary. It’s awesome to see how Jon was able to scale out his guest blogging course through the use of guest blogging. An excellent way to show people that his own methods actually work!
He is a genius.
Thanks for your comment Zac.
Yes true indeed. I know Jon Morrow and he is one of the best writer who can increase passion in his writing :)
Awesome post, and a great testament to Jon Morrow’s intuitive blogging skills. I’d like to add some motivation to the point, “If your blog is small or you don’t even have a blog launched yet, find a bigger blog that has 10,000+ subscribers and share your brilliant idea there”
Basically, this isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. If you have an idea, it’s a matter of reaching out via email or social media ( Twitter and LinkedIn are best) with a concise, compelling pitch. Wait and see. People respond to stuff that matters.
Agreed. And this is exactly how I managed to get a considerable number of subscribers to my blog. Before that I was struggling with only 5 – 10 visitors a month. And that is simply nothing to be proud of.
The revolutionary way to market your blog is to write an email and click send.
That’s what Derek Halpern shares in this video. People really forget the basics of getting traffic.
Thanks for your comments Sarah and Dough.
Isn’t it crazy?
I knew it would be popular, but I had no idea it would be THAT popular. Honestly, I’m just grateful for Darren giving me a good home for it. That post turbocharged my career in a lot of ways.
You have become a benchmark Jon :)
He is a one from long time. He is really an awesome guy.
Ahmed what a sensational breakdown! I also see you are persisting with guest post per our chat a few months ago, good job ;)
Emotional posts snag views. If you can package emotion into any type of post – 12 tips type included – you can crash servers.
Thanks for sharing!
Emotions is what moves people to take action. Inspire them to do something and you’ll get traffic that you couldn’t handle.
Thanks Ryan for your comment.
Solid tips here, Ahmed. I’ve been thinking about what makes Jon so compelling that I hang on every word he writes and I think you answered it: he’s a master at evoking an emotional response with his writing. He’s a great storyteller who clearly puts himself in his readers’ shoes and conjures up their deepest wants, needs, fears, etc.
He also spends a lot of time writing every post. What he writes is intended to be viral.
He is really an awesome guy who know others problems and solve it with an amazing way.
Wow. You’ve nailed it completely!
I love Jon Morrow, not only because of his writing skills, but as a person who took his course awhile ago.
What I personally learned from Jon is, “great minds write great posts” (the people who love to share EVERYTHING with their readers).
And before writing any post, ask yourself this question – why should someone read it?
Great points here Rahul. I love the one of “great minds write great posts”
If you love helping people, they’ll love helping you too.
I find the “positive/motivational vs. negative emotion” point you bring up really interesting. I know people who would argue both sides of that point… but I know the positive angle usually gets my attention better, too.
Jonah proved it and also Jon proved it.
His post on Problogger performed better than his on CB. I think the reason is because he evoked +ve emotion than the negative ones. Thanks for your comment Gary.
I Typo’d your name Ahmed. Yikes. Sorry. Still – nice job :)
No problem. You’re welcomed.
well done Ahmed. Another secret to getting your post go viral is the idea of writing epic posts.
Posts should be long and at the same time it should be an answer to your readers problems.
Yeah. Give them all the info they need. That’s why long posts always get higher traffic, even on Google.
Great information. Jon Morrow’s success is an inspiration to each and every blogger out there.
I am afraid I will go mad after reading this post that put me in sheer dilemma of what to learn from it and what to skip. Every line has message, simply eulogizing the writing prowess of Jon Morrow you communicated a lot to new writers. The only need is to pick them and apply them which we surely will do. Once again a towering congratualtion on writing such a great great post
Thanks for these kind words Mi.
great post and very helpful.
Great breakdown of what made Jon’s post so special and how we can all apply the principles to our own writing, but id like to take it even one step further.
Lets not forget the absolutely hands down, most important part of what makes Jon’s post so successful ( and any other great blogger for that matter) and that is strong networking and promotion.
When I started my first business in sports supplements, I wrote many blog posts, put hours of research into then and I was lucky to get 1 person commenting. I then tried to hire writers to free up my time so that I could research even more and all it did was empty my bank account.
Then by writing a single email to an influential fitness blogger, I suddenly got hundreds of visitors from one post from which I still get some referral traffic to this day.
The moral of the story is, even if you have fantastic content, or an engaging headline it doesn’t do much good if no one can see your article in the first place.
I look forward to your next post Ahmed – come say hi on twitter some time!
Yeah. You’re right. But if you published that content on a better platform, you’d have gotten more traffic.
You need to seed things at the beginning, but what if you’ve visits and no one share or comment.
Thanks man for your comment.
I agree Ahmed, it has been a fanastic learning experience though. Nothing teaches better than failing and trying again :)
Thanks for this post Ahmed!
I think what really nailed it for Jon’s post was how inspiring it was – everyone loves an underdog story, where the “hero” overcomes seemingly impossible odds to succeed. Add in an emotive post where the underdog is able to achieve what most of us can’t without being able to move from the neck down, and you’ve got a winning proposition.
You described it right Daryl. That’s exactly what you need to create the next viral post.
Thanks for your comment.
Great insights Ahmed. Jon’s a tough act to follow. But oh, what an act!
Just studying his writing can make one a better blogger. I have a swipe file of every post of his I’ve come across and every time I’m stuck with an introduction, ending or transitioning between points, I turn to his work.
He is the top writer on the web for me.
I was writing his posts word by word and I saw my writing becomes better.
I like the idea of having Swipe file with Jon’s posts. I think I should have one too.
Even you have written a very well article describing to get the most out of a blog post. There is a lot to learn in this post for every blogger may be a newbie or an older blogger. I always love to read ProBlogger and the reason is its awesome contents. Thanks a lot for sharing man :-)
“It got 5,000 visits.”
Copybloggers best post got 5,000 visits? This must be a typo for 500,000 or 5,000,000 surely?!? 5,000 seems nothing for such a big site when I, a nobody got over 300,000 for one of my first blogs :/
Callum take time to go through the comment again. The site mentioned isn’t copyblogger. And that case study is old I bet that post should have passed the 300,000 mark by now.
Assume you wrote an epic post in 2009 do you expect the post to still have d same traffic in 2010. Hope you understand
I remember reading that and being amazed at how it gripped my emotions. Great break down.
Thanks Hashim for your kind words.
Very direct and simple article about how to write a viral article! Couldn’t possibly have said it better.
I’ve had a handful of posts pull the majority of the traffic on the blog. Always surprising to see what’s most popular.
I have been following your posts for approximately 2 months now and the benefits of all the free tips you are offering are coming into fruition. I really thank you for your generosity.
Thanks a lot. I’m glad that you liked it.
This is a great post; thanks for pulling me to it with your email.
I’ve not heard Jon’s story before reading this post, and what an amazing story it is, indeed!
There’s a lot more tat goes into creating a viral blog post than just creating useful content. A lot of the time it’s the emotional element that tips the scales and makes a post viral.
Thanks for writing up this piece and sharing it with us.
Sweet post, Jon Morrow puts a lot into his posts, great to hear him speak when he does his webinars. Very personable. Don’t forget to have the subscribe net ready on your own website when your guest post does go viral. It helps to have a landing page setup just for that post specifically welcoming those readers, having like-minded posts and a clear way to subscribe. Best as Jon says to have an irresistible bribe opps I mean offer (free download for subscribing) and that way the viral guest post isn’t just a flash in the pan but you get a chance to convert those that do click over to your site after reading. Looking forward to the next post!
This is why I decided to once a month pick a topic for my readers to debate and talk about.Hoping to bring in people and envoke emotions but after this I might have to reconsider which emotions I am trying to bring out most of them arent inspiring as they should be.Whoops! I wish there was a class a person could take on how to write headlines because I am not very good at them! But I am so willing to learn after this.I always thought if you write good content you were supposed to keep and not put on others sites but I kind of get the reasoning
Thanks for sharing such in inspiring story. I was moved by the story when I read Jon’s detailed article.
Classic post with a timeless message: If you want a response from people, if you want traffic, if you want money, you HAVE GOT TO PROVIDE VALUE. This has been true for all of human history. Give and you will receive. It’s soooooo simple. (And sure there are other factors that contribute to success but providing value is where it either starts or stops.)
From one blogger to another, I loved the post Ahmed. Keep it up!
I very much enjoyed your article Ahmed. I have taken some training from John and he truly understands the ins and out of getting his content seen. The one thing I struggle with when talking to people is the concept of “viral”. Everyone wants their post to be read and read by a lot of people. Everyone dreams of the viral post. Unfortunately, I believe that is denegrating content creation.
Instead of thinking of the story or delivering the content their readers want to read, there seems to be a trend towards creating viral content. If the mindset is on viral content, the real message often gets lost. Going viral should not be an objective, it should be a surpise outcome if it happens. It should never drive the content but be a byproduct of it.
I tell my clients everyday, that the numbers are nice but they don’t matter as long as the right people are reading it.
Using Emotions on your Writing will help people identify and put themself in your Shoes. Compelling phrases, positive writing and emotive stories are an excellent path for making a Good Article.
When trying to figure out what post could potentially become viral, you should also go back to the niche of your blog. Most every niche out there has a community of fans. These fans run into problems and many of them come with no solutions. If you could tap into the problems, especially the major ones and figure out an easy and accurate solution for them – you could easily turn a post into a viral post. Great article and thanks for sharing it!
Great Work Ahmed,
Really enjoyed reading this post. This is very inspirational as well as educational. I was not aware of Jon morrow best post till i read your post here. I think by writing this post you kind of rekindle Jon morrow best post.
Interesting. Never before heard of this guy. I believed he was much bigger than that. Is he the person in the photo?
I not only enjoyed this article I am also going back to click links included in the article. There’s just too much good information here to stop at the end of the article!