Your Content Has To Have A Hook

The past couple days I’ve been rumbling around the net marketing world reading blog posts, reading forum threads, listening to podcasts and recalling the overall message that I heard when I was new to the “Let’s Make Money Online” world.

As a newbie, there are two things you have to remember:

1. Everyone who’s selling you something wants you to think you can do it. That all you have to do is put time in, whip up some content, upload affiliate links or adsense, and you’re golden.

2. Most everyone is selling you something. Whether that’s a product or themselves or building their reputation.

Here’s the truth:

At one time message #1 was valid. All you did have to do was put in time, c&p some affiliate product links & descriptions, get some links (through your friends or your own network, etc.), and you were golden. You too could be a Super Affiliate!

The first years were like that, but today–if you’re not already established–that’s not the case. The truth is to be a successful money maker online today, you have to have a few things going for you:

1. A domain that’s been around a few years (and not flagged as spam by an engine).
2. A solid network of friends that can help with the inbound links to generate buzz and establish you (or your site) with links.

If you don’t have those two things, you have to have:

3. A hook.

That’s something that I haven’t seen talked much about by the pros and the gurus. It seems today everyone is setting themselves up to be consultants or gurus whose sole purpose in life is to see you succeed. And they’ve got the ebooks and the products and the tips and the secrets to sell you that give you what you want to hear.

But no one is talking about the hook. They talk about content, good content, sometimes. But good content is relative (what’s good to you is only so-so to someone else). And even good content isn’t going to get you anywhere. No one links to good content, and links are the one thing that you HAVE TO HAVE to see any success online (unless you want to pay for traffic).

There are song writers and producers that make jillions of dollars in the music industry who are experts in developing music and songs that are ‘hooky’. They are the Go To people in the industry that shoot singers and rock bands to the stratospheres of success. Their sole mission is to take a song and adjust it until it flat out rocks so the masses glob onto it and buy the song and buy ‘into’ the singer or rock band. An example is Mutt Lange, he’s a guru in the music industry.

A hook in music is:

a musical idea, a passage or phrase, that is believed to be appealing and make the song stand out; it is “meant to catch the ear of the listener” (Covach 2005, p.71). This term generally applies to popular music, especially rock music.

As a developer of content, you *must* catch the attention and interest of the visitor.

In our lingo, linkbait could be an example of a hook. But linkbait gets you attention for one thing (or page) rather than the site as a whole. An example of linkbait is providing a free tool. Yes you’ll get links, but the attention is all directed to that tool or that page. Those links will help the entire domain rise in the SERPs, but if the rest of the site has no hook to it, you’ll have to keep on developing new hooks or new tools to keep accumulating links and new traffic.

That’s why Digg traffic isn’t so hot to trot anymore. Webmasters who have been dugg realize the traffic assaults that one page–but it doesn’t move around the rest of the site over a period of time. Not many subscribers, not many clicks, not many sales. It’s a hit and run sorta deal.

No matter how focused you are and how hard you work–Today, if you don’t have aged domains or a ‘connected’ network of people/websites to work with, your content has to be hooky.

Your content, your site theme and subject, has to have a hook that visitors buy into and can’t shake off. They want to subscribe to it. They want to stumble it, They want to link to it. And if it’s a ‘persona’ you’re developing–you want your visitors to glob onto and ‘buy into’ you. They will be your evangelists and your champions.

So How Can You Hook Up Your Content?

I don’t know. I don’t think being a ‘Hook Expert’ is something you can learn from someone or buy. I don’t think it’s any one thing. You can create ‘Hook Pages’ like controversial posts or providing free tools or a massive reference list that is useful, but the site as a whole?

I’m looking at one of my ‘newer’ sites that hasn’t gone anywhere since I started it. I know it’s got the makings of being a money maker and had complete faith in it. But over time it’s been a ghost town and I realized that although the concept behind it is a keeper, the presentation or the way the site is being developed has no hook to it. There’s nothing exciting or linkable about it. There’s no hook.

Out of nowhere the site was stumbled and although I am enjoying thousands of visitors hitting the site, I’m kinda disappointed I didn’t get a chance to hook the place up first. Without a hook, the site has big holes that won’t retain the juicy Stumble traffic.

Another newer site of mine is hooky and is enjoying attention and links and subscribers and all that good stuff–but that comes from instinct. What I knew would work with a certain crowd and how it was presented.

How To Be Hooky? Know your market. Stand out from the crowd. Trust your instincts. Be ‘cool’ in some way. Just ‘good content’ doesn’t cut it anymore, at least not if you’re new with an unestablished site.


I've been trying to find my way online for more years than I care to admit.

One thought to “Your Content Has To Have A Hook”

  1. This is an excellent post. Another comment is that if you first try something to be hooky and it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean you can’t redesign or retry what hooks people in.

    You may not need huge amounts of capital to get started in an online business, you still need to treat it and the marketing like any other business and that takes time and effort.

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