It’s a simple process:
- Make a controversial article/video/statement/etc
- Ensure it gets passed to both people who would:
- Support it
- Hate it
- Enjoy the massive amounts of attention it will receive
Hell, I’ve done it (and will continue too).
Controversy and Clicks
- 50 Reasons Why California Sucks (My best performing article of all time)
- Why Men Don’t Want to Get Married Anymore (My only article that is spread by over 100 other platforms)
- The Peace Symbol is a Proto-Germanic Death Rune (The only article I’ve received a literal death threat from… well, so far)
- The Depravity Of Modern Women – Dubai Porta Potties (Posted just a month ago, I have received over 5 emails of people yelling at me about it)
It’s interesting, and kind of sad how easy it can be to “game” this system.
I definitely understand why the mainstream media is so terrible after starting this website. They solely make articles for money, and the easiest way to get that money/attention is through controversy.
So they make BS articles that they know will stir up things with some demographic, and then sit back while all the “butt hurt” people bring in more revenue than they could have ever hoped for.
I think the controversy and clicks procedure works from two different angles:
In one way, controversy signals to people that agree with it that you are not afraid to speak up, which generates positive shares/comments. And if it tends to be a “sensitive” topic, they will be more willing to share/talk about it since someone else brought it up.
In the other way, controversy signals to people that disagree with it that you are a threat and they respond accordingly. Either by commenting (which boosts websites stats for search engines), or by doing rebuttals (which provide link/source flow), or by yelling about it on social media (generating more attention and thus more clicks).
So controversial articles really capture both markets, even the markets they are not writing in favor of.
If you make a vegan article, only vegans will read it. (Which is fine, if that is your niche). But if you make an article about why vegan eating is unhealthy, you’ll have non-vegans and vegans reading your article. The non-vegans for confirmation bias, and the vegans because they are pissed off.
One side will flame it, one side will like it, and many will just read it strictly because it’s controversial and getting more popular.
In fact, the statistics indicate that the majority of the regulars I have, have actually subscribed to my newsletter directly from one of my more controversial articles. Then they stick around to read the normal ones. I’m not as good at the social media/friendship making game like other bloggers, so I had to find an alternative method.
“Controversy”, it is.
If you watch other popular websites, pay attention to their controversial articles. Now that I have been doing this for a while, I can almost spot each article that is solely there to “stir the pot”. It’s a fun habit seeing other people respond accordingly. All while knowing exactly why they chose to make that article a headliner.
This tactic is also a weakness I see on a lot of websites. If you’re a writer, and you have a controversial opinion, by all means utilize it. Hiding your thoughts (especially when it will be beneficial) is a quick ticket way to never seeing growth.
You have freedom of speech for a reason. Use it. If it creates a massive controversy, that will only serve to benefit you in the long run. Plus, it will benefit you in the short run for exercising a right we need to keep intact.
Now I’m not saying go out and create 50 articles of straight controversy just for the sake of doing it. But every once in a while, it’s a reliable tactic to get some new people in and commenting, whether good or bad.
Get people in using controversy, then keep them around with interesting/insightful/beneficial articles. Just make sure your controversy is true and heartfelt about a topic you truly have a provocative opinion on.
That’s my tactic, at least. And I think it’s going very well so far.