I stuffed the garbage bags full, all my stuff going in with trembling hands.
In went some of my favorite clothes; the jacket I’d bonded with.
In went artworks, portfolios, and creations I’d made with my own hands.
In went my tech and electronics, things I thought were the foundations of my digital empire.
The black plastic from the bags glistened in the sunlight streaming through the condo window.
I was being evicted.
And I was at peace with it.
I felt a strange sense of calm.
Fast-forward to a day later, when I’m stuffing a different bag, this time a gym-bag to carry with me on my journey into houselessness.
Something was missing.
“Hailey! Have you seen my hard drives with all the music on ‘em?” I spoke a little harsher than I’d meant to.
“Uh, no…” she replied.
I knew what had happened.
I’d thrown out 4 hard drives worth of music. 83,000 songs, and one of those songs was the rare song Open The Floodgates, by Radiohead.
Don’t bore us
Get to the chorus
Open the floodgates
We want the good bits
Without the bullshit
And no heartaches
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, one ’cause it’s a really cool story and two because songs + scents can trigger powerful memories.
They can also inspire new ideas.
And Open The Floodgates is Thom Yorke’s call-out to a pop-culture consuming public.
He’s talking to the masses.
Big deal, right?
Well, lemme ask you… what do the masses represent?
The masses represent traffic.
A lot of people have a love/hate relationship with “the masses”, and it’s a pretty de-humanizing label.
Here’s something shocking: ‘the masses’ are human beings.
A large group of people who behave in similar ways and show interest in similar trends.
And if you get their attention, you get … traffic.
And so you want traffic, you may even want a flood of traffic…
…but have you ever thought about what traffic wants in return?
It’s not as clear-cut as most people think.
Traffic can be quite the demanding master.
“Honey, We’re Engaged“
You CAN do it though.
You can write for traffic, and I’ll give you an understanding that helps.
For now, I want you to think of traffic as a stream, a flow, a pipeline of people to you.
This stream can either be a trickle or a flood, but you have to know what you want.
Not only that, but the stream can be ‘pure’, or it can be ‘dirty.’
Know what I mean?
Pure traffic means hot leads, who are engaged and interested in what you offer.
Dirty or diluted traffic means cold leads who aren’t really interested.
Keep this stream idea in mind while we dig deeper.
Okay, so… there’s usually two types of people talking about traffic:
- The secret-elitists see traffic one way, and
- the media-fiends see it another.
The names aren’t flattering, I know, but stay with me.
See, the secret-elitists are focused heavily on the quality of traffic and they’ll say stuff like:
“Oh, I don’t care about traffic, I’d rather have 1 engaged visitor, than 100 crappy ones.”
“I’ve had tons of hits, but they’re all lame — I want real engagement.”
In terms of the stream, this is like saying ‘I got burned by a flood of sewage (cold leads, time-wasters), so now I just deal in small trickles of pure water, it’s safer.’ (hot, engaged leads, but not really ‘the masses’)
This might be someone you know; lots of bloggers talk this way.
It might even be the person at your keyboard.
Or they’ll say:
“I don’t go for traffic, my stuff is too high-level, people won’t get it”, which is the same as saying I don’t want to increase my traffic-stream very much.
And why do I call them “secret” elitists?
Because they hide their real feelings.
They don’t come out and say that they’ve written off people who get attention from the masses, but they usually have.
I’m not judging – I’m just saying there’s a group of people who’ve decided not to aim for large amounts of traffic because they associate it with less quality.
Dumb Down And Double
Now let’s talk about the media-fiends
These guys are focused on quantity, often to the exclusion of all else.
They’ll say things like:
“Great, my Mom loves my stuff and writes really nice things, but I don’t care, I want more, I wanna go viral!”
“I don’t care who they are or where they came from, I just want numbers!”
The idea here is that the masses want sex, violence, controversy, quick-fixes, swearing, top-ten lists, etc., and catering to them will bring traffic.
The idea is that you dumb stuff down and cater to the lowest common denominator, and you get traffic.
They’re talking about a flood of dirty water.
A lot of leads, but cold ones. Not an engaged audience, but a bunch of viral fad-lovers, often jumped on by the media.
And that’s why I call them ‘media-fiends.’
(Hopefully you don’t know many like this… <grin>)
You can create something to get traffic from anywhere and everywhere, for the absolute cheapest amount of effort, with no quality control or principles to stand on.
Media-fiends do this, and they make an internal decision not to bother with engagement or community, just traffic numbers and money.
They’re thinking about what ‘pleases people’ and what ‘catches their attention’, and I get it.
And Thom Yorke gets it
But there’s more to traffic than that, and Thom sings about it, like you saw in the lyrics I quoted at the beginning.
He – like most content publishers – has had the same ‘traffic’ questions in his head, and he thinks about writing what he wants, as well as the quality of his writing and his audience.
Because although Radiohead’s a super-successful band, they also make pretty depressing music — which doesn’t seem to be what the masses eat up.
It doesn’t exactly jump start the city and pack the dance floor.
Making depressing, eclectic music might not be generating the traffic-response he’s looking for.
He might have more success with catchier hooks.
In fact, some of the more vocal fans lobby for more ‘catchy choruses.’
“Don’t bore us / get to the chorus” – they say.
I’m sure Radiohead gets letters all the time saying “more Paranoid Android” and “more Let Down”.
The masses latch on to poppy, happy tunes, and so Thom has the quality-over-quantity dilemma.
Should he write to give ‘traffic’ what it wants or should he write what he wants and engage a quality ‘few’?
It’s a pretty lame choice, if you ask me.
Have you ever had this problem?
Have you ever wanted more traffic and wanted to write engaging stuff that you care about — not just sex + violence + pop music and stuff that gets people’s attention?
I know I do.
I have a dream where I write and express game-changing, eye-opening stuff, straight from my heart, and the masses get it.
They love it.
They devour it and ask for more.
And because that’s a dream of mine, I’m focused on it.
I focus on my dreams.
And it’s cool, there’s solutions, there’s ways to do this, and I’m about to share one with you.
Blend For Both
I was in a webinar of Derek Halpern‘s recently, where he shared some brilliant and valuable ideas on creating content that people love.
One of the methods he shared was The Perfect Post.
- He showed how to blend content that gets quantity (the masses) together with content that gets quality (engagement).
- He explained that what people want and what people need are often very different things.
- He showed us how to start with an impactful, emotional hook in our blog post, and short, readable lines, which lead people into the real meat of the content.
Now, I’ve been doing something similar for a while… sort of naturally and habitually, and it’s had huge results for me.
It’s one of my favorite and most effective way to express myself and it pleases others, it pleases me, and it’s generally a win-win.
Blending attention-getting stuff with engaging content isn’t the only way, but it’s a good way.
I want you to understand, you can have it all.
You can have large amounts of quality, engaged traffic.
There are people who do this.
It helps to open your mind though. It helps to stop listening to the traffic elitists and fiends.
Derek’s “Perfect Post” pictured above, catches the attention of the masses with beautiful, impactful headlines and short, emotional intro paragraphs, but it also leads them into the eye-opening, life-improving content that I’m excited to share.
Don’t just read this and think “yeah, that makes sense”, because everyone does that.
What I say does make sense.
Instead, focus on learning and applying.
Focus on creating content that attracts a wide audience and solid stream of traffic, overlapping well with quality, engaged people.
I know you can do it.
Open the floodgates, right?
The last lesson is this:
The truth is, most people don’t want a flood at all.
(People often aren’t very clear on what they want, but most people don’t really enjoy floods.)
They’re overwhelming, natural disasters, and most people don’t know how to deal with them.
They end up panicking, rushing around and picking up the pieces.
What people really want is a steadily increasing stream of quality traffic, and they want it at a pace they can handle.
It’s called: comfortable growth.
How often do you hear people talking about this goal of quality & quantity?
Do people focus on this?
Better question… do you?
Think about it.
P.S. Got thoughts and feelings on the almighty “traffic” of the masses?
Lemme know in the comments, I love hearing from ya.
Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca (@ryzeonline) is a positive badass, delivering fresh views on taboos to help game-changing entrepreneurs ryze past plateaus. He’s been featured on LauraRoeder.com, FirepoleMarketing.com, and TrafficGenerationCafe.com. Follow him @ryzeonline.