We’ve all been there.
You’re talking to someone you’d like to impress, and you’re making a fool of yourself. You keep trying to find the words that’ll make them like you, but all that comes out is a dishonest sounding drivel that shocks you with its stupidity.
The awkwardness looms over the conversation like a mushroom cloud, until the other person finally finds a way to extract themselves and run for cover. Then you just stand there, berating yourself for losing your only opportunity to make them like you.
You’ve become a wannabe. Worse, you suspect that the other person knows it. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Sound familiar? The truth is, feeling like a wannabe is all too common, not only in real-life, but also online. The blogosphere is full of wannabes, people who will write anything if it gets them a little attention. It’s a pitiful condition, arising from nothing more than a desperate need to be noticed.
Let’s talk about how it happens and what to do about it.
The Danger of Trying to Be Interesting
The danger of trying to be interesting is that, when you fail, people can tell. Your writing sounds… dishonest. It’s not only ineffective at getting attention, but it can backfire with your existing readership. Write too many pandering posts, and you’ll find readers unsubscribing from your blog.
We’ve all seen it before. Sometimes, bloggers start writing posts especially for Digg, Reddit, or Del.icio.us, and their entire blog turns into a gigantic piece of linkbait. Or they try to stir up controversy, hoping other bloggers will link to them. Or they write “how to” posts about popular topics, but they lack any real substance.
All are examples of a blogger becoming a wannabe. The question is, why does it happen? To some extent, all bloggers craft their posts to get the attention of a particular audience, even the ones in the Technorati 100. For some, it works. For others, it doesn’t. What’s the difference?
In one word: authority.
Finding the Overlap between Interest and Authority
You get people’s attention by writing about topics they are interested in. You keep that attention by writing with authority.
Take Brian’s headline posts, for example. Before Copyblogger launched, lots of bloggers had addressed the importance of headline writing, but no one had explained the copywriting principles that go into making them work. When Brian started writing about it, everyone paid attention, not only because headlines are a popular topic, but because he was a blogger who could write about it with more authority than the others.
If you want to be interesting without sounding like a wannabe, you need to pick the right topic and speak about it with authority that makes people pay attention. You need both. Leave out one or the other, and you’ll find that the post isn’t nearly as interesting as you hoped it would be.
The Two Most Important Questions You Can Ask
Ask yourself the following questions (in order):
- What are the biggest problems and frustrations my readers face?
- How can I write about those topics with authority?
If you can answer both of those questions, then you’re probably onto a good idea for a blog post. Otherwise, realize that you don’t truly have anything interesting to say and find another topic.
Your readers will thank you for it.
About the Author: Jon Morrow is an Associate Editor of Copyblogger and co-author of Keyword Research for Bloggers.