If you’re a blogger, are thinking of blogging, or your company has a blog that you know isn’t all it could be, you’ll be happy to hear there are four simple keys to writing a great blog: atropine, Ovaltine, magazines, and nicotine.
No, those aren’t the things you should be injecting, ingesting, interpreting, or inhaling. They’re simply four reminders of how you should approach your blogging and the posts you write.
These four keys are in addition to the 31 tips on successful blogging and the 8 great tools for building your blog which I’ve offered previously. These four keys are a set of lenses to look at your content through to ensure your readers take interest in your blog and stay interested in it.
Injections of atropine are used in the treatment of bradycardia (an extremely low heart rate). Atropine blocks the action of the vagus nerve, a part of the parasympathetic system of the heart whose main action is to decrease heart rate. Therefore, its primary function in this circumstance is to increase the heart rate. Said simply in non-medical mumbo jumbo, atropine is like a kick in the chest to speed up your heart when it slows down.
Your blog should be like atropine for your readers’ brains. Day to day work slows down cognition and people drone on through their 8 to 5 like it’s a season of the Walking Dead. They’re coming to your blog to shake them from that stupor. Don’t be timid or bland in your writing. Treat a blog post like a kick to the reader’s head. It should jar them awake and get them interested… quickly. Use interesting titles (see above), talk about controversial topics, and be provocative.
Ovaltine is delicious. That smooth, chocolatey goodness is wonderful. It goes down easy, is pleasant to the senses, and releases all sorts of happiness-inducing brain chemicals. Your blog posts should be no different. Make them entertaining. Think of them as brain candy that people want to devour. For that to happen, ensure your writing is smooth and fluid. Be creative. Give your readers something they’ll enjoy.
One caveat – too much Ovaltine in one sitting will congeal in the stomach and turn into a leaden block of gut cement. If you have too much Ovaltine, your body’s reaction is to barf. Remember this when you write. Don’t give your readers too much “goodness” in one sitting or they’ll get sick of it. A post should be a nice, short (600-1200 words MAX) treat they can enjoy and digest in a quick sitting.
Think about your favorite magazine. It comes out on a regular schedule and the content areas covered are predictable and consistent. Your blog should be no different. Pick a posting schedule and stick to it. It’s hard. I know. I’ve been writing this blog since December of 2007 (yes, 5 and 1/2 years) and I have skipped posting on the scheduled date only twice in that period. And the topics I’ve covered haven’t changed. For the most part it’s leadership, communications, career, entrepreneurship, strategy, training, and social media. Occasionally (rarely) there’s a topic outside the “core” but it’s almost always the same topic areas.
Imagine if your favorite magazine just didn’t show up in the mailbox one day. You would be disappointed, no? Or it showed up erratically or unpredictably. Frustrating, right? Now imagine it included cooking recipes one month, sports articles the next, high fashion photos the next, and duck hunting advice the next. Weird, huh? Would you lose interest in a magazine like that? I hope the correlation to your blogging schedule and topic choices is obvious.
If you’ve ever smoked, you know how hard it is to quit. And if you do smoke, quit now. I don’t even need to go into why that’s important. Nicotine is highly addictive. You want your blog to be the same way. You want your readers jonesing for the next post. You want them hooked on your content because it’s provocative (atropine), enjoyable (Ovaltine), and consistently what they want (magazines). If you apply those first three keys listed above, the nicotine effect should follow. Building a long-term, loyal readership should be one of your primary goals. Those readers are the ones who tell others to come read your stuff. And the more people who read your stuff, the more likely you are to achieve your blogging objectives (sales, influence, changing the world, etc.).
So remember – if you want to build a highly successful blog, follow the four keys of atropine, Ovaltine, magazines, and nicotine. You’ll be happy with the results. I promise. Now, honestly, raise your hand if when you read the title of this post you said “Wow! He’s finally lost his mind! I’ve gotta read this and see what this is about!” and by the time you finished reading you were saying “Hey, that all totally makes sense!” Right? Right.