This is our final week, and I've saved my most important lesson for the end.
It's the toughest, most confusing part of this series, but it's also the most essential. Are you ready?
Lastly and most importantly, I want you to do this one, extremely important thing:
I'm not being coy; I really mean that. All of this is meaningless if you do not resolve to be awesome. To do your very best work possible, without holding back, every single day.
If you can't do that, if you don't do that, quit now.
The Truth about Blogging
After blogging for nearly six years, I decided to start over. It was painful and scary.
But in doing so, I learned a crucial lesson: What I thought was good content was really mediocre.
I was a pretty good writer, but I wasn't putting in the time to be a great blogger. I didn't understand relationships or writing on the Internet. I underestimated the importance of list-building and overlooked the importance of being a constant learner.
I didn't want to do the work.
The worst part was I thought I was better than I actually was. This made me arrogant and unteachable. I had to unlearn a lot of bad habits and get some humility before I could begin to build something that would last.
You see, you can do all of the stuff we've talked about and still not be awesome. And this was what really frustrated me about blogging. Still does, in fact.
Mediocre writers with good marketing can get more traffic than good writers with poor marketing.
This is totally unfair and wrong, but it happens.
What Can You Do about It?
You have two choices:
- Join 'em. You can try to keep up with the Joneses in a race to the bottom. You will see short-term results, but in the end, I believe, you will have shared a shallow, meaningless message for the masses that leaves no one changed.
- Be different. You can take what we've talked about here and do your own unusual and unique thing. Sure, there are best practices and case studies and models to follow, but we don't need another average blogger. We need a communicator with something to say.
So let's just say #2 sounds too difficult and time-consuming for you. So you decide to do Numero Uno.
Many people are doing this. Maybe you're already doing it, and you just now realized it. Here's the deal: This is dangerous.
You're running the risk of building a platform larger than your skill set can handle. You're marketing a message that truly isn't that awesome. And that's a recipe for disaster.
Your influence can grow so quickly that you ultimately end up disappointing your audience or burning yourself out. I don't want that for you, and you don't want that for you.
The way out of the rat race is to be awesome.
What Awesome Gets You
Think of some of your favorite authors and bloggers. Are they just nice people who respond to comments and tweet back at you?
Or do they have something special, something remarkable, something… awesome?
Chances are they do (or you subscribe to some pretty sucky bloggers).
Here's what I learned about myself before I decided to be awesome (something I am still, admittedly, working on):
- I was writing 20-minute posts, when I should have been writing 2-hour posts.
- I was always behind schedule, trying to catch up. My posts were always rushed and messy.
- I thought I was good enough on my own.
- I wanted people to read me, because I was special.
- I was completely arrogant and utterly wrong.
Here's what I started doing:
- I showed up to do the work every day. While this isn't a necessity, I personally decided that a daily frequency was what I needed to stay disciplined at delivering quality. I set aside time to write really good content.
- I started planning ahead, writing posts before they needed to be published, so that I never felt hurried and could edit my work before publishing.
- I asked for people's help. I subscribed to free resources like Copyblogger and Problogger. I joined blogging communities and met with successful bloggers, asking their advice and feedback.
- I stopped expecting people to read my writing for its brilliance and started looking for ways to help people and add value. I wanted to create something so unique and resourceful that people were attracted to it. I didn't want to have to beg or coerce people to read my blog.
Those were my issues. They may not be yours.
But now you're left with a choice:
You can take these tactics and apply them without actually changing how you approach writing. And you will be successful — for awhile.
Or you can go against the grain by being awesome. You can add value to people's lives, be a resource, and do amazing things worth talking about.
And believe me when I say that you'll make the web — and the world — a better place.
The choice is yours.
What Do You Do Now?
Let's begin here: Set aside some time (maybe an hour or two, if you can spare it) and write the absolutely best blog post you can write, while still shipping on time.
If you had one message to share with the world today, what would it be? Write that and share it.
And do it again tomorrow. And then again the day after that.
And again the next day… (You get the idea.)
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