A guest post over at John Chow’s blog today by Steven York titled Successful Blogging – 5 Tips for Writing With Confidence caught my attention today. The title was something that I was keen to read as I think that being confident as a blogger is important – however as I read it I found myself reacting against every point made.
The five points:
#1 – Don’t Ever Talk About Being Dugg/Reddited/Stumbled
#2 – Don’t Disclose Failure Unless It’s To Make a Point
#3 – Shout About Your Successes
#4 – Write with Authority
#5 – You Don’t Need To Tell The Truth All The Time
Now there is plenty of room for bloggers to blog in their own voice/style – but quite a bit of the advice in this post left me wondering what type of blog a blogger would build if they took all of the advice in it.
I was going to write a post on this topic – but ended up leaving it in a fairly raw form over on the post itself (I think my post is currently in moderation). I’ll repost my comment here in the hope that it’ll add to the conversation. I’ve added a few other thoughts to my original comments below (in italics).
Steven – I respectfully disagree with most of your points:
1. Talking about being Dugg/Stumbled etc can actually be a good move strategically. By mentioning it you introduce your regular readers to social bookmarking. I did this a couple of months ago on my photography blog and mentioned that the day before I’d had a lot of new readers from StumbleUpon and Digg. What I found is that most of my loyal readers had never heard of StumbleUpon or Digg before but many signed up to them that day. The next day I had massive traffic as a result of loyal readers submitting posts from my archives. I didn’t tell them to do it and only mentioned social bookmarking in passing but it was enough to get a lot of new readers using the tools.
While I agree that you wouldn’t want to constantly go on about how your blog has been Dugg or Stumbled I do think that an occasional mention can actually help to build a culture on your blog where readers naturally use these tools – something that a blog could really benefit from.
2. Disclosing failure is something that I think is important on a blog for numerous reasons. It makes you more relatable, it gives you something to build on when you teach how things SHOULD be done and it can show real character and transparency to your readers. I find that when I talk of my weaknesses or failures that many readers email me and comment thanking me for showing that side of things.
Steven used the example of Shoemoney showing his big check instead of talking about his failures. I’d argue that while the check picture was crucial in his rise to fame that it was also his ability to talk about messing up. He’s written himself about this on numerous occasions. Check out his posts My Top 10 Worst Ideas to Make Money and My Advice to Connect with Your Readers.
3. Shouting about your Successes – I partly agree with you here but only to a point. If you don’t talk about your successes to some degree they might go unnoticed – but when you ’shout’ about them you can actually hurt your reputation. Constantly talking about how well you’ve done things can alienate readers who don’t achieve what you’ve achieved and it can come off as arrogant. I’ve seen numerous bloggers lose audience over being perceived in this way. I do agree with your words about using case studies to highlight your successes as this is a more helpful way to share them – but just be careful about doing it too often.
Again I’ll emphasize – that it’s not bad to highlight your successes – but do it in moderation and in a way that is relevant, relatable and on topic.
4. Authority - I agree with this point the most, although think that there is room for ambiguity on a blog. If you’re not sure about something – I wouldn’t recommend saying that you are or you could end up being caught out by readers. Authoritative statements that turn out to be wrong can hurt your reputation. It’s about being transparent – but also about covering your butt if you’re wrong.
Yes do blog with authority but only when you are an authority.
5. ‘You Don’t Need to Tell the Truth all the Time’ - Again I’m not so sure on this. While it is possible to write about something that you’ve never experienced I generally find that it’s more powerful to disclose your experience level on a topic. Again it’s about transparency – but also about connecting with your readers. Perhaps you’re different to me but I’d much rather read someone tell me how they’re trying something as a beginner than read something by someone who presents themselves as a know it all who obviously has little idea of what they’re saying.
Getting found out as a liar when you’re presenting yourself as an expert can have a lasting impact upon your reputation and blog’s profile.
I don’t mean to pick on your post – but what worries me about the style of blogging that you’re describing is that if people follow it they could end up hurting their reputation. While some bloggers might well get away with some of it – if you’re looking to build a blog with a long term profile in a niche and that is respected as a credible and authoritative source then I think a blogger needs to really consider the impact of taking this kind of advice.
Perhaps I was being a little harsh or narrow minded with my comment. I do think that there is room for promoting your successes, being authoritative etc – but look at a lot of successful blogs and see people who are fairly humble and down to earth people. While there are certainly a few who follow the five points above and still get successful I’m not sure I’d be building a blog on these strategies.
To me blogging with confidence has more to do with knowing what you do know and knowing what you don’t. Blogging about your experience. Connecting with your readers. Building relationships based upon trust and blogging in a way that is true to your values. But that’s just me – what do you think?