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The Iris Content Beginners’ Guide: Your Cheat Sheet for Creating Blog Content that Goes Viral

Every now and then you hear of a blog post that went viral, accumulating hundreds if not thousands of shares. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do the same?

That level of performance doesn’t happen by chance. Even when the content writer wasn’t expecting her blog post to become massively successful, she still did a few things right. When it comes to viral blog creation, there are patterns and factors at work, which you can replicate to your benefit. So you can blast out of internet obscurity, make your name known and bring in more clients. In this article, we have prepared for you a cheat sheet so that the word “viral” no longer mystifies you.

Photograph by master1305 via Bigstock

♠ Find a Topic that Can Go Viral

This is the most challenging –and critical– step. Below are a few ways to figure out what your blog post is going to be about:

– Search for content that is viral right now. Use tools like Buzzsumo, Facebook Trending or Google Trends to learn what’s hot right now and develop your own take on it.

– Look within your audience. What are their most unaddressed pain points?

– Make a list of new findings or surprising facts about your industry.

♠ Break the Consensus

If you feel confident in your ability to handle controversy, pick a fight and voice a contrarian opinion. But be ready to face criticism and defend your opinion with a strong reasoning and data.

The point with opinionated pieces is not to be provocative for provocation’s sake, but to present a different point of view that offers new insight. By disrupting conventional thinking, you can even position yourself as a thought leader. Furthermore, a contrarian opinion will win you the support of readers who shared your opinion before but either couldn’t articulate it or didn’t have the audacity to express it.

♠ Tell a Powerful, Emotional Story

Informative, well-written blog posts can perform well. But the ones that go viral? They do more than answering questions or listing benefits. One way to achieve virality is to resonate with readers on a deeper level by telling a story that is personal, relatable, and inspiring. For example, look for stories of customers who went through a great ordeal and how they overcame it.

It’s natural for us to share the stories we love with others. A skilled content writer will describe people and places in vivid details, evoke feelings, build suspense and include surprising turns.

♠ Craft an Attention-Grabbing Headline

It all starts with the headline. How you name your blog post will decide whether readers pay attention or not. You need an irresistible headline, one that does one of the following:

  • An intriguing statement that arouses curiosity
  • A question or statement that disrupts the reader’s received ideas
  • An effective solution to a problem shared by many

After nailing your headline, you have to deliver on the promise of great content. If you disappoint the reader with generic information, the headline will be seen as clickbait unworthy of sharing.

♠ Maximize Your Exposure with Promotion

Creating a great blog post is only half the battle. The other half is knowing how to get it in front of a large audience.

Great content alone does not go viral; you need to figure out where to post it. What are the promotional channels that you have picked for your content strategy? Is it Medium? Pinterest? LinkedIn? Your own email list?

One powerful way to get large exposure is to reach out to an influencer within your industry and ask him or her to share your blog post. If a well-known figure with a massive audience that overlaps with yours agrees to share your post, you will attract a huge number of people to your website. However, you should have established a relationship with that influencer beforehand, because asking someone out of the blue rarely pays off.

♠ Make Your Blog Post Scannable and Easy to Read

Content writers all agree on the importance of good formatting. Readers are less likely to share blog posts with walls of text or poor presentation.

Break the content into paragraphs and use subheaders to make the structure clear. Many people will skim through down a page before reading it so they can get an idea of what to expect. It’s up to you to prove that your blog post is worth their time. Highlight your key points and stimulate interest with subheaders. Also, make sure your blog post looks good on a mobile device. And remember that beyond the blog post itself, your entire website should have a clean, professional, and easy to browse design.

♠ Tell People to Share Your Blog Post

This might sound like a no-brainer, but many content writers skip this easy step. Without a clear instruction on what to do next, readers share the link to one or two friends and leave it at that. Don’t leave what they do to chance and ask them to share your post.

 ♠ Include Social Media Buttons

If you expect readers to share your post, make it easy for them. For WordPress users, there are many plugins that add social media buttons at the end of blog posts, and most of them are available for free. For instance, you can try Easy Social Sharing or Floating Sidebar.

As the number of shares grows, new readers will see it as proof that your blog post is valuable and, in turn, will feel more compelled to share it.

♠  Capture Reader Information

The goal of a viral blog post is to convert a fraction of readers into potential clients likely to move further down the sales funnel. If you don’t set up a way to capture their email addresses, readers will only like or share your blog post and never hear from you again.

To prevent this, you can either directly ask them to sign up for your newsletter at the end of the post, or use an opt-in form with a freebie to encourage subscription.

With these suggestions, you can now eliminate the guesswork and increase your chances of having your blog posts spread like a wildfire. Viral blog creation requires a deliberate approach and good timing, and when done right it achieves social engagement, raises website traffic and, ultimately, boosts conversions.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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