Social Enterprise

Five tips for becoming a superstar blogger

Want to increase traffic to your blog by five thousand percent? These simple tips are guaranteed to work!

Tell me you wouldn't click on a headline that read The 15-Minute Workweek. Come on, sure you would. How about these:

  • Why Working Is Bad for Your Career
  • Is Sarah Palin the Antichrist?
  • Is Facebook the New Matrix?
  • How Religion Is Destroying Corporate America

These are the kind of outlandish headlines we've come to expect from a blogosphere that thrives on outrageous hype and contrarian sound bites. You know who's to blame, don't you? You are. That's right. Admit it. You know you crave this stuff. Everyone does.

Sure, I'm part of the problem too, but it's not my fault. I used to have a real job, but one night, I fell asleep next to an alien pod and woke up this way. Not buying that? Okay, what really happened is that years ago, then CNET editor-at-large Michael Kanellos asked if I wanted to do a blog.

"What's a blog?" I said.

Four years later, here we are. And you know what? It was easy. Best of all, anyone can become a famous blogger with gazillions of readers by following five easy steps.

So in honor of the guy who somehow got me to give up a fortune in consulting fees to blog for peanuts, here's my take on one of the funniest posts I've ever read. (Here's the original, but frankly, I think my adaptation is a big improvement.)

Note: These tips are based on an entry in BNET's The Corner Office blog.

1: Be insane or obvious, but not both

"There are two basic reactions you're shooting for. You either want to: one, stun someone into a temporary catatonic state with enigmatic predictions, or two, confirm their prejudices and personal beliefs." In other words, it's either Charlie Sheen Should Be CEO of Time Warner or Outrageous CEO Pay Still on the Rise.

"Being outlandish and predictable at the same time, though, is tough -- unless you graduate to compound sentences." Then you can say, How an MBA Will Destroy Your Career While Improving Your Self Esteem. On second thought, better stick to one or the other. The audience prefers its lunatics to have a consistent methodology.

2: Watch what's trending on Google and Twitter

Forget esoteric stuff like helping people boost their careers, land jobs, or run their businesses more effectively. Instead, focus on what's hot and trendy: social media, personal branding, Generation Y, Apple, Facebook, and don't forget Charlie Sheen.

Practice coming up with headlines like Gen Y Personal Branding Gurus Are Uberfull of Ubercrap. And yes, I really did write that one.

Kanellos -- now editor-in-chief of the popular Greentech Media site -- says the more esoteric and unlikely the concept, the more popular it is. Everyone's bored to tears with global warming, climate change, or whatever those wacko environmentalists call it these days, but if you really want to get everyone's attention, try New Google Car Runs on Brainwaves: The Smarter You Are, the Faster it Goes.

3: Find a good enemy

One name: Sarah Palin. Everyone loves to hate her. If that doesn't work for you, I've got a whole laundry list of villains for you to go after: Big Pharma, Big Oil, CEOs, Corporate America, wealthy people (but only the business ones; entertainers, musicians, and athletes are all okay), George W. Bush, and if you live in San Francisco, of course, McDonald's Happy Meals.

4: Never be afraid to one-up someone

If another blogger writes 10 Simple Tips to Make You Rich and Famous, you can easily top it with The Secret to Becoming a Billionaire in the Next 45 Minutes. Try it; it works.

5: Be vague

"Winning" with Social Media. How to Be Like Steve Jobs. Most Hated CEOs. Apple's Next iThing. Top 10 Job Interview Tips. The vaguer you are while still hitting a hot, trending keyword or key phrase, the more clicks you'll get. Guaranteed.

Finally, Kanellos's coupe de grace: "As an added bonus, you might someday be right." When that golden moment happens, be sure to put out a press release.

Justin James
Justin James

Until I noticed the URL for the link of the article that inspired this, I thought the author was serious. I learned a year ago that sarcasm doesn't work on the Internet, especially when it's subtle. J.Ja

Jody Gilbert
Jody Gilbert

... my "takeaway" didn't tip you off? :)

Justin James
Justin James

Jody - The takeaways are nearly invisible in the new design, I almost always overlook them. :( J.Ja

skyeenter 1 Like

Amazing how someone considers blogging to be actual work. Sitting watching porn has the same equivalencies as reading most of the blogs. You can waste countless hours having to look/read at/a lot of crap to find some value in either one. Want to do some real work? Grow your own food. No I don't mean supplement your diet from your little patch of garden containers, I mean, eat what you grow. All of it! If that were the case, the blog empire would fall off the map.


Just TRY to do it at the volume that the pros do it for a couple of years straight, with readers who are ruthless critics, while trying to constantly come up with fresh new ideas and stories - for what journalists get paid. I'm actually amazed how they do it, week after week - plus do all the other side-gigs that most of them have going as well. They travel all over, they're constantly doing cross-promotion with sister-sites - frequently they're expected to go beyond the bounds of print journalism and do audio and video podcasts. It is an outrageously competitive industry. A lot of them are writers who just do journalism to pay the bills while they try and make it with their art - which is frequently writing, but also often music or painting or some other form of creative expression. Plus, even as a minor journalist, you've exposed yourself to a public identity that diminishes your personal privacy. People read your blogs and feel comfortable either being scathingly critical of who you are as a person, or feel a bond or connection that makes them feel like they *know* you. Suddenly you have to be concerned about what you tweet, what you say, even in what you believe is a *private* context. Say something politically incorrect and an angry mob may demand that your parent company fire you or muzzle your voice. Imagine if you posted something online and an offended group came and said you should be fired from your job as an IT administrator. This is a real concern for bloggers and other writers and journalists - it happens ALL the time. On the inside, you've got all the same petty annoyances that you have in any other firm or organization. Office politics, egos, difficult co-workers, crushing workloads and unrealistic expectations, demands and deadlines. And then, of course, there are the arm-chair captains and other trolls reading their articles and calling them hacks and shills the entire time. Amazing that IT professions consider IT to be actual work. Or wait... are you an IT pro or a farmer? It wasn't exactly clear which you are. I think the point is that a LOT of people on the outside look at blogging, writing, or journalism in general and say, "That isn't a real job". If I could make a reasonable living doing it, I would - But to do so I'd be taking a huge pay cut to work 5 times harder than I work today. And while I am a good writer, I know I can't compete with the writers here who do this as their day to day profession. For every Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Stephen King, J.K. Rowlings or Stephen Colbert there are 10,000 people in the broader industry who are barely making ends meet. There are a lot of bloggers out there who aren't very good. But there are a lot of people in EVERY industry that aren't very good. The 80/20 rule doesn't make an exception for writers. Anyhow, the grass is *always* greener. And they're doing it all so that you, gentle reader, have got something to pass your idle time with. This is one of those golden rule kind of deals. Before you judge a blogger, walk a mile in their shoes. You know what an EASY gig is? Being independently wealthy. Being born into indulgent money. Otherwise, a job is a job. Farmer, IT worker, Construction Worker, Janitor. They've all got their benefits and their hassles. Nobody who is collecting a paycheck is getting a free ride.


It is a sickness. Quit licking your fingers of the effluvia and just do it. Don't tell anybody I told you so.

Shadeburst 1 Like

I worked a contract at an auto replacement parts supplier. It happened that I needed some screwdrivers so I bought a set from them. The screwdrivers turned out to be total junk that you had to throw out after you'd used them once. When I went and complained to the chief buyer, he said, "We keep these screwdrivers to sell, not to use." Steve Tobak's saying that your blog doesn't need to be solid, rational, insider stuff. It merely needs to get lots of clicks. I mean, what's the biggest-opening movie of all time? A nonsense saga about a bunch of kids who say "Hocus Pocus" and suddenly all kinds of unrealistic crap starts happening? The guys who count the box-office receipts couldn't care less what I think about the film. They got butts on seats.

NancyG43 1 Like

So on the matter mentioned 'would you rather have 100,000 morons reading your stuff or 1,000 people whose opinions you respect?" I know which one I'd pick.' ....Hey, me too, if all I am doing is writing a blog, hoping for 100,000 clicks! IMHO: Some write for money (strange!), some write for fame (even stranger!), some write to express themselves (that's me!), and some really don't know why they are writing!


Looks like a recipe for bland nonsense to me. And fyi, no, I wouldn't click on a link for a 15 minute work week, why would I want to read that?

richard.gardner 1 Like

Looks like a recipe for bland nonsense to me. And fyi, no, I wouldn't click on a link for a 15 minute work week, why would I want to read that? I think a better question to ask would be "would you rather have 100,000 morons reading your stuff or 1,000 people whose opinions you respect?" I know which one I'd pick.


Should there be any substance? ;-) I know lots of blogs that have a lot of stuff to read, but so much seems to be fluff.

dcolbert 2 Like

That readers want fluff. I touched on this in another forum, where Microsoft users were complaining about how everything is biased toward Apple, Linux and Android here. I pointed out when I write articles about Apple, Linux or Android, I get lots of readers and passionate responses in the forums. When I write about Intel and Microsoft, you could hear a pin drop. If it looks like I'm writing articles that no one wants to read - why is Tech Republic going to continue to publish what I write?

Justin James
Justin James

... when they talked about this, quite in-depth (a lot of us asked that exact same question). Send me an email (j_james [at-obfuscated] and I'll fill you in on what you missed. J.Ja


You break an expose on a Android WiFi security flaw - it gets picked up by German language tech sites, and suddenly your top hit on a Google ego-search is your prediction that the iPad is going to be a complete failure.

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