One of my guilty pleasures is sneaking down to the Main Street Cafe, tucking myself into a tall wooden booth, and eavesdropping on the old goats bellied up to the breakfast counter. These fellows have a bone to pick with everyone from the local car dealer to that turncoat quarterback, Brett Favre, and as long as the coffee keeps coming, so will their red-faced rants.
A good blog rant makes me feel like I’m sitting right there in that cafe booth. Granted, I can’t see the bulging eyes or hear coffee mugs slammed on the counter for emphasis, but the emotion behind the words still grabs me and draws me in.
Sooner or later, most bloggers write some form of rant post, be it wild or mild. In most cases, these rants are healthy for all involved. After all, a good rant:
- Feels great to the blogger who needed to vent.
- Can increase traffic due to shares, tweets, and links from other bloggers.
- Builds connections with readers who feel the same way.
- Gets lots of comments.
- Can be a catalyst for improving a bad situation.
Now, that all sounds pretty rosy, but just a few thoughtless clicks of the keyboard can quickly turn a rant into the equivalent of a 20-car pileup on your blog. Handled poorly, a rant will:
- Alienate readers who feel differently.
- Damage relationships.
- Destroy credibility.
- Create rancor within the community.
Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to cut the risks and still rant like your hair’s on fire.
- Capture the anger while it’s fresh. Write down the specifics of the situation including who or what is making you angry, what happened, and why you’re so hot under the collar. Don’t censor anything at this point.
- DO NOT HIT PUBLISH. No, I don’t care how brilliantly you skewered your subject. Step away from the keyboard!
- Get some space. Do something to take your mind off the situation for at least a couple hours.
Hopefully, by the time you return to the keyboard you’ll have cooled down a speck and gained some perspective. Now’s it’s time to rework that rant so it’s still straight from the heart but not likely to have you writing an apology post the next day.
Here’s how to do it:
- Keep the emotion. You want to revise your rant without watering it down into a bland pile of mush. Use lots of ‘feeling’ words such as mad, angry, disappointed, irritated, etc.
- Exaggerate. Be honest when it comes to facts or figures, but by all means play things up where you can. We all know your head really doesn’t spin when you’re mad, but we like to think that it does.
- Stay on topic. Make sure the focus of the rant stays on that lousy plug-in that crashed your site rather than veering off into a tirade about your nosy mother-in-law and the escalating price of cheese.
- Add a little light sarcasm or humor. If you’re the type that likes to add a few jabs or jokes to your writing, by all means, have at it.
- Be a spokesperson for your readers. Tell your readers how this situation affects them. Let them know you’re spouting off on their behalf too.
- Avoid name calling and personal attacks. I love the word ‘weasel’ and ‘ditch-licking weasel’ sounds all the better. Still, name calling usually ends up being the first turn into Uglyvlle, so try not to go there.
- Consider a solution. When you’ve captured the spirit and essence of your rant, suggest a solution if you have one.
- Get your readers involved. You’ve spoken your mind, now let readers have their say. Close out your rant by asking readers to tell you what they think.
Once your rant has been published, the real fun begins. Chances are you’ll see extra traffic and comments, so stick around and stay engaged. Remember that you’re the driver of this bus, so if the discussion takes a wrong turn in the comments, grab hold of the wheel and gently steer things back towards the topic.
Hopefully, life will treat you well, but if not, I’m looking forward to reading your rant
Meanwhile, I’m headed down to the Main Street Cafe . . . .
Your turn: Do you rant on your blog? Like reading rants? What are the pros and cons?