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Bible Thumping, Brainwashing, and Pimping—Your Keys to Blog Success!

This guest post is by Jason Towne of TopThreeDaily.com.

I’m new to the blogosphere, but thanks to tips from ProBlogger and a few others, I decided to make the plunge and start my own blog. It’s only been a little over a week. The day after my site went live I had nearly 2,000 pageviews and 500 unique visitors. Within the next 24 hours those numbers doubled and then I soon passed 8,000 unique visitors and 20,000 pageviews. In the week that we’ve been up, the site rose over 2.4 million spots on Alexa.

Keep in mind I had no experience whatsoever with blogging, social media, or technology. How did I do it?

Optimizing the WTF? factor

The first and most important thing I did was to research what, and how, blog posts go viral. I began by researching the concept of linkbaiting, starting with ProBlogger’s classic post, and then continued to study Buzzfeed, Popurls, and other sites to get a feel for what gets spread around. One thing I learned is that titles that make people say WTF? are winners. For instance, my first viral article, 6 Bible Thumping Tips that Will Save Your Butt!, only had a chance because the title was so intriguing. I know this because I sent out that exact same article twice, with two inferior titles, and it went nowhere. When I changed the name, it took off like a rocket.

Now that I’ve had several viral articles in a row, I’m confident that a quality title is everything. Here’s a trick that I use.

First, focus on either list posts or how-to guides. Both of those bring amazing results over and over. Second, think of something that’s traditionally considered a “negative,” combine it with a “positive,” and you’ve built instant interest. For instance, “Bible Thumping” is usually used in a derogatory way, but “saving your butt” is a good thing. You could do the same with any negative and any positive. For instance, diseases are bad and money is good. So how about an article titled, 5 Diseases I Would Pay Money To Get. Then go research and find some rare, cool disease that has positive benefits. I would click on that.

Ask yourself this question when considering titles: “Would this title make a person say ‘WTF?’”

Befriending Reddit

Keep in mind that I was new to social media and blogging, so I was working by trial and error. What I’ve learned pretty quickly is that Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and StumbleUpon are great if you already have a presence on those sites. If you’ve been using them for some time and have a lot of friends and followers, then you should definitely submit your stuff. However, if you are a newbie like myself, then Reddit should become your instant best friend.

The reason is that Facebook and Twitter are only as good as the number of friends you have. If you have no friends, then you’re submitting your work to nobody. Digg and StumbleUpon are great if you already have some time put in. I didn’t, and when I submitted my articles to those sites they were seen by absolutely nobody. If you’re new, you’re better off not submitting your stuff to them—let someone else (who is established) eventually do it for you.

However, Reddit is a different story. The great thing about Reddit is that when you submit an article, picture, video, or whatever, it is posted instantly for all Reddit users to see. If they like the title then they click on it, and you’re in business. The better your article/picture/video is, the more they will then share it with their friends, and so it starts to go viral.

Here’s an example. I posted an article called called How Bad Boys Control Women (The Real Jedi Mind Trick) on Digg and StumbleUpon, and it wasn’t looked at even once. Then I posted that same article on Reddit and it blew up. I was swarmed with visitors and it began to spread like wildfire. Reddit gives you the initial chance that all the others just don’t offer.

Browsing the Web

Unless you’re a creative writing machine, you probably can’t write blockbuster linkbait articles every day, so the next-best thing is to browse the web for material. I found lots of good material that was a bit older, but very well written. I then got permission from the author to either repost it on my site in whole or repost part of it with a link back to their site. Since the article was out of favor anyway, everyone agreed. What this did was allow me to create a new post on a cool topic, reword my title, and submit it to Reddit. This gave me a massive pageview boost, and helped the original site the article came from get a new lease on life. Everyone won.

Here’s the best example. I was short on creativity the other day, but I remembered hearing on the radio about the police arresting this pimp and finding his business plan. I tracked it down online, put it in a brief article I wrote, then posted A Pimp’s Actual Hand-Written Business Plan. I then tossed it on Reddit and within 12 hours I had gained 15,000 new pageviews. Pimp = negative, business plan = positive. If you’re still not convinced the title strategy works, go back and take a look at the title of this article. You clicked on it. It works.

Have you tried writing titles like this? What title tactics have worked best for you? And what’s your experience with Reddit? Let us know in the comments.

Jason Towne is a published author and former Hollywood script doctor. He currently runs the best-of-the-web blog, Top Three Daily, which came online on Jan. 26, 2011 and is already starting to have an impact on the blogosphere. Towne is also a freelance article writer, consultant, father, and husband. You can follow his posts through his RSS feed.

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Comments

  1. Brad says:

    Good advice…particularly enjoyed the “bible thumping” tips…because after all, I am one.

    Brad

    • Andy Merrett says:

      I doubt you’re a ‘bible thumper’ in the sense it’s being used here, Brad. Keep the faith, man, we’re all going to get bashed for what we believe in by the “funny men” who think it’s cool — it’s much easier to knock other people than maintain a faith of your own. Ironic that it’s being published on ProBlogger too, but I guess everyone sells out now and again.

      • Simon Turner says:

        Andy. Just wanted to say it was good to read this comment here about standing firm. I visited the “Bible Thumping” post and read with a great deal of sadness. For the record, if Bible Thumping means believing the Bible, following Christ and their truths then I am one. But it is not a good thing to call people.

  2. tim says:

    Reddit, eh? Gonna hafta giver a try. BTW, Brad, I am too!

  3. Brad says:

    ..and by appreciate, I’m not saying I loved the biblical interpretations in the “thumping” tips at all,,,but the underlying lesson that context is always key when it comes to interpreting passages in isolation.

    Peace.
    Brad

  4. Great post…I have used reddit in the past. I have no way received as many page views as you claimed. Wow! will have to rethink my blog titles.

    I do have a question how does this thinking work with business blogs? My blog is mostly about direct sales and home party plan with network marketing thrown in on the side!

  5. Wendy says:

    Brad, you might want to skip the part about submitting to Reddit. Not much interest in having their souls saved over there from what I can see.

  6. You know, this is so true. I wouldn’t have thought of the idea of paring a positive with a negative, but it definitely catches one’s attention. This article was refreshingly unique and specific. Thanks!

  7. Linda says:

    Hey Jason-

    Thanks for the WTF? tips…just read the Bible Thumping article-hysterical!

    Congrats on your meteoric rise online:)
    ~Linda

  8. Becky says:

    Thanks for the suggestions here, I’m going to go check out Reddit!

  9. tim king says:

    awesome piece. you’re gonna kill it. found myself clicking a couple of the links in this post, way to bring em in to the site. looking forward to more posts.

  10. Mike Lopez says:

    Genius!

  11. I am glad you explained a little more about Stumbleupon, and Digg and Reddit. Haven’t been able to get much from the first 2, now I’ll give Reddit a try!
    Bernice
    Tools for productivity

  12. Andy Merrett says:

    Oh well, didn’t make 15,000 hits by pissing off Christians to get a few points, guess I’ll go for the slower, steadier methods of actually contributing something worthwhile to the web that helps people. Still, coming out of Hollywood it’s hardly a surprise.

    • Georgina says:

      Hey Andy,
      I’m sorry you took offense at the author’s comment that” “Bible Thumping” is usually used in a derogatory way”. Most Christians I know would refer to themselves as such, not as “Bible Thumpers”. In fact, the only time I’ve ever heard that term used has been in a negative way.
      Georgina

    • I’ve got to chime in to support Andy. Though I understand and like the point of making oddball combinations as well as humor to create catchy headlines, there is a line between humor and offense. Everyone is welcome to believe/not believe as he/she chooses, however, purposely making a mockery of someone else’s beliefs for the sake of getting some temporary traffic, as Andy said, contributes nothing positive. Isn’t positive contribution and guidance the point here?. Yes, those headlines created some off the charts response, but is that kind of writing/blogging really the kind of thing we want to encourage?

  13. I’m jealous of your catchy one liners: Bees in Art is rather more niche, but I did manage 1300 visitors with Stumbleupon one fine day. But do you think that you can you keep it up?

  14. Jimmy says:

    Actually no offense, but you did it because you have clout with certain people like Darren and such. No?

  15. I’m going to try the Reddit approach. I tried Digg out but with no success so this might be the way forward for me. Thanks!

  16. Jeff says:

    Amazing stats – 20,000 page views, but a quick scan of your blog showed very few comments, sometimes zero. I did see one post that had 27 FB likes – but out of 20,000 page views? Are all of these visits to your blog translating into anything meaningful for you?

  17. This probably highlights why so many people are leaving Digg for Reddit, although I’m sure there are several other reasons. The title you give your articles is perhaps the single most powerful tool you have at your disposal in order to gain more views, along with higher search rankings. Choose it wisely!

  18. Aaron says:

    Thanks for the tips – I’m going to try some of these ideas on my article titles and see how it works out.

  19. Josephine says:

    Thanks for the Reddit stuffs. I never tried that..I will use Reddit and bring visitors to my website.

  20. Talen says:

    It used to be nice to check out Problogger daily to read what Darren had to say. Now it’s just a multitude of guest bloggers pimping out their blogs and viral prowess in the same articles over and over.

    Most people I know are tired of the hype, the linkbait and the viral and are more interested in the real deal.

    Darren, I’m sure you are a busy man and have a lot on your plate but Problogger is YOU not a host of guest bloggers that want to be you.

  21. Wasim Ismail says:

    I have used StumbleUpon are , Reddit, and Digg, Its more to do with the title of your article, if your title is attractive, users will click on it. If you craft your titles in a way that is appealing, and also have one keyword in your title, you will surely interest of others.

  22. John Sherry says:

    Certainly true Jason that headlines that read like newspaper scoops capture the interest. I don’t think trying to be viral is the way but noticeable, striking post titles often are an encouraging spark that lights the fuse.

  23. As a graphic designer who has bags of experience and wants to produce insightful content that will genuinely help younger graphic designers I’d disagree with Brad on this one. In part.

    Designers by nature look for value, wit, wisdom, not for outrageous headlines. They love clever. If you can clever, insightful headlines then you will probably rake it in.

    Bottom line: Probably works for Brad’s market, not for my ‘high-brow’ readers ;-)

  24. SuzRocks says:

    Wow- I’ve never used reddit before, I’m going togive it a try. Those stats seem pretty crazy- I’m curious to know if anything else was a factor in the huge amount of page views?

    And non-related to blogging, I’d have to agree that “bible thumper” DOES have negative connotations and the person who is referred to as such is not often referred to as “Jesus like”. My $.02

  25. Excellent. Thanks. Love the negative + positive idea. Will give it a try.

  26. Martin lee says:

    Thx for the post. I was wondering if you made any money from the visitors you acquired. Was your content relevant to your attention grabbing headline? I like the Idea of a negative/positive Headline though.
    I have been dipping my toe in this blogging lark for a few months and the most visitors I have managed was 51 in the same day(boy what a party we had that night!)

  27. Hi,
    When I started out I was submitting my post to all the social networking website and hoping for traffic to come my way. As anyone can guess I didn’t get any other than few of my kind friends.
    Than I stop doing it. But from last month I started building my online presence at facebook, twitter, digg and stumbleupon as this are the best social sites to get traffic.
    Now I started to get some traffic from my facebook page and twitter.
    Hope to get more and more of it.

  28. Beet says:

    That’s very interesting advice about combining positives and negatives together. I’ll have to consider my titles more carefully methinks

  29. Sandra Lira says:

    Thanks for showing the difference between Stumbleupon and Digg vs Reddit with actual titles that you’ve tried. This was probably one of the most useful articles that I’ve read in a while.

    Thanks!

  30. Good ideas here. I do agree that purposely inflaming can get traffic, but often there are more civil ways of discourse.

    Years ago I responded to a number of angry bloggers responding to a speech called “Mother’s Who Know.” My post was called “Mother’s Who Know and Other’s Who Don’t Have a Clue.” You’d have thought I dropped f-bombs all over the women I disagreed with, but implying the angry folk were “clueless” set off a firestorm. I did not anticipate that. :)

  31. Lol- great post…you’re right, the title grabbed me!

  32. You’ve touched on a very useful concept for creating blog post titles and I’ll try to implement your suggestions when writing future posts on my blog. I stopped using Reddit a long time ago because I didn’t have a good experience with it as far as traffic goes. All of the posts, video links and article links that I put up on Reddit didn’t really go anywhere and it didn’t go viral among that website’s users at all so I considered Reddit to be a huge waste of time and energy. Maybe I’ll give it a second go-round just to see if Reddit produces any good results this time.

  33. One of the best posts I’ve read here.

  34. Luke Martin says:

    I love this, and tried it on my post: http://tinyurl.com/4p8r3j2
    I’ll let you know how it goes, and maybe include a screenshot of the statistics soon.

  35. Luke Martin says:

    33 views in 10 minutes? I think this article is a winner. Of course anyone can do enormously better than what I did, I do believe that this is an untapped goldmine as far as getting rave and hype is concerned.

  36. Great post. All bloggers need to get traffic in a competitive yet considered. Thank you for the resource.

  37. ElizOF says:

    This was both informative and funny Jason! Those WTF titles don’t come easily but when you nail one it can be a long ride on the waves… The only danger is when the peeps show up and take off after a quick skim… perhaps that doesn’t matter either. I didn’t think of Reddit but now that you mentioned it, hey why not.
    Great post!
    Elizabeth

  38. Yep, that title definitely got me to read it all the way through. The content was great..thoroughly loved the tips and will try Reddit…can’t wait to see the results. You rock!

  39. Carol Tice says:

    I’ve done a few headlines constructed this way, most notably How to Ruin Your Freelance Writing Career …but after reading this I want to explore more of them..and Reddit, which I haven’t been dealing with at all. Thanks for the tip on that!

  40. demicha says:

    Thanks so much for sharing…this is great info! I just started a blog for adolescents and I’m doing freelance work for other blogs, the reddit idea is excellent. Best wishes!

  41. Clarabela says:

    I have tried a few of these types of headlines and they are some of my most popular posts. I will give Reddit a try. Thanks for this advice.

  42. John McNally says:

    I like simple rules and this one is great. Combining opposites in the title. Positive and negative. It’s simple. It works and I like it. Thanks.

    John
    Leamington Spa, England

  43. I’ve always found that Reddit’s by far the best way to attract traffic to my blog. The one downside I’ve found to it is that around half my submissions never actually appear on the listings. So, when you submit things, it’s best to check they’ve actually appeared. If they don’t, delete them and re-submit them a few days later.

  44. Andre says:

    Thanks for sharing! Great tips
    Thanks for biz plan now I can cancel my
    Econ 101 class this semester

  45. Zach says:

    I’ve thrown links on reddit before and gotten a lot of traffic but the redditors don’t stay on my site long or click any links. Have you noticed this?

    • Yeah, it tends to be the same with all those bookmarking sites like Reddit, Stumbleupon, Digg, etc. People just drop in for a flying visit.

      Still, if only a few of ‘em come back, I suppose it’s worth the effort of submitting. And at least it’s good for the ego to look at the stats graph and see all those visitors.

  46. Oh.Great tips here. I didn’t had the idea of reposting old posts in my page. But will try this out! Now, not only I need to browse my own page but to browse the web as well!

  47. Nacho Jordi says:

    Excellent tips, with immediate utility. Thank you very much. OTOH, it scares me a bit how such a plainly behaviorist trick can work on us (because I can say for myself that it works!!! :) )

  48. I’m new to blogging and this article has some excellent tips – thanks for sharing :0)

  49. Mukesh says:

    I just posted a Link on Reddit with this advice in mind. Let us see if this does anything.
    The title says “Cheap Indians Dictate The Laws Of Business”

  50. Sarah says:

    Very interesting food for thought.
    I have a cooking blog, so I’m trying to imagine whether I can apply these tips; I could certainly try to give my recipe names more eye catching titles, but I don’t want to come off as cheesy. I guess there’s a fine line.
    I’ve found that the Reddit community seems to be very wary of self-promotion; the things that make it to the front few pages are all links to major sites and images hosted on imgur.com, a site made specifically for Reddit. Links that would provide any benefit to the person submitting the article seem to be frowned upon. But then again, that’s just what makes it to the very top. I suppose I’ll give submitting to Reddit a try and see what happens. Thanks!