How to be a popular blogger

By now you’ve probably heard about social media and how it’s making celebrities out of mild mannered public servants and chirpy journalists who think in 140 character bursts. Maybe you’re wondering whether a witty and intelligent person like yourself could also become an internet celebrity. The good news is YOU CAN!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Topical issues

2. Keen sense of moral outrage

3. Confidence

4. Stereotypes

5. Wit

6. Google

Pick a side

Before you begin you’ll need to decide whose team you’re on. Readers expect you to be clear about this. If you’re blogging about politics you shouldn’t confuse them by making overly fine distinctions. Left or right. You choose.

Stay on top of the news

Pick your topics carefully. You need to find stories that everybody’s talking about you’ll need to find them just a little bit ahead of everyone else. Good stories include terrorist attacks, natural disasters, toxic spills, elections and gaffes by politicians or celebrities.

Get outraged

When something bad happens you need to be outraged (interested or mildly concerned just isn’t good enough). Good targets for outrage include politicians, foreign leaders, people smugglers, multinational corporations, bankers, lawyers, greenies, the mainstream media and do-gooding celebrities. If you can’t hold them directly responsible for what happened (eg a tsunami or earthquake), you can at least criticise them for saying something stupid or making the problem worse (eg a politician or celebrity taking up space on aircraft that could be carrying relief supplies).

Be consistent

Make sure your readers know in advance who the targets of your outrage will be. Pick a small number of people or organisations that you can get angry at every day. For example, Tony Abbott, Obama, Bono, the United Nations or the mainstream media (which we all know is run by left wing intellectuals/the conservative establishment/greedy corporations). Once you’ve chosen your targets be consistent. Just as James Bond fans don’t want to see him seducing other blokes in his new movie, your readers don’t want to suddenly see you batting for the other side.

Have an opinion

When you express an opinion don’t hem and haw. Don’t say "it’s possible that the government’s changes to asylum seeker policy may have encouraged an increase in the number of boats" say "Julia Gillard has blood on her hands …".

Use stereotypes as shorthand

Remember, your readers don’t have time for new ideas. Most of them are dipping into your blog as a way of avoiding work. You have 23 seconds to get their attention and make your point. To help them you should activate their favourite stereotypes. Depending on your audience these could be guilt-ridden greenies who live in inner city terrace houses, cashed up bogans who drive four wheel drives and live in outer suburban McMansions, lonely middle aged tea partiers who keep pictures of Sarah Palin under their bed, or left wing intellectuals who resent the fact that the dumb kids they went to school with now earn more money than they do.

Be entertaining

Put yourself in your readers place. If you were surfing the web to procrastinate form work, you wouldn’t want to read someone’s PhD thesis would you? If a blog post forces you to think, then it’s not doing its job. As a blogger your mission is to distract, annoy, outrage and entertain. If you can, be witty. Most people who work at a desk don’t find their job amusing.

Learn how to use Google

From time to time you’ll be called on to provide some sort of evidence to support your opinions. This is why the internet invented Google. Once you’ve decided on your opinion, use Google to back up your claims with authoritative research. Remember, neither you or your readers are idiots. So there’s bound to be a study out there that reaches the correct conclusion. If there isn’t don’t worry too much. You’ll just need to explain why all the researchers are biased (eg all medical research is funded by drug companies, climate researchers are all half-witted socialists).

Work hard

Of course to be successful you’ll need to work hard. You want to be the procrastinating office worker’s first port of call and that means having something fresh for them to read every time they sit back with a cup of coffee. So if you can’t think about something outrageous to say, link to someone who does. Linking to other like-minded bloggers will encourage them to link back to you. And remember, some of your readers will be using RSS feeds. That means you have to grab their attention with the title of your post and, at most, the first line of text.

Good luck

Any witty, intelligent person who follows my advice can become a popular blogger. If you try and it doesn’t work, don’t blame me — read the previous sentence again.

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10 Responses to How to be a popular blogger

  1. clarencegirl says:

    Oh noes! I think I’m failing as a blogger. :-D

  2. Nicholas Gruen says:

    How am I going Dr?

  3. FDB says:

    If I might make bold with a suggestion, a seventh dot-point – ‘commenters’, is worth a mention.

    Commenters

    Attract and maintain a bunch of regular commenters, most importantly representing two main types: Acolytes (those who can be relied upon to cheerlead and link to your posts, and will also help by divining and making plain your real message from the ‘plausibly deniable’ dogwhistling you’re forced by decorum to occassionally employ) and Punching Bags (those who can be relied upon to oppose virtually anything you say, and keep returning to be ritually beaten by the first type).

    A third type – Smartarses – are sometimes worth having around for the lulz, but they’ll show up anyway wherever the first two are found.

  4. The Receptionist says:

    Dr Gruen, I’ve spoken to Dr Troppo about and he insists that his guide will allow you to self-assess.

    FDB, Am I correct in assuming that you fall into the third category?

  5. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Dear receptionist.

    1) Do you prefer to be addressed as above or as “Dear The Receptionist”?

    2) Does Dr Troppo think I fall into the third category?

    3) If he won’t answer, do you?

  6. The Receptionist says:

    Dr Gruen, I am not here to make idle chatter.

  7. FDB says:

    Well The Receptionist, if the hat fits…

  8. Iain Hall says:

    Most importantly to be a successful blogger you have to have a sense of humour and not take your self too seriously but of all the dot points above I would say that having a good work ethic which gets you posting at least daily is one of the most important parts of the formula.
    I would also suggest that being part of a group blog is a good idea as well because it takes pressure off an individual to provide new material all of the time. Remember that just writing a post is like the tip of an iceberg because you do need to research and digest and then opine if you want to do it properly.

  9. Dr Troppo says:

    Mr Hall, I would certainly NOT recommend that aspiring bloggers engage in research and digestion before forming their opinions.

    In my experience, most bloggers find it difficult to write snappy, strongly opinionated posts if they confuse themselves with too much information.

    On the issues that excite your readers it should be obvious what opinion to have. For example, if you decided to be a right wing blogger during 2003-4 you would naturally insist that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. How else would readers know that you were right wing? (See the section titled ‘Be consistent’.)

    Research is only necessary when you are called on to defend your opinions. This issue is dealt with in the section ‘Learn how to use Google’.

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