How to Dominate Your Industry like Drudge

On any given day, The Drudge Report drives more traffic to major news sites than Facebook or Twitter.

Think about that for a minute.

One man with a 14-year-old, one-page, static html website sends more traffic to the CNN, Yahoo, New York Times, LA Times, FOX News and USA Today websites than the nearly one billion users of Facebook and Twitter combined.

In driving traffic to those sites, Drudge is second only to Google. The journalistic world has accordingly beaten a path to Matt Drudge’s door, all seeking just one link from the Master.

How does he do it?

What if you could replicate even a fraction of that power?

Here’s a few lessons in content marketing I’ve taken from the man in the fedora …

Curation is critical

Drudge has been called the greatest wire editor on earth.

The ability to parse the fire hose of raw digital information and craft it into the stories that your audience wants — or needs — can ensure legendary success.

Becoming a trusted editorial source in addition to your original content can make you an indispensible expert in your field.

Send them away with links to the stuff they want, and they’ll come back — to you — again and again for more.

Master the art of the headline

If nobody clicks your headline, you don’t exist.

Drudge knows this and is one of the best headline writers in the business.

On average, only 2 out of 10 people will read beyond your headline. This brutal statistic can be improved by learning how to write useful, unique, urgent and ultra-specific headlines that make a promise your audience can’t turn away from.

Don’t let your first impression be your last chance.

Develop a singular voice

We are living in the age of auto-content. No, not stuff about cars, but content you’ve read and heard everywhere else.

Drudge — mainly through the use of linking and headlines — has created an unmistakable voice. His is a voice that cuts through the unrelenting waves of information crashing on us at all times.

Be funny. Be serious. Be dark. Be outrageous. Be yourself.

Whatever you do, don’t be boring.

Keep it dead simple

14 years ago Drudge cobbled together a plain, one-page website in basic html. It hasn’t changed.

Through all the amazing advances in web development — the widgets, the social software, the rise of apps — his “little” site has remained relatively untouched. His entire site is a single landing page.

You aren’t going to be able to get away with this approach today. This, however, doesn’t excuse you from keeping things simple and solid, and keeping your editorial eye on what’s truly important.

He set it up so that he could run it alone, no matter how big things got. Though he’s employed one or two people to help out through those years, he’s generally been able to do it all himself.

One man with a laptop has altered elections, bruised Presidents, and changed the face of one of the oldest businesses born of the industrial revolution.

Use the tools available to you, don’t let them use you.

Practice maniacal consistency

It seems as if Drudge doesn’t sleep.

No matter the day or hour, if something important (or weird) is happening in the world, he shows up and shows it to his audience.

Your content strategy probably doesn’t rely on the merciless nature of breaking news, but if you’re doing things right, your audience is absolutely relying on your advice and opinion.

Grab the AP news wire. Hit Google News. Read the classics and the latest books in your industry (especially the classics). Turn all of it into an undeniable stream of opinion and expertise.

Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up”.

Show up everyday and tell the stories your audience needs to hear.

If your business is worth doing, it’s worth doing. So do it.

Be patient

Drudge started right where you are. Most likely, with less.

The Drudge Report began as a simple email newsletter to friends. He worked for minimum wage in the CBS gift shop. The content of his early newsletter consisted mainly of overheard hallway banter, cafeteria whispers, and discarded memos he’d cull from the trash.

It grew slowly, steadily. His audience was hungry for more.

He didn’t make a dime for years. Years.

Today, his estimated annual revenue is at least $1,000,000.00. And that’s only a rough estimate.

Ignore the myth of “overnight success”. Keep working.

Cultivate eccentricity

Drudge lives in the penthouse of a very expensive hotel.

He doesn’t do interviews anymore. You’ll rarely see him walking the streets. He doesn’t return emails.

He’s utterly unavailable.

This runs counter to the popular contemporary advice to be everywhere, be open, be … transparent.

You won’t be able to pull off Drudge’s level of eccentricity (unless you pull off his level of success), but you can learn from it.

There is power in mystery.

Doing and showing less creates desire, if you do your thing well. Yes, I’m arguing that you not be everywhere, that you not show all of your cards, that you do your thing and then go away until your next unforgettable at bat.

Find the theatre in your business and exploit it.

And remember, there’s nothing more weird (or more difficult) than simply being yourself. If you happen to be a hard-working, idiosyncratic whack-job (like me), all the better.

I’d be willing to lay a bet that eccentricity is the secret to his success.

There’s too many buttoned-down, orthodox, pressed-suits in your industry anyway.

OK, let’s hear it …

Matt Drudge is a polarizing, fascinating, powerful character.

Love him or hate him, he’s utterly dominated his industry and shown the world what one person with a laptop and an old-school work ethic can do.

In fact, the evidence argues that he’s actually changed the world. Not many without serious political or star power can legitimately say the same.

How does any of this apply to your work, to your marketing?

Give me your best shot in the comments …

About the Author: Robert Bruce is VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media, as well as its Resident Recluse.

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Comments

  1. I love your writing style Robert. Thanks for the excellent tips to dominate in your work. I would assume these are general tips that one can implement in any line of work? Rock on.

  2. I loved this line:

    “Find the theatre in your business and exploit it.”

    I’m not sure exactly how I can incorporate that on my site yet but I’m definitely going to try. Great post. Loved it!

  3. That really is fascinating. I totally agree though that having a consistent and unique approach to your content is the key to getting people through to your site. Writing copy is hard enough to try and reach your intended audience. Much easier to write in your own voice and let an audience come to you.

  4. Drudge is a shining example of succeeding by doing what you do best and doing so consistently. People count on him. They know what to expect from the site and they know he’ll deliver breaking news.

    I commend anyone in a similar field. The will to publish at a moment’s notice is demanding but to sustain it as a one-man show for years is impressive. And I guess static HTML and “ugly” still sells :)

  5. Thanks Robert,

    Pretty inspiring!!

    I guess what we can learn from him, other than hard work pays, is that 100% authenticity shows in the end. If you are not yourself then giving a consistent portrayal of a character is difficult and true followers (ones that keep coming back forever) will be hard to find as they will sense the inconsistencies and lose interest.

    Maybe it is actually better to appeal to a polarized crowd rather than appealing to a larger crowd. The middle ground is crowded so by taking the extreme stance you have less competition and a more intense connection with your readers.

    Thanks

    Pete

  6. I agree with Eddie, your writing style is fantastic. What a motivational, inspirational post, Robert! I would say more, but you have convinced me that I need to go write now…

  7. What a fascinating, inspiring post. You bring up so many great points – I love that your underlying theme is to be yourself, however wacky, weird, funny, eccentric that may be.

    And I agree that patience is the key. No one can expect to be an instant hit overnight. Success takes time, and it’s only when you truly stick with something and follow through that you eventually succeed.

    Thanks Robert, as always, for a great post.

  8. Robert, you were the right man for this article. When you say, “Doing and showing less creates desire, if you do your thing well,” you’re not saying empty words.

    You live this stuff. You ignore comments. You disable comments. You delete tweets. You teach Brian how to delete tweets.

    You’re a genius.

    Thanks for publishing on a summer Thursday. This was serendipitous, but delicious.

    Okay, I’m off to unfollow 500 people on Twitter.

  9. “Find the theatre in your business and exploit it.” This reminds me of a great quote from Jerry Brown who, upon returning to the Governor’s office, was asked how it feels to follow an actor (Arnold Schwarzenegger) into the role. He said: “A lot of this is theater. How do you communicate to 38 million people? You’re not sitting down talking to them. So it’s gesture, symbol, the narrative, the drama. Who’s the protagonist? Who’s the antagonist?”

    Create a rich character (your business? your customer?), find the drama (what’s the conflict/challenge/obstacle), offer the solution (resolution to the conflict), connect with the audience through story, emotion, imagery.

  10. “Whatever you do, don’t be boring.”

    I think a lot of business struggle with this. Companies are so afraid of being wrong that they would rather be bland than risk failing. No wants to work for/buy from boring! You have to be different to get attention.

  11. 1. Showing up

    2. Dictionary is the only place where success comes before work

    3. Keep it simple (Crucial)

    Excellent points you touched on Robert.

    I have been thinking really seriously lately, how many tools any one actually needs to do the work. I feel some times thinking more about tools than the actual work :)

    Thanks for your sharing an excellent piece of content.

  12. Hehehe – I don’t think his level of eccentricity would work for me (I’d be so lonely sitting in my penthouse!), so for me, the most relevant piece of advice from the Drudge Report is the importance of crafting great headlines.

    It’s something I’m always working on improving, with mixed results… :)

  13. Robert you took a topic that has been written about often flipped it on it’s head and made it entertaining and enlightening. I adore the Internet for moments such as this. I am inspired. Thank you!

  14. This post came at just the right time for me! I’m constantly working on improving my headline writing!

    I think it’s VITAL.

    Thanks. =)

    Jennifer

  15. I go to Drudge for one reason … he’s not afraid to link to stories that traditional media are too timid to mention. As Johnny B. Truant might say, he curates Epic Sh!t.

  16. Eccentricity rocks.

  17. Robert-

    “You aren’t going to be able to get away with that approach today.”

    I’m not so sure. I don’t think you can become an “upper level mediocrity” with a one pager, but I do think if we could create the best page in the world, with a great voice…it could work.

    I know that I lack the talent to attempt it, but I don’t think it’s remotely impossible.

  18. Great piece, Robert. I link to Drudge because he usually gets the news first, doesn’t over editorialize, and his site loads quickly. Heaven help you (and your web host) if he ever links back to you…

  19. Great. Now I want to be Matt Drudge.

  20. I personally find his page incredibly difficult to navigate. I don’t get it. I’m at a loss!

    One thing is for sure, you can achieve a great many things with time. Patience is something that too many people lack when it comes to being successful.

  21. Joe Stewart :

    “memo’s”. Ouch.

    Drudge must be a J.D. Salinger wannabe.

    Yes, it works but obviously not for everyone.

    I like your stuff, Bruce.

  22. A great rule I have pulled out of this is minimalism. Looking at Drudge’s site, it is about website design 101 as you can get. Nothing crazy or hard to understand.

    This is sometimes the best way to present a site. Cutting out all the clutter and just providing quality content.

  23. Headlines are one of the things I struggle with the most – Drudge’s ability to capture how he feels about something in (usually) under 5-7 words is just phenomenal. That is talent, plain and simple. Not only that, but the man is brilliant in his commentary and has created a serious empire. Someone to look up to for sure…

  24. Great post, and great writing. I must say, though, that I still can’t stand reading his site due to the layout. I hear you on consistency, but I’d read it more if it was easier on the eyes.

  25. “Ignore the myth of ‘overnight success’. Keep working.”

    It DOES take a lot longer than we’d hope to get to a point of profitability. Especially given how many other voices and websites are out there competing with us. People forget that it takes either a boatload of money or time — usually both, before you start gain traction. I recently started over with a new business/brand and am being reminded myself right now.

    I always love whatever shows up on CopyBlogger…maybe someday that will be me…but for now, I’m content to learn and work on my craft. I know all those points you made. And of course, I make them myself to my clients. Somehow tho, it feels a smidge better the way you say it. Especially wrapped up in that story about Drudge. (I never knew about him!) Thanks for this post, Robert.

  26. I like this because I don’t WANT to learn from Drudge, and yet it’s great to have an objective view of why what he does works. In other words, these tactics work in theory as effectively for someone who believes the opposite of Drudge, politically. It’s about the means by which the content works.

    The irony is there, though–the industry perennially chases whichever metric leader, but you’re pointing to how much of his success came from spending a long time without reward.

  27. Andrew Jecklin :

    I liked this.

    A true man or woman of mystery recognizes the real life impact of word and action and operates accordingly. A true Man or Women of Mystery doesn’t appeal to crowds or a market. They move them.

    A totally different way of operating in the world.

  28. “Be funny. Be serious. Be dark. Be outrageous. Be yourself.”

    Be Funny – Entertain the audience.
    Be Serious – Address the key problems of your target audience.
    Be Dark – Talk about risks, vulnerabilities and failures.
    Be Outrageous – Give a harshly critical evaluation of others’ views, articles, books etc.
    Be Yourself – Develop your own unique style.

    I think these 5 points are the keys to engaging your target audience.

    The articles makes some compelling points. Thanks for the share!

  29. If you listen to him you’ll find that he does all five of the things which earn peoples trust and loyalty:

    1) Support their ambitions
    2) Justify their faults
    3) Alleviate their fears
    4) Confirm their suspicions
    5) Help them throw rocks at against their enemies

    Listen to him, or anyone who is massively popular, and you’ll find the same thing

  30. Hi Rob,

    I don’t know if I’m missing something but The Drudge Report site just appears to be a scraper that trawls all the western worlds news sites, scrapes the latest headlines and posts them as links. There is no re-writing of titles or editorial content that I can see.

  31. Great post and the great writing!

  32. I’ll have to check out the Drudge report and maybe learn a thing or two.

  33. Curation says it all. Drudge report is all about curation, and I think it is an under-considered skill in many walks of life. Being the glue that connects people to things that they need to know is a valuable position. It is very easy to talk about the value of creating content and publishing, but sometimes connecting is just as important.

  34. Interesting article in the light of our (in the UK) recent News of the World debacle. This is a turning point for journalism:
    The senior executives say “we had no idea this was going on”
    The journalists say “we were under extreme pressure to somehow come up with the stories – of course they knew”.
    Rupert Murdoch says “I’m shocked and stunned and am closing down the newspaper – a 168 year old brand – to show my disapproval.”
    The people say “It’s PR spin – a ruthless publicity stunt so he can carry on his masterplan to takeover Sky.

    The world is changing. The big bully corporations have had their day. It’s time for individuals with intelligence and integrity. Don that fedora!

  35. I love the advice about simplicity. When I look at Drudge’s site it is the height of minimalism with the most recent and relevant material front row center. It’s very easy to find the content you are looking for without having you eyes drawn to 50 flash ads first.

  36. Wow this is my blog of the day, thanks.

    There is power in mystery for sure, too much openness is not mysterious at all. Eccentricity sells, because it makes a person unreachable, and being unreachable means you must be a genius. It must also be authentic. I’m picking Drudge just doesn’t like publicity…and yet his blog is all about…

    Again the mystery, the conundrum builds upon his reputation of quality and saitisfaction. Is “drudge” his real name???

    Geoff Talbot

  37. Amazing post!

    A lot of times I’ll see a news item online and wonder if it’s really a story. I usually click over to Drudge to see if he’s got it. If he doesn’t I usually move on.

  38. On my slow days I find myself going to Drudge 2-3 times per day, why? Fresh, updated and because I will usually get some sort of cross section of articles on the big stories….however that said most of the stories (but definitely not all) are only big corporate media generated and not smaller or alternative outlets which I find somewhat even more helpful.

  39. Hi Bruce,

    Great post thank you. Missing your voice at the Internet Marketing for Smart People radio. Will you be back?

    Doris

  40. Perhaps this is the comment your we’re anticipating;

    I’ve been to Matt Drudge’s site and his headlines leap off the screen because of his curation process (which I don’t pretend to know or understand)

    And while he has a loyal audience, it doesn’t come without a price.

    Now I know others have praised this post, culling from it tips and clues on how to stand out to their audience.

    But I do think the message here at Copyblogger about being an authentic authority gets lost using Matt Drudge as a standard bearer for fealess, unapologetic content that helps readers solve a problem.

    There isn’t any real genius in stoking small mindedness. History is littered with personalities who have had center stage catering to peoples fears and prejudices, all clothed in ideology and sanctimonious rhetoric.

    It would be ashamed to not point this out (ever heard of Lonesome Rhodes?)

    I think the whole point raised about eye catching headlines has its merit, but using a guy who re-crafts headlines with a slant…genius….really?

    I don’t knock his site’s visitors…they get they came for.

    But what you have to do now, Robert, is to explain to those who’ve praised this post if Matt Drudge should or shouldn’t be considered a content producer (because I can see a lot of the loyal copyblogger audience leaving here drawing a completley different conclusion).

    Cause when their content doesn’t live up to the “theatre” hype, should they go to extreme lengths to get an audience?

  41. Inspiring post. He sounds like a real character – well done to him.

  42. Wow, this is a great article for any business owner to read. Great post

  43. I love how you take characters and compare them to writing/marketing.

    “Eighty percent of success is showing up”

    I’ve never thought of this but it sounds very encouraging.

  44. Great story on Drudge and even better analysis of the Drudge’s style to building an online business and extracting tips for creating an online business.

    I hate to say it, and I’ve come to this realization lately, your “be patient” tip is probably the best tip in the batch. This online business gig takes time … years for many of us. But when you think about it, the delay shouldn’t be a surprise. An offline business usually takes years to grow just to the break-even point. Why should an online buisness be any different? I suppose the idea there’s generally less overhead makes one believe profitablity and hyper profits should materialize overnight.

    However, that’s not going ot happen for most. A new online business has an exposure and credibility obstacle, namely little little exposure and credibility. It’s exposure and cred that results in profits in the long term. Exposure and cred build subscriberships, loyal readers, buying recommended products, and products listed for sale.

    The Drudge, like Copyblogger built up exposure and credibility over years and now enjoy the fruits of the lean years’ labor. Technically, there are few barriers to entry starting an online business, but practically speaking patience is a gate-keeper. Those who persist and offer value will succeed to some degree.

  45. Hey Rob,

    So as a recent marketing under-grad we discussed Matt Drudge’s website. I can honestly say that I had never visited the site until after reading this article. And, I’m glad I did. In a way it grounded me – taught me that good content and convenience drives swarms of traffic. Google used to have this same philosophy – go to google.com and you will see the same old search keyword entry line, same two buttons and the google logo. I think they are starting to complicate things. They just changed the look of the buttons (from HTML hyperlinks, to images, to what seems to be AJAX style buttons). I think we can all learn from Drudge and the simple term K.I.S.S. in my own blog I have been planning different design stages when in fact, the simple design I have now seems to be working fine.

    -Brendan

  46. You are convincing! Nice tips but Drudge with his odd page hasn’t convinced me.

    Gimme a link with a piece written by him, coz all I found there were links to main online papers.

    That’s his work? Posting links?

    I’m not being a hater, I just never heard of the guy… :-)

  47. Don’t be boring? I’m still trying to figure out how do you know if you are boring? We all know that you can have great content with catchy headlines and intriguing stories and advice, but very few visitors on your site. Therefore, you can’t judge boring soley on the basis of daily readers and comments.

    Just wondering, how do you really know if you are boring?

    Kendra~

  48. 1. What is he made of? :)

    Seriously,
    2. What could be learned for an education entrepreneur?
    Particularly in terms of authenticity… Possibly, Consistence and Perseverance…. Anything else?

    On a side note, if you’re a parent, you probably care about your kids’ learning effectiveness…

  49. Nothing beats the combination of simplicity, perseverance, and an unmatched work ethic!

  50. The Drudge’s website is another bright proof that content is king. Design and even usability doesn’t matter much if the content really strike the audience.

  51. I’ve always loved the concept of keeping things as simple as possible. I don’t know if I completely agree with the fact that a simple one-page site couldn’t be done today. Granted, it would be difficult to do so on today’s web, but as Serge said, the content is really what matters. All the same, you strike some very intriguing points. Thanks.

  52. Matt Drudge is amazing at what he does. I visit the Drudge Report daily, if it’s not on his site it’s probably not important. Great article by the way! Your style of writing will have me coming back, keep it up.