What a Magician Can Teach You About Blogging

April 3, 2012By

A recent article on Smithsonian, Teller Reveals His Secrets, went viral on the web.

I can’t remember where I first stumbled on the article, but after reading it I realized it was a great piece. I came away thinking about how smart Teller is. I also realized the amount of work and critical thinking that goes into a magic trick.

In the article, Teller shares some tips on how magic is able to work. Please read the entire article for all the tips. I simply want to expand on one of the tips in the context of blogging.

Put In More Trouble Than It’s Worth

Teller’s tips were great. The focus of this article is on his second tip:

2. Make the secret a lot more trouble than the trick seems worth.

The example Teller uses later in his card trick is:

First, the preparation: I slip a queen of hearts in my right shoe, an ace of spades in my left and a three of clubs in my wallet. Then I manufacture an entire deck out of duplicates of those three cards. That takes 18 decks, which is costly and tedious (No. 2—More trouble than it’s worth).

Before reading this article I assumed magicians worked extremely hard to hone their tricks. I’ve seen the movies. I thought I understood that magic took work and practice.

I did not realize that it was actually the goal of magicians (Teller at least) to put in more work than it’s seemingly worth.

In the context of magic, the tip works because the audience will quickly calculate in their minds the effort it would take to actually perform the trick they are seeing. The audience will quickly do math in their head to figure out how Teller would setup this trick. After some quick thinking, audience members will quickly dismiss the notion that what they are seeing is actually a trick because they will be thinking, “Who in their right mind would put in all that effort for a simply trick? It must be magic.”

There is more to magic than this, but it’s an interesting tip for how to outsmart the human brain.

Put In More Effort With Blogging

Now, I’m not suggesting you should try to outsmart the human brain with your blog posts. What I’m suggesting is you can gain the respect of your target audience by putting in more trouble than it’s typically worth to create at least a few of your blog posts.

Let me share an example.

On Country Music Life, I had the idea for a blog post about sad country songs. There were posts like this already in exisitence. I had to think of a way to make my post different. What I chose to do was not just create a list, but to add my personal thoughts for each of the songs on the list.

The result was: The 50 Saddest Country Songs of All Time

Readers have seemed to appreciate the extra effort. I’ve found that people enjoy reading what other people think about things. In this case, people had some interest in my thoughts on specific songs and the topic in general. Of course, just because we might be interested in what someone has to say on a subject doesn’t mean we have to agree. I’ve had numerous comments on the post that I’m an idiot for not including an obvious song.

But the post has gone on to become the most popular post of all time on the site.

I can estimate that it took about five times as long to create the post with my own additional thoughts than simply creating a list of songs.

Key Takeaway

Sometimes when blogging it’s necessary to put in more work than is likely necessary. The resulting post can often impress people. Not only that, but your company will come off as impressive as well.

Teller puts in extra trouble to trick the mind when he creates tricks.

You can do the same, but instead of tricking your reader you’ll be impressing them with your commitment to creating an interesting and useful blog post.