When it comes to being a badass, few can hold a candle to good old 007.
Calm, cool, and collected under pressure, Bond is known as much for his seductive personality as he is for his incredible ability to get himself out of any situation in one piece.
What he isn’t known for is writing a successful blog.
But everyone’s favorite fictional, womanizing secret agent has more to do with writing killer copy and running a great site than you might think.
Here a few things you can learn about great blogging from everyone’s favorite snappy dresser/sex addict/paid assassin.
Know exactly who you are
From the specific type of drink he orders (martini, shaken not stirred) to the unique presence he commands when walking into a room, James Bond always knows exactly who he is (yes, I realize I sound like an American Idol judge, but it remains true).
When you’re dealing with James Bond, you know what you’re going to get. If you’re a psychopathic villain bent on world domination, you don’t want to find out that Bond is on your case because you’re most likely going to end up dead.
Readers should know exactly who you are within minutes of coming to your site.
- When you visit Copyblogger, you know you’re going to learn how to write great content that builds both your business and your reputation.
- When you visit The Art of Nonconformity, you expect a point of view that challenges the status quo. You also learn very quickly that author Chris Guillebeau has made it his mission to visit every country in the world.
- When you visit Man Vs Debt.com, you know you’re getting a guy trying to destroy his debt.
- Spend three minutes on any of Gary Vaynerchuk’s sites and you feel like you’ve known the guy for years.
Your reader should know not only who you are but also what you’re providing within just a few lines.
It took me nine months of writing every day before I finally found the right “voice” and felt confident enough to use it. Once I finally embraced my personality and injected it into each post, my site really caught on with new readers and became much more enjoyable for me to write.
Recognize the importance of style
Other than his killer instinct and love of women, James Bond is probably known for one key attribute:
Bond always looks fantastic, no matter how recently he’s escaped the clutches of an evil villain. He knows how to dress, he knows how to drink, he knows the right watch to wear and the right car to drive. He presents impeccable manners at a dinner table and in conversation. He makes a calculated show of his best possible side in every situation.
Can you offer that kind of consistence in your presentation? Does your site’s color scheme and visual style match the tone of the content? Is your site loaded up with misplaced ads that distract rather than enhance your site? Does your About page accurately and quickly tell the reader what they’re getting?
Most importantly, does it all work together?
I hate to be superficial, and I would much rather tell you that it’s what’s on the inside that matters most. But in today’s instant-gratification, StumbleUpon, YouTube culture, you often have less than five seconds to make your first impression. Make the most of those five seconds.
Hook them with good looks, and then keep them with great content.
It’s okay to be witty
James Bond has a dry one-liner for every situation.
Bond: That looks like a woman’s gun.
Largo: Do you know a lot about guns, Mr. Bond?
Bond: No, but I know a little about women.
Domino: What sharp little eyes you’ve got.
Bond: …Wait ’til you get to my teeth.
A witty comment can help you make a point more clear, keep readers engaged, get them thinking, or provide some necessary comic relief in an otherwise somber situation. Life’s too short to be serious all the time. There’s no crime — and a lot of style — in making your readers laugh.
Stay cool under pressure
When Bond jumps between two high-rise buildings, he knows he can make the jump. He simply doesn’t allow any room for doubt.
If he goes to a gunfight with six terrorists, he knows he’s going to win. There’s always a villain trying to kill him; there are always members of his own government who question his motives and tactics.
Bond moves forward with confidence, and he gets the job done.
As your blog increases in traffic, it’s easy to start doubting yourself and your abilities. Sure, you felt comfortable when it was just your mom and friends reading. But as your readership starts to grow, you might start to question yourself.
Here’s the thing. You got where you are thanks to your talents and abilities.
You will hit roadblocks, and you will have villains of your own. Don’t let them take you down.
I’ll never forget my first negative comment left by a random stranger, on an article of which I was extremely proud. I spent the next four hours freaking out, researching his claims, and crafting a response that I agonized over before finally posting.
The commenter eventually emailed me the next day and said, “Oh, I didn’t think of it that way, I was just in a bad mood.”
It takes time to develop some perspective about the negativity. If you are confident in your abilities, if you know what you’re doing is right for you and your readers, you will learn to take constructive criticism from the right people and ignore the villains.
Shoot to kill
James Bond knows that a single bullet can kill or incapacitate an enemy. To use any more firepower than necessary could be the difference between life and death in the next shoot-out.
When he sees a room full of enemies, 007 thinks to himself: “Six bad guys, six bullets. Perfect.”
Words are like bullets — don’t waste them. If you can say it in 500 words, why spend 1000?
Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits writes an article and then continually refines it until the message is clear, quick, and concise. After writing something, go back through it, line by line, and decide what’s necessary and what’s superfluous. Embrace the art of brevity.
Aim for the kill by picking words and sentences that drive your point home immediately.
A little modesty can go a long way
Think back to any action scene from a Bond flick. He wipes out an entire army, drives a car off a cliff, saves a woman, and then brushes off his tux and moves onto the next task.
You don’t see him pulling a Ron Burgundy, claiming to be “kind of a big deal.” You’ll rarely hear Bond discuss his accomplishments or accolades — he doesn’t have to. His actions already speak louder than his words ever could. Restating the obvious would just tarnish the cool.
In today’s online world, bloggers are constantly trying to one-up each other, promising the BEST CONTENT EVER or announcing they’re the WORLD’S GREATEST AUTHORITY ON LIFESTYLE DESIGN. Hyperbole, exaggeration, and gratuitous self-promotion have unfortunately become commonplace.
Let’s imagine for a second that 007 ran his own blog.
After catching your eye with terrific design and blowing you away with incredible content, Bond’s blog would get the attention it deserved without him having to shout from the rooftops how great he is.
If you are sharing content that is worth reading, you don’t need to be your own biggest cheerleader. Leave that to the people you just wowed: your fans.
Take what you’ve learned from this secret agent and apply it to your own Web site. Build your style, be confident in your abilities, shoot to kill — and then tell them it’s all in a day’s work.
Reader Comments (78)
Josh Garcia says
That is so important know how you are and your style. Most will identify this by taking action when blogging. Over time the confidence will build up so we can Shot To Kill!
Besides all of this…James Bond is the man!
Chat with you later…
Andrew B. says
Fantastic post — how you perceive and carry yourself absolutely comes through in your writing. It’s important to remember that when you inevitably encounter some self-doubt.
One note, though: As awesome as Bond is, and although he always gets the girl, he doesn’t know squat about martinis. Just sayin’.
Thanks for the comment man. Great point about your perception of yourself coming through in your writing.
If you start to doubt yourself while writing, it will inevitably show up on your blog and people can detect it. Well said!
Haha about the martini comment, touche’
Hector Cuevas says
Style is something that I think is very important. This is one of those differentiation factors that can make you stand out from your competition.
Having your own unique, (personal) style also helps you attract the people you want to work with the most..
Plus it’s easier to be yourself than pretending to be someone you’re not..
thanks for this great post Steve..
Gotta love James.
Your point about style is true Steve. I think good design shows that you care about beauty … and … it acts to engage people.
And then you speak your own voice to give that style substance.
I really know what you mean about being nervous. I’ve been writing a personal blog for over 3 years and never had a moment of fear.
Just launched a blog for my new online business today … and you’d think I’d never blogged in my life. I keep wandering into the blog to see if anyone has visited or left a comment.
Amazing how that happens.
I think I’ll just do a 007 and go make a very dry martini.
James Bond is a little too violent for my blogging tastes. However, there are some really good points in this article that I will take to heart.
I especially like the part about wit. Going back through the blogs I enjoy reading the most, they all have voice, they all have wit, and they all are masters of their subject. I think Bond would approve.
Thanks for a great post.
renee peterson trudeau says
Excellent post. I look forward to sharing these great insights and tips. It does take a while to find your voice and I really agree with the note about being consistent. I think people find comfort and security in knowing they’ll always feel “challenged,” or “enlightened,” or “reflective,” (or whatever it is that you provoke in them) when they read your blog (mine is on life balance, so this is my perspective).
Thanks for your generosity/perspective. Great stuff!
Gotta love Bond.
Scott P. Dailey says
Love the modest portion of this post, Steve. Just this very morning I was discussing with a coworker this grossly underused business virtue. She and I were agreeing that if your a ninja for instance, then maybe I shouldn’t know you are. And if you’re off ninjaing, maybe you should do so undetected. Yah know, like a damn ninja would do it! I agree that stuff needs bling (hate that term actually) to provide for the initial ooh and ah. We do like that quick fix don’t we. But I love modesty more than aesthetics, more than even style if forced to choose – thankfully I’m not. In my travels I am amazed at how often one can successfully substitute style with authentic humility. I think it’s all together possible that they’re interchangeable assets given the right packaging. There is a mystique, a lure in being modest, humble, ninja-like. Sex sells right? And I think yes, it’s sexy to be unassuming. such draw in quietly being you. I suppose what I’m saying is that if your daily attire includes a cape self-imposed or via indoctrination, then maybe eyeglasses and a buttondown persona is a nice approach to showing, not telling. All my personal heroes shut up and just do/did it. MLK, Gandhi, Mother Teresa. Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Imagine Chris Brogan or Seth Godin said that referring to successful blog blueprinting? It would get a million RTs and come off sounding like smart, modern, 2.0 advice. Humility, Steve. It’s everything. That Gandhi. He was one sharp blogger. Thanks for a terrific read. It got me musing.
1st post in a *long* time that I read every single word of, WITHOUT skimming.
Wow, thanks Nicole! Glad to hear that you enjoyed it.
Jon-Mikel Bailey says
I think voice and style are so important when blogging. I read the same blogs over and over (like this one) because I know they will give me something good every time. Great post!
Sid Grosvenor says
It’s rare that I totally agree with any article/post on anything, but this post is just such a post. Simple, to the point, spot on.
Great Title too. Hat’s off to Steve for this great post. Sid
Whoa. I just became a Bond fan.
Thanks for the creatively delivered advice. I’m a novice/casual blogger and can definitely learn from the Bond.
Principles also applicable in life, no? 🙂
G-lish Gayle says
I’ve never been a Bond fan, but I am of this piece.
“Words are like bullets — don’t waste them. If you can say it in 500 words, why spend 1000?”
Best piece of writing advice ever. Write-edit/cut-write-edit/cut-bang-bang-bang until it’s shot through: in a good way!
I also revisit sites, like Jon-Mikel Bailey wrote, just for the voice and to know it will be worth the read, even if I’m not that interested in the topic. Because it’s the voice, damn it.
Eduard Burt,D.C.,MUAC says
It confirms that in order to become the best you need to master your writing skills and learn from the best. Bond did not
become 007 agent over night. I think everyone has a chance of becoming 007 in this blogosphere world. Like you said, persistence is the key.
Great Post 🙂
Tom McCallum says
Be yourself…. and be authentic in your voice and everything you do or say… our social world online has enhanced the quality of all of our “b.s. detectors”
Great Post, I think focus is the key, many people just write on all topics you need to focus on what you good at and how can you help others. So next time someone ask where can I get some good information about Debt you will remember, Manvsdebt because that his focus and he is helping others to get out of debt.
Pam Staples says
Thanks for such a wonderful and well written article. I found it very helpful to the point that I’m excited about “finding my true self” in my future blog posts. I will be starting some new articles soon (well, after I return home from vacation.)
I’m a Bears fan. The Packers have historically (at least in my 25 years) destroyed the Bears. There is one reason for this: Bret Favre. By the transitive property of sports hatred, logic would say that Bret Favre is someone I feel disdain for. Unfortunately, Favre falls under this same badass umbrella.
He does what he wants, he always has. He is exactly who he is – a drama queen who loves being the center of attention, makes dangerous, oftentimes dumb, passes, and has a severe addiction to painkillers and head butting 300 lb linemen. He makes no apologies for any of these things. This is because badasses don’t apologize, they’re too busy being bad ass.
I think the next post should be titled: The Number One Quality in Great Content Writing: Being Bad Ass – The Bret Favre rule.
loved the post..and the sentiment behind it! keep on posting and I will keep on reading…peggy
I love the bit about confidence, and it reminds me of my favourite quote from the genius film that is: Convoy.
When asked why he’s called the Rubber Duck, Kris Kristofferson smoothly replies:
“because my daddy said always be like a duck, glide smooth on the surface and paddle like the devil underneath.”
I think that’s what it’s like being a blogger or blogging for business, no-one wants to see you freaking out. Of course it happens, but it’s good to keep it to your side of the computer screen.
Over and out…
Sonia Simone says
I totally agree!
Or if you’re going to fess up, fess up afterwards. “Oh yeah, I worked my tail off on that launch and nearly lost all my hair, I was so stressed. Ha ha ha.” But don’t whine while you’re in the middle of it, no one cares and it just makes you look like a weenie.
Super cool post.
Love the focus on not having to shout that you’re great. It’s amazing how much attention can come from staying out of the spotlight, but doing a great job.
What a great comparison! Awesome post!
I love the idea of using the work to make a blog as a mission. Makes it fun!
Brandon Winters says
Strikingly remarkable Steve. Confidence, style, voice, seductive destroyer by nature – Bond embodies it all. He knows it and he lives it, letting his actions speak for themselves.
I believe that his success (getting out alive) comes from knowing his tools, knowing his mission, and leveraging his resources to get through anything.
He’s a great model to pull something from, mission accomplished man!
Marcy Gerena says
Whoa …. Brandon!
Thank you for your comment.
“I believe that his success (getting out alive) comes from knowing his tools, knowing his mission, and leveraging his resources to get through anything.”
1. Knowing your tools.
2. Knowing your mission
3. Knowing the resources to leverage
It just hit me and you are so right. Categories! I needed categories!
You just really helped me. Give yourself a hug!
Brandon Winters says
It means a lot that it was so helpful. Let me know how those categories work for you! 😀
Marcy Gerena says
Thanks Steve for the article.
I do struggle with figuring out an online voice, because it depends on the topic and audience. For example, when I talk to people offline, the way I deliver a message depends on the venue, topic, the other person (audience) and sometimes the way I feel that day, while the message or point would remain the same. I can be serious, deep, funny and sometimes a combination.
I understand the need for your audience to know what they are getting. It makes sense … consistency… People feel uncomfortable if things change.
How about a site called Surprise? Who knows what you are going to get, it’s a surprise.
Great post. It’s so important to develop a distinct personal style and voice. Love the Bond quotes.
I really appreciate the advice in this blog as well as the clever Bond analogy. Besides some obvious aspects of blogging – topic ideas for blog posts and writing well – I think you’ve covered some very important features of successful blogs. I’m in a master’s program for professional writing and this semester I’ll be learning how to create my own interactive website, which will include a blog. I’ve thought a lot about style, how I want my website to look, the colors I want to use, the lay-out of my pages. But I hadn’t thought much about my personal style, or how I’m going to incorporate that into my blog. I believe my vision for the overall website design will depict my style to a point, but I’m glad you’ve pointed out author’s voice as well. Do I want to be casual and friendly? Or do I want to sound professional and calm? You’ve given me something to think about.
Another issue I hadn’t considered was “staying cool under pressure.” So far, I’ve just been concerned with how to create my website, what the content will be, and whether I’ll catch my grammar and mechanics mistakes before I put my text on the page. I hadn’t actually envisioned the success part yet – or how that success might let some “villains” sneak in. Hopefully I’ll remember your advice if and when my blog gains readership.
Thanks again for the advice!
Thanks for the comment. I think finding that voice for yourself is key, and will certainly take time for it to develop. I seriously wrote for 9 months before realizing that I was writing generic blogs that I wasn’t happy writing and that could be found anywhere in the world.
It wasn’t until I finally applied my every day personality to my blogs and my writing that I found my voice and things started to take off.
Staying cool under pressure is certainly tough – there will always be villains and haters who cannot build or contribute so they chose to spend their time tearing down those around them. Ignore those people and embrace the ones that DO get it.
Great post Steve. Loved the hook. When you say “James Bond”, for me it will always be Sean Connery. Heck, he leaves me breathing hard even now! Yowza! lol
Jason @ SpygearGadgets.com says
My favorite part:
“If you can say it in 500 words, why spend 1000?”
Clarity and brevity are two things lacking in many blogs. Too often people write until they run out of things to say, then hit “submit”, rather than going back and refining their message.
Careful editing and revising will not only improve your writing style, but improve your readership. If you are clear and concise, people will read (and hang on to) every word, because they know every sentence is important, and that your posts aren’t filled with fluff and filler.
PS. As someone heavily involved in the spy and surveillance industry, I loved the James Bond-themed post!
And even though I do my best to refine and edit and cut down, I still struggle with shortening my posts – I guess years of “you have to write a paper that is at least x number of words or x number of pages” taught me to write tons of fluff to fill up space.
Now I’m finding that the more I can do in the less amount of words, the less work I have, and the less reading my readers have to do, the happier everybody is!
As for spy and surveillance, I’ll take some night-vision goggles and a jet pack please!
mike kirkeberg says
Great post. I have always wanted a bracelet that said “WWJBD”
Steve you are awesome, Loved this post! Great tips!
Way to go! Great article, well written, clear message.
I will always think of 007 when I write from now on…
Jef Menguin says
I have learned so much from this article. Bond’s clear purpose caused him not only to react to every situation. He creates situations.
You inspired me to make my blog create new realities for my readers too.
My name is Menguin, Jef Menguin.
Love your style!
Hyperbole, exaggeration, and gratuitous self-promotion have unfortunately become commonplace – click my name for a posting I wrote about ‘Celebrating Yourself Online’ or an ‘Online Ass’? – love to hear your comments.
Building Blocks Creative says
You must be a fan of James Bond to really understand him in a writer’s perspective and create a blog that is as interesting as his movies.
Great job Steve!
Steve, great post, thank you. Love the metaphore.
I agree with the part “it’s ok to be witty” – though balancing that with the overall message is sometimes hard.
Thank you for giving us such useful tips about blogging. No other example could best suit here other than that of James Bond ! Blogs should have a nice tag line stating the purpose of the blog.
John Sherry says
Steve this post is a licence to thrill and scared the living daylights out of me as I’m not sure my style is clear. I have to agree with all you say and a very clever use of James Bond to make your point as he’s a big screen hero we all know. But to be a small screen hero blogging it is wise to employ what you say. I’m going to re-read your post and hope I’m not shaken or stirred except into action!
Rahul @ MazaKaro says
007 …eh 😛
by the way nice article 🙂
Jonathan Browne says
I thought this was a fascinating and thought provoking article.
However I do have to say I disagree slightly with your inteperation of why bond is so succesful.
I think one side your completely right, but there’s a subtle distinction that your not making.
Scott P. Daily touched on it.
Mystique is the keyword.
Bond has spades of mystique. The reason bond is so seductive to woman is his mystery not his transparency.
His external tastes and objectives are well defined. However who IS bond? We don’t see much of his personal life in between jobs. He remains a mystery. Mystery is an important quality for attractiveness.
You can only infer that he is a man of luxury, humor, confidence, and capability. You are only privvy to his qualities. Because of this, you are intrigued. You want to find out – who is the man behind the social mask?
He is both revealing and intriguing at the same time. He introduces himself by his full name: Bond, James Bond but you die to know what’s under his smooth, well calculated exterior.
Sonia Simone says
I think that’s a great point — and one I think has been touched on with the most recent movies. They’re delving into the backstory that created that enigmatic figure, who he was before the mask fell so firmly in place.
Most superheroes have that element of mystique, the quality of being misunderstood. Neat point.
You surely write like Mr.Bond 🙂
Joe B says
Does that mean if I blog like 007 that I will get a beautiful girl to sleep with me?
Sonia Simone says
Everyone knows that a great blog is the key to wealth, health, and irresistible attractiveness to the Gender of One’s Choice.
Awesome…I enjoyed every word. I’m a fellow Bond fanatic, or should I say tragic, and dare I say it but if Bond was a blogger he would be bigger than both problogger and copyblogger put together – the man is a freak!
Thanks for sharing.
Cassandra Frear says
This post is elegant, witty writing, of a quality I rarely see in the cyberworld where writers tend to be more quick than careful.
Your idea is a clever one and it held me to the end.
Creative, enjoyable, and informative post. My favorite posts are from writers I feel like I get to know through their writing. So, yes, we must know ourselves first.
Writing more definitely helps me find my voice. I find myself writing about the same strategies with different topics. I discover I am witty and okay with sharing myself.
It is a process, there are always more villains to slay!
Rhonda J. Smith says
This was so helpful and enjoyable to read. I’m definitely going to apply these pointers with my blog.
John F Taylor says
I like the fact that you revealed about how you agonized over the negative comment thing. I did the same thing. I didn’t get a response but it’s still nice to know that even the experts started out the same way. There are a few times where I have to remind myself that the big guys are just as human as I am.
Your article is fantastic.
I read all your posts and it is wonderful.
Keep up the good work!
Karen Scharf, small business marketing consultant says
Great post! You sure know how to blog like James Bond, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing these tips!
Rich D. says
Modesty is good, but sometimes it’s okay to write a Dr. Phil-style post to grab a reader’s attention, if the subject is really significant.
I have drawn a couple comparisons to Bond when it comes to story telling. Excellent article worth a mention.
Nikki May | Web Content Writer says
Wow, Steve, awesome post.
Many bloggers struggle to find to their voice, or rather, to share their voice. They doubt their capabilities. They worry: will my readers like my writing style? What about if my writing isn’t that great to my readers? Will I get tired of my style? Will my readers get tired of my style?
Truth is, if you write with your style, whatever your style is, and if you write from your heart, and you provide first-rate content, your readers will simply love you, and love you more. A snowball effect will happen – your current readers will tell others about your blog, and soon, you will be having a larger blog readership.
Yes, blog with style, and don’t worry about readers who may make unreasonable criticism. Constructive criticism is OK; a well-presented different opinion is fine too, these contribute to captivating debate. But is you have a reader that leaves negative comments, don’t let that affect your style.
I will watch several of my favorite James Bond movies again this weekend to refresh my mind about that impeccable James Bond Style and apply that to my writing / blogging.
I like your sharp, engaging and captivating writing style.
Thanks – great read!
Edwin Gerace says
I don’t feel like James Bond more like Leave it to Beaver. Positive Criticism is always welcomed.
Simon Bunker says
Excellent article, this has provoked me to have a little rethink on the stuff I do.
Thanks for this!
Pinar Tarhan says
First let me say you did guest-post like Bond, James Bond. This made me wonder who your fav. bond is? It is almost always Sean Connery with men and Pierce Brosnan with women (I am a woman and I am not challenging the status quo with this one, unfortunately:) ).
Anyway, I blog mainly about the entertainment world. I review movies, tv shows, books and albums, and I write fun trivia about celebrities. Even when I write about career management or blogging, I still have a lot of celebrity/entertainment analogies. Let’s face it, it is more fun to write like thid and a lot of people will know what you are talking about.
So, I loved your style and found the analogy spot-on. Now, if I want to go a little feminist on everyone where, I’d love to blog like Sydney Bristow from Alias. She can kick-ass, is gorgeous, can tackle any complicated task. She is vulnarable and knows her faults but she does get the job done.
Kristi Rimkus says
I’ve been blogging for a little over one year now, and I always learn new ways to improve my writing when I read copyblogger.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Remember Bond is one of a kind, carefully selected among the best spies – willing to do what it takes to win (even if it means causing chaos). A great blog should do the same.
Check my site for a story on Daniel Craig’s bio.
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