I have a confession to make – I do not have an in-depth understanding of the music business. But I do have a passion for music, and I love writing and recording songs.
So, I was in a taxi a few weeks ago, when this song came on the radio:
You’ve got to give it to Maroon 5, whether you like them or not – it’s a very catchy pop song. Whilst the song was playing and I was reflecting upon how catchy it was, the clear parallels that can be drawn between the music business and blogging hit me.
Whilst content isn’t king (marketing is), the quality of (and planning behind) your posts has a huge influence on your potential for blogging success. If you are struggling to get a grasp on the principles of writing popular posts, the following may well help you understand.
1. You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Write Catchy Tunes
Lists posts are hugely popular, and always will be. There is no need for me to explain why, as far better-qualified people already have. They are typically the posts that will garner the most attention and attract the most social media sharing. They are, in musical terms, the first single to be released from an album. Although there may be “better” songs, they are the ones with the catchy riffs that will get people’s attention.
If you have an aversion to list posts, you really are missing out. Even if you hate the idea of being a formulaic blogger, to be a successful blogger, you will need to swallow your pride. How many bands can you think of that grew to hate their most famous song, because wasn’t what they were really all about? Tough – if you want to be popular, you need to cater to the masses. And list posts do that.
2. But You Can Still Release Experimental Stuff
Think of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven, or Guns n’ Roses’ November Rain. Those songs reflect their respective bands at their most indulgent. Less thought was given to producing a popular song than producing something that truly reflected their creative passion.
As a blogger, you will produce such posts. Ones that you feel compelled to write, that are epic in scale (and take a great deal of time to write), but will probably not attract nearly as many views as that list post that took you just an hour to produce.
But occasionally, such pieces will be recognized and become classics. Just because they aren’t surefire hits every single time, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write them. But you certainly wouldn’t write an album full of them.
3. It’s All About Having A Good Hook
A good hook is what draws people into a song.
Imagine you’re driving along whilst half-listening to the radio. It’s the catchy hook that works itself enough into your consciousness enough to make you listen to the song. Not the production quality, or the story that is told by the lyrics, or any other factor.
Blogging is just the same. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to write an eye-catching title (your “hook”). The content of your post might be truly awe-inspiring, but that is entirely irrelevant if no one gets around to reading it.
4. Established Artists Can Get Away With Producing Crap
When you are unknown, you need to produce some really special music to get heard. On the flip side, we are all familiar with established artists that release, for want of a better word, crap.
I get frustrated by the lack of quality amongst some of the “A-list” bloggers. It’s like they’re not even trying any more (perhaps they’re not). They are coasting off the back of previous success, and are relying upon their reputation alone to carry them through.
You can’t get away with that as a budding blogger. You need to consistently produce great content (and market it effectively) in order to have a chance of establishing yourself amongst the A-listers.
5. “Album Tracks” Are Okay
Few albums are 100% gold. There will be at least one or two songs that you’ll find yourself tempted to skip over. But that’s okay – we can’t get it right all of the time.
As long as the majority of your content is good, people will forgive you for, or even completely forget, the less stellar posts. So don’t be afraid to put stuff out there – you can never be certain of how people will judge your content until they see it.
A Radical Idea
I’m planning on doing this for February – perhaps you will too. It’s simple – just pretend that your month’s worth of blog posts is like a music album. There should be a good mix of catchy and experimental songs, but every single one should have a great hook. There should also be some sort of “flow” – some thinking behind the order of the songs.
I was already planning on preparing an editorial calendar for February, and I think the above way of thinking will serve me well in creating a well crafted month’s worth of articles. Will February go platinum? Only time will tell!
Creative Commons image courtesy of Pascal