Should You Write Controversial Blog Posts? A Data Driven Answer

yes or no

Just the other day, I wrote a controversial blog post. I don’t usually write blog posts that are controversial, but I thought it would be a fun experiment to see if these kinds of posts are worth writing from a traffic and revenue perspective.

What was the controversial post I wrote? It was called Why Successful People Are Douchebags. Before you jump to any conclusions, let me say that the post was about why many people think successful entrepreneurs are douchebags, when in reality, they are not.

Should you write controversial blog posts? Download this data driven answer.

Entrepreneurs typically enjoy helping other people. You just need to understand how to communicate with them effectively as they have busy schedules.

So, how did this post do? And is it worth writing controversial posts?

Controversial posts can hurt your brand

Typically, when I write a blog post, I get 11 to 27 emails from readers like you, thanking me for the great content on Quick Sprout. The emails usually look something like this:

Neil, your post on content marketing is awesome! I haven’t been able to grow my blog traffic, but I am going to try the tactics in your post to see if it helps.

Thank you for the tips!

John, Y.

But with the controversial post, I only received three positive emails. Even then, they weren’t as positive as the emails I normally get:

I laughed when I read the subject line and admired your courage in using it.

William G.

And

Who is NOT going to click on a headline like that????

Chris L.

And

I just love you. I love that you’re not afraid to use that subject line. Kudos to you, I am inspired!!!!!

Happy Trails,
Rebekah V.

Most of the emails I received were very negative such as:

Are you out of your mind? cancel this email.

Johnston C.

And

Neil,

Do you know what a douchebag really is? I’m guessing you do.

If so, why would you use that term? I know the “kids” think it’s funny, but they also have other terms I would never use in a business email.

I’m hard to rattle. Yeah, you got my attention. But not in a good way!

Kristin T.

And

Mr. Patel,

I do not want to see the word “douchebag” in the subject line of a message in my inbox.
Please remove my email address from your list.

Sarah H.

And even worse:

Neil,

I just learned that I am not your “ideal” customer.  I was referred to you by someone I think, generally, passes on decent resources—and perhaps you are offering some decent information; however, I’m totally turned off after this email.  Douchebag?  Really?  A piece of home medical equipment used, almost always, to douche (or rinse) a vagina.  Now, Neil, I realize this has become a very common term in America lately but I personally think it’s more distasteful to use than say,  referring to someone as an “asshole.”  That’s just me.

I’ll be unsubscribing (and not referring you) because I’m really not interested in getting email on my professional machine (and one that lies open at home to my kids eyes sometimes) with the word, “Douchebag” in the subject line (or “asshole,” for that matter).

Just some feedback to consider.

Good luck and adieu,

Donna S.

From a personal or a corporate branding perspective, it can be risky to write controversial blog posts. Even if the post itself isn’t negative – only its title is, you can’t assume everyone will read the post to find that out. Many people will just make assumptions based on your title.

Controversial posts produce more unsubscribers

Every time I write a blog post, I mail it out to just over 100,000 people. It’s how I drive instant traffic to any new post and generate social shares, comments, and sales.

When I wrote the controversial title, I was hoping that my email open rate would increase, but it stayed roughly at 26%, which is what it usually is.

What was interesting was the unsubscribe rate.

Every time I send an email, a percentage of my readers unsubscribe. This is common, and it happens to all companies. But my unsubscribe rate after the controversial post was three times higher than my unsubscribe rate after a regular post.

Controversial posts drive more traffic

On the bright side, this post did extremely well compared to a regular post when it came to traffic. The post got an extra 4,061 visitors compared to a normal Monday blog post. To top it off, my social media traffic was higher by an extra 1,682 visitors, which is 134% more than my normal Monday social media traffic numbers are.

From a traffic perspective, it will probably be my most popular post for the month. I’m not sure how it will do in the long run, but if I were monetizing the site from an advertisement perspective, the extra visitor count would work in my favor.

Controversial posts can hurt your revenue

Although the post did well from a traffic standpoint, the income for the day dropped drastically. Compared to a normal Monday, the income dropped by 26%, which is a lot, considering there were more visitors to the website on that day.

To make matters worse, the income for that day was even lower than for the days when I don’t publish a blog post – by roughly 4%.

The reason controversy can affect your revenue in a negative way is because it affects how people view your brand. If they start seeing it in a negative way and associate it with bad things, you are likely to lose the trust of your visitors and make less money.

Conclusion

Although my controversial post had more negative effects than positive, I would say such posts are worth writing if you run a consumer-based blog that makes revenue from its advertisements.

Assuming you aren’t being too controversial, advertisers shouldn’t have an issue, and the increase in traffic will help you generate more revenue.

But if you aren’t monetizing from the ads or if you are in the B2B sector, you should consider staying away from controversy. Sure, it can drive more traffic, but the damage it does to your brand and the loss in revenue you will experience are typically not worth it.

Do you think it is worth writing controversial posts?

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Comments

  1. Scott @ Kawntent :

    I think controversial posts do have a place, but only if you truly have a passion for the subject – which doesn’t come around too often.

    If you’re taking a stance, go for it! If you’re just cuttin’ people up, I’d say leave it in the draft pile.

  2. Scott Wyden Kivowitz :

    I’ve tried similar tests on numerous occasions and often find that I receive no comments or a lot of comments. But I’ve never gotten emails like what you received. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. I don’t know about controversial Posts but i know about controversial Facebook posts or status to increase Engagement.

  4. Thomas Lartin :

    Those people need to relax, they’re the douchebags..

    • Hahaha, exactly!

    • Haha agreed. I thought it was very funny how people reacted in those e-mails to Neil. It’s just a word, but shows how these controversial posts can affect your business negatively.

    • Haha agreed. The real question is, what is the actual value of the visitors who would unsubscribe from controversial posts? Are those even your target demographic? Sometimes it’s quality over quantity.

      • Very good point Jung. I think this is the thing that’s missing from this analysis. We are so used to aiming for numbers in todays world, but a bad customer can actually counter productive to your business.

    • Thomas, haha. They have a right to their own opinions too 🙂

    • @Thomas, the problem is those folks are your customers, or potential customers. You offend them at your peril.

      In this case Neil lost people from his list, and in one case lost the referrals that came from one of those he lost.

      In business the only customers you want to lose are the bad ones (unresponsive, slow payers, always arguing about price.) But the controversy technique doesn’t discriminate between good and bad customers. You have a good chance of losing your best customers as well.

    • George Papatheodorou :

      Look at all these comments!!!
      Hey, Neil What a… buzz!

      What I would like to say is that we have to stop pretending and be ourselves. I am pretty sure that some of the people “offended” by such kind of posts do a lot nastier things in their personal life.

      We should pay attention to the real meaning and intention behind the words and not the words themselves.

      After all life is so short to be miserable 🙂

      Have a good day!

  5. Hannah Grissom :

    Awesome experiment. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Scott Ayres :

    I think it’s ok to make people uncomfortable at times. But you do need to be mindful that you may lose followers, fans and potential income. But, if that’s your persona in general then it shouldn’t offend people.

    I will admit I was surprised by the headline, but got the point of it and knew you were up to something.. You douchebag you! 😛

  7. Michael Bower :

    Your real courage is in posting the results of the experiment Neil. Thanks for the amazing helpfulness on so many fronts!

  8. I would differentiate between “controversial” and “offensive”. You could easily have used a title like “Why Successful People are Jerks” or even a slightly misleading “Why Successful People Seem Like Jerks”… and you’d probably get better data.

    While those alternate titles are still controversial (they advance a strong yet polarizing and possibly unconventional opinion), they’re also clearly less offensive.

    I would retry the experiment after some time with a headline that’s as controversial as possible without being vulgar or offensive.

    • I agree with just.a.guy. The title had a word that your readership/clientele found to be offensive. It’s not the post that they were upset with, but rather the word.
      A better experiment would have been to write something that is controversial in your realm.

      • This is what I was going to say. I’ve published lots of controversial posts, and they didn’t increase by unsubscribe rate at all. The key:

        They weren’t offensive. They were just contrarian/surprising/unexpected.

        • Exactly my take. Vulgar is the problem. I’ve been in courses and on webinars where the “f bomb” is dropped.

          Although I like to think I’m pretty open-minded, that is so vulgar that I lose all respect for the presenter/instructor and do not want to do business with them. I just can’t think of the person as a professional any more.

          Be professional and use some self-control if you’re a person who thinks swearing is cool.

          It’s somewhat like bad grammar on a website or typos in a resume. You probably are intelligent and gifted, but I just can’t consider you for the job if you don’t care enough to make it professional-looking and sounding.

          • Dennis Brown :

            Yep, I’m with just.a.guy & Deborah on this – controversial vs offensive.

            I’d add that personally, I’m actually reassured to see that people can still be offended sufficiently by words/terms like douchebag to write in and complain – maybe everyone’s writing won’t be filled with unnecessary four-letter words and appalling grammar mistakes in years to come after all!

    • I agree with just.a.guy.

      Neil was trying to play up as the nice guy helping people but he failed to make people realize that he is as much vulnerable as the others are.

      Sorry but Neil you’re not coming across as a real person after your last post.

      Either you stick to your expertise as traffic ninja or you use words in your headlines that people get attracted to very quickly by relating to it.

      You’re just spoiling your reputation by using those offensive words. Firstly, I only came to it’s meaning that a douchebag is 1 who’s arrogant & obnoxious after googling it’s definition. I did not the vulgar meaning of it aka “asshole”.

      So did you mean successful people are “assholes”? It would be very offensive & not controversial. Obviously, how can successful people can be “assholes”? No way.

      If you can’t write posts that people can’t relate to, better not write them.

      Ronak.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Justa 🙂

    • Shirley de Rose :

      I agree that “controversial” and “offensive” might be two distinct things. Controversy is often stated in non-offensive language, and as such, is often a traffic and sales booster.

    • Dennis Gorelik :

      just.a.guy – that’s a great point.
      I agree that if Neil toned down the offensiveness then there would be almost no negative response, but all controversy benefits would stay anyway.

  9. Michael Akinlabi :

    Interesting to me. Seems you’re doing some experiment on QuickSprout when you knew your brand is at risk!

    Fun reading it. I felt you hurt those people who sent those emails.. For me, I admired your courage!

  10. I hope after reading this blog post, offended readers will realize that it was just a test – test of only the headline.

    Best of luck in winning back those followers.

  11. Hannah Martin :

    Actually this is something we’ve noticed over the past year. We’re never quite as controversial as your example, but I know that using a headline like:

    How not to dress like a mum
    The day I realised I was a wanker mum

    will be popular and get attention. So too will negative headlines like:

    Three words you should never call your business

    I think though there’s a fine, invisible line in being controversial – and maybe your test headline crossed it slightly, whereas a tweaked version (just a bit less stark and less potentially insulting to actual people reading it!) may have delivered more positive results.

    Fab post as usual though! I learn so much from your site.

    • Dennis Brown :

      Hey Hannah, exactly where is ‘w*nker’ less controversial than ‘douchebag’..? I might get away with calling someone a douchebag, but if I stepped in a pub called someone the latter, I’m likely to get a slap!

      I realise, as pointed out in many of the other comments, that what’s considered ‘acceptable’ as far as ‘bad language’ goes is very subjective, however there are two exceptions that come immediately to mind, both of which are surely over that ‘invisible line’ you mention (they’ve both been used in comments on this blog, too).

      Writing purely to shock (or not having the common-sense to realise what might) doesn’t make for clever writing and is unlikely to achieve any desired result other than to offend, even if it does result in increased traffic in the short-term.

    • Hannah, glad I could help. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  12. Harris Reynolds :

    Really interesting analysis here Neil. This makes me want to go back and actually read the controversial post! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  13. Christopher Rose :

    Not being a Yank, I’m not really familiar with the word (or the product) but it was pretty obvious in the context of an article by Neil Patel that it was not being offensive.

    I think you’re better off without the overly sensitive souls that unsubscribed, who are obviously, well, douchebags!

  14. Steve French :

    You aren’t using the right word – the blog post wasn’t actually controversial – the title was vulgar – if you wanted controversy you could have “Why abortion should be illegal” or “There is no legitimate reason to own a handgun” – or the business equivalent. Using “Douchebag” in the title doesn’t make the post controversial – it is an apples and oranges sort of thing.

  15. I think “offensive” is a better word than controversial.

    If you had written on a popular SEO tactic that top gurus espouse and taken the position it was actually stupid, that would be controversial but could strengthen your brand, traffic and sales.

    That’s controversy.

    What you used was intentionally crass and offensive language. That has a touch of controversy, but the bigger issue is offensiveness.

    On the other hand, Neil Patel swinging naked on a wrecking ball could be the best controversial move you ever make 🙂

    Controversy has been proven to create interest and sales when using an approach and headline like:

    “The Case Against SEO: By Neil Patel”

  16. Richard Marriott :

    Hey Neil,

    Love it! I actually recently did a very similar thing which had a pretty negative effect on subscribers and comments.

    A couple of weeks ago I launched two detailed video tutorials that took days to put together. One was about expired domain link building the other on deep broken link building.

    Both posts were launched at THE SAME TIME but the titles were very, very different…

    #1 – Deep Broken Link Building: Extraction Two Levels Deep

    &

    #2 – Catholic School or Plastic Surgery? Expired Domain Link Building

    Both posts had awesome content, detailed videos going step by step through each process, but…

    The post with the school and surgery in the title did terribly, despite the fact I reached out to the same amount of people and promoted it in the same way as the other post.

    It got almost no social shares whatsoever, just 4 comments and on that day 3 people unsubscribed which has never happened before :S

    The post with the less offensive title generated 25 comments and dozens of social shares.

    It was fun to take a risk and see if it worked, but for sure controversy in this case did NOT work out 😉

    So, really happy to read your post today! (Btw, when I read your douchebag post I kinda guessed you might have been A/B testing hehe and that’s why I love Quick Sprout).

    Cheers mate and thanks for your insights!

  17. Chris Taylor :

    The headline was controversial + negative + inappropriate language (as considered by some). It appears that the was the word ‘douchebag’ and negativity that caused the real problems.

    Having spent 20+ years in B2B sales I am convinced that negativity communicated to customers never works. Having observed competitors use such tactics, and the occasional slip myself, it is never a profitable medium term strategy.

    Would love to see your analysis of a controversial but positive post!

  18. Christian Habermann :

    I have to say most of the time I agree with you and I typically really find your posts intriguing as well as quite valuable, but this is silly. You should focus your efforts on more worthy topics. Highly advise you wipe this under the rug and move on.

  19. I think some people just take it way too seriously. If they want to unsubscribe because of a simple word, then it’s their problem. Information is what counts and not the use of words I think. And your site is full of great content. It wouldn’t bother me at all if you used nothing but profanity. Great work as always Neil

  20. Douche. Douche. Douche. People should check themselves when they let a WORD affect them so much. How will these people ever find skin thick enough to survive in this world, especially when they are competing against so many “douchebags”? lol.

    For me, the only reason the title stood is that it was not really inline with your brand, or message, that seems, for the most part, refined and professional.

    So that might be something to consider with those kinds of titles. Are they in line with my brand, and will I be offending a large group of the 1950’s population who have somehow time traveled to the future and have subscribed to my blog. 🙂

    Keep up the awesome work. Your content (douchebagery and all) rocks!

  21. Wow. I was actually surprised with the tons of negative responses you received. Maybe because I stay in a country where the word is not that common and it does not seem offensive.
    Anyway, lemme be the 4th positive comment. I’m delighted with the contents of the post as it completely resonates with me. As a beginner, trying to get successfully people to get to know about your blog is quite difficult. Now, I know I only have to work harder and smarter. Have a nice productive week. Neil

  22. Ansley Wilcox :

    When I think “controversy,” I think of taking a stand which counteracts the conventional wisdom, not the use of a word which could offend some (in my opinion overly sensitive) people.

    I’m wondering if there is a difference in the performance of a truly controversial post vs. just what I would call an aggressive subject line.

    Controversy is not necessarily negative. I would think it would generate discussion.

  23. Jessi @ Quirky Cookery :

    I think the others are right on this one…. it’s not that your title was just controversial. You used a word that many consider “offensive” or “childish/immature” even.

    Had you said “Why Successful People are Jerks” instead of “douchebag,” I think you would’ve gotten a different kind of response. It would’ve been attention-grabbing, but the word wouldn’t have been what people were obsessing over like they were here.

    It’s kind of like the difference between saying “Why women are so annoying” (controversial) vs “Why women are such c*nts” (offensive/inappropriate). You probably shouldn’t risk the latter if your audience is business-related/professional….but you could get away with controversial ones like “why businesswomen are so picky” (especially if the article talks about them not actually being that picky), etc.

  24. William Harris :

    I read every single one of your posts – I love the content and the way you write. The d-bag did throw me for a second – I forward your emails to a bunch of my staff everyday – yesterday – I actually grabbed a buddy next to me to show him the title of your latest post – it definitely catches attention. This is something that I have been talking about a lot lately – especially with the new design of our website about to be launched. There are many ways to get attention – a classic example of getting the attention that you shouldn’t want – is the grandma in a miniskirt – she is getting attention, but probably not the kind she really wanted. I love that you had the guts to actually test this – I love A/B testing and I love that you tested this and wrote about it for us to learn. Thanks.

  25. Rose Is My Name :

    i actually like the title, although not all people are okay with it

  26. Michael Bely :

    Hi Neil,

    Just wanted to share my feedback with you.

    – Your previous post made me pay special interest and read it much more carefully than usually I read typical blog posts, because it had not only ideas or common suggestions, but also valuable personal experience from the experienced person (you),

    – I did not care about how bold your headline is, because I’m not looking for a political correctness or nice wording of your blog (what I appreciate is the valuable information first of all).

    – Anyway, controversial matter is what our life is all about, but far not all people like to deal with controversy – they need step-by-step, clear and non-ambiguous information to feel comfortable (probably, that’s why a lot of people unsubscribed).

    – That post made me read practically all the comments especially carefully and I see that your readers produced more interesting comments that usually (at least, it seemed me so),

    – From my point of view, such controversial posts are just targeting a little bit different audience than your typical posts are (your typical audience IMO got used to a non-ambiguous information, but that post provoked thinking which they probably did not expect or like).

    So to resume all above, here is just one my thought to speak out – controversial posts provoke more thinking and this is for a different audience than the one that wants easy steps/instructions.

    Sorry that a lot of people unsubscribed. I would have done the opposite (i.e. I would have subscribed) if it were the first post I saw on your blog.

  27. It was more about link-bait than being controversial? Controversial would be if the post was actually about ‘Why Successful People Are Douchebags’…

  28. Brian Duvall :

    You can write controversial posts without using offensive or un-professional language by simply presenting your point of view on a controversial topic. For example: I’ve been participating in a TV & Film Professionals group forum on LinkedIn. The hot topic of conversation was “How many times have you been told ‘We can’t pay you but it will be good exposure for you.'”

    With more than 550 comments from professionals in the industry, the conversation was deeply divided over Exposure vs. Cash as fair compensation. The topic became emotional for some… creating controversy.

    I wrote a short article sharing my perspective on the topic by taking the controversial position that working for exposure IS a good thing when you do it correctly. I also went on the answer the questions about how to position yourself so you attract paying customers, too.

    No foul language. Result: 475 views in just 4 days, 89 linkedin shares, as well as FB likes, Retweets, G+s, and a ton of new followers and requests to connect with peers in the industry.

    • Foul or unprofessional language is subjective, what you think is a ‘bad’ word, other people use in daily conversation, so right there you have an invalid point, unless you make another one. Where’s the rule book?

    • Brian, great point. Thanks for the feedback.

  29. Ujjwal Kumar Sen :

    Hello, Neil

    You just save my time as well as revenue, Thanks for this blog post.

    But, I think sometimes controversial blog post can improve your brand too but you need to know what type of people are you having in your list.

    Just like in mine e-mail list almost all are students, so they will read, what I will write, but that piece must be new as well as something interesting, which will help them in future.

    By the way Thanks @Neil

  30. Neil, that was the first QuickSprout I haven’t clipped into Evernote in a long time. But I don’t think the negative reaction was because your post was controversial, which it was not. ”

    Successful people aren’t douche bags, they’re just busy” — where’s the controversy in that? What put me off was the cheap-trick headline — the sensational lead-in to a nothingburger post.

    For once you actually had nothing to say, so you wrote a headline that made it sound like you did, just to get readers.

    I’m more used to your posts delivering on the promise implicit in your headlines.

    Best,
    Ted

  31. David Cogen :

    I have to say, your post wasn’t terribly controversial. In fact, soon as someone started to read it they realize that you quickly take the opposite stance to some extent.
    I think the experiment was more a test of how important headings are (for good or bad) and in your particular case how offended by the word douchebag that your particular audience is. On my site, I could have used that and had no issue for example cause my readers are young, but the issue for me with that same article would have come in when people realized that I actually took the opposite stance. They would have recognized that the title was simply worded in a way to increase clicks (which as we all know is becoming more and more prevalent in my industry) and been upset about that instead.

    Again, not sure if this should be contributed to a controversial post, it’s really a great example though about the importance of headings…

    PS. Mind doing some posts directed to those of us who are running advertising based websites and not always trying to get someone to purchase something. Just thought I’d throw that in here 🙂

    Thanks, Neil –
    David Cogen
    Founder
    http://TheUnlockr.com | http://ForknPlate.com

  32. Dennis Cline :

    When I saw that subject line, I thought “Neil’s running an experiment — and we’re the guinea pigs.” Seeing this post confirms it.

    It was an audacious (and expensive, subscriber-wise) move. Personally, I wouldn’t have chosen the “D” word. It’s too riddled with sexist overtones. I note the unsubscribers above were all female. Did you get any male unsubscribers?

    Given that incendiary choice, I’m wondering how the experiment would play out with a less provocative one. Had you tried idiot, jerk, cretin, fathead, schmuck, or similar, your results might have been significantly different.

  33. I loved the title as well as the content of that post. While you may have lost some “fans,” it’s the fat you trim when you try to grow your brand. In the future, people will look back at that post and wonder why they ever left.

  34. We live in a sensitive society, too sensitive sometimes. If someone can get upset about THAT post, maybe there are upset because it applies to them.

    As for the kids seeing that on an email, well kids hear far worse things that “douchebag” at school. Maybe at home. I see the reader kindly brought up the word “asshole” in their response.

    In my opinion, successful people can be jerks, douchebags, or whatever. There is a perceived attitude that people exude when they are trying to make it to the top. Some even think they are better than other people. It’s the truth and we ALL know it. No need to take it back.

    I will continue to read your posts because they are very informative. I come here to learn how to improve my site, not to find a ‘role model’, its all business. And I do learn a lot here, even with this post you are teaching. Good practices, bad practices, and results. That’s why I come.

    On a personal level, be who you are, not who you think others want you to be. In business ( or where money in concerned) we try to alter who we are to keep the money coming in or not to damage our finances.

    But I’m here to tell you, I’d rather you be real than fake any day. Show the real you.

    Thanks for this post.

  35. I think you might be jumping to the wrong conclusion about your last email. There’s a difference between a controversial topic (subject) and an unlikable word.

  36. Interesting research project. It seems like you are skilled about how to use analytics- I am impressed. I would expect at least some people to be offended by the use of the word douch; even the females who say disrespectful things about their own bodies because they think they will gain respect from men- which they will not. By the way, sucess is subject to interpretation. Money and careers do not define the totality of sucess for everyone; especially if you knowingly stepped on people to get ahead. Sucess is in the eye of the beholder. For example, a judge who became a millionaire by locking up innocent people is not considered a sucess in the eyes of many people- they are no better than the average crook. Another example would be a wealthy person who has a terminal illness like AIDS or Cancer. Some people would consider them to be unsucessful. So, even though your research produced interesting insights future studies might consider the different ways people define sucess.

    Otherwise, good job.

  37. I thought the subject line was funny! And true. I can totally be a douchebag when someone is wasting my time. Time is money, and I’m trying to stack as much as possible – so when you’re wasting it, I’m literally spending money on you. I guess America isn’t ready yet… just wait… it will be interesting how the next 10 years change communication.

  38. Nick J. West :

    It depends on the controversy I would posture. Is it a slam attack against a person or a group or is it more targeted to a product or service?

  39. LOL, the negative responses where really funny! Lighten up people, theres something called “slang”, look that up – its not the literal ‘medical device’ hes talking about here, if your target market is feminine types, never use that word, LOL. But for college guys, hellz yeah – they can relate to that. The funny thing with controversy is that just because you got less positive responses and more negative doesn’t mean its bad, its about the outcome you want. The ones who said they weren’t going to come back, will probably be back after they get off their ‘high horse’ – if they took the time to write, then they were engaged – you took 10 minutes of their life on something they supposedly disliked – GOOD JOB – that’s marketing… you may have gained more people who related to it but didn’t leave comments but joined your newsletter. Lots of media outlets make millions on controversy — um, TMZ, etc. So it has its place, not saying its the best in every context, but it shows character to me and breaks the boredom with some of these ‘marketing blogs’.

  40. I have a blog that thrives on controversy. It is political, but takes a view of politics as about people more than political parties. Controversial posts do very well there.

    That said, I think you have missed one aspect of the controversy – the nature of the content itself.

    In my view, controversy that presents a dissenting view that is well supported with facts thrives. Particularly on Social Media. At the very least, the title’s claim should be robustly supported by the content. I read your “Why successful people are Douchebags” post I read almost all your posts, and this was the first I did not like much – even though the content was useful). I think it is more of an “attention seeking” controversy rather than a real one – that will tend to disappoint. If at the end of your posts, successful people were still douchebags, then it would be a controversial post. This disappoints, because it grabs attention, but actually does a U-Turn on the “accusation” in the title. In my view, such posts normally don’t do well, unless it is satire or something.

    So, the conclusions may not necessarily be accurate.

    I’d be interested in a really controversial post you did – for example something that takes issue with an existing practice or entity – that you are competent to comment on and shreds it to bits with good reasoning provided. Something like this can actually establish you as an expert and invite trust as someone who won’t play goody-goody if it is important to speak up.

    • Vidyut, great feedback and definitely food for thought 🙂

      • What I also meant to say was that you may have intended to write a controversial post, but if it pisses off no one, there is no controversy. Readers are nodding along. So using stats from it to decide about controversial posts may not lead to accurate conclusions.

        In my view, if that post did badly, it was more likely to be an unfulfilled expectation of controversy promised by the title that left readers somewhat anti-climaxed.

        Unless, of course I am mistaken and there was actually anyone at all who got offended by that post.

  41. I thought the headline was great, and because I’m a regular reader of Quick Sprout, I guessed there was a spin on it beyond the headline. I think it was worth the experiment – you got quantifiable results and shared some sound advice about the experience.

    It also goes to show who understands your base content enough to be reading it. You lost some subscribers, but were they reading it and engaging anyway? Or just reading headlines and maybe the first paragraph…

    • Marcel, those were my thoughts exactly. Headlines should lure people to read then complete the process of reading the WHOLE article 🙂

  42. Hey Neil

    I would say it varies from case to case. I wrote an article called “Yeap, Most CPA Networks Are Raping You” (http://www.shoemoney.com/2013/01/16/yeap-most-cpa-networks-are-raping-you) it got bunch of people all riled up, but that sorta “jump started” my blog readership.

    In your case, I think there was a misalignment between your regular posts and that specific one. People saw you as this nice guy who likes to help and not rock the boat… and this one was out of character.

    Look at all these guys that push buttons all day and people expect them to do that. Techcrunch arrington guy for example… or Perez Hilton.

    Besides, if people want to unsub for

    1) speaking your mind
    2) not reading the post and judging from title only

    then i say they’re not worthy having your content.

  43. Karol Gajda :

    I think that controversial posts should have their own place in a long term strategy. They generate more traffic and help us to reach people who have never heard about us before. Very often they generate also more engagement among our regular audience. But as you wrote, there is always price to pay.

    Extremely helpful post, Neil.

    just.a.guy
    Great idea about using this kind of situation to classify your mailing list. Thank you.

  44. Brian Jackson :

    I had a feeling you were testing something Neil 🙂 Even I was a little surprised by the title of the post. Very interesting to see the stats afterwards.

  45. Angela Raymond :

    Neil,
    I loved the post. It certainly wasn’t your normal headline and I know my eyebrows certainly went up when I saw it:) I believe you were still teaching your subscribers about controversy, especially with the follow up today. Good job!

  46. Justin McGill @ Workado :

    I don’t know that your post itself was controversial…seems just the word used had offended some people.

    Maybe the title of this blog should be “Should you write offensive blog posts – a data driven answer” 🙂

    I think controversial/contrarian type posts are widely recognized as being good things to write every once in awhile.

  47. Not very scientific. You mixed two factors and attributed your results to only one factor.

    There’s a difference between “controversial” and “crass” (or choose some other word if you want). (And while most crass things *are* controversial, not all controversial things are crass.)

    Had you used a controversial topic and dumped the crass language, you may have had different results.

    Jake

    P.S. I also don’t want crass language in my email inbox.

  48. Adrijus Guscia :

    I like data approach but you’re judging to soon I think, one day of negative revenue doesn’t mean it’s just because of the post, there’s too many things in play to really to put it all on one thing. Unless you have super tested this stuff and have a ‘controlled environment’ so to say.

    Article was great and lost no respect for you in my eyes, personally. Maybe it’s just a good filter for people who aren’t your clients anyway. If people don’t have sense of humor.. not your problem..

  49. Hi
    Things happens. The only option sometime we have is that we should put these hick-ups in dustbin.
    Only for you MR. Neil
    Thanks

  50. I am one of those 1950s people, a woman and I guess rather naive.

    I got your email, wondered why you thought that and read the article. It was a good positive article that explained why you had this wrong impression and what was the truth.

    I didn’t think anything about the title being an experiment. Did you mean it to be?

    I didn’t think you were being controversial in the title or the article. Did you mean to be?

    I think there is something the matter with people who would unsubscribe because you used a semi-naughty possibly sexist (that has gone beyond being such) word once among all the information you have so graciously shared.

    I am impressed by this article and the information you learned and shared.

    I actually read some of the comments from this article because of what you shared today. You could have been doing an experiment on me and I just didn’t get that.

    But who cares? I am going to remember what you learned about headlines and choose my words carefully.

    Thanks.

  51. I think this has less to do with being controversial and more to do with staying true to yourself and your audience. If you’ve built up an audience on your reputation of being very professional and business oriented then people will expect that from you. When you delivered something else they got upset because you’re not delivering what they want. If you had started out as the “controversial IM guy” then that would be a different story.

  52. I think you might be giving yourself kudos for doing something you didn’t actually do. The post wasn’t controversial at all … the title was.

    Unfortunately, the title of the post was also quite misleading. You didn’t actually write about what you’re title intimated.

    I find myself disappointed. Not because you didn’t expound on the title, rather, because I think it was deceptive.

    • Sheldon, thanks for the feedback. I guess we are all entitled to our own opinions on such topics. Looking forward to hearing more from you 🙂

  53. Neil, that’s not really a data driven answer duh! You only had 1 somewhat controversial post and thousand good and useful ones. People got used to certain type of content. Change is hard to accept.

    Make a few more controversial posts and you can have some nice data to compare then!

    Other than that, awesome blog, love the tips!

  54. My biggest problem with the post wasn’t the title… it was that it was a lie. You titled the post and then right as the post began, you said “Oh ha ha, just kidding, they AREN’T douchebags; but that’s the perception people have”

    I thought that was lame.

  55. In my opinion, controversy is great if you are grabbing peoples attention and saying the opposite of what the mainstream says.

    Maybe, even uncovering a little known fact that gets people seeing and thinking differently.

    Unfortunately, some people can get offended by using profanity or even a slang word they regard as less than professional.

    Test, Measure Repeat….Marketing is an art form.

  56. Neil,

    Obviously being controversial just for the sake of being controversial won’t do much good.

    There is definitely room for content — even in B2B — that goes against what people previously believed. (An example is the ‘controversial’ posts on Signal V Noise.)

    Also as a response to those complaining about the use of the word “douchebag”: Get a grip. Seriously, it’s just a word. Would you protest if a friend swore in pubic? If so, I doubt you have many.

    — Ben @Scrybstar.com

  57. Neil, bravo for using your own website as a guinea pig for this insightful experiment.

    The fact that you were willing to jeopardize your own sales to provide your readers with useful information says A LOT about who you are as a person.

    Love you!

  58. I think taking a stand is always worthwhile, especially if it goes against received knowledge in your field. People need their cages rattled once in a while–but it’s all in how you word it.

    I think you may have made an error in using the word “douchebag” and that’s what drove the negative comments, not the post itself.

    It would have been interesting to see an A/B testing of a title with and without “douchebag” with the same content in the post.

  59. Great follow up post!

  60. Yosie Saint-Cyr :

    Nope… not worth it… done some and did not like to have to deal with comments coming from readers who cannot accept that people may have a different opinion, an unpopular opinion, or a whole different opinion about a topic or issue. These readers are completely rude and sometime downright nasty.

    A controversial post does hurt your brand… in the short run… if you continue writing and provide them with non-controversial posts they accept… but if you don’t it can hurt you for a long time.

  61. Bart van Oort :

    You forgot one important stat in this post:
    How many paying customers unsubscribed? It’s easy to leech and get free advice. But I bet you that 0 paying customers disagreed.
    Which also brings us to the next stat missing from your post: how many of the people claiming to unsubscribe did really do it?

    Keep up the good work. When you write a controversial but decent, well founded article and people don’t have the decency to read it because of the title, you don’t want them as readers anyway…

    B

  62. I did not find the “douchebag” post particularly controversial in terms of subject matter. Where I think the post went off the rails was using “douchebag,” and doing the old “bait ‘n switch” in the headline to call attention to the post – kind of like what bloggers did years ago, by writing a headline such as “free porn XXX” and when you opened the post, it was about something else.

    That said, I greatly respect you (Neil) and your knowledge. I’m a QuickSprout University student and I’m not going anywhere, and I think you’ve provided a valuable service by showing us what can go wrong when people use this approach.

    “Bait ‘n switch” is very dangerous. People often don’t read past the headline/title. Statistically, you’re lucky to get a screen or a screen and a half out of people before they move on. So, if you write something in a headline that is contrary to your character or brand, you can do grievous damage to yourself. In politics, I’ve seen relationships and reputations destroyed over that type of headline. My advice anyone reading. Don’t do it. It doesn’t matter how clever or cute you think it is. Just don’t do it.

    As for “douchebag,” There is a place for using crude language in headlines and posts – and that’s when you’re quoting someone as part of a news story. I deal with this from time to time because I run a political news blog. I’ve used “cojones,” “WTF” and “piss” in headlines/titles – because those words were uttered by the person being reported on and they were part of the crux of the story. When you’re quoting someone you can get away with it.

    Using crude language as the author of your own content is ill-advised unless it is an accepted part of your persona/site character/site function.

  63. David Trounce :

    Hi Neil,

    I am one of the people who was turned off by your heading, and made mention of it in my comments for that article. I didn’t bother reading the post.

    Controversial headings are useful if you are writing on a controversial subject.

    You may increase traffic, but traffic ain’t revenue, as you pointed out above.

    There are also longer term effects. One of those is that many readers might now ask themselves, “Can I take this guy seriously?”. If I buy his product, am I getting a professional service or will I be hit with hype and childish one liners.

    I also think you may have under-estimated the intelligence of your audience. I don’t believe you were “experimenting” with controversy when you wrote that post.

    I believe, given you body of work over time and the other things you have said about headlines, that you were not looking for interesting stats on revenue and traffic, you were trying to increase revenue and traffic.

    Anyway, we all make mistakes and a humble apology and confession is often a very good way to reheat a cold audience.

  64. This was an interesting experiment. I’m glad you posted your results! This will help me to adjust to my ‘clients’ for my two blogs. They are both fairly new blogs: one for indie video games and one for graphic design. While the subjects are similar in ways, the clients they attract are totally different. I am able to be more sarcastic and ‘fun’ for the mid 20’s to upper 30 year-olds on the indie video game blog, where as with the graphic design blog, I must cater to all ages in the graphic design profession. Thanks for your experiment!

  65. Bad language makes Jimmy cry.

    I’m not sure if I can ever recover from such vulgar and disturbing language. My heart is soiled.

    I will happily read the dailymail and plaster images of the horrors going on around the world on my screen.. But this.. This needs to stop Neil. Shocking.

    I’m heading back to more family friendly places like the comments section in YouTube.

    Thanks.

  66. Neil,

    What you are referring to is not a controversial post but use of a vulgur word to draw traffic. Totally wrong analysis and coming from you I am surprised.

    Seems like you profited from it again but I hope you don’t continue to use us.

    Please keep up with the great content you always produce.

  67. Hey Neil, you win some you lose some. People do need to chill somewhat. But I think they were more offended by the baiting of that article more than anything else.

    I initially thought you were off, then I read the post found it entertaining. Stay cool

  68. Hmm, from what I see all the negative comments came from haters or just some folks who are jealous of your success.

    And the positive comments came from people who are professional, successful and/or want to learn.

    My respect just got UP+++++++++++++++ for you Neil.

    Good luck Neil, and keep on keeping up the good work 🙂

  69. Dear Neil,

    A post having a bad bad word in title doesn’t qualify to be controversial post. The thought which is presented should be controversial. In such cases, your readers might not agree with your views but they will at least realize that you have a different way of looking at things.

    Such a controversial post is hardly to do any damage to the reputation.

    Still, I liked the article, nice one!

    Mandar

  70. Neil,

    The headline initially marred your credibility in my eyes, though I have been reading your blog for about a year now. It seemed to take the tabloid approach, complete with a cheesy photo unrelated to the true topic. I am personally turned off by sensational headlines since they are being overused lately. It seems that the more emotional and provocative the title, the less valuable the content. Thankfully you came through, as usual, with an insightful post, and then explained your testing with today’s post.

    One question I have not seen posted in the comments is this: What will/did you do to reconnect with those who were soured by your headline, or was loss just calculated into your plan? I would like to hear your thoughts on reconnecting, rebound posting, and moving forward from a branding blunder.

  71. Patricia Reszetylo :

    Controversy is fine – as long as it’s handled well. Present both sides, and watch the language… So it’s NOT that you had a controversial post so much as you didn’t handle the language well! Lesson learned? I’d try it again down the road, but see if you can keep the controversy, and lose the low-brow language, and see if it doesn’t improve things a bit for you!

  72. Neil is the man. The post was great and realistic. Yes it may be “negative for business” but it has a sense of realism to it that a few of us may be able to appreciate.

    It’s kind of like how people in the real world talk. Helps people relate better (those who aren’t offended) and shows he has some guts.

    Someone I’d definitely buy from. He keeps it personal.

    IMO, Some of you need to grow some balls…

    Oh wait.. am I being controversial too? 🙂

    Anyway thanks for the test Neil. Love it.

  73. Sabih Ahmed :

    There is no problem in writing controversial posts. They generate arguments and engagements. Like you said, a lot many people have just made assumptions on the basis of HEADLINE – which is clearly visible with the emails you received. I read your content the other day, and I didn’t find it odd. It was well-written and you have clearly cited the right information. So keep the good work up, Neil. But try not to be more controversial elsewhere you need to maintain such pace. 😀

  74. Sabih Ahmed :

    There is no problem in writing controversial posts. They generate arguments and engagements. Like you said, a lot many people have just made assumptions on the basis of HEADLINE – which is clearly visible with the emails you received. I read your content the other day, and I didn’t find it odd. It was well-written and you have clearly cited the right information. So keep the good work up, Neil. But try not to be more controversial elsewhere you need to maintain such pace. 😀

  75. Actually the post “Why Successful People Are Douchebags” is the only post I ever commented on this site. And it was a positive comment. But to my surprise my comment disappeared the next day. That nearly put me off but then again I thought it must be in error that my comment got deleted.

    I welcome controversial posts tackling some hard topics as long as readers are encouraged to be openly comment and express their views in a reasonable manner. I have seen sites where negative comments are simply done away with providing a distorted view of reader feedback.

    Thanks for being candid about your experience. Keep it that way.

  76. I now understand what kind of posts I should be posting

  77. Rajesh Haldar :

    If it’s my personal blog or I do have a huge fan following which is based on my profession then I will definitely speak of my mind and for that if it’s something which is controversial word or the topic itself I won’t mind or be scared of. However if it’s a brand where I am selling some product or service then definitely I will refrain from making controversial post, because people who use my product or service I don’t know them personally, so I won’t have any idea how they are gonna react to see my topic or the -ve word, so it will be safe not to do any experiment with that.

    But again if I am a personal blogger or have my own personal website or writing my biography then definitely I will go for using controversial topic if it’s the demand of the situation or topic I am presenting to my audience.

  78. I find the title captivating and humorous, but that’s because I can relate to it. Then again, majority of people are not me.

    I guess virtual business operates similar to a real live business. Words can be damaging to the bottom line and the overall relationship with customers.

    Hey, at least you don’t have to see their expression when it explode! I am sure the result would be YouTube quality! 😀

  79. Hi Neil,

    Thank you so much for being honest. I’ve always contemplated writing controversial content.

    You are very genuine. Sorry for the unsubscriptions and the slight losses you got there, it’s like dying for us all….

  80. I think adding a little spice is nice so yes I’m in favor of controversial posts. You are never going to please everyone and that’s ok, nor should you ever try. It just helps weed out the ones who weren’t your target audience anyway.

  81. Hi Neil
    Controversy attracts attention. It is a universal rule. But while creating controversy we should not forget the fact that being online marketing we have to make friends and keep growing our friends circle. If our controversial post hits any interest or feeling of a group of customers, producers, or industry players then it will be a counterproductive instead of making our post go viral.
    Thanks a lot for writing on such a wonderful topic and covering it from all aspects to guide people like me to when and why to write on a controversial topic to achieve our content marketing goals.

  82. Awesome post-mortem Neil! I absolutely loved what you did in the controversial post. I kind of figured you were doing something different. But I can completely understand why some people would choose to unsubscribe. These are not the usual values you display on the blog and they probably became uncomfortable.

    These are awesome tips for content marketing. Completely at your expense Neil! You’re awesome that way! Loved this!

  83. Hi Neil! Harish again.

    Even though your post was controversial, I only took positive points in it.

    Everyone thinks in the same manner when a big and successful person not responds to his or her mails or requests. But in reality, even if he wants to respond, his busy schedule will not let him to respond.

    Writing controversial posts are good for ‘monetizing through ads’ blogs but they have to take care about the problems they get as you got.

  84. There’s a lot to be said about filtering your audience too – get those handful of true fans over the hundreds of lukewarm ones, but like you said, Neil, handful of devotees, or hundreds of glancers can both benefit you in different scenarios.

    On a personal level, I read the post because I already had a pretty good idea of what you were gonna say, and was really interested about finding out how to penetrate that forcefield that successful people sometimes put up – that your title was interpreted as anything else by the people in those emails seems very naive and to be offended by the word “douchebag” seems sheltered. But again, gotta respect other people’s outlook and opinion.

  85. Jasper Oldersom :

    Hi Neil,

    Your blog is really valuable because of these type of tests. I read your article, noted this was not one of your usual posts and was wondering how this worked out for you.

    Everyone who actually read the posts knew that it contained valuable information, but it’s nice to see the e-mail reactions of people who just read the title and get outraged.

    Thanks for pushing out these high quality articles all the time and backing up by data!

  86. Ryan Biddulph :

    Carry on Neil…some douchebags take themselves WAY too seriously, and you’re blessed to be free of them lol! Loved the post, and love when bloggers speak their mind instead of fearing to do so!

  87. Andrew M. Warner :

    Hey Neil,

    This is truly interesting. For the past few months … even weeks … I’ve been contemplating whether to be more controversial or not with my blog posts. Mainly because you get alot of traffic when you spark controversy. I decided against it because that would mean that I would have to be controversial ALL THE TIME … which gets tired.

    On top of that, you may go through what you went through … loss of subscribers … negative emails … etc. To tell you the truth, I didn’t see anything wrong with the headline. But I can see how that would be classified as inappropriate for some people.

  88. Hi Neil,

    I don’t know what should comment here, but thanks for sharing this case study.

  89. I’ve often wondered about this, and sometimes it depends on whether you want to debase yourself. Clickbait articles are a great way to get traffic, often from outraged people wishing to inform the writer how stupid they are.

    If you write something which will exasperate people then you’ll likely get a traffic surge, but in the long run it might negatively effect your image.

  90. Lol, actually I haven’t been on Quick Sprout for a while but I had to after reading both titles in my inbox.

    Personally, I think it depends on what you define as “controversial”, which Wikipedia gives as “…a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view.” If you had written why the Amazon Fire Phone will be the best selling phone of 2014 when all others seem to think it will fail then your response would have been a lot different and sparked another debate. Distasteful views are always going to put off some people as seen by the comments from the douchebag post.

    Don’t know what my point is but Quick Sprout is a pretty awesome place some someone will figure it out lol.

    • One more thing: Hello Bar at the top of the page says:

      “Learn how TechCrunch increased their traffic by 30% in 60 days.”

      You could write another post entitled:

      “Increase social traffic by 134% in a day and lose 26% of your income”.

      That would be controversial. 🙂

    • Niall, thanks for the kind words of support 🙂

  91. I know that Derek Halpern from Social Triggers LOVES controversial posts (he recommends them in his course)

    His example is Design is king vs content is king and how he went against the grain.

    I guess it’s a different kind of controversial post than the douche bag one (which I definitely knew was for a test, you smart genius you!)

    I was going to do a post on “Why Paleo sucks for skinny guys” which I know would get some Paleo peeps against me, but with it being backed by science I think it still could work.

    Thanks for the awesome post dude!!

    P.S LOVED Your talk at T & C summit

  92. I can only imagine an internet troll or a reporter writing such things. For a business it’s always going to do more harm then good.

    I don’t see your particular article as a controversial one, maybe just the title. If the readers you lost only read your titles in their Inbox and judge accordingly, then I don’t really see the problem in loosing them.

  93. Totally agree. One should blog and write about controversial stuff. But make sure that u can back your words.

  94. Neil-

    Your experimental, results-based approach to marketing is the reason I come to this blog regularly. This is a great example.

    Though ‘douchebags’ is clearly controversial, it’s clear some people have a real issue with that specific term. I was thinking if it was changed to something like ‘jerks’, it could still be controversial without being repugnant.

    Maybe this way you could get the positive traffic effect while minimizing the negative risks.

  95. i think the premise of this article is somewhat flawed. The readers are objecting to your language (use of the word douchebag specifically) rather than the contents of the post. the title of this article should actually be “should i use foul language in my posts”.

  96. Dennis Gorelik :

    Neil,
    Great follow-up to previous post and learning points.
    It seems that problems are coming from offensive language, not from controversy.
    So it’s easy to fix/prevent.

    Did you editor complain about “douchebags” word when you put it into subject?

  97. It’s really amazing how some people might be offended by meaningless stuff! Where do those people come from, really?!? Getting offended by a word sounds really really strange to me. I think all of those people are taking their own professionalism way too seriously and are not really that professional because they are more concerned with fake politeness than substance.

    My reaction to most of the negative e-mails shared here is “What a pretentious douchbag!” or “What an idiot!”.

    Humanity’s stupidity never ceases to amaze…

  98. And another point – this is not the first time you’ve done controvertial posts. The post about stealing your competitors Facebook likes was much more controvetial than this one – it just used “clean professional language”. What were the results with that one?

  99. Hi,

    Neil i wanna tell you something that am very lazy to read someone blog but all time when i saw a mail from you in my inbox i read that and its kind of refreshment for me .

    and today post its just a supperb you know what i like comments which you show in your post.

    Thanks to share

  100. I was considering writing a controversial expose-styled blog post about how the local farmers market in my city only had one genuine “local” vendor and no actual local farmers, but I changed my mind and decided instead to do a feature on the real local vendors. Some of my friends have encouraged me to go ahead and post from my perspective on this topic. Having read your take on controversy, I am somewhat leaning toward my original idea to go ahead and post it. Thank you for the interesting information on controversial blog posts.

  101. Shit… Should have read this before I posted my last post.

    http://www.lisalisted.com

  102. I usually avoid writing about a controversial topic, in order to avoid such situations. And when I approach a “delicate” subject I try to write from a neutral perspective…so my readers will not be disappointed by what they read. I try to keep the same style of writing, which my readers are used to.

  103. Ash @ The Middle Finger Project :

    As someone who runs a relatively large blog called The Middle Finger Project (and who regularly publishes similar titles), I think it has a lot to do with expectations. We’ve got about half the number of subscribers as you do, and all of those folks are opt-ing in knowing that we’re unconventional – in fact, that’s who the blog is for: Folks who want to do life and business differently.

    I can count on two hands the number of negative messages we’ve received since 2009 – and I have to suspect, it’s simply because we’ve set people up to expect us to be true to who we are.

    Adding this for the people out there who might be hesitant to speak their minds.

    🙂

  104. Marie Williams :

    Neil,

    Thanks for sharing your results from this experiment. I think that controversial headlines definitely have the potential to cause spikes in traffic, but as your findings confirmed — it’s not always the type of traffic you want or the kind that makes you money.

    I believe there is a way to use controversy in a way that mostly avoids offending anyone and still grabs more attention than a normal post would…it’s just a bit of an art to master.

  105. Puja Sharma :

    Hi Neil ,

    very very nice article i found it by search excellent stuff i also follow your way .

    Thanks
    Puja

  106. Chirag Mishra :

    Another interesting post! I think it could be easy for reputed bloggers like you as you have lots of visitors on your posts, but it’s quite risky for low traffic blogs because they always horrified about losing their visitors. Maybe it’s 50/50, few will like it or few will dislike straight away.

  107. Wow, I had just tested a similar thing on my fun news sites, and it back fired pretty badly. Well, I mean I had a very similar response, and I ended up deleting the post as there were way too many people hating in the comments, and creating a crazy mob.

    And yes, it had a very strong response, higher traffic, but the unlikes hit a record high as well :-/

    Anyhow, great stuff Neil, keep it up 🙂

  108. This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am
    truly happy to read everthing at one place.

  109. Elyse Salpeter :

    I liken controversial blog posts to the Kardashians and the Miley Cyrus antics of the world… you get the shock value and people tuning in to check out the hoopla, but the respect factor disappears right out the window. I think unless you really have something dire to discuss that would merit a controversial post, then possibly the best thing to do, is not to do it.

  110. The negative feedback about your article was actually about the headline, not content. Interesting and thought provoking articles are actually awesome, you just need to avoid insults and swearing with a more proper title like “Why do people hate entrepreneurs?” or “Entrepreneurs don’t owe you anything”.

  111. So you’re writing- I should say, making up, controversial posts on something just to get traffic? I know there is a whole industry around this now and it is accepted by the people ‘in the know’, but it does not mean it is RIGHT or moral.
    Many people on FB are completely unaware that anyone is doing anything for commercial reasons on FB except for actual pages that represent businesses. They are under the deluded idea that people write things on FB because it is something they actually believe or care about!
    People are actually not being cynical enough, and not realizing people like YOU are the, I’ll use the word, ‘scumbags’.

    • Scott — sorry you feel that way. If you read further into the article you’ll find that controversial headlines are to bring about attention to articles that wouldn’t otherwise get attention. This can be for topics ranging from global poverty to marketing helpful products. You are only looking at one side of the equation.

  112. Unquestionably believe that that you said. Your favourite reason appeared to be
    on the net the easiest factor to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked at the
    same time as other people consider worries that they just don’t recognize about.
    You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and also
    defined out the whole thing without having side-effects
    , folks can take a signal. Will likely be again to get more.
    Thanks

  113. Harrison Alley :

    Very interesting post, Neil.

    I’ve thought about this myself and my conclusion has always been that profanity on my blog would alienate more people than it would bring in.

    It’s nice to have an expert 3rd party opinion on the matter.

  114. The title only “Why Successful People Are Douchebags” sure is not controversial, rather offensive. But if readers dive into the post, they have to feel offensive no more.
    Putting the title that way is causing some bad impressions at first. But to me, that’s a clever way of placing words.

    Thanks, Neil.

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