Greetings! In today’s post, I am reblogging Marc Ensign’s blog: The Ultimate Guide to Blogging Your [Butt] Off. It’s got some great words of encouragement to the beginning, continuing and discouraged blogger (and writer), though I did clean up the language some. Enjoy! And thanks for stopping by my blog.
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BLOGGING YOUR [BUTT] OFF
You have a blog. Congratulations! We are all very excited that you have chosen to join the rest of the human population. With the exception of my Mom of course. She doesn’t have a blog. Not yet anyway.
There’s only one problem.
It sucks. Your blog, that is. Not the fact that my Mom doesn’t have one. That I’m OK with.
It’s nothing personal. If it makes you feel any better, you are in good company. Most blogs suck, so why should yours be any different?
Who the Hell Am I to Say That?
I’m one of your readers. Or at least I was one of your readers. I stopped reading your blog because it’s safe. It’s poorly written, inconsistent and irrelevant. It’s filled with self-serving drivel used to sell some crappy product that, let’s be honest, you wouldn’t buy yourself if someone else were selling it. And it’s painfully obvious that its sole purpose is to act as a vehicle to help you reach your first million or make you the next big Internet celebrity.
It only exists because someone told you that blogging was a good idea. And it shows.
So if you want people to start reading your blog, sharing your posts, commenting on your thoughts, signing up for your newsletter and coming back for more, things are going to have to change. You are going to have to change. Starting right now.
Here are your choices:
- Stop blogging. Destroy all evidence that you even had a blog. Go back to taking pictures of your food and playing Farmville. Pretend like this never happened.
- Skip to the bottom of the page without reading another word and leave a comment about what an [a-hole] I am and how much my blog sucks too. I know it’s coming.
- Start blogging your [butt] off.
If you chose 3, keep reading and I will share with you the secret to blogging your [butt] off. And it’s not about fancy titles, word counts or clichés like “quality over quantity.” Blogging your [butt] off requires much more than a catchy phrase or a mathematical formula.
You Must Be Authentic
Being authentic means not compromising your values or your voice in exchange for traffic, subscribers, money or fame. That what you have to share and who you have to share it with are much too important to jeopardize the long term in exchange for “winning” in the short term.
It means being yourself with a complete and utter disregard as to what other people might think of you. Knowing that you will not connect with all of your readers. But the ones that you do connect with will move heaven and earth to help you spread your message. Not because they feel they have to. Or even because they want to. But because they believe in you and your message so much that they need to.
That’s what friends do.
And you won’t cross over from “followers and fans” to “friends and family” without being your true authentic self with every word you type. So, dig down deep and figure out exactly who you are. Not because you did the research or found a niche. But because when you cut yourself open, this is what you bleed.
Your audience will find you. I promise.
You Must Be Scared to Publish
If you don’t get butterflies in your stomach that moment before clicking the publish button, your post isn’t ready. It’s too safe. It’s missing something. And your readers are going to feel it, but by that time it’s too late.
In order for your blog post to grab someone’s attention long enough to read the entire thing, let alone share and comment, it has to be challenging. Or thought provoking. Maybe even controversial.
And that stuff is scary.
Some people aren’t going to like it. They may challenge you on it. They may prove you wrong. Or make you look stupid. And then there are the ones that are just downright mean.
And there is only one thing you can do about it. Continue.
Because that’s what good bloggers do.
That fear you feel right before publishing tells you that you are on the right track. That you are sharing something powerful. That some people may not like it.
But others will love it.
You Must Have an Opinion
Sitting on the middle of the fence hurts. Pick a side. Have an opinion. No, better than that. Have an opinion. It’s like having an opinion but with everything you have inside.
You can’t answer a math problem with “maybe” just to ensure that you don’t get the answer wrong. And you can’t change the world by tiptoeing around both sides of the problem.
Have an opinion and own it. Challenge people to see it your way. Piss them off if you have to. You might lose some readers. But you will gain a lot more respect than if you were constantly trying to make everyone happy all of the time.
Just don’t be a jackass about it and light something on fire and run away. Take your medicine and be ready to fight for your opinion publicly. That’s why it is so important for you to believe in what you are saying from the very depths of your soul.
Because you eventually will have to stand up and fight for your opinion.
You Must Give a [Crap]
Giving a [crap] is not easy. It means actually caring about your readers. Not seeing them as just numbers and conversions. Or prospects and opportunities. But seeing them as human beings. Actual people. Because they are.
It means getting to know who your readers are and what they need. And then doing whatever you have to in order to give it to them. It means connecting with them on a much deeper level than “what can you do for me.”
It means being the solution to your visitor’s problems instead of expecting your visitors to be the solution to your problems.
It’s what separates those that are wasting their time by writing with those that are making a difference by writing.
All while expecting nothing in return.
You Must Be Extraordinary
Write good stuff. Stuff that matters. Stuff that is thought provoking. Stuff that is educational. Entertaining. Valuable. Controversial.
Stuff that makes other people wish they wrote it.
People don’t share “pretty good.” They don’t come back to read more “not bad.” And they don’t take action because of something you wrote that was “OK.”
You must be extraordinary.
Extraordinary means spending hours rereading and rewriting your own work. Adjusting and fine-tuning until it is just right. Losing sleep over one word you can’t quite get right.
Writing something extraordinary takes a lot time and even more effort. But you will be a better writer for it and you will have built a better community because of it.
We all have the ability to be extraordinary. But not all of us have the tenacity to do whatever it takes to be extraordinary.
You Must Embrace Your Shortcomings
Your mother was only humoring you when she said that you were perfect. That’s what mothers do. The truth is that you make mistakes. You have weaknesses. And you are often wrong.
Perhaps you aren’t a good storyteller.
Or maybe you have no freaking idea when the hell to use a damn apostrophe no matter HOW…MANY…TIMES people point it out to you!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ahem. Sorry about that. Where was I? Oh yeah…
Whatever it is that you are weak at, it’s not likely to change. And chances are we’ve already noticed it. So embrace it. Poke fun at it. Be the first to shine a light on it.
There is something nice about being imperfect. It makes you human. And it makes those in your community feel good about their imperfections too.
While you might think that your shortcomings are a sign of weakness, the truth is that embracing them is actually an act of strength.
You Must Write for the Right Reason
If the goal for your blog is to rank high on a search engine or to get people to sign up or buy something, stop blogging.
These are not goals. They are the results of your goals.
Think back to when you first started your business. Was it because you always dreamed of being first on Google? Was it because you thought it would make for a pretty analytics chart?
Or was it because deep down in your bones you knew you had something to share with the world? A solution to someone else’s problems. And you felt that there were enough people out there with that problem that you could make a difference and start a business around it?
Somewhere you lost sight of that purpose. That goal. And exchanged it for a number. A number of visitors. A number of followers. A number of friends. A number of sign ups. A number of conversions.
All of these numbers are important. But they are the result of the work you put in. Not the purpose for the work you put in.
Rediscover your purpose and make sure it oozes out of your blog. Get back to writing for the right reason, and I promise the numbers will improve without you even trying.
You Must Be Human
In a digital world full of automation, shortcuts, spammers and “marketers” constantly trying to sell you something. There are very few human beings left online. Just look at your Twitter stream. Count how many Tweets out of 100 where people are actually engaging others rather than spewing links to their blog or some random quote from someone else in order to fill space.
Out of 100, I just counted 82 links and 7 quotes. And that includes several “celebrity bloggers.” Only 11 Tweets were making even the slightest attempt at being engaging. Trying to start a conversation. Looking to connect with other human beings.
Think about that.
Only 11% of Tweets were people trying to be human.
If you went to a party where 89% of the room was trying to hard sell you something, you would leave and never come back. The same with your blog. Which explains why you are failing miserably if you are using it as a sales tool instead of an educational tool or a communication tool or a community building tool.
Just be human.
Write as if you were talking to your readers face to face. Connect with them. Let your guard down and welcome them into your life.
Tell them your story. But in a way that adds value to them, instead of you.
You Must Be a Giver
Stop being so damn cheap. What if you were to focus on writing a blog because you had something that you felt could help so many people that you just had to get it out? Where it wasn’t about your “list” or how many Tweets or comments you get.
What if you gave away so much valuable information on your website that you became the Wikipedia of your industry? The largest resource containing the highest quality information anyone could find online. Where even your competitors pointed to your site as a resource.
It sounds like it’s a ton of work. It’s not. It’s a crap-ton of work.
But it’s worth it.
Imagine what it would do to your traffic? To your reputation? To that pit you have in your stomach that questions whether you are actually making a difference.
Give it all away! Everything! Give away more value than anyone else in your industry is willing to give and more value than any of your visitors would ever expect from you. Those that are going to try and do it themselves weren’t planning on buying from you anyway so stop worrying about losing business.
The more quality content that you have on your website, the more relevant your website becomes. It dramatically increases the number of opportunities you will have to appear at the top of the search. It gives visitors something to share through their social channels.
It will introduce your website to thousands of new readers that are specifically looking for the answers that you have and will openly share them.
But Then Again, Blogging Your [Butt] Off is Hard
I get it. Blogging your [butt]t off is hard work. You will spend a week working on a post until it is perfect only to have it do OK. Maybe a little better than last weeks post. That’s why most people won’t do it.
But that’s what makes you different.
Stop listening to that voice in your head that’s telling you to take the easy way out. Push through the tough days. The days where people aren’t appreciating the effort you put into it. It’s going to take more than a few posts for the rest of us to take notice.
But we will.
Just keep blogging your [butt] off.