You know, sometimes I enjoy digging into the nuts and bolts of growing blog traffic, or launching digital products.
I just want to chat with interesting people with fun stories (who almost always make me a better creator, communicator, and entrepreneur.)
On today’s podcast episode, Krissy Eliot (Hot Alien) does just that.
- Bigfoot blogger? Check.
- Former sex columnist? Check.
- Currently interviewing rocket scientists for an aerospace company? Check.
This episode is awesome 🙂
You can find more of Krissy’s stuff at https://www.krissyeliot.com!
Here’s the complete transcript:
Thanks, Pete. Happy to be here.
I am happy to have you on as well. So is it okay, if I just start off by reading a little bit of your backstory?
Oh, my God, of course.
Okay. So you had sent me a few emails quite regularly. It would be like I think like, a whole couple of hours by itself. Just me being curious about some of the writing gigs and journalism gets you’ve helped in the past. And we probably won’t have time to discuss all that. But I do, bro. Throw it out there only because I find it fascinating. I’m fairly certain I’ll find you fascinating. Everybody else will as well. So I’m just gonna read some of these out.
First of all, Bigfoot. You have a Bigfoot blog slash obsession, which I’ll let you give us some, some details about and we can rant on a little bit. You have also kind of gotten into journalism. Almost by mistake, I think you said like you, you studied Film and Media.
But you went to be a sex columnist at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Bay Area reporter if I remember correctly, and some other gigs.
And you have since moved on to working for a company which we don’t really want to name here on this podcast for just confidentiality reasons, but you now do even more journalism, I guess, but also a little bit of marketing and copywriting. And I don’t know if you’ve done a lot. That’s what I really wanted to say here.
My first question is just want to like warm everybody up Bigfoot. Where did this obsession come from? And how did you end up like writing about this? A lot.
Okay, so my Bigfoot origin story is okay, so it started when I saw a film festival sign at the Balboa Theatre in San Francisco Bigfoot Film Festival, Bigfoot Bonanza, actually, and my boyfriend is super into the X Files and all this stuff.
And he’s like, Oh, we should totally go and check out this Bigfoot saying, I’m like, All right, let’s go. So I didn’t particularly believe in Bigfoot. When I went in. I thought it was kind of a bunch of crap.
But when I went in, and I listened to the speakers talk before their films, and all these people who are enthusiastic about Bigfoot being a possibility. When I left, I believed even less.
That was unexpected there. Okay. Yeah.
Yeah, so for a while, I was just like, this is ridiculous. But something about it hooked me. And at the time, I was an editor, California magazine, which is UC Berkeley’s mag.
And so my beat was kind of UC Berkeley. Well, while googling Bigfoot, I figured out that Grover Krantz who graduated from Berkeley and his anthropologist, well known anthropologist, stead now, but he was the first scientist to come out in support of the search for Sasquatch. And he was an amazing character. And I just absolutely fell in love with him. He, he had sympathy for the believers. And he really got into it. And he just dedicated his life to it.
So I got obsessed with him. But then I started going down this rabbit hole, I started talking to these other scientists who are saying, actually, it’s not that crazy that Bigfoot could be a thing, which just blew my mind. I just kept going and going and going. And I had written four articles in California magazine on Bigfoot.
And it just blew up online.
I think, actually, probably to date. These are published, maybe a year and a half ago, they’re still some of the top articles for California magazine on the site, people are interested. And they started getting all this fan mail. From all these people who believed in believe went to Berkeley, you know, academics, not academics, and they were like, your writing is really amazing.
We’ve never seen Bigfoot covered in this way, you know, you should do something with this. You should write about this more, you should write a book.
And I was like, You know what, I think I’m going to do that.
So I started this blog. I called it hotalien.com The reasons for that I won’t go into now, but I’m just really into, like, strange things. And I just wanted away to be able to write about this stuff, without an editor somewhere telling me “Oh, no, this is ridiculous. You shouldn’t write about this,” which is something I ran into a lot.
Also, I just want no filter. I want to write about Bigfoot, filter less,
Actually have a takeaway, based on what you just said.
And I told this to a lot of people that feel like constraints somehow, when it comes to like, their own blog, and like the topics they write about, because they’re thinking about SEO, and like, oh, Google’s gonna don’t like me, if I don’t talk about this, or, oh, you know, I’m not gonna be able to attract people, it’ll niche down or do whatever, which is fine.
And maybe those things are true. But more often than not, I’m like, this is your website and your blog, and you actually get to run it however the heck you want.
That’s like, incredibly freeing, liberating, I don’t know. But what I was gonna say, and I’m talking to the audience, now, look up to the camera here.
One of the reasons I will wanted you to come on when I read those emails, and I learned about the booklet content, as well as just your background in journalism, something you said stuck out. And you actually said it right before we start recording as well. Hang on, I wrote it down here.
“Talking about more complicated stuff, and making it less complicated and less boring.”
And the tagline to hotalien.com, I’m gonna curse here. Serious writing weird ship. Something I was intrigued by was all of the almost like crazy topics was not crazy. But it’s just not what you would normally think of when you think of just normal journalism, or even, you know, the people listens podcast, who run their own blogs, more complicated stuff. In your current day job. Again, we will discuss what that is. But it’s like, it’s, it’s not Bigfoot.
You’re writing about very serious things, in my opinion, but a very technical things for that matter, as well as, as well as sex as well as that other stuff. And writing about it in such a way that like appeals to people and appeals to the masses, and a lot of cases. I think that’s an incredible talent. And that’s part of the reason I have you on.
So just want to tell the audience that and share it with you as well.
Well, I appreciate that. But also, we can say I am writing for an aerospace company. Okay, so I write about aerospace and rocket science,
rocket science, I like that.
So Krissy, where do I want to start, this is really fun. You also sent me like a bunch of things you could talk about on the podcast, which I literally just copied and pasted, because they were all pretty good.
There’s like five bullet points I kind of wanna talk about, all related to that idea of like, translating stuff that people may not care about, or may not even want to read about, etc, or might feel intimidated or overwhelmed by, and then making that something cool and entertaining and engaging. I just wanna let you know, that’s the theme of this podcast episode here.
So I’m going to read what you said. And then this is bullet point number one here, you wrote “but I could talk about journalism, and how to write about weird topics and strange subcultures and a credible way that will earn you respect,” as you said, and how to do the exact opposite of what your mother and elders tell you to do, and to succeed.
I like that said, it’s but let’s, let’s get back to the first part here.
So how, if you had to write us a little blog posts live right here on the podcast, how to take weird topics, or strange subcultures or even Southern like, super complicated stuff, and write the right about them in a credible way that will earn your respect. What would be the couple of tips that you would give us for that?
Well, number one, leave your opinion out of whatever you’re writing.
And for the sake of journalism, so journalism is supposed to be I know, it doesn’t happen a lot. Now, the way things are going, but journalism, supposed to be facts.
And that’s it. And learning the difference between opinion in fact, is something extremely crucial to conveying the truth. If you show any little bit of your opinion, in a subject that might be considered, “ridiculous,” like Bigfoot, people are going to automatically think that you are an unreliable narrator. So what you want to do is make sure that if you are inserting an opinion, it’s an expert opinion. For example, a folklorist who’s trained, and you know, an example for Bigfoot.
Or a scientist that has actually tested some suppose the Yeti hairs that didn’t turn out to be Yeti, you know, make sure they’re speaking, they’re being quoted, they’re saying the opinions, not you. That’s one piece of advice I would give so that you can stay credible.
The other thing is, you would be really surprised how many studies have been done, that are scientific, or academic about the craziest stuff, you would just never even imagine, there, you can find support for pretty much anything.
You know, it’s just, it’s not. So I would say, do your research, make sure that anything that you’re saying can be linked back to another source? and preferably a credible source? of question?
I have a question. Do you also translate both of those things?
Actually, now that I think about it, both using research and other people who are authorities on their subjects or expert opinions or whatever, on your own blog as well? Like, I understand the journalism bit of it, especially if it’s not public information, but you know, what I mean, it’s, you’re expected to give the whole truth to facts and that sort of stuff.
But do you do that on your own blog as well?
I have pieces that are explicitly journals and pieces on my blog, I have made three of those up right now. That, and then, but there are others that are more like a, you know, an opinion column. That’s a different, that’s a completely different thing.
When you’re when you’re reading a newspaper, and you’re reading, you know, you see an opinion column, that’s not necessarily the most journalistic if they’re trying to convince you to do something, then that’s not objectivity. Right?
You know what I mean? That’s just not the what I like about the blog is that I can put my opinion in if I want to, but in terms of, of getting people to trust you as a credible source, just on that subject alone, if you want to start writing about something strange, or you want to, or if you want to write about something really complicated, you know, you have to kind of hold yourself back a little bit.
Which is funny, by the way, for all the people out there listening who are trying to be influencers, I don’t really like that word. But what I really mean is they have their personal brand involved and their platforms, whatever the heck it is they’re doing.
It’s funny how like, authority works.
In fact, I think I saw somebody who actually referred to this topic as authority leaching in quotation marks, mainly saying that when you cite reputable sources, when you share research from other people, you know, anything to do with, as long as it’s like, you know, good stuff, and not completely full of crap and fabricated, it actually gives you more authority as well.
So if I were to write a blog post on ABC topic, and I literally did no original research on my own, I literally shared none of my own, like, original advice, or life lessons, or technical values or whatever. I can actually leech authority from other people.
By the way, that’s how I’m, like, super famous for the Do You Even Blog podcast because I interview cool people? And then that authority is like, leached on me. Just something for everybody to think about. That’s all I wanted to say.
But going back to more complicated technical subjects specifically, what about that? Because I feel like that’s probably like a completely different question.
By the way, Krissy, but when it comes to translating super complicated stuff, technical topics, and making it not boring, or readable, do you have any tips for that as well?
Yeah. So in my time, as a journalist, I’ve interviewed a lot of scientists, I’ve written about, you know, things with biology, psychology, aerospace, all this stuff.
And what I found that helps me write in a way that’s palatable to a general audience is when I, when I listened to a scientist talk, they’ll use a lot of jargon, usually, stuff that the general public just doesn’t understand.
But I kind of get it because I read a study before I interviewed them, or whatever, I did some bad background research. When they’re talking to me, they’ll use all this jargon, I’ll take, I’ll take the notes. And when I go and sit down to write a piece, it’s very tempting to just take what they say, take their jargon, and move it over into my piece.
Because this type of jargon isn’t used in everyday life. Okay. But what helps me is sometimes I’ll speak aloud, me explaining it. How would I explain this to myself in my own voice? And then that way, I’m able to sort of say, okay, actually, mine’s better.
What I did what I just said was better. They may sound smarter than me. But nobody else is going to get it. If I write it the way that they do. So there’s that. And I’m not afraid…
By the way, My takeaway there is that probably applies to just about every industry and niche and topic and measurable By the way, even even parenting. I was on a yes, I was on apparently blog. Yesterday, the day before.
And I was reading about some disorders, not disease disorders, or whatever. And there was, like so many acronyms in there. I was like, I gotta Google all of these, because I have no idea what this person is talking about, just as an example. But yeah, you’re right, not just aerospace either. Like, that’s just super scientific stuff. That’s pretty much everywhere blogging included. I’ve been accused of that myself in the past on my own stuff. So I’m sorry, keep going. I interrupted.
No, um, the other thing that I was gonna say is, I’m not afraid to ask really dumb questions.
You read a study, and you think, Oh, I understand this. But you don’t. You, you talk to them and you realize, but you’ve completely misunderstood the whole thing. And you realize that by asking them really basic questions to make sure that you understand, and that you understand it thoroughly. It’s not your job.
As a journalist, it’s not your job as a non expert, to sound like the smartest person in the room. In fact, people will be super flattered that you’re taking the time to be thorough, and making sure that everything is accurate.
Scientists get misquoted and misrepresented all the time. It is extremely frustrating for them. And the way that the news is set up now, do you know about the Cuban cricket crisis?
I do not. I don’t know anything about the news like whatsoever? Because I like I have to tune it out in 2019. So I don’t I don’t watch us anymore.
No, I don’t blame you.
Tell me about the Cuban cricket crisis.
So basically, there was this crisis where a bunch of officials in Cuba claimed that they were victims of what could possibly be a sonic attack.
And they recorded the sounds that they heard. And for a while the news blew up with this is possibly a sonic attack, blah, blah, blah, which it could possibly be, but we don’t know. But it was crickets. So here comes the kicker.
So a scientist at Berkeley, he looked into it, because he’s cricket expert. And he listened to the sounds and he was like, This sound, they heard his crickets, he’s like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t victims of a sonic attack, because they all had these strange symptoms that lasted for like weeks, months, whatever.
Some had headaches, some had memory loss, they did test and there were brain, there’s brain damage. There’s all this crazy stuff.
So just because some of them heard crickets, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a sonic attack, right. But there were a bunch of headlines in “reputable,” news sources that said the sonic attacks were crickets.
But he was pissed. Because and rightfully so. Because that was they were taking what he said and misrepresenting it for their names.
You mentioned headlines, which one come back to? That’s one of my questions below because I found your your prompt for this interesting.
But going back one second, do you have any questions that you find yourself asking a lot? Or is it? I know some questions could be very specific, like follow up questions or whatnot, but and all of your, I guess interviewing experience, do you have like a set of questions that are kind of like some go tues just in case you need to, like, dive in and learn a little bit more, or even make the guests feel like they’re being heard, like, do kind of develop like report or empathy or whatnot?
Do you have any, like, favorite questions that you find coming up again, and again and again?
So I have one question that I always ask at the end of every interview. And that is, is there something that I should have asked you, they didn’t ask you, like down?
And usually, and this is also a test, not just the person I’m interviewing, but it’s a test of how good journalists, they say you are very thorough. And that’s, that’s probably because I don’t generally have general questions. I am somebody who over prepares for everything. Sometimes it can be good. Sometimes it can be really horrible. Just spend way too much time on something that I didn’t need to spend that much time on.
But it allows them to also put themselves put themselves into my position. It’s like, what would a what would somebody who’s not an expert want to know?
That’s a good question.
Yeah, I feel like it that works really well for me.
So I didn’t write this down beforehand. But I just kind of thought of it. So you have been a journalist, columnist, writing and a whole bunch of different aspects and blogging or whatnot. I’m curious now. And if you don’t have an answer, that’s totally cool.
What do you want to be when you grow up? You it sounds like you’ve sounds like you want to be like a journalist to your core. Is this correct? Like, what do you want to do in the future?
Sorry, if that’s like a weird question to ask,
no, no. So I’ve done, I worked in production right out of college, because that’s what I went to school for. I thought I wanted to be a screenwriter.
And I did that a little bit. But then I was like it now. And then I was a model for two years. That was my like, professional, like runway and stuff. That was awful, would not recommend to anybody did that just to make some money for a little bit wasn’t worth it. Then after that, I just decided I was going to be a journalist. And I moved across the country from Maryland. And it’s like, I’m going to write a sex column and happened and then then I was a serious side.
Hang on what triggered that? Like what in your head and Maryland was like, you know, what? journalism, dear to me was a specific event, school class, anything?
Well, it’s specifically sex journalism.
And the reason for that, oh, there’s so many reasons. so complicated the human mind and the interest in sex. But I had somewhat of a conservative upbringing. And I thought I was a lesbian for a while. It’s all very, very exciting stuff.
But I was just like, sort of confused or whatever, about the whole thing. And I had a really odd relationship with sex because of some religious aspects of my upbringing and all of that. And I also had really bad sexual experiences. And I was like, Is this it? Because I’m, oh, I would listen to you. These “sex experts,” people who know all about sex, sexologist, whatever, and they will sometimes talk about sex like it was a Shangri La.
It’s just like, it’s where you’re going to find all the secrets to life?
Well, let me tell you, it’s not. It’s just not.
As somebody who wrote about kink and all these freaky sex stuff for two years in the Bay Area, I can tell you, it’s not. But yeah, I got really interested in it. And I just got really into subculture, like the subculture of sex, and the king people and everything because they were so different than what I had grown up around. And I wrote one piece, one long form piece for a small publication.
When I went to the orgasmic meditation conference, run by one taste, the name of the company, one taste, called by many of the people who worked at one taste and participated in one taste shenanigans. They call it a cult, basically, it was called the cult by many of them.
Anyway, so I went to a conference for three days, and I participated in this, “orgasmic meditation.” It was not to go into it. I’m trying not to go beyond pG 13. Let me just say, right. I wrote a piece about this.
And I had no previous journalism experience. And I decided to reach out to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, because I thought that they were really awesome. I said, I noticed you haven’t been writing about sex lately. Do you want me to maybe cover some events?
And the editor said, yeah, this is great. Do you want your own column after reading my one piece, and I said, that would be fantastic.
And so then I just got a sex column. And that was great. But then I kind of burned out on that after a couple of years. writing about kink and sex can be saucing, especially if you’re participating it, participating in it and writing about it from a first person perspective. Every week, you’re seeing something crazy, that you’ve never expected before. Again, won’t go too deeply into it. You everybody who’s listening can look them up all the articles.
But beware, you can’t read some of the things you’ll read.
I love this. This is fascinating. I’m sorry I keep going.
Yeah, yeah. So after I did this next column, I was like, well, I’ve never worked for a publication before maybe I should like actually be on staff somewhere.
So I got an internship at California mag, which is UC Berkeley’s mag, as I said before, and I was such a horrible intern that they hired me as an editor instead. So that worked out that I read about science, and all this, like really politics, you know, serious journals and stuff, and of course, Bigfoot.
And then that, and now, I’m doing copywriting journalism, adjacent stuff, which means that I’m applying all of my scientific journalism skills to communicating to broader audiences in aerospace, which I think is very important, just because nobody knows anything about aerospace. I certainly didn’t, before I got this job.
So to answer your question, this is long winded. Okay. But my next journey is hopefully book writing and turning my weird blog into something that I can make some sort of money off of, I don’t expect it to be a huge moneymaker.
Because people don’t need to know about Bigfoot the way they need to know about blogging, and how to blog, sort of a fringe topic. It’s not going to pay the bills, generally.
But if I could figure out a way to make that work, that would be amazing. I want to write memoir, want to write fiction? I still want to do journalism. I’m going to tell you something, though.
I’m struggling to figure out how to do journalism, serious journalism, well researched on a blog, and have it not take for fucking ever. I like, yeah, it’s these a lot of people don’t realize that. If somebody is turned around a piece, and you see, you see a byline, right, like New York Times somebody’s name, you’re like, wow, you know, this thing just happened yesterday.
And they’ve already written 3000 words. It’s like, okay, maybe they did, but probably not.
It was probably with the help of two editors who are also doing the reporting. And like maybe another for people who have, like, you know, copy edited and did all this other stuff, other journalists who may have reported on it, and then somebody named gets on it. It’s a lot of work.
I don’t know if it’s a sustainable thing, while I have a full time job to be able to be doing that on my blog. So I’m in a transition period right now, where I’m figuring out, I’m trying to figure out where to go.
Okay, that’s–side note for everybody is I had my good friend, Desirae Odjick on the show, who is a blogger, freelance writer, currently on staff at Shopify, writing about e commerce sort of stuff.
And I asked her something to the effect of like, you guys put a lot into your content. And like, it just looks so good. And a lot of it’s like really thorough and properly not properly formatted. But like overly formatted for like a great user experience on my head. You guys like do all that? Like, what does that process look like?
What’s the process?
And she’s like, well, we have like three managers and three editors on our content team alone, and we have like 10 writers and for each post, where all in there on like a Skype call or a zoom call or something like that.
And we’re like spit ball and like at the speed of light, throwing ideas out and organizing the piece, like together and then I go write it.
And then I ship it off. And then like three people away in like the same bit like it’s this crazy, wild, collaborative process that could I can see where it could result in like a 3000 word post, and like 24 hours, or something like that, like a really well done post too. So we’ll sign up. So let me ask you this. I don’t have any answers for you.
By the way. I don’t know if you were looking for answers. But don’t think I have any.
As a solo show, it just takes a long time.
You know what? I trust you because you say you don’t know when you don’t know?
Yeah, I could pretend to have answers. But that would be awkward, because I’m not a very good lawyer
It would be.
So okay, so I have a few questions here. I want to ask, like, kind of an obvious question, which is, what did you learn from, I could have probably answered one a few different things here could be in a couple of years that you did, the second column could be in doing more, you know, formal journalism on politics, or science or whatever, UC Berkeley, maybe you can just pick a choose either of those.
But when it comes to, I’m just gonna, I’m just sorry, I’m just gonna keep this like super bland. Chris, just forgive me, when it comes to producing…
Vanilla, when it comes to producing content…
What’s the one thing you learned from your years as a sex columnist? I know, that’s a hard question. To ask it like that, though, that makes most sense.
When to move on from a subject.
what do you mean by that?
So in terms of producing content, like I was producing sex content, right.
And it was actually difficult when I just had a body of work that was all about sex to get taken seriously. In other beats, people would be like, Oh, well, you know, if you write about sex, it’s going to be the only thing that you can write about.
And it was super offensive.
Because, I mean, obviously, you know, now I have this really big portfolio of all this different stuff. But people like to pigeonhole you, you do something good ones, and that’s all they want from you. And I just, I think that having a diverse portfolio was what allowed me to be in the place that I am now and be doing well.
But is that does that answer your question?
I think that a little bit, I actually have something more specific that I just thought I saw it in your last thought in my notes from your email. I have no idea what the words in this sentence means. I have no idea what these words mean.
But I’m gonna I’m gonna read it anyways–this is from in your email to me, by the way, “I could give some insight on how to write a good nutgraf, lede, head and dec, the capture people’s attention, while also being truthful AF,” which means “as f—” but the word the way those words are spelled like lede and head HAD Deck DK. Did you make these words up? Or do these words mean something?
This is journalism lingo!
Yeah. Okay. That’s what I thought, Okay. And then maybe we’ll dive into the actual subject that you could help us with, like, some good insights on how to write these things, whatever they may be.
So let’s, uh, we’ll start with nutgraf. What is that?
So a nutgraf is the nut of your story, basically, it’s um, so there are different ways that you can write a story, you can either have a, you can do a hard news story, which is going to have your lead, which was like the first intro sentence that says, who, what, where, when, why that’s the lead.
That’s like a lead.
Yes. And then the net graph, the net graph, so you have your lead, and then the net graph is usually comes maybe two or three paragraphs down, and it says, why they should care. What this article is going to tell you about. So it’s just like the crux of the piece. So it’s like, intro, not graph.
Okay, hang on. Okay, let’s define the rest of them. And then I’m going to come back and ask you kind of what this will do for us. Like, is there other some benefits to thinking about this as like a framework for producing content or what I’m gonna ask you about that. But
I forgot to say the other one you can do is the soft news lead, which is like four paragraphs down, and then you have a nut graph. So it’s more of like a narrative intro.
Okay. This is my first time hearing about us. I’m like, Wait, what? Okay, so, lead, very first sentence. You said like the who, who, what, when, where, why, or whatever? Or who, what, when, where I got that the nutgraf? What is the head?
So the head is just the headline.
Okay. Okay. All right. And the dec?
the description, the thing that, you know, underneath the headline explains why people shouldn’t even begin to read the article.
Did you? Where did you learn these things? The street of hard knocks of journalism. This wasn’t introductory, right?
No. Okay. I actually took a couple of journalism classes in college before I decided that that wasn’t the way I was going to go. And then it turned out, it was the way I was gonna go. It was just an intro journalism class.
They just told us about it. Okay, that’s it. I mean, if you Google, if you google journalism terms, you’ll find them. But I don’t know how I don’t know if they’re used across the board anymore. Because there are so many hybrid publications. Now, who knows?
The reason I even like wrote this down, I kind of figured it would be something like that, even though I didn’t actually know what those words meant.
I’ve heard lede before. By the way, I don’t know what a headline is, obviously, but I hadn’t heard of not graph and deck.
Anyways. The reason I brought it up is specifically for two things that every single person listening this podcast has experienced with and they do all the time, which I’m super into. This is my favorite thing about copywriting headlines, and or subject lines.
For my super nerdy email marketers out there headlines and intros, I’m just gonna say intros. But what I really mean is something you put at the top of a piece of content that makes people stick around to get said content.
So when I think about selling anything, you got to have people’s attention, and you got to hold people’s attention, whether that’s a product or sales page, or a blog post, where you’re trying to teach somebody something they really need to know about Bigfoot, they’re never going to learn it unless you can get them with the headline, and like the intro, or the the head and the lead, and the deck and the nut graph. So all that said, I want to ask you some tips for both of those.
‘m gonna take them one by one. We’ll start with headlines first.
And in fact, when you actually said something about this in your email to Didn’t you did. Maybe that I think you you’d said something.
I don’t even remember.
I see far too many headlines out there. Now that make me want to turn off my computer and never read the news again.
We all know what clickbait is. Give us your like, top five tips on writing headlines that don’t suck, aren’t super, you know, newsy clickbait that makes, you might turn off your computer never read the news again.
But we can still use to like, grab people and hook them in. Do you have any tips for some headlines?
I would say enthusiasm is good. Again, opinion is not the but that’s that’s for journalism. If you’re writing a blog, that’s an opinion blog, yeah. Then do whatever you want cares, that’s different. Totally different. Um, I would say, whenever I’m deciding what to write for a headline, I find the most interesting piece of information in the in the whole article, whether I, whether it’s the actual story that I’m leading with or not, what I’ll do is I’ll try to put that up at the top.
And also, I always asked myself, why should anybody care? Anybody, if the headline isn’t going to appeal to, you know, grandma walking her dog, and you know, some guy who’s like, 16, smoking weed in his basement, then it’s like, it’s not a good headline, it has to appeal to both of them. I want both of them to read the story.
And I want you the relevance to them. So that I mean, that’s what runs through my head. The problem is, so you actually have to be a good writer to do it. You know, it’s like, I mean, I guess people can, you know, they can get better at writing as time goes on. But I mean, I’ve I’ve written quite a fruit quite a few turds.
Totally. You gotta write the church for you get the good stuff.
I’m writer now. But yes, you gotta write the turns before you get the gold. So I would say, I guess my number one advice would be be a good writer. Well,
that is horrible. First of all, and the worst podcast guests I’ve ever had.
No, I’m joking.
No, no, there’s something that there’s a truth to that though. And it’s not just be a good writer know, it’s right. More. I tell people this all the time. Like, this is my, one of my things. Whenever somebody forces me to write every day, I don’t write every day, by the way, I probably should.
Even it was a little bit. They always say like, “Oh, you need to write 200 words a day, 250 words a day, even if it’s bad.”
I actually still think that’s great advice. Whenever I do that, for any length of time, like more than a week, I will find it. So much of a better process. And I will look at what I produce. This totally applies to like headlines, and like subject lines as well, by the way, like when I have a post I care about person not very often anymore. But when I do, I will write like 50 headlines, really 50 headlines, and the first one was utterly garbage.
And then I’ll come back to it. And I’ll make it better. And then the second one, the same thing. And then the third and the fifth. By the time I do that, I’ll like be able to combine like three of them. I don’t have something I’m super happy about. It’s not just clickbait, but it’s a little bit like intriguing and might get people to click, but it’s also relevant and informative. It’s perfect headline.
And I think the only way to get there was the headline or blog content, whatever is right, more. So I think that’s what you think that’s what you were going for with be a good writer, write more, the only way to be a good writer is write more, right?
Yes. So I will say I will say this, writing more is important.
And you have to practice you have to do it regularly.
One thing I will say and this is a problem I was having, I listened to these productivity podcasts, and people are like, get up every morning at 5am. Don’t drink any coffee, work out, make sure you write for five hours before you have a full time job somehow, like all this stuff, and it was stressing me out. You know, I’ve learned that it’s okay, to not be as productive. Just as long as you’re being productive. You don’t have to be top tier, whatever.
And then the other thing too, is that people’s lives don’t allow for that. I don’t know how these people have these like charmed lives, where they can get up every morning and pray their Muse and all of that stuff. I don’t have that.
Okay. I just can’t do it.
Like so. I mean, I recently got this job, this new job and it takes me an hour and a half to get to work in the morning. Okay, so that hour so that I would be usually taking before I you know, I got this job to write fun stuff. Bigfoot stuff, for example, that was gone. Okay.
So what I did was, you know, I have a desktop. I love working on the desktop. Well, tough shit. I ordered a little laptop. And now every morning I write for 45 minutes on the train. Do what did I have the two hours that I had before? No.
But so what you know, your life is going to look way different than anybody else’s. So don’t get like down on yourself for not writing every day. Because fuck it, you know, they don’t know you
I am going to spare you and everybody listen to this my 25 a minute long rant on this subject.
It’s not really a rant. It really is. Let’s just say that it took me a lot longer than most people. Not just productivity either, by the way, but like, what tools I use for my own, like blog and business.
I kept looking to other people like this person who just loves this tool. I’ve tried so hard to use it. I’ve spent like 50 hours like googling how to use this tool for me like Wait, why not just go with what I was already using? That was free? And I already know. And it’s like, 20 times more effective. Like, why can’t I let it go?
Right? That you know what somebody else is doing? Is what I should be doing. Spare by the rant, I could talk a lot. I don’t wake up at 5am. I tried. It wasn’t for me. So kudos to you. By the way, at least you get to ride on the train.
You live in like LA or Atlanta or Chicago is a lot better. So here but man, I was commuting for three hours a day like in the car driving, like all I have are like podcast anyways. Right? All this brutal. We’re I’m sorry, I got distracted out my head is like in rant space. No, it’s not your fault. I’m in rant space now.
Let me ask you this.
I didn’t forget what I was gonna say that I’m seriously thinking about waking up at 5am now and how mad it makes me when I see other people like destroying their own lives trying to like conform to some sort of like ideal that they see on Instagram,
it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to like, get up, it’s okay to have a day where you don’t write at all, because your car broke down or whatever it is, you don’t have to feel this pressure from these people you’ll never meet who don’t care about you, because they don’t know about you.
Okay, well, hang on. I’m gonna put you on the spot. What do you do personally, when you find yourself facing one of those days, where you look at the watch, and it’s like, wow, it’s already noon, and I haven’t done anything.
And I have like a frown on my face and just not feeling motivated. And, you know, I don’t actually think anything productive is going to happen today. That might be an extreme. But on days like that, what do you do to either a get back on the horse? Or be like, be comfortable? Not being on the horse? If that makes sense?
What do you what do you do on those days? I’m super curious now.
So actually looked into this bet. There’s a lot of studies around the psychology of mantras, right. And by mantras, I don’t mean necessarily like spiritual mantras or anything like that, right? If I feel like I’ve spent a day not doing what is important to me, or is leading me towards, like an ultimate goal of say, writing a book, or we’re making the blog successful. to myself, in my head, I just say, I am a writer.
And today doesn’t change that. The more that I’ve done that, the more I believe it and feel it and I’m comfortable missing it.
Cuz I’m somebody who’s hypercritical in my head. And I have a subconscious running voice that says you’re not a writer, you’re not committed to this. So it’s just creating a replacement for that kind of thought. You are consciously replacing those bad thoughts that are holding back.
I like that. This is possibly going back on the waking up at 5am. Right for five our influence or Instagram train that’s possibly going back there. But have you read the book atomic habits?
okay. It’s actually pretty good. I am pretty critical of like business books and self improvement, productivity books at this point in time, because I’ve read a lot and a lot of them really don’t need to be written.
But atomic habits is actually really good. And what you just said is actually one of the the larger points in that book.
So as this mindset shift, which is not when people say mindset, that kind of like puts me off immediately, I don’t know about you, but when people start talking about mindset, I’m like, okay, like, what, like, what does that actually mean?
But in the real sense of the word, having this mantra or mindset, or whatever the heck you want. For me, it’s actually like, taking about a minute to like meditate, just like mini meditation sessions and getting back into it. I am this sort of person.
That’s like a game changer. The examples from the book, this totally, like, somewhat relevant. Apologies to everybody.
But the examples in the book was somebody trying to quit smoking. And if somebody like offered them a cigarette, there’s like a huge difference. In the two responses, one could be like, Oh, no, thanks. I’m trying to quit smoking. vs. I’m not a smoker. Even if there’s like just trying to quit, like trying to self identify yourself as a certain type of person can actually make you do things.
This is why the book is about atomic habits can actually form habits that will make you quit smoking or write on days where you don’t feel like writing or work on these. You don’t feel like working anyway, I found that fascinating.
That’s actually a pretty good book.
Yes, I’ve heard I’ve heard some of the things not from that book. But I’ve heard heard about that. Another thing that I found useful for myself, that’s kind of a fad right now, but I actually think kind of works. It’s called productive procrastination.
So yeah, so the the idea behind it is that you find a bunch of different creative projects at one time, so that when you get tired of working on, say, an article, you can switch over to the book you’re working on. So like, you’re still actually doing things that are productive, and you’re satisfying that need to procrastinate.
But you’re getting shit done in the process. I found that to be very helpful to me, because sometimes after I’ve worked on an article for, you know, three hours, I’m kind of burnout on that subject for the day.
But then I can move over to something else and still feel good about myself. feel good about the fact that I’m doing
Oh, wow, you just blew my mind in a way that you do not even realize.
I’ve been doing this on accident.
Yeah, can you hear it?
I just read an a review on iTunes of my own podcast, which by the way, is like a dangerous game. For anybody who struggles with like, self confidence.
Don’t go read the reviews. But anyways, most of mine are like, really great. So thank you, for everybody listening out there. Go drop me a review wherever you listen to your podcast now.
But this person was like, I love this podcast, I enjoy the heck out of Pete’s guest, whatever, I just put Pete with talk less. And I was like, dang it. But at the risk of offending that one person out of the several thousand people listen to this podcast, my own venture, and what you’re talking about is planning, organizing, and working on software tools that enhance my business.
Those three things do not feel like work to me. Whenever I when people tell me like Pete, you need to get a little bit more organized. Or Pete you know, you really need to like nail down a very clear plan for your business over the next six months. I hear those people and I’m like, I don’t want to do that.
Part of the reason I don’t want to do that it’s not because I don’t think it’s valuable is because that doesn’t feel like work. And if I spend eight hours, like planning and organizing, and, you know, optimizing software and my business, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten any work done. And I’m angry at myself, which is stupid, stupid.
So for me, it’s been recently, kind of like allowing myself to do that when I don’t feel like working. And it turns out that those people, right, and it’s actually super valuable. What do you know? They’re not, it’s not
I thought, like, I thought it was kind of stupid. But then I started doing it. And I was like, Oh, fuck, got so much done today. You know,
Was this–Where did you hear about this?
I want to say I heard about it on a podcast with two comedians. It’s been like six or seven months. They’ve mentioned it briefly. And then I looked it up online. And then I saw, apparently, some guys theory.
Who’s to say?
So I want to kind of wind down, I want to let you like to do your morning in or day, maybe just one or two more questions, though. And I had to do this, since you mentioned it earlier.
And we’re talking about interviewing and journalism or whatnot. You know, I have to ask this. Is there anything that you wish I had asked to you so far throughout this podcast?
Such a good question. I guess–I guess I wish you had asked me, or think maybe it would be cool. You had asked me about I guess what have I What am I learned from being a writer who has written about strange things?
And maybe like, what it’s taught me about pursuing writing?
That is important, I guess, what would the question be? I’m trying to figure out how to frame it into the question.
So I don’t know. But I definitely saw a lot of that when you were going back to your sex columnist, origin story. Like, kind of the reason you got involved with that is because you were, I guess, like scratching your own itch, so to speak, like you were you were looking at what’s already out there in the world, and then you wanted it to be better, in some way.
At least, that’s what you were kind of hinting at. I did that with my own podcast. By the way, I wanted more weird, rambling long form conversational topics with interesting people on the subject of blogging, and it wasn’t out there. So that’s why I started this podcast. But I don’t know the exact question, but
I know the question. I’ve got it now.
Why Or what do you do? when everybody is telling you not to pursue the thing you want to do?
That is not what I expected this to go. Okay. Krissy, are you ready? How do you feel about and what do you do? When you feel the overwhelming presence from everybody else around you, family, friends, bosses, co workers, society culture, when they’re telling you not to do the thing that you really want to do? Or feel you need to do? What do you do at times like that?
As we’ve talked about a little bit, I tend to pursue strange subjects in my writing. And I’ve had life experiences that most people haven’t.
And while exploring these avenues, and doing well in them, others couldn’t wait to critique me and tell me what I was doing wrong. Don’t write a sex column. Don’t write about Bigfoot, don’t cuss? You know, stop wearing band t shirts and combat boots.
You know, no one’s gonna ever take you seriously as a writer if you don’t button up or whatever.
Well, guess what? They were wrong.
Okay, like, I’m doing fucking great. Believe it or not. There’s no correlation between combat boots and writing ability. Just to clear the air on that myth right now.
I know. Shocking.
But yeah, so it like, even though it It, it, you know, hurt to hear from people that I respected that I that they thought I was going to fail or that I shouldn’t do it. It felt better to pursue the writing that I want to do.
So it made it may have felt bad to hear what they had to say. But it felt better to do it anyway. So as a writer, I think, I think you should listen to your intuition. Many great inventor, inventors, writers, don’t listen to what anyone else is telling them to do, like great writers, they have a uniqueness in them that they recognize, and they don’t try to hold back.
And they know they’re going to make something new. That’s style. Right. And when I read a truly great writer, I feel myself being pulled along a path with them their specific path, and it moves me to stand my own path.
Because I want to feel what they’re feeling but in my own way. So I think it’s important to find what kind of writing or what subjects speak to you like, you may not be a great writer, if you’re covering politics, because that’s not that’s not what’s pulling you forward in life.
Okay, maybe you’re stifling the fact that you want to write about witchcraft, or the tumultuous history of the American bake sale? I don’t know. I’m just making stuff up. Okay.
That one saw the way plan like you could not have been done. I’m sorry.
Keep going. But what the American bake sale? Yeah. I mean, I think that bake sales are kind of sinister, but we won’t go into that now.
I have no idea. Okay.
It’s not to bake sale itself, it’s to be able to put it together anyway.
So people are going to crap on your dreams, okay, because they’re afraid of pursuing their dreams, and failing. And they want you to be afraid to so they’re not alone. But it’s better to be alone and connected to your purpose, and to be satisfied with your creative output, than to be a miserable troll, you know, underneath someone else’s bridge to happiness, you know, it’s, it’s just like, not good.
So, I guess the best part about me writing about what I want to write is that if people don’t like my work, they don’t have to read it.
And I guarantee that no matter what subject that anybody chooses, like, there will be people out there who will want to read your stuff, and they’ll love it. And they will, you know, reach up their hands to catch you as you crowd surf to glory. But it’s like, it’s like up to you to jump. When people tell me not to write about strange things, it’s because they’re afraid.
And I recognize that in them.
It’s more a reflection of who they are., than who I am.
A little vulnerable.
Did I answer the question even? Sorry?
I don’t even remember the question now. But yes!
I think you did. So something interesting about that. You actually said the words “alone.”
The funny thing is, and you’ve alluded to this, at the end there is that you’re never alone. for very long, it seems like especially I’m specifically talking about people who produce content on the internet now specifically, like bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, craters like this, like, Listen to the show.
You think you may be alone, because your parents don’t want you to write a blog, or they think it’s stupid, and it’s never going to amount to anything. And maybe they’re right. And maybe they’re not.
I quit my first blog on my podcast a decade ago, because my, I’m using air quotations here. Friends made fun of me. And they thought it was stupid. And they told me as such every time I saw them, so I quit. And then I quit those friends and came back.
But I eventually discovered this white talk about community, a lot, so much on this podcast to discover that, Oh, I’m not actually alone. There just doesn’t happen to be anybody in my immediate vicinity. Like in my hometown, my small town that cares about what I care about, and wants to do what I’m doing.
I just had to go find those people. And it took me like, I don’t know, 30 years to realize that but I’m so glad I found that now. There’s, there’s there’s weird people out there ended up with a whole bunch of interest. That was a good question.
There was no, it really was. Even if people aren’t moving to San Francisco, and like starting a second column. That might be I’m not gonna say extreme.
But that might be like, on the extreme end of people would judge that. You know, I mean, I still think there’s a lot smaller. I still think there’s a lot smaller versions of that. Whenever the people listen to the show, start talking about their creative projects.
Because if you walk up the 30 people and your local Starbucks, and you start talking about, oh, I run a personal finance podcast. 29 of those people are going to glaze over, within the first minute. anything, any creative endeavor over the internet is still in catch up mode.
For like mainstream society. It’s when you say you run a blog called hot alien. Some people are just like, they have no idea where they’re getting into like, Oh, that sounds weird. And I know what a blog is, I think and hot alien. I don’t get it. And when I say, Oh, I run a podcast called Do You Even Blog people are like, glazed over. Talk about?
So I think it was a good question. I think everybody listen to this show can identify with least some part of that. So kudos to you.
Okay, last question. And then we’ll let you go Chrissy. What’s one thing you wish other bloggers or in your case, I will admit it to say, what’s the one thing you wish other bloggers or journalists would stop doing immediately?
I guess I would say, in the vein of what we were just discussing, stop critiquing other people’s work when you’re not even happy with your own.
You know, it’s just like, if if you have a problem with something that was written by somebody else, then go do it better. If you can do it better, do it better. Put yourself up on the chopping block. And see how that feels. I do my best to never have to publicly critique anyone. I have written a couple of journalistic reviews in the past, and it just felt gross. Like reviews of well, granted, it was a review of a porn premiere. But you know, that’s neither here nor there. I love it. Yeah.
So I would say support other writers. I think that we we need more of that and stop, stop acting. Like there is a hierarchy of writers. You know, there’s, there’s also I will say this, you know, there’s not very many journalism jobs now. And there’s a lot of freelancers. And it’s really hard to get your stuff published as a freelancer.
There’s, you know, these gatekeepers at these publications, and not all of them, but some of them think that they’re God’s gift, be they happened to look into a job. And so they don’t treat their freelancers very well. And they also don’t work with them on ideas in ways that I think they should. So I think I think a lack of elitism would be nice.
I like it. Krissy, thank you so much for coming on. This has been all over the place and the best possible way.
I love it is just my type of conversation.
Where do you have people connect with you? Where would you point them to? First and foremost, to kind of see what you’ve written in the past lots of fascinating stuff. By the way, I can go ahead and vouch for that. Or connect with Haley calm, obviously set the number one choice for where to point people.
KrissyEliot.com or hotalien.com. That would be great. I don’t I’m trying to tweet more. I just created a Twitter just this past year. I really I should probably be doing it more. But anyway,
You can also be waking up at 5am I writing for three hours.
Writing tweets for three hours at 5am!
I was up at 5am to tweet every morning.
It’s Yes. So but honestly, I’m very Google-able. If you look up Krissy Eliot , you’ll find me–last name E-L-I-O-T–fun fact about me. I’m related to TS Eliot. If anybody knows who that is, famous poet.
Yes, we’re destined for this
destined for writing glory. So if you can’t remember how to spell my last name was one L and one T, know Eliot is very exhausting name to spell. But remember, TS Eliot. Add Another fun fact. My mom’s name is Missy. So I just thought everybody should know that as well. Very important. But not
the Missy Elliot different not?
Well, I mean, she is the Missy Elliott to me, mom.
Krissy. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I wish you the best of luck in your current aerospace endeavors and journalism and let me know when the book comes out. Obviously, I want an advanced copy of it. And I will read it. By the way
You will have a book for me mark my words.
That’s great. I’ll hold you to it. I love it. Well, thanks for coming on Krissy. Appreciate it.
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This is awesome.
Already blog tribe. I hope you enjoyed that awesome episode with Chrissy here are my takeaways. One big one that’s got staring me in the face is something that almost all creators face at some point. Maybe you’re not feeling this right now in your own blogging journey, because you’ve been doing it a while maybe or you just never had this problem to begin with. But a lot of people doubt themselves. At some point. A lot of people have family, friends, other creators around them that for whatever reason might actually hold them back from being who they need to be from being who they want to be. I know this sounds like a little bit whoo, whoo, a little bit corny. But I for one, listen to Chrissy story and admire the fact that she has no judgments on herself right now. She has no fear right now about blogging about Bigfoot. She’s doing the things that she wants to do. And it didn’t happen immediately. Right. She had to learn how to be herself and be confident and comfortable being herself not the little. Again, not all of you are experiencing this frustration or this pain, like right now. But how many of us tend to like fall back into talking about topics that we’re comfortable with dialing back our sales because we don’t want to appear too salesy, even though we believe in the product, even though we believe in our message, whatever, that maybe a lot of creators, myself included, have had this issue in the past. We’re not 100% confident and comfortable with who we are. And so we hold back, we do a little bit of copycatting what other people have done. We’re not our full selves. We’re not our true selves, hashtag whatever you want to call it. We’re afraid, sometimes not all the time, but we’re afraid. Okay. I just want to remind you, this is the big takeaway reading. It’s okay. It’s okay to be fearful of what other people think you just have to fight through that. Please do yourself and the world of favor. In growing that confidence, whatever it takes to say the things you want to say, to say what needs to be said in order to change your audience’s lives. Please do that. It may take time. It’s not going to happen overnight. But use Chrissy as inspiration, as an example, right? To blog, the way you need to blog to run your business, the way you think your business should be run to help your customers the way they need to be helped tell people what they need to hear today, people what they want to hear, don’t be afraid. Actually, you will be afraid. But move through the fear. There you go. That’s my one big takeaway. Actually, I have one more takeaway. Now that I think about it. The takeaway is to have a mindset. This is like a mindset takeaway. I’m really sorry, I wish you go like implement this ASAP, and grow your blog traffic. But you can’t do that right away. It’s a mindset thing, the mindset of clearly communicating complicated subjects. A lot of you are into travel hacking, and you do with a bunch of numbers or personal finance research, like investing strategy, and you talk about where the economy is going. And like, we can bring all sorts of data and numbers and complicated strategies about blogging and SEO and every topic under the sun. It’s always good to have this mindset of did I communicate this clearly enough? I think of Chrissy talking to rocket scientist and trying to tell their story to media. I think of me taking technical element or tutorials on Do You Even Blog and trying to make it digestible so you can follow it so you can understand it so you can engage with it again, I know this isn’t super hashtag actionable. But I think this is an important mindset for us, as content creators to keep in mind and the back of our heads at all times. communicate clearly always have this mindset of did I present this in the best way possible, so that people can understand it, so that people can actually learn what I’m trying to teach them? How can I simplify? How can I communicate better? There you go. There’s a big mindset thing. Not hashtag actionable, but still awesome.
And I do believe that’s going to do it. If you enjoyed this episode of the Do You Even Blog show? Do You Even Blog show if you enjoyed this episode? All I ask is that you tell a friend, there you go be my word of mouth marketing system. Hashtag word of mouth. I love it. I’m sorry. I’ve had a lot of coffee this afternoon. If you enjoyed this episode telepresence, and thank you so much for being a part of my audience. I love you guys, man. creators, bloggers, podcasters online entrepreneur, digital folk. I love you guys. Go out there and make an impact. publish something awesome. Don’t hold back. Be your hashtag, best self or some other corny buzzword? I don’t know. Get out there. Make a ruckus as Seth Godin might say go do good. Thanks, man. I love you guys. Hit me up on Twitter at Do You Even Blog email me, Pete at Do You Even blog.com if you need anything or just want to say hello. I love you guys. Thank you so much for listening and I will see you next time. Adios