Do your readers a favor, and shock them.


Do you remember the last time you were shocked by a post?

Were you riled up? What did you feel?

Did you talk about it? Did you share it with your friends?

Were you thinking about it the next day?

Ultimately, did it add something to your life?


What shocks you? For me it's anything that steps out of the norm. Anything extraordinary. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly… everything that makes me think, that opens up new ideas, or makes me feel.

In this world when content is freely given and consumed, we all tend to take posts for granted. It's not enough that they are good, because there is a lot of great content out there, content needs to be shocking or at least compelling to get readers to really pay attention.

“Shocking” can inspire…

Remember when Gabi Gregg posted her “fatkini” post and looked amazing? I wasn't shocked by her style, but her bravery. As someone who doesn't look good in a bikini even at my fittest, I found her celebration of acceptance to be refreshing and inspiring. We all heard people talk about body acceptance, but she went out and showed us. Which made everyone think.

“Shocking” can be raw…

xoJane is a good example of raw content that shocks. I find myself reading this website often times with my eyes covered and peeking between my fingers. The publication regularly posts content about the things we may think, but are afraid to talk about. Or are embarrassed to talk about. For better or worse, it's a magazine that's reshaping the image of femininity, showing that women don't have to be this pristine beauty who's obsessed with image. They can be dirty too!

“Shocking” can break paradigms…

Last year, Marrissa Meyer was the first pregnant woman to be hired on as a CEO of a major corporation. Here we saw the breaking of at least two paradigms with her rarity as a female CEO, not to mention as a new mother. Professional, career-driven women often times feel pressured to choose between work and raising a family. Meyer showed us not only do women not have to make that kind of choice, but that they can flourish in the balance.

“Shocking” can enrage…

When bloggers were cited as earning as much as $10,000 for wearing clothes to fashion week, everyone got upset. When Suzy Menkes criticized bloggers for peacocking at fashion week and accepting gifts, people (including myself… if only for making a tired argument) people got riled up. Content that gets under our skin can move us, quite possibly to take action. To write, to create, to fight back.

 So, why are we afraid to “shock” people?

When a writer steps out on the edge, or writes about something close to home, he or she then becomes vulnerable to criticism. Putting yourself out there is hard enough, but to really create work that stands out, your skin has to be thick enough to deal with whatever scrutiny might come your way in the aftermath. However hard it is, it's also part of the creative process. Great work is never loved by everyone, and no one ever remembers those who took the safe route.


People want to be moved. That's why we love extraordinary stories and watch films with outrageous plots. It's why we love roller coasters and jump out of airplanes. The desire to feel something out of the norm drives people to accomplish amazing things. So why not give that to your readers? Shock them. They're tough enough to handle it. And just maybe they'll come back for more.

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6 Responses

    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      That’s a great question! I know I’ve had some posts over the years that weren’t intended to be shocking– but they’d get picked up by some outlet and shared. What I thought was playful within the fashion niche certainly shocked others– and I was called a bitch and all manner of other names.

      It’s definitely something to think about– and I think when you write a shocking post, that you need to read it multiple times post-writing to make sure your point and intentions are clear!

    • RikaConfesses

      That is a good point. I’ve seen firsthand how things that are out there on the internet can bring a backlash, and can resurge at any time, even much later. But I think if you are “shocking” in a way that is true to yourself, its easier to shrug off the commentary.

    • Jennine Jacob

      I think criticism is part of the creative process. Maybe it’s because I have memories of being ripped apart in art school, but the thing is if you don’t step out of the norm, you never stand out. Which is fine, if you don’t want to stand out, not fine if you want to be the best. Everyone gets criticized if they are good enough at what they do, so you might as well learn to deal, and it’s not so bad, once you realize that just because someone says something about your work, doesn’t mean it’s true.

  1. Donna

    I’m not sure I want to shock people. I do like the idea of writing things that are thought-provoking, which is different. I think too many people are trying to shock people right now, as a way to get attention. And it works for some of them (Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj). But if the majority of people are trying to shock us, soon nothing will be shocking. And of course the more people become used to something shocking, the further some people will take things in order to get attention. I’m not sure that I want my world to be that way.
    But I do love writing things that provoke thought and/or discussion. I’ve never gotten much traffic from those kinds of posts in the past, but it never hurts to try again.