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How Playboy Can Help Your Blog

This guest post is by Greg Narayan of http://www.dearblogger.org/.

My roommate always gets Playboy. He puts the new mag right by the silverware drawer in the kitchen, and it usually sits there wide open. We share a relatively small apartment in Manhattan’s financial district. I see the darn thing every day when I walk in the front door.

It's right thereYesterday, I decided to open it up. I mean, as I said, it’s usually open, and open to some ridiculous page. Slightly enticing. I don’t think I need to explain myself too much here, or make excuses for my decision to open the mag. I’m a guy after all. Sidenote: I don’t support Playboy or think it is a useful or productive way of spending time.

What I saw as I flipped through back to front (bad habit) was not what I had expected. The mag was filled with a series of articles that basically sold the lifestyle of an ambitious, successful man. A man who had wealth, style, worldly tastes, and yes, women on his arms. This man wasn’t one person. As my fingers flipped through the glossy pages I saw Justin Timberlake, Ray Liotta, Ryan Gosling, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Guys I envy.

Now, I’ve been researching blog marketing a lot lately, and trying to relate my content directly to my specific audience. It’s worthwhile research—you can write the best article ever on ache treatment but if your reader doesn’t suffer from ache then it’s all for naught. Marketing: basic stuff I had messed up in my first two years of blogging. But this magazine was telling me something.

When I read content, I sort of focus more on how the writer is doing things, what their mindset is, than on the actual content. Here’s what I learned in my 15 minutes with Playboy.

Give em’ what they want

You’ve definitely read posts on selling to your readers, posts on getting your readers to do things, and countless others on blog marketing. You’re reading ProBlogger after all, so you’re clearly ambitious and looking to improve your blog. But I don’t think you’re totally using what you learn. Not yet, at least.

My roommate’s mag contained the following things (aside from naked pictures): delicious food pics, 4th of July party pics, stories of Brazilian models, stories of English models, naughty comic strips, and ads on the following things: watches, red wine, vodka, sports cars, sex enhancing drugs, and beer.

What a goldmine of male-enticing junk.

I had always thought of Playboy as a joker’s mag, something put together in a sleazy way to appeal to people I viewed as mainly lazy and ugly. But this magazine was crafted by geniuses, who knew me and at least part of the subset of things I find interesting. Sorry if this is a “duh” for you—it wasn’t for me.

How this can help your blog

Can you see where I’m going? Okay good. Open up your blog, or click on one of the 12 tabs it’s already open on. I want you to be brutal and judgemental.

What features on your blog do you readers really want? Want is it that keeps them coming back? Maybe it’s your posts (should be) or a cool picture series, or videos. Whatever it is, double it. Find a way to make it twice as prominent.

Ways to blow up content:

  • Mention it a few times in other posts.
  • Reference it in your sidebar.
  • Talk about the actual action of you making that content. This builds up your authority on the topic.

Now strip down the nonsense on your blog. A pretty Facebook and Twitter section you think looks just peachy? Get that out of here! It’s not what people want. How about that ad section in your header? Do your users like looking at that? Get rid of it! Maybe a search bar you spent hours coding into your header? If it’s not helping your readers or actively keeping them coming back, toss it, bud.

This is a routine I go through once a month, and I’m amazed at how much stuff I can delete to make my good content, and my best features, more prominent. Sure, you have to delete. Pressing that Delete button is satisfying, though.

The images make a big difference

Playboy show images, and collages, that just work. They depict things you thought you knew about in new ways. You know when you open up a Playboy that you’re going to see some stunning images, that’s a given. And you do. It’s simple enough, really, but that’s easy reinforcement. Can you imagine how many subscribers Playboy would lose if it just cut images by say 50%?

They understand their users’ expectations and meet them. Then they take it the next step, by intriguing you. By showing you what lies out there and what you could be. How do they do this? Through bios of people like Brad Pitt. Through photos of Hugh Heffner when he was younger making lavish quotes and ridiculous money. They are selling a lifestyle, and you want it.

Seriously, the longer the Playboy mag stays open, the more sucked in you become. You start believing you could have that lifestyle, and thinking about parts of your life, maybe your fitness for example, that you need to improve on. When I finally closed the mag, I had to rip it away from myself as if there was magnetism at work.

How this can help you blog

I do not mean start posting pictures of girls in your blog posts. Brosome, BroBible, and all those other obnoxious sites that once had cool content already sold out and did this. They’ll get some quick traffic but never really go as far as they could have.

What I do mean is you have to start selecting blog post images that intrigue your readers. Use Photodropper and pick out beautiful pics to illustrate your point. You’d be amazing how much stunning images help retain your readers and slash bounce rates. People are lazy and like looking at pictures (you already know this).

Then, use some easy reinforcement techniques. Think up three things your readers probably want before they find your blog, and present those three things in interesting, but easy-to-find ways. You want a user to read through your blog and nod their head, mouthing “yes” and “come on!” Not “wtf?”

Compound previous success

Playboy constantly talks about itself and brags. “Check out the pics from our 4th of July bash.” “See the coolest features from the past 50 years of Playboy.” “Get a chance to ride the Playboy limousine when you subscribe.” It’s ridiculously self-indulgent and I wouldn’t expect a blog to do that.

Or would I?

After seeing just a couple pictures showing how awesome Playboy‘s 4th of July party was, just a little part of me wants to be Playboy. I want to attend that thing too, and I deserve it. This is that topic of lifestyle selling again. Playboy is dangling things in front of readers’ faces—things that they likely will never, ever touch. But the service Playboy is offering is to make those things seem tangible—making that limousine seem within reach.

That’s why you shell out $6.99 for an individual mag and even risk some dirty looks in the checkout line.

How this can help your blog

You’ve definitely had successes as a blogger and you’ve definitely had failures. But, are you talking about your success? Are you writing about it, or at least mentioning it so that your readers know about it? You should start doing so if you’re not.

A hidden aspect of blogging you’ll realize after doing it for a while is that it’s equally important to write about your prowess as it is to provide quality information. If you don’t write about yourself, how are readers supposed to know you’re a reliable source of info?

I don’t mean brag openly, people will smell that a mile away and you can really only pull that off if you’re someone like Tucker Max. I do mean highlight your acheivements. Do it like Glen Allsop does on his About me page.

If you don’t exactly know how to write about yourself in a way that readers will enjoy, here are a few tips:

  • Do it at the start of your post.
  • Be funny with it, and a bit self-deprecating.
  • Admit a mistake, then follow it up with a success story.

You need to write about yourself more. Don’t expect readers, or fans, or even the people you actually see on a daily basis, to understand or know about your blogging successes. They don’t. Tell them.

It’s okay to be naughty

Playboy does things we know aren’t allowed. That’s obviously what gets people. But the way they do it is so darn bold. There’s such a sense of entitlement around Hugh Heffner and Playboy, as if they’re enjoying freedoms that belong to them and are being taken away from us.

Whatever naughty and ridiculous things Playboy does, they do it like a boss. It’s like when my roommate steals my cheddar cheese then leaves the bag wide open, dead center of the fridge. He’s getting his filling and showing me too.

Now, Playboy is an example of excessiveness. That lifestyle can’t exactly be replicated. We simply don’t have the resources. We also have jobs we have to go to, and normal responsibilities. Life isn’t one huge party.

But again, we can imagine.

How this can help your blog

Think of ten things you would not think of doing on your blog. Write them down. Good. Now eliminate the five most dangerous things on there. I want you to think about doing the five things left on your list.

Here’s what my list contains:

  • Posting an inflated subscriber count to entice subscribers.
  • Writing a quote someone famous said about my blog to look more popular.
  • Exaggerating my blog’s income in a post.
  • Telling readers they’ll get a life-changing ebook for subscribing.
  • Saying I have post coming up on ProBlogger!

These things won’t kill readers, will they? I’m not going to do them, because they’re naughty. Or am I? You’d be amazed how many far, far along bloggers have done these things in efforts to get more subscribers. And they’ve done them successfully. It’s sorta like dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. You’re just taking any edge you can because you want to succeed.

There is nothing wrong with craving success. Do you think the first nude pictures Playboy posted were A-okay with everyone? Absolutely not: they got more criticism than George Bush. But doing things in a slightly more bossy, authoritative way, and claiming whats yours, are a few ways to replicate a bit of Playboy‘s success.

That’s all, mates and, err, females mates. I hope I’ve inspired you, and have sucked some positivity out of what really is a crummy magazine. Sorry, Playboy.

Greg Narayan is the founder of DearBlogger.org . He just finished an eBook on the importance of reducing Bounce Rate which you can check out. He resides in Manhattan’s Financial District.

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Comments

  1. Now going to subscribe Playboy :P :P

    • It’s great to find inspiration in even the weirdest places you never thought you would.

      • There you are again Navneet! Oh no…

        Absolutely Trent, I think there’s a quote out there somewhere about how bloggers differ from non-writers in that we actively notice when we see new inspiration.

        Thanks for commenting guys.

  2. I understand what you’re saying. Playboy has had a lot of practice at doing what they do. I’m sure if people try hard enough you might say they will eventually find their rhythm.

    I completely disagree with you about lying to your readers. There’s already so much crap going about that nobody believes anything anyone says online. Start lying about your income and subscriber count and not only is it immoral and going to ruin your reputation, but you’re just adding to the demise of trust on the Internet.

    • Jamie: Never lie. That wasn’t my point. I just figure Playboy must have broken some rules at the start to get going, and now they’re successful (by many standards).

      Plus it’s strange how the most successful figures in politics, media, government, advertising, entertainment, and even tech (The Social Network!) are often the delightful ones. Isn’t it?

      • I said this on my reply to your other comment, but you just said what too many people do. I think it happens a lot. With your writing style it will never have to come to that for you :)

  3. julie says:

    Thanks for the tip about Photodropper. I was wondering how to solve the problem of constantly needing new blog post pictures.

  4. The right images always play the part as a powerful tool to attract people come and see the blog, beside the attractive title itself (like this entry’s title).
    Most of the internet users are just want to relax. Sometimes to read a long post is not their option. To see a picture that worth a thousand meanings is more preferable.

  5. Alan says:

    Back in my youth, I subscribed to PB. And I read it. Like, actually *read the words*. Some of the interviews and short fiction were (and still are, though I no longer subscribe) were really interesting. A friend of mine started reading, too. His girlfriend started to roll her eyes. I challenged her, and she said that it’s just a bunch of naked chicks (her words, not mine). I took that as a challenge. I bought, off the newsstand, the same current issue, and cut out all the images of the nude women (there actually are not all that many, per issue). I then gave it to her to *read*. A week later, she sheepishly apologized. She said it was good reading. I smiled, knowing that I converted her – at least to opening her mind.

  6. Roman says:

    Greg,

    Great blog. You did a nice job showing us what makes Playboy a success and how bloggers can apply those lessons to their own content.

    I just wish you followed your own advice and didn’t disclaim and distance yourself form the magazine. First, you made sure that we knew that “…I don’t support Playboy or think it is a useful or productive way of spending time.”

    I felt like your analysis was spot on and that we could all learn something from Playboy. And then you end with “…I hope I’ve inspired you, and have sucked some positivity out of what really is a crummy magazine. Sorry, Playboy.”

    WAIT WHICH IS IT? Is it a great example to be followed or is it “crummy”?

    I think you just wanted to use “Playboy” in your title to attract attention. I don’t blame you. I fact it was a good idea and bold. But then it seemed like you don’t want to offend anyone that might read your post by making sure we knew that eventhough there is much to learn from Playboy you don’t support Playboy. Really? That totally suckrd the power out of your article and advice.

    MY 2 CENTS! If you can, take out the disclaimers and even recommend we all strat reading Playboy to learn how to make our Blogs better. Then you’ll have a kick ass post.

    I do want to thank you though. I’ve started and stopped several blogs over the years and am struggling to get strated once again. I’ve always been concerned about offending people or having people disagree. So everything I wrote was wishy washy and noncommittal. No more! And that’s gonna be the subject of my first post.

    I’m adding you to my reader to see if you end up taking your own adivce.

    Roman

    • Mike Patrick says:

      Well said, Roman. In one breath he tells us what a great learning resource Playboy is, and in the next he tells us it’s a piece of crap. Might just as well have said, “I think this is really helpful, but don’t have the balls to really own up to it.”

      Talk about a load of weasel worded wussification – or how NOT to write a blog post.

    • Wow Roman! Amazing comment. Thanks for sharing some of your experience.

      Alright, I was a bit worried about offending ProBlogger’s awesome female audience. Hence a couple disclaimers. But following my philosophy for titles (challenge, relate, explain) I basically had to put “Playboy” in there.

      Yes, get the wishiwashiness out! What blog(s) are you working on now? I’d love to read em.

  7. Image does matter a lot so you need to worry yourself about the image you are creating to your readers,l also agree with you that you need to give your readers what they want. You should keep both your eyes and ears wide open and most importantly you should keep your minds set in order to achieve the best.

  8. Image and the names behind your blogs are the ones that can take you heights, you should create a good impression which will go hand in hand with the names. They need to inspirational.

  9. I like the way you answer this question.

    “What features on your blog do you readers really want?”

    I think we should concentrate on it and always do the pages, or the pictures that always keeps our readers coming back for more.

  10. Reed Nixon says:

    This is a nice post Greg. It is so obvious that you are a good blogger. I love the way you reason out. We should always give our readers a priority so that we keep them coming back for more and cub losing others.

  11. Person always think about negative they don’t think about it’s goodness.

  12. Shelby Roth says:

    Wow! What an eye opener and attention-grabbing theme! I really enjoyed your fascinating read; sounds so interesting and at most so inspiring. It is actually true that the right images always play the part as a powerful tool to attract people come and see the blog. I was also being attracted to such a well stated tittle. Look forward for the next shout out!

    • Hey Shelby! Nice to meet ya (in comment form).

      For sure, images and titles should never be taken lightly. I’d go so far as to say it’s lazy to not put work into them. Hope to provide ya with more entertaining writing.

  13. Guy Hogan says:

    For several months now I have used Playboy Magazine as a template for my blog and it has worked beautifully. I even have a tribute to Hefner and PB stuck to the front page.

  14. If you’ve got a blog that’s attached to a lifestyle, use your own photos to show that yes, you’re part of that lifestyle. You know what it takes to get into ___________ (in my case, living aboard a sailboat with beautiful beaches, clear blue water and killer sunsets). Your own photos, while maybe not a “glossy” as those that you can get from somewhere else, do FAR more to give you credibility.

  15. Most of people do not give value or respect while hearing about playboy. I was also very shocked when I hear that playboy can help for blogger. I was thinking what a nonsense but I appreciate this great & helpful summary.

  16. Elena says:

    Really enjoyed this one!

  17. What a great post with a perfect example of clever marketing to illustrate your points — Playboy. While I don’t endorse or support the magazine or what it stands for, I appreciate their success in giving their audience what it wants.

    Again, I don’t like Playboy, but I find it’s just on the edge of naughty without being ridiculous…it leaves the audience mostly satisfied, but wishing this or that were angled just so, so as to get a better view. You know what I mean.

    Fantastic writing. Fantastic points.

    ~Samantha