3 Top Bloggers’ Advice & Tips On Blogging / Writing [3/6]
Seth Godin famously said that virality is not what you do to a product but what the product actually is. Product must be ingrained with the element of virality if you want to it spread virally. You cannot expect a boring product to hit virality and neither would you be able to pay your way to the masses in the age of interest-based digital media.
The same applies to idea and content. There are plenty of articles from bloggers sharing their thoughts on blogging / writing but what made me selected the below is their mastery in embedding virality to their posts. I’ve also ignored those that are in the marketing/blogging space to see a different perspective on blogging.
Readers who frequent Quora should come as no surprise of Oliver Emberton. His greatest performing post “Life is a game. This is your strategy guide” received well over 677,000 Facebook shares!
1. The world owes you nothing
The cold, unfeeling universe does not give two shits about you or your writing.
Anyone can walk into a bookstore and pick from Shakespeare, Pratchett, JK Rowling and a million more. Tell me (a) is your writing more deserving of attention and (b) how would anyone even know?
This may sound dispiriting, and it’s meant to. We live at the centre of our own private universes, which can fool us into thinking the world responds to our merits, as we see them. If you believe this, you’re in for a lifetime of tear-stained keyboards.
If you acknowledge the truth, you can arm yourself accordingly.
2. Give people a reason to care
You are in competition with every other distraction on the Internet. Your beautifully written sonnet must joust for attention against Miley Cyrus with a kitten.
If you want an audience, don’t write for yourself. Forget yourself. Start with:
Who am I writing for?
What can I do for them?
Why should they care?
Let’s say you’re writing for casual bloggers. It’s not hard to think of things that casual bloggers might struggle with (“How to win your first thousand followers”), find entertaining (“My blog cost me my job, wife and kids”) or inspiring (“How my blog got me a date with Natalie Portman”). Start there.
3. Hook emotionally
Brilliant intellectuals can appreciate content on a purely intellectual basis. For everyone else, there’s urgent news, sex, themselves, gossip and sex.
You know when you feel compelled to click on a link? You don’t have time to think about it. Hooks are entirely emotional:
Scary & urgent – “Terrorists will attack your town, tomorrow”
Big names – “A day in the life of Tony Stark”
Self-interest – “How to win your dream girl”
Sex-appeal – “The hottest babes in tennis”
Trendsetting – “The show everyone is talking about”
These emotions can be conveyed in a headline. Your headline is where you will win or lose most of your audience. A title in a tweet is judged and dismissed by 99% of your audience before they see another word; ensure yours punches them in their emotional face.
I’ve come across his blog somewhere early this year but it didn’t really catch my attention until last month where I saw his large Facebook following of over 300,000 followers.
His blog has 2M monthly hits. Mark Manson began from the dating space where he blogged about dating advice for men then turned to self-help/improvement space. I bought his book “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F**K” and I’ve to say it is the greatest self-help book I’ve read since a long time ago. The advice are shockingly profound.
A lot of bloggers, even successful bloggers, are shitty writers. No offense, but most bloggers can’t write well. Most bloggers are successful not because of their writing but because they found a good niche market to insert themselves into. They’re successful because they’re solving a problem for people and are serving a practical purpose.
What I’m saying is, is that most bloggers are successful because they’re good marketers, not because they’re good writers. Take that however you want to.
Writing well is hard. It’s a skill that takes years of conscious effort to develop. And if you’ve gone through the trouble to develop it, chances are you don’t need to be blogging. You’re working at a magazine or writing The Next Great American Novel or something.
With all of that said, I will tell you this. The better your writing is, the better your chances of blogging success are. Good writing never goes out of style. And truly great writing cannot be suppressed. A great article on a great topic written beautifully will be successful no matter where it is or who wrote it. Guaranteed.
Study branding and basic marketing. Even if you’re a fiction blogger. Even if you have no intention of ever making money off blogging. Even if you’re writing erotica about dwarves and elves. Understanding branding and the basics of marketing (finding a niche, differentiating yourself, unique selling points, etc.) will go further in helping you establish an audience than anything else you can do aside from better writing.
Until you’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, you have no clue what you will enjoy writing about or what other people will enjoy reading from you. Successful blogs exist at the intersection between the passions of the writer and readers. The problem is that everyone, despite thinking they know where those two passions are, don’t actually know either until they’ve put their reps in.
Until you’ve written 100 pages about a topic, you really don’t know how much you enjoy writing about it. And until you’ve published 100 pages about a topic, you have no idea how much people will enjoy reading what you have to say about it.
My colleague has unsubscribed his blog because his writing makes people feel like he’s about to commit suicide soon. But that is also the attraction and authenticity of his writing that built him well over 300,000 followers on Facebook. Here’s one of his best posts: ‘I Want To Die’
C) Bleed in the first line
We’re all human. A computer can win Jeopardy but still not write a novel. If you want people to relate to you, then you have to be human.
Penelope Trunk started a post a few weeks ago: “I smashed a lamp over my head. There was blood everywhere. And glass. And I took a picture.” That’s real bleeding. My wife recently put up a post where the first line was so painful she had to take it down. Too many people were crying.
I) Break the laws of physics
There’s no time in text. Nothing has to go in order. Don’t make it nonsense. But don’t be beholden to the laws of physics. My post, Advice I Want to Tell My Daughters, is an example.
L) Don’t be afraid of what people think
For each single person you worry about, deduct 1% in quality from your writing.
Everyone has deductions. I have to deduct about 10% right off the top.
Maybe there’s 10 people I’m worried about. Some of them are evil people. Some of them are people I just don’t want to offend.
So my writing is only about 90% of what it could be. But I think most people write at about 20% of what it could be. Believe it or not, clients, customers, friends, family, will love you more if you are honest with them. We all have our boundaries. But try this: for the next ten things you write, tell people something that nobody knows about you.
P) Make people cry
If you’ve ever been in love, you know how to cry.
Bring readers to that moment when they were a child, and all of life was in front of them, except for that one bittersweet moment when everything began to change. If only that one moment could’ve lasted forever. Please let me go back in time right now to that moment. But now it’s gone.
U) The last line needs to go BOOM!
Your article is meaningless unless the last line KILLS.
Read the book of short stories “Jesus’ Son” by Denis Johnson. It’s the only way to learn how to do a last line. The last line should take you all the way back to the first line and then “BOOM!”