If you’re a writer, I’m sure you’ve grappled with the dreaded “writer’s block”.
The blank-page-blues virus paralyzes productivity, murders motivation and promotes procrastination. It mortifies newbies and seasoned pros.
I used to struggle with this dreaded virus and then I found a simple but supremely effective formula to banish the blank-page-blues.
And here’s the formula in 6 words: you move from writing to assembling.
Doesn’t matter whether you are publishing a 200-word email or a 4000-word definitive guide. You break your content down into individual elements and simply assemble them.
I didn’t come up with this system of assembling content, legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz introduced it. And once I’ve embraced this concept of assembling instead of writing, the writer’s block has never bothered me.
In this guide, I will share my methods and insights to assemble content, specifically digital content like long-form blog posts.
But the principles I share in this practical guide apply to all kinds of writing. Because they work like a road map to keep your writing on track.
So, are you ready to flash your middle finger to the pesky “writer’s block”? Awesome!
Let’s dive right in.
All blog posts consist of 4 main elements:
Let’s examine each element in detail, starting with the …
An engaging headline piques the interest of your readers enticing them to read your content. While a lousy one has them rushing for the back button.
On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy claimed David Ogilvy, the father of advertising.
Are these numbers true in the digital age? No one knows for sure. But one thing is certain: you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. So, coming up with a compelling headline is vital to your success.
How do you ensure your headlines never fall flat?
You lean on champion bloggers who’ve mastered the tricky art of winning headlines.
10 resources by rock-star bloggers to to help you level up your headline-writing game:
2. 51 Headline Formulas to Skyrocket Conversions (And Where to Use Them) — Beat the blank-page-blues by embracing copywriting formulas and templates. In this Sumo-sized guide, Sarah Peterson hands out 51 headline writing formulas for more traffic, share and conversions.
3. 7 More Sure-Fire Headline Templates That Work — Brian Clark, being the founder of Copyblogger, knows a thing or two about headlines. Use these 7 classic headline templates to kick-start the writing process.
4. 42 Fill-in-the-Blank Blog Post Headline Templates — Having trouble coming up with a killer headline for your freshly minted blog post? Karol K is here to help with 42 headline templates for inspiration.
5. 47 Headline Examples: Steal These Nifty Formulas from Popular Blogs — Does writing headlines induce a migraine? Fear not, Henekke delivers the perfect antidote with 10 tried-and-tested headline formulas.
6. 10 Ways to Exploit Human Nature and Write Amazingly Appealing Headlines — Chances are your headlines don’t exploit your audience’s human nature enough. Robert van Tongeren illustrates why you must write headlines like a skilled manipulator and offers 10 sure-fire ways to write appealing headlines.
7. 58+ Headline Formulas: The Ultimate Non-Copywriter’s Guide to Writing Headlines That Get the Clicks — David Risley’s guide offers step-by-step instructions on how to craft headlines that get clicked. These 58 formulas give you everything you need to know about writing effective headlines.
8. 30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails — Kevan Lee shares the ultimate headline formula. This brilliant resource boasts of 30+ formulas to kick-start your creativity.
9. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer — Once you’ve crafted your headline, fire up this FREE tool and get instant feedback.
10. Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer — Decipher the emotional impact of your headline using this free tool.
Follow the tips in these 10 resources and headlines will not intimidate you anymore.
Now that you’ve grasped how to seize your reader’s attention with enticing headlines, let’s move to the next element of your content which is your…
Introduction – Hook Readers with an Incentive to Devour Your Content.
Sure, your headline is vital but a captivating intro is equally important. Your intro should answer the question: Why should I read this?
Because one question always remains at the forefront of your reader’s mind: What’s in it for me? If your intro doesn’t offer a clear compelling reason to your readers to stick around, you’ve lost them.
So, make sure your introductory paragraph cuts right to the chase and lists the key benefit of reading the article (remember, your readers are lazy and distracted). Your audience uses the intro to judge whether reading the content is worth their time. And your job as a skilled writer is to make that judgement effortless.
Imagine your readers are lazy as a billionaire’s last-born son; convey a clear incentive to keep ‘em reading. Don’t expect your readers to work hard. They won’t.
One Warning: Your content must deliver what you promise in the introduction. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
Else your credibility goes for a toss. And losing credibility = marketing suicide.
Now that you know why a crafting a pithy, benefit-rich intro is paramount.
Checkout 15 resources to build your intro-writing muscles:
2. A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Compelling Article Introduction — Engaging intros boost reader engagement and position you as a phenomenal writer. Here’s a guide to master the fine art of effective introductions.
3. Here’s How to Write an Introduction (with Examples and Tips) — Karen Hertzberg from Grammarly warns that you have 15 seconds to snag your reader’s attention. She also reveals 5 methods to overcome that daunting statistic by composing an engaging intro.
4. 5 Easy Ways to Write an Irresistible Introduction — Dan Shewan is a master of creating irresistible introductions. In this post, he shares 5 easy-to-follow methods of crafting compelling intros with examples.
5. The Ultimate Guide to Writing Blog Post Introductions — Neil Patel knows a thing or two about writing solid openings, here he’s broken down a blog post introduction into 3 important elements. A must-read resource with loads of data to back-up his claims.
6. How to Captivate Your Readers: 3 Ways to Craft Irresistible Opening Lines — A persuasive opening makes your content irresistible. Henneke shares 3 ways to begin with a bang and captivate your readers.
7. How to Write an Introduction: A Simplified Guide — The main of job your intro: connect with your reader and explain the benefits of reading what you’ve written. Braden Becker simplifies writing the intro and shares 5 killer examples.
8. 7 Ways to Write Better Opening Paragraphs for Your Blog Posts — Barry Feldman lists seven methods the pros use to seize the reader’ attention and inspire them to keep reading.
9. How to Write Spellbinding Introductions by Shamelessly Copying the Pros — Writing amazing introductions is a tough gig, and the last thing you need is puzzling advice. Shane Arthur teaches you how to reverse-engineer great writing, specifically great introductions.
12. Suck Your Readers In: 4 Types of Openings for “Sticky” Content — 4 techniques that convert weak introductions to strong openings.
13. How to Rev Up Your Article from the Start — Can thinking like a cartoonist rev up your intros and attract readers to your writing? YES, says Sean D’Souza offering a different angle at writing openings.
14. 5 Writing Experts Explain How to Write a Blog Post Introduction — Only skilled writers nail the perfect blog introduction regularly. In this resource 5 experts explain their methods to navigate the tricky blog post intros.
15. 11 Principles for Writing the Perfect Blog Introduction — Best part of this superb resource featuring 11 principles to create the perfect blog opening? The detailed explanation of each principle with illustrated images, from Will Blunt.
Hone your chops at the strategies you’ve discovered in these 15 resources to expedite your mastery of captivating introductions.
Now we move to the heart of your content, which is the …
Body – Boost Credibility by Delivering on Your Promises
Once you’ve set the scene with an engaging headline and followed it up with a captivating introduction. It is time to get to the meat of your message – the body.
Here you must fulfill all promises made in the headline and the introduction.
Here’s the deal:
If your content doesn’t deliver the promised value, you lose credibility in a hurry. And you don’t have a prayer of influencing your readers if they don’t trust you.
Remember: The #1 job of your body is to deliver the benefits you’ve promised through your headline and intro. So, steer clear of shady tactics like click-baity headlines and hype-fuelled introductions. They do more harm than good.
Now, I can’t give you any specific tips about the body of your article or blog post without knowing the subject. But there are specific elements you can use to elevate the quality of your content.
The best part: These elements are topic-neutral. They will work their magic in any niche. Doesn’t matter whether your industry is marketing, gardening or parenting.
You can put these elements to use right-away and boost the readability of your content.
Let’s look at these elements in turn; the first one is the…
Subhead – Trusty Tool to Convert Scanners into Readers
Truth be told: Doesn’t matter how amazing your content is, most readers just skim or scan through your content.
A study by HubSpot concluded that 43% of readers skim blog posts.
And your job—as a skilled writer—is to turn those scanners into readers.
Benefit-rich subheads do a great job of enticing scanners into reading your content.
Here are 3 resources to boost your subhead-writing game:
1. How to Write Subheads that Hook (and Re-hook) Your Readers — Pamela Wilson explains how subheads perform three jobs simultaneously. Follow her lead and learn the skill of writing subheads that your audience.
2. The No-Nonsense Guide to Writing Online Headlines and Subheads — Henneke teaches a straight-forward method composing headlines and subheads for webpages
3. The Ultimate Guide to Writing Irresistible Subheads — Subheads that hook your readers is the recommended cure for content scanning. Gary Korisko warns you against 3 subhead blunders and 5 clear steps to supercharged subheads.
Now before moving to the next element of the body, a quick detour.
I want to explain the importance of breaking up text with visual variety in your writing.
Turns out, variety is not only the spice of life, it is also the spice of writing.
With 2 million plus blog posts published daily, you cannot afford to be boring. And my go-to strategy to avoid boredom and monotony in my writing is this: sprinkling visual variety in my content by elements like…
These elements pump up the visual appeal of your content as they break the monotony of text in your content.
By using visual elements, you are adding the power of contrast to your content. Making it enjoyable to read.
And now I will reveal how you can piggyback on ‘the power of contrast’ to make your content visually appealing.
Moving to the next element of the body, which is the…
Paragraph — Shed High School Paragraph Writing Rules
Forget everything your grammar teacher told you about paragraphs.
For digital content, keep your paragraphs to three sentences maximum. But having all your paragraphs of the same length appears monotonous (which is code for boring).
To break this monotony and harness the power of contrast, I encourage you to use one-line or even one-word paragraphs.
Here are 3 resources to spice up your paragraphs and steer clear of boring your audience:
1. How to Write a Paragraph in 2019 (Yes, the Rules Have Changed) — One of the biggest turnoffs for online readers is a poor paragraph structure. Mike Blankenship explains why you must forget everything your grammar teacher taught you about writing paragraphs.
2. The Art of the Paragraph — Publishing poorly crafted paragraphs will only hurt your bond with your readers. Jon Morrow gives you a 5-question checklist to help you keep your paragraphs in tip-top shape.
Now that you’ve mastered the art of writing paragraphs for the web, let’s turn to the next element…
Sentence — Vary Sentence Length to Nix Boredom
Like paragraphs, it is advisable to use short sentences for web content. Aim for an average length of 12-14 words.
But this again opens the problem of monotony.
If you use short sentences exclusively. Your writing appears choppy. So, you need to embrace the occasional long sentence between short ones and to add rhythm and variety to your writing.
Warning: Make sure your longer sentences are clear and easily understood. Clarity trumps every other writing rule or strategy.
The mastery of composing delicious sentences is paramount to your success as a writer.
These 3 resources will help construct delightful sentences:
1. The Wild and Crazy Guide to Writing Sentences — The ability to craft good sentences is the skill that separates great bloggers from ordinary ones. Michelle Russell shares 6 ways to write epic sentences.
2. 6 Simple Exercises to Help You Write Better Short Sentences [Free Worksheet] — Demian Farnworth shows you how to write short sentences with 6 easy and effective exercises. Don’t forget to download the FREE worksheet.
3. How to Captivate Readers with a Dazzlingly Beautiful Loooong Sentence — Most bloggers hate long sentences. But (used judiciously) they are an invaluable tool to add variety in your writing. Read this guide to understand the process of writing a long sentence to express an idea with power and rhythm.
Now that composing delicious sentences is right up your alley, let’s move to the next element…
Images — Best Bet to Introduce Visual Variety in Your Content
To use a tired cliché’: An image is worth a thousand words.
Images are an obvious tool to disrupt the monotony of text in your writing.
Here are 5 easy-to-implement strategies to perk up your content with images.
1. Instruct with Simple Diagrams:
Need to explain a process or a relation? Consider using simple diagrams.
2. Create Charts to Visualize Data:
Referencing a data-set from a study? Perfect opportunity to introduce charts or graphs to your content.
3. Use Screenshot’s to Explain:
Show don’t tell. If you’re referencing a blog post to explain something, take a screenshot and annotate it. This makes your readers’ job easy. And adds visual appeal to your content.
4. Turn Quote’s into Images:
WordPress provides a Pullquote element which adds visual variety. But if your content has no scope for images, then maybe consider turning quotes into images.
5. Explain with Memes:
This is an easy win. You can use memes to make a point or add a dash of humor to a serious topic.
I suggest you proactively search for opportunities to invigorate your content with images.
Let’s move the next element of the body you can use to create contrast…
Bullet Points – Use Them to Inject Visual Appeal to Your Content
Bullet points are very popular in sales pages. They are also wildly effective in blog posts.
You can use bullet points when describing a process with three or more steps. They also work great in introductions and conclusions.
I like using bullet points because:
- They are easy to digest.
- They capture your readers interest.
- They break the monotony of sentences and paragraphs.
Need inspiration to come up with fascinating bullet points?
Fast track your bullet writing skills with these 3 resources:
1. 5 Ways Strategic Bullet Points Make You a Stronger Content Marketer — Brian Clark teaches you how to write exceptional bullet points to become a better blogger.
2. How to Write Bullet Points That Sell Like Crazy: [Free Bullet Point Worksheet] — Discover 21 bullet types you can use immediately in this useful resource from Nate McCallister.
You can learn a lot about writing by studying the work of seasoned copywriters.
I’ve already explained the advantages of using bullet points, now I will reveal another secret-tool from the arsenal of old-school copywriters.
Transitional Phrases — Go-To Strategy of Copywriters to Make Their Content Flow
Long-form content works only if it flows effortlessly from paragraph to paragraph or you risk boring (read losing) your readers.
Fortunately, pro copywriters (who write long sales pages) have fixed this daunting problem with a simple solution to supercharge their copy.
And the solution is: using transitional words and phrases to begin paragraphs.
If you can make your content flow, you give yourself the best chance of turning scanners into readers and hopefully readers into customers.
Transitional words and phrases are a battle-tested strategy to make reading your content feel effortless.
Here are 3 resources to help you prepare a swipe file of these powerful words:
502 Phrases That Magically Transform Forgettable Blog Posts into Irresistible Content — This amazing resource gives you 502 transitional phrases you can use in your content.
Distracted Readers? Use These 6 Transition Tricks for a Smooth Reading Experience — Henneke shows why creating an engaging reading experience is paramount. She also lists 6 transition tricks to keep your readers engaged.
How to Use Transitional Words and Phrases to Make Your Writing Flow (with Examples) — Rob Powell teaches you 13 types of transitional words and phrases that will make your writing flow like a champion copywriter.
Now, that we’ve uncovered two secrets of copywriters, let’s move to the final one…
Power Words — Infuse Your Copy with Power of Emotion
Top copywriters know: We are emotional beings. The more emotion your copy makes your prospects feel, the more likely they are to stick around. Power words are a sure-fire way of tapping into your readers’ emotions.
Blog writers must use power words that elicit strong feelings. And using them will revolutionize your writing.
Here are 2 resources to add hundreds to power words to your writing arsenal:
1. 172+ Power Words: How to Write Persuasive Business Content (As Proven by Science) — Weak words have a shallow meaning and on the flip side, power words have strong meanings. Henneke gives you 172 magic words to make your writing persuasive.
2. 600+ Power Words That Pack a Punch and Convert like Crazy — Want to give your writing an emotional punch? Then take Jon Morrow’s advice and use power words in your content. This resource has 600+ power words to pack your writing with emotion.
Now you know why power words are crucial and how to add them to your content.
We now turn our attention to the final element of your blog post…
Conclusion — The Importance of Finishing with a Flourish
Most amateur writers run out of steam by the time they reach the conclusion. This is a major mistake.
As maverick copywriter John Carlton articulates, “The money-shot is in the close”.
When you end your blog-post, you want inspire your readers to take some specific action like:
- Subscribe to your list
- Comment on your post
- Buy a product
- Signup for a service
Here are 5 resources to fine tune your conclusion writing skills:
2. 8 Tips for Writing More Powerful Conclusions — If your conclusion is weak, then the whole piece falls flat. Neil Patel breaks down the art of writing powerful conclusions for your web content with 8 easy to follow tips.
3. A Rabble-Rouser’s Rules for Writing Kick-Ass Closing Paragraphs — Do your blog-posts fizzle out and leave no lasting impression on your audience? Henekke lists 5 rules to fix this problem.
4. 5 Powerful Ways to End a Blog Post (and Fire Up Your Audience) — Many bloggers don’t bother with a conclusion. Ending the post without a designated conclusion is a marketing blunder. Here’s what to do instead: 5 options to invigorate your readers by ending on a high.
5. How to Go Out in Style with Your Ending — Want to close your article or blog post like a champ? Brian Clark shares 5 effective ways to wrap things up in style.
What have you learnt so far?
- How to craft an engaging headline.
- How to compose a captivating introduction.
- How to harness the power of contrast in your body
- And how to end your blog post with an inspirational conclusion.
Assemble these 4 elements and you’re all set to hit the publish button, right?
Once you’re done writing, what you have is the first-draft. You can’t publish that without editing.
You see, all top writers have an ace up their sleeves. And that ace is…
Editing – The Difference Between Mediocre and Marvelous Content
Editing is where the magic happens. All top writers employ editors to proof-read and polish their work.
If you don’t have the luxury of hiring an editor, the next best thing is: self-editing.
Editing your content is not an admission of failure but a systematic process of clarifying your message.
Follow the tips in the 5 resources and start self-editing like a pro:
1. Self-Editing: How to Polish Your Words Until They’re Smooth and Shiny — Ready to roll up your sleeves and self-edit? Henekke has you covered with actionable advice to master self-editing.
2. Proofreading: 7 Editing Tips That’ll Make You a Better Writer in 2019 — Editing isn’t rocket science; Shane Arthur shows you how to edit like a pro. Must-read resource.
3. 4 Delightful Editing Tips to Make Your Words Dazzle and Dance — Savvy editing creates a smooth and enjoyable reading experience for your readers. Explore 4 ways to make your content sparkle.
4. 25 Editing Tips for Tightening Your Copy — If you don’t have the luxury of hiring an expensive editor to review your personal blog post, this list of 25 editing tips will make self-editing a breeze.
5. The 5-Step Revision Process: How to Turn a Shitty Draft into Shiny Content — If you look at your first draft with despair, this article will show you how to turn a lame draft into stellar content.
Follow and practice the directions in these 5 resources and you will edit like a champ in a hurry.
Let’s backup to the all-important question. How does assembling copy cure the “writer’s block” virus?
This is how:
From now on, before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. You give you brain specific instructions such as:
- Write an engaging headline
- Craft a compelling introduction
- Add benefit-rich subheads
- Fix the flow of paragraphs
and so on…
This way you give your brain specific directions and assemble your content piece by piece. This method is far superior to sitting down thinking of writing a blog post in one go, without knowing where to start.
Second, what you are writing is just the first draft, so don’t worry making it PERFECT. It will be perfect after the editing process.
Last, be fearless while writing your first draft. If you fret over making your content perfect or bulletproof, you will end up a serial procrastinator. So be bold and start working on that first draft already.
If you made it this far here’s a gift from me: My 10-step editing check list. It ties up everything you’ve learnt in this guide.
Remember: The #1 principle for editing is clarity. First and foremost, you edit for clarity. So your readers don’t think you mean one thing when you mean another.
Once you have edited for clarity, go through the following checklist.
If you use my 10-step checklist, the quality of your content will astound you.
The best part: You don’t even have to write anything new; you can use the checklist on your current blog posts and give them a face-lift. The quality of your content will thrill your audience. And they will most likely reward you with positive comments, likes and shares.
Parting thoughts: Just like this writing system, I’ve also developed a research system.
If, you struggle with research let me know in the comments section and I will publish a guide that will boost the quality of your research and slash your research-time by half.
I look forward to reading your comments and replies.