The best advice I ever got on how to blog could be summed up in two simple words; be interesting. It’s alright as advice, but nothing that’s groundbreaking. I mean, everybody knows that they have to be interesting to be able to get repeat visitors back to the blog. But seriously, how many go about actually doing something about it. Besides, how do you go about being interesting?
Everyone talks about differentiating yourself and the value it holds for you, but it is very hard to capture their value in a nutshell and say “here, this is what you need to capture best”. Nor can I take your hand, open the palm and say “here’s your differentiation, now go and make something of it”. Because of this inherent intangibility, it’s very hard to discover exactly what someone means when they goad you to be more interesting. Here’s some ways to be interesting, at least to some people.
Everyone’s trying to be right or honest or correct in some way or the other. Why go with the madding crowd when you can swim against the stream and make a lot more traffic hit your blog? Commonality is a boring thing, the wrong thing. Take a surprising stance, be a bit outlandish just be contrary to popular logic and people will stop and smell the roses.
Inject a bit of humor into it
Bloggers are a very serious breed, maybe too serious for my liking. It’s like we’re on this mission to teach the world something, and somewhere along the way we forgot exactly how to go about enjoying ourselves and entertaining people. It’s no good being a blogger if you end up putting your readers to sleep! So how do you break the reverie? Inject a bit of humor, that’s how. The best of orators use a bit of always, some more effectively than others. Just remember to be appropriate.
Irreverence is good
Stir the pot a bit, or shake the honeycomb if that’s a metaphor that more suits your tastes. Make fun of the things most people wouldn’t touch with a twenty foot barge pole. South Park is shockingly gross at times, but it is their irreverence that has won them so many fans. Laugh at religion, politics, diseases, anything that people hold dear. Yes, it will offend some but some people love it, and Maddox is a classic example of this.
Have a good story to tell
People just don’t get this one somehow. Stories support your arguments and whatever point it is that you have to make and make for a terrific opening line or paragraph, and it does all of this while entertaining readers. Forget the little anecdotes floating around the internet, everyone has those. What you have is a story to tell, so allow it to unfurl.
Craft it with love
Everyone cranks out blog posts the way China spits out cheap goods or the way Britney Spears used to create babies (but she has since stopped being a baby factory, to her credit). Honestly, do you want to craft a blog that is mechanical and absolutely devoid of any passion or love? I know I wouldn’t, some of those articles are just words regurgitated on a page (yes, I’m guilty of having done that when I’m busy or tired). Pour some effort into that blog and you’ll be surprised by how much more memorable and interesting it becomes.
Everyone said that tablet PC’s need something new, something to reinvigorate the platform. After years of products that tried to make the seemingly doomed form factor work, Apple came up with the iPad and the adoring masses loved it. Love it or loathe it, the iPad is most definitely here to stay and it’s powering a sea change in the world of mobile computing. Just as the iPhone was the phone every phone tried to be, the iPad is the tablet PC that every device is trying to be *cough* Samsung Galaxy Tab *cough* but it’s not the hardware that makes the iPad so special, it’s the user experience and the slick way in which it integrates with the hardware. It is this integration that applications are now looking to harness, and there are even some great apps for when you hit writers block. Load up these apps on that iPad.
It’s like Russian Roulette minus a gun, and you’ve just got to spin the wheel (no, seriously) to get a random site across a number of categories (such as humor, tech, comics, opinion, science and so on). Web Roulette is a great way to snap that writers block of yours and get out of the rut you might find yourself in.
23,000 Great Quotes HD
“I have a mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.” – Groucho Marx.
Has it ever happened with you that you read a great sentence or quote and find your creative spark just brought to life? That does happen to me a fair bit, and you most likely won’t browse through all 23,000 of these quotes, but it doesn’t hurt spending at least a few minutes reading through them.
The name is absurd, the app itself is not. Sometimes all you need is someone to get in touch with someone who gets that inspiration flowing, opens up the floodgates as it were. Popplet is great for some idea generation, and it’s a brainstorming app that allows you to explore ideas and get inspired.
Sometimes, being inspired means simply taking a break from everything, just escaping from it all. That’s where this app and your iPad comes into the picture. MovieVault connects you to an archive of movies that you can watch. All you have to pay is the price of the app and you have access to a list of great movies to watch. Run away to a great story, and you can then pen your own stories with your creative spark plugs cleaned.
Several traditional print magazines have gone digital and your iPad is a fantastic platform on which to view them. This app itself is free and it’s more of a digital newsstand for you to use with you paying for the publications themselves. Explore, dive in and get inspired.
If you are even remotely into movies, you would at some point have heard about Roger Ebert even if you absolutely hate movie critics. Most of them are shallow and self-serving, but not Ebert’s; his name is a byword for quality movie reviews. He used to even appear on TV, quite famous for his dueling critiques of movies alongside Gene Siskel. Of course, those very vocal criticisms are now a thing of the past; Ebert lost the ability to speak thanks to a battle with thyroid cancer that robbed him of the ability to speak in 2006.
Ebert may no longer be able to use the lower part of his jaw, but his voice still manages to reach the masses with unerring clarity and precision. His reviews still receive critical acclaim and appreciation not just for the quality of his writing but also for the feeling he pours into his critiques, his books and his reviews. His character is beyond question, for he is a very strong public figure, but as writers we can all look to Ebert in an effort to inculcate qualities we should all have.
Ebert is a man who not only can’t speak, but also can’t eat or drink because of his unique condition. Surely that is enough to crush anyone’s funny bone, but not Ebert’s. His writing is always unaffected and his words continue to shine on and dazzle. His humor, sprinkled liberally throughout the body of his text, and sensibilities continue to garner praise and like Ebert, every one of us has a tough time with something or the other, but like Ebert we should not let life’s trials and tribulations break our spirit. Always stay in touch with the funny side of things
Concentrate on your strengths
Ebert was a Pulitzer prize winning writer even before he took to film journalism and criticism like a duck to water, and his great strength lies in holding fort on virtually any topic under the sun. He can connect effortlessly with readers and peer alike and he is still a supremely prolific writer. Ebert told Esquire, in typically simple terms, that “when I am writing, I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.” Even in the face of adversity, Ebert is glad to be the man he is and thankful got that which he does well. So should you be.
Always be honest
Ebert has tons to complain about, and so does Stephen Hawking for that matter. But no one has ever heard them whining about their predicament, and that’s because neither of them are complaining. They enjoy their jobs and they’re the best there is at it. They don’t need anyone’s pity since they’re so happy doing what they do. Through his journal, Ebert has touched millions of readers in a way he never could have, explored writing in a way he never would have, had he not been in this unique situation. And he’s honest enough to say it as it is.
Let passion guide you
Ebert makes no bones about it; his writing is what saved him. His journalistic style is a fascinating exploration of the world of words. How many people has he inspired in this scary, new world of his? Possibly millions, and you too can do the same by soldiering on through your hardships and being driven on by your passion. Don’t just phone in your creative content, engage your audience by pouring yourself into your work and if you don’t know how to, look at Ebert; he is a shining example of exactly that.
It’s easy to whip up interest in topics that people like to read up on. Sports, technology, celebrities, people lap up such topics with relish. But what if your field is something a bit different from that? What if you write a blog with a great deal of passion and quality, but no one reads your topic because the topic is boring as hell, such as Archaeology or Cognitive Psychology? How do you get such blogs or blog posts noticed at all?
It was the summer of 2006 when a book hit the New York Times Bestseller list. The title was a bit odd, but it promised to entertain and be provocative while talking about Economics. I never quite liked Economics as a subject, mind you, but the reviews were astounding. They couldn’t stop raving about the book, and so I forked out the money for it and walked off, wondering if my money would have been better spent on a couple of lattes instead.
Those delicious, delicious lattes.
But from first page to last, I didn’t miss those lattes. And you know why? Freakonomics was a wild, wild ride with stories that tickled the mind and made me laugh and think at the same time. It was light-ish reading and it was intellectual all at once. I read about the Ku Klux Klan and promiscuity and sumo wrestlers and drug dealers and it was such engaging reading.
Why didn’t anyone teach Economics like this back when I was studying? Every story made me want to read more and more about Economics, and I was fully immersed in a subject I never liked before. And in a way, I realized what Freakonomics really was; it was a bible for transforming blog posts into something sexy no matter what the topic. The writing style was crisp, intuitive and at times counter-intuitive (like the story about day care centers and disincentives that backfired) but the book was never boring in the slightest.
And each of those stories was attractive because of the name ‘Freakonomics’. It’s kind of hard to miss a book with a name like that, and it’s even harder to not read at least a few pages of that book with a title like that. And then that what is it, you’re hooked on stories like that. That title was like a giant neon sign that just captured your attention one way or another, and you can learn a lot from the easy and engaging writings in Freakonomics when it comes to making your own blog posts.