How to Infuse Your Writing with Nostalgia

image of batman on cover of life magazine

Holy fruit salad, Batman!

Do you know the reference?

If you ever watched the old-school Batman TV show, you’ll get it. Each episode of the show featured Robin uttering a different version of the catch phrase, with an increasingly unlikely noun taking its place in the middle.

But it’s not Robin who made those off-the-wall catch phrases memorable.

It’s the nostalgia that a show of this nature still wells up in their audience to this day.

It’s been written to death that content is king. I don’t think we’ve beaten this to death enough! Anyway, what really needs to be put into context here is that any type of content, whether it be television, video, articles, or anything else needs to contain some element of nostalgia.

Let me ask you this. Do you want people to talk about your work 10, 20 years from now? I know I do.

Now vs. tomorrow

If you create great content for “what’s hot now,” it doesn’t mean it’s still going to be “hot” down the line.

Just take a look at how many bloggers are arguing what the best platform is for social networking. They’re all looking to push their favorite social network, whether it be Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

10 or 20 years from now, how relevant will that content be? How relevant will it be a year from now?

Most sites are missing out on what really connects with readers and fans — nostalgia. If my Batman reference didn’t resonate with you, that’s ok, because here’s another quick example …

I’m taking a class called “The History of Video Games.” The title of the class alone suggests that certain video games create a nostalgic feeling in the teacher and prospective students. Games like Super Mario or Donkey Kong are still surprisingly popular because the creators thought long and hard about how to keep them compelling throughout the years.

So how does this relate to your blogging?

When you write a post, create a video, or distribute anything on the internet, have you ever stopped to think about whether what you’re saying actually means anything to your audience? Just because “content is king” doesn’t mean your content is anything more than that of a Court Jester.

What do I mean by that?

Don’t be a court jester

A Court Jester exists for the King needs to be amused in that precise moment. It might attract attention, but it doesn’t keep it for the long run.

Is your latest article or podcast relevant only for this precise moment, or “what’s hot now?”

I hope not, because then all you’ll become is another content “John Doe.” The work that you spent so much time on is quickly lost in the vast vortex of the internet.

Separate yourself.

Do something that you feel can be looked upon in the years to come and still be relevant. You want people to read your articles down the line and say, “This is great. I wish people still created things like this.”

To this day, I enjoy looking at archived articles or older books. I just read a reprint of the first ever issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Talk about nostalgia! It’s that type of writing that you want to seek out. Writing that survives to become an enduring classic.

So what should you do to keep your content memorable for the future?

4 ways to create nostalgic content

  1. Read or watch something that has some age to it, but is still relevant today. This will allow you to view things in a different light and not get influenced by the same echo chamber everyone else is stuck in. By looking to the past, you’ll notice what elements stand the test of time, what still captivates and commands attention.
  2. Stop reading what others are doing or telling you to do. I’m not saying you can’t listen to opinions, but don’t be a blind follower and continue do what feels safe (like blogging about how to make money with a blog). Be a leader and think for yourself.
  3. Be a free spirit. It worked for the Batman TV show, which was quirky and often over-the-top outrageous. I still have friends from college texting me the dumb catch phrases I used to say. Your work won’t stand the test of time if you’re exactly like everyone else.
  4. Be an entertainer. Everyone likes to say be yourself when you write. I don’t think that’s always a good thing. Do you think P.T. Barnum stayed safely inside his comfort zone? No. He was constantly thinking creatively, like, well … a circus performer. Barnum & Bailey are still in business and going strong.

Over to you …

Nostalgia isn’t something you can create on a piece of paper in a moment. It’s something that develops over the course of time.

Write for the future. Write for what will still be relevant when all the hype becomes old news, and you might be remembered when you’re gone.

What type of content do you find to be nostalgic, and what have you done to create that type of experience for your readers? Share it in the comments below and I’ll join you …

About the Author: Frank Angelone enjoys being entertaining while blogging on Social Tech Zone. He's found one of the best ways to do this is by creating websites for his clients. Is there something he can create for you? Let him know on Twitter.

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  1. I believe the balance between the two types is important. Having content that will last the ages is going to be very beneficial to your blog life’s.

    Do write some “hype” and amusing articles in between there since people do like to react to those kinds of articles. Anyways, excellent article.

    • I agree with Samuel. You need to keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on in your industry, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is. Some information is going to be relevant for years to come and it’s definitely worth writing about time and time again.

      • Without a doubt. You don’t want to bore the reader and when it’s something new that may only be for that moment, you can still connect with your reader on an emotional level, which is always a positive.

    • Yes, I think this is a good point. Mix up some immediate-attraction content with plenty of longer-run evergreen content. Attraction isn’t everything, but if we don’t attract an audience in the first place, none of the rest of our strategy can work.

      • You know what else it comes down to Sonia? Whether or not people take action. That’s the biggest issue on the web when it comes to publishing. Creating a foundation and acting upon it!

    • I completely agree, Samuel. Writing hype articles is definitely a good thing because it freshens up the content flow and always keeps the reader on their toes. It’s a good idea to mix both concepts.

      • I am a big fan of mixing things as long as it becomes obvious what is the main focus, otherwise you may seem scattered. One thing that I completely agree with is: Separate yourself! Good stuff!

        Thanks,

        Iulian

        • So true. The biggest mistake people make with their blogs is not being able to convey the central topic of the site and in turn, that turns people away. It’s keep to remain consistent, but every now and then you can do something to add creativity.

  2. my favorite “Robinism” — Holy strawberries Batman, we’re in a jam!

  3. This article kinda made me think in retrospect about the nature of my own writing. I guess we deliberately try and skip questioning content from time to time, only not to find ourselves having to radically rebuild our style of writing.

    Being a niche blogger I now clearly recognize the benefits this strategy has to offer- seeing others in the niche that are now not actively blogging, but still having their work shared, praised, and therefore competing with all there is to come.

    Having this said, it’s really a no-brainer what should our approach be. I for instance try to stop going from writing one post and then another just for the sake of writing alone. Sure, I agree with @Samuel on putting some filler content out there just to keep the conversation going and have readers interested and constantly engaged, but having 80% or more evergreen content is an indicator that your blog is going to score big.

    As you said, this can be passed in any form- text, video, infographics, audio, anything really…
    But as long as it adds value in a unique way, then it’s up for success I guess.

    I try creating this kind of content by writing in-depth articles. So far I’m convinced that it can stand the test of time the most compared to other forms of content.

    Thanks for the great article Frank

    • Thanks so much for the feedback! There’s one thing that I was told a while back that still holds true….quality is better than quantity. Too often people just write for the sake of writing. It’s better that you go about writing something that’s in depth because then you know it will always be useful and continue to be useful for years to come! Take a look at the blog ViperChill. Glen doesn’t post often, but when he does, he always gets a huge reaction.

  4. I often have to stop myself from referring to a current pop icon when writing copy and ask myself if I’m sure this will be relevant years down the road (Taylor Swift being most recent example). I love the tips here for drawing on the enduring past to create copy that stands the test of time and even gets better with age.

    • There’s no problem with referencing current pop icons when you write. It’s good for the now and you can twist it around as the years go by referencing that post and comparing that current pop icon’s status to the current year. That’s a perfect way to keep something informative for a long period of time rather than the short term.

  5. I am glad that’ve read this. I was in need of every word of this piece. You are right when you said people are stuck. As a reader of many blogs I find the same message annoying. There are a few I really like because it is different, although, with the same message. I was once a blind follower trying to follow the herd. I was responsible for starting at least 20 or so blogs that were based one what everyone was doing (Hoe to do this and that). Now, My current blog is who I am, a WRITER. I am more at ease with my writing and what I am want accomplish.

    • I was in the same boat as you. I use to write a rehashed version of what other people were saying with my own opinion and then I realized I had to go in a different direction. Two things are true that I learned. People want results and information that they can use for a long time and they don’t want our opinions. It stinks, but it’s true.

  6. As Samuel says, I think there is a good case for posting a combination of articles – the bulk being the evergreens which we all hope will develop into classic and timely posts that retain their relevance for years to come, but there is also a place for posts which capture a moment or a passing mood or trend. They may lose their sense of purpose as time passes but in that instant they have the potential to go viral and put your organization, or blog, at the forefront of people’s minds

    • Absolutely, Tom. I hope nobody got the wrong idea of what I was trying to convey in this post. It wasn’t to stop writing good filler articles, but it was more of a suggestion to think long term about what you put online. I think a mix up both is a good idea, but I believe some thought should go into what you post and not just throw anything online.

  7. I love this! Thanks for the great idea. For example, thanks to AT&T U-Verse, we have cable stations such as INSP – The Inspiration Network. Lo and Behold “Happy Days” is a part of the line up. Hey, who doesn’t love The Fonz? Since bullying and parenting are ‘hot topics,’ it made realize how “Mr. & Mrs. Cunningham” could be good role models for parents today. Sure, Joanie and Richie weren’t always perfect, but they had morals and values. And, Mr. & Mrs. C always always had words of wisdom for their two kids (I’m not sure what happened to their eldest son). Not to mention the fact that The Fonz was always there to help Richie whenever he was in a sticky situation. That’s a true friend. :)

    The following is excellent advice for bloggers, especially new bloggers, “Stop reading what others are doing or telling you to do. I’m not saying you can’t listen to opinions, but don’t be a blind follower and continue do what feels safe (like blogging about how to make money with a blog). Be a leader and think for yourself.”

    Thanks again for this great post.

    • Great reference. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comment and it relates perfectly to what I talked about in this post. I hope I was able to help!

  8. Thank you so much for this post. On my own blog, I’ve been ranting about writers jumping on the latest craze with no thought for craft. Then I had to recant when I came across two very popular, very trendy novels that are written so well they’re timeless. It is possible to be in on what’s hot, but there’s nothing hotter than writing down to the universal and timeless business of being human. It can be done, is being done by many writers, but it’s the “h” word–hard.

    For background noise, I’ve got “All In The Family” looping on the TV, but it’s turning into anything but background noise. That show is an excellent example of what you’re talking about. It opens with Archie and Edith singing about the how good things used to be, and I’ll bet everybody can sing that song off the top of their heads. Nostalgia for the old days, the golden days we romanticize, transcend trends. But this show never would have flown, despite being timely and trendy, if the creators and writers hadn’t nailed the craft of comic timing, pace, fully realized characters, and…you get the picture.

    Again, thank you for telling it like it is. Just as Archie Bunker helped us see our flaws and strive to be better, you’re mirroring our own tendencies to hunt down that pot of fool’s gold. (BTW, the court jester did provide entertainment, but his role was also illustrating the king’s folly without fear of consequence. The jester allowed the king to laugh, then retire to chambers and let that deep-down truth sink in for a good ponder.)

    • I’m always one to tell it like it is. I don’t like to sugar coat anything because that doesn’t do anybody any good. Your example is spot on. If you look at any TV show from back in the day with a catchy theme song, you’ll still hear people singing it – that’s not by accident! Thanks for educating me on the court jester…this was my favorite comment so far!

  9. Brian,

    This article was amazing. I am now remembering the scene when Batgirl finally arrived on the motorcycle. Thanks for the tips.

    Storm

  10. I’d say ninety percent of my nostalgia comes from the characters inside the content. I love the Star Wars concept, but I love the characters much more. So, unless we write fiction, I’d say we have to let our inner characters out to play using the words we put on the page.

    • 100% agree. Characters in movies are what we connect with, if it wasn’t for them, the movie isn’t the same. You hear it so often with TV shows when the original character leaves and everyone gets annoyed by the decision.

  11. “Holy Kleenex, Batman! It was right under our noses, and we blew it!”

    I used to love watching that show when I was a kid. It’s delightfully quirky, from the silly action sequences and dialogue to the Joker’s makeup-covered mustache. :)

    Anyway, regarding your questions…I try not to take myself too seriously online. That doesn’t mean I’m recklessly throwing content at the wall to see what sticks, but I think it’s important to have fun with the process. Sometimes I’ll post serious content, and other times I’ll post a tasteful rant or a “behind the scenes” piece. And lord knows, our blogging team loves working their favorite TV shows or movies into their content, which our readers enjoy. People seem to respond to variety, so that’s what I like to give them!

    I think it’s hard to predetermine which content will stand the test of time, just like it’s tough to predetermine which videos will go viral. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, right?

    Good stuff, Frank. Thanks!

    • I’m glad to hear to hear you mix things up, Jill. It’s the best way to keep things fresh and giving a variety makes everyone happy. You’re right, by the way…you can predetermine when something will go viral…it just happens!

  12. Hey Frank,

    it’s a good point – but immediately upon reading it and liking the Holy fruit salad by-line, I wondered how easy this actually is. I completely agree with your points about being different though and nostalgia is just one way to do this.

    I think another point you’re perhaps making here if not explicitly, is to give yourself permission to try new things, be different, be yourself if that’s what you want but nostalgia or anything else that adds a timeless quality to writing/blogging or any other content creation – right?

    Recently I started just having more fun on my own sites and noticed the traffic went up. Not so much about being myself, though that was part of it, not so much about nostalgia, not so much about mixing things up and trying new things – but a combination of all of these. The beauty of it is there are no rules on the internet.

    Anyways, nice post, it got me thinking – and reflecting upon what I’ve actually been doing lately. e.g. my latest post: ‘It’s not about the Money, Money, Money‘ is from a popular song (Price Tag by Jessie J), though admittedly I think only in the UK. It’s just what was in my head at the time & I think makes the post feel more catchy – for me at least ;-)

    • You got it, Alan. I am saying to give yourself permission to try new things. I think too many people are afraid to escape the norm and that’s where they loose out on creating something that has the possibility to become nostalgic. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  13. One ‘arm’ of my blog is biblical meditation – can’t get much older than that. But I use personal examples – and often meditate on The Message version – which gives fresh insights on well-known passages. Psychologically, we haven’t changed since caveman days – so it’s all still relevant, just rephrase the parables from a rural setting to an urban hi-tech one.
    Good post, Frank

    • I like the alternative look. Meditation is great and definitely helps calm the body down and it’s so true…we still appreciate and look at things like they did during caveman days. Are way of dressing may have changed, but our thoughts seem to remain constant.

  14. Nostalgia. As in ” the good ol days?” That kind of nostalgia requires enough personal history to generate a longing for what is probably a past we remember the way we wish it had been.

    I love “relevant.” It was a hoot when I was a seminary student in the 70’s listening to everyone struggling to make sure their Jesus was relevant. And, we got Benny HInn.

    Just think. In just a handful of years, today, now, the moment we are supposed to be living in, will be called the “good ol days.” Nostalgia.

    • I never thought of the day and age we’re living in to be considered nostalgia down the road, but it’s very likely. I always enjoy looking at things from another perspective. We’re so use to the days that are behind us being nostalgic that we never stop to think that we might be creating it as we speak.

  15. I’m a big fan of the “easter egg” method, where you hide a pithy comment in an alt tag or a link tag. This could be a great place for Nostalgia! Looking forward to working on this. Thanks for the post.

    • The “easter egg” idea is fun. I would probably choose to hide it in an alt tag or I’d probably do some manipulation with jQuery because that’s where you can really create something cool for your readers.

  16. Yes, it is nostalgia :-) I have seen few old news and films in the hungarian TV from 1976 :-)
    Reallí funny but I’d like to go back and check the old lifestyle ;-)

    Great tips, thank you!

  17. Funny I just found this article. Most of my blog posts DO reference nostalgia …today’s post on my marketing blog was spurred on by a song by the Shocking Blue …Send Me a Postcard … http://tinyurl.com/7qhzsp5

    I use nostalgia because I also own a business that is related to 60’s/70’s music and pop culture (Groovy Reflections) so it’s a natural for me to do so.

    • You’re very fortunate, Gerry that writing nostalgic based content comes easy for you. Most people don’t think to consider it and only write about what’s relevant now. You are a step ahead of the game and I applaud you!

  18. “But it’s not Robin who made those off-the-wall catch phrases memorable.”

    Can’t poor Robin ever get credit for anything?

  19. I love this concept! I actually created a nostalgic metaphor in a recent post and my readers where all over it! Thanks for sharing :)

  20. Great points and I believe its depends on the writers when writing any blog post and that time writer should consider the point whether that’ll be going to last for ages or will be vanished after some time. For me its an art you developed with lots of experience.

  21. Writing is with no question an art and some people are much better at it than others. I would just hope more people will take the time to think about what they share rather than just posting because they feel they must.

  22. Good morning Frank!

    Thank you for helping me identify what my blog is about! I’m not into the cartoon stuff of the TV and film world, but my overall theme is definitely about nostalgia. It’s good old family values and ‘Gemutzlichkeit’ wrapped around tourist attractions. Now I know what to say when people ask me what I write about!

    Thank you for your help!
    Kind regards,
    L

  23. Yes, it’s important for every business to entertain their users with great content to engage them. It’s nice article to encourage every blogger and business to write great posts.

    • I’m not just saying to write great posts. That “lesson” is overstated and redundant, what I’m saying is to think about whether or not what you write is going to be useful for the current time and beyond!

  24. I guess everybody would love to achieve this kind of stature when one writes, i.e. being able to write for now with a very strong impact that people will be able to remember it for the years to come. I guess infusing a lot of humour in our writing can help, people recall more about some things that really made them smile or laugh.

    • Humor is a major factor when it comes to me remembering something. Anything that makes me laugh or smile, I know I’ll be going back to it in the future. That’s a great way to make a strong impact!

  25. I am always looking for ways to stand out above the crowd by providing people with something of value that will help to better their lives.

  26. I love the Batman reference. I say “Holy Toledo, Batman” all of the time.

  27. Great idea! Creating content with nostalgia is such a brilliant idea. For me is to constantly generating content and ideas. You just given me a new place to explore. Thank you!