I was a pageant girl.
Yes, there was a time when I strutted around the stage in a bikini, narrowly avoiding death by killer heels.
Now, you know and I know that this is a blog about freelance blogging. By now, you can probably see where I’m going with this (if you don’t, I’m about to make a comparison between blogging and beauty pageants). And I can already feel you rolling your eyes.
Bear with me. As wacko as it may sound, there’s a lot bloggers can learn from Miss America. After all, we both want to be crowned. One with a tiara and the other with her reader’s attention.
And our ‘judges’ typically make their decision in the first 7 seconds.
If you want to be the last one standing when the curtains close, take a hint from the pageant world and brush up on these 5 elements of competition.
1. Evening gown (your first impression)
Miss America has to look polished, professional, inviting. And lets not kid ourselves: the girl’s gotta be drop-dead gorgeous. Contestants get about 30 seconds to demonstrate that they are all of those things… in eveningwear.
While floating around a stage in an evening gown isn’t going to do us bloggers much good, we do need to make sure our websites are polished, professional, inviting, and drop-dead gorgeous.
How, you ask?
- Enhance your posts with eye-catching photos, infographics, videos, and charts.
- Don’t overwhelm your readers with badges and widgets they don’t need.
- Use bulleted and numbered lists, italics, caps, and bold text so your posts are scannable.
- Make sure your text is easy to read. Font that’s too small, a background that’s too dark, and sentences and paragraphs that are too long make for difficult and cumbersome reading.
2. Swimsuit (or peek-a-boo blogging)
It doesn’t matter how rockin’ a contestant’s body is, the swimsuit round is always the most dreaded aspect of the competition.
It’s designed to show the judges your self-confidence, health, and physical fitness — all important traits for a title-holder.
I’m not suggesting you do all your blogging in a Speedo. But perhaps it’s time to let your readers see you in all your glory.
If you don’t have a photo of yourself on your website, now’s the time to put one up. Studies show that people are more likely to hire you if they know what you look like. It establishes trust and makes you more memorable.
3. Onstage question (your headline appeal)
During the competition, each contestant is asked a question. Onstage. They have about 30 seconds to respond (a buzzer is involved – trés exciting).
There are a number of reasons for this:
- to see how well a contestant thinks on their feet
- to see how she reacts under pressure
- to get to know her
- to see if she commands attention
It’s the pageant equivalent of a headline. Short, keyword-rich, and attention-grabbing; lets readers know what they’re getting into and makes them yearn for more.
While headline crafting could easily fill a collection of tomes to rival the encyclopedia, below are some seriously awesome (and free!) resources to get you started:
4. Interview (your opening sentence)
Here, the contestant has 12 minutes alone with the judges to convince them to give her the job.
The judges can (and do) ask absolutely anything. But they’re not really interested in what kind of tree she would be or how she plans to end world hunger. What they want to know is, can she deliver?
You gotta deliver for your client’s audience.
A good opening sentence makes the reader glad she kept reading past the headline. It fills in any blanks without giving too much away. It entices the reader to keep reading. It’s every bit as powerful as the headline.
5. Talent (nobody does it better)
I’ve seen many a talent over the years: baton twirling, ethnic dance, ballet en pointe, vocal, tennis (don’t ask – I’m still not sure how it happened). Everything from the mundane to the extraordinary to the downright bizarre.
The point is, each contestant takes center stage to do what she does best. That one thing that set her apart from every other hopeful vying for the crown. It’s her chance to let the world know what she can do.
There’s not a single blogger out there that doesn’t have a special talent. Maybe you’re an expert in a certain niche, or love writing about a topic no one else dares to tackle. Maybe you have a way of making complex ideas easy to grasp. Or otherwise boring subjects exciting. Perhaps you write in a way readers instantly connect with. Are you just downright funny? A natural storyteller?
Pinpoint what you do best and showcase that in your posts and in your marketing.
One Last Thing…
What makes a contestant successful is her ability to show her personality in everything she does. That’s what sets her apart from all the others spouting the same nonsense about puppies and world peace.
Just like bad boob jobs and fake tans, a blog post that’s not authentic is easy to spot. Your ability to insert authentic personality into your posts will attract readers and keep them glued to the page.
What’s keeping you from winning the crown?
And what steps can you start taking now to get your blogging pageant-perfect?
Image: Tim Kretschmann