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September 3, 2009

Why You Should Create Controversial Content At Least Once a Week

Last week, like every other week, I wrote an article. This time I decided to syndicate it, something I should be doing twice a week, but only get to about 4 times a month, and that’s if I’m feeling up to it.

This was one of the biggest traffic draws from a single article that I have had in years. It is still producing a steady stream of traffic, sales and subscribers as I’m writing this.

It’s been 2 years since I’ve gotten that much of an appreciative response, or that amount of attention, period, for an article I wrote that wasn’t widely syndicated. In fact, it only appeared in one major publication.

So what’s all the hub-bub, bub?

As you may have guess, there was a controversy surrounding the article. First, there were several typos. Normally I’d edit the article so relentlessly that by the time the article was perfect, it would be a month since I wrote it and it wouldn’t fit into my article marketing campaign for that week.

Since I’d been kicking my own butt to get content out on schedule, even when it isn’t perfect, I took my own medicine and just sent it out the way it was. And boy were the grammar, typing and spelling police mad!

Two people wrote me that they passed my article around at their meetings as an example of what not to do. Does it count as a backfire when one of the people who sees it Googles you and becomes a client?

(Just had to get in that little dig. Forgive me.)

What else was so bad about the article?

I called my readers “punks” – in the title.

This was a calculated risk – I’d run another version of the article a blog post and from sharing on StumbleUpon alone it got over 3000 visitors. In this new version, the article then went on to tell my readers to basically get off their over-thinking butts and do something, then gave them two examples of things to do.

There was, of course, a vocal minority of outraged responses about this too. But, curiously, other, louder, people who read the article – people I have never met or spoken to – came along and defended it.

In the end, my slang-ridden, typo-laden, in-your-face article brought me more profitable traffic and attention than any other article I’ve written this year. It was written in a moment of passion I had at seeing a friend almost lose their house, and a peer almost lose their business, mostly as a result of inaction.

And seeing this reaction led me to go back and look at my other articles. I write all my own stuff – it’s far more profitable for those of us who are at least halfway decent at writing to write an okay article injected with personality than it is to pay someone else to write generic content.

(I still hire writers for certain things though. But I concentrate on the ones with voice and depth, and pay them more for unique, engaging writing – I don’t simply outsource to the lowest bidder. I say if you’re going to hire a writer, get someone better than you.)

If you have the ability to generate controversy with your content, do it. Not convinced? Here are seven reasons why you should consider it.

1- It’s Effective

Nothing gets more attention than controversy. That’s why reality shows are popular. It’s why we read the journalist who we think is making an absolutely backwards prediction about something we care about. That’s why people gossip and debate.

Why merely participate when you can be the topic of discussion?

2- Negative Attention is Sometimes Even better than positive attention.

Nothing spreads faster than outrage. Wide exposure for a controversial view is much better than no exposure for towing the conventional wisdom line.

3- Display Your Skill at Dealing with Diverging Viewpoints.

Let people see the smooth way you react to the rude comments from people who take your words personally that WILL follow. I’ve gained lifelong friends, fans and customers from them witnessing what they call poise under pressure – and I call common courtesy.

You don’t have to respond from the same type of energy that’s being directed at you. Why let someone else having a bad day ruin your day?

4- It vets your buyers!

For example, if you want more clients that will take your advice to heart, get off their butts, and stop making excuses, try making a video that takes a hard line and tells people to get off their butts and stop making excuses!

Yeah, you’ll get reamed for it – by people who make excuse. They will be offended and never sign up to your newsletter.

Awesome. Because the people who needed a coach who believes in swift kicks in the butt will take your advice and hungrily seek more of it.

5- It’s fun to do.

What’s more fun than seeing something controversial? Being controversial or doing something controversial. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you can take it, boy is that a fun ride!

6 – It’s entertaining to experience.

When people are entertained, they buy more. You probably never noticed the music playing in the background at the grocery store. It’s there because studies show that people browse longer and thus, buy more, when they’re being entertained.

Now you see more TVs at gas stations and in convenience stores. When I used to live in Vegas many of the Strip cabs had TVs on the backs of seats before I ever saw them in regular cars.

Then there’s the classic example of commercials during our favorite TV shows.

7- It sets you apart.

You know why bigger companies are afraid of controversy?

Me either. If you find out, come tell me. All I know is, I’m not afraid of controversy because I see it as an opportunity. It’s another way to connect, to have something to discuss, and in the case of my last controversial article, to help people.

Even if you aren’t going to make a controversial audio, video, blog post or article, for goodness sakes, do something different.

No one watches boring shows on TV, invites boring people to parties, reads boring books or listens to boring music unless they have to, for study or evaluation.

Try a little controversy and see where it takes you. If that’s too scary, at least risk being extraordinarily passionate. The spotlight can be fun.

Speaking of controversy, find out the most controversial secret I have about generating traffic from Social media here – – and get a free introduction to social media strategy.