Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Get More Followers By Breaking the Rules

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

You’ve launched a blog or finally gotten on Twitter. You’re trying to figure out this whole Internet thing. And now, you’re wondering: How do I get more followers?

Graffiti: Get more followers by breaking the rules

Photo credit: Adrian Boliston (Creative Commons)

The truth is, you already know the answer. But you won’t admit it. Because it has to do with breaking the rules. And this scares you.

Which it should.

Everybody wants more followers

From social media enthusiasts to politicians and preachers, leaders are looking for influence.

Maybe you’ve been blogging for years or you’re just getting started, and you’re thinking: “Can I grow this thing? Can I really increase my platform?”

The answer, without trying to sound like an infomercial or Barack Obama’s speech writer, is “Yes, you can!” And you can do it for free.

But you probably won’t.

I hate saying that. Because I hope that you’ll do what it takes to grow your audience. Not for the sake of the followers or an inflated ego, but for the sake of doing it. Because it will liberate you from the doldrum of creating mediocre content.

But most of you won’t do it. And here’s why…

You have to say something dangerous

That’s how you get more followers.

Whether in a blog or a speech or a conversation over lunch, you need to make a statement.

Don’t just say anything. Say something.

Do this or even this (warning: links include profanity), and see your followers skyrocket.

Break a rule and see who follows

In other words, be Tyler Durden. Take a risk. Buck the system.

Compare it to the usual reactions you get to your otherwise anesthetized, everyday drivel. And I guarantee you there will be a difference.

Do yourself a favor and answer the following questions honestly:

Are you really saying what you want to say, what makes you come alive? Or are you saying what you think won’t get you into trouble?

If it’s the latter, run. Time to get out — now.

It’s easy to be boring

Boring is safe. Boring is popular (to other boring people, at least). Boring doesn’t get you fired.

Boring is what scared people choose — nearly every time they’re given a choice. Boring is, quite frankly, the coward’s way.

Boring doesn’t make you come alive. It doesn’t give you purpose (although, it may provide a paycheck). And it doesn’t change the world.

So knock it off, already.

Stop choosing the middle of the road

There are way too many lame messages out there. Way too much crap for you to play it safe. We need you to be dangerous.

Pick a side. Stand for something. Some will love you for it, and others will try to stone you.

But. Please. Say. Something.

You can be remarkable, or you can be mediocre. There is nothing else. (You might want to tweet that.)

You can tickle ears, or upset the status quo. You can infuriate, or earn passive dismissals. One will make you average; the other will make you a hero.

But you have to choose.

Who’s following you… really?

Look around and see who’s following you. Are they, really?

Take a quick mental inventory of how you felt the last time you said something dangerous. Did you feel alive? Were people engaged in what you were saying?

Maybe it’s time you broke a rule. Maybe it’s time you picked a side and said something dangerous.

I’m not saying be contentious, but stop being afraid. And start changing something. You have a voice; use it.

What about you? When was the last time you broke a rule? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the author of four books, including The Art of Work. I also run an online business teaching writers how to get the attention their work deserves. Every week, I send out an email newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • http://www.womenonfireclub.com/ Georgina Vogue

    Thanks for the tips!! Just started out on a cute blog and I’m so glad I read this :) I have been writing provocatively since forever and yes, it does work!!

  • Swati Hegde

    I completely agree with you – this is how I write, and I’m not afraid to speak my mind! 😀

  • Ebony

    This was really, really helpful! I´ll try to break the rules more often! :)


  • Mishael Witty

    This is something I’m learning about more and more – follow your passion. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post. I might just have to link back to yours. Thanks for the motivation! :-)

  • Rubideux

    i just started this thing, and already my blog is better than the majority of ‘commenters’ on this post. Seeing is believing. http://rubideux.blogspot.com/

  • Charles Johnston

    Thanks for the insight, I appreciate the novelty of writing dangerously there are enough safe bloggers out there ..breaking rules is the way to be noticed.. as far as the last time working on breaking them more often on my blog lately.. getting out of the comfort zone

  • Heather Blackwell

    I did what you said, Jeff! I thought about it, planned it, and dropped it like a bomb on Matt Walsh’s Blog-because he’s awesome about letting anyone say anything-he seriously deserves his millions of followers…anyway…I’ve had about 600 views and you’re right; I have people making comments on both sides of the spectrum but they are commenting, so I agree with you that sometimes making a terrifying strategic move is necessary, because the people looking at my blog are beginning to read my articles that matter and as for those who are not seeing the bigger picture, I say, “No biggie.” It blows over. People defame Matt all the time but they keep reading him to see what his next villainous or inspiring comment will be. So thank you, Jeff, and thank you, Matt!
    Here is Matt’s blog:

  • Heather Blackwell

    Oh, yeah. I almost forgot my URL:

  • Precious

    http://wp.me/p4ehgN-1a visit my blog

  • shailesh
  • http://www.praverb.net/ Patrick McNease

    Thank you Jeff for writing this. This goes for blog posts as well. Your writing has been influential to my development. The cookie cutter how to blog posts are over. Time to take a stand.

  • Dana Kimbrough

    X-PRESS who you!!!!!!!!! Are. That’s what I’m talking about. Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.sallyferguson.net/ Sally Ferguson

    Some of the things I want to say are still in process. And I don’t have hindsight to be able to express them. Some things are the frustrations of parenting, and I don’t want to drag my kids through the mud. So, I wait…

  • http://www.fashionmamaaquarius.com Erin

    This post was totally helpful and completely useless all at the same time lol Thanks for lighting a fire under my @ss!

    fashionmamaaquarius.com – WARNING this is a FASHION blog :)

  • Prini Grace

    thank you for the advice. i think after reading this I need to write better content and live dangerously haha. . http://iamprini.blogspot.com.au/ – heres my fashion clothing blog :)

  • http://ramblingfoxreviews.blogspot.co.uk Rambling Fox Reviews

    ramblingfoxreviews.blogspot.co.uk – Video game review blog, since everybody else is doing it! Living dangerously with video game reviews probably consists of being like, yeah so GTA5 was crap. o.o

  • Smart Wife
  • http://cocoandclick.com stylemestacip

    You’re so right & I’m going to take a page out of Rihanna’s book and be a risk taker and break all of the rules. Almost even tweeted your quote. but that’s even too safe 😉 Thank you. xo staci cococandclick.com

  • Andreas Moser

    Tried that. But people on Twitter just sent me hate messages: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/twitter-about-me/

  • Ragdoll Mommy

    That was the best blogging advice anybody ever gave me. Thanks, I will definitely do something!

  • Saundra Cardoso Goulart Venega

    thanks for the advice. will do

  • Guest

    How do you say something dangerous with a beauty/photography blog?


  • Brandon Jolley

    I could care less about saying something dangerous, because I’m not doing this for the thrill of being listened to, I’m doing it to change something.

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  • Shamita Nagalla

    I really love this article, and not just in terms of gaining more followers for twitter or a blog. People have got to be willing to take more risks or speak out in real life.

  • Mariana Morales

    I’ve been using TweetAngels.com to increase the number of followers in twitter, and everyone knows the importance of that.

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  • Tony Ecord

    I really just want to see who is following me. I have plenty of drive by viewers, which is fine, but it would be nice to see who.

  • Brooke Hardwick Writer

    Hurrah for the dreamers and the risk takers! http://www.thewritelife.com.au

  • deni

    surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular publish
    incredible. Wonderful activity!


  • Vincent

    Say something horribly racist and the outrage mob will show up to wag their fingers.

  • amyrya

    I like
    you recommendation. Your recommendation is of well use to people. A great
    article post, this is something very interesting. I really appreciate your

  • indiemutesick

    Controversy is an interesting strategy….what happens when you’re geared towards a totally niche audience in a totally niche part of the world? :/ like, OH Idonno, indie music in Korea… I mean I suppose some people would be interested. 😉 http://seoulmutesick.wordpress.com/

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  • Tia

    I say, sure, take a stance, be contraversal, be opinionated, but most of all……listen to the reponses and interact! Tia :)

  • http://dustn.tv/ Dustin W. Stout

    Good stuff Jeff! I agree that “breaking the rules” is a great way to stand out amongst a sea of boring, mediocre or otherwise lackluster content.

    Though I will say, being provocative can be the worst of low-level gimmicks. Swearing is a complete turn off for me, and you should first and foremost take into consideration who your message is for. If you’re writing for a professional audience but want to be provocative to gain some numbers, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. Numbers mean nothing if those numbers don’t move you towards your goals.

    Oh, and FYI, your second “this” link is broken (account was suspended).

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I agree, Dustin. Don’t be controversial for the sake of being controversial. Just stand for something.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Fixed. :)

    • Catherine Hamrick

      Spot on.

  • http://xeeme.com/CarlyAlyssaThorne Carly Alyssa Thorne

    Very true be who you are

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Carly!

  • http://glorybegin.com Allison

    Right on, Jeff. I see so many bloggers all fired up – but they aren’t SAYING anything! There is a huge difference between complaining emphatically and taking a stand, a position, and being willing to stand by it.
    Just because you are angry about something doesn’t necessarily mean you have a well thought out, tight, or compelling stance on the issue. I don’t care at all about the amount of profanity someone uses if they are making a compelling statement about what they believe in.
    My first ever podcast on Glory Begin was the first time I used my physical voice (along with writing) to clearly state what my values are, though they are often not the values of the world at large. How else do you build your house on rock?
    Peace and thanks for a great post! (As always)

  • http://littleblackshell.com Karen Farber

    Great tips Jeff! I just started my fashion blog, and I’m still trying to find my “voice.” Writing about something you’re really passionate about always shows, one can tell right away if it’s BS or the person truly cares about the topic! Great reminder :)


  • http://willshane.com/ Bill Carroll

    It’s true Jeff. I’ve been in the blogosphere for about a month and a half and started out pretty contentious but have backed off. Time to ramp it up and make a diff. “A kick in the pants with a frozen boot”!

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  • http://joshuamswenson.com/ Joshua M Swenson

    Great post! I need to up my game… Tyler Durden style! Write what you’re afraid to say.

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  • Victoria Blackwell

    This was the slap in the face that I was needing. It made me realize that I’m dancing around with my competitors and haven’t even thrown the first punch, yet. So sad! I feel ashamed, but motivated. :(

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    Wow, thanks for all this tips! I’ll certainly keep it in mind! Have a nice day,

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    That got me so inspired! Check out my Truth about Animal Testing post at http://www.laurabazza.blogspot.com

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  • Taja Fox

    Great post. I’d love to have assistance on my blog. I am in need of more followers as I have just launch my blog a week ago.

    Connect with me and I will do the same!


  • http://booquepress.com Dana J

    oooh I love this! I want to be dangerous but I am rather scared as well, because its just not me? Anyway follow my blog! DO IT
    Dana | http://booquepress.com

  • sebastianlatina

    Love the idea Jeff. I’ve been told while blogging, it’s better to have people either really like you, or really hate you. Playing it safe down the middle gets you no where fast : http://www.sebastianlatina.com

  • Lola H

    Great post really inspiring and encourages many of us to take risks!

    Read my blogpost on Fear at: http://tinyimportantthings.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/fear-what.html

  • http://bellagonerogue.wordpress.com Aimie K.

    LOVE IT! it’s about time too (taking risks I mean). This is what the true definition of ‘freedom of speech’ is. Thanks, Jeff.

    I would like someone to help keep me in check and ensure I live up to this. My site is:

    Bella Gone Rogue at:


  • Ariel Sullivan
  • Teresa Tysinger

    Totally love this, Jeff. I admit to have been playing it safe. I don’t have anything too dangerous to say, other than letting my own voice shine — which can feel risky. Thanks for the encouragement to do so. I’m blogging at http://teresatysinger.com/

  • Karo Tockhorn

    Great article! I totally agree , taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone is the key to success .

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  • Martha Reineke

    You said exactly what i needed to hear. Thank you. The reason i started my blog Was to speak whats on my mind, so what have i been waiting waiting for? Apparently a butt whippin from you! http://www.youarebecauseiam.wordpress.com

  • Divinely Guided

    I’m being fearless and putting myself out there. “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”


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    What a great post! This was really the wake up call I needed!
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  • http://tapinfinity.com Val Silver

    Took some notes on this one. Thanks, you are so right.

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    Great stuff. You have to be willing to bear all in order to be interesting to others. Check me out healthyeatsandsinfultreats.com

  • http://tracybrighten.com/ Tracy Brighten

    Reassuring and helpful advice Jeff! My blog includes posts on environment and animal welfare issues and I invite discussion by taking a view. On news websites, these issues provoke heated responses that suggest I’m in dangerous territory. It’s scary, but it’s more rewarding to write posts we believe can be helpful to others and maintain our integrity, than it is to simply write what is popular.

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  • Bill Allen

    I’m just starting out so I’m really enjoying all of these insights! I also enjoyed your interview on Michael Hyatt’s summit this week too. Great stuff. http://www.simplifyingjesus.com is my site and I think I might be breaking some rules and going agains the flow. Here’s to getting the Word out!

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  • Cherie Lynae

    I like this, I write some poetry about race, class, and gender that is pretty controversial, but according to my stats they have never been viewed! Just starting off, so I know I need to give it time, but this article made me feel like I am doing something right!

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