We hear it over and over again. Blogging is writing. The more you do, the better you get.
But when we look at the blogging celebs, it can seem like they were always there, on top of the mountain, in the rarefied air.
They are constantly churning out amazing posts. Phenomenal posts. In just 10 minutes, as they sit in airport terminals.
Their fingers fly across the keyboard, spitting out one post a day, sometimes more.
And they are perfect posts.
Posts that make you think. Posts that make you want to leave your desk and go try these cool ideas out—right now.
These bloggers do not even seem to be human.
Were they always perfect?
If you poke around in their archives, you’ll see where they started. Read more and you’ll see the amazing growth that brought them to where they are today: the Blogging Stratosphere.
Now I wouldn’t call myself an ‘A-list blogger’ (though I’m working on it). But, just for fun, I pulled out my very first blog post, written not quite three years ago.
Okay, it wasn’t fun. It was an excruciating experience.
What was I thinking? I called this piece of crap a blog post?
In that respect, we are all alike.
We all had a first post.
My stinky first post
Okay. Here it is. Let’s start with the headline:
Getting Results with E-Mail Marketing
Could you write a title that would put your reader to sleep any better than this one?
Does it give you the tiniest reason to read on?
One of my problems was, I hadn’t defined my blogging niche yet. It was as wide and unfocused as my business was at the time: marketing—on- and offline—for small businesses.
The topic was email marketing vs. traditional direct mail. Besides being too broad a subject—aside from the data I shared from the research report—there were no specifics in this post to attract reader interest.
The email marketing “tips” I shared in that post were:
• pinpoint your target market (really?)
• make an irresistible offer (and how exactly do you do that?)
Among my many other mistakes, I gave my readers no tools, no takeaways, no strategies to use. Nothing much of value.
5 things I’ve learned since my stinky first blog post
It’s a good thing I didn’t know how astoundingly bad my first post was because I would have thrown in the towel right then and there.
Okay, here are just 5 of the things I’ve learned since then that I’m pretty sure bumped up the quality of my posts several notches.
1. My headline matters—like a lot.
My reader is attention-disordered. I may be one of 30 other headlines in her Google reader shouting at her. Will she stay with me? Or click away and read her emails, hit the delete button, tell herself she’ll come back later (but she never does)? All this she decides in a split second.
I got better at writing good headlines. (Thank God.)
2. I can pull my readers in with a good story.
As a writer, I already knew that stories can capture and captivate, appeal to our senses and emotions, make us want to know what happened next.
But it wasn’t until I began telling stories in blog posts that I realized just how powerful they are. Like the time I started a post about finding time to write with a bizarre story of my battle with my 11-year-old daughter and her jeans.
3. Metaphors help readers connect with and remember my content.
I began to improve when I figured out how to use metaphors that left my readers with powerful images and connected with them emotionally. In explaining why we pulled the plug on our one-year-old business to pour all our energies back into our 15-year-old marketing firm, I used the metaphors of baby and teenager.
The needy new business wasn’t like a baby. It was the baby. It took all our time and our accomplished teenager was jealous of all the love and attention going to her little brother.
4. Humor is the shortest bridge between two people.
I finally stopped fighting the funny in me and started to embrace it. And I learned that, as my hero John Cleese of Monty Python fame said, “If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas.”
Now I write about my scared self as I contemplate stepping out of my comfortable writer’s shoes and doing a radio show interview. And about humanely disposing of your fourth grade teacher so you can write freely, with joy.
5. The right photo can nail a blog post.
I started out putting my own photo in each post.
But then I began to see the amazing power the right photo has: to pull readers into a post, connect, engage, evoke emotions and give my blog a personality.
I personally like to use a lot of animals and cute kids, which I think can portray just about any concept or idea I write about.
Your Old Blog Posts Aren’t Dead. They’re Just Sleeping.
7 Things Dr. Seuss Taught Me About Fearless Blogging
What about you?
Have you looked at your very first post lately?
What were your biggest mistakes?
Celebrate the areas you’ve grown in with us (and leave a link to your favorite post, if you’d like).