Ignore the News

The purpose of the news is to get your attention and sell your eyeballs.

Its secondary purpose is to inform.

Do you write a daily blog? Where do you get your ideas? I have a few methods I use to get daily ideas– sometimes from conversations, or offline stuff, and sometimes from online when those methods fail me.

When I write a post, the absolute last inspiration method I use is what’s topical. It’s at the very bottom of the list. Perhaps that has made my traffic suffer– but if everyone is writing about something, I want to avoid it, not add my two cents. That’s my way– but a lot of other blogs differ in how they work. Many are more successful than this.

The purpose of the news source is to get your attention and sell your eyeballs. If it succeeds at this it gains marketshare, and it leverages interesting, current subjects to do this. Choosing an unpopular subject makes it far more difficult to interest people. If you’re picky, it makes your life harder.

I challenge you to 7 posts that have nothing to do with anything going on in the news or the blogosphere. If you do this, here’s what will happen:

New methods. You’ll learn that there are more ways to be inspired than to read your RSS feed or Twitter. You’ll discover patterns around you that help you understand what goes on. You’ll see yourself getting more from the offline space.

Increased interest. Your existing audience will learn something new about you, or will sit up and pay attention to what you write, because you’ll be writing differently. You’ll find that you get more comments from the lurkers because they’ll see a change in your patterns.

Different audience. You’ll attract a new kind of reader. People in your space already know about you and what you’re about. Ann Handley not only does MarketingProfs but also writes the personal blog Annarchy, in which she reveals a whole other side of herself. These two attract different kinds of people.

What methods are you using right now to help you write? Can you live without them? Think about it.






6 responses to “Ignore the News”

  1. Jake LaCaze Avatar

    Julien, this post made me feel better about my own blog. Thank you, sir. 😉

  2. Diane Brogan Avatar

    In addition to your good looks and friendly personality, it is your thinking that makes you so great.

  3. Colleen Clifford Avatar

    See? This is precisely why I love your blog. It’s good philosophical soul-searching, motive-questioning mull-it-over-for-the-next-two-days stuff, not the same dreck that is regurgitated on one blog and then seemingly handed off to the next.

    Thank you for caring enough to say something original. 🙂

  4. Ryan G Avatar

    Julien you rock man. I have been straddling this very fence now for the past couple of months.

    Initially when I got in to blogging in 2006, I just went for it. I posted whatever and didn’t think much about it. I did some topical stuff, but that wasn’t my premise. It was about sharing experiences and creating perspective. As a result I made new friends and acquaintances and within about 6 months I left my cozy full-time job to provide blog marketing services.

    A few months ago I got caught up doing topical writing but after a short while I came to the realization that I was just chasing news media tail. It wasn’t setting me apart from myself, so how could it set me apart from others.

    Today I am working on a new approach and I totally respect your approach. I share your material with others more than any other single source of inspiration. Go figure.

  5. Duff Avatar

    Hmmm, I donno. It’s extremely common for personal development blogs to write about avoiding the news, either to find one’s own style or to avoid “negativity.” So in that sense, this isn’t a new thing to write about.

    On the one hand, I see your point and it has validity. Write from what you are most interested in instead of pandering to the crowd or simply following the trends. Find your source of creativity from the inside-out.

    On the other hand, some news sources are incredible and open up perspectives one couldn’t have thought of before. Compare Fox News to The Economist or the New York Times for instance. Some blogs are so insightful I wouldn’t want to drop them for anything.

    And then there’s the perspective that only if we know what others are talking about can we truly write something different.

  6. Julien Avatar

    Hey Duff, I think we’re coming at this from two different perspectives, but coming to the same conclusion.

    I’m interested in people getting rid of their usual (often banal) sources of “inspiration” and getting down to what they actually care about (hint: this has often less to do with Apple products and more to do with… I dunno, anything else).

    I agree that we shouldn’t ignore the news completely, and that good sources (The Economist is great) can help our understanding of the world. I just think blogs get caught up in the news cycle too much. I think you’d probably agree with that.

    Btw, I’ve read your blog and I like it a lot, particularly the cynicism. Not sure if I ever mentioned it, but I do.

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