(Blogger’s Note: If you’re a blogger or writer, I’d love to hear your own experiences about writing outside your comfort zone. Please share away!)
Traditional tips you’ll read about effective blogging will typically tell you to write about the things you know, choose a niche and pitch yourself as an expert and an authority.
It’s good advice. Everyone’s an expert in something, and there’s definitely something to be said for consistency in your blogging topics. It’s the best way to build a strong platform and a loyal audience. Your readers should come to expect a certain style in your work.
But the adventuresome blogger, will, from time to time, will make a gutsy move and go outside his comfort zone for the sake of curiosity, and just to see what happens. That’s exactly what I did yesterday.
My brand of writing is designed to make people think. Not necessarily to change their minds, but to think differently with new perspectives about certain things. Mostly, I enjoy using Biblical metaphors and writing about the application they have in our present lives. But every so often, I’ll jump outside my writer’s comfort zone to experiment, and yesterday’s blog, titled Here in Arkansas – It’s the Perfect Storm http://wp.me/p2bjEC-8j …. was just that. An experiment that proved interesting.
The blog’s topic was the national attention that’s been drawn to the University of Arkansas’ football program and the subsequent firing of head coach Bobby Petrino. Moreover, it speculated the Razorbacks would attempt to lure Arkansas State University coach Gus Malzahn (just 300 miles down the road) as his replacement.
It’s a topic ripe for speculation and controversy, and so I ventured into the unknown to see what attention might be drawn to my theory of how the scenario might play over the next few days.
The results: A record number of hits for a single post with readers in seven countries.
In thinking about writing outside our comfort zones, I wanted to offer seven tips, lessons learned, if you will, for how this post generated record traffic. Consider these tips in a future venture outside your own blogging comfort zone.
- LOOK FOR A HOT TOPIC – Even if you’re not an expert, it’s okay to jump in the middle of something. Sports, especially college football, is a big deal. In the SEC, some call it Saturday Down South. Take advantage of writing directly to a well-defined audience. SEC football fans are pretty well-defined.
- SPECULATE – That you are not an expert – it matters not. Opinion piece writing generates more opinions, and more hits on your blog. It creates conversation and back-and-forth dialogue. Everyone has an opinion. Share yours.
- TAG TAG TAG – Here in Arkansas – It’s the Perfect Storm http://wp.me/p2bjEC-8j had some 50 tags attached, and the search engine results showed the tags worked.
- USE POWERFUL VISUALS – It was an easy choice for this particular post. Choose an image of a Razorback and one of an Arkansas State University Redwolf, and the collective blood pressure of football fans across the state skyrockets.
- GO PLACES YOU’VE NEVER GONE BEFORE – I placed this post on Facebook pages everywhere … official pages of both universities, football blogs across the South, media outlet blogs, and it worked.
- USE POWERFUL METAPHORS – The Perfect Storm perfectly described the possible scenario for the outcome of this unique situation. All the elements are perfectly lined up for a monumental fight if UA even breathes on Malzahn.
- BE INTENTIONAL IN LOOKING FOR RIVALRIES – For your post it may be politics, education, religion or whatever. College football in the South is ripe with rivalries and putting yesterday’s post in the middle of it all just added a small bit of flame to the fire. That’s what writers love, right?
Niche, consistency, expertise – yes – it’s the best way to blog. But stretch yourself sometimes and get in the thick of something wild.