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How to Cut Through the Clutter of an OVERLY BLOGGED STORY and Get Noticed

Posted By Darren Rowse 18th of December 2006 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Aaron just IM’d me to let me know that my post on TIME being linkbaiter of the year has climbed up to #3 on Techmeme (actually it got to #2).

The irony is that my in jest (attempted humor) accusation that TIME have pulled off the most successful linkbaiting of the year has in term become a pretty nice piece of linkbait itself and has managed to cut through the clutter of the many hundreds (if not thousands) of bloggers writing on the topic of TIME’s award.

Picture 2-1

Now in the scheme of things my post hasn’t pulled me in massive traffic and I’m laughing at the thought that a post I wrote in 20 seconds without much thought is getting this sort of attention when other posts I’ve slaved over this week have gone largely unnoticed (it’s always the way). However – there’s a lesson in here somewhere.

How to Cut Through the Clutter and Get Noticed

So if so many people are writing about the same story how do you rise above the clutter and get your post on it noticed?

A number of mini lessons come to mind:

1. Find a Fresh Angle

By far the most common post that I’ve seen on the ‘Person of the Year’ story today in reading blogs is bloggers claiming to be person of the year or writing that their readers are. Basically people are regurgitating TIME’s story. While this is a totally legit way to blog about it (and I considered it myself) there is little chance of anyone really engaging with the story too deeply beyond your loyal readers and subscribers. The only people really getting much traction with this approach today will be either those with big loyal readerships or those who were very early with breaking the story.

Finding a fresh angle on a story that is being written about to death is the best way to break above the clutter. Before hitting ‘post’ on such stories ask yourself

  • ‘is there some way that I can turn this story around?’
  • ‘how else could this story be reported?’
  • ‘how does this story impact my niche?’

2. Be Fast

Living in Australia means that quite often when stories break late in the evening or early in the morning in North America it’s possible to pick up on a story considerably ahead of the majority of bloggers.

There’s no skill involved in this respect on my part on this occasion – I just happened to see the story breaking (it came in via email from readers) and responded as quickly as I could. When a big story breaks – the speed at which you’re able to respond counts for a lot.


3. Be Controversial or Humorous

My intent with this post was to put a humorous spin on a story that I knew would be massive. The reality was that my ‘humor’ was actually seen as ‘controversial’ by some (you should see some of the emails I go over this post).

Whether it’s humor or controversy – both can help your story stand out a little from the clutter. I don’t purposely do the ‘controversy’ thing much these days but it can pay off.

4. Use Striking Images

Another thing that I notice about many of the posts from bloggers on this topic is that the majority of them who are using an image are using the front page of this issue of TIME magazine (right).

While this is a fairly logical image to use it’s an image that is going to be seen in many thousands of RSS feeds over the coming days. I’m already becoming blind to it.

I decided to use a different image for my post – this one (a screen cap from the article itself):

Picture 2

My reason for this image was simply that it stood out more. I liked the color, I liked the layout and I thought it was a much more striking and attention grabbing image than the front cover of time.

5. Promote Your Post

Now if I’d actually intended this post to be linkbait and get attention (I didn’t) I would have promoted myself a little better than I did. The reality is that I just posted it and promptly forgot about it (it was Sunday and I was being Daddy at Home Alone with Baby).

However if I’d thought more about it I would have sent the link to a few other key bloggers in the hope of getting a few key link ups.

While some bloggers resist promoting themselves I think that it’s actually a legitimate way to get noticed (as long as you don’t go overboard and start spamming). Here’s a post I’ve written on asking other bloggers for links that might help with this.

PS: speaking of people surfing the wave of this story. Check out Alister’s Time Person of the Year (un)official seal for your blog!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. There was no way that I could let this story pass without commenting. After all, I’ve just been named Person of the Year.

    I blogged on their extremely clever marketing. While most print media outlets are trying to overcome the ever increasing www and are taking a bit of a battering from it, Time uses it to turn the spotlight back on themselves with millions of dollars worth of free advertising across the blogosphere. Brilliant.

  2. The real question is, when will people realize that some forms of “linkbaiting” are desirable? In this case, Time published something compelling that spoke to an influential audience. Kudos to them on a job well done.

  3. I am a little taken back by it personally. I always enjoy seeing who gets to be named Man of the year even if i do not agree with it. However this is not the first time Time has decided to go with such a large group for man of the year, a few years ago it was the “American soldier”, and before that it was the “whistleblowers” and “peacemakers”.

  4. Thanks for the mention, Darren!

    – Alister

  5. I just don’t get it….

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