AskPat 247 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn, here. And welcome to Episode 247 of AskPat, also known as The Last AskPat Episode of the Year 2014.
And I just wanted to take this moment because there are no sponsors for this particular episode. All the sponsors were like, “No, we're taking New Year's Eve off.” And I'm like, oh, that's cool I get it. And hopefully you're having a good time too today, or planning to have a good time tonight as well. I just truly want to wish you an incredible, and happy, safe, and healthy new year. 2015 is going to be awesome and I hope you follow along with me because I have a lot of amazing things happening.
If you go to SmartPassiveIncome.com, you can subscribe there, or if you haven't yet already make sure you listen to the Smart Passive Income Podcast as well. I have a big project coming mid-January. You can check that out at 1DayBB.com with my good friend Chris Ducker. That news is coming very soon. But I do want to take the time today, just to not only wish you a Happy New Year, but also answer this question from Winston.
Winston: Hey Pat, my name is Winston. I'm a 27-year-old music producer in Atlanta, Georgia. Just to let you know your podcast is reaching all kinds of people. I really appreciate it. You're a huge inspiration for getting my day started, coming a close second next to coffee, but you're very, very key to getting my day started. I just had a question. I'm sitting down to start my first blog post, and it literally hit me I'm about to start writing just freely, but I wanted to know if there's any particular layout you do before you start writing a blog post. Any particular speaking points or anything like that. So anything you have that you could give me to help me get started, I greatly appreciate it. Keep doing what you doing. You are awesome. Thank you.
Pat Flynn: Winston, what's up? Thank you so much for the question. It's really cool to have you here on the last episode of 2014, and I love what you said about me being second place to coffee because hopefully I can help also wake everybody else up as well and get a good start to everybody's day, or be something comforting and warm, by the fire, that people can enjoy. I don't know what that means, but anyway, just thank you for the question.
This is a great question, and the reason I love it is because I love to hear beginners who are asking, “How do I do this the right way?” And it reminds me of when I started to play golf because when I played golf, I just got a few quick lessons from my buddies, and I started swinging and I did okay. And then I finally got serious about it and then I took lessons. And then the pro golfer who was giving me lessons said, “Pat, you . . . We need to start over.” And I was like, “Okay, I get that. I got bad habits. I got a bad swing.” But then it took me forever to get out of my bad habits and it was just second nature at that point to do the wrong thing. So, I really appreciate and can understand just how serious somebody is about something when they ask in the beginning, “How can I do this right?” Or, “Is there anything I can do now to help me?” So let me try and help you out, Winston.
When structuring a blog post the best way to . . . Now because I've done it so many times . . . I've written over 800 posts now over the last few years. It just becomes second nature for me to do what I'm about to tell you in my head. And you'll know as you go deeper into your blogging . . . And I would just say before I even get into the structure, because the structure will vary depends on the post and you definitely want to pull inspiration from other sites and other places that you feel like you just have a groove with what they're writing. So you can pull inspiration from others as well, but even before anything, I do just want to mention that you're going to get things wrong, it's not going to always be perfect. You're going to make mistakes, Winston and everybody else out there. I continue to make mistakes whether they be grammar mistakes, or I end up scrapping a post that I've spent two hours on because it just doesn't feel right anymore. That happens still, but as you continue to write more you're just going to get better. I cannot tell you how much I struggled. I never cried, but I felt like it at times because I would just be staring at a blank screen when I know I have to write a blog post.
It's really easy, like you were saying Winston, to just say, “Okay. I'm going to write.” And then when you get in that moment where that cursor's blinking and you have that blank screen or WordPress is open or whatever editor you have, it's scary, and then you don't know what to do. So I'm glad you're asking this question. Hopefully, I can help you out, but again like I said, just keep writing, no matter what. Just write. You're going to get better naturally because you're just going to keep doing it. I love that. And I'm actually implementing next year, actually starting tomorrow, although I've already done this for the last week, I'm going to be writing every single day of the year. Every single day. No matter how many words it takes, I'm just going to write everyday to get in that mindset where I'm just going to write something. And it just so happens that I'm going to be publishing a book next year, and that's what I'm going to be using that time for. I'm actually waking up a little bit earlier in the morning, implementing a morning routine thanks to Hal Elrod and The Miracle Morning. If you listen to Episode 140 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast, and so far it's working out really, really well, but all in all just to go back to what I was saying. Keep writing. You're going to get better. It's not going to be perfect. Just go.
Now, let me help you out though and give you something to think about when you're creating these blog posts. I would start from the end, and what I mean by that is you want to think about the transformation that you're audience, your readers, are going to have after they read this post. So, essentially I'm asking, “What is the purpose?” But when I ask people, “What's the purpose of your blog post?” I get all these different answers that don't necessarily mean what I'm trying to get out of them. So the best way to think about this is to think to yourself, “Okay, what is the transformation that I want my audience to have after I write this post? When I publish it out there to the world, when it gets shared on Facebook and Twitter or LinkedIn or Google+ or wherever, when people share it via email, when people read it, after they're done how are they going to be different? What are they going to learn? And how might they be motivated to apply what I'm about to teach them?”
That's the first thing you want to figure out. And that's sort of the destination. That's the address that you put into your navigator before it tells you what directions to take and that's really important. So take a moment to think about that before you think about . . . A lot of people start with okay I need a good title. That's what they start with. Well, how do you . . . ? I can't tell you how many times I've written a post and the title changes, and it just evolves to something else because I just didn't know exactly where it was going, and I kind of have to reshape things and move things around. That can waste a lot of time, and if you start with the end in mind, you're going to know where to go, or at least have better decision making processes while you're going through what you're writing, to help you get there and to help your audience get there as well.
So, what is that transformation you want your audience to get after they read this post of yours? And this is for any sort of content really. This is what I'm doing for this podcast. This is what I'm doing when I come out with a video or anything. So, use this and apply this in any sort of content medium. But for your blog post, specifically think about it in terms of your readers. And then ask yourself, “Okay, what do I need to say? Or what do I need to show in order to make this transformation happen?” And now we're kind of working backwards. So, you've got the end in mind, and now you're going over the “meat” of your article, the meat and potatoes. The what you need to show, to prove anything you might need to really make that transformation happen. That's what you're going to put in there. You're not thinking about your intro. You're not thinking about any sort of fancy things right now or the title or anything. You're just making bullet points, in no particular order right now, of what they need.
Now sometimes, there will be a particular order. For example, if the transformation was “Learn how to do this in X number of steps,” and then you work backwards, and you find out that there's eight steps involved, and then you just . . . Okay, well, there's the name of your blog post. And there you go. That's simple. And that's when . . . There are a lot of formats or templates of blog posts that you could use pull. You could pull inspiration from other sites from. Michael Hyatt, for example, at MichaelHyatt.com, he loves to use numbers posts, like “Top Eight Characteristics That a Great Leader Will Have,” and then he talks about why leadership is important, and then he goes into the eight points and concludes with something motivating and some call to action to get people to encompass those eight things into their own lives or into their future or into their business or into their team.
So, again, working backwards what is the transformation, and then what is the meat and potatoes. What are the things that you need to share? Just write all that stuff down. Brainstorm it. I would actually, literally do a brain dump. Not literally do a brain dump. I know that word gets used loosely now, but anyway. Just write down anything and everything that comes to mind related to making that transformation happen. And then you can pull out the best ones from there. You don't want to edit as you do this either. This was a big mistake that I made when I was first starting out. And I still make this mistake because when I'm starting to write this book now, I find myself editing as I write. And that's not what you want to do. The creative process is completely different from the editing process in your brain. You want to separate those things out. So when you're creating the meat and potatoes of this article that you're going to have, just write everything down. Don't edit it. Just keep pouring it out there.
Sometimes you'll know that once you get into this groove of just a creative mind dump, all these amazing things will come out that wouldn't have come out if you said, “Oh no, this one's not good. I'm not going to use that anyway. Just scratch it out.” Whether you're using a mind mapping software or just a piece of paper or maybe a Google Doc and just creating bullet points along the way so you can reorder them nicely. That's why I would, in particular, use a mind map, something like MindMeister.com or FreeBind so you can drag and drop and move things around and reorder things. That's how I approach book writing and how I would recommend approaching blog writing or any sort of content that you're publishing as well. So, do that and then figure out the core of what you need.
Another thing you want to think about, Winston, is that you don't want to say more than you have to. And what I mean by that is, some of those things that you brain dump with they might overlap. There is such thing as really going too far with it. You want to say what you need to say. And you might ask yourself, “Well, how many words should a blog post be?” And I love this question because my answer is always the same. It's however many words you need to get the point across, and that is not going to be . . . If you say, “Oh, 1000 words is good.” Well, okay, what if it takes 2000 words to actually get the point across? Then you're going to cut down stuff that's necessary. But what if you could actually get the point across in 300 words? Well, then you're going to add fluff that you don't need and it's just going to make the article boring and thin. And so you don't want to do that. So, make sure that you just are there with the information that's needed and then working backwards from there you have a compelling intro.
And again, you're still outlining at this point. You could still write from top to bottom. You don't have to write . . . Literally, write backwards. But you can just think about the article backwards to help you get the parts that you need. And then an intro, which typically a good story or a case study or something that really intrigues . . . That's really intriguing and related to the meant and potatoes and the transformation that you have. And then backwards from there is the title. And sometimes the title is actually the last thing that you have. Which is really important because that's the thing that people see on social media. That's the thing people see and read first on your site because it's typically the biggest and boldest thing. Sort of like, in the newspaper and that's what's going to capture people's attention as well. And that's how I would really easily because . . . I could do a whole day seminar on writing a blog post and structuring it and things like that.
But hopefully, this gives you the bare bones minimum and is going to give you the 20 amount of effort . . . 20 percent of effort that's going to give you 80 percent of the results. So, thinking about this as you get into it, Winston, and as you begin your first blog post. I hope this is help to you. So, transformation, and then the points, and then you sort of proof or anything you need necessary to make that transformation happen, and then working backwards from there. The intro thinking about a compelling story or something that's going to make it . . . Make people want to keep reading and find out what those things are that they need to learn. And then the title, from there.
Now, a couple more tips. Within that post, you want to make sure that each of those sections are broken down and all of those parts of the meat and potatoes they have each of their own little subtitle. So, somebody could easily scan through a particular article as well. You don't want to just write a giant essay with no subheadings because it's just going to look like a report that you wrote in college or high school. And those are boring, right? You want it to be super easily scannable because that's how people read, and people can easily find sections that they want to go back to if they need to and it just makes it easier for you to write, as well. So when you begin writing, maybe there's five points in your meat and potatoes area. You can just focus on one at a time and treat each of those within that one blog post like a little tiny blog post in a blog post itself. And that'll help you focus as well, and that's another tip that I wanted to make sure I shared with you too.
So, Winston, thank you so much for the question. I think this was fantastic going into 2015 because a lot of people are going to be starting their own sites, as well. For those of you listening, if you'd like to get started, just head on over to SmartPassiveIncome.com and click on that big, green Get Started Here button. I'm going to walk you through all the things you need to know, in order to begin your own online income, passive income journey. So again, SmartPassiveIncome.com and click on the big, green button that says Get Started Here on that home page. Winston, thank you again so much. An AskPat t-shirt will be headed your way, on us, and my assistant will get in contact with you very soon to collect your information about that. And for those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show in 2015, just head on over to AskPat.com. You can ask a question right there using any sort of microphone you have near you, even your internal mic. Sound quality is not important as long as we can hear you. We can definitely potentially use it. A lot of questions are coming in, so I can't get to them all, but I do love listening to them all. And we'll try to get to as many as we can. So thank you, and to end the day
I'm going to end with a quote from Michelangelo, and I think this is great going into next year. And this is, “The greater danger for most of us isn't that our aim is too high and miss it. But that it is too low, and we reach it.”
Cheers, and here's to you, to your business, to your health, and an amazing 2015. I'll see you on the other side. Love you guys. Thanks. Let's do this.