- by E. C. Ambrose
I suppose it should come as no surprise that the best way to attract attention for your blog is to be controversial. Talk politics or religion, suggest doing something playful but unpleasant to animals, take on whatever juggernaut is dominating the opinion pages of the paper.
I have, on my own blog, done my share of courting controversy, but I tend to rail against rather peculiar things.
My most popular entry to date has been about Bilbo Baggins’ Bathrobe, in which I use this article of clothing to consider various aspects of world-building. I didn’t expect this to be controversial, but I was wrong. Popular culture icon (X2 for The Hobbit, and Peter Jackson both) + criticism from an unexpected source = controversy.
Several people who saw the movie apparently got very attached to that bathrobe, and wrote me a variety of interesting comments in defense of it-sometimes reasonable, based on the world of Tolkien and sometimes with little regard for the point I was trying to make. Who knew a smoking jacket could garner so many fans so quickly?
I’ve written before about staying away from the political arena. Unless that’s really your gig, it seems to me that the risks of offending such a broad base of potential readers is unwise. But maybe I”m wrong. Maybe when you offend one large mass of people, you might attract their opposite. So as long as you are offending those unlikely to read your books, your audience might actually grow.
And some number of people follow controversial blogs and get excited about their authors mainly because, like sharks, they scent blood in the water and want to be there for the excitement, whether they care about the subject matter or not.
What is a blogger to do? We want to get attention, sure. In the case of author blogs, we want to get the right kind of attention–IE, that which might lead to greater readership. Should we go around offending people on purpose, just to get eyeballs to the site? The general blogging advice is to write about things you care about, things related to your work and your research, and personal subjects which will bring the reader closer to the author. Some of those categories might relate to controversial issues, opening the path to a blog post destined to capture attention.
For myself, I will seek more opportunities to relate something large and newsworthy, to something specific or personal. The release of “The Hobbit” films is news, the bathrobe, not so much–except that it presents a high-profile chance to consider the implications of a choice like that for the creation of a fantasy realm, and that’s exactly the kind of stuff I like to think, and blog, about.
How about you? Do you reach for controversy or shy away? How in-your-face does a blog have to be to be worthy of note?