Write better posts.
Go to any site about blogging and you’ll see some variation of this advice.
Need more traffic? Write better posts.
Want more comments? Write better posts.
And on the surface, it sounds like sage advice.
But when you think about it, it’s kind of like a track coach telling an athlete: “If you want to win an Olympic gold, run faster.”
Well thanks Captain Obvious, but the problem isn’t a lack of effort.
I mean, raise your hand if you’ve ever sat down in front of your computer and intentionally written a bad blog post.
Write better posts might be great advice for the occasionally lazy blogger with a gift from the writing gods, but what are the rest of us supposed to do?
You know, we mere mortals who are willing to work our butts off and spend the hours it takes to produce great content but need a little help with the how.
The good news is that those great writers and artists who seem to have had their talent handed down from above didn’t start out great.
In fact, many of them only got there by using a dumb technique that you can shamelessly steal.
And it’s so brain-dead simple, you’re going to wonder why the hell you didn’t work it out for yourself.
How Picasso Became the Most Famous Painter of the 20th Century
When you look at one of Picasso’s famous paintings, it’s hard to imagine anyone but the Spanish master himself creating those distinctive brush strokes.
His style is unmistakable. His talent undeniable.
It stands to reason that Picasso’s genius can only have been the result of a natural gift, right?
Would it surprise you to know Picasso honed his techniques and developed his unique style by copying the greats who came before him?
When he was 7 years old, Pablo Picasso was formally trained in figure drawing and oil painting by his father José.
José was a traditional, academic artist and instructor who believed that proper training required disciplined copying of the masters and drawing the human body from plaster casts and live models.
Slavishly reproducing the greats and experimenting with a variety of styles, theories, and ideas led to the revolutionary artistic accomplishments that brought Picasso his fame and wealth.
How Dan Kennedy Became the Most Sought-After Copywriter in the World
Once upon a time, a very average student called Dan Kennedy went to visit his career counselor to ask about internship opportunities.
The career counselor said there was nothing suitable for him at the blue chip companies, but she did know a man who needed some help with his direct marketing business.
That man’s name was Gary Halbert, arguably the greatest living copywriter at the time.
On his first day, Dan arrived at a simple white office with three tables. At one table, people were stuffing envelopes. At the next table, people were filling orders. And at the final table, he watched in awe as people counted stacks of money.
Dan turned to Gary Halbert and said: “I want to do what you do.”
Gary handed Dan a pile of sales letters 2 feet thick and told him: “Copy each of these letters by hand. And when you’re done, copy them again.”
It took two years for Dan to finish his assignment.
But did it work?
Today, if you want to hire Dan Kennedy to write a sales letter for you, it’ll cost you $100,000 up front plus a commission on each sale you make.
How Jon Morrow Became One of the Most Popular Bloggers On the Web
You may not know this, but Jon has a degree in English Literature. He often says this is the worst major an aspiring blogger can possibly pursue because an English Lit major is trained to write formally (read: boring).
When he first started out, Jon knew that if he wanted to build a popular blog, he would have to break these “good” writing habits in order to become a better blogger. Drawing on the lessons learned by Dan Kennedy and Picasso, he opened up Stephen King’s “On Writing” and began to copy the text word for word.
Did it work?
Today Jon is one of the most read and shared writers in the blogosphere.
And he still uses this brain-dead technique whenever he’s facing writers’ block.
You’re probably asking yourself: How can someone become a better writer or artist simply by copying the greats that came before?
The answer is muscle memory.
The Astonishing Power of Muscle Memory
Wikipedia says that muscle memory is “consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition.” When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.
For instance, if you’ve ever played a sport, you probably did a lot of drills. A professional baseball player will hit a ball off a tee thousands of times to focus on the mechanics of the swing.
When he steps up to the plate to face a ball at 90 miles an hour, his body knows exactly what to do without him even thinking about it.
His muscles remembered how to swing the bat.
The same thing is true for writing.
By copying the greats who have come before you, you’ll train your brain to pick up their cadence. You’ll learn how their words flow together. And eventually it will become second nature to write like them.
It’s Your Turn
It’s time for you to follow in the footsteps of the most popular bloggers and successful writers. It’s time to train your writing brain for greatness.
And you can do this in four simple steps.
1. Find a writer you enjoy reading and would like to copy. Here are some of my favorites:
- Gary Halbert – If you’re stuck on a headline idea, or want to get more people to subscribe to your email list, copy the Gary Halbert letters. Yes, he’s a copywriter, but copying these letters will turn you into a great blogger, too.
- Stephen King – A master story teller, copying Stephen King will help you tell a story more eloquently so you can relate to your readers and cultivate a loyal audience.
- Seth Godin – Seth’s brilliance is his brevity. He can take complex ideas and articulate them to the masses in under 100 words. Studying Seth will help you say more with less and become a master of the pithy sound bite.
- The Bloggess – If you’re looking to inject personality into your post, check out The Bloggess. She’s opinionated, controversial, and a fantastic blogger.
- Ben Settle – Smart bloggers know that email marketing and blogging go together like peanut butter and jelly. Ben Settle will show you how to write emails that get opened and inspire your audience to take action.
- Charles Bukowski – For more advanced bloggers, Charles Bukowski will help you develop a rhythm and cadence to your writing style.
2. Get your favorite pen and get some paper. I prefer using old-fashioned legal pads. But whatever works for you is fine.
3. Choose any piece of writing from your favorite writer or blogger and copy it by hand onto your pad. Once you’re done, copy another one. Do this for one full hour. Continue this same process every night for the next four months.
4. At the end of the fourth month, find an old post and re-write it so you can see just how much your writing has improved.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. As the saying goes, it’s simple, but it ain’t easy. Not everyone will put in the time and effort required to become a better writer.
It’s why a very small percentage of bloggers become popular.
But we‘re the lucky ones because we now know the secrets of the best writers and bloggers in the world.
They’ve trained their writing muscles to remember the techniques of the greats that came before them.
And you can do the exact same thing.
I won’t guarantee that you’ll become a rock star blogger. There are far too many variables.
But I will guarantee you’ll become a much better writer if you follow these simple steps.
Your blog will start to see more traffic. Your posts will start to see more comments. And you will be on your way to becoming a great blogger.
Do yourself a favor and get started today.
There’s no excuse.
Because you finally know what you need to do to… write better posts.
About the author: Greg Digneo is obsessed with helping marketing agencies, consultants, media companies, and PR firms sign up new clients. If this is you and you’d like to learn more about what it takes to generate new leads online, then check out his new video where he shows you how to sign up 5 clients per month.