Three Basic Elements of Content that Spreads

Three Basic Elements of Content that Spreads

Reader Comments (62)

  1. I would like to add 3 more keywords (or phrases) – Teaching, Problem solving and Sharing own experience. When your posts honestly based on these three pillars, people bound to glue to it.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. From my experience, great writers (and bloggers) are great teachers; they solve problems and allow me to profit from their experience, failures, and successes. Thanks for the addition, Nandita.

    • Absolutely right Nandita…One more thing the more viral or hot topic is on your blog the most it will help you get spreaded…
      Be true to what you post and it will surely be loved by visitors…:)

  2. This is powerful and great stuff! I always believe that being vulnerable and really opening up makes others want to share, open, and feel comfortable doing. Its like this in any circle, no really want to go first and if they do they really don’t want to go real deep. But once that first person steps out and really opens up, wow it’s powerful to see how people really connect and open from that one person being vulnerable.

    Great articles! This is one to bookmark and come back to when your having problems thinking of ideas to write for (not that any of us would ever have that problem).

    • I just witnessed this in a classroom. Dead quiet, 35 students, first day of class. One student opened up, and voila!, it was like a chain reaction. The entire room was buzzing with conversation. It all started with one daring person to be vulnerable, to share something, to connect, to make someone laugh. Amazing.

  3. Thanks for the list Paul. #3 and the TED talk and book by Simon Sinek really had an impact on my way of thinking. The golden circle and his explanation of how it applies, specifically to Apple, was very eye-opening. It explains why Apple has raving fans and most other computer companies don’t. If we apply these concepts to our content, imagine the how viral our content could be and how many raving fans we could create, just by starting with why.

  4. “Good storytelling is a skill that’s only mastered by doing it relentlessly”
    And by being okay with screwing up. Chances are 90% if what you write isn’t going to change anyone’s world. But every time you sit down you learn a little bit more about yourself as a writer and your audience.

  5. Really like the post Paul. Especially the focus on vulnerability. It’s an aspect of compelling content that isn’t often discussed but can drastically up the authenticity of your writing.

    Thanks a lot for your post. Will be sharing via Twitter (@wiredimpact) later today.

  6. This hit home with me: Vunerability, Storytelling and Why. My next blog post will definitely have those in it. You are SO right, practice makes perfect. So true when it comes to writing. Thanks for an awesome post!!

    Deb 🙂

  7. Good morning!

    That was an excellent post. Thank you for breaking it down to three elements. The Big Why was a real refresher for me as I head into my marketing for the New Year.



  8. 3 things for ANY kind of writing indeed. Cannot seem like a robot, need to write as if you are a human being.

  9. So simple – in theory – and succinct. Love it. For anyone feeling overwhelmed by the principles, it helped me to step back and realize that this isn’t just about your life and your story and it doesn’t really have anything to do with what I would call sensationalizing. Applying these sounds principles can be as simple as sharing the ‘everyday parables’ that make you vulnerable, tell a good story and answer the why. It can be an object, an daily routine, a person or an emotion that you put into story form. The simple, daily experiences are what add up to really make the story of life significant, right? Use Evernote and start logging those ah-ha moments.

  10. Thanks, Paul! Very much enjoyed the post! I just wrote those three pillars down on a sticky note and I am putting it on my desk. Any advice on improving my storytelling skills? Any tips, resources, or book recommendations are welcome! I am actually working with my fellow business partners to get better at storytelling by just starting to write on a blog we setup ( if you’re interested). Like you said, practice, practice, practice and that’s what we are trying to do!

    I also loved your tip on just pretending like I am telling my best friend about my day, experience, or thought – I can see how that could definitely help me to write in the simple, straightforward, and vulnerable way that is most effective for blogging.

    Thanks again!

    • For me it comes down to practicing it daily and reading books beyond your comfort zone. Write about anything, really. It doesn’t have to be published. As long as you exercise the muscle it will grow. I’ve read mostly non-fiction, and yes although some of the writers that I read were excellent at story telling, I learned a lot of lessons by reading fiction and some of the classics like The Great Gatsby (a personal favorite, I wrote the book over twice.)
      Three quotes from Stephen Kings book On Writing:

      “Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story. Description begins with visualization of what it is you want the reader to experience.”

      “The clear to good description begins with clear seeing and ends with clear writing, the kind of writing that employs fresh images and simple vocabulary.”

      “Practice the art, always reminding yourself that your job is to say what you see, and then to get on with your story.”

  11. Being vulnerable and your “why”. Two hugely important elements of an effective entrepreneur. I like what Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it”. It is so true. Unless you have a big why, you better have a big bank account because you will be severely challenged to be a big success.

  12. Vulnerable is an amazing word. But more it is an amazing emotion because we may feel that we are vulnerable but others may miss seeing our vulnerability.
    I remember a time when a friend was sharing her story and the group we were in told her to shut up because her openness was making them uncomfortable.
    The nice thing with writing vulnerable blogs is that people can read it if they chose to. They want to know the why and accept your vulnerability as helpful.
    One thing when you do share, make sure you give some hope at the end or people may read and feel depressed.
    Thanks for sharing your story Paul

    • Yes, I love the word and I love what Brene Brown has done with it. It’s one of those words that made me dig deeper, and in turn, affect my life and writing in ways I couldn’t imagine.

  13. Excellent post Paul, good point thanks for sharing,

    I think vulnerability leads to credibility in the eye of the reader.

    This is what draws people in the most in my opinion, without trust what do you have?

  14. Sharing the tender spots is anything but easy, but definitely worth it if you want your posts to have long term popularity. As an example, the pieces I wrote about my struggle with mental illness are still often searched for, even though it’s been 4 years since I posted them.

    • I absolutely agree. I’ve noticed the more vulnerable I was in my writing the more the audience connected with it. Very frightening but so worth it.

  15. Well, based on the “Why?” talk, we should really reverse those, and put Why first, and maybe even vulnerability second, followed by storytelling. Remember, and good reporter doesn’t write a great story, a good reporter makes them great.

  16. I always say people follow people with passion and who polarize by using their opinions and story. It is what makes the “Why” memorable and also something people want to share. Stories, emotion AND why are the sign of a leader and just the why in my opinion is like a 6th grade teacher we all forget. Thanks Paul!

  17. Aha! I sort of knew why my best posts spread, but not in words concise enough to set a standard for the others. I make a career (two) of celebrating and encouraging the perfectly imperfect, so vulnerability is at the center. Thanks for helping me communicate that better in upcoming blog posts and articles. And thanks, too, for the archive of info I’ve been studying this past couple of weeks, putting together a marketing plan for my newish bookazine, 365 Being. Now, to quit reading for a bit and start implementing!

  18. Wow! Thanks for an excellent, straightforward post. I think sometimes writer types (possibly me!) can get caught up in trying too hard to write properly, editing out our own vulnerability. Love the Why, How, and What…keeps us on track. And I really appreciate the story you told about Seth Godin’s seminar. I think fear can be a good marker for vulnerability and pushing past it can result in authenticity and humility too.

    • I most definitely agree. It is also something that many won’t embrace simply because fear unmans them. Writing and analyzing at the same time (for me) is dangerous. I’ve been practicing the act of writing what I need to say and then returning to it later.

  19. Paul,

    I so enjoyed this post. At a glance it’s simple, succinct and engaging – but it’s also packed with loads of great content. I spent the first hour of my morning combing through your post, click each and every link, reading other posts, watching the video and taking notes. I’ve been criticized from time to time for my vulnerability in storytelling, but I’ve found that the number of people I connect with in doing so far outweighs cries from the naysayers.

    Thank you for sharing such a powerful message. Great way to start the day!

  20. all thress of these are great reminders! Sometimes I forget about the Why some times and and get caught on on producing content just to produce but I can see where staying focused on this is such a benefit. I have been struggling a little about my direction but I thin everyonce in a while I need to read the into post on my blog to reminde me of my course and the Why…maybe I should hang it up…?

  21. Thanks for sharing. The more open you are to your audience, in writing and conversations, the more captivated your audience will be by what you say. Best rule of life to follow!

  22. I would add one more element that comes from evolutionary understanding of our race. We have evolved to avoid death–to survive. And as a result we are drawn into any story about death or surviving near death. It’s why CSI-type programs and thrillers are so popular on our television sets.

  23. Paul,
    It’s a shame I came across this so late…but I guess better late than never. I really admire what you have to share, your advice on vulnerability and storytelling. I know you’ve learned these techniques from others, but you’ve put it into good practice. Thank you for sharing this with us.


  24. Thanks Paul, for the kick in the pants! It’s the motivation I need for better content in 2013 – and the only way I’ll meet some of my goals.

  25. Be a vulnerable storyteller. Strangely enough, this motivated me to go to a very painful place for an upcoming writing contest I’m entering! I’m fired up. Thank you!

    But yes, I will also use these tips in my freelance writing and blogging as well 🙂

  26. This was beautifully written, my friend.

    Among all the comments these days about how “reading is dead”, it makes me wonder what the future of writing will be as the internet becomes the primary device by which all culture is consumed. Honestly, I don’t think we have anything to be scared of, and this post really made me feel confident about that. I think that it is wonderful to be reminded that the fundamentals really haven’t changed at all, and probably never will.

  27. Paul, I, as others, was blown away by this post. It does seem to translate to other parts of life as well as writing. Certainly it gets to the idea that if you are expressing those things, you are authentic and human. And I agree that it is terrific teaching advice.

  28. I’m not sure I can count the ways in which I love this post. I think writers shy away from their vulnerability all too often. I know I do. But I find that my posts about fear, struggle, etc… are the ones that get the most response. They resonate.

    Writing, like life, is about being authentic. People respond to authenticity, even if it isn’t pretty or glamorous.

  29. Hey Paul,

    this is a great post – particularly because I like the number 3 (for too many reasons to go into here) – let’s just say 3 things to remember about… is something you’re more likely to remember – and I agree with all 3 of them (of course).

    So I’m curious now, what’s your Why? Paul?

    take care & best wishes,

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