[This is a loooong post. As a result, I’ve also made it available as a free downloadable PDF ebook. Right click here to download.]

Life is like a box of chocolate. Writing a book is like carving a jack-o-lantern. Blogging is like deep sea fishing ( <—More on that one later!).

Everyone loves analogies. They’re fun to read, and they make concepts both easier to understand and easier to relate to. You should include analogies in your blogging because they can be a big hit with your readers. See my Newton’s 3 Laws of Blogging post for evidence of that.

So let’s get started!

What is an analogy?

According to trusty ol’ Wikipedia, an analogy is the “process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject … to another particular subject.” In other words, an analogy compares one thing to another.

What makes an analogy good?

A good analogy surprises you by connecting two things that you normally wouldn’t have associated together. A good analogy also provides real, applicable knowledge beyond the entertainment value.

After reading a good analogy on a blog, you can’t help but leave a comment :)

Step 1: Choose your analogs

The first step in creating an amazing analogy is choosing your analogs.

The analogs are the two things you’re comparing in your analogy. It definitely helps if you’re familiar with both of the 2 things, though you really only need to be familiar with one of them.

It helps if your two analogs are the same part of speech (ie: they’re both nouns or they’re both verbs). It obviously doesn’t sound that great or make sense to say “How running your blog [noun phrase] is like brown [adjective].” I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is by using gerunds (nouns derived from -ing forms of verbs, like running, blogging, fishing, etc.).

Analog #1 – This is what you are [hopefully] already familiar with. It can be your overall niche (ie: blogging tips), or it can be something more specific within your niche (ie: screencast creation). It could also be a category on your blog (ie: WordPress) or something a bit more on the fringe of your niche (ie: CSS customization).

Analog #2 – This is what you’re going to be comparing your familiar subject matter with.

How should you choose analog #2? Good question. You can choose pretty much anything, really! Obviously, the better acquainted you are with the subject, the easier it will be for you to make connections. But you’ll be able to create an analogy even if you only have a basic understanding of the general knowledge about the subject.

I’m confident that this whole process works with almost any 2 items or subjects, so don’t spend too much time fretting over what you want to write about.

Step 2: List the characteristics of analog #2

Now that you know what you’re going to be comparing, the fun begins! We’re going to sidestep analog #1 (the niche thing you’re familiar with) for a minute and focus on analog #2 (what you’re comparing your niche thing to).

This step involves brainstorming a list of the characteristics of analog #2. Write down as much as you can about it. Here’s a list of ideas (note that not all of them will be applicable to your subject, but some will):

  • What are the components of analog #2?
  • What does analog #2 do?
  • What is analog #2’s purpose?
  • How is it used?
  • How is it made?
  • What’s the effect once you’re done with it?
  • What do I know about analog #2?
  • What are the first things that come to your mind?
  • How does it do what it does?
  • How does it feel to be involved with analog #2?
  • How do you feel when you look at it?
  • What questions do you have about it?

Ok, maybe that doesn’t quite make sense yet, but here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Let’s say I want to compare blogging to deep sea fishing (I have been fishing once in my life, I don’t enjoy it, I really don’t know much about it, and I’ve never even come close to deep sea fishing before).

Here are some things I brainstormed about deep sea fishing:

  • It’s sometimes hard to reel a big fish in. It can take hours.
  • It can be hard to actually get the fish into the boat.
  • To go deep sea fishing, you need a big boat and a heavy-duty rod and reel.
  • It seems like something that rich business men do.
  • It can be dangerous if the weather is bad.
  • You need to have some kind of bait at the end of your line.
  • Fish are tasty.
  • My roommates went deep sea fishing in Florida once, but they didn’t catch anything.
  • How deep is “deep” sea fishing?
  • You should probably go with people who know what they’re doing, especially with an experienced boater.
  • You’ll need a guide to know where to go fishing.

That’s pretty much all I could come up with off the top of my head. Once you’ve brainstormed for a few minutes (you don’t really need to do it for longer than that) or until you’ve got a solid little list, move on to the next step.

Step 3: Start relating!

This is where everything starts to come together, but it’s also the hardest step for me to describe. Go down your list one by one and ask yourself how that point or question relates to your niche topic. Maybe try rewriting the point to make it apply. Here are examples with the deep sea fishing/blogging example:

  • It’s sometimes hard to reel in a big fish. It can take hours.
    • It can be hard to reel your readers in. You need catchy headlines, a nice design, etc.
  • It can be hard to actually get the fish into the boat.
    • It can be hard to get your readers to subscribe once you’ve landed them on your blog.
  • To go deep sea fishing, you need a big boat and a heavy-duty rod and reel.
    • You need the right platform to blog from (like WordPress).
    • To blog successfully, you need the right equipment. This includes hosting, a domain name, etc.
  • It seems like something that rich business men do.
    • Uh… I got nothing for this one.
  • It can be dangerous if the weather is bad.
    • What are some storms or waves that can sink your blog in the blogosphere?
  • You need to have some kind of bait at the end of your line.
    • What incentives do people have to comment or subscribe?
  • Fish are tasty.
    • Success with your blog tastes great.
  • My roommates went deep sea fishing in Florida once. They didn’t catch anything, but they still had fun.
    • Some people don’t succeed with their blogs, but that doesn’t mean it was a waste of time.
  • How deep is “deep” sea fishing?
    • Uh… Again, I can’t really think of anything for this one.
  • You should probably go with people who know what they’re doing, especially with an experienced boater.
    • Ask experienced bloggers for help when you need it.
  • You’ll need a guide to know where to go fishing.
    • You’ll need to figure out where to go to attract new blog readers.

Pretty cool, huh?! We’re on fire, so let’s keep going!

Step 4: Figure out which points you want to write about

This one doesn’t require too much explanation. Go over the list you made in step 3, pick the ones that you feel are most powerful/useful/interesting/funny/whatever, and get rid of the rest.

Here’s my edited list (I crossed out the ones I didn’t want to use):

  • It’s sometimes hard to reel in a big fish. It can take hours.
    • It can be hard to reel your readers in. You need catchy headlines, a nice design, etc.
  • It can be hard to actually get the fish into the boat.
    • It can be hard to get your readers to subscribe once you’ve landed them on your blog.
  • To go deep sea fishing, you need a big boat and a heavy-duty rod and reel.
    • You need the right platform to blog from (like WordPress).
    • To blog successfully, you need the right equipment. This includes hosting, a domain name, etc.
  • It seems like something that rich business men do.
    • Uh… I got nothing for this one.
  • It can be dangerous if the weather is bad.
    • What are some storms or waves that can sink your blog in the blogosphere?
  • You need to have some kind of bait at the end of your line.
    • What incentives do people have to comment or subscribe?
  • Fish are tasty.
    • Success with your blog tastes great.
  • My roommates went deep sea fishing in Florida once. They didn’t catch anything, but they still had fun.
    • Some people don’t succeed with their blogs, but that doesn’t mean it was a waste of time.
  • How deep is “deep” sea fishing?
    • Uh… Again, I can’t really think of anything for this one.
  • You should probably go with people who know what they’re doing, especially with an experienced boater.
    • Ask experienced bloggers for help when you need it.
  • You’ll need a guide to know where to go fishing.
    • You’ll need to figure out where to go to attract new blog readers.

So that means I’ve wound up with this list of 7 points. Great! Onward!

Step 5: Merge and clean up your list

Now that you’ve got a rough idea of what you can and can’t write about, you need to clean things up a little bit. Take each pair of bullet points and combine it into one main idea. Then clean it up so that is sounds good and makes you want to read about it. This will be your subhead for each point in your post. You might end up splicing a point into two points or changing the main idea slightly to make more of an impact. Example:

  • It’s hard to reel the fish in.
  • It’s hard to get the fish in the boat.
  • Go out in the right boat.
  • Have the right gear.
  • Have the right bait.
  • Success tastes great.
  • Failure is still fun.
  • Fish where the fish are.

And guess what? Now I have a freaking sweet list of 8 ways blogging is like deep sea fishing!

What else is there to do?

Step 6: Expound on each point

Now that you’ve got all of the points you’re going to be addressing, you’ve got to write a paragraph or two about each point. I’m not going to go into much detail about that here because it’ll be different for everyone writing.

I will say, though, that I usually start off the first paragraph under each point with a sentence or two about analog #2.

For example, let’s say I’m writing the paragraph under the “Go out in the right boat” heading. Maybe my first few sentences under that heading would read like this:

You wouldn’t go deep sea fishing in an inflatable pool toy or cheap aluminum dinghy. Similarly, you don’t want to head out to sea in the blogosphere on a platform that won’t support your blog. Blogger is great for blogging hobbyists, but anyone serious about blogging should use WordPress.org.

Get it? Good!

Step 7: Make your post even MORE awesome!

I’m going to assume that you can write a good intro and conclusion for your amazing analogy post (if not, say so in the comments and I can address those in future posts). So with all of that, you’re done, right? Well, yes and no.

Play with the list order

Order the items in your list so that they make the most sense. In my deep sea fishing example, I currently have “It’s hard to reel the fish in” listed before “Go out in the right boat.” But that kind of irks me. You obviously have to go out in the boat BEFORE you even catch anything! So here’s my revised order:

  1. Have the right gear.
  2. Go out in the right boat.
  3. Fish where the fish are.
  4. Have the right bait.
  5. It’s hard to reel the fish in.
  6. It’s hard to get the fish in the boat.
  7. Success tastes great.
  8. Failure is still fun.

You’ll notice that everything is ordered more or less chronologically. This might not matter in some analogies, but it could really tighten everything up in others.

Make your post a list post

Instead of your post’s headline being something like “How Blogging is Like Deep Sea Fishing,” make it “8 Ways Blogging is Like Deep Sea Fishing.” List posts are just awesome. ‘Nuff said.

Throw in a kicker!

You really want to make that headline sizzle? Throw in a kicker! This is anything else in the headline that could compel people to click and read more. In this post, I use “(plus some deep sea fishing)” to pique people’s interest and make them curious enough to read more.

For our deep sea/blogging example, maybe our headline could be “8 Ways Blogging is Like Deep Sea Fishing, Plus How to Save a Sinking Blog.” Or “8 Ways Blogging is Like Deep Sea Fishing and Why You Should Care.”

I’ll probably cover kickers in more depth in a future post.

The challenge

I think that pretty much covers it. If you made it through these 2,200+ words, major props to you. And if you spent all that time reading this post, it would be a shame if you didn’t put what you read into practice.

So here’s a challenge: Use what you read in this post as a blueprint for your own analogy post. If it doesn’t quite fit in with your blog, do it as a guest post on someone else’s blog. Or just do it for yourself to get better at writing.

Once you’ve published your post, email me or leave a comment below and I’ll put a link to it in this section. (And if you want to link back here, too, that’d be appreciated but definitely not required :) I’ll link to a couple of mine first to help give you ideas, and any links to yours will come after:

(Note: I won’t link to any that you’ve already written!)

Photo Credits: Broom, Pen, Start, Clipboard, Pointing, Expounding, Awesome, Challenge