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Overheard on #Blogchat: Controversy (@hugmeup)

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With all the BlogWorld Expo work I’ve been doing, I haven’t had time for Overheard on #Blogchat for a few weeks. Glad to be back this week!

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Generating interest in your NEW blog

While at BlogWorld Expo 2010, Chris Garrett and Darren Rowse both mentioned that polarizing topics on your blog can help drive traffic. On tonight’s #blogchat, a similar topic was mentioned.

hugmeup: I’ve noticed that controversial topics gain a lot of interest quickly

Controversy can definitely be good for your traffic. But is it good for your blog? Consider the following:

  • Is the topic going to pit your readers against you?

Chris and Darren talked about polarizing topics, but that’s not necessarily the same as controversy. Polarizing is controversial, but the opposite isn’t always true. If you have a political blog and talk about pro choice versus pro life, that’s a polarizing topic. If you say that you support killing babies, you’re not going to get support from any of your readers – that’s just controversial. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t speak your mind, but if you’re trying to foster community, you don’t want to pit yourself against your audience.

  • Do you know the facts?

If you’re going to get controversial, make sure you have the facts straight. Trust me; on the Internet, if you’re wrong or even incomplete in the information you present, your readers will let you know. And most of them aren’t very nice about it. Cite as many sources as possible and think ahead to the debates you’ll have to face so you’re prepared to defend your position.

  • Are you controversial for controversy’s sake?

Posting something controversial can drive a lot of traffic, but if that’s your sole motivation, you’re not doing anything good for your blog. Believe in what you post. Otherwise, you’re not providing quality to readers, and eventually, they’ll figure out that you’re a fake.

  • Is the topic relevant to readers?

A few months ago, the WordPress/Thesis debate was definitely a controversial topic that many blogs covered, including this one. But did I post about it on the video game blog I manage? Nope. Sure, some of our readers might be interested, but does it make sense to further our blog? Not at all. If you’re really passionate about a controversial topic that doesn’t exactly fit your blog, think about guest posting instead! You’ll still drive some traffic to your site, but you can write something for a more relevant audience.

I’m someone who doesn’t shy away from controversy. Often, what I post here and on my other blogs is in direct conflict of the popular opinion. Do I do it for the traffic? I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t cross my mind. Strong opinions are usually extremely good for traffic, and that’s definitely something you should take into consideration. Just make sure that your controversial posts have a purpose beyond cheap hits. Otherwise, the traffic spike will be just that – a spike, not sustained traffic.


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