Learn How to Write Truly Gripping Blog Posts the Aristotle Way
Aristotle may have lived over two thousand years ago, but he knew the secret of writing a compelling and persuasive blog post. Now you can learn from his wisdom, too. The secrets of compelling writing have changed little over the millennia, and the writing principles he discovered are as true today as ever.
A New Medium for an Old Formula
Aristotle would have been a great blogger.
As one of the world’s greatest ever philosophers, he knew a thing or two about how people think and react. Trained by Plato and hired by Alexander the Great, he was truly one of the greatest thinkers in Ancient Greece.
But Aristotle didn’t just think. He wrote, too. And he wrote a lot. He also spoke, and lectured and discussed. In the process of this work, he learned the secrets of engaging people, holding their attention and persuading them to see things his way.
A lot has changed in the last two thousand years. But the way people think and act hasn’t changed at all. Aristotle’s principles are just as valid as they were when Greece was the centre of learning, culture and philosophy. Learn these principles and you will know how to write truly compelling results that can truly have an impact on people’s lives.
The Triple-Power Approach to Persuasive Writing
In Rhetoric, Aristotle proposes that there are three basic elements to persuasive writing (or speech). If you want to win over the person you are addressing, he says, you need to work on these three fundamental pillars of persuasion:
- Ethos – the trust and credibility inspired by the writer/speaker
- Pathos – emotional appeal and connection
- Logos – logical arguments supported by reason
So in modern English, we can express these three pillars as:
Let’s look at each of these in turn and see how we can use them make our writing too good to put down.
#1. Trust: The Importance of Credibility
Trust is essential in any line of business, but it is especially important online. A visitor coming to your blog for the first time has no idea who you are or what your background is. How can they know whether to trust anything you say?
Research shows that lack of trust is the key reason for shopping cart abandonment. It is far more important than the offer or even the price. If the potential customer doesn’t trust you completely, the sale is guaranteed to fail.
That is why relationship building is so important to bloggers. If you have products to sell – maybe online courses – you are wasting your time trying to sell them to visitors who have never seen your blog before. Instead, you need to focus on building a relationship first.
That’s why you need an About page that tells people exactly who you are. I know that when I first visiting an interesting-looking blog, I always head over to the About page to see who is behind the words.
So use this page to explain who you are, and why you are qualified to speak to the reader about this particular subject. If you have relevant academic qualifications, you can mention those for sure. But if not, then outline your relevant experience and background.
Next, you should link to your social media profiles. When visitors see that you are active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest, you start to become a real human being in their eyes. They can see that you are real - and not just a stock photo of a model with a fake bio.
Most important of all, fill your blog with interesting, relevant and useful content. Don’t be afraid to give away good information for free – that’s how you persuade people that you are worth listening to. Create awesome link magnets to encourage people to opt-in to your mailing list.
Once they are on your list, you have the beginnings of a strong relationship. Now you need to nurture this list carefully. Don’t spam with them offers to buy stuff – that’s like proposing marriage on a first date. They’re not ready yet. First you need to grow the relationship with more great content, advice and inspiration.
If you get the relationship-building right, you will have no trouble making money when you finally present them with an offer. They just won’t be able to refuse.
#2. Emotion: The Trigger that Changes the World
Aristotle would have been a great advertising executive, too. He understood that emotion is a very powerful force. Big corporations today shamelessly use emotions to sell all kinds of products, from soap powder to luxury cars.
They exploit our desire to be part of a happy family with commercials suggesting the right choice of right soap powder (their brand, of course!) makes for a happy hubby and delighted children. They show us how choosing their over-priced car will invoke feelings of pride, success and happiness.
Emotional writing not only sells soap powder – it can change the world, too. Check out the video below to see how Martin Luther King used emotion to turn the tide in the American Civil Rights era. He encouraged to dream about how wonderful things could be, and how the world could be a much better place if the people of America stood up for their rights:
So if you want to change the world, writing with emotion needs to be a key tool in your armory. And even if your ambitions are a little more modest, emotion-based writing is still the key to engaging people and having a real impact in their lives.
#3. Logic – the Reasoned Argument that Wins the Sale
Let’s imagine a man of a certain age – let’s call him Bill - walking past a car showroom. As he walks past, he sees a shiny new car on the forecourt – the Mustang Convertible he was wanted since he was in his teens. It looks beautiful, shining in the afternoon sun.
Bill imagines himself in the driving seat, cruising along a beach-side boulevard – the wind blowing in his hair, pretty ladies giving him admiring glances while other men look on with envy. He can hear the throaty roar of the engine, the squeal of the tires as he takes a tight corner, and the sound of cool music blasting from the audio system.
He’s hooked. But he knows he shouldn’t buy it. After all, he already has a perfectly good Toyota sedan, and how could he fit the whole family in a two-seater? Plus the price is above his pay grade, and he knows his wife would hate it.
But then the showroom salesman slips up behind him. And the salesman knows what Bill is thinking, and how to win him over.
‘Beautiful car, isn’t it sir?’ he says. ‘And it’s a limited edition, too. A classic car like this will be a fortune in ten years’ time. This would be a fantastic investment…you could make a fortune selling it to a collector.’
Bill is wavering now, but stands his ground. ‘I bet you’re right, but I’ve got a three-year old Honda that gets me from A to B OK. I can’t afford to splash out on a car like this.’
‘Three years old?’ The salesman shakes his head. ‘So I guess the warranty has run out, and now you are going to get hit with all the repair bills. If you buy this car, you will have a brand-new warranty – it will save you a fortune in servicing and repair costs. Cheaper in the long run. And with a brand-new car, you won’t have to worry about breaking down on the freeway. Much safer.’
‘Yeah, but this car is too small – I have two teenage kids.’
‘If they are in their teens, they’ll be leaving home for college soon. Then it will just be you and your wife – and a two-seater like this will be perfect. Think about the fuel expenses – why drive a car big enough for a whole family when you only need one big enough for two?’
So a few hours later, our man arrives home proudly driving his new Mustang Convertible. But when his wife sees what he has done, she doesn’t love it at all. Quite the reverse. Poor Bill spends the next week sleeping on the sofa, wondering how the salesman talked him into this.
Hmmm. So what went wrong here? How did Bill end up spending far too much money on a car he didn’t really need?
What happened is that Bill strongly desired the car for purely emotional reasons – he loved the idea of driving such a cool car. But on their own, emotions weren’t enough to make the sale, especially at a high price. But the salesman knew what do to. He hit Bill will all kinds of logical reasons for buying the car:
- It’s a good investment
- You will save on servicing and repairs
- You will be safe from breakdowns
- Your fuel costs will be lower
- A two-seater will be ideal when the kids leave home
This kind of thing happens a lot more than most of us would like to admit to. We desire things for purely emotional reasons, then justify the purchase with logic. The result is that we often end up buying things we don’t really need. That’s why many countries have ‘cooling off’ periods for major purchases.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you should act like our car salesman and trick people into making purchases. However, you should be aware that logic is a very important part of making a persuasive argument.
Trust is important to get us started, and emotion helps us win people over to our way of thinking. But it is cold, hard logic that helps them take the final step and commit.
A Triple-Power Strategy
So when we put these three elements to work – ethos, pathos and logos - we can achieve amazing things. We can change the world like Martin Luther King, or we can help people to achieve significant change in their own lives.
Whatever you want to achieve as a blogger, the principles of trust, emotion and logic should underpin your writing. If you remember that, then every blog post you write will be a masterpiece of persuasion.
Aristotle would be proud of you!