Jeff Goins posted a really fabulous blog today on How To Become A Better Writer. Really stand-out post. Make sure you read it. What he talks about is absolutely 100% true, and I’ve seen it play out on my blog.
I know so many bloggers just starting out who get frustrated and disappointed with their blog stats and subscriber numbers. First, let’s remember that almost all of the big bloggers have at least 1 failed blog under their belt, some more than one. Second, their audience wasn’t built overnight. It took time, trial and error, and often it required them blogging for bigger bloggers to get noticed.
Try not to obsess over blog stats. Set a goal for yourself and decide on a goal. Pick something that’s attainable, obviously, but be sure to challenge yourself. I want to double my daily blog hits within six months. That’s a great goal, especially if you’re just starting out. Make sure you outline how you’re going to achieve that, because probably just doing more of what you’re already doing won’t be enough. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make your goal, but take a critical look at what steps you took to get there. What worked? What didn’t?
“Writing isn’t about being good. It’s about telling the truth.” ~Jeff Goins
Kristen Lamb walks people through a really interesting little exercise in her learn to blog class. Write down 100 words about yourself. Everybody can come up with 20 or even 50, but 100 stretches you. What are you passionate about? What are you really about? Ask your spouse, best friend, coworkers, etc. It was that list that helped me see clearly what was really inside of me and I could write about endlessly and never run of out material.
**Tip** Unless you’re writing books for writers, or teaching classes for writers, then you shouldn’t be blogging about writing. Writers read, sure, but the group of readers who aren’t writers is much much larger.
I had my 100 words and blog theme for a long time before I found the courage to tell the truth, as Jeff would say. Now, I didn’t lie. Far from it. I was being honest, but it didn’t stretch me at all. What I was writing was just skimming the top pretty much of my emotions, my hurts, the lessons learned.
My blog readership more than doubled when I started going for the raw nerve, telling the hurts that were still bleeding. I didn’t have answers, but I started sharing the questions I was wrestling with myself. How I came to my own decisions.
I’m going to quote Jeff again because I can’t say it any better than he already has: “In order to get the kind of attention your words deserve, you need to earn our trust, to give us permission to be ourselves. And the best way to do that is to go first. To tell that story of abuse. To confess your fears. Admit you were wrong. Only when you go there, when you risk humiliation and rejection, will we listen to what you have to say.”
For the last six weeks every time I hit publish I’ve more or less convinced myself that I’m going to lose friends over it. I’ve been terrified. But you know what happened? I started conversations. Many of them didn’t happen on my blog but on Facebook. I didn’t care if people disagreed, I shared my opinion and gave others permission to share theirs. I blog about my personal faith, so my blog might not be the best fit for you, but here’s a link to a post that recently went viral and got more than 2000 unique (new to my blog) visitors in one day. The Hypocrisy of Halloween.
So, that’s how I doubled my blog readership. I started writing really personal blog posts, writing that was still a little raw — where I just laid it all out there with one eye closed and hoped for the best. I didn’t hide, use euphemisms, worry about being polite. And people connected with that. Not everyone agrees with me, but they’re open to discussing their opinions and for me that was the point – to make people think.
Try it. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself.