I’ve always been of the opinion that if Carrie Bradshaw had popped onto our television screens in 2010 instead of 1998, she would have been a blogger. But alas, she didn’t, so she wrote a (gasp!) print column for the fictional New York Star newspaper.
Yes, before there were blogs, there were newspaper columns – where readers couldn’t talk back or share good content. ‘Carrie the blogger’ would have been huge.
Though the words of Carrie and her cohorts have not been etched in permalink stone, their messages linger on. And despite the fact that Carrie was allergic to the internet and only used her Apple Powerbook for word processing her articles, the lessons, ideas and, more pointedly, the actual quotes that came barreling out of Sex and the City still speak directly to us Copybloggers.
“You sleep with someone, all of a sudden you start rationalizing all of the red flags away.”
Now, hopefully, you aren’t sleeping with your clients, readers or other bloggers (on a regular basis). Typically, the copybloggers’ dangling carrot (no pun intended, I swear) isn’t sex, it’s money. The woo of money or product can, sometimes, have a debilitating affect on a blogger and their writing. Recently, an intern at TechCrunch got into heaps of trouble for exchanging a blog post for a laptop – for example.
But what about these red flags? For Carrie and the girls, the sex pulled the proverbial wool over their eyes, for bloggers, it’s the cash. These red flags could be anything from illicit blogging behavior, a client that is extremely difficult, a blog that practices black hat SEO, selling a product that might do harm or agreeing to write really bad copy. Will we rationalize these red flags away for income? Heck, will we even rationalize the rationalizing for income?
“The only thing you need to get a date…is another date.”
No truer words have been spoken. How do you get traffic to your blog? With traffic. How do you get guest posting opportunities? By guest posting. How do you get more followers on Twitter? By having a lot of followers on Twitter. How do you get a lot of inbound links to your blog? By having quality inbound links that tell more and more people about your blog.
The concept is based on two facts. One: people are followers – not everyone – but the majority of folks. They hear that Copyblogger.com is a great blog so they stop by and see that there are 100K+ subscribers and so they subscribe, because if everyone else thinks this blog is great, well then, it must be.
And two: success makes us pretty. When you feel good, when things are going well, it shows. Think about being in love – you look handsome, you feel thin, good hair days abound, you have that ‘glow’. When things are going well at the old blog, it’s contagious. Your writing flows, the comments are long and thoughtful, your sidebar fills up with stylish ads, quality inbound links stream in. And all of this makes people step up their level of engagement with you. They want to be around your success, they’re attracted to it and hoping your hotness will rub right off onto them. Like a moth to a flame, and your flame is on fire.
“Coulda, woulda, shoulda…”
Have you noticed that the blogosphere moves fast? Someone recently remarked to me that, ‘Yes, everything has already been created – but not by us.” It is the plight and rabid complaint of the blogger to say that everything has already been written about. To me, that’s the equivalent of saying that all of the letters in the alphabet have already been used, so there is nothing left to write. Are you kidding me?
You are unique. Sure, a zillion people are writing about SEO or hats or astrology. But there is only one you – with your experiences and thoughts and context – writing about it. So don’t live to see your ideas under someone else’s byline. Don’t say, coulda, woulda, shoulda. Seize the moment of inspiration. Write it down. Publish it. Share it with your community. Blogging affords us each ‘our moment’ of opportnity 24/7/365. Take it.
“Everyone thought Batman could beat the Green Hornet, but the Green Hornet won because he had Kato.”
Blogs are the ultimate platform for the underdog, the every person, the ‘nobody’. You don’t have to be batman to win – even the Green Hornet has a fighting chance. Yes, we do have our blogebrities, but new ones are ‘making it’ everyday. Remember two years ago hardly anyone had heard of Twitter. Blogs have made it possible for a broke, depressed woman to cook and share a la Julie Child and get a book deal and a movie option. And a couple of dudes made an online college yearbook that, within a few years, has grown to hold the pictures and information for a gazillion users. While we all can’t reach superstardom, many of us leverage our blogs for decent product sales, service business platforms and advertising traffic.
And don’t forget the Green Hornet’s secret weapon. Yep, Kato – the sidekick, the friend…ah, maybe even the JV partner? Blogging is simply not a solo pursuit. We need readers, we need community, we need mentors. If we’re really lucky, we have a partner or a small crew of people that support us, send readers to us, have our backs and generally serves as our ambassadors in the world. We do the same for them. I don’t know about you, but if I was going up against Batman, I’d want Kato on my side.
“The flowers were supposed to say ‘I’m sorry, I love you’ not ‘You’re dead, let’s disco!'”
When Miranda’s mom dies, Charlotte arranges to have flowers sent for the casket. Obviously, it didn’t go well. There are two issues at play here. The first is about being appropriate. Know your audience and community, know the blog that you’re writing for, know the product or service or person that you’re selling. If you don’t take the time to listen and get your context, you’re liable to send a wildly ill-suited message – the equivalent of showing up at the school dance in a tux when everyone else is wearing jeans.
The second issue is that Charlotte gave specific directions to the florist on what sort of flower arrangement she was looking for, she trusted they would listen and get it right…and they failed. As bloggers, we have to trust writers that we hire to create copy for us, guest bloggers whose content we rely on to feed our pipeline and other bloggers who promote us. These people bring their own personalities and agendas. Sometimes their arrangement is a match, sometimes it’s a disaster. When you depend on others, calculate the risk.
“Monogamy is fabulous. It gives you a deep and profound connection with another human being, and you don’t have to shave your legs as much.”
Monogamy is like the ultimate in stickiness. It happens when you find someone who is so irresistible that you want to be with them and only them all the time. We all want a blog that sticks. One that people read religiously every day, one that they love so much they tell all of their friends on Twitter and Facebook and Stumble and Digg about us. And when our content and design and value is as sticky as can be, what we really have is a deep and profound connection with our readers. We have trust, we have two-way communication – and hopefully resulting sales.
The end of this quote deserves a closer look. If you stop shaving your blog’s legs – if you let the content get stale, get lazy with your tags or compromise the UI, you’ll likely weaken these relationship bonds. Your value will go down in your readers’ eyes. Sure, no one will bat an eye if you forget to shave a few times, or even if you grow a little stubble…but, if I were you, I wouldn’t let the hair get so long you can braid it.
And those, are words to live and blog by…
Want more Sex and the City? Me too, always. Check out Jeff Sexton’s Copyblogger take on the four temperaments, the SATC ladies and what they tell us about headlines and titles. Good stuff!