The Biggest Influence on Anti-Sell (is Not What You’d Expect)…

Photo of computer screen run through the Prisma appWell hello there! It’s been a while. The last post I published on here was *checks notes* five months ago?! 😨 Wow. And to think, I once committed to doing at least one new post per month on here! How the hell I ever even managed the time to do that, I’ll never know – haha…

Aaanyway.

Recently I realised that Anti-Sell came out this time last year (March 2019), which is absolutely unreal – the last year has flown by.

Since then I’ve blogged about the book’s release (see link above), as well as my Freelance Heroes Day 2019 talk and how I’ve been promoting it.

I also blogged about the books that inspired it – but later realised that its biggest inspiration (or perhaps “influence” would be the right word to use) isn’t actually even in that list.

So… what is it?

It’s got to be something SEO-focused, right? Like the Moz Blog?

Uhh nope! While I am a bit of a long-time Moz fanboy (I still often think back to my time at MozCon 2018), and I do briefly mention Rand in the book, it’s not the biggest influence.

So then it’s a business book, right? It’s gotta be! Like one of the ones in my Books that Inspired Anti-Sell post?

Well yeah, obviously they inspired Anti-Sell (it’s… literally in the post’s name, LOL) – but none of them were the biggest influence. (Although I’ll give a special shout-out to The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz, which was one of the first business books I read and subsequently fell in love with – the author is really funny and engaging, making it a very entertaining read.)

So if it’s not any of those, then what is it? What’s the biggest influence on Anti-Sell?!

Well… It’s Cracked.com.

Yep. Cracked.com. Genuinely.

Yep, the authors and purveyors of such fine articles including 5 Dumb Ways Celebrity Scandals Were Uncovered, The Sticky Scandals Of Brooklyn’s Maraschino Cherry Factory, and Skittish About Fan Theories? Well, These Rock – to name just a recent few.

Cracked homepage screenshot
Why yes, I have indeed blacked-out Fanmade Shrek’s chest, just in case anyone took offence…

So how is an American comedy website the biggest influence on a business self-help book?

I got into SEO in 2009, and the first year of my first role was spent working from home. I remember discovering Cracked.com around that time and reading a couple of articles each day during my lunchbreaks (mostly to stave off the dark side of working from home alone, and the boredom and loneliness that came with it).

I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I’ve been reading Cracked article every day since. Seriously – I’m a daily reader. These days they push out 4-5 new articles each weekday, and I tend to read 3-4 of them at night in bed before I fall asleep.

I love Cracked.com because the writing style is smart and witty – a great combo. Their posts are educational and thought-provoking, but also really informal, a bit sweary and seriously laugh-out-loud funny.

Take this sentence from the recent post ‘Extreme’ Political Viewpoints (That Really Aren’t):

“It’s often been said that the only things certain in life are death, taxes, and writers opening articles about taxes with that line about death and taxes.”

Isn’t that a thing of freakin’ beauty?! I love it! It’s weird and nonsensical (and probably not even proper English grammar) but it is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

And this brutal quip about one of Marvel’s Avengers (in Movie And Show Special Effects That Nobody Even Notices)…

The Avengers movies use a ton of visual effects, otherwise we wouldn’t have the Hulk, Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit, or the ability to trick people into thinking Jeremy Renner looks cool.

(Sorry Mr Renner.)

It’s just excellently well-written and informative – but also highly amusing – content.

A while back I remember people saying that the biggest way to get into and to improve your writing is… to write. That’s certainly been true for me – I honed my craft (HAH, if you can even call it that!) by blogging on SEOno since 2011, plus contributing guest blog posts on other sites and a column (of sorts) on State of Digital. But I’ve also seen people say that it’s important to read other people’s writing – and that that can also influence your writing. And that makes a heckuva lot of sense. After all, if I just wrote and wrote but didn’t read (which sounds stupid when I say it like that – obviously I’m gonna read some stuff – but bear with me here), then I’m likely to improve my writing, but my style is going to remain consistent. As an SEO/business blogger, I would’ve just blogged in an SEOy and businessy style. But by reading something like Cracked.com for such a long time, I think I’ve subconsciously absorbed their writing style into my writing – and sort of made it my own.

The funny thing is… I don’t consider myself a funny guy. But then people in Amazon reviews have used the words “funny”, “friendly” and “witty” to describe the book – and I genuinely think that I have Cracked.com to thank for that.

So thank you, Cracked.com, you beautiful website you. It’s actually a bucket list item of mine to write for you one day. Who knows… maybe one day I’ll pluck up the courage and pitch something to you. But until then, keep on inspirin’ and influencin’.

Blah blah blah, buy my book, blah blah blah.

1 Comment

  • Dragan

    May 3, 2020 at 10:28 pm Reply

    It like any other thing that you do, if you wanna get better you have to practice, wanna write? Then write!

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