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Grammar Is Sexy

Study The Masters Part 3: James Clear

This week I turn to another distinctive blog, that of James Clear.

Just what is James Clear’s site about? As he puts it on his landing page,

“Hi, I’m James Clear.

I’m an entrepreneur, weightlifter, and travel photographer in 20+ countries.

Before I tell you my story, let’s talk about why this website is useful for you.

Like you, I’m battling to become better and trying to put a small dent in my corner of the universe. I write about the struggle that we all face to become better leaders, better workers, and better people — and how improving our health can help us do that.

Here’s a quick taste of what you’ll find here…

  • Proven ways to get strong, reverse injury, and cure disease
  • Ideas for improving your work and your health at the same time
  • Why art is healthy (and why creating more can save your life)

Plus, you’ll get my photos from around the world and much, much more…

All of this is delivered to you through a delightful blend of scientific research, my own experiments, and easy–to–understand writing.”

This has to be one of the best unique value propositions I’ve seen. After a super-brief, intriguing introduction of who he is, James gets right to what should be the point of any website’s landing/about page: how the reader benefits.

He comes right out and says it: “let’s talk about why this website is useful for you.”

Whether they realize it or not, “why is this useful to me?” is the main question any visitor to your company’s site is going to ask. If you aren’t laser-focused on your target readers, they’re going to click away and go somewhere else.

Throughout this excerpt, James continually makes the reader feel welcome, using empathetic phrases such as “like you” and “struggle we all face.” This builds trust with the reader, as it lets them know that James cares about them. Of course, I’m sure your company cares about its readers and potential customers, but it’s not enough for you to know that–you have to make it explicit, the way James does.

Building trust is only one reason this page is so successful, however. James focuses largely on how his writing benefits his audience, an essential tenet of copywriting. If you look closely, you’ll see that James is implying that reading his site will cause a transformation in his readers.

We see this in phrases such as “trying to put a small dent in my corner of the universe.” The kind of highly motivated people James’s blog targets will latch onto phrases like that, thinking, “Yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want to leave my mark on the world.”

He then drives the point home in the next sentence with a list of qualities that highly motivated people would love to possess: “better leaders, better workers, and better people.” The term “better” is especially important here, as it once again emphasizes a transformation and creates a compelling reason to keep reading.

Also, the phrase “how improving our health can help us do that” serves as a bonus that further differentiates James’s site. While admirable qualities, being “better leaders, better workers, and better people” is a fairly generic set of goals, one that almost every website out there would at least claim.

The extra bit about health creates another compelling piece of value, as well as inviting curiosity as the reader wonders, “How does improving my health help me be a better leader, worker, and person? I guess I should read this guy’s stuff to find out.”

Specific Illustration of Value

The genius of this landing page goes beyond a general description of what readers from the site can expect. James anticipates any questions the reader might have by giving a “quick taste of what you’ll find here” in the form of a bulleted list. In this way, he demonstrates the specific value a reader will get from his site and work.

Let’s break down why each of these list items is so effective.

Proven ways to get strong, reverse injury, and cure disease

Enough said, right? Who wouldn’t want to do these things? If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that this point ties in to James’s description of himself as a “weightlifter.” It’s hard to doubt, then, that his ways are “proven.” Reversing injury and curing disease are compelling offers that go back for millennia, piquing the interest of the healthy and offering hope to the sick or injured who may be reading.

Ideas for improving your work and your health at the same time

This point is where the list gets interesting. “How,” the reader wonders, “can I improve my work and my health simultaneously? I didn’t think that was even possible.” The compelling question behind this claim is enough to get most readers to at least take a look at James’s work.

Why art is healthy (and why creating more can save your life)

Art is healthy? How? I have a vague idea that art is relaxing or something like that, but how is it healthy? Creating more of it can save my life? How can this guy make such a claim? I have to read this.

At least, that’s what went through my head when I first read this bullet point, and I’ve no doubt it continues to spur potential readers on in the same way.

A Common Focus

Despite offering separate and compelling benefits, these bullet points all share a common focus. All go back to physical health and self-improvement in general. Best of all, James delivers on these claims in his articles, which are well-researched, engaging, and useful.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite articles:

We could all learn something from James’s excellent, reader-focused content.

Who are some of the “master” bloggers/online writers that you look up to? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Today’s post was the third in an ongoing series examining what we can learn from some of the best blogs on the web. Check out the first two posts:

Also, if you liked what you read here and want even more, enter your email address below to get my free e-book, Blogging Is Sexy: Ten Steps to Exceptional Online Writing.


Featured image source: James Clear in 2010

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