In Hollywood, there’s something called “The Hero’s Journey”—a formula screenwriters use for everything from shoot ‘em up action movies to costume dramas.
It goes like this.
Hero starts in ordinary world (Luke Skywalker at his Aunt & Uncle’s farm / Tarzan in his London home)
Hero receives his call to adventure (“Help me, Obi Wan Kanobi. You’re my only hope.” / King Leopold invites Tarzan back to the Congo)
Hero rejects the call (Luke’s gotta help out of the farm / Tarzan must give up his animal ways)
Hero finds motivation to accept the call (Luke’s home is destroyed / Samuel L. Jackson warns Tarzan about enslavement of the Congolese people)
And so on…
On the surface, it seems like just another predictable story format. But as Steven Pressfield explains in his book Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t, the Hero’s Journey is tattooed onto the collective subconscious.
Nearly every culture on earth has stories and legends built around the hero’s journey. Our brains are preprogrammed to look for it.
It’s our way of making sense of the world.
Blog articles and websites are no different. That same predictability is why nav menus perform best at the top of the screen, rather than somewhere else.
It also explains why we go back to the same sites over and over. We have a pretty good idea what to expect, and we know what path to take to get what we want.
Here are a few ways I've used the here's journey in my blog posts, to make the readers experience better, and attract more leads.
1. Use a predictable layout for every blog post.
You may choose to help your readers make sense of your content by giving it a consistent format every time.
As an example, here’s a layout I swiped from Courtney @ The Rule Breaker’s Club.
Short block of text.
A video with a predetermined # of talking points.
A numbered list to recap the most important points, with H2 headlines.
Courtney has at least a half dozen posts like this, and I love that when I click one of them I have a pretty good sense of what I’ll find on the other side.
It’s easier for your readers to click your links when they know what to expect.
Marie Forleo does this. Lucky Bitch does this. Amy Porterfield does this.
Bonus: A predetermined layout makes it easier to get content prepped & published (and outsource the setup to a virtual assistant, if you have one).
2. Add “Click To Tweets” to encourage more shares.
I love to tweet clever things, since they make me look clever too.
If you summarize your post in one sentence with a preprogrammed tweet, it’s easier for readers to share your stuff.
Click To Tweet can help you do this.
You may even want to add a second Click To Tweet, highlighting a catchy phrase in your content, so readers can choose which tweet is more their style.
I always include my Twitter handle, plus a link back to the post, and maybe a hashtag, if it makes sense to add one. If I can, I leave a few characters free for the reader to add their 2 cents.
Here's an example.
I have a premium plugin called Social Warfare that programs these for me automatically, but it looks a little different. I find it too distracting, so I usually set them up manually.
3. Add a “content upgrade” that invites new subscribers to join your list.
This is the single most powerful thing I’ve done to grow my list.
The first time I set up a content upgrade, it took nearly 2 weeks. (I had to open a Leadpages account, and switch email providers, since Mailchimp was making it too hard to deliver multiple freebies).
Here’s how the setup works now.
Blog post [wordpress]
↳ Related content upgrade [graphic]
↳ Leadbox pop-up [using leadpages]
↳ Upgrade content sent to inbox [using convertkit]
If the content upgrade is related to a product (like my Email Scripts Collection), the download triggers into a nurture campaign for that product. All that is automated through ConvertKit. I don’t have to list a finger.
Here’s an example:
(You’ll need to subscribe for the full experience, but you can always unsubscribe right away. It won’t hurt my feelings, I promise.)
If creating a new freebie sounds like way too much work, you may choose to create blog content that’s related to your existing freebie, and then offer that to readers as a way to go deeper with your post.
A few examples:
FREEBIE: Easy-to-make kid’s lunch recipes
↳ BLOG: Article about all the icky stuff in processed meat
FREEBIE: Helps sole proprietors set up an accounting system
↳ BLOG: 5 common mistakes entrepreneurs make with their business finances
FREEBIE: Branding blueprint for DIY websites
↳ BLOG: Where to find colour palettes or how to match fonts
It sounds like a lot of hoop-jumping, but once the major pieces are setup it isn’t a huge amount of work.
The first time I did this I got 50 new subscribers in about 2 days.
I learned this system from Amy Porterfield, who uses it pretty consistently with every new podcast.
The Rule Breaker’s Club uses a similar flow to capture subscribers. Courtney has an excellent post on how her team manages blog posts, which talks all about creating the content, developing the upgrade and getting the whole thing live every week, consistently.
4. Edit the SEO title to include your website name, for Google and Facebook.
SEO is a bit of a pain point for me, but there’s one thing I never forget to do.
Before hitting publish, I scroll down to SEO settings and name my blog post “Title of My Awesome Post | Tarzan Kay”.
That way when I share it on Facebook, or it pops up in a Google search, the origin is very clear. And that’s great for my brand.
(Lots of WordPress users use the Yoast plugin for this.)
5. Include just 1 call to action, so readers know where to click next.
I recently did a major overhaul in the way my blog posts get viewed. I had a sidebar full of promos and buttons and various calls to action. A ton of choices.
I thought I was offering value. But really, I was confusing the heck out of my website visitors. They didn’t know where to click. So they clicked away.
When I visit a new site, I don’t want to have to hunt around for things to click on. I want to be taken on the hero’s journey, with an easy flow from one page to the next.
As Barry Schwartz talks about in his Ted Talk, too many choices are paralyzing. Grocery stores have done lots of good studies on the paradox of choice. More is not better, they always conclude.