At Performancing and especially after working with Ryan I’ve become a fervent believer in being lazy AND in experimenting and finding new ways to give myself and my blogs an edge over the competition.
It’s not a contradiction – If you’re lazy, you’ll wait and pick out the techniques that give maximum benefits for the least amount of effort (on the other hand you can’t be good if you don’t practice hard, so you’ll always be in a situation where you have to work hard, which kind of sucks and again underlines the need to pick the stuff that really, REALLY works).
My goal today is to give you a surefire, money-in-the-bank method to be a better blogger. And since ‘better blogger’ is too vague, let’s pin it down to the holy trinity that bloggers crave:
- ClarityYou have to get your point across, or you are wasting your time (worse, you’re wasting your readers’ time).
- ImpactWhat you say must matter to your readers, otherwise you’re wasting….you get the story.
- The Velvet CordIn direct marketing / sales writing circles (where I first heard this, and I know I’ve probably gotten the term wrong), the velvet cord is that thread, that plot line, that ties the whole sales pitch together. In story terms, it’s the unifying theme, the binding idea, the basic gist. In blogging terms, it’s the purpose of your blog (knowing “why you’re blogging” is very important).
If your writing doesn’t get your message across, if it doesn’t have an emotional impact on your readers and if it’s not in sync with what you aim to do with your blog, you’re wasting your time, etc etc.
How to get these three skills nailed down to the exact centimeter?
Tell Funny Stories.
When bloggers tell you that blogs are conversations, they’re not joking. What they’re probably not telling you though is that blogs are usually akin to a stage performance – where one person comes on stage and talks to the audience. Depending on how interesting / entertaining the speaker is, his audience will grow. Depending on how engaging he is, the feedback he gets will grow. Depending on how clear and powerful his stories are, his audience will learn from him and hopefully apply what they’ve learned to their own lives.
So why should you tell funny stories? I’m not asking you to be a standup comedian (which, by the way, if you can manage it, will make you a black belt blogger. Seriously.), not yet at least. But what I AM asking you to do is to improve your story telling skills – and to practice those skills on your social circle (if you don’t have friends and THAT’S the reason you’re blogging, you’re fucked). You could try telling stories on your blog, but it’s not as effective. You need to feel the response, the energy (or lack of it) in the room, read the body language of your audience).
Practice. Find a way to get your point across, fast and with just the right amount of details (too few and they won’t picture it, too many and they’ll have trouble imagining it). Learn how to say the things and use a tone of voice that evokes strong emotional responses from your audience (preferably non-violent). And throughout all this, remember that your job is to entertain – if you can’t do that then you’re failing yourself and your friends.
Sounds rough, especially that last bit, eh? If you think that’s rough, you should think about the pressure that blogging for the best blog in any niche brings to its bloggers. Long story short, if you want to be the best, you have to set the bar higher than anyone else and that means, for a start, that you have to deliver on what your blog promises every single time, in spades. And trust me, if you can handle (and deliver) under the pressure of being entertaining at all times, blogging (and great blogging), will become second nature to you.
I’ve read books on being a better writer (and I believe they helped for a while, too). I’ve read countless articles on being a better blogger. I get it, there are just 56,701 different things I have to integrate into my personality to reach that high level of blogging wisdom.
I don’t buy into that bullshit. There is ALWAYS a faster, smarter way to the top, and it almost always requires you to do something that 99.9% of the other population is unwilling to go through. Here, you have to learn how to be funny, all the time. Do that, and you’ll be a blogging celebrity / rock star, THE king of your niche and yes, you could easily pick up chicks through your blog too.
You know, we should run a ‘entertain me’ type of blog competition here on Performancing, where members submit entertaining stories and readers rate them. Except I don’t think that many people will jump to the chance of proving themselves to be entertaining, either because they’re scared of failing or because they’re not willing to try hard enough (it’s the same thing, actually). And the one person who dares to do it, is probably a better blogger than me. Figures…