Do you want to be a fantastic blogger? To share articles that have an impact on those who read them? To create a catalog of blog posts that you can be proud of?
Maybe you aren’t sure you have it in you to become a successful blogger. Maybe you think you don’t have the skills, the life experience, or the expertise to share content that significantly changes people’s lives.
Maybe you’re afraid that success as a blogger comes down to luck, or being friendly with the right people, or the ability to clickbait readers, and you’ll only be wasting your precious time and energy.
Well, you’re wrong.
And I’m not telling you this because you are a beautiful, unique snowflake whose particular set of experiences, feelings, and ideas are going to be the stuff history books are made of. No. I’m telling you this because blogging is a process.
You can get better. A lot better. You can level up, learn and develop new skills, and build an engaged audience.
All it takes is seven simple steps.
Step 1: Find 10 Blogstars and Analyze Them
You must do this to develop a strong reader personality. It’s not enough to read a lot, whenever, whatever, but you must have a system.
The first step towards becoming a better blogger is developing killer taste.
You must do this because you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know the elements of a successful blog posts, you don’t know the secret ingredients of an engaging article.
This is why you must take active steps to develop your taste, you must feed the inner reader with the best content until it becomes a connoisseur. And it order to do that, you must develop a proper system for finding, reading, and analyzing the best content on the web.
Now, let’s define a blogstar.
A blogstar is an article that performs extremely well. Not only does it go viral, but it’s also what some call “evergreen.”
It’s relevant, epic, and shares unique insights that provide real value, superbly defined actionable steps, and is spiced up with enough inspirational takeaways to make readers actually take action.
It’s important that you find 10 such articles in your niche/topic.
Because each niche is different, both in terms of content, but also when it comes to headlines (the clickbaitiness of said headline, a preference for listicles, etc.), the way the writing is presented, and the formatting of the articles themselves.
While I am a big fan of reading a lot of content and letting your subconscious decide on what works and what doesn’t, as you feed your brain, I believe that first you must develop a system of analyzing content, while you take conscious decisions regarding your own articles.
That being said, how do you find those blogstars?
Well, first of all, find the most popular bloggers in your niche. Then you as go through their articles, you will notice that some of them have a lot of likes and comments. More than the usual.
Those are your blogstars. Those are their best performing articles.
A couple of things you should analyze:
- The headline
- The subtitle, if any
- The featured image
- The introduction
- The formatting of the article
- The ending
Do your best to get a feel for how these six elements work together, how the author took advantage of different formatting options (bullet points, lists, italics, etc.) to make the reading experience as enjoyable as possible.
Let’s analyze one of my most popular articles.
Is the headline enticing? Does it state a benefit for the reader?
What about the featured image? Is it relevant?
What about the introduction?
For instance, a great way to make a list post stand out from the crowd (as there are countless list posts available these days) is by writing subheads that stop readers from scrolling too fast.
For instance, number four on my list of seven habits is:
4. They often vacation on Someday Island too.
You can read the post and notice other things I did right with it here:
This first step not only helps you develop killer taste as a reader, but also levels up the inner editor.
As you read some of the best content on the web, you might find certain mistakes or things you would have done differently. Don’t dismiss this voice, because it’s going to help you a lot in the future.
Step 2: Write 10 Blog Posts
There’s a plot twist to this.
Don’t think, just write.
After you’ve analyzed your ten blogstars, don’t try to come up with a specific framework for writing an article.
The trick is not to blindly follow a recipe, but to internalize the elements of a fantastic blog post.
A couple of things you should consider during this stage of the process:
- Give yourself permission to be bad. Seriously. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by trying to write a brilliant first draft. Don’t focus on quality, but rather on quantity: do your best to write those ten articles as fast as possible.
- Write and then write. Write your ten articles one after the other. Take a break if you need to, but don’t edit, don’t read other articles, just sit at your desk, write, take a break, and write some more.
- You either sit down and write or stare at a blank wall. This trick teaches you two things: you’ve got to finish stuff, and you’ve got to use boredom to your advantage. If you eliminate distractions, and you can only do one of two things, you will soon begin to punch those damn keys, even if you don’t feel like it.
The main points of this exercise are to finish stuff and focus on quantity. That’s it.
Give yourself permission to write crappy articles, and you get rid of that inner critic posing as an editor.
This step is all about developing a strong inner writer, and this requires that you be a bit of a rebel.
Don’t think and write like a reader, don’t write and edit like an editor. Don’t think, just write.
Step 3: Analyze Your 10 Articles
Now it’s time to think. Now you can focus on the other side of your brain, the editor, to tell you if your work retains any of the qualities you’ve noticed in those blogstars you’ve analyzed.
The reason for doing this, and why I didn’t advise you to come up with a framework based on your analysis or why you shouldn’t write your articles with a viral piece of blog post open in another browser tab, is that if you mechanically follow a recipe, even if you do everything right, you will still fail.
There’s a reason I consider blogging to be an art, and that has to do with the emotional undertone of a certain article.
If you just write, without thinking, without that pesky editor whispering in your ear, then odds are that you will add quite a bit of emotion in your articles.
Now, as you analyze your articles, go through the same process you went through when analyzing those popular articles, while also letting your inner editor tell you what needs changing.
Be as ruthless as possible, but don’t overdo it. The goal is to be objective, not turn yourself into a tyrant.
Step 4: Edit and Publish Your Articles
Edit your articles according to the elements of highly successful articles you’ve written down during the first stage of this process, and then click on the green (or whatever color) button that says, “Publish.”
Now it’s time for the next step.
Step 5: Improvements to Be Made
Based on the feedback you receive on your articles, you can figure out which articles performed best.
Those are your mini-blogstars, so to speak. Analyze them as you did with the articles during step one.
Analyze them sentence by sentence, if you have the patience for it. Read them backwards one sentence at a time. Try to figure out what exactly you did right, but also what are the improvements to be made.
I recommend you do this to your best performing articles because it won’t feel like you have to bridge such a huge gap between the content you create and the one you consume.
Write down a list of potential improvements and steps to take.
The goal is to develop a routine that enables you to progress while you practice.
This is the inner coach, the voice that gently guides you towards mastery. It’s not as critical as the inner editor, it doesn’t tell you what doesn’t work, it just tells you what doesn’t work yet. That’s a big difference in mindset.
Here are some ways to improve your skills:
- If your headlines are weak, practice by writing 10 different headlines for each of your articles.
- Write a detailed guide on how to write a brilliant article. You don’t have to publish it. The goal is to pretend that you are the teacher teaching yourself, if that makes sense.
- Develop a routine in which you start an article with someone else’s words (a quote, someone else’s opening paragraph.)
- Create a framework based on the elements of one of the ten articles you analyzed in step one, then do quite the opposite. Publish this one, just for fun.
Depending on how often you publish and how long it takes you to write and edit an article, this process can take a while.
But that’s not the point.
The idea is that you should figure out fun ways to improve your writing, while internalizing the elements of writing a brilliant blog post.
Step 6: Do It All Over Again
Now, it’s back to step one. Find 10 blogstars and analyze them…
The idea is that at a certain point, after you read and analyze about 100 different blog posts, and after you publish 100 articles of your own, you will be able to develop a skill that allows you to take the final step in becoming a fantastic blogger.
Step 7: Blend and Refine
I got this idea from a painter. I once went to his studio, and he was working on one of his pieces.
He explained his process, how he draws his initial sketch, and then… well… he made a big mess of paint on his canvas.
Then he said, “Now it’s time to blend and refine.”
And he did just that, turning that mess of paint into a phenomenal painting.
The truth is that most of our creative process takes place in our subconscious mind, and that’s a good thing.
The more we think, the more we let self-doubt and that inner critic dictate the way we work, and we’re going to struggle to create meaningful work.
But as we internalize the steps we need to take to create better content, we can let go…
This is something that psychologists call, “subconscious mastery.”
When you become so good at driving a car, that you can listen to music, talk on the phone, and use your elbow to steer. Something like that.
But when you were first learning how to drive, you could only focus on driving.
Blogging is the same. You need to develop subconscious mastery, thus allowing you to come up with a “blend and refine” step in which your subconscious mind takes over.
This means that by developing the inner artist you’ll spend a lot less time and mental energy editing your articles.
These seven steps, if done right, should allow you to:
- Develop your inner reader by consuming the best content in your niche, while taking notes and ideas on how to best write your content.
- work on your inner writer by focusing on writing. Don’t edit, don’t try to follow a framework. Don’t think, just write.
- Develop the inner editor. You edit according to the framework of the blogstars you’ve read, while doing your best to retain your authentic voice.
- Next comes the inner coach, guiding you towards mastery, giving you a list of improvements to be made.
- You do this over and over again until you develop another persona, the artist. The artist has reached subconscious mastery of his process. He “blends and refines” to his heart’s desire, intuitively knowing what makes a fantastic article.
I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t give this 7 steps process a try.
You can tweak it to better suit your needs and your workflow, add and change steps. Figure out more and more creative ways in which you can improve.
And sooner or later, you will develop the subconscious mastery to be able to write brilliant articles faster than ever before.
As you develop your skills, you start to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, for what your audience wants to read, for what types of headlines your readers react to, and what kind of voice you should use.
The process towards developing the master blogger within starts with the conscious decision to analyze the patterns of success that are readily available to us.