James W.D. Stewart

James W.D. Stewart

Embrace "The Suck"


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Do you ever feel like your blog's stuck in quicksand?  You're writing a lot of posts.  You're promoting them.  You're responding to each and every commenter as if they were your bestest of friends.

But, it's not working though.  The more that you work, the harder that you struggle — the deeper that you sink.  Why?  Well, it may be a little hard to swallow, but you could simply suck at writing.

That's not the only reason why people fail.  Some people are just lazy, thinking that it's going to happen, without doing any work.  Other people, never learn how to promote their posts.  Others still, are totally anonymous — needing to improve their connections, before they can succeed.

/blog/2017/05/24/your-blog-going-nowhere/

https://forces.army/blog/2017/05/24/your-blog-going-nowhere/

Your Blog, Going Nowhere

Count Words — Reading Time
by James Stewart
Published: 
Updated:  N/A
Location:  Tim Hortons, 1373 Martindale Rd., Sudbury, Ontario, P3E 4J7, Canada
 

 

Do you ever feel like your blog's stuck in quicksand?  You're writing a lot of posts.  You're promoting them.  You're responding to each and every commenter as if they were your bestest of friends.

But, it's not working though.  The more that you work, the harder that you struggle — the deeper that you sink.  Why?  Well, it may be a little hard to swallow, but you could simply suck at writing.

That's not the only reason why people fail.  Some people are just lazy, thinking that it's going to happen, without doing any work.  Other people, never learn how to promote their posts.  Others still, are totally anonymous — needing to improve their connections, before they can succeed.

However, there are also bloggers who do all of that right, and they're still stuck.  They're working their asses off, doing everything imaginable to promote their blogs, and they're even networking masters who know everybody — but, they're still failing.  And, it's because they suck at writing.

Think about that for a moment.  You build it and they come…  But, it sucks — they leave.  And, another potentially great blog bites the dust.

 

Sucking at Writing, Sucks for Blogging

Let's start with a little mental exercise.

Pretend that you're standing in front of someone, trying to convince them of something.  You could be trying to persuade them to bet on one sports team over another, to buy a new car, or that the climax scene in The Devil's Advocate is overacted and stupid — doesn't matter.

Now, pretend that you've given your entire persuasive argument to a transcriptionist instead of to the person that you're trying to convince.  The transcriptionist will write down all of your words and then hand them over for your target to read.

Do you see a problem?

You've just been robbed of your body language, your tone of voice, your subtle inflections, your facial expressions, and your withering stare.  And, all of this while you're trying to make somebody change their mind…  Hopefully, to tell their friends to do the same.

Unless you use a lot of media — audio and/or video — this is your task every time that you write on your blog.  You're trying to persuade people to feel what you feel, to tell their friends about you, and to possibly even buy from you — using only words.  Some studies suggest that words may comprise a mere 7% of your total communications arsenal.

You've got your hands tied behind your back, to the tune of 93%, when you're writing words on your blog.  So, you'd better make them count.

 

Calling BS

You may think that this is nothing more than a lot of hot air.

You may be sitting there and saying, "Words are words.  As long as the reader can understand the message, that's all that matters".  And, you're right.  Tossing together words will indeed get your message across.  Your reader will, in fact, be informed.  Unless you're incompetent, that reader will understand you.

But, will they be moved though?  Will they feel that they must share your post with their friends?  Will they come back to that post over and over again?  Will they join your list and/or subscribe to your feed, so that they don't miss your future postings?  Will they feel a connection with you that they'll remember the next time that your paths cross?

I sort of doubt it.  Nobody has ever said, "Hey, Jim!  You must drop absolutely everything and check out this post that I just read!  It wasn't well-written, but man, did it objectively convey some information".

Do you want your message to spread?  Do you want your posts to go viral?

If so, don't just "effectively convey your message". Instead, write your posts well enough, and strongly enough, that your words will — as somebody once told me — "hit people with a baseball bat".

 

Knowing You Suck

I'm not saying that you suck…  You may not suck at all.  If you're not getting enough traffic, it's possible that you haven't found a good traffic strategy.  You may be too new and/or may have just gotten some unlucky breaks.

But, let's at least consider the possibility that your writing sucks.  Let's take a good, hard, and honest look.

Now, even if you're brand new and haven't gotten much of an audience, I'm sure that at least a few people are reading your posts.  So, right now, think of those people…  Eliminate your best friend, cousin, dad, mom, and anyone else whom would tell you that your posts are great even if they're not.  Then, ask yourself some questions:

  • Are those people — even if there are only a few of them — sharing your posts without you asking them to do so?  And, if they do, what comments — "Here's a useful post." versus "This is amazing!" — are they making when they share them?
  • When people leave comments on your blog, are they raving comments, or are they non-committal comments such as "You make an interesting point"?
  • Do you ever get comments, e-mails, Facebook mentions, and/or tweets that are similar to any of the below?
    • "This is exactly what I needed right now."
    • "You've really opened my eyes."
    • "You said exactly what I was thinking."
    • "This is going to make a huge difference in my life/business"
    • "This is absolutely amazing/astonishing/awesome/moving."
  • Do you ever receive thanks for your posts?  I'm talking about literal thanks — "Thank you for writing this" or similar.  Bear in mind that "this was helpful" isn't a thank you.
  • Do you ever get e-mails from readers, in which they share their own personal stories, that are similar to what you wrote about within your post?

 

If You Suck

Practice.

This is the part where I give you the magic formula for becoming an amazing writer, eh?

Well, I've got bad news for you.  I don't have a magic formula…  Sorry.

Well, I do have a formula, but it's not magic though.  It's the one that I just gave you…  Practice.

The honest answer as to how you improve as a writer is to do more writing — and, more reading.  No matter what you learn, and no matter what whiz-bang writing course you buy, there's no substitute in the end for simply gutting it out and putting more words on the page.

So, if you suck, keep writing.  Write through "the suck".  Write a crap-load of posts.  Write copy, e-books, letters to the editor, novels, posts, screenplays, whatever.

It's like clearing a drain…  There's a certain amount of crap in there, and the only way to get it out, is to get it out.  Ship what you can and throw out the bad stuff, if you must — keep writing.

The good news, is that none of this is magic, or the elusive concept of "artistry".

Regardless of innate talent, the more that you read and write, the better a writer you'll become.  You'll begin to recognize that certain sentences work, while others don't.

You know how when you're reading something, and it just kind of loses its "flow"?  You'll start to see that when you read your own writing…  When you do, you'll go back and make a change, then read it again and see if it flows any better.  You'll learn to do that, until you get it right.

I wish that I had an easier system, but I don't.  Ask any good writer how they got good, and they'll tell you, "I kept writing".

Writing isn't an art — not the kind of art that you're born able to do.  Writing's a job.  You put your ass in a chair and you work…  And, work…  And, work.  Great writers are great because they put in their 10,000 hours…  That's all.

Personally, I spend around about 1,000 hours or so per year putting words on the page.

 

Step-by-Step Plan to Get More Traffic

Here's what to do:

  1. Don't panic.
    • If it looks as though you may suck as a writer, don't beat yourself up.  Stephen King says that he believes, with a lot of practice, it's possible to turn a merely competent writer into a good one — I'd tend to agree.
  2. Fill your toolbox.
    • Speaking of Stephen King, pick-up his book On Writing.  It's without question the best book that I've ever read on the actual practice of writing.  Do this step, whether you like Stephen King or not, and do it even if you're a non-fiction writer — as most bloggers are.  Then, study it.  Trust me on this one.
  3. Write…  Write…  Write.
    • Put in your hours.  It's not glamorous, but this is how you get better though.
       
      If you start to put as much conscious attention on your style and delivery, as you put on your actual content, people will — with time — start to share your posts.  They'll start to tell their friends how amazing those posts are.  They'll start to send you notes and leave you comments…  Thanking you, for writing what you've written.  You'll gain fans instead of mere visitors.  And, those fans, will tell their friends about you.
       
      When that happens, just watch what happens to your traffic.  Wait until you see how much more effective your guest posts become.  Wait until you see how many more people follow your calls to action, join your list, and/or become customers.
       
      Writing well requires hard work.  There's no substitute for hard work.  However, that's good news — few of your competitors are willing to put-in the time and effort to become better.  Are you?

 
Categories:  Business, Career, Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Technology  
Tags:  How to, Writing

 
Syndicated to:

 
References:

  1. 10,000 hours
    by Seth Godin Published: 
    Referenced: 
  2. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft
    by Stephen King Published: 
    Referenced: 

 

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Creative Commons Licence :: BY-NC-SA James W.D. Stewart by James Stewart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  Based on a work at https://github.com/jwds1978/jwds1978.github.io.