7 Ways Craig Ferguson Can Make Your Blog Awesome

Do you find yourself envying some of the Big Name Bloggers with their pretty Web sites, zillions of followers and endless support from bloggers and advertisers alike? You might even find yourself tempted to copy those other blogs, trying to find the same success.

Don’t.

Let’s talk a bit about Jimmy Fallon.

For those that don’t know who Jimmy Fallon is, he’s the 34-year old former Saturday Night Live actor who landed the cushy gig at NBC’s Late Night show after Conan O’Brien inherited Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show. Fallon’s show started this spring with a lot going for it.

NBC pumped tons of money into Late Night and promoted it like crazy. Fallon stuck closely with the irreverent formula created by Conan O’Brien. The production value is top-notch and the guests are among some of today’s hottest actors and musicians. His house band is The Roots, which must have cost NBC some major cash and also ups the coolness ante.

By all reasonable expectations, Fallon should be owning the slot.

Yet, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon is unwatchable.

The problem is the way that Jimmy Fallon comes off onscreen. His delivery is awful, he is entirely too self conscious and he’s not very funny. Which, for a comedian, is kind of a bad thing. Watching Fallon is like watching the last third of hit and miss sketches on Saturday Night Live. Sometimes, it’s good and other times, you hate yourself in the morning.

In short, Fallon, in attempt to mimic Conan’s great show, has created a pale imitation at best.

Despite the big budget, the great lead-in (though that has slipped recently) and despite being the “it show”, Fallon is routinely beaten by CBS’s The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Ferguson, (47) isn’t hip, he doesn’t have eight zillion Twitter followers (hell, he seems to loathe much of the web culture), his budget at CBS is woeful at best – he has no house band and guests are not usually of the top shelf variety. Yet, night after night, he delivers some of the best late night television around.

Why?

Because Ferguson brings something to the table that Fallon, with all NBC’s money and buzz machinery can’t create – genuineness.

You can’t help but like Ferguson, even when his jokes fall flat or his sketches are corny. Why? Because he is original and funny in a way that isn‘t forced or awkward like Fallon’s. He is a natural comedian and at ease with himself, the show and his guests.

Things you can learn from Craig Ferguson to make your blog better

1) Be yourself. Ferguson is by far, the most comfortable talk show host I’ve ever seen on TV. His interviews aren’t filled with the standard formulaic questions that you see on every other show. When he is talking with a guest, it seems more like a genuine conversation, filled with stream-of-thought questions and playful banter. Take for instance, this two-part interview below with actress Zooey Deschanel.Write your posts with an authentic voice, let your personality through.

2) Throw out the cards. Ferguson starts every interview by ripping up his interview cards. Sure, it’s a gimmick, as he could easily have questions on a teleprompter. However, given the questions he asks, he could very well be improvising. Don’t be afraid to change the rules when blogging, deliver the content that other blogs aren’t giving their readers.

3) Turn your limitations into a strength. In addition to working with a limited budget, Ferguson’s hands were further tied in 2008, when producers required him to start each show with a cold open, a two minute segment prior to the monologue. This was done in order to compete with ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel. Rather than complain about having to find a way to fill two minutes, Ferguson has created what might be the best two minutes on television. When a viewer tunes in, they never know what they will get at the start of the show – a silly dance sketch featuring Ferguson and a leather-clad staffer, a monologue with puppets (yes, puppets) or interactions with the studio audience. We all have constraints, find a creative way to make the most of them.

4) Don’t take yourself too seriously. Perhaps one of the most endearing things about Ferguson is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Self effacing humor, done right, allows comedians to poke fun at others all the more convincingly. Don’t let your ego prevent you from being human, making and admitting to mistakes.

5) But know when to be serious. While other late-night talk show hosts were bashing Britney Spears a couple of years ago, Ferguson took the high road and said that he wasn’t comfortable doing comedy which attacked the vulnerable. He then addressed his own alcoholism and thoughts of suicide in a powerful monologue that cuts to the bone.

6) Don’t be afraid to take a position. While Ferguson keeps his politics close to vest, he isn’t afraid to skewer the bullshit surrounding the political process in America and to alienate his audience by delivering the truth – many people are idiots. Blogs that don’t say something offensive (to someone) run the risk of saying nothing.

7) Most importantly, have something to say. When you watch Ferguson, you don’t just get jokes, you get something more meaningful. Take for example his recent monologue in which he attacked our culture which deifies youth. Even though he toned the commentary down with laughs, it still rings true. There’s no reason you can’t deliver content which not only tastes good but also sustains.

So even if you aren’t one of the Big Bloggers, you can still succeed by being yourself, playing to your strengths (and weaknesses) and by being creative. Best of luck!

What blogging tips have you picked up from unlikely sources?

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18 responses to 7 Ways Craig Ferguson Can Make Your Blog Awesome

  1. Michelle

    This is brilliant!!! You have used a very creative, yet, spot on demonstration to prove your point. It may have helped that I am a Craig F. fan, however I never would have thought of using him as a learning tool for blogging. Brilliant!
    Thank you,
    M

  2. christine cox

    I LOVE this post! It’s so true – Fallon’s show, bless his heart, is just AWFUL. Painful to watch him and he struggles at something he clearly doesn’t enjoy doing. And Ferguson. Well, I’m hoping he leaves his young bride and moves in with me – anyday now, surely – but short of that, I love having him in my ‘bedroom’ every weeknight b/f I fall asleep. And yes, you’re spot on. If we all wrote our blogs with the same ease and self-possessed confidence that Ferguson uses to run his show, the blog world would be a happier place!

    Cheers!

  3. Tumblemoose

    Hey guys,

    Nice, fresh take on blogging technique. These tips are reasonable ideas to consider when going about your daily blogging business. Mixing things up a bit is refreshing not only for the blogger but for the reader as well.

    Also, FYI, since the new design change it takes fooooooooorrrrrr-eeeeevvvvvvvvveeeeeeeerrrrrrrrr to load CI in the ol’ browser? Anyone else have the same issue?

    Cheers

    George

  4. cindy platt

    This is one of my favorite posts. It is innovative and I was nodding along with your words while the media illustrated the points perfectly. You hit this one out of the ballpark.

  5. Bud Hennekes

    Best post I’ve read/watched in a long time. Loved the videos. You tied everything together flawlessly.

    I especially like the quote “Don’t let your ego prevent you from being human, making and admitting to mistakes.”

    🙂

  6. Eric Hamm

    I’m with Cindy on this one. I was nodding my head with every point. This is a great post to bookmark and pull out as a reminder of how to have an effective online voice. Great work David! 🙂 Eric

  7. Collier Ward

    Really great post – 7 great points to absorb.

    Something else that G.F. has that is authentic and essential to his watch-ability is his ACCENT. I’m not sure how that aspect translates to the written blog (something about timing, pithiness, who knows?) but I intend to think hard on this as an 8th point of Fergusonian genuineness.

  8. Dave

    Michelle – Glad you enjoyed it. And I would’ve never thought about it before, either. Fact is, I wanted to do a post about how awesome Ferguson is, but then I started to examine his tecniques a bit deeper and thought this would make for a good post.

    christine – Thank you. If Ferguson reads this, I’ll pass on your contact info.

    Tumblemoose – Thank you. As for load time, this one actually loads quicker than the prior one by quite a bit for me. All the images are smaller, whereas the other one had huge honking images, and there’s less clutter overall. I’ll have to look at the plugins that are running and see if any of them in particular could be slowing things down. Anyone else experiencing slow loads?

    cindy – Thank you. And anything good from this post comes from Ferguson, not me. The man is awesome.

    Bud – Thank you. I think that last one is one of the harder ones for creative types to get past.

  9. Dave

    Eric – Thanks!

    Collier – I do like his accent, though I didn’t want to point it out for fear that it might entice someone to do video posts in a fake Ferguson accent to try and be more appealing. We all remember the late 80’s disaster that was people walking around mimicking Crocodile Dundee and saying, “THAT’S not a knife…” or the Borat “Very nice” impersonations of two years prior. I shudder to think what faux Fergusons would sound like. Now that I think about it, Faux Fergusons would make an awesome name for a band!

  10. Trina

    Ha, CF’s timing is exquisite to be sure, and everytime I see you tweet about his latest quip, I think ‘damn, why am I on twitter and not watching CF?’
    There are so many blog tip posts out there, so kudos on taking a tip from your own CF analogy and getting creative. From what I can see you follow your own tips very well.

  11. Lovelyn

    Great reminder to be yourself online. Early in my blogging career I fell into the trap of trying to be someone I wasn’t online and let’s just say it didn’t quite work out. It never will. If it does become successful, you’re stuck acting like something you’re not. CF is a great example of how being yourself can bring you success. Great videos too. Very funny.

  12. dirtywhitecandy

    great advice – you’ve pinpointed the very things I love and loathe about blogs – and fulfilled your other objective of being fresh and entertaining! Mille points!

  13. janice

    I reckon this is one of CI’s best posts to date. Like Cindy and Eric, I was nodding in agreement as I read, and I hadn’t even seen the footage. I’ve seen this post format a million times, the intro and the short internal list, but you guys do it well.

  14. janice

    Just watched the videos and was gobsmacked to hear the Glasgow accent; then I realised he’s the Scottish guy who was in the film Saving Grace!

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