We’re always told to never judge a book by its cover, but we always do. We can’t help it. It’s how we survive. For instance, what goes on in your mind when a stranger approaches you in a dark alley?
First, you’d probably call yourself an idiot for wandering in dark alleys. Next, you’ll be sizing up this person to see if they’re a threat.
That’s probably what you do when you scroll the WordPress Reader too, don’t you? You flip through titles at breakneck speed, only stopping at the ones that catch your eye. Then you move on to the next step of the blogging experience—determining if the actual article was worth your time.
Once in a while though, you get drawn into less than ideal posts. Like, is item number four really that mind-blowing? Will I really not believe why this man ate nothing but sugar for one week?
You almost always leave those articles feeling worse than before though. If anything, you’ll probably want your five minutes back.
So this is my way of reversing this concept. I’m going to give you zero expectations upfront with a crappy title, and see if I can get you to read all the way to the end.
Here we go
Let’s start with flattery. I’m going to throw some compliments your way and see if you’ll stay. First off, you’re unique. In fact, you’re in the 1%. I mean that.
That’s because out of the 400 million users that frequent WordPress every month, you’re one of the few that actually clicked on this crappy title. You’re probably also a blogger, and how many people in this world could call themselves one?
Following that, I’m going to assume that you want to use your skills to inform, entertain, or educate your readers.
Well I’m going to tell you that you’ll find none of that here, so you best close this tab right now.
Well then, you’re now in the top 0.5%.
Bunch of drivel
Have you ever clicked on an article and felt like it was written by a robot? And by that I mean people stuffing it with so many keywords you’d think it was a digital Thanksgiving turkey.
Have you ever seen titles that suggests the author’s just learned about power words? Something like The Bizarre 5 Things I Do To Keep My Dog From Dying! with the number one item in their listicle being ‘I feed it’.
Or maybe you’ve seen the ones where every piece of content links to their paid services. Browse through their post history and every article starts with ‘Why you need a professional writer for…’
Well, I’ll be glad to know that you won’t find any of the above in this article either.
We’re always looking for hacks, aren’t we?
We’re looking for the magical keywords that’ll automatically gain us more visitors. We want the perfect featured image that’ll compel our readers to click. We want the magic SEO button, the optimum posting schedule, the foolproof lead magnet.
We want to be the next Mark Manson or Arianna Huffington. We want each article to impact the lives of millions. And for that to happen, we need to brood over a killer title, Mad Men style. Then comes the eureka moment that’ll result in a lifetime’s worth of subscribers and sponsorship opportunities.
But reality hits, and we find ourselves staring at our paltry stats, and that’s where we lose the dream.
Those things only happen to special people, you think, so normal people like you shouldn’t even try. Besides, you’ve blogged for a few years now and nothing much has changed since.
But wait, there’s more
Wow, that previous segment was depressing as hell. That ought to have knocked a couple more people off the readers’ list. Congratulations. You’re now part of the 0.3%. I really don’t know if those are the exact numbers. I’m pulling these figures out of my ass.
But I do know that if you’ve come this far, then you’re probably a compulsive gambler, because only people as crazy as you would double down on the terrible odds of something profound happening. I’m telling you, there’s none.
Yet, I’m also telling you that perhaps that’s the point. Maybe there isn’t a point to blogging, but you should do it anyway. Because not being the next Huffington Post doesn’t mean you can’t change lives.
The point of it all
We’re probably looking at this the wrong way. We keep wishing for that large readership, for our big break, for that interview with Joe Rogan, but maybe our power lies in leaving the world a better place, no matter how small the change.
We shouldn’t wait to be famous before putting out our best work. After all, the two people reading your blog posts deserve your best, because they’re there when the others are not.
So maybe it’s not about influencing the masses. Maybe it’s about changing people’s lives, one person at a time. And if I’ve successfully bored the rest of my surviving readers to tears by now, you’ll probably be that one person.
And now that it’s just you and me, dear reader, I finally get to tell you the point I want to make: It’s that you do have the power to change other people’s lives through your writing.
After all, if I could get you to read up to here with a stupid title, why can’t you do the same, only better?