AskPat 31 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? This is Pat Flynn, and welcome to Episode 31 of AskPat. This is where I answer your online business and entrepreneurship questions, five days a week, and today's resource is MindMeister.
This is a tool that I use to mind map. I love this tool because it helps me organize the thoughts in my brain, all the randoms things that are going on and it puts them onto paper in a bubble diagram. Not paper, but you know, on an app online, and I can see and organize my thoughts and re-arrange them and shape them into something amazing. I've used MindMeister. I'm mean ,there's a lot of other mind-mapping tools out there, but this is the one I use, and I've created ebooks as a result of this, and this is how I organize a lot of the content that I create as well. My link for that is AskPat.com/mindmapping, and I also use it to organize epic blog posts, which is what today's question is about from Nick. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
So let's hear from Nick right now.
Nick: Hi Pat. This is Nick Kizirnis from NickyKay.com. Pat, you write epic blog posts and they seem to be getting more epic-er. Whether I try to throw all my ideas out at once and then clean up the mess, or I try to carefully outline my articles, I run into a lot of challenges trying to be thorough and consistent with my points, my introduction and conclusion and my overall organization. I was wondering if you could share with your listeners your approach to preparing, organizing and publishing your articles. Thanks Pat for everything you do to help small business owner and entrepreneurs on your blog and your podcasts. It's greatly appreciated. Cheers.
Pat Flynn: Nick. Thank you so much for your question, and I love the word “epic-er.” I don't know if I've ever heard that before, and I'm probably going to use that from this point forward, but thank you so much for the question, and let me go over my process about how I approach, you know, any sort of content. But I'll show you what the differences are between just normal content and what might be called or considered “epic” content.
It always starts with whether it's a podcast episode or a blog post with a transformation that I want my audience to go through. The people who are consuming that content, I want them to go through some sort of transformation. They are one thing before they read it or listen to it or view it, and then they are something else and will do something different afterwards. I use this when public speaking as well, and it's just a fancy way of saying, well, what's your goal of this post? But I love this because it sort of puts the audience at the forefront. It's not just, oh, what's the goal in it for me, but what is the transformation that your audience is going to go through? Once I discover that, everything starts to fall into place.
For example, it's almost like reverse engineering. I start with the end result or that transformation, and then I reverse engineer. I think about the stories, tips, and strategies. Those three things specifically. And also case studies, research, any of that stuff, the supporting factors that will help people undergo that transformation, and I love to include all those things. Case studies are great, real hard data that people can't argue against because the numbers never lie. Also stories are great, because stories are a great way to get people to sort of understand the feelings that go on with whatever it is that you're talking about. And of course people love tips and strategies. Once I sort of take all that and I sort of narrow them down to the best ones and create an order out of them, and again I use a tool called MindMeister, or you can use any mind mapping tool to do that and that sort of just helps me organize. Like you said, you know, Nick, in the beginning you just kind of spill everything onto paper and try to organize it from there, but I think if you take it to the approach of, first, understanding what that transformation is, reverse engineering with specific stories, tips, strategies, case studies, and research, that will help you prove that transformation or help people undergo that transformation. It makes a lot easier to mind map and organize that information.
Then I think about the intro. So the intro, even though it's the first thing people are going to see, that's the last thing I do because the intro is really important, but I want to make sure I know where I'm going first before I talk about why people should read and the transformation that they're going to go through. That's the approach that I take, but what makes it epic is when I get really detailed and just make it so easy to consume. When something is epic, typically, when it takes something difficult and makes it easy. Something is also epic when it talks about something in a way that nobody's ever heard of before, and that can go by getting into massive detail with something which nobody else has done, or just talking about a topic in a different way. You know, epic doesn't necessarily mean it has to be incredibly long; it's just something that's going to change somebody or actually transform somebody. And I think that's why a lot of my content might be considered epic is because I consider the transformation first, and it just so happens that a lot of times those posts are incredibly detailed because a lot of people have questions about things that require a lot of detail to share.
That's really the gist of my process there. Just to recap: Transformation, and then the support . . . the stories, tips, strategies, research, and case studies . . . and then the intro. Of course, beyond that, you have to also make a great headline because people are going to see the headline first before they can get into the intro. So that's why, even after I create or craft the intro, I also think about, you know, for a long and hard time, often, what that headline is going to be. I remember spending up to an hour or two hours sometimes, just working on the headline. It's that important, and too many people breeze over that, so think about that. Then once I have all that information and sort of have an idea of where I want to go when I start actually filling in the holes with actual content and writing and my voice, I actually open up a tool called Byword. And you can use any tool that you want, but I use byword which is a tool on the Mac to write, which takes care of everything on the screen, makes it all disappear except for that one cursor and the page that I'm writing on. So it's just a way to stay focused on what I want to focus on, which is writing at the time, so again, that's Byword.
I used to write blog posts within WordPress itself or Word or Google Drive, but there's too many things going on. I like a clean sort of screen to write on; that's why I use Byword. Then I take that outline that I have, that I created in my mind map that has the correct order and all that good stuff, the stories I want to tell, the tips I want to share, and then I use those. And I put them in first. Before I start writing any real content, I put in all those things. Sort of like a skeleton, so that I know and I can treat each of those sections almost like a mini blog post within that big, more epic-er blog post. That helps me focus on, okay, this is the section where I'm going to tell the story about when I got laid off work, when I got a cease and desist letter for using a trademark in my domain name, and then I can just focus on that and go to the next section. Then often, at times, I'll have to make transitions into new sections and things like that. But again, this is just my process, and typically this is the way I go, and yeah.
So I hope that's helpful, Nick, and for everybody else out there. That's the approach I take, not just with blog posts but all of my content, and I hope it's an approach you'll try and test out for yourself too. Nick, that you so much for your question. It was a great question, and an AskPat t-shirt will be sent your way. For those of you listening, if you have a question that you'd like potentially featured here on the show, and also you might get an AskPat t-shirt on the side as well . . . actually you will, if you get it featured. Head over on over to AskPat.com. There's a load of other questions you can check out that have already been answered there as well.
And of course I'm going to leave you with a quote, and this one is actually a Pat Flynn original, and that is, “Epic content isn't based on it's length or size. It's based on it's weight.”
So think about that. Thank you so much. Take care, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.
This is my favorite tool for brainstorming and mapping out new ideas. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]