The Secret to Blogging

Secret-to-Blogging

 

Blog Post # 100

Psst…here’s the true secret to blogging.

Sure, you can read dozens of posts all over the internet promising the same:

The secret to blog posts that

  • help people;
  • cover topics that are popular and universal enough to go viral;

or even

  • the perfect ways to title a listicle; or
  • how to draft “how to” post to best attract readers.

In fact, here are a few you should read:

But at the end of the day, all of those miss the mark.

Yes – there are technical aspects to writing, storytelling, and flow that go a long way towards separating the wheat from the chaff.

But the bigger issue is far too many aspiring bloggers out there want the success – the traffic, acclaim, engagement, money, etc. – without wanting to first do the work.

The secret is it’s what goes into the “work” that remains incredibly easy to miss. There’s a nuance there, see…

Process, Not Content

The true art to blogging (as in most things) is the process.

That’s right – what you write about, what problems you choose to solve with each post or how you choose to educate or entertain your readers – ultimately, none of that matters.

What matters is the practice, the hundreds and thousands of words that go into the discovery of your unique voice.

Let’s look at this differently.

Let’s say you’ve just been laid off, so you decide to launch a new website, start a blog, and rock the self-employed entrepreneur’s dream.

What niche will you choose? What topic so excites you that you can write dozens of posts, week in and week out, until you not only demonstrate you’re an authority in that field, but in the process actually (*gasp*) become such an authority?

To me, the most over-saturated niches include

  • how to build a blog;
  • how to make a passive income through a blog;
  • men’s (or women’s) lifestyle blogs; or
  • (with apologies to the fairer sex) mom blogs.

We live in an era where side hustle entrepreneurship is so glamorized that not a week goes by when I don’t meet someone new who is trying to make their mark as a digital strategist, social media “guru,” or (my favorite) build a new million-dollar app.

I can’t speak to the last of those, but to the others, I can already tell you with confidence that

98 percent of you will fail.

First, that’s a safe bet simply because the numbers show that 95% of bloggers quit in the first six months.

That’s actually good news, because the bar for success is relatively low. Writing a mere 50 posts puts you in the top five percent.

Oversaturation

But the true reason for failure in those niches is that they’re already so oversaturated.

Why would anyone trust a new and untested voice in, for instance, digital marketing when the world already has a Pat Flynn, a Gary Vaynerchuk, a Seth Godin?

Why opt to blog about social media when the world already has a Chris Brogan, a Mark Schaefer, an Ann Handley and a Rebekah Radice?

Even the niche of “itinerant storyteller entrepreneur” seems adequately filled these days by the likes of James Altucher and Yann Girard.

If you wanted to succeed in building a highly-trafficked blog that adds nothing (let alone anything new) to the world, a good start would be to read a few dozen posts each from content giants HubSpot, Buffer, and Contently.

Then, rewrite a bunch of those posts – and add your own spin. Combine a few ideas or themes here, mix and match a few listicles there… bam! Instant traffic (and “authority.”).

The problem is, it’s already been done.

The Alternative

The key then, is to be original.

To consistently write posts that could only come from you – with a unique style, voice and viewpoint.

And the only way to get there?

To discover one’s voice and have even a ghost of a chance of creating something truly new and original?

Practice. Put in your 10,000 hours. Your one million words.

Ray Bradbury had my favorite advice for aspiring writers:

“2,000 words a day for 20 years. Then you’ll have something worth writing.”

His other advice was even simpler:

“Want to be writer? Simple,” he said. “Write a story a week for a year. Because it’s impossible to write 52 bad stories.”

Law School

More than a decade ago, I dropped out of law school.

Still I learned a lot during that year. One thing all 1L law students are taught is the art and practice of outlining.

Sure…you could do reasonably well on the exams by simply borrowing someone else’s outline and memorizing it in the two weeks before the final, but at my school, that would only get you a middle-of-the-pack B.

What the professors understood was that the key to outlining was the process – the hours spent choosing what was most important to review, and reducing that down, repeatedly refining and distilling it over the course of the term – placing it in context.

It was the practice of outlining that mattered, not the content.

So too with blogging.

The true secret to blogging is it’s the process that matters most.

Experimenting and feeling your way towards how best to frame, format, and draft a post. To put in your time until you somehow develop your own unique voice.

Honestly, I don’t know much about blogging. I’m only a year into this grand experiment, with just 100 posts to my name.

But I’m getting there.

Ask me again after I’ve written 500 posts.

In the meantime, I’m certainly enjoying the journey.

 

Further reading: Dave Stuart, Jr.’s Write 100 Blog Posts

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