Ever wonder what the pros do that sets them apart from ordinary bloggers? Perhaps you’re a writer, and you want to increase your exposure, or target new audiences? Despite being well written, engaging, and informative, maybe your posts never gain traction. If you thought you could make a living writing, but it doesn’t seem to be working out the way you imagined, you’re not alone.
According to the Nielsen Company, there were 181 million blogs around the world by the end of 2011. Five years earlier there were just 36 million. While some of those blogs have been sold for millions of dollars, those are very much the exception to the rule. Only a small percentage of them are extremely profitable, and according to Nielsen, a large number of these bloggers are moms. Still, only some of thhese bloggers are earning real income and supporting themselves. Fortunately, some of those who are successful at blogging and marketing have been publishing their recipes for success.
One such person is Gary Vaynerchuk, who details methods, results, and success in his new book, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminologies, jabs are the steps companies take to market themselves and engage their audiences. Content writing and development of brand are are key to this. The right hook is the successful knockout punch they hope to deliver, flooring their target audience, and compelling them to take action. Much as in any boxing match, the main part is consistent and targeted content jabs, leading up to the right hook, but there is much more to it than that.
This book is a roadmap for what readers want.
It covers what engages people, and how to put that into your blog. One of the key psychology elements it draws on is the difference in how people’s minds work, and the visual associations words can evoke. These associations carry real power. They can mean the difference between drawing readers in and engaging them, or having them just brush past you in a crowded web of similar blogs.
A great illustration of this is the popcorn analogy. It’s a simple but powerful method to push people into taking a particular action, and we’ve all been exposed to something similar to it at one time or another. The example works like this:
A movie theater has two types of butter for its popcorn. One is real, natural butter, just like you’d use in your home, and the other one is an artificial low-fat butter spray. By using the words “natural” and “artificial” in the preceding sentence, I’ve already predisposed readers towards the “natural” choice. That, however, is not the intent of the popcorn analogy. How about if we take it a step further, and instead of using benign imagery, we use something a little more insidious.
Now we’ll advertise our low-fat butter spray as a “healthy low-fat butter spray” with 10 times less fat than butter. Next to it we’ll have to change our butter advertisement to say that it’s “butter fat” with as much fat as greasy cheeseburger. Now we’ve made the mental images much more visceral, evoking feelings of disgust. Butter has been associated with fat and cheeseburger grease, while we’ve established positive imagery for the low-fat “butter” spray, implying that it is like butter, despite being completely artificial. Strong emotional imagery goes straight to the brain stem. Few people given the choice will actually use butter, being disgusted by the imagery of burger grease and fat on their popcorn.
That’s the popcorn analogy, and it centers around how the brain stem and the neocortex process information. When we see something that attracts or repels us, our instinct is to act on that reflex. This is because, while the brain stem processes emotions, the neocortex interprets numbers and statistical information. The two don’t play well together, and therefore only one can function at a time. This is what successful bloggers capitalize on, just like successful salespeople and marketing companies. Bypassing the neocortex evokes emotion, which prompts action. Just like the popcorn analogy, emotion triggers not just an action, but a lingering action that can sit with a person long after they’ve left their popcorn in their movie seat and exited the theater. Learn to write to that, and you’ll be surprised at the results it can generate in terms of engagement.
Learning to market is almost as important as learning to write.
This is also the mentality that drives the success of people like Gary Vaynerchuk, but it isn’t just him. Marketing sites around the world offer courses, many of them at no cost, that any writer can benefit from. The new Hitreach Blogging course is a great example, providing no-cost training. While giving this information away for free might seem counterintuitive, it’s not. Sites that train and develop marketing writers and businesses stand to benefit directly from the engagement those relationships build. Later, when a business needs help, or a writer is looking to expand their reach, they’ll usually turn to their teachers for help.
By teaching foundation elements, many of which aren’t immediately apparent to traditional writers, the entire blogosphere benefits. More writers are able to improve their craft, and marketing is refined. The more successful the industry becomes, the greater the recognition of talented writers is. For those who write, this is key, as writing can often be a thankless profession without a little guidance.
Carefully crafted posts can be overlooked, or completely missed, unless they’re visible. Not knowing where to look for that visibility, for the audiences that will be receptive to content, can be crushing to a writer. Hours of research, edits, and revisions may only be seen by a handful of people. More importantly, for those writers intending to market themselves and find work writing, it can be disheartening enough for them to seek a change of career, robbing the world of a new or unique voice.
Writing isn’t easy, and it can take a lot to get noticed.
Other times, writers can come up against the word wall, where they’ve got talent, but aren’t aware of how or where to turn that talent into an income. There are countless sites on the internet looking to hire bloggers and writers. Any that are transparent in their marketing and blogging efforts, like Hire Bloggers, are a great place to start monetize blog content. Other sites, like International Living, will pay writers to share their travel experiences. Magazines like National Geographic, want engaging stories, allowing creative writers to turn a story into a vacation. Newspapers like the New York Times and others also seek editorial writers, opening still more avenues for paid writing. Being accepted isn’t easy though.
Often it requires a mix of talent, knowledge about what works, and a portfolio of quality published work. To establish a working portfolio, it’s best to focus on one site, and maintain your own blog on the side. Just having a blog usually isn’t enough, and getting into a writing site without a blog can be challenging. By writing at least one post per week on your blog and a writing site, you’ll build trust with your audience, and establish a portfolio of work, links, and social media shares. Making all of this happen can be difficult, but by creatively structuring time, and focusing on writing informative and evocative pieces, like the popcorn analogy, a blogger can establish his or her voice in about six months.
Getting bigger might take years, but no one gets bit without getting started. That’s what this article is about. Then, rather than being asked to write in-depth samples that might go nowhere, pitch articles you’ll never hear back from editors on, or work through a maze of difficult and sometimes frustrating sign-up processes, writers can free themselves up to focus on quality content. The one thing that cannot be emphasized enough is to locate quality editors. Show them that you’re willing to work with them, and they’ll reward that by working with you. By listening to their critiques and instruction, you’ll improve as a writer, and might even pick up some editing tips on the way.
Blogcritics is an excellent example of a site where editors provide these comments, critiques, instruction, and most importantly, direction – but you as a writer have to work for it. If you’re willing to dedicate yourself to the craft and improve your work, then you’ll find editors willing to help you become a better writer. This focus on improving oneself as a writer can’t be overstated. Many sites are desperate for writers, and will accept subpar work, offering little to no constructive feedback or criticisms. Writers trapped on such sites will rarely improve, and many eventually move on to other career paths – when all they needed was a little guidance.
A writer, however talented, will only ever be as good as their editor.
Blogging isn’t easy, and it won’t make you rich overnight anymore than playing the lottery will. Effort, attention to detail, and consistently writing high-quality articles will help turn a few extra dollars a month to a stable income, but it’s work. Being a writer isn’t easy, and don’t let anyone tell you different. That said, it’s like anything else in life. The results are entirely dependent on what you’re willing to put into it. Understanding marketing, how the mind works, and what people want to read is just part of it.Powered by Sidelines