Monday, April 25, 2011

What we don't like and what we're selling

I ran across this today.

I get it. It's a great idea to help people by listing what not to do on their blogs/websites ...but after reading the comments, there doesn't seem to be a universally accepted list of what does work. It is just me, or does this feel eerily similar to the numerous *lists* of what not to do in writing and the lack of a concrete list of what does work.

I've been reading a LOT of blogs in the last couple of weeks. I am NOT going to list the reasons why I didn't like many of them.

In a general sense, I am leery when it comes to negativity, especially online. It grows, creeps, expands and infects, much like the common cold. Negativity sells for many reasons, but often that's all it's doing. It rarely ever improves or fixes what is wrong.

Many things people said they didn't like were common sense, like loud music you can't easily turn off or author rants filled with swear words. Blatant self/client promotion and cluttered or poorly organized layouts (either the site layout or the actual blocks of text).

The things they did like were more subjective. Humour. Voice. Some readers loved random tangents that give a glimpse of the author/agent's behind-the-scenes-lives. Some hated that.

This may be an odd perspective on things, but I see sites/blogs as another kind of sales tool. Think of it like speed-dating where you've got two minutes to convince the person across the table that you're worth a second look/meeting/date.

On a blog, you've got two minutes before a viewer closes the window, clicks on another one of your other posts, or bookmarks/follows you.

Maybe two minutes.

You're selling yourself as a person, the good, the bad, the aspirations and the memories that make up who you are. It doesn't matter if it's an agent trying to promote his/her client's books or a personal blog about music preference. It's still selling something, it's just not always as obvious as a book.

Here's a twist on that. Any piece of art you've ever looked at is selling something, whether it be in a gallery, a church, a government building, or hanging on your wall. And the reason that particular piece is hanging in that particular location is an important piece of the sales-game.

...and another twist. The book you're reading right now is selling something.

The book you are writing is selling something.

So, do you know what it is you're selling? Take a look at that first draft you're editing, or re-visit your old blog entries. What is the overall message? What things are you promoting (knowingly or otherwise)?

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