Myth #6: Everyone Loves Controversy (ie. Readers will love my take on controversial political, social, and religious topics!)
This is probably common sense for most readers and bloggers, but I never really know what to say when a blogger with a well-established niche veers off on a side road to discuss/prothselytize/rant passionately about something off-topic and then act surprised when readers react negatively.
In case you are curious as to what might constitute a controversial topic, I thought perhaps we could play a little game. You pick the blog post topics from this list which might be considered questionable:
A) On the 4th of July, I post a poem about America with a picture of the American flag.
B) My best friend is having surgery, so I ask my readers to say a little prayer for her.
C) T and I have decided to join a cult of zombie freedom fighters and I want to share my newfound knowledge of the Apocalypse with my readers.
D) I post my favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
E) I believe that breast-feeding your children until they are 14 is the only healthy way to raise kids, and if you don't do that you are a lazy and horrible mother.
F) I don't think breast-feeding is at all a good idea, and if you breast-fed your children, then you are a crunchy granola hippie and I won't ever be your friend.
G) I love puppies.
If you chose C, E, and F as controversial topics, then you are well on your way to becoming a good blogger and I will give you 5 gold stars (These are, of course, hypothetical gold stars. I am way too lazy and poor to mail out all those stars).
With all the craziness in the world today, readers are using blogs as a nice escape from the stress of day to day life. Many blogs are popular b/c they are "a soft place to land," to quote Kimba. If your readers are used to safe topics like recipes/home decor/crafts/family pictures, chances are that posting something out of the blue will be a turn-off.
- Steer clear of controversial topics unless you are prepared to deal with the response from your readers.
- "Any publicity is good publicity" ??
Unless you have billed your blog as a spot for rational discussion (or maybe even debate), chances are that posting something of a controversial nature will lead to some nasty comments. If you can handle the heat, then by all means, stay in the kitchen. If not, stick with what you know you're good at.
If you write a blog geared for current events, gossip, or reviews, then by all means...rock your opinions! A great example is My Favorite Hatemail, where bloggers have a chance to address ugly comments that are left on their blogs. Mandi and Viv made it clear that it's a blog for the "airing of the grievances" (to quote my dear Frank Costanza), so readers know they'll be reading some heated reactions.
I would never ever tell you to squelch your writing if you are truly passionate about a topic. The world would be a boring place if we all agreed with each other and thought the exact same thing. Just be mindful of your audience and be prepared to field questions, concerns, and even angry comments.
One of the most profound pieces of advice I've come across in blogging came from my friend Julia in a recent Blogging and Beyond Interview:
"Write as if the whole world is reading."
I so wish I thought of that when I started this blog. I deleted several political-themed posts after gaining some readers, not because I am ashamed of the way I vote, but because I didn't want my blog to be a place to stir the pot. I'd rather focus on fun, creative stuff...not arguing over the debt ceiling.
Do you avoid controversy, or do you enjoy blogs that feature debate/heated topics?