How to Blow up the Internet with an Article (Maslow Hierarchy of Needs)

No matter what kind of website you are running, one of its goals never changes - draw as much traffic as possible. A popular site is a synonym to successful or money making site. All of us know that we need tons of content to attract the users, but what kind of content are they really looking for? I will try give you straightforward answers to this question in my blog post. Just take your time to read it.

So what is the problem with content? Bloggers know well enough that it should be interesting, maybe fun, easy to read and share, contain nice pictures or videos. We conduct surveys where the users tell us about their hobbies, concerns, lifestyle, work, etc. We communicate with them via social networks and forums. We study their behavior with the help of all available analytical tools. It seems as if we know everything about our target audience tastes, needs and preferences.

Oops… What the hell had happened that time? Why yesterday’s blog post didn’t stir readers’ curiosity? I put so much time and efforts into it! That’s really distressing.

A familiar situation, isn’t it? Sometimes readers’ reaction on our writing seems so unexpected. It seems like we are losing control. Would you like to be much more confident that your content touches your audience pain points? Don’t believe absolutely everything they say. In truth people may not know what they want or need. For instance, how do you know that you want/need the latest version of iPhone? You will never know it until you see, say, a review of the gadget.

That’s why bloggers should know their audience, but be much more versed at least in their niche and look much further than the consumers.

If you want to know my opinion, I believe that Maslow hierarchy of needs is really helpful for deeper understanding of subconscious needs & interests of your target audience. And if you will take into account its postulates, your content will have more chances to reach out users minds and souls.

Abraham Maslow presented his hierarchy of needs in 1943 in his paper "A Theory of Human Motivation". Yea, some principles never get too old to learn them and use as the basis for the next level of advanced, current knowledge. People’s initial instincts and psychological needs stay the same or almost the same for ages, so we can easily adapt Maslow hierarchy of needs for our purpose – creating content that caters to readers’ needs.

Maslow hierarchy of needs

As you might have already guessed, the above image portrays Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It is often represented in the form of a pyramid with the most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom and the need for self-actualization at the top.

An interesting fact: Maslow himself never used a pyramid to describe these levels in any of his writings on the subject.

Four basic layers of the pyramid contain "deficiency needs" or "d-needs". They are: esteem, friendship and love, security, and physical needs. They are considered to be the most powerful ones. What happens when the "d-needs" are not met? The individual feels anxious and tense. Maslow's theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire/focus motivation upon the secondary or higher level needs.

Due to the complexity of human mind, the latter has the ability to run parallel processes at the same time, which means that many different motivations from various levels of Maslow's hierarchy can occur at the same time.

Now let’s add some essential explanatory details to make each level of the pyramid more understandable. The whole structure grounds on physiological needs, so let’s begin our ascent with the “ground floor”.

What are physiological needs?

Maslow hierarchy of needs

These are physical requirements for human survival. What do we need to live? Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival of all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the natural/man-made elements. Sexual competition is also an instinct maintaining an adequate birth rate. If these requirements are not met, the human body cannot function properly which will inevitably lead to fatal consequences. That’s why physiological needs are thought to be the most important; they should be met first.

How are they connected to the content? That’s simple. Everybody follow the publications about air/water pollution, healthy nutrition/lifestyle, fashion, sex, etc.

If everything is clear with people’s physiological needs, we offer you to come one step up.

To the safety needs level

Maslow hierarchy of needs

When our physical needs are relatively satisfied, safety needs start dominating our behavior. The absence of physical safety may cause a post-traumatic stress disorder or transgenerational trauma. These may happen due to war, natural disaster, family violence, childhood abuse, etc. And don’t forget about the absence of economic safety due to economic crisis and lack of work opportunities. All of us strive to choose a reliable employer; we submit grievances protecting our individual legal rights from violations; we open savings accounts, buy insurance policies, use disability accommodations, and so on. We are taking all of the above actions to protect ourselves and our families (to meet our safety needs).

So, safety and security needs include:

  • personal security;
  • financial security;
  • health and well-being;
  • safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts.

If our content covers these matters, it is likely to be read.

Love and belonging

Maslow hierarchy of needs

“Love is all you need” – sounds trivial, but hits the bull’s eye. After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third level of human needs is interpersonal and involves the feeling of belongingness. This need is so strong, especially in childhood, that it can override the need for safety (i.e.: kids, being abused by parents prefer to stay with them rather than go to the orphanage). As we grow up the need to be loved doesn’t disappear. If instead of love we get hospitalism, neglect, shunning, ostracism, etc., this can impact our ability to form and maintain emotionally significant relationships in general, such as:

  • friendship;
  • intimacy;
  • family.

Human beings need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among their social groups, regardless whether these groups are large or small. Here are the examples of some large social groups: clubs, co-workers, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, and gangs. Small social connections include family members, intimate partners, mentors, colleagues, and confidants. It’s difficult to argue the statement that humans need to love and be loved (both sexually and non-sexually) by others. People become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression if this love or belonging component is absent. The need for belonging may overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure. I am sure that almost every person reading this blog post has experienced something of the kind.

Love and belonging need can become a serious manipulation instrument in the masterly hands. Build communities around your brand, people want to be involved.


Maslow hierarchy of needs

Just like we need to be loved, we need to feel respected. This includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem can be characterized as a typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others. How do we get esteem? We often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition. Such activities give us a sense of contribution or value. If there are some imbalances in this level of the hierarchy this may result in low self-esteem or an inferiority complex. How do people with low self-esteem behave? They often need respect from others; they may tend to seek fame or glory. It’s sad, but fame or glory will not help the person to build their self-esteem until they accept who they are internally. Psychological imbalances such as depression can encumber the person from obtaining a higher level of self-esteem or self-respect.

Most of us have a need for stable self-respect and self-esteem. There are two versions of esteem needs according to Maslow: a "lower" version and a "higher" version. The "lower" version of esteem is actually the need for respect from others. It may include a need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The "higher" version is the need for self-respect. For example, the person may have a need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom. The "higher" version of esteem takes precedence over the "lower" version. This happens because it relies on an inner competence established through experience.

Deprivation of these needs may lead to an inferiority complex, weakness, and helplessness.

Please note that the hierarchies are interrelated rather than sharply separated, which means that esteem and the subsequent levels are not strictly separated from one another; on the contrary, they are closely related.

What conclusion can a content creator make after reading this paragraph? People seek for content that will raise their esteem. What could it be? Anything that makes them smarter in their niche than the others (classes, guides, tips, advice, secrets, in a word, content they can learn from).


Maslow hierarchy of needs

What is the sense of being know-it-all if you don’t apply your super skills and nobody sees the fruit of your hard work? Self-actualization level of need refers to what a person's full potential is and the realization of that potential. It can be described as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be. Individuals’ perceptions or focuses on this need may vary significantly. What is self-actualization for you? Do you have the strong desire to become an ideal parent? Or do you want to become the most popular designer in the world? The others self-actualization may be expressed in paintings, pictures, or inventions. Maslow believed that to understand this level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs, but master them.

Can you provide the relevant content on self-actualization to your audience? It may become a real bomb depending on your niche.


Maslow hierarchy of needs

Later, Maslow explored a further dimension of needs. He criticized his own vision on self-actualization and expressed the opinion that the self only finds its actualization in giving itself to some higher goal outside oneself, in altruism and spirituality.

Indeed, there are many people who devote themselves to serving higher goals disdaining their own comfort. Have you ever thought over the sense of our existence? Maybe we come on the planet to comprehend that material values shouldn't enslave us. A human life is just a moment, a flash in comparison to the length of life of our galaxy or the universe. All of us are mortal. What will our offsprings remember about us? They will be indifferent to the money we earned, houses we bought, cars we drove… What makes some people outstanding? What makes them stick in the memory of next generations 100 – 200 – 1000 years after their decease? Of course their heroic deeds, their inexhaustible kindness, their unfading creations (stories, poems, sculptures…), etc.

If such kind of content is relevant to your blog niche, you can also use it to attract the audience.


The aim of our article was to give you some time-tested tips on what content do the users look for on the net. Try to analyze your writing from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs point of view. What level of the pyramid does this or that article apply to? None of the above? Try to review your content strategy, carry out an experiment, we are sure that the results will be a pleasant surprise for you. Addressing readers’ natural requirements makes your content asked-for.

And now, when you got a lot of information to consider, let us take a few more minutes of your valuable time. We would like to know your opinion on this article. What level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs do you think it applies to and why? Do you use the hierarchy when you choose the topic for your next blog post? If not, please tell us whether the above info makes sense to you? Are you going to try this approach to draw more traffic to your site?

Your comments are welcome at the comment section. Please like and share this article with your friends if you believe that it’s an awesome piece of content. So long and take care!

Helga Moreno

Experienced writer passionate about highlighting all the topics related to web, design, marketing, SEO, and more. Follow Helga on Quora.

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