Do you want to drive more traffic to your website?

Would you like to create content that people would go crazy for?

To learn the secrets of attention-grabbing blog posts that generate traffic, I interview Michael Hyatt for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael StelznerThe Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and the host of the This Is Your Life podcast.

Michael shares his experiences as a successful blogger and content creator.

You’ll learn why headlines and photos are the most attention-grabbing aspects of your articles.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Content Creation

michael hyatt

Michael Hyatt

Michael tells the story of when he first started blogging in 2004. He was the CEO at Thomas Nelson and saw blogging as a means to communicate with his own employees. It was a way to be innovative, rather than sending out standard email newsletters.

It wasn’t until someone suggested opening it up to the public that he thought it was a cool idea and maybe could become an archive for his best thinking.

Listen to the show to hear about Michael’s blogging schedule when he first started.

What evergreen content brings to your website

Michael’s blog today averages around 300-400 blog comments a day. Michael explains that about half of his traffic comes from older posts. These include posts that he wrote 2-3 years ago that still get a huge amount of comments today.

Michael shares how he promotes his older posts. One of the tactics he uses is to bulk upload and schedule tweets in SocialOomph for older articles such as this one:


Michael had the idea from when he was working in the book publishing world. Publishers have two types of books: new books (newly published or yet to be released) and a backlist (an archive of content). For large publishing companies such as Thomas Nelson, 50-60% of their revenue can come from their backlist.

Most bloggers don’t have a strategy for this. They write it, it disappears and then it’s gone forever.

Listen to the show to find out Michael’s secret for keeping his older blog posts up to date and continuing to drive more traffic.

How to write killer blog posts

Over time Michael has written about 1,400 posts. You’ll learn how he tries to start from the reader’s perspective and frame everything in terms of his or her needs. Somebody once said, “People are tuned into WIIFM (Whats In It For Me).”

You have to write from this particular viewpoint if you’re going to be successful. Look at what other people’s hopes, fears, frustrations and obstacles are. And don’t assume that everybody knows what you know.

Michael talks about how a lot of his how-to articles stem from what he needs to find out and then he documents the process for his readers. These articles bring him a ton of traffic every day.

fix for wireless connection problems

This article still brings Michael a huge amount of traffic today.

Listen to the show to learn why the how-to articles have been the most successful for Michael.

Topics to write about

Michael explains how he uses “intentional leadership” as a filter for content on his website. He shares how he might look at a current event and reframe it into a leadership lesson.

You’ll also learn how to decide what to publish on your site and how to stay focused on being good at what you do.

Listen to the show to find out why giving away your best stuff is endlessly rewarding.

Creating successful blog article headlines

Michael explains the difference between a good headline and a bad headline. A good headline is one that prompts the reader to read the rest of the article. Most people simply scan headlines and do not actually read the article.

He explains that he has about 200 different blogs that he subscribes to via RSS. He scans the headlines every morning and if the headline doesn’t grab his attention, he doesn’t read any further.

michael hyatt blog in google reader

Good blog titles stand out in RSS feeds such as Google Reader.

You have a few seconds to grab people’s attention. The headline has to be relevant, target a need and create intrigue, so it makes the scanning reader stop and read further. And the headline has to tell people what the article is about.

His advice to bloggers is to get proficient at copywriting. You can read books on copywriting or take a course.

Listen to the show to hear how David Garfinkel’s book Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich can get your creative juices flowing.

How to use photos in blog posts

Michael explains that he uses photography for the same reason that magazines and newspapers use them. It’s another way to stop prospective readers and pull them into your content.

Most of us are pretty visually oriented and we comprehend images much faster than text. We establish the relevancy of the article with the right image.

Michael gets all of his images from iStockphoto. He also says you can go to Flickr and other services out there. It helps to use a service with a database that enables you to search by keywords and get what you need quickly.

michael hyatt blog post

Make the effort to find a good photo for your blog content.

On average Michael spends 10-20 minutes per blog post to find the right photo. You’ll hear why he rejects photos that are cliché.

Listen to the show to hear why Michael uses photos that reflect the diversity of his audience in his blog posts. 

How to structure your blog posts

As a blogger, Michael sees himself as having the privilege of leading important conversations. He is not there to pontificate or teach primarily, but to start a conversation and get the ball rolling. The idea is for the conversation to continue in the comments area and his blog community.

Michael gets the conversation started by always ending his blog posts with an open-ended question that invites participation. He says as a blogger, his aim is not only to get people talking with him, but talking to one another.

Michael shares the strategy behind answering the first 10-15 comments on each blog post. He also has a group of community leaders to help monitor the conversation. He shares how his community leaders are co-hosts who steer people to resources that answer their questions in more detail and greater depth. Also, he has found that asking a second question draws people out.


Michael Hyatt makes sure the conversation continues in the comments section.

Michael uses Disqus to monitor his comment area and finds that being present helps deter a lot of spam.

Listen to the show to hear a great example of how Michael ends a blog post.

What expert video interviews bring to your blog community

Michael loves to interview people. He finds bringing interviews to his blog gives him a lot of credibility. It’s his job not just to serve up great content, but also to invite people who can provide great content that he knows his community will enjoy.

how to record a video interview

Michael interviews people he knows will bring great content to his community.

Listen to the show to hear what type of people Michael likes to interview.

How to grow an email list with your blog

Michael feels that his most important asset is his email newsletter list. He doesn’t have the same kind of influence over the people who read him via RSS as he does over an email subscription. He knows it’s an audience that he can reach when he needs to and he can go directly to them.

He also realized he needed some kind of incentive to get people to sign up. So about 18 months ago, he created a book entitled Creating Your Personal Life Plan.

life plan ebook

Offering a free ebook to subscribers has had a huge impact on his list.

He designed the ebook in Keynote and made it available for free to anybody who subscribed. To date there have been over 176,000 downloads. It’s been a huge driver for his email list. Now he has about 100,000 people who hear from him every time he publishes a blog post.

Listen to the show to hear how you can mobilize people through email and generate an initial burst of traffic.

Survival Tip: Social Media Examiner Networking Clubs

Are you looking for a help with social media? Check out Social Media Examiner’s Networking Clubs. The Networking Clubs are a free resource where you can network and join discussions with 8000 like-minded people.

There are three clubs: Facebook, Blogging and Small Business. You’ll find an active community and interesting discussions in each of these clubs.

sme networking clubs

Check out the Networking Clubs if you have any questions on social media.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know if you’ve tried our Networking Clubs.

Other Show Mentions

Social Media Marketing World is Social Media Examiner’s latest mega-conference—taking place at the waterfront San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego, California on April 7-9, 2013.

As you’d expect, Social Media Examiner recruited the biggest and best names in the world of social media marketing for this conference. Only the best for you! Be sure to check it out.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on what makes blog posts attractive? Please leave your comments below.

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  • Great tips here! What impresses me the most (which I need to work on) is the ability to remain consistent in your blog posting over such a long period. I’ve had periods where I’ve posted regularly, only to take an extended break in between. 

    The most successful bloggers it seems are the ones who have been able to stay consistent over an extended period, allowing them to build up a loyal following and the backlog of content that can be reused or repackaged in the future.

  • Hi Adarsh – You nailed it!  Consistency is absolutely essential to growth 🙂

  • Awesome tips Michael! It’s really great to hear two of the most interesting entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed on my show. This interview is packed with things that every blogger should know in order to make it big and those aspiring to start their blog should really take down notes! Thank you Mike for giving us SME, you rock!

  • Thanks John – Michael is a really smart guy.  Glad you liked the interview

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  • “Michael sees himself as having the privilege of leading important conversations. He is not there to pontificate or teach primarily, but to start a conversation and get the ball rolling. The idea is for the conversation to continue in the comments area and his blog community.” This is usually a feature of of my favourite blog sites!! I will definitely be checking his blog and of course listen to the podcast.

  • Thanks Abdallah!  BTW, we edited out your self promotional reference so we could run your comment

  • No problem. I thought it was relevant despite also being self-promotional but I am probably a bit biased 🙂 

  • Andrea

    I’m new to the blogging world and this is great information.  Thank you, Michael, for sharing it.

  • Hopeful Blogger

    I would love to take a piece of this advice and apply it to my blog, but my blog links (800 posts) currently include the year and month. If I change those, won’t it kill all my links?

  • Glad you liked it Andrea 🙂

  • Great question!  In this case Michael is not suggesting to change the URL but simply move where the date is displayed in context of the actual article

  • Fantastic – I love Michael’s tips. Happy to hear he recognizes the importance of good visuals, and spends a lot of time on them! Me too 🙂

  • Hopeful Blogger

    Thanks, Michael. I thought he mentioned as well that because he has control of the way the URL appears, so I was curious if anyone would recommend changing URL formats midstream to capture this evergreen feel and what the ramifications would be.

  • Great Info! Curious if Michael allows Advertorial content into his blog and how he handles being transparent. Are these posts identified as paid posts or is there an industry best-practice for those types of posts? Thanks,

  • Does moving the date to the bottom of the post require special coding / a child theme? This doesn’t appear to be an option in the WP dashboard.

    I used to not date-stamp at all, but writing about social media requires that context, as things change so often. So I’m not overly concerned about it being at the top…

  • You would have to set up a redirect for each post that has a changed URL.

  • Tahiera Monique Brown

    I found this to be so informative and I know I will be sharing it with my team for them to be inspired by your suggestions. One word … enlightening

  • Hi Michael, I have read many similar blogs recently on how to create great content.  When I saw yours in my mailbox, I thought “Oh, another one!”.  I am glad that I read it.  You approach the same topic by interviewing someone who is the authority in this field and give practical tips.  It is quite different from other blogs on the same topic and I love it!

  • Thanks Louise – He had some great ideas for sure

  • Wonderful question.  I know he does affiliates deals and is very transparent when he does.

  • It requires a bit of working with the code in wordpress.  This would be ideal for a developer to do and not someone who doesn’t understand code

  • Thanks so much Tahiera!

  • Hopeful Blogger

    Oh that would be a nightmare. I’ll have to doubly implement all of the other great ideas! Thanks, Louise.

  • Wow, just wow! Michael I’m getting addicted to your podcasts. So much insight from both of you, Michaels 🙂 Will be sharing this. 
    I also do weekly discussions on Hangouts on Air on G+ and every new podcast from you encourages me to also start a podcast on top of what I already have. Any good articles/resources you could suggest for people wanting to start a podcast?Again, thank you for an amazing content!

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  • tlsmazing

    Great podcast ~ lots of good ideas, thank you.  I’m in the early phase of going from newsletter to blogger and this helps me plan my next steps more effectively.  You’ve helped me simplify an overwhelming task.

  • Thanks Mary!  Glad you like our style 🙂

  • Hey Max – Glad you are getting inspired.  I would check out

  • Thanks and glad you found it helpful.  Now put it into action 🙂

  • Dlw1964_1999

    The majority of the article had good suggestions.  As a photographer I use my own photographs in my blog, since it is focused on photography.  I am concerned about the suggestion to use photographs from Flickr.  If the images are in the creative commons area then that is allowed. However, I have had individuals copy my images and use them in their blogs (even when my images contained the very visible name and year of copyright).  I would encourage people to not violate the copyrights of others, rather find or purchase images that are available to you (wikipedia has a creative commons and some images that are free). 

  • Jackson Tan

    Kudos to Michael… impressive and definitely a valuable resource for all of us.

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  • Battlespeed

    Given that Michael has spent his whole life in publishing, I think we can assume that he’s cognizant of  copyright issues.  It wasn’t necessary to take up his limited time on the podcast getting off into those weeds. 

    That being said, I agree with your points and join you in begging people to follow the Golden Rule:  Do not steal from others what you would not like to have stolen from you. Don’t plagiarize. Don’t “spin” other people’s content and publish it as your own. Don’t misappropriate media – whether photos, video or audio. Leadership is always about ethics.

  • Totally agree. 

    For everyone who wants to use royalty free images…

    If you use Flickr go here to find the different options for photos you can use on your blog.   

    You can also go here and click on ( Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content )

  • Thanks for adding to the discussion

  • Thanks Jackson

  • Appreciate it Ryan and welcome

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  • Edwin

    Hi Michael:
    I have never been big on pod casts, I could not figure where they would be useful. I just listened to the pod cast with Michael Hyatt, I found this very interesting and helpful, I’m starting to see where this can come in very handy. I was doing something while listening (dishes) maybe I should have been taking notes like you said. I will be on Social Media Examiner more often for the GREAT content that you provide. 

  • Edwin – Glad you are getting hooked on podcasts 🙂

  • Great video Michael! Definitely need to start writing from the perspective of the blog reader. It’s such an easy concept but like Michael said, some things you take for granted and forget that there may be that person who needs to know it, so share it! 

    It’s hard as well to just give everything away, but that’s how I started off a couple months ago and will keep doing it!


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  •  Wow, Fantastic article thanks for sharing this. it is informative post for every blogger. 🙂

  • Ramireddy Mallikarjuna reddy

    Hi, Congratulations, I am looking the write things at your blog, by this i can improve my blog and as for long. Thanq

  • Thanks Rahul

  • Msmith

    One of my favorite shows yet. Great info that I plan to start using today!

  • Thanks much 🙂

  • Wow! a half hour of podcast that was loaded with great tips. Thanks

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  • Glad you liked it 🙂

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  • Wow ! well explained article that encourages me to write a content. Thank you for sharing these tips !!!

  • Betty

    Do you have any favorite books on copy writing?  

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  • Hi Michael and Michael!
    I listened to this podcast this morning at the gym, and I couldn’t have been more fired up (thanks for the extra hard workout!). Creating great headlines and driving traffic back to previous posts are both things I’ve been trying to improve upon, and you’ve both provided such valuable information and resources on how to effectively do both.
    Thank you so much for this!