6 most Popular Kinds of Blogs. (Plus, extra-super-most-popular category #7).

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(Yeah: Titles with Lists & Sexy Images help)

American Apparel or PETA images? For elephant, always a winner: they combine controversy, meaningful (eco, fair labor, animal rights) with sexy.

Blogging Advice.

Osama Bin Laden harem: photos! Naked Vegan Fireman kicked out of McDonald’s (sign petition here)! Sarah Palin and Dalai Lama meet, save kitty stuck in tree (video)! Did you know Ice Water is killing you? Coffee is killing you? Sushi is killing you?

elephantjournal.com and Walk the Talk Show usually works with six (or more) interns at any one time.

We teach our team social media—we’ve been voted #1 in US two years running for #green info on twitter, we have a Facebook Page (plus eight other pages) the size of many national news organizations. And given that Facebook is responsible for a good deal of our ability to connect with readers, that grassroots support has been key to our success. If by success you mean breaking even after three years online.

We teach them new media, generally—how to blog, title stuff, do basic SEO and attache a legally-sourced, appropriate photo.

And we teach ’em a bit about how to write—you know, journalism.

One of the things I tend to mention is that there is a hard and fast rule to blogging: it has to fall within one of six categories in order to be well-received. And if a blog isn’t popular—if readers don’t read it—you or I will find oursleves putting in hours of time, potentially, for nothing. In fact, an important blog on an important subject that bores, scares or turns off readers can actually do our cause—changing the world, and ourselves—some real damage. If folks see “yuck, egads, I can’t do anything about it” when they see the words “climate change” or “boring, new agey, yuppie, for girls” when they see the word “meditation,” well then we might as well go to work for the enemy.

Good idea, now that I think of it—d-bags normally make a bit more money, have faster cars and handsomer/hotter arm candy. Seeya!

No…really, thankfully: with these six categories, we can have our cake (change world for better) and eat it, too (be successful).

Here’s the rule: if your blog fits into one of these six categories, it’ll do well. It’ll be a “B,” say. If it fits into two of these categories, it’ll do very well, an “A.” If it fits into more than two categories, it’s that rare home run. If, in addition to nailing one or two or three or…imagine, all six of these categories…you know how to use social media and network your articles via email and word of mouth and good titles and images and SEO, you actually can make a good living, or at least live a life worth the living.

So, without further adieu, three years of daily blogging lessons beaten into me, all in one nice list (readers love lists, btdubya).

1. Funny (if you laugh-out-loud writing something or blogging up a video, others will too: it’s gold).

2. Sexy (gay, straight, either gender…if it’s sexy, it flies. Key here is to tie it back to our mission, or yours in your case…otherwise you win short-term, but long-term you lose reader trust and loyalty, which hurts reputation and readership numbers…not to mention our/your mission).

3. Controversial (for elephant, anything vegan, sexual, feminist. Anything with “Sarah Palin” in the title.”)

4. Timely (Osama Bin Laden killed! Timely doesn’t mean a blog about the Tonys ’cause the Tonys just happened. Timely means breaking news)

5. Inspiring (Pema Chodron on tonglen meditation, or a flash mob, or wedding proposal, or cute animal, or a handicapped person overcoming challenges…).

6. Practical. Health tips, how to drink water or plant a tomato or get better gas mileage or keep your bike from getting stolen? Simple.

And, as promised, there’s one extra-super-most-popular way to go. Number seven is the most important one, but it’s also the toughest. It’s also the easiest, and the most cathartic, and most fun.

7. Be genuine. If it comes from your heart, if as Kerouac said it’s what you least want to share that the world is most bleeding to hear, it’ll connect.

The overall theme for all these categories is the meeting of minds. If you are speaking from within to readers, directly, outside, it’ll fly. And if it’s genuine, even if no one reads it, who cares?


> Advice from Kerouac himself.

> More advice from Kerouac.

> More advice, via Ari Pliskin, an elephant columnist.

> Twenty ideas to beat Writer’s Block, by Merete Mueller.

> Advice on blogging from longtime elephant columnist Chris Courtney.


Want to write on elephant’s platform, reach our readers, share some inspiration? Email us.

The Elephant Ecosystem

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.

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anonymous Nov 29, 2011 12:44pm

thanks, Waylon. I am always wondering if my articles will get read 🙂 I try for the funny-sexy. I'll tell you one thing, my ele articles have a larger reader base than my personal blog. I've had so much fun participating in the ele community! Thanks for all of it, I'll try to make you proud. Yoga post forthcoming…. 😉 – Alexa Maxwell

anonymous Jul 28, 2011 6:19am

Fantastic, Way! I'm left with wondering… do I forget about posting about saving songbirds? That was going to be my post today. Can't make it funny. Singing birds make it inspiring. There. Maybe I answered my own question. Toss in a naked picture and I'm good to go 🙂

anonymous Jun 15, 2011 10:16pm

Five ways to say Thanks for this post…

anonymous Jun 15, 2011 9:31am

I wish I knew I would one day write a blog, I would have paid more attention in school.

Wow – sharing what you least want to share – RADICAL! I've got to roll that one around in my brain.

anonymous Jun 15, 2011 5:26am

Great stuff! Now – when was that "making a living" think supposed to come into play? 😉

anonymous Jun 15, 2011 5:05am

Good stuff, Waylon, thanks…am learning…dug out the sexiest picture i could find, without lying…!

anonymous Jun 14, 2011 8:50pm

Great tips Waylon! I would add:
1. Don't be afraid to take a stand. I'm guilty myself of being wishy-washy in some posts because I don't want to offend anyone, but one of my most popular post inspired a huge debate. Were some of the comments hurtful? Sure! But more were fair and supportive. You get meanies everywhere, but if you never express your opinion strongly, no one will care what you think.
2. Write more succinctly. Cut, then cut again!
3. People love lists "Five ways to…" "Seven insane bikes…" etc.

    anonymous Jun 14, 2011 9:01pm

    Yeah, lists are so funny. I always say to interns that folks don't really care how, say, to climb a tree or fix a bike tire or whatever. They either care of they don't, I should say. But if you say "4 Ways to Climb a Tree," something in the human brain wants to know what's mentioned—and what's left out.

    I'd add an obvious but subtle one. Lots of links to your other articles. Like: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/01/do-you-sti

anonymous Jun 15, 2011 9:15am

We work closely with the University of Colorado and follow all regulations. Interns are with us relatively briefly, get a ton of training, and do non-essential work. Thanks for the heads up, we and all businesses that work with interns are well aware, or should be. ~ Waylon