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.