Yarr! A fearsome pirate!

Yarr and avast there me hearties! It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day again, and that can mean only two things:

Firstly, it be meaning that people across the globe will be saying “it be” when they mean “it is”. And secondly, it be meaning that I be divulgin’ the most well kept secret in all the pirate code. The dusty pirate’s map to the treasure that be bloggin’ success!

The Pirate’s Guide to Blogging

You’ll be delighted to find out that I’m going to drop the pirate schtick and deliver the rest of this post in the concise, clear prose that I tell bloggers they need to use.

Because the first thing you can learn from the pirates is that having a clear, recognisable voice is key if you want to succeed on the high seas of the blogosphere:

Rule One: Create a Recognisable Voice

The distinctive ‘Pirate voice’ might owe more to Robert Newton than Edward Teach, but there’s no denying that a cod West Country accent and some choice grammatical mistakes puts everyone in mind of the high seas.

But that doesn’t mean you should be splicin’ the mainsail in every blog post. Unless you’re writing a blog about pirates. Because using the wrong voice will undermine your posts instantly.

"Yes, it is," not "That it be". And you don't have to talk in that stupid voice.

What you need to do is create a tone and style of writing that makes it easy for your reader to know they’re dealing with your work, and that you’re to be trusted. Your voice will develop naturally over time, but it doesn’t hurt to go back, read over old stuff and make a note of your individual quirks.

Then it’s just a matter of using methods, paces and tones that are distinctly yours – things like adding hyphens at random, resorting to reams of eye-rollingly rotten alliterative sentences, or mentioning Leeds United at the drop of a (tricorn) hat.

Even if your voice doesn’t merit an international day of recognition, if it’s distinctive and recognisable, it’ll lift you above your competition.

Rule Two: Use the Right Vocabulary

Of course, what you say is only part of the story. It’s what you say that entrenches you in the minds of your audience.

So choose the right words. No self-respecting pirate impersonator would go without a ‘Yarr’ or a ‘Me Hearties’, because those words instantly tell the audience that they’re dealing with someone who knows their grog from their doubloons.

The same goes for you. Choose the words that hook your readers and give you an air of authority. But don’t let your carefully crafted vocabulary be undermined by the presentation…

Rule Three: Look the Part

You wouldn’t take a pirate seriously if he was dressed in a polo shirt and chinos, would you? You want a hat with corners, a beard, at least one wooden appendage and a parrot.

Pirates knew that, which is why they dressed to impress and intimidate. Blackbeard used to strike fear into the hearts of his prey by boarding their galleons with his beard on fire. Why? Because he wouldn’t have been taken seriously if he’d have strolled aboard with a smart haircut and clean shoes.

The same goes for your blog. If your voice and vocabulary screams professional, don’t let your website sigh amateur hour. Otherwise you’ll never know what you could’ve missed out on.

Rule Four: Always Look for Opportunities

Whether it’s a fat Spanish galleon laden with Mayan gold, or a cushty privateering contract with her Majesty’s Royal Navy, pirates knew that they needed to keep their eyes out for the great opportunities that their chosen career could throw up.

"If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it."

The same goes for bloggers. You’re not likely to capture any plundered South American wealth, but you might be able to secure a glamorous guest post or paid article – and showcasing your writing skills is a great way to attract freelance clients and full time contracts.

So make sure you keep your ear to the wind and know when an opportunity’s about to present itself. And that you know when to bugger off as fast as your sails will carry you.

Rule Five: Know When to Set Sail and Move On

Retreading the same old ground isn’t good for a pirate. Treasure ships learned where pirate ships hung out and took different routes, while cinema-goers noticed that Pirates of the Caribbean movies started getting decidedly worse from the second film onwards.

So to stay in business, pirates have had to adapt. Whether that’s by attacking cruise liners off the Somali coast, or by replacing Keira Knightley with Penelope Cruz, they’ve tried new things over time. Not every new pirate plan has worked, but by continuing to innovate, they stand a chance of seeing the next International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The same goes for your blog. Don’t rehash the same content over and over. Look for new things to say, new ways to say them, and new ways of seizing those opportunities.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a bottle of grog with my name on it. So be havin’ a great pirate day, an’ be enjoyin’ this terrible pirate joke:

Why be pirates called pirates?

They just arrr!

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