Don’t Read This If You Want to Be a Better Blogger

There’s a senseless amount of content centered around being a better blogger. But does any of it really make you a better blogger?

Blogging about blogging. It has its place, but if that’s all everyone does it can get kind of redundant.

So no, this is not a post about how to blog. Don’t read this if you’re anticipating an article titled “67 Ways to be a Better Blogger.”

What I’d like to talk about is something completely different. It’s about having a reason to blog in the first place. And I think now and again we lose sight of that.

Whatever you blog about, it has a purpose. At least a good blog does, and I’m sure if you read Copyblogger you’re smart enough to know that. So what I want to talk about now is purpose.

The purpose of a blog is to share value, to create community, and to inspire. The way we do that isn’t by sitting at the computer for 8+ hours a day trying to think of better ways to blog. It’s also not about finding ways to blog better, smarter, or faster.

It’s about doing something that matters.

When you go out and do remarkable things, it’s easy to create a compelling blog. When you demonstrate your experience by the life you lead and the actions you take, it’s easy to establish authority. When you deliberately pursue experiences that will challenge you, it’s easy to provide value by sharing your story.

I’m a big believer in blogging and social media. But if all we talk about is how to use Twitter more effectively or write catchier headlines, we’ve kind of lost the point. You can only write so much about the finer points and techniques of the game. At some point, you have to go out there and play it.

So here’s what I propose…

Go out and do something awesome. Then share your story.

Here are some ideas:

  • Conduct your own personal experiment. Document it by video and post the results on your blog. How it helps: You establish trust by showing people you are actually doing what you talk about.
  • Create a series of case studies of successful people in your niche. But don’t just interview them. Have them mentor you through the process step-by-step. How would they guide you if you were completely new to the topic? How it helps: You build relationships with other influencers and provide your readers with tons of value in the process.
  • What are the myths or misconceptions in your practice? Go out and test them, and tell your readers what you find out. How it helps: You build curiosity and gain readership by answering their often thought about questions.
  • Conduct a personal challenge that seems ridiculous or impossible. Update people regularly on your progress. How it helps: You attract followers by doing something epic and establish authority by positioning yourself as a leader.
  • Help a novice related to your field completely transform. Document their transformation and use it to inspire others. Create a contest to decide who is chosen for the best transformation. How it helps: You build social proof and get others interested in your offerings.

There are a lot of other possibilities to make our blogs compelling. We can diverge and connect with people we wouldn’t normally connect with. If you teach Aikido, study Tai Chi for a while and tell people what you find out. If you’re a chef, go out and visit some organic farms and get a better appreciation for the earth food is grown in. There are a lot of possibilities when you exercise your imagination.

The real key isn’t just to do off-beat things for the sake of it, but to engage in interesting pursuits to grow, create community, and share your story with others.

Here are some examples of people that are doing just that:

These are just a few people that have taken their passion and turned it into a tangible and compelling project.

Learning how to be a better marketer, better blogger, or better Twitter user only goes so far. Of course it’s important. Of course it can make a difference. But if you deliberately choose to pursue interesting paths, most of your marketing becomes automatic. Testing your potential, taking risks, and trailblazing is what will ultimately set you apart.

Trying to be a better blogger is sometimes a waste of time. The finer points might make you more efficient, but they only make a difference when you’re moving in a compelling direction.

A better headline won’t make up for your boring offer. Do something that matters, and let other people worry about whether or not you’re using the right WordPress plugins.

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist July 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for this post, Jonathan! It’s absolutely true for all my favorite bloggers out there: If you do great things, it’s easy to find great topics to write about. And the result will be so much better than yet another boring list post!

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Jonathan July 30, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Yep… any time I see 22 ways to ____ it’s like an immediate signal to close the tab.

Keely July 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I have been taking long breaks from my blog because I start thinking, what’s the point? I’m sure know one really cares to read about what I’ve done with my day, especially since the last year or so I’ve really been stuck in a holding pattern with what I WANT to do. So this post is a good little shove to get moving – once I start doing things that I’m excited about or that inspire me, I’m sure the stories and posts will come tumbling out. And they’ll actually be interesting!

Great post, I think many are forgetting that while learning is important, action is key.

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James July 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. But I think it comes down to personality types. If you’re a blogger running a business by yourself, you’re probably wearing a lot of hats. Some days we feel like the creative guy, others we’re the IT guy. Nobody feels exactly the same from day to day.

So it’s probably ok to check on what types of plugins you’re using, how fast your blog loads, etc, as long as you find a way to constantly create that passionate content, artwork, video, entertainment, inspiration, etc.. for your readers.

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Lachlan Cotter July 27, 2010 at 10:18 pm

This is fantastic Jonathan. Right on the money and some great resources as well. Bravo.

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Scott Dinsmore July 27, 2010 at 10:45 pm

I love the idea of going out and doing things so that you actually have something to write about. That is were all the blogging topics and stories should come from anyway. Do something wild and teach the world how it can make them better. I recently went out and ran a 50k Ultra Marathon in my Vibram’s with two weeks of training just to see if it was possible. It took over 8 hours but I did it. I wrote about attempting the impossible and the value of breaking through mental barriers and expanding your realm of what’s possible. Enjoy the experiences for what they are and then as a bonus it gives you great material to write about.

Well put!
Scott

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Jonathan July 30, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Scott, you are an animal. I still can’t believe you only trained for two weeks. That is incredible.

Chrissy Scivicque - Eat Your Career July 28, 2010 at 7:09 am

Ooooh! These are such great ideas! I’ve actually been planning on starting a video blog to document my journey into becoming a fulltime vegan (I’ve been doing it off and on for a while now…). This has inspired me to get on it.

And I agree with what you said about “blogging about blogging.” It becomes a big echo chamber where everyone is just saying the same stuff over again. Thanks for this unique post on an otherwise overdone topic!!

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Brandon Winters July 28, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Hey Jonathan, I completely agree. Passion with a purpose to help, share, and give value is key! I love the idea of creating a series; either of posts, case studies, etc. It’s a great way to get people coming back for more, and to extensively share with people the stories of the exploring you have done.

I also like the idea of doing a cover story without the interview. If you don’t have much traffic for yourself, drawing attention from the person you cover could bring a whole slew of new traffic to your site via a RT or mention on their blog. It’s also a great way to get to know about the person and maybe score an interview to link to later…

The most important point I agree with: have a reason behind your blogging. Creating a job for yourself isn’t the idea. It’s to share ideas and keep moving forward, keep growing.

Thanks for the insight!

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Greg July 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Jonathan, thanks for the thought-provoking post. It reminded me of why I’m out on the Internet sharing. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the process or the vehicle (i.e., blogging) that we forget about why we’re out here in the first place. Nice ideas to promote engagement and to make things tangible for both readers and writers.

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Antonia July 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Blogging at its most basic equals sitting in front of your computer typing. Yeah….hardly a revolutionary lifestyle, or one that people want to hear about!

My favorite blogs are written by people who go out and enjoy life. Even something as simple as recording a live interview and sharing the video rather than posting an email transcript brings a blog alive to me. It shows that the blogger is engaging with real people, not just tucked away with a laptop making top ten lists and researching keyword strings.

Hmmm…you have given me an idea! Thanks Jonathan! (scurries off to start her next exciting real-life project…)

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Jonathan July 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Seriously… I’d like to see how well a post about “how I sit in front of the computer for 12 hours a day typing” would do. :)

Sandra Lee July 28, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Even though it may not be the main point, this was an incredibly catchy title! I am exhausted by all the blogs about blogging and greatly appreciate your sentiments on the topic.

Might I suggest that instead of always going out, going in is another vast realm of exploration ~ the lost zone of contemplation.

Thanks for turning blogging on its head for a time.

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Ken July 29, 2010 at 1:56 am

Wow, that was a good reality check for me. I started out my blog, kenokazaki.com as way to log my transformation from my old life to my new. After reading your post I compared some of my recent posts an realized that I may be veering off course.
Thank you.

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Pete July 29, 2010 at 5:29 am

Good stuff, I agree with you about the blogging about blogging about blogging and so on. Having opted in to quite a few newsletters over the last twelve months I get loads of slightly different takes on the same process, helpful yes, but as you also imply only up to the point when you have to show people what exciting and challenging path you are taking. If you are not doing anything new you, what is it you are sharing apart from maybe a plan to do the same? anyway, it’s taken me about a year to finally realize what my (Forgive this over used word) underlying “Passion” is and that is what I can now earnestly journalize in a new blog. It will make a difference and thanks for the reminder.

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Pete July 29, 2010 at 5:29 am

Oops forgot to check the notify box :-0

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William Bryan IV July 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Way to Jonathon on this blog man! It was really good and inspiring man. I am just starting out blogging and wanted to know how to have a better blog. But I haven’t really thought about being proactive outside of the blog to make it better. When you do inspiring things, it just drives your blog to be even better. Thanks man for the wake up call! I am looking forward to your next post.

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Steve Errey - The Confidence Guy August 1, 2010 at 9:00 am

“It’s about doing something that matters.”

Dude, if I had a dime for every time I’ve said that I’d have a very large pile of dimes. Really big.

That’s the key to the good stuff – engaging with something that matters to you. Doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, it’s simply about playing a game that matters. Not just because you want to win, but because you want to play.

Love your specific ideas about engaging with something and using that to tell a story on your blog. You’ve got me thinking…

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Setema Gali August 2, 2010 at 4:40 pm

good stuff my man. Thank you for sharing.

Without a doubt there are so many people “pretending” to create value when in reality they are merely being busy with unimportant things that do NOT make a difference.

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Evelyn August 2, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hi,
I found you after reading your guest post on zen habits. I actually was searching the web for some raw food topic ideas to post on my blog.

Well, I must say that this was a very inspiring post for me. Because I totally agree with you about writing about blogging, even though I write on 2 other blogs that offer blogging tips, I always want to bring something different to the readers.

Anyway, I don’t mean to write a book, but just want to thank you for such an insightful post. You really opened my eyes to what I can do on my blog. There are many ways to be creative and I’m on it! :)

Great post!
-Evelyn

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Jonny | thelifething.com August 4, 2010 at 2:41 am

Great post, I have retweeted it and will check out the guy doing the awesome experiments.

What you say here is exactly the reason I quit my job and left to live in Bangkok while developing my online business. I was writing about lifestyle design and then decided I need to get out there and actually walk the talk.

- Jonny

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Mike Roberts August 6, 2010 at 10:04 am

Hey man, brilliantly expressed. I love it when someone is able to better express what I am feeling better than I am, in this case you nailed it.

I’m fairly new to blogging and in the beginning, I tried to write the list posts and I sucked at them.

Conducting experiments on myself and sharing the results feels natural to me and in that way, I hope the posts I write will be of greater interest to the reader.

I watched your video about the fight you did, and i secretly wished that I could have followed your process leading up. That video had a big impact on me, I actually imagined what your experience was like and just the thought was compelling.

Maybe we can conduct an experiment together at some point. Hike mt whitney barefoot or something ;)

~Mike

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Charlie August 6, 2010 at 3:27 pm

For a while recently I sat at my computer wondering what to talk about. I did this for a couple of hours over the course of a few days. Then I made myself go out and lo and behold I had something to talk about, I’d gone somewhere new and it was something I could share with people. So now if I’m stuck I like to go out.

To be a blogger you must spend a lot of time on the computer, but you absolutely must make time to experience the outside world too.

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SusanaFrioni September 13, 2011 at 4:52 am

Couldn’t agree more! As always, thanks for the real reminders xx

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livelovework December 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

Thank you for this AWESOME post!

For blogging and great living the value is in me. I have so much more to gain by engaging and challening myself than I can possibly have by achieving any external signs of success. My own joy and adventures mean more to me, and likely my readers, than my page views or Twitter followers. And since I blog about career development & loving life, well I have an amazing adventure ahead of me.

Chrysta

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DanijieliusVabalas December 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

Wonderful! you always say the right things with such mastery! there are no ways of becoming better blogger! but just to BE YOU and only YOU, and write about what moves YOU!. All those blogs articles that show techniques and stuff on how to become better blogger, just clutter your mind and that way you are not being YOU!

cheers mate :)

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Rebecca Tracey January 6, 2012 at 6:52 am

Love this. Also love the irony of how many people make money online by teaching people to make money online. It’s like a hamster wheel of neverending advice, and it’s nice to see a fresh perspective on bringing the human-ness back into online business.

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Jon_Wilburn January 6, 2012 at 7:34 am

Now THIS is relevant. Jonathan, I simply cannot agree with you more. Over the last several months it seems all I’ve been reading is about how to do this better or how to do that better and it’s all about Social Media, marketing and SEO. What this show is that if you go out and “DO” something valuable you can accomplish alot. So good, man.

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Antonia July 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Oooh, I can see a whole series emerging….

- “101 Ways Hunching Over Your Laptop Can Make You Happy”
- “How Spending 243 Hours in a Row Researching Long-Tail Keywords Made Me More Fun to Be Around”
- “Why Blogging About Making Money From Blogging Can Make You Money (Even If You’ve Never Blogged!)” (followed by a link to a $29 dollar ebook reduced from $199)

Actually, it could probably work as a mock-blog, but only bloggers would get it.

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