Why You Should Think Twice Before Making a Manifesto for Your Blog

Manifesto. That word sounds so mighty, doesn’t it? It summons romanticized images of pumped fists and feral, sweaty grimaces of perseverance, much like the Gatorade, Olympics, or U.S. Marines commercials.

I personally picture a low-angle shot of a towering man in pristine military uniform staring down at the camera in a ready stance with fists at his sides and a massive U.S. flag undulating behind him. Manifesto.

But as sexy as all of that looks, the word is dying, and quickly.

Here’s why. 

It looks like a good idea.

Blogging manifestos are indeed an effective form of audience engagement, or else pro bloggers and revered business/brand storytelling experts like Michael Margolis wouldn’t bother with them.

It’s one of the most mouth-watering forms of email subscription bait you can offer on your blog or website because it echoes in a very firm way your beliefs, work ethic, brand story, goals, or even success, which piques a reader’s interest because she wants a small peek at who you are and whether your decree interests her in any way.

And once you strike a chord with a reader in such a deep way, you’ve got her.

But as a new or growing entrepreneur, as cool as that sounds, you’ve got a problem on your hands now.

It was a good idea. Was.

Margolis first released his brand storytelling manifesto, Believe Me, back in 2009 when it was still a relatively novel concept, and it was downloaded by some 11,000 people that year. Corbett Barr released one for his Expert Enough blog in 2011, which has been downloaded by over 10,000 readers, and has done two for his personal site

Globetrotting writer Chris Guillebeau has produced two for his, A Brief Guide to World Domination, and 279 Days to Overnight Success, with the former getting 100,000 downloads. Successful freelance writer Carol Tice released hers as a blog post in 2010.

In more recent examples, blogging expert Stanford Smith of the popular Pushing Social blog posted his in mid-May, and marketing and blogging superstar Danny Iny released his manifesto ebook, Naked Marketing, at the end of that month.

Your everlasting obstacle (online, in the entertainment industry, or elsewhere) is to be a beacon on the shores of uniqueness, gently calling your customer to your site to want and buy your product, talent, or service, and a manifesto would have been an interesting way to get him there.

But the manifesto’s brilliance is quickly becoming your bane: because such big figures in the online world laud it, everyone and their mom has now adopted it, practically rendering its effectiveness void.

There’s nothing worse than learning of a shiny new object, only to slam into the possibility that yours, once done, will camouflage into the rest of the blogosphere’s white noise (which is now over 181 million blogs deep, by the way).

Here’s where you go from here.

You’re at the same two-way juncture with manifestos as you are with your blog/site, as you are with standing out from other ‘treps in your niche: you can choose not to do this at all, or take the dying concept and add a spin that no one else is using.

You’ll find three manifesto types among the bloggers above: a list post (Carol Tice), a single-sheet image (Expert Enough and Pushing Social), and an ebook/report (Margolis, Barr, Iny, and Guillebeau).

Your mission, if you plan to make your own, is to find a way to distinguish yourself by producing it in a format that no one’s using.

And as you saw with Guillebeau and Barr, you can make more than one, so design yours with a narrow enough focus to guarantee you can follow up with more.   

Here’s a meaty post on how to design a manifesto, courtesy of Corbett Barr's ThinkTraffic blog, and another courtesy of Problogger

Whatever you decide, like all other decisions related to your business, you have much to consider. Choose wisely.

What are your thoughts on manifestos? Do you have one? Give me your thoughts in a comment below.  


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