Ruffled Feathers: Why Controversy Works on Blog Posts


If someone asked me for a single piece of advice about blogging, it wouldn’t be a standard answer like “post regularly” or “know your audience”. It wouldn’t be to “find a niche” or “add keywords to your title”. These are all good pieces of advice and are almost always in the mix in “X Top Tips for Blogging” posts that pop up every couple of weeks across the internet.

My one piece of advice: write something that will get responses. Be controversial. Make content that some people will love and some people will hate. Be willing to ruffle some feathers, to piss some people off, and to make others cheer loudly.

It’s not done enough by the majority of bloggers. We try to be too mainstream sometimes. We attempt to be universally liked for our writing. This is simply the wrong approach, at least for those who want to find big time success. If you’re looking to keep a small audience happy, keep your posts safe. If you want to get your blog posts seen by the masses, you have to be willing to make people upset.

That’s not to say that getting people upset is the goal. The goal is to make people love what you’re saying, but to do that it’s almost impossible to avoid making other people hate what you’re saying. It’s the nature of the medium. If you’re not getting people fired up and complaining about how wrong you are, you’re also not getting many people saying how right you are.

The last post I put up was mildly controversial. It wasn’t so far off that a lot of people complained, but some did. Some objected. Some emailed me and told me that they thought I was wrong.

Others loved it. They agreed. The commented. They shared it. The story was discussed and the traffic that came to it was strong.

People will like your posts if they’re universally acceptable. Few will dislike them. However, if your posts are not universally acceptable, people won’t just like it. They’ll love it. Others won’t just dislike it. They’ll hate it. That’s the nature of the beast. You have to be willing to polarize the audience, to take criticism and adoration as they come.

There’s a caveat – don’t try to make people upset. Speak your mind. Make your case. Accept the critics. Don’t push it too far. Whenever I see a blog that posts non-stop controversial topics, it reminds me of balloon boy. There was a dysfunctional team of parents that got addicted to the spotlight so they took it even further.

Blogging can be beneficial to your business, fun to do, and has the potential to have a positive impact on the blogger’s life. To reach the top echelon, you can’t be mild. You can’t shy away from criticism. You can’t try to make everyone happy. Being liked is the safe approach. Being loved takes ruffling a few feathers.

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Comment by JD Rucker on May 30, 2013 at 6:06am

And an even better comment, Bobby. I give general advice sometimes that doesn't take into account personal preferences and personalities. This brings it all together nicely. Thanks, my friend.

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