The growth of the internet and the emergence of the new internet economy has made it easier than ever for bloggers to write generic, puff-piece articles for mediocre business publications that successfully grab readers without the need for analysis or informed opinion.
But for every mediocre article that hits the LinkedIn home page and is reposted by thousands of bored search engine optimisation “executives”, thousands tragically languish by the wayside. Here are some tips for the budding blowhard designed to lure in those crucial, PageRank-boosting skim-readers.
1. Define your aims
Achieving the status of LinkedIn linkbait doesn’t come without some serious thinking about why you’re writing the article in question.
Are you aiming for shameless self-promotion of your warped and asinine view of the industry? Is your new age tech consultancy in need of traffic from gullible goons? Or do you simply want to fill in the time between your token morning meeting and heading out onto the golf course in the afternoon?
Whatever the reason is, only serious commitment to solving your putative problem can turn your malformed opinions and lack of credible line of argument into something truly inspirational for the mid-rent “businesspeople” out there who think that wearing an off-the-peg suit is a practical substitute for ability or A-levels.
2. Think about your target audience
Remember, however solid your aim is, there will only be a few people who will read the article and send it up the charts: morons, the deluded and management consultants. You know, the sort of people with the time to tweet more than five times a day. So target your writing accordingly. Remember: there’s no such thing as “too vapid”.
Always use a simple, step-by-step style template to ensure that your article gels with the simplistic, narrative-dependent comprehension skills of the people who read this kind of thing. Never use words with more than ten characters unless pointless jargon. In other words, “obfuscate” is out, but “valmorphanize the economic paradigm” is in.
Always have a feel-good stock image at the top. It’s nice to see that.
3. Write about what you know
Chances are you’re writing because either a) your business is nosediving faster than Sir Jimmy Savile’s reputation or b) you’ve been shunted into a position of “responsibility” to make it absolutely clear that you have none.
So it’s almost certain that what you do know is outdated or irrelevant to any current debate. Don’t let that get you down: your readers are plagued by exactly the same problem!
You should feel absolutely free to waffle, Oprah-like, about how “mindset is all that matters”. Repeatedly quote that one book you read six months ago and state the mind-bogglingly obvious. Because that’s exactly the kind of thing your audience is bound to lap up.
4. The devil is in the detail
Chances are you’ve got half-way through your article and realised that there is no evidence out there in support of it. That’s exactly how it should be.
Remember: informed opinions based on fact, analysis or the real world are antithetical to the sort of motivational articles like “Become an Apprepreneur”, “How to be seriously successful” or “Make millions selling Dinky Cars” that you need to churn out to be a successful business writer.
So keep your writing loose and your subject matter vague enough to make it seem like any idiot can do it. Because the “any idiots” out there are likely to make or break the hopes of your “weak tea” brand of blogging.
5. Be motivational
No-one wants to hear some grumpy guts saying things like “most businesses fail”, “very few people make money from apps” or “you probably aren’t cut out to do more than run a minor branch of WHSmiths”.
So you need to make sure that whatever you are writing you always keep the positives up front. Sure, working hard will make everyone successful. Of course, anyone is suited to being an entrepreneur.
And yes, all of the guff I’ve just written is as perfectly and mysteriously brilliant as Mystic Meg’s lottery predictions.
George Osborn is a Management Consultant at Up and At Em