Blogging like a fugitive


McAfee-smby Pamela Powers Hannley

In recent months, John McAfee's life has been the stuff B movies are made of.

In a nutshell, the expatriot anti-virus software pioneer had six guard dogs and "a contingent of armed guards" patrolling his estate in Belize; his neighbors didn't like the aggressive, barking dogs, and one filed a formal complaint; the dogs were poisoned; a few days later the neighbor was shot dead; McAfee went into hiding– including burying himself in his yard (to hide from police in Belize) and faking a heart attack (to be released from jail in Guatemala).  

As if that's not enough to keep a guy busy, apparently McAfee had the time to blog during his ordeal. 

Ragan's PR Daily says that bloggers can take a few queues from McAfee's blog to spice up their writing. How does one "blog like a fugitive"? Read tips from the article after the jump. (Image: John McAfee on his property in Belize. Credit: Brian Finke.)

According to Ragan's PR Daily, "You can capture some of the electricity of McAfee’s blog without fleeing Central American police." Here are some tips:

1. Pick fights. 

As the adage goes, nothing draws a crowd like a fight. 

You don’t have to tell McAfee that. In his posts, he called out a number of journalists who, he believes, wronged him. Take this excerpt from his first post

“Jeff [Wise] has made a life work out of smearing my character … He has gone beyond the call of journalistic duty to bring my dark side to the attention of the world. You might think that moral duty or a search for the truth has been driving him. But, sadly, this is not the case.” 

Some bold words from a man hiding in the jungle. 

Don’t call out a journalist in this manner, but embrace controversy when it’s appropriate. Take a stand. Rant about a topic near and dear. Just make sure you do it respectfully and thoughtfully—otherwise you’ll sound like a man hiding in the jungle. (McAfee later apologized to Wise for making an erroneous claim.) 

If you accomplish your goal, you’ll become the center of attention, which means people will pick at (or pick apart) your argument, so it had better be a sound one. Readers can disagree with your stance—that’s the whole point—but you should be able to lean on what you wrote. The only thing separating you from a libel lawsuit is the strength of your argument…

2. Tighten up your leads. 

Stop wasting your readers’ time with long introductions to blog post. Attention spans are frayed; competition is stiff. Get to the point. 

Just look at what McAfee is doing on his blog. His writing is urgent. There’s no big windup, instead he reaches out and grabs his readers. Take the opening sentences from his third post

“In the pre-dawn hours of April 30th of this year I woke to the sound of a bullhorn yelling unintelligible orders. I ran naked outside and saw a military formation whose uniforms identified them as GSU, creeping slowly down my driveway.” 


Or this lead paragraph from his post “Blogging from Jail”: 

“I am in jail in Guatemala. Vastly superior to Belize jails. I asked for a computer and one magically appeared. The coffee is also excellent.”…  

3. Tell your story with pictures. 

The tyranny of prose is over; today's online readers expect pictures…

4. Write evergreen posts for the blog bank. 

In case of capture, McAfee promised that he had written enough posts to keep his blog going for months. He also had an assistant helping him out, a luxury that perhaps you can’t afford. 

Still, it’s wise to write a post or two on evergreen subjects that aren’t time sensitive, such as how-to or list stories. Maintaining a blog, whether for business or pleasure, can seem oppressive when you’re trying to keep it updated on a regular basis. By writing ahead, you’ve got at least one good post in the bank for the days you’re feeling overwhelmed with work or unable to formulate a coherent sentence. Your blog will have fresh material that wasn’t squeezed out of you, painfully. 

If it’s a matter of time (“I can’t even afford the hour or so to write one post, let alone several”) consider the mornings, afternoons, or evenings when you’re inspired—the caffeine is coursing through your veins, and you’re churning out copy. Instead of writing a single post and calling it a day, harness that energy and inspiration to kick out just one more post. Pour yourself another cup of coffee, put on a new playlist or album on your iTunes, and get cracking—you’ll be thankful you did. 

Quick tip: Keep a list of evergreen topics that would work great for your blog.