(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.
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?
> More advice from Kerouac.