Carnegie on Making Something People Want

There are a lot of parallels between writing well, speaking well, and good web design.

Take the following, for instance, from Dale Carnegie’s the Quick and Effective Way to Effective Speaking:

Some years ago I wrote a series of articles for the American Magazine, and I had the opportunity of talking with John Siddall, who was then in charge of the Interesting People Department.

“People are selfish,” he said. “They are interested chiefly in themselves. They are not very much concerned about whether the government should own the railroads; but they do want to know how to get ahead, how to draw more salary, how to keep healthy. If I were editor of this magazine,” he went on, “I would tell them how to take care of their teeth, how to take baths, how to keep cool in summer, how to get a position, how to handle employees, how to buy homes, how to remember, how to avoid grammatical errors, and so on. People are always interested in human interest stories, so I would have some rich man tell how he made a million in real estate. I would get prominent bankers and presidents of various corporations to tell the stories of how they battled their ways up from the ranks to power and wealth.

Shortly after that, Siddall was made editor. The magazine then had a small circulation. Siddall did just what he said he would do. The response? It was overwhelming. The circulation figures climbed up to two hundred thousand, three, four, half a million.  Here was something the public wanted. Soon a million people a month were buying it, then a million and a half, finally two million. It did not stop there, but continued to grow for many years. Siddall appealed to the self interests of his readers.

Want to make something that people want? Make something that appeals to their self interests.

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