I'm going to tell you about the very first rule I created for myself when I started blogging.
Following this rule helped me grow my readership amazingly fast.
Before I do, though, I have to give you a bit of a warning.
The “rule” has a bad word in it, and in this post, I'm going to say that bad word a lot of times.
(I used to use bad words a lot, as part of my branding, which I talk about here. Why did I stop? Well, my Virgo kid learned to read and he, uh… didn't approve.)
(“Didn't approve” is a nice way of saying that he read my blog one day and looked kind of green and blanched at the same time and I was pretty sure he was too traumatized to cry.)
(That was not a joke, in case you were wondering.)
Anyway, if you're cool with that, we'll continue.
When you're making content, it can be hard to get attention.
When you get attention, it can be hard to keep it.
You're not just competing for attention with peers, colleagues, and competitors. You're competing with Facebook and Pinterest and Netflix and Candy Crush Soda Saga. (I'm looking at you, Mom.)
You need an edge.
I knew I needed an edge, and so I created my rule.
It's called “The Holy Shit Factor”.
It goes a little something like this:
It doesn’t have to be, “Holy shit, that was the best thing I've ever read.” It just has to be “Holy shit”.
… I never thought about it like that before!
… is she reading my mind?
… I needed to hear that today!
… she's right!
… she's insane!
… she's ridiculous!
… she's lost it!
… that must have been a lot of work!
… that would NEVER work!
… that might actually work!
There are tons of ways you can do it.
I told myself, way back in the day, that I was not going to create ANY content that couldn't at least theoretically make someone say, “Holy shit!”
Sometimes it was, “… that was amazing.” (See: Write Like It Never Happened.)
Occasionally it was, “… I can't believe she said that.” (6 Things They Mean When They Say They Have No Money ruffled a feather or two.)
Most often it was, “… what is wrong with that woman?” (I really don't know what I was thinking with this one.)
I needed an edge …
… and the rule gave me one.
Case studies! Examples! Awesome role models!
Now, you're going to want examples that aren't about marketing, so I have devised a case study.
If there's anyone online doing this well, it's this dude.
(Also, he's very attractive, and his blog is pretty to look at.)
Meet Steve Kamb, chief Nerd at NerdFitness.com.
Long story short, Steve's a nerd. He likes fitness. He likes helping people get fit. He particularly likes helping his fellow nerds get fit.
Voila, Nerd Fitness.
Let's look at some of his “Holy shit…” content.
First, and probably the most important under the circumstances, is, “Holy shit, he IS a nerd.” Nerds need nerd cred, and he's demonstrating that in spades with posts like these:
- Can You Complete The Green Arrow Workout? Save Star City!
- The Superhero Civil War Workout: Choose Iron Man or Captain America
- Struggling to Get Fit? Add Potions Before Your Boss Fight
Yeah. I know.
Second, any revealing “behind-the-scenes” or “back-in-the-day” stories are good for a “Holy shit, I had no idea!”
Third, and very popular (and easy for beginners to write), are “Holy shit, he's just like me!”
(Aside: Why is he talking about first dates on a fitness blog? Because he's AWESOME. Because it's his blog and he'll do what he wants with it and NOBODY IS THE BOSS OF HIM, INTERNET BRANDING POLICE.)
He does a lot of audience interactive stuff with his content, too, so there's plenty of “Holy shit, THEY'RE just like me.”
How Amy Gave Up Perfection and Lost 116 lbs
How Tim Walked His Way to a 50-Pound Weight Loss. Wait. WHAT!?
Tony’s Awesome Success Story: 4 Months, 46 Pounds Lost. Win.
(There are also like, 400 more. We could be at this all day.)
But where he really shines, and where I fell in love with him, is “Holy shit, I think I can do this.”
THAT'S what made him rich.
He teaches, via his own story, and LOTS of real world tips, how to overcome your hatred of vegetables. (How? By finding your own, custom “gateway vegetable“. His was asparagus, which unfortunately proves he and I will never be relationship compatible in the long-term.)
He has an Angry Birds Workout that, for reals, you can start TODAY. There's a star system and everything.
And in A Beginner’s Guide to the Gym: Everything You Need to Know? It was actually a BEGINNER'S guide. And it had… everything I needed to know.
Be like Steve.
You'll get rich.
So who else can you look to for good models?
Here are a few more that you can check out.
1) Lauren Hooker of Elle&Co does graphic design, Adobe Illustrator, and lots of other things I don't understand.
- An Inside Look at My Client Onboarding Process
- A Guide to Choosing Brand Colors, Fonts, and Graphics
- 28 Collateral Item Ideas for Your Creative Business
She's an excellent example of “… that was detailed”, “… she's really accessible”, and “… she's nice.” (Her tutorials, in-depth blog series, and monthly ElleChats are big factors in this.)
2) For a one-off example, Nina Hendrick created a tutorial called How We Painted Our Oak Cabinets And Hid The Grain that was so “Holy shit that was comprehensive”, it's been shared 115,000 times on Pinterest.
It runs five full blog pages, spawned a follow-up FAQ post, and subsequently got its own ebook. I can't even comprehend how much traffic this page must be getting, even two or three years after publication.
3) Athol Kay is a marriage coach I've been following for a long time. He's sparked some big “Holy shit” moments for me over the years. (Most notably, “Holy shit, this guy really understands women” and “Holy shit, I can't believe he actually went there.”)
Recently, though, he moved to video-only content, and I thought we were going to have to break up. Video's not my thing. But then?
He saved the day with “Holy shit, those are REALLY good transcripts.”
(Maybe don't look at that one at work, okay?)
(And Mom? Maybe don't look at all.)
Now, let's talk about YOU.
Now, it can be intimidating sometimes to look at awesome people creating awesome content. We can sometimes feel like we can't possibly create content that good.
I'm going to tell you right now, though… YES. YES, YOU CAN.
In order to create YOUR “Holy shit!” content, you need two things.
One, you need at least a basic content plan. (The 1-Hour Content Plan would be a good choice for this.)
Two, you need a SOLID brand.
If you don't have one, check out my quick and dirty, 10 second branding hack that will make every decision you ever make about 100 times easier.
It's called “The 200% Branding Solution“ and it's awesome.
It's what I used. It worked for me, and let's face facts – I'm a bit of an idiot.
So go check that out, and if you'd like more posts like these delivered straight to your inbox, click here to get on the IttyBiz Newsletter. (I probably won't swear as much there as I did in this post, but I make no promises.)