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Five Lessons Any Blogger Can Learn from Organized Crime

This is a guest contribution from Steven Gomez.

Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Crime in America has many names. There is the Mafia, the Mob, the National Crime Syndicate, or “La Costa Nostra” – Italian for “This Thing of Ours.” In addition to the colorful names and faces are the larger-than-life personalities that turned crime in America literally into a “booming” industry.

Figures like Lucky Luciano, John Gotti, Meyer Lansky, “Bugsy” Siegel, and Scarface Al Capone grew the mob from a bunch of small-time criminals to an empire.

What can a blogger learn from the worst criminals in America? Well, loads of bad stuff, but also some truly epic lessons in how to create a great blog.

1) Provide Your Tribe with an Identity and a Brand They Can Care About

Crime is neither glamorous nor attractive, and criminals tend not to be society’s best and brightest. No one brags about being a drug pusher, a purse snatcher, or a mugger. Yet the idea of being a “Made Man” has an allure and mystique that even Hollywood finds irresistible.

An associate is brought into a dark basement filled with shadowy figures and his finger is pricked. Blood is drawn and a lit prayer card is placed in his cupped hand, the ashes mingling with his blood. He is told that he now has a family that supersedes the one he was born into. A family that values honour and loyalty above all, demands total obedience, and offers prosperity, wealth, and respect.

The reality of the Mafia is decidedly different, but the appeal of being “Made” by the Mob has a romance that is hard to ignore.

It is an identity that promises distinction.

Author Scott Sigler calls his long-time readers “Junkies” and the Noir Factory, my blog, refers to its subscribers as “Confidential Informants.”

While no one is suggesting that you set prayer cards on fire, and – depending on your blog – it may be very inappropriate to demand blood-letting, you should instill that same kind of identity in your tribe.

If you can capture that sense of romance, that same loyalty in your readers, then you not only have a tribe, you have a “family.” Let the identity serve as a badge of honour.

2) Work with Your “Competition” to Create New Opportunities

For years after the Mafia came to America, they were ruled by the Capo di tutti capi, also known as the “Godfather” or “Boss of Bosses.”  This worked well for the Mob if the Capo was an intelligent and sensible man who was interested in the organisation’s well-being and growth.

More often than not this was not the case.

In 1929, Meyer Lansky gathered the heads of the strongest Prohibition-era gangs in America. Combining his wedding with a business conference (he was a romantic at heart) Lansky brought together diverse faces in the crime world, including many who had never worked together before. For the first time, the Irish mob, the Italian mob, and the Jewish mob all sat down together.

Lansky made them see that the Prohibition Wars caused them to lose business as well as manpower and was something that they could avoid. By working together the bosses from Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York formed a governing body, called The Commission, which would meet every five years and would also decide on internal issues as needed.

In one of the Commission’s first exercises of power, Dutch Shultz questioned their authority to have prosecutor Thomas Dewey killed.  Shultz was killed by Murder Inc. shortly afterward for challenging the Commission.

Again, while we do not recommend that you enter into illicit partnerships with criminals, it’s important to remember that YOURS in not the only voice in your chosen niche. You might not form a Commission with those other voices, but imagine the kind of effect you can have on your readers by partnering with the leaders in your field.

Even if you aren’t a leader in your niche yet, by reaching out to the “bosses” of your niche you can increase your sphere of influence exponentially, and increase your readers’ engagement.

3) Network with Your Peers Outside Your Comfort Zone

Like the Atlantic City Conference that built the Commission, the men who would become known as the “Crime Syndicate” chose to meet in interesting places not only to talk business but to build their relationships.

In places like Havana, Atlantic City, and Apalachin, New York, mobsters met with others of their kind to drink, tell jokes, and talk business. In other industries, branding strategies and logistics might be the main topics. With the mob conventions, it was all about hostile takeovers.

At the Apalachin Convention, the mob discussed the distribution of gaming interests throughout the US. In Havana the bosses made decisions regarding working with the Sicilian crime lords and how best to deal with the high profile, money skimming liability that was Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.

You (hopefully) won’t engage in the same kind of networking, but you can connect with the movers-and-shakers in your niche and work towards solving common problems and cementing relationships.

For many entrepreneurs and bloggers, making acquaintances and building friendships lead to interview opportunities, traffic building exercises, and even the odd friendship or two.

4) Always Look to Expand Your Empire

Before Bugsy Siegel became a liability to the mob, he was seen as a young man of vision. A rising star in the east, Siegel was a close friend of mob boss Meyer Lansky and a boyhood pal of Al Capone. His lasting contribution to the mob, however, led him into the west.

Moving to California and embracing the Hollywood lifestyle, Siegel made the acquaintance of William R. Wilkerson, who was building the Flamingo Hotel. Shoe-horning himself in as the liaison between Wilkerson and the mob, Siegel became a guiding force for the mob’s gambling presence in Las Vegas.

While Siegel’s vision led him to a less-than-happy ending, as a blogger, when you are looking to expand your presence, you can learn from Siegel’s example.

Look for new territories that are complementary to your niche. If you write for single mom entrepreneurs, look for other markets that would interest a single mom, and connect with the voices in that field. If you are writing about weight loss with a focus on Italian food, then Italian travel, particularly active-travel, is something that should be on your radar.

Finding these growth opportunities for your blog will allow your voice and your empire to flourish.

5) Always Reward Loyalty

One of the reasons the community tolerated the presence of the mob was that they protected the neighbourhood from small-time criminals and contributed lavishly to local charities. Sometimes those charities were orphanages and churches, and sometimes those charities were policemen and district attorneys.

When someone gives you the gift of their attention, be it by subscribing to your email list, your blog feed, or friending you on Facebook, they honour you with that attention. Never take it for granted.

When you implement a campaign for new readers, make sure that you reward those have been with you for the long haul. If you offer a give-away to new subscribers, email your current subscribers to let them know how they can get in on it as well. If someone is constantly sharing your content, give them a shout-out.

Reward the loyalty of your readers and they will become evangelists for your blog, and from there it’s a small step from evangelist to enforcer.

I’m just saying.

Steven Gomez is a pulp writer in the best (or worst) tradition. He lives and dies with his favourite football team, enjoys old movies and older pulp novels, and writes constantly about pulps, blogging, and crime. To sign up as a Confidential Informant, as well as get a FREE copy of his Knockout Noir Novel – THE STANDING EIGHT – visit the Noir Factory! You can also swear at him on Facebook!

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Comments

  1. Networking with peers outside your comfort zone is key and it’s common for people to not take advantage of this, mainly because it’s outside of their comfort zone. It’d be good if everyone did at least 1 thing slightly uncomfortable to them each day to broaden the things that they can do personally.

  2. Kingsley Agu says:

    Impressive! I just love the way you correlated blogging and organized crime together. I think networking with people out of my comfort zone isn’t something that I’ve really been doing. I’ll focus more using guest posting to achieve that.

    • Steve Gomez says:

      Thanks for the comments! I agree with what both Kingsley and Jason said. It is common for us not to look beyond our comfort zone and when you have at least one partner to work with you can expand that zone and others as well. Before you know it, your partnership has become a movement!

  3. Dare says:

    Hi steven,

    Well detailed and highly inspiring post. I admire the simplicity and the tone of expression conveyed.

    The last point which is to reward loyalty caught my gaze. I realized through your post that I have been guilty not really rewarding my loyal subscribers and readers.

    Your post has really inspired me to act positively.

    Thanks for sharing

  4. Hi Steve

    Very interesting blog you have here. You have given great advice in a very unusual and interesting way, I would never have thought of comparing my business with oganised crime, but I can recognise the principles are indeed similar. And the loyalty of course – a great way to keep your customers.

    Thanks for posting

  5. Steve West says:

    Hi Steven,

    Great title and a very well written post!

    I was especially liked what you said about expanding your empire. I was thinking about branching out into a completely different niche but although it is one I also know about and am very interested in, it is completely different from what I am currently in. I’m going to give some thought to other niches that are related to my own :)

    Thanks,

    Steve

    • Steve Gomez says:

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the kind words. I think that it’s important to look at niches that are complimentary to ones you are working in for opportunities. If you have a passion for one thing and can tie it into something else that you are passionate about, then chances are your readers will to!

      Good luck!

  6. Clever title, clever article and original idea – unusual trifecta.

  7. I think you are on to something with this post, Steven! I especially enjoyed the part about working with your competition to make something better. Too many bloggers today are dead set on beating their competition when they should be joining them and bettering the niche instead of gaming one and other. Great post! :)

  8. Thanks for sharing this unique topic.I agree with them all especially with #1. Looking forward to read more posts from you.

  9. Lakhyajyoti says:

    Interesting post. Learn few big lessons from it. Liked the second point most ” Work with your competition to create new opportunities.” Thanks for the share.

  10. Smart comparison! Connect with your competitors. Operate on a creative plane.

    Thanks!

    Ryan

  11. Justin Cooke says:

    Good article and the points are useful/relevant.

    The first point (name for those in your tribe) I understand and get…but it feels SOOO cheesy to do. I understand the psychology behind it and as a member of other tribes I actually dig it, but it feels weird “naming” your readers/listeners/followers like that, heh.

    • Steven Gomez says:

      Naming your community is always a tough one, but once they adopt it they will run with it. Ask any “Deadhead” or “Parrothead”.

      or a “Belieber…”

  12. Himanshu says:

    Mind Blowing post…

    I learn lots of things from your post…
    Some terrorists complementary already affecting my blog with their dirty minds.. I always post unique content on my blog but after 1-2 weeks my competitors also post same content on their blog which shift some of my audience to their blog..

  13. Asif says:

    Visually appealing content always gets the attention. I have been using images to increase my traffic to blogs.
    Thanks for your article, learned few more things to implement.

  14. Bryce Haga says:

    The title was quite deceiving at a first glance.

    But I like when you mentioned that “Work with Your “Competition” to Create New Opportunities.”

    Crime organizers are greedy which I would not recommend many bloggers to be like them in that extent.

    Thanks for the reading.

  15. Arpita♥ says:

    The article is just amazing! I try to reward my readers by sending a thank you email personally :)

  16. You are spot on Internet marketers taking for granted subscribers. We all need to convince our subscribers that our first interest I to help the succeed and not to milk their money. I am a subscriber to some Internet marketers who swamp my email box with emails almost on a daily basis trying to sell me all sorts of stuff.

  17. Nate Balcom says:

    Ha great title and apt tips. I love the “Network with Your Peers Outside Your Comfort Zone” paragraph. You tell a good story. I guess that’s why you’re the pro blogger.

  18. Edson Hale says:

    Last point Always Reward Loyalty more perfectly applies to blogging world where loyalt counts a lot; other points are also awesome and big bravo to you for relating two opposite fields with each other just to communicate in a novel way to affect huge response. You did it man

  19. Frank says:

    Love the title, good click bait it make me click on your article. Everything i do with my website, I always ask “If I were a user, would this provide the best experience?”

  20. Richard says:

    Building the family or platform is challenging in its own right, but I struggle with finding the best way to reward my audience. I try to always be generous and build that karma bank.

    What has been the most innovative way you have seen to reward a community?

    Thank you for all the free information you provide from one of your loyal community members.

  21. Serge says:

    Title is extremely catchy!..and intriguing
    =)

    Impressive examples.

    I guess, implementation of all five criterions will finally lead to the first one, because in the end (having carried out all issues) you are going to have your personal stable and recognizable Brand.

    Thank you!