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How to Write a Rant that People Want to Read

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We all rant sometimes.

Some of us do it online for the world to see. Some of us do it in the privacy of our friends and family. But the fact of the matter is that everyone gets emotionally angry from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with it. If you’re compelled to blog when you’re in a rant-y mood, though, I think it is important to make sure you’re engaging your community, not driving them away as you flick them the middle finger. Rants can be awesome for traffic, but there can also be a fall out. If you’re going to rant, make sure you write something people actually want to read. Here’s how:

Actions versus People

When you write a general rant about an individual or even a group, you look like a big meanie. You don’t have to agree with every single person out there, but most rants about people come off as attacks, not lively debates. Personally, I just don’t think there are many reasons you should burn those bridges. If you wouldn’t be comfortable standing up on the BlogWorld stages and yelling,  “So-and-so is a jerk!” don’t say it online either. If you don’t agree with someone, don’t be shy about your opinions…but save the rants instead for actions.

It’s true – when you rant about actions, you typically have someone in mind. And I definitely encourage people to name names when blogging about someone. However, there’s a difference between saying that you don’t like someone’s actions and that you don’t like someone period.

When you talk about actions, it also makes it easier for your readers to relate. They probably have been annoyed by the same actions by other people, even if they don’t know the person you’re ranting about. It also makes it easier to open up the topic for debate. If you rant about a person and one of your readers disagrees with you, they might stay silent for fear of being attacked as well. When you’re ranting about an action instead, readers can more easily inject their opinion without as much worry that you (or your community) will turn on them just for disagreeing.

“Duh” Rants

Sometimes, I read what is supposed to be a passionate rant and at the end, the only thing I can think is, “Well duh…”

There are certain things everyone hates. These topics are the constant content of blog rants, but when you aren’t really adding anything new to the conversation, what is the point? It’s your blog, of course, and if you need to get something off your chest, do it. Just be cautious as to how much of your content is self-serving versus how much is actually interesting to readers. Keep the ratio in check.

Bringing Attention to a Company

The best rants, in my opinion, are those that don’t attack a person or even an action, but rather a company;s policies. As consumers, I think it is our duty to point out when a company is doing a crap job. Rants help other customers know that their experience wasn’t isolated and you get the added benefit of warning others before they spend their hard-earned dollars.

When ranting about a company, however, make sure you’re fair. If you’re going to rant about a company’s customer service, for example, talk to at least two people – one bad employee is a mistake, but two in a row is rarely a coincidence. Or, if you order a product and it arrives broken, send an email and allow the company to respond, sending you a new one or refunding your money. In other words, before you rant, allow the company to correct the problem. Everyone makes mistakes, and I don’t think it’s fair or intelligent to rant over an isolated incident that the company is happy to correct.

And always remember that there are real people behind businesses. Whatever you’re ranting about is someone’s fault, and there’s a good chance that they’ll read your blog post, especially if it gets popular. Again, it goes back to attacking actions, not people.

In-the-Moment Emotion

When something ticks you off, it’s easy to feel emotional. I call it in-the-moment emotion – fleeting feelings of frustration that are often blown way out of proportion. Now is a great time to write about something because your post will be filled with passion. It’s not such a great time to hit the publish button.

If you’ll calm down after an hour, will you regret whatever you just wrote? Remember, once something is out there online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the post, it is still out there. So, give it at least an hour before you publish your rant, and if the material isn’t time-sensitive, give it at least 24 hours.

Something else to consider – how angry is your post in terms of word choice? Last week at #BWEchat, we talked to Jason Falls and Marcus Sheridan about cursing in blog posts and on social media. Whether you’re for or against, I think we can all agree that when we’re mad about something, the language can sometimes be a little stronger than we otherwise have on our blog. This can be part of what makes a rant great. Can be. If you go overboard, the language you use could turn off your readers, even if they were initially interested in your rant and agree with you. When you calm down a little, you can reread your rant to make sure the language is refined. That doesn’t mean you have to take out the sailor language – it just means that you can clearly decide what words you really want to use.

Logic Rules All

Lastly, make sure that your post is logical. I hate reading rants when I don’t know the back story and can’t figure out why the person is so mad. Even though rants are emotional, they should also make sence. Give me a compelling argument so I feel as emotionally connected to the story as you do. Now is not the time to be brief. I want the full story, including details.

In most cases, I personally think that it also makes sense for you to add “solutions” as part of your rant. What could have been done differently? What can be done now to help ease your pain? How can others avoid finding themselves in the same situation? No one ever said a rant can’t be helpful.

And be prepared. Most rants drive traffic, so people are going to respond, either on your site or off. If your post is logically sound, it shouldn’t be hard to debate with your readers.

Have you ever ranted on your blog? Was the result good or bad? What’s the best rant you’ve ever read from another blogger?


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