In-between writing your screenplay, your third NaNoWriMo novel, and your personal blog…we all know what you really want to do is write a self-help article that goes viral, right?
Let’s do this business.
Here are the 8 best steps you can follow.
1: BE REALLY GOOD AT SOMETHING MOST OTHER PEOPLE SUCK AT
Are you great at exercising every day? Do you publish high quality videos on YouTube with reckless abandon? Are you so organized that your labels have labels? Do you lack any sort of fear of rejection?
Perfect. You are the exact right person to write a self-help article, and you are the font of knowledge we must all rely upon.
Most of us suck at doing something. Many of us suck at several things. That’s why we’re reading all these viral articles in the first place.
So if you’re really good at doing something, you’re already 90 percent of the way there.
2: GET BORED OF DOING THE THING YOU’RE AWESOME AT
Since you’re so good at whatever the thing is, you’re probably doing it all the time. But maybe, for a few minutes while you’re drinking coffee and trying to finish that writing project you started when your neighbor Brad dared you to because he thought you’d never finish it…you might have time to write a self-help article.
You can’t help other people to do a thing if you’re busy actually doing that thing.
3: PICK A NUMBER BETWEEN 4 AND 8
It takes at least 4 steps to do something worth doing, but anything more than 8 steps is too long to bother with.
Every good self-help article has between 4 and 8 steps.
If it takes fewer than 4 steps, people don’t believe it. It seems too easy. It seems too magical.
But anything longer than 8? Well, then they’ve already stopped caring by step 6. They wouldn’t even know if you started faking steps because they’ll have clicked something else.
So, you’ve got to distill all of your knowledge about the thing you’re amazing at down to somewhere between 4 and 8 things.
4: STATE EVERYTHING WITH 1000 PERCENT CONFIDENCE
You’re the only person in the world who has ever known how to fix a boat or write a blog or exercise correctly or whatever…
And you’ve got to BELIEVE in that “truth” even if it’s not the case.
You don’t want your readers to think that you might not know what you’re talking about.
You’re God’s Gift to this topic.
You know what you’re saying and you say it to the back of the room.
5: PRETEND ANYONE CAN DO THE THING
In your deepest heart-of-hearts, you know that…
Hold on a minute.
That’s really an expression, isn’t it? Heart-of-hearts? As if we all have a field of hearts inside our bodies and only one of them is the best one or something?
Anyway, just like you know that you’re the only expert on the thing, you also know that almost no one can actually do this thing.
There’s something special about you that makes you the perfect person to do it.
Maybe you really enjoy rock climbing while wearing slippers on your hands. Maybe your brain has developed a strange chemical addiction to posting articles every day. Maybe you just really like being happy more than everyone else.
You have to totally ignore this information.
You have to completely ignore everything that’s special about you so that other people truly feel like they can also do the thing.
6: HAVE A STEP THAT’S NOT REALLY A STEP AND IS JUST THERE FOR FUN
Near the end of your article, you should have a step that’s a joke step, like “Eat a sandwich!,” or “take a break!,” or “Give yourself a pat on the back, you’re nearly done!”
That last one is good for convincing the reader they can actually do a thing, so I recommend something like that.
Plus, if they’re skimming your article looking for the secret sauce you have that no one else does, they might see your silly step and slow down, and say “oh you!” out loud.
Or some other region-appropriate exclamation.
7: FILL YOUR ARTICLE WITH STOCK PHOTOS OF ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE DOING THE THING
Nothing helps the average person aspire to greatness like seeing a totally-not-posed-or-fake photo of someone doing something vaguely like the thing they want to do.
Plus, images make the article look more exciting, and entice more people to click. They think “I could look like that person by doing this nigh-impossible thing!”
8: PRAY TO WHATEVER YOU BELIEVE IN THAT THE ALGORITHMS PICK YOU AS A WINNER
Well, you’ve done it.
You’ve followed all these amazing steps and you’ve finished writing a confident-sounding self-help article and put it up on Service Of Your Choice.
Now you just have to hope that people actually see it.
You can share it with all your friends on social media who are jealous of your ability to do the thing, but because of that jealousy they might just sigh in disgust and not actually read it.
How dare you gloat to them about how good you are!
Instead, it’s all down to luck.
Because going viral is a horrible slot machine. And we should all just give up trying to do it and have fun instead.