Write Content Like a Boss: What We Can Learn from the (Almost) Perfect Article

If you can write content like this, the world's your oyster.

The content I'm referring to is this article by Precision Nutrition titled: The Ketogenic Diet - Does it Live Up to The Hype?

No matter how you roll with your food preferences, if you do any content writing, this article is a must read. And in today's video, we'll explore exactly what makes this article so brilliant and excavate some valuable lessons for our own content marketing.

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Key Takeaways

There are many things to love about this piece of content (as you can tell from me gushing over it in the video). Here are some key takeaways - the things we can learn from this post to make our own content better:

It's All About Structure

01:14 - The article goes into a lot of detail and is over 6,000 words long. An article like this could easily feel overwhelming. But thanks to clean, clear structure and a consistent use of short paragraphs, highlights, lists and headings, the reader never loses their bearings.

To infuse excellent structure into your own posts, start using Content Patterns and follow these 6 rules for excellent content formatting.

Intro & Self Segmentation

01:38 - In the intro, the article provides "how to read this" guidelines that lay out which parts are important for what kind of reader. For example, a professional fitness and nutrition coach will approach this content differently than a hobby fitness enthusiast. The authors are aware of this and help the readers self segment.

Blue Content Boxes

03:05 - The article contains many blue content boxes, each titled "Let's take an even deeper look". These boxes always contain some extra geeky details for the interested reader. The genius here is that the blue boxes help give the content structure, break the page up visually into easily digestible chunks and help readers know which parts they can safely skip if they just want the gist of it.

To do this on your own site, create a content template in Thrive Architect that you can easily insert and reuse throughout your articles. Want to learn how to create the perfectly styled box for your site? Check out this tutorial.

Character & Tone

04:33 - The post is a deep-dive into the biochemistry behind and research done on the ketogenic diet. It's the kind of content that could easily be dry, difficult to follow and boring. The authors manage to keep the post light, entertaining and at times even funny. Importantly, they do this without sacrificing the information content and without wasting the reader's time.

Segmented Conclusions

07:26 - The article opens with the "how to read this" guidelines and echoing that, it closes with similarly segmented takeaways. Instead of simply presenting a single conclusion to the post, there are several conclusions, again aimed at the different types of people who might be reading the post.

A Seamless, Unashamed Promotion

08:27 - A piece of content should conclude with a call to action. Ideally, one that will drive visitors towards an important conversion goal in your business.

The Precision Nutrition article we're discussing concludes with a call to action, but does it better and bolder than most. There are 2 aspects we can learn from:

  1. The transition from the content to the promotion is seamless. The promotion doesn't feel tacked on or out of place. And that is brilliant because as a general rule, the more relevant and specific your offer is, the better it will perform.
  2. The promotional call to action is part of the post itself. It's several paragraphs long and it's not confined in a little "box of shame" at the end of the post.

Walking a Fine Line

10:58 - The ketogenic diet is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of proposition. Like any diet, really. People tend to be very tribal about their food choices and talking about high fat or low fat or plant based or gluten free eating is polarizing.

In general, it's good to create polarizing content. Polarizing content is better than bland, forgettable, middle-of-the-road content. But it can be overdone. That's how we end up with shock-jock talk radio hosts, overly sensationalized "news" and gurus peddling all kinds of nonsense.

What I love about the Precision Nutrition article about the keto diet is that it walks a fine line: it's not heavily in favor of keto, it's not totally against it, but it also doesn't shy away from presenting strong and clear opinions. It's objective, fair and useful.

The Reader's Choice

A common thread in this article is giving the reader freedom of choice. You want to just skim through and come away with a conclusion in 2 minutes? No problem. You want to know all the details? This post has got you covered. You're somewhere in between? That's fine too.

People don't read online content word for word. We skim and skip and scroll up and down. And we often reach a point where we're satisfied that we've read and understood enough before we've read half the words on the page.

And that's fine. As a writer who publishes online, you're not going to change this. Instead, embrace it! Make your content equally useful for the ADHD content skimmers and for the geeky super fans.

How to Take Action on This

How can you use what we've discovered here to make your next piece of content better? I have 2 suggestions for you:

  1. Next time you start writing, pick at least one of the strategies shown here and try to apply it to your content.
  2. If you're writing an epic content piece, definitely use the "self segmentation" strategy for your opening and conclusion.

And to make your very own awesomely formatted content with styled boxes and more, use the Thrive Architect plugin.

Let me know what you think about today's video. Would you like to see more of the kind? Leave a comment below!

Shane

Author: Shane Melaugh

Shane Melaugh is a co-founder and the CEO of Thrive Themes. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome WordPress themes & plugins, he likes to geek out about camera equipment and medieval swords. He also writes about startups and marketing here.

  • Sonia says:

    Very insightful and, I must say: so true! Thanks for this great post, it comes just at the right time!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      I’m glad to know this was useful for you.

  • Roland says:

    KSD truly is a master communicator.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Apparently. I have to seek our more of her stuff, now that I’ve had a taste. :)

  • John Halderman says:

    Yes, a very good article example, and a great analysis. I think the key is, doing what we can to make engagement easier for a reader and appear as a less daunting investment.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Yes, this is indeed a great example of “meeting the reader where they are”.

  • Michael D says:

    That article is a wonderful example of an Agora type sales page… A string of claim-proof-benefit segments strung together to support a main marketing thesis.

    In this case, that nutrition is very complex and knowledge about it is perpetually changing.

    I dabble in copywriting. I follow rules. I learn more rules… heh…

    This article is cream. Thanks for sharing it Shane!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Michael!

  • This was very helpful! Thank you!! I loved the humor and will definately “steal” it:) Inspirational and clarifying.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Silje! Glad you liked the post. :)

  • Luis Lorenzo says:

    Thank you so much Shane,

    This is some great analysis and advise. Believe it or not, I´ve been thinking about this topic for the past few days. You see, I´ve been making things up in my head imagining a framework that would guide me through the process of writing professional blog posts (just like the example you mention). Along with the framework, I thought there should be a template to complement it so that one can have the framework to guide the writing and the template where all that writing would fit in. I would even love to have different frameworks and templates that would seamlessly match each of the categories I have included on the blog I´m trying to build.

    I will definitely look into this and see if it works for me.

    Thanks again.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Luis.

      It’s a difficult balance to strike between creating templates and frameworks and rules for something like this and also leaving enough space for your creative expression. For me, the approach that works best is the principle of using Content Patterns (as explained in this post). I’ve gotten used to using these patterns and at this point, I give myself a lot of freedom to “break” the pattern if that serves the article or to nest patterns within patterns. That way, I get the benefits of clear structure, but I don’t feel restricted by the framework.

  • Bob B says:

    Your segments are always insightful Shane. I go back after each module to re-examine my own content. You help me see it through different eyes and look for improvements. I am an Architect junkie and can’t get enough of this power house content builder. It does all the page construction heavy lifting for me. Thank you.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much for this comment, Bob. That is super encouraging for me. :)

  • Michael says:

    Shane, another great breakdown and analysis to help us get better.
    I am a long-time Thrives Themes user (and feel that it is one of the best products in my toolbox) and read/watch every one of your posts and videos because the content is always valuable and concise.
    Quick question: what program do you use to record your videos and get the picture on picture effect?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much, Michael!

      I record the screen using Camtasia. And for the PiP effect, we’ve created a tutorial about that here.

  • Jacqui says:

    Hi Shane, please explain the correct procedure for using Thrive Architect to jump to a certain paragraph. Sometimes when I use anchors, it doesn’t jump to the correct place on a mobile device. Thanks

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hello Jacqui,

      So, you’re using anchor links and the ID field for the part you want to jump to? For me, this has worked reliably, so far. Might be a bug that we have to investigate on your site.

  • Randall H says:

    Fabulous tutorial Shane! This episode takes study, concentration and a focus on the details of what you are illustrating in this marketing piece. I will have to review your video a few times to see how I can apply the techniques to my own material. Well done and thank you!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Randall!

  • Jules says:

    I have a couple of 2000 (or so) word blog posts on my site, and I thought those were beasts! 6000 words seems daunting! But, that really is a great example of damn near perfect article. And I do lik ethe blue highlight boxes. Thanks for sharing, Shane!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jules!

      I think a 6K word post comes about when you have a lot to say about a topic that’s important to you. If you’d set out to try and hit that word count on just any topic, it would be torture.

  • Thanks so much for focusing on this well-written article. Dr. Axe is very well known and a true professional. He works with only the best people. Especially, now that his company Ancient Nutrition just raised 100+ million from investors. As a natural health writer myself, this style and format makes for great reading, retention, and understandings. Well done on bringing it to our attention. I learned a lot from your lesson.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Andrew!

  • This is another AMAZING mind-blowingly-good article. Don’t mean to get all ‘hail-corporate’, but this quality instruction makes me feel legit proud to be part of the Thrive Themes family

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much, Jackson! :)

  • Chris says:

    Hmmm. Long-form article, semi-sarcastic humor, in-depth blue boxes, all structured into chunks….it’s straight out of Tim Urban’s Wait But Why playbook, right down to the shade of blue — one of the best blogs on the internet!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Oh, don’t even get me started on WaitButWhy… Tim’s writing is so good, it’s almost insulting to the rest of us.

  • Shaun says:

    #contentgoals – I have been drafting content for almost a year for a technology business. One huge struggle I’ve had is how to convey fairly technical information in an easy to digest manner. This article (and you) may have pointed me in the right direction; finally!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Yes! I know the struggle, Shaun. I’ve been writing content on topics that lean towards boring for most of the time I’ve been writing. It can be difficult, but as you say, this article is a shining example.

  • Kevin says:

    Thanks for finding and highlighting that nice piece of writing Shane! Probably a post would have to be fairly long to take advantage of the mini-table-of-contents and self-segmenting sections at the beginning. And the long length would probably also be useful in making the ending offer section seem small enough to blend into the post. Otherwise, most of the post would the offer!. So, your comment that this style would be great for a big cornerstone piece was right on — Thank you!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Yes, some of these things are definitely too much on a 1,000 word post. :)

      On the other hand, a post of any length can benefit from good structure and also from good writing with tone and character. The latter is something I can’t produce a recipe for, though. I guess it’s just a matter of practice.

  • Erik Conley says:

    An outstanding video. Just what I look for as a guy who is constantly striving for ways to improve as a writer, blogger, and expert in my field. Thank you for sharing this post and doing such a great job of explaining the benefits of the way it was structured. -Erik Conley

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Erik! I hope this will help you on your writing journey. :)

  • Ben says:

    Sent this to my whole team! Epic breakdown, Shane!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Ben!

  • Simon says:

    Wow, this is what I needed. I now know how to finish up this article I am busy with. Thank you!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      That’s great to hear. Glad to know this came at a good time for you.

  • Juha Salmela says:

    To my eyes Ketogenic Diet article looks quite boring, even the article itself is great.

    Here is my 10 cents…article lacks

    1. Images
    2. Headlines that capture your attention
    3. Use of capital letters
    4. Bullet points are boring (not much variety)
    5. It’s just too monotonous because it doesn’t have any interesting breaks that would interest readers to take a closer look

  • Mary says:

    I happen to be a PN certified coach and watching this was like unicorn dust, ThriveThemes and PN in the same video! Love both SO much and SO proud to be a part of both (as a VERY happy TT customer). And yes, most of KSD’s articles are that good.

    Thanks a lot for this Shane, it’ll become a reference for me. Maybe you can add it to the Thrive University tutorial on creating awesome blog posts :)

  • Izak Niemann says:

    WOW! We structured one of our blogs according to these guideline (and followed one of your content creation courses – “From Internet Rubbish to Content Gold”) and the results are great!

    We haven’t even finished working through the “From Internet Rubbish to Content Gold” course yet, and the engagement rate of the post is better than our previous posts.

    Thanks, Shane! ThriveThemes is awesome.

  • Karla says:

    I have never thought of showing the reader options of the parts that he can choose to read or if he wants to read everything, very interesting this strategy, because sometimes we write so much in the article, but only a part will be useful for a person, trucha is enough to help someone, instead of having to read the whole article. Very good tips. Thank you!

  • John says:

    Thank you for always talking about a wide variety of topics that are very useful to us.

  • Howard Primer says:

    I am at the entry phase of launching my presence as a SME in the area of housing. The subject matter is very broad, the segments of the audience are very diverse and defined, and the fire hose of information that I am managing is hard to control. This Blog, like so much on the Thrive Themes website, was the aha moment that I have been looking for while getting started. Thank you…..again, Shane

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Howard. I’m happy to know you found this helpful.

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