We’ve all seen them: the cuddly heroes from Joe Dante’s 1984 film Gremlins known as the Mogwai. Gizmo is the most famous (and the only one that doesn’t break the rules and torment the small mid-western town) and is pictured to the right.
The real question is, what can this cute, little guy and his brothers teach us about your blog’s audience?
When it comes to the Mogwai (and your audience), there are 3 main rules, but a lot we can learn from them. You must listen to Mr. Wing, now.
It’s A Big Responsibility
Mr. Wing won’t want to sell you the Mogwai. It’s a BIG responsibility and he has to be sure that you are up to the task.
Anyone can start a blog. You can go to Blogger, or Typepad, or WordPress and start one right now without even finishing this post if you so choose. And if you are simply writing for your own creative output, who cares what your audience thinks? Stop reading this right now because the rest won’t benefit you.
But if you actually care about having an audience (and let’s be honest, if you’re starting a blog, you care; if you didn’t you’d just write in your Moleskine) you need to realize that they come with instructions of care, or rules.
For our purposes, we will use the Mogwai Rules:
1) Do Not Shine Bright Lights or Sunlight At The Mogwai
Too much sunlight will kill a Mogwai, and too much time away from the computer screen will kill your audience. Oh, sure, your family and friends will read your posts, but you want to build a steady following, right? Give them a reason to read.
There are so many distractions online and offline that if you are not coming up with clever, compelling reasons for your audience’s eyes to be on your post, don’t bother writing one. What do you bring to the table that is uniquely you?
Gary Vaynerchuk talks about wine, yet how many magazines and shows are there about wine? Tons. You’ve heard of Gary because he is unique. He totally brings himself into what he produces for his audience. How can you bring yourself into what you do?
Creating compelling content can be tricky, but here are some things I like to do:
Keep a brainstorming journal – I carry one around with me everywhere and whenever something sparks my imagination I write it down. You never know when you will get that next great blog post idea.
Editorial Calendar – I have a white board (I use Ideapaint) in my office where I keep a pseudo-calendar for posts. I know that I will post 3-4 times a week, but I keep a running list of ideas and topics so I don’t constantly step on my own toes.
Read, Read, Read – Read blog posts you’ve never read before, walk into a bookstore and pick up a random book and buy it, browse through your Evernote and re-read blogs that inspired you in the past. Make sure you are constantly taking in good, new material. Good stuff in, good stuff out.
2) Do Not Get Your Mogwai Wet
Every set of rules has one that is meant to be broken. This is that rule.
When the Mogwai get wet, they sprout new Mogwai. They cocoon and within a few days you have a whole army a furry little minions waiting for your commands.
Don’t let your audience just sit there. Throw some water on them, surprise them. When you ramp up your audiences emotions and get them wet, you’ll be surprised how quickly they multiply. Overnight, your readership of 12 can sprout to 212, or 2,012.
How much water are you willing to throw?
3) Do Not Feed The Mogwai After Midnight
This is the most important rule of the Mogwai. By breaking this rule a small mid-western town was destroyed and many people died. Your blog post will most likely not have the same effect, but it is still an important rule.
Timing is everything. You hear that phrase from sports, to finance, to real estate, and beyond, but it holds true in blogging for an audience as well. If you write the best post in the world and post it at 2.00 AM then leave it alone, how effective do you think it will be? What if you never mention it again? Sure, there’s a chance someone will run across it accidentally on Google, the send it to a friend who knows Jimmy Kimmel and you will be famous, but that’s a long shot.
Here are the best steps I have found (timing-wise) to help engage your audience and keep them around:
Be consistent – That doesn’t mean post every day (although that helps). Just keep a steady rhythm to how you post. People like when they feel like they can figure out a system. Post Monday, Wed, and Fridays; or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays; or just once a week on Monday. However works best for you, but be consistent in you posts.
Be On Time – I like to post between 9 AM and 11 AM CST. That way it doesn’t hit before a lot of my readers wake up, but also give me the rest of the day to Tweet the link and for it to make its way around to my audience. Find a time that works best for you, because there is no right answer for this one.
Be Present – This is the worst mistake I see people making. They will blog heavily for 2 weeks because they are so excited and then “things come up” and they disappear for 2 months. What do you think happens to the small audience you cultivated during those two weeks? They aren’t your significant other and waiting for you to finish your jail time. They will move on to post-ier pastures. If you’re going to blog, be there.
Your audience can be a fragile thing. You must take care of it until it has grown enough to sustain itself. You are its owner, its protector (so don’t sell out your audience’s emails for marketing purposes, but that’s another post). Love them and they will love you. Feed them and like a stray cat, they will keep coming back.
I know I’m not perfect and might have missed a few key points, and that’s where you come in, faithful reader. In the comments leave what you think should be added to this list. It could be from Gremlins (Don’t let your Mogwai watch Disney movies in a locked theater) or something completely unrelated to 80′s horror-comedy. I want to hear your thoughts. Make Mr. Wing proud.