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Warning: Are You Doing the Bare Minimum?

This guest post is by Paul of http://junhax.com.

Bachelor’s degree . . . bare minimum.

A Master’s degree is becoming, well . . . the bare minimum.

Posting on your blog once a day, tweeting a few times, responding to a few people, responding to a few emails . . . bare minimum.

The truth is it always seems like we are never doing enough—and it’s true, some of us aren’t.

We have huge hopes and dreams of becoming the best in our field, with a determination that is immutable and highly focused.

The problem: how do we know if we’re doing the bare minimum, and what can we do to surpass it?

Let’s talk about it in blogging terms, although this way of thinking applies to all fields.

Blueprint for great content

When I started to blog I had a firm belief that writing amazing content, connecting to social media and tweeting posts, and frequently publishing would get my name out there. It’s true to an extent, because that is just bare minimum.

In order to prove to your readers that you’re writing with heart and patience you must keep these points in mind:

  • Take time your time when writing. The way you’re reading it now will be completely different tomorrow morning—until you fully perfect and construct what you want to say.
  • Make sure your headline is as powerful as your content.
  • Writers are prodigious notetakers. Use your notes, round up some ideas that you came up in the past, and put them to use.
  • Have others read your posts. Listen to their feedback, and write it down to compare what others are saying.
  • Open the door and write. Close the door and write.
  • Read it out loud over and over, as if you were in front of thousands of students who have no clue what the subject is about.
  • Avoid the traditional steps of writing, editing, then publishing. Publish it the next day to be positive that what you created is valuable.
  • The more time spent scrutinizing your posts, the more effort you are putting into it to make sure that it appeals to your audience, contains no errors, and delivers a powerful message.
  • Don’t just supply the reader with paragraph after paragraph. Be unique in your content delivery and design.
  • Break up your paragraphs. Use bullet points, numbers, separate important ideas and sentences to guide the readers’ eyes.
  • Link to other blogs or posts that are relevant to what you’re saying. Supply the reader with various options on the subject to expand their knowledge.
  • Most importantly: put your heart, blood, sweat and tears into it. Do want you your posts to last forever, or just today?
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”—Robert Frost

Being part of the conversation

When you comment other peoples’ blogs, are you leaving a message where people can follow up, and maybe even learn something, or relate?

“Oh, I love this post. Thanks for sharing!”

Lame. Yawn. Tell them why you love it, how it affected your life or work, and possible tips and ideas that were not included that you can add and recommend to fellow readers.

Draw attention to yourself. If you took your comment and compared it to the other 100 comments, does it look exactly the same? Are you sure blending in is what you want to do? Appear as an intellectual, not some robot.

Networking with purpose

Are you networking with purpose? Is your heart in it? Are they just some face online, or a potential subscriber . . . or a friend?

You’re a writer, and you know just as well as I do the satisfaction that comes with feedback. It’s the ultimate reward and sensation knowing that someone read your post and was moved. You did your job as a writer: to communicate ideas.

Find a network of fellow bloggers and writers that you enjoy reading and going back to. You will not become popular all alone, in the corner of your room.

If your focus is finance, money, and business, go out and look for all the top bloggers and people in your niche who speak that language.

Relate with them, learn from them, and most importantly: speak to them.

I went for six months of blogging without connecting or speaking to one person. After a while the mold was broken, and I was talking to a few bloggers here and there via Twitter or website; but I was slowly building a relationship.

Soon, it wasn’t weird to ask for advice or some thoughts, or just simply say hello.

The simple truth

“The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.”—Oscar Wilde

It’s so true it hurts. If the results you’ve been getting are steady, and nothing has changed for you in a long time, then it’s time to see if what you’re doing is the bare minimum.

You need to exceed, lower your shoulder, and smash through the wall that is preventing you from being great. You need to be hungry for it, though. You cannot have dreams to be the best at something, and not lose sleep over that goal.

If you truly believe that you can be the best and greatest, and your work shows that you put your heart and soul into it, eventually you will earn that success; but you have to keep clawing and fighting for new ways to be above average.

You have to create a mindset that many people lack. It’s not the simplest thing to do, but it is absolutely necessary in the world we live in today to become remarkable.

Paul is a writer/blogger on http://junhax.com. He focuses on sharing insightful stories and advice for writing, blogging, and personal development. You can also follow him at @junhax.

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Comments

  1. Sanjeev says:

    Many people avoid adding links for other blog posts even if they are relevant, as the fear of loosing reader take over. But this can be worth as users know where they have to start to get the quality content or a concise summary. This is worth trying.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Thanks Sanjeev, will keep that in mind.

    • Hello Sanjeev, the one who is afraid to link to others (inbound links), in my opinion, might not worth to be linked to (outbound links). Why? Because, when you write rich, relevant and original content it’s unique to you. There is a voice attached. No matter the related inbound links, the uniqueness of your contents would keep your readers asking for more. Poor content, as a corollary, would achieve the opposite. I guess, this is were the fears of not linking to others come from.

      As a matter of fact, a social revolution is born. SEO 2.0 is about human votes! Linking is just an aspect.

      Cheers.

  2. sanjusha says:

    Great post.I have always had trouble networking with fellow bloggers. Although I have an account with facebook and twitter I rarely use them to promote my blog. I think I should change that approach now.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Thanks Sanjush,

      Yes, definitely take advantage of Twitter and Facebook. Both mediums are used often, and they’re great for SEO and connecting with readers.

  3. So very true, if you keep doing the same thing then you will keep getting the same results. Each day, minute, month and so on we should be focusing on doing something new and different with our blog’s.

  4. This really hits home Paul, I’m guilty of doing the bare minimum in a lot of my online (and even offline) activities, some weeks are worse than others, but lately it seems I’ve been doing more and more, so maybe I’m on the right track, one of the keys for me is to find encouraging people in your niche, people you can help and that can help you. Also find your motivation for doing what you do.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Absolutely, Jamie.

      I was on a path for a long time, wandering the web, pretending to do something productive.

      You’re definitely doing more because you realize what you’ve been doing just wasn’t working. Also, motivation is a huge factor. Huge.

  5. Hugo Guzman says:

    Linking out to other sites/blogs is one of the best ways of accruing social engagement “karma.” If your blog content is solid and you do it often enough (or even just once in some cases) it can lead to a very fruitful reciprocation.

    I often return the favor in one way or another (a retweet, link, etc.) if a blogger takes the time to mention my site in one of their posts, even if they are not considered to be very influential in my niche (yet).

    • Paul Jun says:

      That’s a great start, and good karma.

      A shout out, link back, or a tweet is a start to a great opportunity and friendship. Great point, Hugo, and thanks for the insight.

  6. If we don’t provide connections to other resources we are failing our readers. As long as I don’t send my readers to a direct competitor I have added value to my site. I also believe that I have some great value that I have provided. I should not be afraid to give even more away. People notice when we share other opinions.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Yep. Also, on my site, I put it so it opens a new window and it doesn’t cancel out the page the reader was currently viewing.

      I find linking to other blogs is similar to writing an essay for school and using credible sources.

  7. Alex says:

    Paul Jun,

    I agree with you. In blogging, who we know is at least as important as what we know. In other words, networking with many bloggers is key.

  8. Doctor Stock says:

    As a relatively new blogger, I appreciate some of these ideas… I think my main issue is not getting search engine traffic… not so much the content

  9. Rebekah says:

    This post is so relevant and helpful for me. I recently decided my big goal for 2012 would be to “do excellently.” This idea that we are to do excellent work. Have excellent relationships. Take excellent photos. Post excellent writing. And I’m learning, after years of pressing publish or enter before double-checking, to slow down, read it through again, and make sure what I publish is excellent. Thanks for the tips. I’m printing off for my idea journal.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Rebekah,

      I’m so glad you loved the post and found it helpful. I feel fulfilled this was relevant to you.

      Just take your time. No need to rush. I had a bad habit, in the beginning, of just writing up a post and publishing it without really looking it over. Now . . . sometimes I won’t publish a post for a week unless I know it’s exactly what I want it to say.

      You will do great.

  10. Bob Angus says:

    Great reminders Paul. My faves are note taking (I have a blogging notebook that I go back to all the time) and publishing the next day. I don’t know how many times I’ve written something good, then later got a spark that got the same point across but with a WOW factor.

    Another tip I recommend is taking the extra time plan your work ahead with an editorial calendar. You can start drafting posts that you’ll publish in a few weeks. Plus, you can apply those research and idea notes to great posts.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Bob,

      I love the insight. I do the same with the notebook. Mostly post-its all over my computer wall (which I barely use since I used a laptop).

      The calendar, I started to realize, was very motivating to use. I felt if I missed to do something, it would motivate me to get work done on time.

      Great tip

  11. Bougie Girl says:

    I was guilty of doing the bare minimum. But, in my humble defense, I thought that I was doing more than enough. I started listening to podcasts about promoting oneself online and realized that I had not even scratched the surface. However, for the past month or so, I have stepped up my marketing efforts and I have seen a huge rise in return traffic. As well as, I just feel better about blogging in general.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Podcasts are a hugeeeeee help.

      I listened to interviews and podcasts, and definitely proved to myself I’m more of a listener than a reader.

      I’m great you have seen progress. Keep it up!

  12. In the last few posts the words “heart, blood, sweat and tears” came up a few times. Interesting. But at the same time it’s inspiring. Just like any other passion in the world, blogging has become one of the way to achieve one’s dreams. For the right person, one with the combination of talent and gritty determination, blogging is surely the door to the promised land. I am wishing all of my fellow blogger the best. Passing grade is mediocrity. Let’s raise the standard of blogosphere with our contribution. Success!

    • Paul Jun says:

      Chanuka, well said my friend.

      This mentality that us bloggers create and improve applies to any situation in life.

      The one thing I realized about bloggers: they’re very determined and hard-working. We take something we don’t know and teach ourselves, or take the necessary steps to go out and learn.

      Thank your for the insight.

  13. Guy Hogan says:

    I use to put up several short posts every day. Then as the hits came in I would put up only two or three posts every day. I’m averaging 140 hits every day. Nothing to brag about but better than I was doing months ago. Now I think it’s time to put up one long, well written post every day; and to continue the other things that you suggest. If the one long post doesn’t work I can always go back to the shorter posts. It’s a learning process and I love it.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Going back and editing posts became part of my schedule. The beauty of it is we can change and edit whenever we please — definitely important to exercise that freedom.

      I’m in the same boat as you, Guy. It will get better as our posts improve and we really send the right message.

  14. D.J.Rony says:

    Writing a good content needs power in the language you are writing for. Again the key factor is your concentration on the subject matter that you would like to pass to the readers.

    If I am thinking something new then it must be backed by some solid examples and proof then my readers will believe that. and once you are engaged with your readers they will do the marketing for you.

  15. White Bhabi says:

    While you mention many good points, I must disagree somewhat with how much time you recommend putting into editing, checking, rereading and such for a blog post. Yes, you should proofread in most circumstances (personal or emotional posts aside), however most professional writers will tell you that there is no perfect post and putting all that extra energy into going over it too much will lessen your enthusiasm and drive to continue blogging. You can be too hard on your own writing and that is not good for your momentum. Proofread it once, let someone look at if you need it to be good and professional and then post it and move on to the next one.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Great point, White.

      Yes, I did spend too much time scrutinizing my posts . . . a little too much.

      Definitely asking a friend to read it over once or twice improved my confidence in my work, and allowed me to move onto a next post or draft.

      I like the advice, definitely will keep it in mind. Thank you for sharing for others as well!

  16. Daniel says:

    Some important reminders, Paul.

    I was writing a post every day then cut back quite a bit in recent months.

    The note taking I tend to do quite a lot, though I can get pretty unorganized when it’s time to put all the information to use.

    I sometimes have notes all over the place, then I can not recall which note pad, book or PC file I have the info on.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Daniel,

      A good app I use both on my phone and laptop is called Evernote. Check it out. It has proven to be one of my favorite note-taking tools, and it’s free. It syncs with any device and you can access it whenever.

  17. I often feel that what I am doing with my blog is something that anybody can do, it doesn’t take much effort on the IQ part, therefore, I always try to better my content, make it more useful for the readers by giving insights and ideas about various situation.

    I don’t interact with other bloggers very much, nor my readers, I think that is one area I should work upon.

    • Paul Jun says:

      That’s something I didn’t do as well for a very very long time.

      And believe it or not, it’s one of the most important things to do.

      Networking will be the backbone of increasing your readers, traffic, and it will motivate you to produce great content and love what you do.

  18. Jeremy Cook says:

    A bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum? I guess it depends on what you want to do. Most people don’t even get a bachelors and some are quite successful.

    Some good thoughts though – thx for the article!

  19. Dear Paul, how’re you doing? Rich post!
    This piece is worth a million dollar. It’s not the quantity but quality that matters. It’s worth your efforts to re-read (proofread/edit) before final publishing. On networking, ideas are only valuable when shared. you find that as your fans learn from you, you also learn from them. This could be fertile ground for future topics.

    Bare minimum is a subjective descriptor. It all depends on your goals at the outset.

    Again, I love your post! More grease to your elbows Paul :)

  20. Paul Jun says:

    Thanks Benjamin,

    I am thrilled you enjoyed it. Good tips as well.

  21. Jonathan says:

    Very very true. Doing the bare minimum will never improve your results. It’s only by pushing ourselves to breakdown our own barriers that we can really see better results. There can not be serious long term improvement without pushing the limits we have within ourselves.