By Chris Frascella published October 11, 2015

How I Beat Neil Patel on His Own Blog (and Grew My Network at the Same Time)


In less than eight days, my guest post on The Daily Egg (the blog of Crazy Egg) inspired 20% more shares than a post that had been up for more than 20 weeks by Crazy Egg co-founder Neil Patel (respected blogging and digital marketing guru).



Screenshot taken August 18, 2015

How could this happen? That Neil Patel guy is smart.

Don’t for a minute think that my success was an accident or coincidence (though, in fairness, I didn’t alert Neil that I made a competition out of it). Read on for how you might replicate it.

Why it’s a big deal to beat Neil Patel

A quick clarification before we get into the meat of it: This post is a compliment to Neil Patel – I’m using his work as a frame of reference because he is so successful in content marketing. Not only did he co-found The Daily Egg, he also co-founded KISSmetrics and Quicksprout, and has been recognized by the top business media as an influencer and expert in digital marketing. I use Neil as the bar for success.

It’s worth noting that, while I beat this single post from Neil in March on The Daily Egg, a June post left my August post in the dust – not to mention the scores of other posts he’s written on other sites (or just on other days of the week on the Daily Egg blog) with even greater numbers of shares.

What made my post more effective?

To understand how to replicate this success, we need to look at the differences between my post and Neil’s. (Note: This analysis isn’t a scientific study but an example of a single post from Neil when compared to a single post from me.)


Let’s analyze each category a little more:

  • Date published – The timing is probably a strike against me rather than a point in my favor because more people take vacation in August than in March.
  • Topic/theme – I targeted a niche industry, while Neil appealed to a broader base.
  • Density and external links – Neil’s post was more of a compilation post, whereas mine was a targeted, standalone piece.
  • Length – Neil’s post was twice as long as mine.
  • Use of stats – Neil used statistics at the beginning but never employed them again; my post used stats throughout.
  • Images – Neil included images, but they are weak. My images weren’t that much better, but they were purposeful and scattered throughout the post for visual diversity.

Sample images from Neil’s post:



Sample images from my post:



In general, my post was more accessible and actionable because it was more concise, self-contained, and targeted. It also had greater credibility and momentum behind it (more stats throughout the post and stats that were more specific, as well as better example images – though Neil’s post was probably too general to accommodate example images meaningfully).

I would characterize Neil’s post as a “skim-these-things-to-consider (also check out all of our other great content)” post whereas mine was more of a “here’s-exactly-what-you-need-to-do-this-well (with proof)” post.

You would think that Neil’s post is more broadly relevant and therefore more share-worthy (especially when coupled with his target audience, SaaS companies), however, in reality it seems that it was just too diluted to be a compelling “share” on its own.

Why did I stop worrying and my network grew?

Content quality is only a fraction of what’s responsible for making a guest post highly shared. There’s also content promotion or content distribution, which some say should consume four times more of your effort than the time you expended to create the content. This is not to be confused with the other 80/20 rule of content (we marketers love our 80/20 rules).

I can’t speak to what Neil did to promote his March post, but for my post:

  • I shared it on our company’s social media – as a frame of reference, our Twitter account has between 1,200 and 1,300 followers.

I imagine this is more a strike against me than a point in my favor if Neil promoted his post through his social media channels across the several companies with which he is connected.

  • I retweeted the tweets and retweets of those with significant followings who shared the post’s link (including Crazy Egg’s tweet on the day it was posted). I did this more for relationship-building reasons than I did it to affect the August post itself.

If these retweets are counted as shares by Crazy Egg’s social share widget, they artificially inflate my post’s performance by less than 10 shares.

  • I sought relevant companies to share the post via their own social media and/or link to it from their blogs.

This, I think, is probably the biggest differentiator, but it was also the most labor intensive. I found about 20 relevant companies and blogs, identified the most relevant author, looked up the author on LinkedIn, and sent an invitation to connect (if I couldn’t find the person on LinkedIn, I sent an email). In the invite, I noted that I had a case study that the author’s readership might find valuable but couldn’t share a link to it in the initial LinkedIn invitation to connect. The majority of people (more than a dozen, between LinkedIn and email) accepted my invitation and were receptive to the case study link in my subsequent message.

  • I looked at other high-performing Crazy Egg posts and tried to identify on what sites and social media accounts they were shared, and conducted outreach to those outlets/influencers. Many had shared my post, but I gave a nudge to those who hadn’t.

The vast majority of this outreach occurred with new relationships. However, despite the cold outreach, I got the shares I needed – and even got a job offer (talk about an effective blog post). (For the curious, I did not pursue the content manager offer because I think there’s more opportunity for me in my current role.)


All of that said, unfortunately, I don’t have the tools to determine why my post was so much more popular on LinkedIn than Neil’s single post (80-plus shares for mine vs. just over 40 for his), but that is surely a relevant factor on the content promotion side as well.

I would appreciate your suggestions in the comments for how to create or get access to a person/account-level report on who shared a link originally posted by someone other than yourself on LinkedIn.

How can you beat Neil, too?

You might not be able to beat a post from Neil – he’s damn good at his job. But if you’re going to have a fighting chance at surpassing Neil Patel, here’s a review of what worked for me:

  • Length – Keep the post long enough to be substantial, but not so long that your audience gets lost in it – 1,300 to 1,700 words is a good target range.
  • Topic – Pick a specific topic so you can provide relevant, concrete examples and craft a self-contained post (i.e., minimize links to other articles for the “how-to” parts).
  • Images – Your images don’t have to be pretty, but tie them closely to your content.
  • Content – Include both statistics and images at several points throughout your post to reinforce your message and keep your audience engaged.
  • Distribution – It’s helpful but not necessary to have a strong social media and influencer network before you post, but it’s absolutely necessary to take your post to market once it’s live – many companies are starved for quality, non-self-promotional content

Best of luck in beating Neil.

Looking to score big points with your target audience? CMI’s 2016 Content Marketing Playbook has tips, insights, and ideas that can help increase your success with 24 of the top content marketing tactics.

Cover image by Ryan McGuire-Bells, DesignGratisography, via

Author: Chris Frascella

Chris Frascella manages content creation for marketing-oriented SaaS companies such as Velaro Live Chat, Decisionaire, and StatusCast. Connect with, follow, or email him to introduce yourself and keep in touch. Horror movie recommendations (whether truly terrifying or just plain awful) always welcome.

Other posts by Chris Frascella

  • Hashim Warren

    I think Neil would disagree with the length recommendation.

    You can make a post 3k words if it’s attractive with lots of white space, a readable font, and descriptive images.

    • Chris Frascella

      As I said to Greg above, Hashim, I think readability is secondary to actionability. That isn’t to say that it isn’t important (an “ugly” blog post can have the same repulsive effect as an ill-designed and ill-timed pop-up form), but I don’t think readability is the primary “virtue” of blog posts.

    • Greg Strandberg

      I’m sure he would – doesn’t mean it’s true. Readers will move away from longer content. Mobile will see to that.

      • Cendrine Marrouat

        Absolutely. I can’t read Neil’s post anymore. I simply don’t have half an hour to read something. I’m a content curator and have hundreds of posts to review every single week.

        What works better is series. If Neil did that, I would definitely start reading again.

        • Greg Strandberg

          Or multiple posts each day or weekend posts. Both of those will allow you to break up those mammoth posts into something more manageable for your audience.

  • Rob TheGenie Toth

    I think Neil still wins since his name further got branded as a “top” expert to beat (fantastic edification) and his blog just got referenced a good dozen or so times. Of course, I also think Neil and Chris know this very well.

    Well played in taking “sponsored content” (aka. native advertising, aka. 1001 other cool new names for it) to whole new heights. 🙂

    • Chris Frascella

      I think you’re right Rob, and i hope you aren’t the only one who can see things from that angle.

  • Greg Strandberg

    Neil Patel’s content is simply too long anymore. We know that long content ranks well with Google, but it often turns users off. He had 27 points, you had 9 – it’s all in the numbers.

    I rarely read any of Patel’s posts past the second point anymore. His penchant for putting sub-points below points is particularly irritating. Oh well, tons and tons of great content marketers out there. Most are running circles around the Big Boys. Alas, we feel that names are more important than quality advice, so a Patel post will get tons of “recognition shares,” not “quality shares.”

    • Chris Frascella

      Greg, from my perspective it’s about actionability. Neil’s post is something you’d likely bookmark and then forget about it. I bet he did it for internal link-building purposes moreso than readability, and I think the shares reflect that.

      Once again, I’m not claiming to be better/smarter, I’m merely calling attention to the fact that a post of mine (a relatively unknown person) performed better than one of his own (one of the biggest names), on his “home turf” – and offering my thoughts as to why that might have happened.

      Your point about the intention/quality of social shares is a really good one as well. I think that is at the core of any conversation about the value (or uncertainty about its value, for that matter) of social media marketing.

  • dptrax

    First off, the title of this article cannot be ignored especially if you know Neil Patel. Good one with that Chris. I also agree with Greg. Putting sub-points below points usually turns me off sometimes. That being said, he is still a very good writer and I am still a fan.

    Great post once again Chris


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  • Brendan Wilde

    Click bait title – very disappointing! (although it worked on me). You can’t select your best post and compare it with a random post by person X. I have placed posts that have received over 10K shares across multiple different social channels. It’s totally dependent on the topic, content, relevance, audience etc – and then how hard you go about seeding or ‘working’ your post. Still some interesting observations in the article – just an appalling and unfair title.

    • Chris Frascella

      Brendan, sorry you felt disappointed. I agree that it’s not a perfect comparison, but I thought it was a reasonable comparison as it was two articles appearing on the same blog and published on the same day of the week. Happy to hear you still found some of the observations valuable.

    • Michele Linn

      Thanks for the comment, Brendan We are not fans of clickbait titles and certainly did not intend this to be one.

      We are huge fans of Neil Patel and consider him the gold standard of bloggers. We know so many of you are as well, which is why we liked how Chris used Neil’s work to improve his own blogging. Learning from the greats is a solid technique. Perhaps more specificity in the headline, such as Why My Post Did Better Than One of Neil Patel’s on His Blog (and Grew My Network), would have been helpful. We appreciate the feedback!

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  • Cendrine Marrouat

    It was an interesting article. However, like @disqus_4Sn3FgahHR:disqus stated, you are comparing oranges to apples here.

  • Brandon Landis

    Chris, nice work on this – I’ve recently taken up the content marketing an creation helm at a startup in Stockholm. By the way, how many guest posts had you written before approaching Crazy Egg? I’d love to get something substantial posted up there before too long.

    • Chris Frascella

      Thanks Brandon – I’d done about a dozen guest posts previously, none on Crazy Egg. I had one standout post on Win The Customer (standout as compared to normal levels of engagement for that blog):

      Additionally, as you may have seen, the post on Crazy Egg was a substantive and compelling case study. In that regard, perhaps it was the content itself rather than my approach that should be credited with the post’s “shareability” (which is unfortunately not so easy to replicate- you either have a great customer with great data willing to do a case study for you or you don’t).

      For the record, before this post, I’d submitted pitches and been rejected by the likes of Moz, Unbounce, and even Crazy Egg itself, among others. “Fit” is I think what sold this one and I think what caused my LinkedIn/email outreach to be so successful (I probably underplayed the research I did in this article).

      Also, for anyone still reading this comment (I know it’s gotten long) I am still looking for answers about how to determine WHO shared a link/update that someone else posted on LinkedIn (as that made a significant impact in the difference in shares between my post and Neil’s). I’m amazed no providers have stepped in to promote their products in response – is there really no product or service that offers this? Is the answer so obvious I should be embarrassed to ask?

      • Brandon Landis

        Nice, thanks for the detailed response, Chris. Definitely going to have to hang around here more often – see you on the next post!

  • Scott Aughtmon

    Hi Chris,

    I thought I should chime in on this post too.

    First of all, I don’t agree that the title is click bait. But I do agree that it’s very difficult to know for sure why the two posts you compared received a different number of shares. The things you shared might be some of the reason or they might not.

    Secondly, I thought I should speak about the length of Neil’s posts and more about his methods, because I wrote about why his posts are so long in a post on my own blog called “The Powerful, Unique Way Neil Patel Uses Content Curation to Create Irresistible, Viral Blog Posts”.

    The interesting thing about my post is that within that post, I actually applied Neil’s methods:

    1. My post was a much longer post than the length I normally write.
    2. I linked to many different relevant posts.
    3. I included images throughout my post and linked to those sources.
    4. I contacted all the people I linked to or shared images from and asked them to share my post.
    5. And more

    Here are the results from applying his methods were:

    1. That post received almost 2 times more traffic that day than the previous two posts received on the day I posted them.
    2. That traffic continued to be high for several days after that post.

    I did a follow-up post mentioning Joe Pulizzi’s new book and I again used Neil’s curation/curation methods. And guess what? That post received an even higher spike in traffic than the other post!

    So what everyone needs to understand is that Neil’s posts are that long for a reason. There is a strategy behind it that is important, even if the length chases away a certain segment of readers who won’t read them.

    I will probably write some sort of follow-up post on other things I learned from experimenting with his method, but that’s what I wanted to point out for now.

    Anyway, congratulations on your post doing so well. Take care, Chris!

    • Chris Frascella

      Thanks Scott!

      If I had to guess, I bet #4 was the primary driver of extra traffic for you on those posts. What do you think?

      And I suspect you’re right about some folks preferring longer content vs. shorter content, just like some folk prefer memes and animated gifs and others find that unpalatably unprofessional. That said, I believe the push for longer and longer content was born out of SEO goals rather than content marketing goals (not to open that can of worms).

      • Scott Aughtmon

        Hi Chris,

        Yes, #4 was definitely the reason for the extra traffic. And I am sure that’s why Neil uses it.

        But I also think you’re right, that the longer content was also born out of SEO goals as well.

        I also think that there are content marketing goals that are built into this longer content too.

        I won’t go into it all here, but I’ll say that the longer content serves these two purposes:

        1. It serves the same purpose that longer copy vs shorter copy does
        2. It actually weeds out people that aren’t your target market.

        Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that all posts should be really long. I don’t think that would be good. But I think that longer posts should be included as a part of a well-rounded content strategy.

        Anyway, take care, Chris!

  • lily smith

    Good job Chris! It was a great post but the only thing that disappoints me is the TITLE of post. I am fan of Neil but its not only the reason comparing your best1 with another random post and giving this type of title may mislead.
    Otherwise, you were presented awesome post.

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  • Sumit Sharma

    Great Post Chris!

  • DIR Incorporated

    Hey Chris,

    I think Neil still wins since what you wrote was on his Crazy Egg blog sites, and then you further promoted his content with two links on this post.

    Also, clever post title … you drew me and other content marketers in with it.