Are You Ready For “Controversial”?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 7, 2011
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post based off a blog post I read where the person was talking about the concept of “high quality content” without actually explaining what it was, a pet peeve of mine. Well, this one isn’t quite a pet peeve, but it’s something that, once again, I see recommended often, and I think it’s a horrible recommendation.
That recommendation, as you have already guessed by the title, is to write controversial posts. Though I hate that as a recommendation, the truth is that I’ve written a couple of those in my day on this blog. I wrote a random thoughts post where I touched upon crime, hate, physical abuse and President Obama, among other things. I wrote a post where I said President Obama called Rush Limbaugh a racist (he didn’t, as I explained in the post). I’ve gone after writing groups like Helium, busted on a guy because he saw himself as better than everyone else and got called on it, and I’ve tackled the subject of health care a couple of times.
Still, it’s not always the best way for everyone to go. Controversy doesn’t always get the desired effect you think it might, and sometimes you just might be unleashing the demons from Pandora’s Box and not have the ability to get them back under control again. That plus you risk being labeled if you don’t get your message right the first time out and could end up with a mess like our friend Rummuser ran into, for which he wrote apology for after the fact, but possibly still lost a reader in the process.
Controversy obviously sells; look at what it’s done for Charlie Sheen and all the Twitter followers, over a million in 24 hours. But it can also take away. For instance, there’s a guy whose name I forget that used to be big on the blogosphere and even stopped by here to comment every once in awhile. His blog was very controversial, highlighted by his video posts going after this person and that person, using lots of colorful language. It was all fun and games until he suddenly started losing contracts because some of his clients discovered his blog, didn’t quite like his style, and decided to stop doing business with him. We’re talking six figure contracts suddenly drying up, and he immediately stopped blogging and removed every single video he’d produced.
Then there was a guy who supposedly built his blog on the backs of top bloggers by bashing every single one of them as harshly as he could. His blog grew greatly, and Darren Rowse, one of the people he attacked, grudgingly admitted it was an interesting strategy of success. Then one day the guy stopped, and when Darren was able to reach him to find out why, the guy said that he had hoped to get business from his blog by being seen as an expert in a particular area, yet all anyone could see was him as the angry blogger and no one wanted to work with him. So again, he shut down his blog in hopes of reinventing himself once time passed.
Even I had a brief encounter via a post on my business blog where someone thought I was writing directly about her, complained to her manager, who contacted someone I was contracted with to do work, who then called me and asked me if I’d change it. I said absolutely not, then asked him if he’d read it, to which he replied no. Then I read him the first two paragraphs and he said it wasn’t bad, and was actually true and positive, yet still asked me if I could be more circumspect when I wrote blog posts while we were actively working with a client. I told him that if it ever happened again he needed to go read the post before calling me about it because many of my posts I write in advance, and it’s not my problem if one person thinks it’s about them in that regard.
I’ve always been ready to back up my position on something I have to say. I also say my piece in non-threatening ways; I choose my words carefully, even when I’m mad. I’ve had people take something I said in the wrong way, and I’m ready to defend that as well. I don’t head lightly into controversy, and it’s not the thrust of this blog. I’d never want to make it the thrust of this blog. But I won’t step away from something if it irks me.
Still, I’d never recommend that someone be controversial just for the sake of being that way. If you have something to say, something that’s really bothering you, then by all means share it, get it off your chest like I did with my writing post and video, and move on. Otherwise, don’t make controversy your norm; you might not like how it all turns out.