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Things To Remember When You Research Blogging

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Forgive me. I err on the side of art. That means I don’t like formulas much. Formulas give us over-saturation of reality shows, twisted versions of pure originals, and Spice Girl reunions. While I understand that making the intangible tangible can be valuable, the true visionaries pay no attention to how you’re supposed to do it.

How you’re supposed to do it equals same old crap you’ve seen before and gotten over.

However, and I hope you’ll forgive me for my creative gut reaction, there is something to be said for history, for science, for patterns, for fundamentals, all of which rely on past successes for future innovations.

And that provides quite the burr in my told-you-so saddle.

So that’s fine, I have no problem with advice, I’ve given it from time to time, and if what works works then so be it and far be it from me to advise away from it.

I just don’t like pigeonholes and this is the only or best way type of thinking.

What got me started on this? Well, blame Ryan Caldwell and his Diggable "10 Articles All Bloggers Should Read (at least once)." Not that there’s anything wrong with it. We got off to a bad start with CopyBlogger’s "How to Write Magnetic Headlines."

CopyBlogger suggests writing your headline first, which is what my colleague David Utter also suggests. It keeps your content crisp and to the point.

"Your headline is a promise to prospective readers," writes Brian Clark. "Its job is to clearly communicate the benefit that you will deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time."

Admittedly, I meandered a bit in the introduction to this article. Send me back to lead-writing class. At the very instant I am writing this, I am clueless as to what the title may be. I am an after-title-er.

I am also a word-maker-upper.

Truth be known, I don’t like rules. Whatever works works and sometimes you just don’t know what will work. You give it a shot and hope for the best.

Just like a vaccination.

But I have had some success writing headlines. In fact, I’d say I’m quite good at it. That’s because writing headlines involves a few things that are difficult to teach: connecting with the audience in an immediate and resonant way; keyword specific; cleverness.

How do you teach cleverness?

You can’t, that’s how. Some things are quantitative, but the best things are not. The best things come from some place that can’t be reached with certainty, that can’t be counted, or collected, or even spoken. They just exist, they just are.

Viral marketing works pretty much the same way. Once a formula is applied, it works for a short period and then fizzles out once the masses figure out that they’re being played.

There may be things that are technically perfect, or quantifiably evident, but the magic lies somewhere else, somewhere you can’t go.

Just ask Terry Bradshaw and his wobbly passes.

And yet I can’t lambaste Caldwell’s advice for bloggers too much (except for the whole write your title first thing), because all of us begin with fundamentals, a study of how it has been done before us, and then branch out into our own wonderfully innovative approaches.

All of the required reading in Caldwell’s post involve 5 or 7 or 10 ways to yadda yadda, and reading them can’t be all that bad or counterproductive as long as the reader (and I know you are) is smart enough to not believe everything he reads or think that’s the only way to do anything.

I’ll still maintain that writing, or anything that involves creative processes, is an intangible, intuitive, can’t-be-taught type of thing. Not that you can’t learn from those that try.

Stephen King’s On Writing is worth a read, even if he’s not right about everything. 

Things To Remember When You Research Blogging
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  • David A. Utter

    If we’re going to do shout-outs about famous writers and their advice, we have to mention Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, a collection of some of his essays on the topic.

    Unless of course you’re writing a story where the main character is a writer whose brother has died, then by all means King is your guy.

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