Blog Like a Pro Lesson 1: Know What You’re About

This is Day 1 in our 7-day Blog Like a Pro (BLP) Challenge. If you missed yesterday’s lesson about launching your blog start there. Also, be sure to check in on Facebook to see what others are doing!

All great writing is about something bigger than the author. When you set out to build a community, you have to create something that’s bigger than you. And before you can do that, you have to know what you are all about.

Professionals Are Confident (BLP Day 1)

What’s your worldview? What gets under your skin? What wrecks you?

These are the questions great writers, and incidentally great bloggers, must ask themselves. The answer can something big and bold like women’s rights issues or something fun like dog sweaters. It doesn’t have to be serious to be important. And once you’ve identified it, that thing you’re writing about, you’ve created something powerful for your readers to connect with.

By the way, this is not a subject I’m talking about. It’s bigger than that. An overarching theme to every word you write, everything you have to say. In writing, the why should always be bigger than the what.

Where we begin

So where do you begin? Start here: with a manifesto.

A manifesto is a short, shareable document that makes an argument, that tells the world what you’re about. It’s something that picks a fight, makes a stand, gets people to stand up and say “yes I agree with this” or “no way!”.

The point of a manifesto is that it makes you draw a line in the sand, which forces you to clarify your message. But before you do that, you have to know what you’re about. Right?

So let’s clarify what you have to say.

The power of clarity

Just how powerful is a manifesto? Well, here are a few examples:

  • The Declaration of Independence, which initiated America’s fight for independence, is a manifesto. It’s incredibly short (a single-paged, handwritten letter). But there’s a lot of power packed in that brevity.
  • Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, which sparked the Protestant Reformation and changed the face of one of the world’s largest religions forever, was also a manifesto. It was a list of grievances Luther had with the Catholic Church. Sometimes, complaining can be the way that leads to change.
  • The Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx was nothing more than a pamphlet about inequality amongst the world’s workers, and yet it sparked a global revolution. When you use words to tap into what people are feeling deep down inside, you have unmatched power to lead and motivate others to action.

As you can see, words move people. That part is hard to contest. But be careful with this power. You need to point it in the right direction. Otherwise, you’re playing with fire.

So what kind of movement will your words create? Begin by focusing your message on what you’re about and why it matters. That’s where all great writing starts and where all important movements start.

The best way I know how to do that is to write a manifesto. Just draft a few hundred words answering the following questions:

  1. What’s the problem? This can be with the government, the world, or some niche hobby.
  2. What’s the solution? What do you propose we do to fix this problem?
  3. What’s the next step? What is the one call-to-action you want to leave people with? Tell me them to do that one thing.

For an example of a manifesto, which is only 900 words and has been inspiring hundreds of thousands of people for years, you can read mine here.


Assignment: Write a manifesto: a 500-word treatise on what you’re about. Then publish it and share it in the comments.

233 thoughts on “Blog Like a Pro Lesson 1: Know What You’re About

  1. Why do I get the feeling I’d completely revise that manifesto after a good night’s sleep?
    I’m pretty clear on why I write, but not at all on what I expect of a blog or the people it might attract.

  2. okay it is 1am in Chicago IL suburb and I made my day one and day two but need to add more to day #2. It’s a challenge to be a hairdresser right now when I have two degree’s and cannot find a job so I cut hair Again, so this could be a rant I could go on, not sure. I hate to be negative. My blog is mainly on Book Reviews for Authors. Join in the fun stop by and say Hi. Jackie Paulson is who I am.

    1. Nicely stated. I like how you share the personal why behind the purpose statement of your blog — and the bullet points at the end. 🙂

      1. Thanks so much Sara!! especially coming from a teacher and the fact that English is not my first language. I believe you can write a book that can change the world because all things are possible.

  3. Our lil’ Fox Force Trio is on a grand new adventure — living on the road together as a family to do an organic grassroots book tour for our conscious & eco-minded children’s book that we wrote. We live in paradise now (Kauai) and all of our time here has inspired us to find the aloha lifestyle everywhere. That’s where our manifesto comes in!

  4. I wrote my manifesto yesterday. It’ll post to my blog later this week. It’s called- “What To Do with Our Good Intentions”

  5. Hi everyone, I posted Lesson 1, yesterday, but I posted in the wrong group (500 words) Today I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t find myself??? yes, that happens to me occasionally. Anyways, I know we are on Blog lesson #2 but here is Lesson #1 of the challenge. I put a lot of thought into it & I’d still like to share it: MY AMAZING JOURNEY THUS FAR @ MemoryLanesSite:

  6. A little late at the party, just joined today. Here is my 500 word manifesto. :
    My experiences thus far : With only ‘Problem’, ‘Solution’ and ‘What next’ to go on – 500 words seems a lot. I think I will get back to this and re-thnk some of the paragraphs. But first I will visit some of your manifests to be inspired and learn.
    Phew – on to task nr.2 !

  7. Great challenge! I’m a book blogger and posted my manifesto on my About page at Off the Beaten Shelf:

    And here it is:

    An Off the Beaten Shelf Book Nerd is someone who loves to read and sees reading as an integral part of his/her identity. A reader who will try a little bit of everything and isn’t afraid to read the unknown. A reader who’s unabashedly intelligent, but isn’t a snob about it—someone who doesn’t judge others’ reading tastes, but is just happy they’re reading.

    A reader who’s socially conscious and understands that great stories don’t just come from dead white dudes. A reader who knows that great stories are found in every genre. A reader who believes all forms of reading are valid, whether paper or digital (what the hell, even scrolls). A reader who knows that reading is simultaneously a source of entertainment and an inherently political act.

    If you’re this kind of reader, you’re home here.

  8. Reading your manifesto again reminds not only of how beautiful it self but how much power it has gained over the years. Thank you for being resolute, Jeff, and keeping to the course.

  9. I posted this on FB yesterday but not here so here it is again:


    I’ve always had a desire to help others. It’s what drove me to choose physical therapy as my profession. It’s why I served on the Board of Deacons at my Church. It’s why I have a hard time saying no.

    That desire became stronger after my son was born in August. Without getting into the specific details of his beginning, it was traumatic to say the least. Two brain surgeries by two weeks old, two major hospitals by two months old, and too many doctors visits and too many insurance phone calls.

    I’m starting my blog which is literally launching this week. It’s mission is to help one person. To help one person have an easier beginning than our family did with our sons medical issues. To help one person by giving them the gift of time and preparation. To help one person by connecting them to other people and resources. To help one person see the little miracles in every day life.

    My mission is to change one persons journey by sharing the story of my family and our special son.

  10. 1. I’m discouraged.
    2. I realized today that I did assignment zero and missed assignment one. I stayed up late last night to do zero. Then I overslept this morning.
    3. I’m stuck on the manifesto. Specifically the call to action.
    4. Now I’m going to be two days behind, possibly three because tomorrow my day starts at 5am and doesn’t end until 11pm.
    5. I’m trying not to let my work schedule get in the way of keeping up. I just already feel defeated by it.
    6. I also feel like I’m whining and making excuses now which is worse than the rest.

    1. Stuck on the manifesto? I can feel for you. I’m not into any particular “call to action”, either.

  11. I’m totally not doing this right I’m sure and my blog isn’t up yet because I’m waiting on some funds to come through to pay for hosting. But here is what I’ve got for a manifesto.

    One of my favorite shirts says, ‘I’m just a big ray of

    Hi, I’m Ray and no I’m not happy all the time. In fact I’m
    cynical, sarcastic and generally not happy go lucky at all.

    See, the thing about sunshine is, it hurts your eyes so you
    need sunglasses, it burns your skin so you need sun screen, if you are out in
    the sunshine too long without adequate hydration you could even have a sun

    Granted there are some positives to sunshine, like the
    world couldn’t function without it but I’m willing to bet plenty of you reading
    this have the white legs to prove you are doing your best to avoid the sunshine.

    So where am I going already and what is the point? Well I
    want to take a journey together let’s look at life, relationships, family,
    helping others, dealing with feelings, making friends or NOT because those things are hard.

    But seriously I’ll ramble some, you’ll read it and hopefully
    we can interact and all learn from each other.

    I firmly believe most of us have much more in common than we
    want to admit, our faults, failures and feelings get us down and it is easier
    to ignore them instead of shining a ray of sunshine on them and dealing with

    The thing about sunshine is it does burn, it is irritating
    and can even be deadly BUT it literally brings life and light to the world,
    helps things grow and keeps the world functioning normally, so why am I killing
    this analogy already?

    Well how often do you experience a cloudy day and see a ray
    of sunshine poke through and think, ‘Man that looks cool!’, or maybe instead you think,
    ‘Why did time have to change again now it doesn’t get dark as early and that
    sunshine is bothering me!”

    I want us to take whatever we are dealing with shine a ray
    of sunshine on it and see what happens, it might blow up, it might grow, things
    just might get clearer BUT it will get uncomfortable and you might begin to
    sweat a little in the process.

    Sometimes it feels good to be in the dark and hide and keep
    things all bottled up but it is worth seeing what happens if we step
    outside and light things up.

    This isn’t about being right or wrong, good or bad, funny or
    boring, it’s about realizing, rationalizing and reaching for a better life
    through sharing and interacting and embracing the fact some of us are just
    wired differently and that is OK.

    Get your glasses, sun screen and camel pack and let’s get
    out in the sun and see what happens, but not really because my computer screen
    would be impossible to see outside due to all the glare.

    Long journeys start with small steps, I have no idea where I’m
    going but won’t you come with me? We can help each other as we stumble along.

    1. Hello Robbie. I just read your manifesto and joined your mailing list. You’re a great inspirational writer.

      1. Hi Lynne, thanks! There are so many things that I wanted to say in my manifesto. I wasn’t sure if the message in my manifesto came together the way I wanted it to. I’m glad it made a positive impact on you.

  12. I posted my manifesto on my website yesterday. It’s called “What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Autism”
    And here it is.

    If I could make one wish for everyone affected by autism, it would be that they KNOW they’re loved. Deeply and completely.

    Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re affected by autism. Chances are very good that someone you care about is affected by autism. Autism touches more than the lives of those diagnosed with it.

    Of course, how it affects you is up to you. If you let it, it can lead to the utter destruction of everything you love. Please don’t let it. At least, don’t let that be the final word.

    An autism diagnosis can come crashing into your life like a cosmic wrecking ball. And for a while, you’re too destroyed to do much besides wander in shock, staring at the carnage. Overwhelmed with grief.

    Don’t worry. This stage generally doesn’t last forever. Once again, it’s up to you how long you mourn. Your dreams have just been shattered. You feel as if no amount of care can reassemble them.

    Yeah. I know. You spend ages trying to make sense of it. Tracking down possible causes, examining every potential cure. After all, if you put in enough energy maybe you’ll solve the puzzle and gain the upper hand.

    The thing is there’s always a new treatment, or cure, or diet being offered. Ultimately, you decide when (or if) you stop chasing them.

    But you’re desperate to fix it. You refuse to allow autism to beat you. Good. Hold onto that. But, try to remember what you’re really fighting for. Who are you fighting for?

    Are you wasting time and energy hating autism? Worse, are you associating the hated autism so closely with your loved one that you can’t bear to be with them because all you can see is how autism has devastated your lives? Well, ready or not, stop it. No one ever succeeded in hating autism away. All that approach ever does is ruin relationships.

    Now, there are lots of therapies out there aimed at improving the lives of those with autism. Only your own experience can tell you what works for you.

    But remember my wish? That everyone affected by autism KNOW they’re loved. Deeply and completely. That’s you, too. You and all of your loved ones affected by autism. I believe that love and acceptance are two of the best, most effective tools for rebuilding your life after an autism diagnosis. Add hope and never let go of it. You see, if you’re not applying hope, acceptance, and love constantly, it hardly matters what else you do.




    Why would any of us live this life with no hope, love, or acceptance? So start there. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy.

    Love. Well, this is the easiest one. I doubt you’d be reading this if you didn’t already have love. But it’s an action, not just a feeling. Love is the reason we do all that we do. It’s also how we do it.

    Love is one of the universal motivators. With it we can achieve the unimaginable. Whatever your dreams are for your loved one, love is the fertilizer that helps them grow.

    Hope. This one is harder to sustain. Everyone has bad days, discouraging periods, and naysayers. The first two are obvious. But the last one, naysayers, can take different forms.

    Naysayers can be jerks who don’t understand and don’t want to. They can be people in authority who are jaded and have lost sight of why they chose this field in the first place. And they can be people who care about us and don’t want to see us get hurt.

    The only one worth addressing is that last one. The ones who care about us, yet keep shooting us down are simply misguided. They think if we don’t get our hopes up, then we can’t be disappointed. They think they’re sparing us future pain.

    But really, they’re just cheating us out of the joy that goes hand-in-hand with hope. They need to understand that a life without hope is, obviously, hopeless. Is that truly what they want for us? If so, then they really belong in that first category of naysayers.
    So, find your hope. Grow it big. And hold it close.

    Acceptance is usually the hardest. Acceptance is NOT the same as giving up. It’s about recognizing the current truths of your situation.

    No denial. No resentment. Eyes wide open.

    But life isn’t static. Acceptance is daily. Not forever. Your truth of today may be quite different six months from now. So, okay. Maybe you bombed at acceptance today. Start over.

    I’m not offering you a quick fix. If you’re in this, it’s a long term commitment. But the payoffs can be pretty great.

    These three tools can help you begin to rebuild your collective futures. Remember: love, hope, accept. Repeat.

    1. Hello Cari. I was away all day so I’ve only just read your manifesto. I was deeply touched by your convictions. I have a son who grew up with Autism and he’s now a published author and speaker on Autism. God, hope, love, laughter and patience got us through 🙂 Thank you for the good work you’re doing.

      1. Lynne, thank you! You must be so proud of your son. I truly believe that we all grow better with faithful application of love. Your son is a testament to yours. God bless! 🙂

  13. Hi Jeff and all, I posted my Manifesto to my blog at it’s on the touchy subject of PTSD and our Veterans’ plight to gain recognition and get the help they desperately need.

  14. I am unsure if this counts as a manifesto…but here it is:

    This Anonymous Mom has two daughters, the eldest of which has officially entered Tweendom. I’m a writer in my heart and in every second and hour I can squeeze out of my overstuffed and over-scheduled life. I’ve published a novel and am working on my second though admittedly, this blog, or the idea of it, has been distracting me, calling to me…and so here I am. Starting now, I look forward to conversations with moms everywhere to talk about This Crazy Time that I, personally, have feared since I was pregnant. I’m also hoping karma is not a real thing and that it will not rear up to bite me in the years to come. There are so many conversations I wish my own mother had had with me. It was a different generation, though, and I can’t fault her for it. But this is our time, our generation. We should talk – to each other, and to our kids. Thanks for joining me on what promises to be a an exciting-fraught-hopeful-hormone-filled time! And please share with any other moms you think might want to come along for the ride…

  15. I’m glad there are decisive people in the world, writers who clearly have a cause and know what they are about. I simply enjoy writing and produce a variety. Love nature; love humor; love poetry; love fiction; love reading; love expressing my opinion on anything and everything. A genuine India rubber ball. Is there a “Jack of all trades and master of none” category?

  16. Oh my word!!! That took me so long but I did it!
    “Speak Life: Coming Out From Behind The Wall”

    This life-changing realization now drives much of what I do, think, appreciate — it’s even central to my work.

    Now the real question: Does it matter to anyone else? I’m ready to find out.

    Thanks for the challenge Jeff!

    1. Judy everything you wrote is the gut wrenching truth and you’ve led women to be ok with self love. It’s not selfish contrary to what society wants women to believe. Thank you!

    1. Trudie I think it may be your story that’s the manifesto. Thank you for sharing. you have everything within you for what He has called you to do, He’ll make provision for it. Congrats!

    1. I liked it Jason. I know that I’m a leader but it reinforced and reminded me that I can lead from, as you said, where I am. With what I have, my experiences, knowledge, etc. Also loved how you lead the reader back to signing up for the newsletter with a great explanation of why they should, the twitter follow suggestion and again the reminder that we all have something to offer when you requested commenting on the blog. Great work!

      1. Thanks for the feedback Dawn! I really appreciate it. I am sure I will tweak it at some point, but writing it did spur two other ideas for me. One a longer, what you might call “expansion”, on the manifesto. The other a post that hits on one of the frustrations I see in discussions on leadership… The exercise has definitely helped refine my focus!

        Did you happen to post your manifesto?

        1. No I haven’t. Just found Jeff and the challenge. Now I need to spend some time thinking about what I want to solve, a solution to the problem and what I want to challenge the reader to do. I’ll use that a my lead magnet and of course I need to figure out how to do that as well. 🙂

  17. Yes, I joined the challenge. No, my manifesto is not finished. I am truly struggling with putting down on paper something that will drive every word I write for that blog. So, what did I do? I started to look at the exceptional jobs the rest of you have done. I am a perfectionist who dwells on doing and re-doing. The wide variety of manifestos has allowed me to see that there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY to complete this task. This week I resolve to complete my manifesto.

  18. I personally am just starting with this challenge. I never thought about a manifesto before and to be totally honest I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I had to look it up and now I have been jotting down stuff on a piece of paper. I am hoping I can write up my manifesto soon and have 500 words for it.
    This is pretty hard for me to write, but I will get it done.

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