In the introduction to the powerful BloggoNetrix™ system, we covered all the basics you will need to get your blog up and running. At this point, many blogging “newbies” think this is somehow their cue to start pasting up ads and PayPal buttons and tip jars and pledge drives and so forth. Not so fast there, lil’ tenderfoots! Don’t put your cart before the chickens: the first step to building fabulous blog wealth starts with attracting and retaining a loyal group of readers. Once you have amassed and nurtured your herd of “cash cows,” then you can begin thinking about driving your herd to the lucrative packing plant of advertising revenue. Until then leave the tip jars, like the one on the left, to us in the seasoned professional blogging community.
“But Dave,” I hear many young bloggers ask, “while I certainly love your irresistable new tip jar button on the left, just how do I build a personal reader base to secure my own financial freedom?” The answer is not nearly as complicated as it seems! Scientific studies have shown that the key to bagging your elusive online prey is, surprisingly, style. A dynamic, unique style can be the "sizzle" that keeps readers bellying up to the trough for another helping of your ideas, no matter how stupid and repulsive they might be. And, when it comes to modern online punditry, effective style can be characterized along the five positive blog dimensions: Pith, Persistence, Anger, Snark, and Sexiness. Let's review these dimensions and think about how they can be put to work.
Blog Dimension 1: Pith. In today’s go-go-go world, readers need their opinions now. They need them fast and to the point. Remember rule number one: do everything within your power to increase the economical verbal tersity of your posts, because what is increasingly certain in this increasingly time-strapped blog market in which we blog in, it is the growing situation in which John and/or Mary Q. BlogPublic will not stand for some endlessly meandering blog entry, all ‘gussied up’ in some flowery punctuation, blithering and yammering on and on and on and on, never – or frequently seldom ever – getting to the crux of the point that the blogger (or group blog, or web diarist, or whoever) is arguing in favor, or possibly against, of, which frequenty creates a frustrating situation for those many, many readers who have increasingly decreased time to keep wading through a seemingly endless -- and often redundant -- yammering and blithering post by a blogger that keeps repeating himself and/or herself without her or him or them ever finally getting to the original objective point of their article, or post.
To demonstrate the power of pith, let’s look at the example of top blogger Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. When he links to a story with his famous "HEH," readers instantly recognize that this is shorthand for "here is a thing that somebody emailed me that sounded mildly amusing. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to resume ogling the hot coeds walking by my office window."
This is exactly the kind of no-nonsense, to-the-point pith that readers value, and has helped establish Instapundit as America's most feared blog brand. As a new blogger, you too can leverage the power of pith, but don't violate existing pith trademarks without proper permission. All too often I've seen a casual unlicensed 'HEH' by a rookie blogger backfire, their lives shattered as they are hounded into bankrupcy and alcoholic ruin by Reynolds and his relentless legal copyright thugs.
The lesson here is clear: as a good blog citizen, you should respect others' pithword rights, or at least create a cheap knockoff. The good news is that I've done an exhaustive records search, and discovered that the following somewhat similar pithy link words were all untrademarked: HO, HAHAHA, HEE HEE, SNORK, SNORNK, BWAHHHA, CHAH, HUH?, WTF?, GAH, PHEH, OMG, and YIRF. The bad news is that now I've copyrighted all of them and their variants, and have put Glenn Reynolds on retainer.
Blog Dimension 2: Persistence. One of the frustrating things all beginning bloggers face is hitting that first big Sitemeter "gusher" after a posting -- then watching in horror when it loses momentum and slowly, inexorably, dribbles to a stop as your readers wander off. Within hours, you're back begging for alms with the rest of the blogosphere's untouchables, a faint memory of those ungrateful bastard 'fans' who once had you at the top of the charts. This tragic attention famine could easily be avoided if only more bloggers heeded Success Rule Number Two: keep yourself regular.
Remember - readers are your meal ticket, and every post you make is an incentive for them to return to your blog; and every time they return increases the chance that they will return again. This creates what we in the blog world call a 'virtuous circle,' and through Operant Reader Conditioning you will hopefully create an obedient RSS cadre which you can mold to your will.
The key point here is that you should post as frequently as possible to keep the click-o-meter humming. How often? Think of your blog as a magical fruit in your readers' opinion diet. This suggests they should get a least three servings per day, because as we say, "the more you blog, the better you feel -- so post your blog at every meal."
Unfortunately I sometimes hear new bloggers making weak excuses for negligent posting, complaining of "writers' block," or "I don't really have an opinion or really know anything about that topic." Frankly, you're going to confront your apathy and ignorance, and try to work it right into your postings. For example:
If you really want my opinion, I suppose you could say that I find the entire lady reporter in jail story very confusing.
Posted at 7:17 AM
I'm not sure what to think about this.
Posted at 7:51 AM
I may be wrong, but this certainly seems like it might be interesting to some people, but I guess I wouldn't say it's all that interesting to me personally.
Posted at 8:55 AM
I just realized that when I read over my last post, it somewhat reminded me of the one I made before it.
Posted at 10:09 AM
Blog Dimension 3: Anger. If you expect to get and retain readers, you need to show your passion -- and nothing spells passion like good old-fashioned anger. Some of the blogosphere’s most effective writing comes from anger, and if you don’t see this, I’d be happy to come down to your mom’s basement and beat your pathetic face to a bloody pencilneck-stump, looser. Is there something, or someone, out there that’s got your goat? Nurse that grudge into a simmering beef! Set CAP LOCKS ON, then wade into the fray with the hobnailed boots of passion, swinging your organ-flecked club of reason.
By communicating that "I'm mad as hell" and "I'm not gonna take it anymore" and "I'm teetering on the convulsive edge of a violent breakdown," you will naturally draw an audience who will think, "say, now here is a fellow who really bears watching." Anger will also help differentiate you from the online herd of namby-pamby sob sisters, whose idea of punditry is stuff like
(a1) I really have some concerns with this Harriet Miers nomination.
(b1) If you ask me, Harriet Miers sounds like a pretty decent nominee.
Snore!! Like that kind of squeamish milquetoast garbage is going to make to Technorati Hot 100. Mister, if you are going to survive the online ThunderDome steel cage opinion match, you are going to have to 'bring the pain' with your shiv-like exclamation points. Also, don't be afraid to 'keep it real' with some brutal profanity. This gives you "street cred" with the blog community, who are always on the lookout for 'narcs.' Now let’s try those opinions again, this time spicing things up with some anger salsa (reader caution: examples include violence and coarse poop- and genital-related language)
(a2) What the pooping GENITALS??!! Harriet urinating Miers?! Pardon me while I crapping PUKE UP VOMIT!!!
(b2) Holy vomiting POOP, why don’t you anti-Miers elitist diarrheas just have a hot cup of SHUT the GENITAL UP!!
'Nuff said, loosers!
Blog Dimension 4: Snark. While anger is a time-proven crowd pleaser, many bloggers prefer to wield anger’s prissy grad student brother, snark. This can be a surprisingly effective tool for attracting readership, just as a good poetry club slapfight can often be as entertaining as a brass-knuckled donnybrook at a biker bar. Often, however, inexperienced bloggers make the mistake of confusing snark with its mopey teenage cousin, sarcasm. Remember -- any pimply Goth kid can be sarcastic, but it takes a cool coffeehouse intellect and a GRE-honed vocabulary to craft the kind of aloof snark that draws readers like flies.
To illustrate this critical distinction, I will demonstrate with some hypothetical comments directed toward my blogging colleague Big Al from Alppuccino.
Oh yeah, Big Al, he’s so totally cool. NOT.
Maybe this brand of immature sarcasm might cut it in an AIM chatroom, but here in the blogging Big Leagues, you’ll need to ‘snark it up to the next level.’ For example:
One need not have comically small genitals to "enjoy" the execrable ‘Alppuccino,’ but I have long observed that it is certainly not an impediment thereof.
Meee-yow! Now there’s the kind of sophisticated reader-pleasing snark that gets you to “The Show.” And no matter how many teeth I now lose to Big Al’s tire iron, I will be grinning the smug, toothless smirk of satisfaction that only a well-delivered academic zinger can bring.
Blog Dimension 5: Sexiness. Now that we've covered anger and snark, let's talk about the other primary human emotion: sex. As we all know, sex has been an influential part of the human experience for over a hundred years. According to many experts, our minds are hardwired to be on the alert for sex, and various forms of sexiness. As a blogger, you can harness the irresistable primal power of sex by developing a sexy style of sexiness. Not only will this attract sexy readers, your frequent references to sex will get you to the top of the sexy Google rankings for "sex."
If you are going for the 'sexy angle' with your blog, it's important to first note if you are male or female. If you are a female, don't just go all-out blogosphere bar slut with your writing style. That's been done. Take it from me, we men prefer gals who are coy and flirty and coquettish, and frequently make references to their underwear. Let's see how these principles can be applied to a typically bland blog entry:
Yesterday Helen and Mildred and I rode the Senior Center van to WalMart, and I found the most adorable afghan with country victorian appliques, and only $11.88! It will go great with the throw pillows I bought at the Dubuque craft fair last week. On the way back, we stopped at IHOP for a coffee.
Not bad I suppose, but watch what happens when we "turn up the heat":
Yesterday Helen and Mildred and I rode the Sexy Center van to WalMart, and I found the most adorable thong underpants with country victorian appliques, and only $11.88! It will go great with the sexy lingerie I bought at the Dubuque sex fair last week. On the way back, we stopped at IHOP for sex.
Is it just me, or is it getting sexy in here? Ohhhh yeahhh!
Developing a sexy tone is somewhat more difficult if you are a male, because the female sex-brain is more complicated and less focused on underpants. When it comes to sexual arousal, science tells us that gals are generally 'turned on' by 'bad boys' who bring an mysterious past, an aura of danger, and fabulous wealth, as this passage illustrates:
My mind was haunted with memories of her, and the day she mysteriously left on that van to WalMart with Helen and Mildred. To hell with her, I thought. I got in my low mileage '04 Buick Park Avenue and drove the mean streets of Dubuque with my seatbelt unfastened. Later, I stopped at the bank drive-thru and checked the balance on my fully-vested IRA.
But whether you are man or a woman, remember that imagination is the most powerful aphrodesiac. Cultivate your readers' fantasies with an exotic atmosphere of mystery, and if you accidentally post an actual photo of yourself claim it is one of your dead relatives.
Putting it All Together. With various combinations of these five basic ingredients, you are well on your way to cooking up a unique and delicious blog style that will find a lucrative niche in the market. For example, let's try a recipe of two parts anger to one part snark:
I got out my claw hammer and was going to beat that bastard within an inch of his life, but then I realized his taste in shoes was punishment enough.
Now, how about an even mix of sexiness and persistence:
I don't know why, but this makes me feel sexy.
Posted at 1:22 PM
Here's another thing that's sexy.
Posted at 2:06 PM
UPDATE: I stopped feeling sexy for a while there, but now I'm back to feeling sexy.
Posted at 4:15 PM
Finally, how about a style that combines all five of the important dimension?
Posted at 6:48 AM
Posted at 6:52 AM
Posted at 6:57 AM
Yes, the P.P - .A.S.S. dimensions provides a powerful framework for developing a style, but the critical element is still you. Find the combination that you're most comfortable with and which works best for you. And remember -- you now legally owe me 20% of your revenue for this advice.
Until next time.... Blog On, America!