How to Use Psychological Motivators in Your Blog Posts

Posted by Harshad

How to Use Psychological Motivators in Your Blog Posts

How to Use Psychological Motivators in Your Blog Posts

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 07:01 AM PST

Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Glori Surban, who helps business owners and solopreneurs by providing painless blogging and guest posting services so they can focus on growing their businesses. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her via LinkedIn.

High traffic, loyal readers, niche expertise, and high page rankings are just a few of the many goals of serious bloggers. But there are millions of blogs out there vying for attention. Most have better web designs and higher page rankings than yours. So obviously, if there was a way for you to stand out and be heard, you’d want to know about it.

Blogging may not be as precise of a science as writing landing pages and other forms of sales copy, but you may apply a few copywriting principles to the way you blog. Reading this post will help you understand why learning how to deliberately yet discreetly use psychological tactics can improve reader retention and convince people to read more of your blog posts and share them generously.

Although I’d love to take credit for what you’re about to read, most of these wonderful tips were inspired by the book, Web Copy that Sells by Maria Veloso, who I consider the Meryl Streep of copywriting. Practice using these psychological motivators wisely because they can give you a crucial advantage in this crowded blogosphere.

"Reason Why" Device

You’ve probably read about the "copy machine" experiment conducted by Ellen Langer, a Harvard social psychologist. A person asked people who were waiting their turn to use a copy machine if she could use it first. Here’s how it went:

Q1: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
Response: 60% complied

Q2: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?
Response: 94% complied

Q3: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?
Response: 93% complied

Note that a higher number of people complied whenever the word "because" pops up. The idea is that all you need is to give a reason, even if the reason doesn’t make sense at all. Why else would you be queueing up for a copy machine? Everyone is there to make copies!

How to use it:

Use "because" (or simply give your readers a reason) because it’ll help get their attention.

“Practice using these psychological motivators wisely because they can give you a crucial advantage in this crowded blogosphere."

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)

Veloso defines NLP as "the science of how the brain codes learning and experience." This approach takes advantage of the power of syntax to influence people’s thinking and behavior. Here are 3 NLP devices you can practice using in your blog posts:

1. Embedded commands

Embedded commands are designed to urge people to do something. At first glance, they look pretty bland, like:

"Blogging may not be as precise of an art as writing landing pages and other forms of sales copy, but you may apply copywriting principles to the way you blog."

How To Use It:

Create a simple command, something you want your blog readers to do while or after they read your post. Embed the command in a sentence or within your call to action at the end of your blog post.

2. Presuppositions

Presuppositions take advantage of the fact that our brains usually can’t handle too many tasks or information at once. When it receives too much, it copes by presupposing, that is, accepting suggestions as facts. Take this as an example:

"So obviously, if there was a simple way for you to stand out and be heard, you’d want to know about it."

Using the presuppositional word, "obviously," the sentence was met with less resistance and you easily accept the suggestion that "if there was a simple way for you to stand out and be heard, you’d want to know about it."

How To Use It:

You can use phrases like "Everybody understands," "All people know that," or other similarly structured phrases to begin your sentences. While presuppositional words are pretty effective, most ) are adverbs (e.g. clearly, readily, easily, so use them sparingly and strategically.

3. Linguistic binds

Linguistic binds help convince your readers that what they’re reading is true. It uses embedded commands to make your message more powerful. Take a look at

"Reading this post thoroughly will help you understand why learning how to deliberately yet discreetly use psychological tactics can improve reader retention and convince people to read more of your blog posts and share them generously."

“Reading this post" is a fact followed by the embedded command "understand why learning how to deliberately yet discreetly use psychological tactics…"

The pattern appears logical because the fact at the beginning softens up people to agree with the statement that follows.

How To Use It:

Linguistic Bind = FACT (what the reader is actually doing or have done) + COMMAND (what you want your reader to do next or to take away from what you wrote)

3. Zeigarnik Effect

The Zeigarnik effect was named after Bluma Zeigarnik, who theorized that people are more likely to think about uncompleted or interrupted tasks than completed ones. You can take advantage of this device in 2 ways:

  1. Get rid of any unnecessary links, buttons, and banners on your blog so that your blog visitors can focus on reading your posts. These distractions can become "tasks" that your readers need to complete even before they start reading any of your blog posts. Choose a simple, minimalistic design and use a lot of white space.
  2. Write list posts wisely.

The Buffer blog’s interesting article on to-do lists highlights how people can’t resist the urge to make lists (and cross items off them). This could be the very reason why list posts are so popular: readers have to finish the list!

A Word of Caution

Not all copywriting principles are applicable to blogging. In fact, many of them could work against the goals of blogging. But the Zeigarnik effect, neurolinguistic programming, and the "reason why" device are three psychological motivators that can help you weave a more convincing blog post. These methods are so powerful that using them requires great responsibility.

So keep the following in mind when you’re using these tactics:

  1. Be responsible and only use them to strengthen what you have to say.
  2. You need practice to get it right.
  3. These devices will only be effective when you give value, not false promises.
  4. Your writing voice is essential. Relying simply on psychological motivators but not working proactively on honing your writing voice will not help you grow.

Do you use any psychological devices in your blog posts? Can you spot other psychological motivators littered throughout this post? Share them when you comment below.


Fresh Resources For Designers And Developers – December 2013

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 05:01 AM PST

Since we are in the end of year 2013. We want to make this series special. As always, every month, we search for tools, apps, and resources for web designers and developers. And for the month of December, the list is no less impressive.

We have for you tools that help you turn skeumorphic design into flat design in a snap, a couple of tools to help you manage code snippets, a couple more that will be of great help if you need to build WordPress themes, and an awesome database of API docsets you just cannot miss. Let’s check out the full list.


Skeumorphic design on the Web are now getting flatter. It’s an effect of changing trends. Some of the advantages of Flat Design are that it gives the UI a fresher looks, and allows the users to focus more on the website’s content. Need to turn your skeumorphic design flat? This Photoshop plugin will let you do that in just a few clicks.


Dash is a fine up-to-date collection of API docsets for a wide range of (more than 80+) languages, including for PHP, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS3, HTML, Sass, LESS, etc, that you can download for use. It’s also a handy code snippet manager, making it way easier to streamline your work.


When building a WordPress theme for public use, an Option Page is created for theme customization so the code does not get compromised. Building an Option Page however, is time consuming, unless you use a framework like Redux. It supports for some field types – single line input, text area, image upload, custom error handling, custom field & validation, and import/export functionality.

WP Test

If you are about to release a WordPress theme, you need WP Test to measure your theme and to identify errors and flaws that may only occur under particular circumstances. It contains a set of data based on WordPress Theme Unit Testing and you also get an inside look into some experiences by the author.


GistBox is an app for keep code snippets. It uses Gist, the code sharing feature from Github as the storage. So if you have a bunch of code snippets saved in Gist, you can use this app to make them more manageable.


Flaticon is a Photoshop plugin that allows you to search and find icons (from Flaticon database) directly from Photoshop. Flaticon comes with more than 19,000 icons. All icons are vector, and thus are scalable at any size. This Flaticon is compatible with CS5, CS6 and CC.


Transit brings CSS3 transitions and transformations to jQuery. And since it uses CSS at its core, this plugin will work best in IE10+, Firefox 4+, Safari 5+, Chrome, and Opera. It will nicely degrade in browsers that do not support CSS transition with the jQuery Transition and Animate method.


Ink is a new HTML email framework that allows you to create beautiful and responsive email that will works across different email clients and platforms – without the hassle. It comes with a set of classes that allow you to build the grid, control element visibility, and create buttons.


Animatron is an online tool that allows you to build animation and interactive presentations with HTML5. You can add sound, svg, images, split the scenes, and create custom shape. You can then publish your work as HTML5, and GIF.


Ionicons is a set of new font icons by Ionic Framework. These icons are nice simple, but sharp. It is prefect for use in flat websites or apps.


Freelancers: How To Harness Your Inner Creativity

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 02:01 AM PST

"I’d love to do creative work! But how do you think of all these crazy things?" It seems that creativity is magic, a mystical process, the secrets to which the mundane struggle to comprehend. So many want to be writers; so few actually want to write.

When asked “where do you get your ideas?”, science fiction author Harlan Ellison – sweet-tempered darling that he is – would tell people that there’s this idea factory in New Jersey. He pays a subscriber’s fee and they send him a fresh six-pack every two weeks. To which he always morosely adds, you’d be surprised how many people ask him for the address of the idea factory…

Let’s be clear about this. Most creators themselves don’t exactly understand their own creative process. You have to be a little bit crazy and a little bit mystic. This won’t turn you into an exciting idea machine from nothing. But if you have been visited by the imp of creativity more than once, here’s how to put out the milk and cookies to ensure that it comes back and makes itself at home.

The Spock / Joker rule

Use the two different kinds of creativity for two different purposes – the two kinds of creativity being Practical (Mr. Spock) and Fantastic (The Joker).

Practical creativity is what you use to do engineering, programming, interface design, and any place you’ll be applying technical knowledge. Fantastic creativity is when you’re inventing entertainment. The best time for Practical Creativity is just about mid-morning, after your first cup of coffee (or whatever starts your engine).

The best time for Fantastic creativity is the opposite of this time: when you’re not quite as fresh, somewhat tired, not at the top of your game. Maybe even after one drink.

Split Creativity

Why is this? Because your logical mind gets in the way of the silly playtime that you need to be creative. You can’t come up with the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants at 10 AM. Your inner Mr. Spock will frown, "A talking sponge? How illogical!"

But at 2AM when you’re scrabbling for ideas for a cartoon character, your brain is loose and plastic, so it can make illogical connections more easily. "A talking sponge?", shrieks your inner Joker, "That’s hilarious! Let’s make his house a pineapple."

Subtract 10% from your IQ

Oh, no, you had to compromise your artistic principles just to appeal to the common masses! Whatever shall you do? Cash your paycheck and use it to finance your highbrow art in another market, that’s what.

Really, experience will show that to make an idea popular, you need to dumb it down. This is why the most famous song by any rock band is also the easiest one to hum. This is why the "Twilight" books fly off the shelves while headier fare gets shipped back to the publisher.

It’s why reality shows with ludicrous concepts are on your TV right now instead of quantum physics lectures. Dream all the dreams you want, but if you’re going to make a living at this, then live in the world around you.

Be a squirrel

You can’t control when inspiration strikes, but you can save an idea until its time comes. That’s what squirrels do – store away nuts when there’s plenty of them, and dig them up later when they’re scarce. Have files and notepads handy at all times – jot down any idea that comes to you at any time. You’ll find a use for it later.

Another thing squirrels do is move around a lot. Have you ever sat at your desk trying to have an idea only to come up dry? Now have you heard people remark about how readily ideas come to them in the shower? The reason has nothing to do with the shower.

The reason is that when you shower, you have quiet time to think without much distraction, and you’re standing up and moving around. An active body activates the mind. Need an idea? Take a long walk. It’s sometimes that simple!

Throw a lot away

"Before you can grow one acre of wheat, be prepared to shovel one ton of manure."

You can pick almost any artist whose work you admire, and be assured that what you’re seeing is about 10%, at the maximum, of their output. That’s right, even geniuses are wrong 90% of the time. That’s how you produce brilliant ideas: Make it your goal to instead produce ten brilliant ideas, then throw away the nine that don’t work.

dig trenches, then build cathedrals

There’s a false impression out there that creative work is some kind of exalted pursuit where you bask on your throne in an ivory tower, showered in rose petals by your hovering muses. Actually, creative work has a lot more in common with digging ditches.

When it comes down to it, there’s too much fixation on ideas. What makes the difference is the execution. That part requires passion for what you’re doing and the confidence that when your vision is realized, it will become the cathedral you were seeking all along.

So don’t just dream the ideas, make them work. Don’t procrastinate, don’t daydream the project away. Ideas are worthless, if you don’t make them happen.

Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Peter Brittain, a director of slinkywebdesign.com.au. He is also author of Northern Lights a web design blog offering advice and strategies on website design, marketing and development.



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