The #1 Mental Model For Writers Who Want To Write High-Quality, Viral Content


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 12, 2023

4 min read


The #1 Mental Model For Writers Who Want To Write High-Quality, Viral Content

"The #1 Mental Model For Writers Who Want To Write High-Quality, Viral Content". That was the #1 question going through my mind as I pressed ‘Publish’ on my first Forbes article in April of 2013. The results of doing this over and over for each article have surprised me. It all comes down to one mental model, which I will dissect in this article.

In my experience and from my research, collecting and learning the most valuable mental models in the world is a key strategy of world-class entrepreneurs and leaders. Because, the better our mental model of any domain is, the more likely we are to be successful in that domain. A longform article is the culmination of thousands of little decisions, and almost all of the decisions I make can be traced back to this mental model.

The long tail theory is wrong because most of the overall attention is being concentrated in the blockbusters in every medium. This is the central reason that the blockbuster model is so powerful. The higher quality something is in terms of the underlying ideas and how it is packaged, the more likely it is to be shared over and over. Finally, we humans are fundamentally designed to consume things that are popular. In other words, the Internet is just one giant positive feedback loop.

By understanding this phenomenon, I made the decision to focus on quality over quantity. With each article, my aim is to write the best article that has ever been written on the subject. There is a lot of competition for mediocre articles. In the world of online content creation, the blockbuster approach has not yet become a standard practice. Therefore, the barrier to creating blockbuster content is very low.

Research shows that with any given academic article, the reputation of the authors has a big impact on the article’s initial success. Just saw that Malcolm Gladwell’s latest article came out, and I’m really excited to read it. On the other hand, if I see an article from someone I’ve never heard of, I’m probably not going to click over, unless there is a really compelling headline or it was shared by multiple people in my network.

It’s a whole other thing when a blockbuster article completely flips someone’s reality on its head and changes the way they see and interact with the world. One true fan is worth 1,000 social media followers.

Implementing the blockbuster model not only helps in building a reputation but also allows writers to develop an amazing body of work. By investing time in research and deliberate practice, each article makes you smarter and a better writer.

No matter how obvious or proven the blockbuster mental model is, following it is hard. Almost everyone I tell the approach to nods as if they get it. But very few people actually do the hard work. Early in his career, Buffett discovered the power of the blockbuster mental model and adopted the strategy of only making 1–2 investments per year. In other words, Buffett only swings at pitches when he thinks he can hit a homerun. We live in a media world with winner-take-all dynamics. In this world, a strategy that doesn’t maximize your chances for a home run is the most risky.

In addition to the blockbuster mental model, there is another layer in the network that plays a significant role in the success of writers and content creators - RSS newsmastering or curation. The idea is that a large network of sites like Edu_RSS should emerge, forming a second layer in the network. This second layer allows the internet to self-organize, cluster information from various sources, and produce highly targeted and specific resource feeds.

So, how can writers apply these mental models to their own work and increase their chances of creating high-quality, viral content? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Focus on quality over quantity: Instead of churning out numerous mediocre articles, invest your time and effort in creating one exceptional piece of content. By doing so, you increase the likelihood of it being shared and gaining attention.
  • 2. Build your reputation: Establish yourself as an authoritative figure in your field by consistently producing high-quality content. This will not only attract more readers but also increase the chances of your articles being shared and recognized.
  • 3. Embrace curation: Utilize the power of RSS newsmastering or curation to gather information from various sources and create specialized resource feeds. This approach allows you to provide targeted and specific content to your readers, further enhancing your reputation and attracting a loyal following.

In conclusion, the blockbuster mental model and the concept of RSS newsmastering or curation are powerful tools for writers who aspire to create high-quality, viral content. By understanding and implementing these models, writers can increase their chances of success, build their reputation, and develop an amazing body of work. So, embrace the power of the blockbuster and curate your way to success in the world of content creation.

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