In my constant search in retirement for recognition (maybe for anything but specifically for this blog) and consequently enhanced self-esteem, I continue to look for ways to make my blog more popular. Well, that’s not strictly accurate, what I, in fact, continue to do is to think about looking for ways of making my blog more popular. I don’t actually do anything, just think, that is until now. I know there’s a lot of retirement blogs out there although, as is usually the case, I was surprised by this discovery imagining I was the first person to think about writing a blog about retirement. Silly, silly me. Although as it turns out, for reasons that will become I hope clear as this blog develops, in terms of being popular, the fact I’m not the first actually will help my search for popularity. Yes, I know that’s confusing but be patient.
So until now, that is up to the point where I bought a book entitled How Things Become Popular by Derek Thompson. As usual I read a review of the book in the weekend papers and thought hmm, that sounds interesting. I’m up to page 149 at the point of writing. In fact I’ve just put the book down to write this blog when I realised how busy we were going to be between now (Friday morning) and next Tuesday (day of publishing this blog). So what I’m going to say is based on these first 149 pages. That’s probably more than the average critic reads? To cut to the chase, it’s not all that good. There are a few good bits of ‘advice’ for those of us seeking popularity but there’s also an awful lot of what I would call padding (like how Star Wars became popular) and which don’t strictly, or even loosely, address the topic of the book – what does it take to make something popular? More intriguing, why do some things that shouldn’t be popular become so and things that should be, aren’t. Or, slightly differently, as an example, why do so many good songs fail when one or two make it big?
No doubt all the ‘I can make your blog be read by a million people’ merchants would say something like it’s all to do with SEOs and your presence on social media. Perhaps so, I’m pretty hopeless in both these areas. I have a friend who’s in the process of publishing a book, I won’t say anymore because if I did it might be obvious to whom I was referring and for good and bad reasons I don’t want this. But my point is, he’s all over the place plugging, is that still a word? Or worse still, bigging up, his soon-to-be-published book. It makes me feel weak at the knees. Yes, I know I’ve already admitted I’ve got bad knees and yes, that’s my loss.
I looked to the above book for advice beyond the SEO / social media explanation and every now and again the clouds cleared and a little nugget showed through (yes, I know that’s a mixed metaphor but it’s my blog and I’ll mix or even destroy my metaphors if I choose). For example, ‘things’ (forgive the crude terms) are attractive to people, i.e. become popular if they are new but not too new. Apparently it (the search for the next big thing) is an on-going battle between the familiar i.e. safe, and the unfamiliar, i.e. potentially risky or even dangerous. So point one, if I want this blog to be popular I have to present it as something new but not too new. Hence the above statement about not being the first retirement blogger being a good thing. But what I then have to do is, I suppose, give it a unique twist (hard to do when you don’t really know what other people’s blogs look like). I think it used to be called a USP (Unique Selling Point). And this is where, once again, I come up short as I have no idea what that might be. Miserable old git writes about retirement. Not really.
I don’t think Derek talks about USPs, at least he hasn’t up to page 149. But talking of selling points, there was an interesting paragraph in the book about how the ideas for a new movie are sold to the studios. In making the proposed project as attractive as possible they combine two different previous films – it’s like Romeo and Juliet on a ship – Titanic. By so doing, as I understand it, this combines the familiar with the different (the new film). It’s new but not too new. So I should be promoting this blog as being like Grumpy Old Men or Women (TV programme) meets AirBnB or War and Peace (to emphasise literary quality and length). Sorry, not a particularly good example which is probably why I’m not doing it.
In another example of combining the old (more old) with the new, the book describes the time when the author had lunch with ‘a Hollywood producer’ who tells Derek ‘the secret of it all’ (presumably making successful films). He says, “You take twenty-five things that are in any successful genre (so think successful blogs) and you reverse one of them. Reverse too many of them and you get genre confusion (Well it’s got nice pictures of people over 60, but I’ve no idea what it’s about). It’s a muddle and nobody knows how to place it. Invert all the elements and it’s a parody.” So as Derek says, one strategic tweak? Now you’ve made something that is perfectly new like a western adventure story but set in space (Star Wars in case you hadn’t recognised it).
Obviously in the above Derek is talking about how to get the film made in the first place but I suppose we could also be talking about how to get the film noticed by the general public when it’s released which brings me back to the point of this as it relates to making my blog widely-read / popular. So all I have to do is identify those 25 areas and reverse one of them.
I’ll leave the results of this analysis for a future blog as I’m already up to my 1000 words for this one. Anyway you’ll probably be hearing about this blog on the airwaves (I’m such an old-fashioned guy) probably with the headlines – Retirement Blog Goes Viral. Polish your glasses and turn up your hearing aids, oh and stay awake.
PS.If anything of interest comes up in the remaining 158 pages, I’ll be sure and let you know.