How To Create Viral Content (Even If You Suck At Writing!) • Marketing Chopz

How to Create Viral Content (Even If You Suck at Writing!)

Have you ever wondered how so many pro bloggers produce high-quality content that consistently gets tons of shares, likes, and tweets?  

You know…  they create viral content.

I did, and here’s the good news.

how to create viral content on facebook

You don’t have to be a pro blogger or even an expert writer to create “buzz” worthy content.

You just need to follow a simple process that stacks the deck in your favor.

You agree?

So if you’re in need of a time-saving strategy to creating content that attracts a frenzy of visitors…

This formula will surely help you out.

I’m going to break down the fastest and most consistent writing process I’ve developed for myself, my team, and my clients.

It’s a simple five step process… and it works.

I’m not promising you’ll be a Pulitzer Prize winner, but the quality of your content will be a considerable improvement.

Even if your content doesn’t go viral, this repeatable framework will definitely increase the shareability.

So let’s get into it… shall we?

What Makes Content Viral and Shareable?

So viral content has several commonalities (or elements).

If you understand the elements of “virality” or (the formula)… you can systematically reproduce content with similar characteristics.   It’s kinda like following a cake recipe.

Viral Research & Case Studies

Jonah Berger and Katy Milkman co-authored a research paper in the Journal of Marketing Research titled “What Makes Online Content Viral?

They point out three significant findings.

Finding (1):  Positive content is shared more than negative content.

Nobody likes a “Debbie Downer” and nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news… so stay positive!

happy viral content
Happy, happy, happy!

I’m not saying you have to be Tony Robbins “motivational speaker” positive.

But try to stay away from topics that emote sadness and sorrow.

Ask yourself the question when creating your content…

“Would I share it with friends?”

If the answer is no, neither will they.

Finding (2):  Content that evokes high-arousal emotions (i.e., shock, awe, anger, inspire, etc.) is more viral.

Emotional triggers are what fuels the fire for viral content.  Also, think controversy, conflict, heartwarming.  In general, emotional elements that trigger extreme pleasure or extreme pain tend to go viral.

Finding (3):  Informative, practically useful, interesting, and surprising articles get shared more often.

Helpful tips or list post style articles are a good candidate for virality.  Use images and videos to add some flavor.

This video has gotten over 14 million views… and it’s one tip. Crazy!

[cleveryoutube video=”uz6rjbw0ZA0″ style=”1″]

The Viral Content Formula (It’s Like Baking a Cake)

Buzzsumo put out an incredibly insightful post on “How to Go Viral” in a very simple to follow format.  The case study is the findings of the most shared content in 2015.  

viral content formula

Here’s the recipe:

Add one element from each of the boxes below and you have a formula for viral content.

Viral Formula = 1 Emotional Element + 1 Topic Element + 1  Content Element + 1 Format Element

how to create viral content
The Viral Content Formula

You’ll notice Buzzsumo’s findings adds validity to the work of the previously mentioned article by Jonah Berger and Katy Milkman.

It’s no surprise the “Topic Elements” also mirrors what makes a “money making” niche market.

Did you catch that?

So now that we some have some data-driven facts of what makes content go viral…

It’s simply a matter of mixing the elements of the “viral formula” to create your unique piece of content. Then adding a little “polish” in the end.

Let me explain.

The James Bond Writing Method — Sneaky, Yet Effective.

james bond writing method
Keep cool my friends.

You know why people love James bond?

No, not because he’s a trained assassin backed by the English government.

It’s because he’s cool, calm, and collected.

The guy has swagger.

Not to mention he has the best gadgets and always gets the girl.

He simply makes things look easy.

And the same holds true for writing.

Writing shouldn’t be so difficult.

And you shouldn’t break out in cold sweats when you’re in front of a keyboard.

If you want to be as cool as Bond in your writing…

You just need a little training and few cool gadgets.

You still with me?

But first… let’s recap a sec.

You now know the four major tenets of viral and shareable content — emotion, topic, content, and format.

But you probably still got questions like…

How do I find viral content in my niche that I can model? 

How can I write without being distracted?

How do I create amazing content even if I suck at writing?

How do I create content that is easy to read and understand?

Worry no more, my friend.

This is exactly what I’m going to share with you.

Let’s jump right in.

(Step 1) Find Your Target (Viral Topics Backed By Data)

viral content data

Understanding the ingredients needed for viral content one thing.

But how do you come up with ideas that could potentially go viral in your niche?

Moreover, how do you know if your topic will be a hit with your audience?

Believe it or not, this is the easy part.

You just need to know what’s gone viral in the past — then model it.

Trust me on this.

And here’s some tools to help you do that.

Viral Tool: Buzzsumo

Let’s head over to our friends at Buzzsumo and sign up for a “free” account.

Buzzsumo is a content marketer’s dream. It’s hands down probably the easiest way to find content that has gone viral.

And it’s all backed by data.

Pretty cool, huh?

Buzzsumo is essentially a search tool that tracks content across major social media platforms.  It reports back the number of shares on Facebook,  Twitter, Pinterest, Google+,  and LinkedIn.

how to find viral content
Buzzsumo Search Bar

Once logged in you can type in a “search query” in your niche or enter a domain name of a website in your niche to find hot trending topics.

After you hit “search” you will get back a list of the most shared content on the internet.  You can filter by date, language, country, and types of content.

online viral marketing
Buzzsumo: Why Modern Relationships Never Last

Notice the type of articles that got the most “shares” and which content lagged.

In the example above, you see “Why Modern Relationships Never Last” got over 1 million shares across social media.

Take note of what platforms this type of content got the most shares on. Facebook was the clear winner here.

In this scenario, it makes sense why this article got the least amount of traction on LinkedIn (a social media platform for professionals).

You need to understand that “Topic Elements” perform differently across different social media platforms… so adjust accordingly.

create viral posts
This article contains all the elements of the Viral Content Formula.

Buzzsumo is not only great for finding content that has gone viral, but it’s also great for finding “headline templates” for your blog content.

In the example above, “Why Modern Relationships Never Last” you could use the same headline structure across a variety of niches.

Here’s an example of using the headline in the health and fitness niche: “Why Modern Diets Never Last”

You see how this works?

Pro Tip: Notice headlines in popular vanity magazines (i.e., Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, etc.) while you’re standing at the grocery store. Use your phone to snap a pic and create a “swipe file” for future headlines. Rumor has it these copywriters that create headlines for these magazines get paid over a million dollars a year to do so… so they’re worth paying attention to.

Trending Tool: Google Trends

Use Google Trends to find trending topics.  Google Trends allows you dig deep (i.e., trends at a city level).  I always use Google Trends before I go into any niche because it shows interest over time.

This is one of many free digital marketing tools that will give you a bird’s eye view and insight of what’s happening in a particular market.

google top trending stories
Google Trends

The home page usually lists the “featured insights” and the “top trending” stories.  Take a look and see if anything sparks interest.

If you have a topic idea in mind, enter your query into the “Explore Topics”  search bar.  What’s also helpful is the “compare” feature, where you can add multiple search terms at once and compare.

google trends comparison software
Google Trends comparison data

If you chose a comparison feature, you’ll get back a comparison chart (see above) over time. You can filter by “time” and “location.”

This is also where you can see what countries or cities are using this search term the most.

Pro Tip: This is very helpful if doing any paid advertising to your content (i.e., Facebook, PPC, etc.) because you can target only states or cities that show interest.

(Step 2) Pick Your Weapon (Distraction-Free Writing Apps)

If you’re anything like me…

When it comes to actually putting words down on paper (or text editor), the hardest part is getting started.

If you’ve been blogging for any time at all, you know how distracting things can be when trying to create content.

Does this sound familiar?

You have multiple windows open; notifications are popping up, and text messages are blowing up your phone.  Not to mention your text editor is a bit clunky.

distraction free writing

The reality is if you can’t focus… you probably won’t be able to write either.

The secret to writing consistently and efficiently is to create a writing environment that is conducive to “actually” writing.

This means going through the same routine every time you sit down to write (e.g., putting your phone to silent, playing background music, etc.).

Some like noise and others like silence.

Either way, you need to figure out what works for you and stick to it.

For me personally…

I need music but without lyrics.

You also need a text editor or writing software that reduces any kind of friction.

I prefer using the (same) text editor every time – the simpler the better.

And one that is automatically backed up to the cloud.

This way your writing brain is “triggered on” when you open up your favorite writing app.

All the apps below offer a “distraction-free” writing view which I find very helpful.

Here’s a complete list of blogging tools to help you with your writing.

Google Docs (Free)

The built-in WordPress editor was my go-to app for writing for a long time, but I have since switched over to Google Docs for most of my blog posts.

One of the main reasons is because of the increased speed over the WordPress editor when writing a longer post — especially with many images.

Plus I like that my writing is automatically saved and backed up into the cloud as I type.

With a few “view” selections you can make Google Docs into a “distraction free” text editor.

Google Docs text editor
Google Docs in full-screen mode.

WordPress Editor (Free)

As mentioned above the WordPress text editor was my “go to” writing app for years.  I loved the distraction free writing option and the ability to add pictures into the content as I write.

I use to add pictures to my content as I wrote, but I don’t recommend that approach anymore. It’s just too slow.

You’re better off writing first then adding your media all at once at the end.

What I don’t like is having to manually save as I’m writing. And there’s no keyboard shortcut to do so.

That’s another reason why I switched to Google Docs.

WordPress text editor
WordPress Text Editor

Byword (Paid/Mac Only)

For those of you who are looking for a purist approach, Byword might be a great choice (Mac only).

Byword has no editing toolbar, so it’s truly a “distraction-free” environment out of the gate.

It has a cool typewriter feature that mimics a typewriter when writing.  It also gives you the ability to focus your writing on a “by sentence” or “by paragraph” basis.

byword distraction free typing software
Byword App

Here’s an example of the “per paragraph” feature.

byword paragraph focus
Byword App

OmmWriter (Almost Free/PC/Mac)

If you want to get your “zen” on while you write OmmWriter is your best friend.

It’s a simple, yet smart little writing app.

It creates a total “zen environment” to help you focus on your writing.  You can select background colors to match your mood and listen to calming background music.

You can even change the sound of your typing.  I really love this app.  Like Byword, there are no editing toolbars to think about so you can get straight to work.

omm writer zen editor

Step 3:  Go Undercover (Shakespeare + Spelling Bee Champion)

write like Shakespeare

If you’re anything like me, you’re  horrible at grammar and spelling.

Lucky for us, there’ Grammarly — your grammar and spelling workhorse.

Now you don’t have to study the works of Shakespeare or become a spelling bee champ to write like a pro.

Let’s face it…

People will only put up with so much bad grammar before they bounce to another site.

You no longer have an excuse for crappy written articles riddled with poor grammar and misspellings.

The app is free, although they do offer a premium version (which I use).

I use this app for any and everything I publish.

Seriously… it’s crazy helpful!

When my virtual assistant started using Grammarly, I instantly noticed the quality of his writing go up.

And he thanked me for it. (Your welcome Louis.  ツ )

Here’s Grammarly before I  posted.

the best grammar software
Before Grammarly: 18 Critical Issues and 95 Advanced Issues

Here’s after 3 minutes using Grammarly.  It’s simply awesome!

no grammar issues
After Grammarly: No Issues

Enough said. Use it.

Step 4:  Drop the Queen’s English (Write Like a 5th Grader)

queens english

When it comes to writing that gets shared, readability is a big factor.

Your goal is to write clear and succinct. So write like you’re talking to your friend.

How many clinical research papers have you seen go viral?

I’d bet money on… zero.

The Flesch-Kincaid is a readability test designed to indicate how difficult a reading passage in English is to understand.  One of the scores indicates the Flesch-Kincaid grade level score.

You would think the more intelligently you could write the better… not true at all.

Based on the scoring system you should aim to write at a 5th – 8th-grade level.

This blog post measures at Grade 7 for reference.

Note, this is readability level, not grammar level – which is why we use Grammarly.

viral content reading level
The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level Score

Which brings me to one of my favorite writing apps.

Hemmingway App

Hemingway App
Write like you’re talking to your friend.

This is where our writing, in regards to readability, gets a tune-up.

The Hemingway App makes it simple to see what parts of your writing need a little elementary school pixie dust.

Just copy and paste your content into the app and it instantly populates a reading level score…  plus what to fix.

hemingway app score
Hemmingway App score before.

After a bit of tweaking.

hemingway app score
Hemmingway App score after.

Step 5: Create Hypnotic Headlines

headlines that captivate

You don’t have to be a professional copywriter to understand the importance of a great headline.

But you better be able to write one.

Especially if you want a chance at your content going viral… much less read.

A great headline captivates the reader’s attention and pulls them into the content.

Most all viral content has a great headline to match.


Here’s what most people blogging don’t realize…

Your headlines are so important in regards to SEO and ranking your content.

You see, Google’s ranking algorithm favors content with a high click through rate or (CTR) for short.

So if your headline can’t win the “click” amongst its competitors in the SERPs (search engine results page)…

Kiss your ranking dreams good bye.

So the higher the CTR combined with the total “dwell time” (the time people stay reading your content) the better chance you have getting your content to rank on the first page of Google.

Great headline increase CTR and great content increases dwell time.

It’s this one-two punch combination that helps your content rank in the Google SERPs.

The good news is you don’t have to be a world renowned copywriter like Gary Halbert to write a headline that’s magnetic.

And you don’t have to guess anymore.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Welcome, the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer… your new copywriting buddy.

The headline analyzer quickly grades your headline and attaches a score to it  (0 -100).

The higher, the better… and aim for green.

Tips and suggestions are also given to help you create great magnetic and captivating headlines.

viral headlines
Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer

You can see the name of (the post you’re reading) was validated using the Headline Analyzer.

This nifty tool will improve your headlines… so use it.

Ok… that’s it, we’re done.


But let’s rewind to review what you learned.

  1. You understand what type of content is more likely to go viral.
  2. You know the Viral Content Formula and what ingredients are needed.
  3. And you’ve got the James Bond Writing Method in your arsenal.

Are we good?

I know it’s a simple process… but it’s very effective.

If you found this post helpful would you do me a favor and share it?

I want to go viral .¯_(ツ)_/¯ 

Try it out and let me know what you think.  유


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