All blogs on the internet operate, more or less, under the same business model. The revenue a blog makes equals price per page-view x number of page-views. And since blogs don’t determine the price of their page views, they try to maximize the number of readers. And since, like any marketplace, blogs are subjected to the Pareto Rule where most of the revenue is generated by a vanishingly small number of players – a blog that isn’t growing (in page views) is quickly replaced by one that does.
So, how do you survive in such a harsh, Darwinian marketplace? Provocation. Use emotionally charged headlines, induce anger or shock. In Trust Me, I’m Lying Ryan Holiday cites a 2012 study that shows that content that induced anger were 34 percent more likely than the median article to make the most e-mailed list. Sad articles, on the other hand, were 16 percent less likely to end up on the most e-mailed list. Stories that are thoughtful, practical, useful, beautiful, or well-written are outcompeted by stories that are loud and angry.
The only way to keep a blog relevant is to constantly produce fresh content. And unlike traditional mediums like newspapers and magazines, there is no limit to how often a blogger can post. The fastest bloggers win, regardless of quality.
Not only do bloggers have to produce content quickly and evoke anger to succeed, they need to share on content aggregators like Reddit and other social media platforms. And here, it’s the same game. Make people angry with your headlines so they click. It doesn’t matter if your article is misleading or not. A click is a click.
Holiday realized that there was a strange pattern. The big blogs were actually using stories that were initially written on small blogs first. So, he used this knowledge to promote his clients, like Tucker Max, when he personally vandalized a billboard, took pictures, sent them to small bloggers, who would then write about it. In little time, the news was on TV.