[box]“When I started writing this I never thought that it would take off in the way that it did”
Tom Reynolds from RANDOM ACTS OF REALITY[/box]
Blogging is an art by its own right. It’s not like writing books, newspaper articles, journals or screenplays, and again, it can be a bit of all of those things. Personally, blogging has changed my life as a writer, in the sense that now I have an outlet for any opinion or idea that might strike my fancy, and there is an instant audience that will read it, almost as readily as I can type in the words on my wordpress dashboard.
The exercise of frequent writing can work wonders for writers, and I feel it has done so for me. On the other hand, there are some people who have written blogs so powerful, appealing, even sensationalist, that millions of people from around the world have tuned in, and when that happens, the media usually get hungry. They want more, and writers are usually up for it.
Image Credit to Owen Brown
BLOG TO PRINT: As easy as starting a magazine?
Provided you have a good local audience, some idea about design or a friend (or instant web service…) that can take care of that for you, and a good magazine printing company, anyone who has a decent blog can start a magazine that might be successful.
Some mega-hit bloggers have not stopped there, and they have been tempted by book publishers. Some blogs have given birth to franchises with several sequels in the publishing world, and people seem to never be getting enough of that.
Blog to print story No.1:
Not much writing involved, to tell you the truth
My first hit blog case study is for OVERHEARD IN NEW YORK, which also became a book, under the same title. What this author had was mainly a concept: What if we open a platform for people to upload funny conversations overheard on the streets of NYC?
The blog’s author didn’t really have to “write” much, to be honest, to obtain wonderful results. The blog has been tremendously successful, still much more than the books, and it has started a sort of franchise with Overheard in the office, Overheard at the beach, etc.
This is a typical case where the SUCCESS of the blog can be attributed to two things mainly:
- CO-CREATION: the fact that readers are also contributors, and they are actually the real creators of the site’s content is one of the most audience-engaging features a blog can have
- HUMOR: When it comes to blog success, humor is always right up there: make people laugh, and they’re sure to come back for more.
The local focus of the blog is also a plus, as this makes it interesting for a local audience, but the fact that we are dealing with such a popular city as New York opens up the spectrum to anyone who may have ever visited or wanted to visit the place, or those just interested in learning more about such a reportedly fascinating city.
Maybe Overheard in my neighborhood wouldn’t have been as successful. The fact that New York is such a cosmopolitan city, with so many different and varied worlds crammed into Manhattan and its periphery and suburbs is a major factor for the site’s success.
Naturally, the editorial criterion also plays a key role, as publishing one boring dialogue after another could have killed the audience in no time.
BLOG TO TV; Sex sells, and so does Art
I have a confession to make: I devoured the TV series based on the blog DIARY OF A LONDON CALL GIRL. I thought the actress was fantastic, and the idea that a girl like that might enjoy having sex with unattractive old men, for example, seemed very fresh to me. This was miles off from the usual: poor girl who becomes a prostitute to support her family or something of the sort. I am not passing judgement, just laying it out there: this story was DIFFERENT.
But let’s go back to the blog stage. Why do you think so many people wanted to read about this girl’s life. Let’s examine a few factors:
- THE FORBIDDEN: this is given by the questionable morality of prostitution
- SECRET LIVES: this is a kind of first-hand information that is almost impossible to have access to, unless you have someone very close to you, who is a high-class prostitute
- GLAMOUR: People can’t get enough of reading about millionaires, fancy hotels, fancy clothes and expensive shoes.
- FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON AN OLD SUBJECT: Ditto.
EVEN IF YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT AN OLD SUBJECT, FOCUS ON DEVELOPING AN ORIGINAL PERSPECTIVE ABOUT IT..
- EVERYONE CARES ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH, Greek tragedy, hello!!
- HE REALLY COULD WRITE
In a way, TV and FILM tend to simplify and gloss up the kind of stuff that happens when you’re driving an ambulance. It seems that, in this case, the raw reality of the stories could tell more than what a hundred Hollywood screenwriters might create, and costing a lot more…
If blood and broken bones sell, so can GREAT FOOD. So it was proved by the successful transition of Julie Powell’s blog WHAT COULD HAPPEN first to a successful book and then to an equally successful, and pretty enjoyable I must say, Hollywood movie starring Meryl Streep.
The secret of Julie’s success:
STORY AND GOAL: Since Powell decided to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s French Cooking book, she gave her story’s character, i.e. herself, a goal, and a timeline. This is soo much more exciting than just reading about whatever happened to the blogger on a particular day, that I can’t even begin to tell you.
CHARACTER: Julia Child is a fascinating character, and Julie’s relationship with her and her story made for a compelling story.
PRACTICAL ASPECT, THE RECIPES: Readers could not only read about Powell’s experiences; they could also try the recipes themselves, which is always a nice touch.
THE GLAMOUR OF GREAT FOOD: Last but not least is the idea that any regular American housewife could be enjoying the world’s greatest gourmet delights.
FOCUS, AUDIENCE AND PURPOSE
I should be the last person to say this, because I make films and write poems and write books about Australian real estate or whatever I feel like it or pays the bills, so, focus is not really my thing, but, I have learnt one thing: FOCUS is the key element for a blog’s success.
Even if you are the best writer, someone who is less skilled but succeeds in creating a strong focus for their blog will beat you in the numbers 99% of the time.
Although I will always champion GREAT CONTENT, knowing your audience and establishing a clear purpose for your blog will go a long way.
I don’t know that you will go from topless dancer to Hollywood screenwriter like Diablo Cody did, but hey, no harm in trying.