The 7 Deadly Sins Formula

writing blockbuster articles Aug 29, 2021

A big part of what makes a blockbuster article stand out from the crowd is the fact that it elicits a powerful emotional reaction.

Not only that, but it seems as if the author is in tune with the reader’s emotions, understands their fears, challenges, and objections.

One sure-fire way to better understand the emotional undertone of your article is to use the 7 Deadly Sins Formula.

1. Lust: Appeal to Desire

Desire is an emotion most bloggers are comfortable conjuring up. We know we need to make people want to read our articles, we know we need to mention a benefit or actionable step.

It’s marketing 101.

How to apply this:

1. Use the FAB formula (features, advantages, benefits) to think of your article as a product you’re trying to sell.

2. Mention some of these features and benefits in your headline and introduction. 

3. “Advertise” your article is a surefire way to solve a problem.

4. Reframe your article as “something they want to read” as opposed to “something they need to read” by teasing an insider secret in your introduction. Alternatively, you can open your article with a success story (yours or someone else’s).

2. Gluttony: Appeal to Self-Interest

We’re all selfish in one way or another. And there’s nothing wrong with caring about yourself– to an extent. We’re all seeking something, whether it’s prestige, money, or respect from those we admire.

Consider the fact that, whenever they stumble upon an article, your readers try to figure out if they’re going to earn more money, become more attractive, or learn about a potential danger.

How to apply this:

1. Open your article with a benefit that can either earn them more money or make them more attractive.

2. Alternatively, you can open your article with a warning, detailing the negative consequences of not reading your article/not taking action.

3. Greed: Appeal to Possessiveness

“Greed is good,” once was the mantra of Wall Street’s Gordon Gecko.

How to apply this:

1. Instill FOMO (fear of missing out) in your readers by urging them to take action now, otherwise they’ll regret it. Alternatively, you can tell them your strategy (or even your article) will only be available for a limited time, or that it won’t work in the future.

2. Open your article with a detailed description of a couple of tangible benefits that your article will provide.

4. Sloth: Appeal to Laziness

People want their lives to be made simpler. They want as many things as possible to be done for them. And for the things they actually do to be clear cut and manageable.

How to apply this:

1. Your headline should let potential readers know that you’ve found an easier/faster way of doing something. Alternatively, you can tease them about solving a problem they keep struggling with “once and for all.”

2. The reader’s inner sloth responds to words like “hack, shortcut, and instantly.”

3. If your article is short, tease them about it, either in your headline or introduction. “Spend only three minutes reading this and…” or “five hundred words to…”

5. Wrath: Appeal to Anger

An important part of knowing your target audience extremely well is to understand their pain points, obstacles, and objections.

How to apply this:

1. Open your article with a “do you know what really grinds my gears?” Make sure it’s something your audience has also struggled with, an issue so frustrating they’ll want to read more.

2. Make sure the emotional undertone of your article is angry, but not hopeless. Anger can be reverse-engineered, hopelessness cannot.

3. Tease a solution right at the end of your introduction.

4. Open your article with a series of questions meant to turn an issue into a more pressing/dramatic problem than it really is, explain the chain of events that will only make it worse, and then tease a solution.

5. Punch the damn keys. Yes, you’re actually going to have to punch the keys when appealing to anger. Get good and angry and write about it as if the universe just did you a great injustice.

6. Envy: Appeal to Jealousy

We can all relate to the feeling of not getting what we want. Even worse, we hate it when others can have it, but not us.

How to apply this:

1. Identify a group that your target audience is jealous of. Use the desired traits of this group in your headline, and tease your audience in your introduction about “finally” being able to be like the group they admire and envy.

2. Open an article with a story of giving your all, only to fail nonetheless, then tease them about a solution.

3. Tease an “insider secret” of a group of high-achievers within your niche, or interview an authority figure within your niche, and tease those secrets in your headline.

7. Pride: Appeal to Confidence

Flattery will get you everywhere, right?

One of the easiest things you can do is to appeal to your audience’s ego – up their confidence, make them feel good about themselves. 

How to apply this:

1. Write a headline that teases just how smart/successful/effective the people who read the article are.

2. Open your article with a detailed description of all the qualities of the people who are interested in this particular topic.

3. Describe your target audience as a group of high-achievers.

While this formula works best when writing headlines and introductions, it also allows you to approach particular topics from unusual angles.

For instance, teasing a solution to a problem as the “insider-secret” of a group your target audience is jealous of.

However, a word of caution: you must actually deliver on whatever promise you make.

If you appeal to anger, make sure there’s a solution. If you appeal to sloth, make sure the solution is simple, easy to deploy, and fast. If you appeal to greed, make sure you are actually offering value they’d be willing to pay for.

At the same time, deploying the 7 sins formula is a surefire way to become aware of the emotional undertone of your article. In fact, I dare say that if your headline and/or introduction doesn’t appeal to any of the 7 sins, they may be so bland as to not attract anyone at all.


The 7 deadly sins formula is one of more than a dozen unconventional formulas in our latest course, The Art of Writing Blockbuster Articles.

If you’re tired of everyone telling you to write lists and how-to guides…

If you’re curious to know the exact framework I use to write over 100 articles per month…

If you’d like to write content that goes viral and keeps attracting new readers for years…

Then, yeah, you should certainly enroll in this course.

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