In a conversation today I was asked, very plainly, how I managed to create a “successful” blog and how one “does that.”
I paused for a moment and then candidly said:
Stick around long enough and someone will give a shit.
I then proceeded to share with him that my blog(s) have been an “10 year overnight success” story – where I simply did not stop writing and publishing online. I simply survived, last long enough, and continued to pursue the craft until someone actually cared about it. I told this person that I also define success as simply not quitting, plain and simple.
But I knew that wasn’t going to be enough so I then proceeded to outline, very succinctly, how one goes about creating an environment where people may eventually give two-flips about what you have to say:
1. Just Start
Most people never hit the publish button and therefore never get to experience what it’s like when someone actually cares about what they have to say. They never start that blog and if they do they don’t stay at it.
Most people will quit – I think this is a good thing and a natural consequence of survival of the fittest; only the strong survive. This natural vetting of crappy content and crappy blogs (or just lack of interest and sustained passion) is a healthy thing for the internet to endure and creates space for others to join in.
Sure, you may even stop or quit at some point – but at least you tried and you learned something more about yourself. That’s still a win-win in my book.
2. Have an Opinion (and Don’t Be Afraid to Share It)
Everyone has an opinion but very few have the guts to share it publicly. I understand the tension and the anxiety and the fear of being misunderstood or taken out of context or being judged or being laughed at – but those that risk their own personal pride have an opportunity to gain so much more.
Having an opinion doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk though as many of us encounter those types of people online – most people are intelligent and looking to be emotionally and mentally challenged and stimulated, not patronized or offended.
But the key is sharing it online. Your opinion counts and (can) apparently matter a whole lot if you’re willing to plant your feet somewhere and take a stance on a subject (but not just any subject, see #3).
This is probably one of the things that I talk about the most around this blog but I shared it again with this gentleman and told him that if you think you’ve got your “focus” on a piece of content or area of interest then you need to go even deeper.
People and readers aren’t necessarily looking for generalists – they are looking for specialists who know their stuff and who are hardcore about a very thin piece of the pie. You can always go larger later or expand your topics as you grow but in the beginning you have to have focus so you can have a solidified opinion about something specific, day after day after day.
It’s the only way I know how to get people to give a hoot about what I do and what I’m passionate about. And to be honest, it’s the only way and reason I still give a shit about my own blogs too or I would have quit a long time ago.