Heroes: Lessons on Blogging
Ok, this post is probably going to solidify my spot in the Geek Hall of Fame but oh well. One of my favorite TV shows running right now is Heroes. It’s basically an X-Men knock off but the story lines are solid and hey, who doesn’t like a show full of superheroes? Anyway, I’m also always on the lookout for good blog posts and for whatever reason it struck me that several of the main themes in Heroes can be applied to blogging. Just like that, a post was born. So here they are, Heroes’ Lessons on Blogging
In one of the first episodes of the show we were introduced to Nikki. She’s a single mom who apparently has a bit of an evil side. The evil Niki (who we later find out is actually her sister named Jessica but, whatever) goes around stealing, killing, and just generally causing problems for everyone. Later in the series Nikki is forced to face off against her evil side and (mini spoiler alert!) the good Nikki wins out. The moral here of course is be yourself.
How does that apply to blogging? One of the most important steps a blogger must take is to find their voice. It’s what makes the blog your own and what helps you separate yourself from the millions of other blogs out there. I’ve talked before about standing out among the crowd and it’s been written about all over the place but what it really boils down to is being yourself. Write like you talk, write about the topics you enjoy and have a passion for. In the end, that personality will come through in your writing and that’s what’s going to help you carve out your own following of loyal readers.
Have faith in yourself.
I don’t know about you, but my favorite character so far in the show has got to be Hiro Nakamura. His cheerful disposition made him a hit with viewers from the very first episode when his sheer determination leads him to discover that he has extraordinary abilities. Hiro’s almost instant acceptance of his power (he “bends time and space”) and unquenchable belief in his destiny leads Hiro to leave his job and his country to pursue an unknown journey. However, as the season progresses Hiro is faced with numerous challenges and setbacks which one by one begin to dampen his spirits and test his faith in his powers and his destiny. Of course as the story progresses Hiro realizes what practically every superhero before him has at one time learned; his powers don’t depend on some person or object, he simply has to believe in himself.
Of course bloggers are no different. Throughout the life of your blog there will be times when it seems you can’t do anything right. You catch a case of blogger’s block, it seems like no one is reading your blog, or you aren’t experiencing the success you had hoped for. Whatever the situation, you’re going to be tested and tempted to give up and pack it in. The truth is every blogger or writer I’ve talked to has gone through stretches like this and the key is to have faith in yourself. As we discussed in the last point, it’s your personality and your knowledge that make people want to read your blog, and success often comes through sheer perseverance. It’s no secret that many of the most successful bloggers are the ones that have been at it the longest. If you can manage to keep the faith, so to speak, through the tough patches, you’ll often find success on the other side.
Control your emotions.
Throughout the first season the big question was who or what would cause the explosion that levels New York? When we’re introduced to Ted Sprague, the amazing atomic man, we suddenly get a pretty good idea he’s somehow involved. Poor Ted apparently puts off more radiation than is healthy and ends up killing his wife. This understandably upsets Ted and when Ted gets mad things tend to get messy. Unfortunately for the rest of the world Ted’s also a bit of a hot head so the threat of a nuclear explosion is always bothering our host of heroes.
While this one’s probably more of a life lesson, the fact that you should control your emotions, especially your temper, is a good one for bloggers to learn. The fact that blogging is so much a discussion between writers and readers or even writers and other writers often lends itself to people disagreeing or even arguing. Naturally this can lead to some passionate debate and even hurt feelings but it’s critical that you don’t lose your temper and write something you’ll regret later. As mentioned in the Art of eWar (which was supposed to be mostly humorous but apparently didn’t come across as such), you can use anger or passion when you write but you shouldn’t publish anything that will come back to haunt you later. Most people put a lot of time and effort into their blogs and developing their reputations, it would be a shame to see it all go up in a mushroom cloud just because you lost your temper. After all, you might not have a bunch of superheroes around to help save your blog.
The combination of skills provides the most power.
Early on in the show we were introduced to a host of characters, all with special powers that allowed them to do some incredible things. One guy can fly, another one can bend time and space, another one can read people’s thoughts. All cool stuff. As the show went on though it quickly became apparent that it was the people that could combine the skills of others that were the most powerful. Peter Petrelli and Sylar were both able to take on other skills which allowed them even greater power than those around them. In blogging it’s much the same thing. It’s great to be a wonderful writer or a fantastic marketer, however, the people that can leverage all those different skills are going to be the most successful. As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t matter if you’re the next Shakespeare if no one knows your blog exists. Conversely, it doesn’t matter if you’re the next Philip Kolter (look it up if you don’t know who this is) if you’re site’s content reads like a drunken 1st grader wrote it. Specialization and great skills in one area are great, but those who are able to merge together several skill sets are going to have a better chance for success.
Adapting, not stealing, is the difference between a hero and a villain.
Speaking of Sylar, his behavior leads me to the next lesson. As I mentioned earlier, both Sylar and Peter have the ability to take on the powers of those around them. Peter simply absorbs the powers (he’s described at one point as a sponge) whereas Sylar must kill people to gain new powers. That of course is the difference between a hero everyone roots for and a villain that everyone loves to hate. So how does this apply to blogging? Brian Clark of CopyBlogger has written about adapting successful copy for use on your blog and his post How to Steal Great Content Ideas is an absolute must read. The post’s premise is that “we all are standing on the shoulders of giants”, and that “there’s nothing new under the sun”. Need examples? Take a look at the most successful posts on this blog. The Art of eWar which made the front page of Digg and brought in thousands of new visitors was simply an adaptation of Sun Tzu’s 6th century masterpiece. My post 5 Ways to Attract More Comments was nothing new. Don’t get me wrong, the content and the post is my own, but the idea or concept of the post has been covered several times. Simply stealing the copy (plagiarizing someone else’s work) won’t get you anywhere and will almost always damage your reputation. However, adapting successful copy or content ideas to fit your site will very often lead to success.
Who says you can’t learn anything from TV? Anyway, other than the fact that I’m a complete geek, what do you think? Are there other lessons Heroes teaches about blogging? I tried to figure out how “save the cheerleader, save the world” worked in terms of blogging but I just couldn’t come up with anything. Feel free to give it a shot!