How To Get Blog Traffic By Pissing Off Your Audience

It has been said that you never want to upset your customers. However, I’m here to tell you that sometimes there is a place for it. IF you do it strategically…

The simple truth of human nature is that controversy works.

As much as I hate the news media because of it’s horrible effects on our society as it is currently run, the truth is that much of what they do (causing conflicts and magnifying it on camera for all to gawk at) is done because it works. When people see a controversy, they tend to stick to it like flies on a big pile of steaming crap.

What does this have to do with blogging? Am I telling you to go out and start causing trouble? No, not at all.

As a blogger, it is not always our job to teach and inform. Sometimes, our job is to provoke thought. To get the readers thinking. To cause conversation. Sometimes, in order to do that, you’ve got to go against the grain.

The truth is (and I’ll go deeper into this in my upcoming coaching program) that most people surf the net in a kind of hypnotic trance. In order to get their attention sometimes, you’ve got to reach through their screen, grab them by the sack and twist until it hurts. But, in a nice way, of course! 😉

As a small example, I wrote a post recently where I really dived into the state of our society: The Society of Mediocrity and Your Role as a Blogger. Now, untrue to the title of this particular post, I highly doubt I pissed off anybody with that post and it wasn’t my intention. But, it WAS my intention to get people thinking. So, I held no punches and I even let off a couple of cuss words. In fact, sometimes you will see me use profanity on this blog. It isn’t done haphazardly. It is done for the purposes of a pattern interrupt. Since people are not used to bloggers cussing (especially in this market), sometimes it can be done in order to wake the reader up from their trance and pay more attention to what I’m saying.

In other words, people get grooved into a pattern in things. As long as everything fits nicely into that pattern, they remain in a sort of trance and nothing stands out to them. A pattern interrupt is something which they don’t expect. It wakes them up.

In a completely different application, over on PCMech we sometimes deliberately stoke the flames of Mac versus PC (ssshh….don’t tell anyone! 😉 ) Why do we do this? Because it causes conversation and it gets our audience involved. We like that! So, I do a video where I declare that my Mac will kill your PC and I start the video off with me literally licking my Macbook Pro. Do I have romantic desires toward my Macbook? Well, today I don’t. But, I did that in order to fan the flames just a bit through the use of sarcasm and, of course, to act as a pattern interrupt because I highly doubt people on that site expected to see a video of me loving up my computer. 🙂

So, what I’m trying to teach you today is this: Don’t be afraid to be edgy!

You don’t want to come out and just piss people off. You don’t want to ever use this tactic in an irresponsible way by causing conflicts or problems. But, strategic use of controversy and pattern interrupts works.

And, as I alluded to, this is something I will go into more later on with my coaching students because psychological tactics can work and do when used appropriately and correctly. Be sure to join my mailing list so you’ll be informed as details emerge about my new coaching program. Or follow me on Twitter and you’ll be sure to know when the pre-launch begins.


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  1. I know at least two persons that based their entire marketing strategies on pissing people off.

    Whenever I visit their sites, receive their e-mail or check out their guest posts, there’s controversy.

    Just on April 16th (a few days ago) I received exactly this headline on an e-mail “Don’t be an idiot Sergio” LOL

    It’s hilarious but as you say, it works because people then start paying attention.

    If you were wondering who these guys were, I think you already know them, one is considered a php whiz and the other is in charge for stirring things up at the diy themes sites. 😉

  2. Now you really inspired me, I have a few ideas of my own how to “piss” of my visitors, but I feared that would make negative vibes around my blog.

    I will definitely try it out.

  3. Now you really inspired me, I have a few ideas of my own how to “piss” of my visitors, but I feared that would make negative vibes around my blog.

    I will definitely try it out.

  4. If you piss off readers, I’m not sure how useful the traffic you get will be. Any thoughts no this? My gut feeling is that people won’t buy if they are not in rapport with the reader (a key hypnosis principle).

  5. Usually I don’t write comments in blogs but this time I just had to! Thank you very much for the usefull infos you have here!!

  6. David, Thanks for this article. I enjoy reading both your newsletters and also your blog. As a person who reads a lot of blogs, I would agree. If you want to stand out, you really need to do something that gets peoples attention, I think that this is often easier said than done.

    Thanks once again.

    Vaughan Rivett

  7. This is excellent advice. I would only add that it can be very helpful to piss off a big dog.

    For example I got into a pissing contest with some skunks at the Warrior Forum (a hugely popular marketing forum) so I decided to write about it on my blog and a Squidoo Lens.

    I entitled it “Warrior Forum Hates Free Speech” and then let loose with both barrels in the body of the article. I knew it would spark controversy so I applied some simple white hat seo techniques to get it ranked on Google.

    I knew tons of folks search Google for “Warrior Forum” and related keywords every day so wouldn’t it be sweet to have all these good folks see my controversial article title as they browsed search results related to the Warrior Forum?

    Well it only took me a few days to have my Warrior Forum blog post and Squidoo Lens ranked on page one of Google. Then the [email protected] really hit the fan. Visitors, both pro and con, flocked to my blog and lens.

    The upshot was that my lens made Squidoo Top 100 for a while and that one little blog post url helped shoot my entire blog to the number one position on page one of Google out of over 24 million results for “cash gifting blogs”. It remains there today.

  8. Thanks for that, it really do make sense. People love “unusual,” “controversial,” “crazy” stuff! I know I do.

    Now you have me thinking in another direction. Just what the doctor ordered!

    Excellent post! Glad I visited.

  9. David, Everyone that reads your blog could/should be a potential customer. They talk to their friends and word gets around. You should always care about your audience. I know that you know this.
    If you reach a crowd that enjoys controversy then of course by all means make them upset, that is what they want.
    Everyone has a different point of view as to where that fine line resides. (I feel that I have crossed yours tonight)
    I totally agree with your restatement of the point that you are making. Pattern disruption is always a good thing, it’s like looking at a woman with 3 breasts.
    Don’t take what I said about your mac attack personal, I was not offended. I just figured it was boys being boys with toys but you lost an audience. I was using it as an example, about fine lines.
    I have been following you for about ten years.
    If I had not found value in you and your PCMech site I would not be here now offering another/bland/mediocre point of view. 😉

    1. Thanks, Deann. Much appreciated.

      Yeah, perhaps I could have given a better example. That said, this pattern interrupt concept is a powerful one so lets not get too involved with the purpose/point of my Mac video. It was a stupid video, and I posted it just for fun.

  10. Shit. Pattern interruption works. It’s basic human nature.

    In a college art class I took, we called it “theme and variation.” Set a theme and make variations to it — it not only attracts attention but makes the work as a whole cohesive and provocative.

  11. David, It all depends on what you blog about, and how well you know your readers. I didn’t find your “my Mac can kill your PC” article beneficial. It sounded like you were using your blog to tell someone off. If there was more to it than that, I wouldn’t know because I quit reading/watching it. If you were making a point it did a fly by. I just figured it was a guy thing and I didn’t have the time nor did I want to join in a pissing match. So you lost an audience. The point I am trying to make is, How do you know where the fine line is? What someone finds funny, others will find it appalling. You can’t please everyone…so bottom line should you take that risk? Especially when you depend on your readers for part of your income?

    1. DeAnn,
      Yes, it does depend on the market. And, no, I didn’t have a point in that particular video. The only reason I bring it up in this post is because it does employ a pattern interrupt.

      As for the “can’t satisfy everybody” point, you are correct. But, I’ll also say this – I’m not trying to satisfy everybody. There is such a thing as a TARGET market, and if I were trying to attract a certain kind of person with that video (which I wasn’t) and you were offended by the thing, then you wouldn’t be my target market and therefore I wouldn’t care if I lost you as an audience member.

      I guess another way to restate my point would be this: You will not succeed and stand out if you act exactly like everybody else.


  13. You can drive people away just as fast by upsetting them. It really depends on what your blog is about. If your blog is about opinions, then yes it is going to get flamed. That is what you want, a good mixture of people interacting. If it is about instruction’s/how to’s…and some free stuff. You shouldn’t rile your audience if your want to keep the love and money coming in. You don’t want to fall off your tightrope, if you didn’t put up a safety net. Or burn your bridges, ’cause you might have to use them again, and building new ones takes more time and money.
    I enjoy your blog about blogging. 🙂

    1. DeAnn, It can be a fine line, but the idea is to interrupt the usual patterns of your audience. You don’t want to necessarily make them angry to the point where they don’t like you. That’s obviously a bad idea. Done correctly, however, it is not going to alienate your readers but will, instead, simply get them to pay more attention than usual. See the difference?

  14. There are always a time and place to piss off people to get the pot stiring. If it gets people to talk and get in the action then I am all for it. Greg Ellison

  15. You always make me smile, think or both at once.
    I try not to tick people off often, but like you I think, it just comes from being an opinionated, vocal person. I loved your post on mediocrity. Very insightful and informative.

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