At some level, blogging is really just a stage show. We, as bloggers, are up on a virtual stage giving a performance that goes on for as long as we run our sites. Whether it is a stand-up comedy routine or a serious academic lecture, we’re talking to the world and hope that our audience, no matter how large or small, will listen.
On that front magicians are masters of the stage show. Using nothing but a few tricks, which can range from very simple to unbelievably complex, their charisma and whatever effects they have at their disposal, they have to keep a difficult audience entertained and enthralled through their entire act.
So maybe magicians can teach us bloggers a few things about showmanship and how to keep our audience glued to the screen, no matter what type of site we are trying to run.
On that front, here are five tips virtually any magician can tell you that can help make your blog a little bit better.
1. Have a Catchy Name
Good marketing starts with a good name and magicians understand this. You can tell a great deal about a magic act based on just the name it goes by and magicians are constantly honing and improving their brand by seeking publicity and getting their well-chosen name out there by any means necessary.
Application: Spend some time coming up with a good name that is easy to spell and pronounce but is also unique and describes what you are trying to do. Then, promote that brand vigorously and stand by it unless you have some urgent need to change.
2. Dress 1 Step Above Your Audience
Magicians have a general rule that one should dress one step above their audience. If you are performing in front of a completely casual audience, they will wear business casual, if the audience is business casual, they will dress in a suit, if the audience is wearing suits, they’ll wear a tux. The reason is that this gives the performer a sense of authority while making them approachable and relatable.
Application: Your dress is your writing and your language. Try writing your content one small step above what your audience would write, making it more authoritative than casual writing but still easily understood and approachable.
3. If You Mess Up, Be Honest, Break the Tension and Move On
Mistakes happen and when a Magician goofs they do so in a very public way. However, magicians rarely try to hide their mistakes, especially if they know their audience has caught on. Instead, they’ll admit to the mistake, go for a joke to break the tension and then move on quickly and confidently.
Application: Going for the joke may not always be appropriate but when you goof on your site you need to acknowledge the error, end the tension quickly (either with an apology, a joke or whatever is appropriate) and then move on. Don’t linger on your mistakes once you’ve dealt with them.
4. Make People Look Where You Want
Half of magic is about diversion and drawing attention where the magician wants it. A majority of magic tricks wouldn’t work at all if the audience was not looking at the right spot while the trick part takes place out of view. Magicians achieve this by using motion, colors, lighting and anything else at their disposal to distract and direct the audience to their will.
Application: Tell the readers what you want to look at, use subheads, lists, tables, images and other things that draw the eye to make them look at the information you deem most important. Use such tools sparingly, otherwise the eye doesn’t know where to go, but don’t force your readers to figure out what’s important on their own.
5. Know Which Secrets to Keep
Magic thrives on secrets. As the TV character Jonathan Creek was fond of saying, once explained what was once magic becomes mundane. Magicians keep their secrets closely guarded to keep the illusion of their tricks being actual magic. Though the illusion is fleeting, most people realize magic is just an illusion, the ability to deceive oneself for a moment is an important part of enjoying the show.
Application: Blogging isn’t nearly as secretive as magic but you do have to think long and hard about what information you want to give away and what you don’t. You need to ask yourself what information will help your readers better enjoy or learn from your site and what will confuse and complicate things needlessly. Keep the secrets that you need to in order to stay on target and be effective, don’t try to throw everything out.
Though magic and blogging have many differences, blogging involves significantly fewer rabbits for one, there are definitely enough similarities so that we bloggers can pick up a few pointers, especially when it comes to keeping our audience entertained and informed.
It might be easy to not think of blogging as a public performance but, in reality, that’s exactly what it is, the most public kind of performance possible and the fact that it merely writing, audio or video doesn’t mean that many of the same rules don’t apply.
So let’s listen to the magicians, they might have a lesson or two for us.