by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
When I was growing up, America's opinions were shaped by a handful of influential people whose advice on any subject under the sun (but usually national affairs and politics) could be read, first, in newspapers... then heard on the radio and television.
These are great names, masters of pungent comments, wry humor, intelligent observations, and refined styles all their own. Here is my (partial) Honor Roll... one could add many others, the very best of the very best:
Westbrook Pegler of the United Press (died 1969).
H.L. Mencken of the Baltimore Sun (died 1956).
Edward R. Murrow of CBS (died 1965).
Walter Winchell of New York Daily Mirror (died 1972).
Paul Harvey of ABC (died 2009).
And now another name, destined for greatness and the prosperity that generally accompanies it, can be added to the list:
I'm here, your advisor and friend, to assist your rise to global eminence, as Internet blogger and meaningful commentator par excellence.
The Internet has made it possible to become such a commentator. You now have a power, and at your fingertips too, previously reserved to the few; now available to anyone.
You are now able to comment on and draw forth the true meaning of events great and small, events of cosmic significance and the little secrets that someone (usually office holder or government official) didn't want anyone to know, thus motivating the commentator to be sure to disclose.
Now you can be a new, soon to be important voice... a voice of humanity, intelligence, stern admonitions and home truths, resoundingly delivered. In short, you can be an unceasing engine for truth, justice, and the improvement of mankind, in a style and with a spin all your own. Kool.
Here's how to begin and prosper.
Most bloggers, think small, picayune, trivial. You cannot.
Their authors, that is, chew more than they bite off. (Sadly, I cannot take credit for this telling mot. Mrs. Henry Adams rendered this artful observation on the ponderous American author Henry James. She later killed herself, but probably not as a consequence of this remark.) Your view must be different, broad, cosmopolitan, catholic in the best (non-sectarian) sense.
If you want an important blog, write on important subjects. This formula is tried -- and true.
Always talk directly to your readers.
The great commentators of any age and culture never address the world en masse. They talk directly to you, as in a personal conversation between someone with Something Important to say... and someone anxious to learn it, all of it.
Use your blog to tell stores.
People need more than facts, assertions, and (worst of all) windy pontifications to attract them, though this is what they get from most blog writers.
People have always liked... and will always like... interesting tales. Great communicators like Jesus, Gandhi, Franklin Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were expert at capturing the full attention of their audiences... and what's more, keeping it with stories with a beginning, middle, end.
Develop a format. Make it your signature.
All the great commentators, like the ones listed above, delivered their comments in a certain, defined way which the folks who followed them immediately recognized. You must do the same.
Enter into the lives of the people you are commenting on... and the ones you are delivering your comments to.
The best commentators enter into the situations and conditions, nay into the very skins and brains, of the people they are writing about. This is what gives their comments an edge and credibility.
The goal of the great commentator is most assuredly not to set up a card board effigy of the person he is writing about. That's unfair, inadequate, infra dig.
The objective, instead, is to show that you truly understand the people and events you are writing about... then make your comments about them, pungent, fair, honest, aphoristic accordingly.
This is not easy to do... but it is what great commentators do... and which makes them irresistible to readers.
Avoid pedantry, but never the chance to instruct.
The purpose of a blog is NEVER to show how smart you are. It is to inform, educate, edify and instruct your readers, all done with the lightest, but always sure, touch. In short, it about enhancing their smartness...never merely dazzling with your own.
Thus, don't use your blog as the opportunity to demonstrate how clever and intelligent you are. Commentators are not, and always eschew the opportunity to be, ponderous. That's the role of too many professors from the Academy. Such people do not flourish, in blogs or elsewhere, because their readers flee andante.
You must capture and enthrall them, not as professors do by forcing attendance, but by entrancements, the apt selection of topics, the masterful presentation of what you have to tell... and the unique way you present it.
Master the great information sources you will come to rely upon to glean critical facts for your comments.
Read, on line now, the New York Times and Washington Post, to name but 2 key sources. These publications, soon to be history because of the Internet, will inspire you with both facts and story ideas. Scrutinize them closely.
Use too the Associated Press reports and those of UPI and Reuter's. They are crucial for providing both story ideas and the hard details which give your commentaries backbone and grit.
Learn to master the art of searching the great search engines, where the crucial supporting information is available whenever you require it,which means whenever you want a comment taut, never flaccid, girded by fact.
Use the Wikipedia, one of the greatest information sources ever. It is a noble idea, essential to commentators, ever available. Bravissimo.
One last thing. Set your blog publishing schedule... and stick to it.
Your readers want, indeed insist upon, predictability and regular delivery of your blog. Give it to them. If your publishing date is each Thursday at 12 noon Eastern time... adhere to it, religiously. "Punctuality," as King Louis XVIII of France observed, "is the courtesy of kings."
Nowadays your readers are the sovereigns, each and every one. Succeed with them... and your results and benefits, financial and otherwise, are assured, abundantly so. These are your masters, your audience. Treat them accordingly and soar.
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books. Republished with author's permission by Ruthsella Corasol