This guest post is by Ollin Morales of Courage 2 Create.
Nearly a year and a half ago, I was a complete mess. I had lost my job in the recession, my then boyfriend broke up with me, I didn’t get into grad school, and I had to guide a loved one through her very serious depression. I had never been under so much pain, turmoil, and stress in all my life.
To my surprise, in the midst of all of this, I had a mysterious calling to write a novel.
In order to keep myself accountable to this novel, I was encouraged to start a blog documenting the process. At the time, I only had the humble goal that in 5-10 years maybe someone, somewhere (other than my sister) would read it.
It turned out that writing the first draft of my first novel amid all the chaos in my life was a nearly insurmountable task. But, luckily, I was able to get through the process by inventing a series of tools. Every time I overcame an obstacle, I created a new tool, and I shared this tool with my readers.
Turns out that these tools not only helped me write and complete the first draft of my novel, but they were also becoming a lifeline for hundreds of readers who were also forging their way through life’s many challenges.
Miraculously, within LESS than year, the blog went from obscurity to Top Ten Blogger status; from 12 readers a day to up to 3,000 readers a day; from zero subscribers to four hundred and counting; to zero income, to earning money from clients who took my writing consultation service through my blog.
In retrospect, I realize that it was only with the help of blogs like Problogger that I didn’t have to wait five or ten years for hundreds of people to notice my blog—I only had to wait less than year.
So, today, in the tradition of great bloggers like Darren, instead of keeping all my best blogging secrets to myself, I wanted to help you by sharing my absolute best tips on how to make YOUR blog outstanding in less than a year.
The story of my good friend, his wise teacher, and the lake
Before I tell you how to make your blog outstanding, I would first like to share with you this story.
A friend of mine, who was facing many problems in his life, told me of a dream he had in which his teacher appeared to him. In this dream, my friend’s teacher led him to beautiful, pristine lake in the middle of a jungle.
The teacher pointed to this big, beautiful lake with its great, roaring waterfall and asked my friend to drink from it.
Having grown to trust his teacher, my friend reached into the lake, cupped his hands, and drank a cool, fresh gulp of the water.
After my friend was finished, the teacher said:
“Now, I want you to drink the entire lake.”
My friend turned pale, and was hesitant for moment.
But as he trusted his teacher, my friend did not question the instruction, and simply brought another handful of water to his mouth. Then, he brought another handful to his mouth. Then another. Then another. Then another.
My friend drank and drank and drank until the water was nearly up to his throat, and he had no choice but to spit it out.
My friend shook his head.
“Sorry,” he told his teacher, “but I can’t drink this whole lake. It’s impossible!”
The teacher gave a smirk, and then, with a twinkle in his knowing eye, said:
“Then why do you insist on drinking all of your problems, and all the world’s problems all at once?”
At this point, the teacher pointed to the roaring waterfall.
And that’s when my friend finally understood.
The lake represented all of the problems my friend was facing in his life; and the relentless waterfall represented the world’s problems that just kept coming and coming and never stopped.
It was clear that just as my friend could not swallow the entire lake and the entire rushing waterfall on his own, my friend also could not—no matter how hard he tried—swallow all of his problems and all of world’s problems all at once.
Finally, the teacher suggested that my friend only drink from the lake what he could, and leave the rest up to something bigger than him.
Absolutely everything you need to know to make your blog outstanding
Through this little story, we can learn that there are only two ways by which we can ever become an “outstanding” blogger.
1. Do your best
When blogging focus only on what you can “drink” from life’s “lake.” By that I mean, focus only on the responsibilities that you can carry out to the best of your abilities:
- Don’t just write “good” posts—write posts you are madly in love with and trash anything you think is just “okay” or “great.”
- Don’t just summarize what others are saying—“synergize” two different points of view to arrive at a completely new point of view.
- Don’t just offer your readers inspiration, information, wisdom, and guidance they’ve come to expect—give them inspiration, information, wisdom, and guidance they never expected you’d give them.
- Don’t limit yourself to only intellectual arguments or insights—allow yourself to share insights you have gathered using your physical, psychological, spiritual, social and emotional sensibilities as well.
- Don’t just make your blog posts specific—make them universal by utilizing storytelling techniques like metaphor and simile to help drive your point forward.
- Don’t just write well—learn how to write exceptionally.
2. Show up
My friend could not have possibly drunk anything from the lake if he was not at first present.
So make sure you “show up” to your blog every week, and put your best self out there so that new readers can discover you.
- Don’t just guest post on other blogs, or feature guest bloggers—guest post on blogs, or feature guest bloggers that reflect the same level of excellence, thoughtfulness, open-mindedness, and care YOU have become known for.
- Don’t only keep up a consistent schedule—inform your readers through Facebook, Twitter updates, and newsletters of what kind of content they should be expecting, and when it will be rolled out, so that they, too, can show up and support you when the content appears.
- Don’t just blog—pay attention to other aspects of your life as well: your emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual “selves” are just as important as your “blogging self.”
The bottom line
In the end, all you need to do to be outstanding at blogging is to show up and try your very best. Trust me, when you do this, people will start to notice you all on their own—and your readership will grow.
Oh, and by the way, that story about my friend? It was actually about me.
What I can say that, in that dream, when I learned that all I needed to do was drink what I could from the lake, I felt a tremendous wave of relief brush over me. I also felt that one day I would have to share this great lesson with others. Because to become an outstanding blogger you must not only show up and try your best—you must also be willing to share your greatest lessons, allowing them to expand throughout the world far wider than any lake, and far louder than any roaring waterfall.
Ollin Morales is a fiction writer whose blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles his journey as he writes his first novel. His blog offers writing advice as well as self-help strategies to deal with life’s toughest challenges. You can also follow him on Twitter.