How to Find the Hidden Hook

What’s the secret to finding the remarkable reader benefit that leads to sales, publicity, links or attention?

It’s keying in on the right element of the story.

Recently, blog network b5 Media accepted venture capital in the amount of $2 million to further grow their business.

Certainly, a collection of blogs as a real business is interesting, especially to those outside of the blogosphere.

And a business built around a collection of blogs landing $2 million bucks is certainly interesting as well.

But what’s the angle that’s hooking the mainstream media? Let’s take a listen to b5 Media partner Darren Rowse on that:

I had interviews this week with two journalists about b5media and it was interesting to see that in both cases the story that they latched onto was that we’d built a company without having met each other.

Being interesting is just the baseline requirement.

The real hook is the part that’s fascinating.

Here’s ace copywriter John Carlton’s take on fishing for hooks.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and CEO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Brian on Twitter and Google+.

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  1. Brian – The thing is that most people in the B5 blogging network have not earned a penny from their efforts. I am yet to see bloggers figure out how to monetize well their efforts. I expect they will need to start making money now that they have investors. Blog readers do not seem like the kinda folks that like to click on ads. – Mike

  2. Mike, this post isn’t about b5, I’m just using them as an example. Your comments seem strange to me.

    But, I think your information on b5 is incorrect. They do make money and share quite a bit of it with their bloggers.

    Plus, have you seen TechCrunch, Boing Boing, Paid Content, GigaOm, Lifehacker, Gawker and many more?

    All of those are very profitable, with several of those I listed making over $1 million per year in ad revenue. Blog networks aggregate the power of many blogs to achieve the same result.

    But the real power of blogs to me is selling stuff directly, whether that be products or services. I’ve used blogs in service industries that have generated up to $35 thousand a month in revenue, all of which was directly attributable to the web presence.

  3. So you said in the opening how do you find a hook that “leads to sales, publicity, links or attention?”

    Your point is that the fact that the folks in the network never met is the story that the press is keying in on?

  4. That’s exactly what Darren’s quote says.

  5. I guess I was trying to connect the sales dots. Sorry.

  6. Finding whatever it is that is remarkable about a story, whether it be the story of the product or the story of the company, is what sells. That’s true for conversions and also with publicity.

    Check out the first link in the post for more on how it directly applies to sales rather than publicity.

  7. What I find fascinating is what that hook often turns out to be. I’ve read many articles on the b5 funding, and though the fact that they never met was interesting, I don’t think I would have guessed it to be the hook. But I’m not the average reader of a mainstream news source, and I’ve been working with clients and partners that I’ve never met face-to-face for years.

    So I guess I’m not the target audience of the MSM, which would make sense.

    I suppose it goes back to knowing your audience and making the hook fit.

  8. Yep. :)

  9. At first, I wasn’t convinced that MSM got the hook right on this one. But then, virtual communities are only been possible because of the net. The blogosphere just makes these communities work better.

    I’ve also been thinking about the hook idea. The best sales pitch doesn’t even have a hook. It is all bait. So good, so real that we eat it and it becomes part of us.

    But then I work for a non-profit. Selling ideas for time isn’t the same as selling a product or service for dollars. It will be interesting to how b5 provides the return on investment.

  10. I know this post isn’t about b5 in particular, but I just wanted to let Michael know that every one of our bloggers has made at least a penny off their blogging efforts ;-)

    In fact, hard as it may be to believe, most make hundreds of dollars a month.

    In terms of the actual hook, I honestly believe it’s all about having a story. Flickr’s story was that they started out as an online game. Who knows if it’s true, but it’s rather interesting.

    To be honest, we’d never really thought about our story, and Brian’s post has stirred up some discussion internally on what, exactly, our story is.

    So thanks Brian.

    And Michael, I want to extend an open offer to you to write a b5 blog and see how much money can be made from blogging!

  11. Hey Jeremy, looks like I can’t even mention b5 without causing trouble.

    Let me know if you want to discuss that story. :)

  12. “Hey Jeremy, looks like I can’t even mention b5 without causing trouble.”

    Hmm… That might cause problems in the long run.

  13. I always find it amusing when people can’t fathom that blogs could be profitable.

    Newsflash people: “Blog” is just a way to put content on the internet. It is as monetisable as any other internet presence.

  14. The hook is what the whole PR / journalism game is all about.

    Journalists seek and get pitched story ideas all day long.

    Yes, a blog network getting funding is somewhat interesting. Everyday another company gets funding.

    So to mainstream media it’s a run of the mill story – where’s the angle. What makes it different from the hundreds of other stories out there.

    Jeremy – I’d say milk this angle for all it’s worth, it’s a great way to reach out beyond the “echo chamber” of the blogosphere and get some real traction in the real world.

  15. Hey Brian,

    Can we substitute fascinating with remarkable and say they’ve colored their cow purple ?

    And how can businesses use blogs to make money ? It can’t be possible or Bob Bly wouldn’t have written Blog Schmog and said they were a waste of time.

  16. No Mike we can’t :)

    Besides being taken by that bald guy, there’s a copywriting tie-in to fascinating that I’ll post about next week.

    There’s always a reason why

  17. I couldn’t resist on that one.

    I run a 7 figure (almost eight figure) business that is about 6 years old. I know how to run a successful business and that particular business does not use a blog.

    However, I did recognize the extreme power of blogging, so I started a new business (an information products business) in January of this year and decided to create a blog to be the focus of that business (not just an adjunct… it is THE FOCUS… the very central hub of my business) in February. That business has been earning a steady 6 figures since March. I expect to break into 7 figures in 2007.

    Blogging is an extremely powerful focus for business. You do need to approach business differently, but the addition of a blog (or even better… the placement of a blog as the centerpiece for your business) is extremely powerful and extremely profitable.

    I don’t know Bob Bly, so I can’t comment on your comments about his comments, but anyone who believes that blogs can’t be profitable for a business isn’t using their blog competently.

    -James D. Brausch

    P.S. Sorry Brian for allowing this thread to be hijacked even more.

  18. Hey Brian,

    I just knew there had to be a ‘reason why’ ( that would make a good marketing ploy ) you used fascinating.

    Besides, the bald guy’s doing enough for remarkable …. fascinating needs someone to step up to the plate for it.

    But this making us wait til next week might get unbearable … maybe you could sneak us a little tidbit ?

    Pretty please.

  19. While touting the network B5
    Brian stirred up a beehive:
    “A blog can’t make money
    Despite great hooks for honey!”
    But his ads seem to keep him alive.

  20. The ads don’t even cover my bar tab Antony. :)

    Since when did you take up (bad) poetry?

  21. Bad poetry gets a better response than good poetry, as well as being easier and more fun. The limerick is a favorite because it’s inherently a bit salacious. Plus I’m enjoying the exercise of summing up a conversation in just a few lines. If you find me drifting into sonnets and alexandrines, please shoot me.

  22. Looks like we’re getting to the stage where just putting b5 in your title is all the link bait you need to attract eyeballs.

    b5 must be clapping their hands with glee at the moment :)

  23. Brian, this has nothing to do with copywriting (quite a tangent actually), but wouldn’t you say “rap” music fits inside the parameters of “finding a hidden hook”?

    Following the advice of Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad Poor Dad), rappers made something out of what looked like nothing and created a massive industry out of thin air – an industry the includes many copywriters, by the way.

    I’m sure there are many more blogging opportunities yet to be discovered, as well as many offline ones as well.

    Thanks for reminding me to look out for this online and offline opportunities.

    Regards
    buck

  24. Brian,

    I’m new to your blog and I must say that I enjoy it a lot. Thank you for your hard work! :)

    John

  25. There is just way too much information out there and where to start is a problem, but like they say the man that moves a mountain starts moving the small stones first.

  26. Finding the hook is something hard for many people. I’ve been researching the topic of how to develop a news story and most sites only rehash the same information that is out there. It is just general information out there.