During my regathering month, I’ve been taking some time out to look at other people’s blogs as part of trying to understand how I want my blog to work better. Andrew Warner from Shadeofinfo.com (like a number of people that I like to keep up with) is rather gifted at inspirational ideas and I believe the recent article he published should stand up as what people class as a “Pillar”.
As part of analysing this, I wanted to cover humility in my own reflection because I believe that is an important leverage point that all bloggers can play on with their audience. I also point out the pitfalls of over playing that strategy.
How to Prevent Blog Post Fails before you publish in 6 steps.
Image Source: Commons circa 1911
As a note this is a follow up to Shadeofinfo.com’s
“Why The Blame Game Won’t Magically Make These Mistakes Disappear”
Andrew put together a great analysis of the ability for you to fail before you’ve even published. Like Remmington, I liked this article so much, I almost bought the company so thought it was worth re-iterating Andrew’s key points.
Just before I settle into my stride with this article I wanted to touch on a point of debate, Andrew, hold that thought!
Humility is something that we all take in different levels.
My level of humility is different to yours.
There is a large camp of people who consider admitting mistakes to be a cardinal sin. There are those who go beyond that point and have a blinkered denial of their failings, carrying on as they started, oblivious to the damage they are doing to their property along the way.
There is another camp who can take their mistakes, share the process of replication, and teach others how to learn from those mistakes.
Everybody, whether they fall into either camp, will actively search for those who try to help. This is why search engines exist, because often you know that at least one person in the world knows the answer to your question. Whether we announce that we are in search of help or whether we sneak behind our shortfalls, we go in search of help, the only alternative is to give up.
- People go in search of help!
- Those who don’t prescribe to ever voicing their wrong doing are much less likely to leave comments of thanks for people giving out free help.
- There is no harm in admitting you are wrong (occasionally).
- You harm yourself if you admit you are doing wrong too often.
Denying that you make mistakes is okay to a point. It will get you so far. If you deny mistakes frequently and ignore the warnings of others eventually you will run into hot water. There is no harm in admitting you are wrong. It does not damage your position. You aren’t a president on the stand losing approval points, those who show a bit of humanity and weakness are far more widely accepted than those who are “whiter than white” (in a metaphorical sense).
I’ve even seen Pat Flynn issue an apology to the members of Niche Site Duel due to the lack of his interaction within the forum this year. Even the big boys (and girls) admit their mistakes.
But what about admitting mistakes?
There is another debate that you shouldn’t play on your mistakes too often because it exposes you to the wrong kind of scrutiny.
If you always appear to be airing mistakes this doesn’t always translate as a winning formula.
Those who view your continuous mistakes will start to doubt those articles you write because you actively challenge your own authority. You should use your own mistakes sparingly preventing them being turned into ammunition against you.
A troll with ammunition is like a room full of monkeys with guns as this picture below indicates:
There was a blogger that I followed for a number of months, this individual often played on his mistakes, started many new things and failed with 95% of them. It is true to say that in order to become more successful you have to increase your failure rate but you don’t have to tell everyone about it.
The thing was… …this guy was successful, had an enviable number of followers, and earned a large monthly sum (still does!).
So what’s the point?
Psychologically this mistake-sharing-blogger ended up turning me off their blog even though they were successful, even though I had learnt a fair bit from them.
What I’m saying is that mistakes themselves have a limit to audience appeal.
It gets to a point where you start damaging your credibility with the audience.
“Hey, isn’t it that guy/gal who is always failing? Screw that!”
You never want to become the word-cancer that people want to remove from their RSS feed, unsubscribe from, and summarily disavow all knowledge of. You want to be that dependable guy/gal, who on the rarest of occasions, shares a failure that your audience can learn to avoid.
This is actually something that most of my countrymen and countrywomen are famous for being that I am from England.
Self-deprecation is the act of belittling, undervaluing, or disparaging oneself. – The free dictionary
This blows in the face of an article I recently wrote about Tooting your own horn as a blogger.
- You should pacify negativity by fixing the problem.
- You should be discrete in your apologies.
- You should not draw attention to stupid mistakes unless you have a worthy solution to prevent them happening again.
Back to Mr Warner.
Fortunately for Andrew Warner, he is providing some good key thoughts on how you should avoid this principle mistake. It is a mistake that you want to minimize.
Now before I let Andrew speak, have a think about the following:
If you consider how much time you might pour into a post and if you were to think of your hourly rate for producing that work, seeing it fail out of the gate effectively burns that money.
To put that into a visual context:
In my current job I make roughly £10.30 net per hour or in US$16.48 (and yes, I am aware I’m below the national average) so for every post that fails I am effectively losing that much per hour spent.
Flopping from the Start
Being Headboy at Blogprefect, I cannot deny that I have written some articles that just plain flopped from the start. A lot of the time I’ve been experimenting so for me, that failure hasn’t harmed me in a detrimental way. Often I have rebelled at trend based titling because it steers me away from writing about what I want to write about.
For those articles that have their genuine merit and stand up to the test of time, there has been sweet sweet love but for those where I got a bit creative, a bit off the beaten track and didn’t look to capitalise on the true content, I have had to swallow the bitter pill of failure and choke down the unpleasant after taste of fail sauce.
It would be disappointing for any blogger to have nil response, nil pois.
I have expended many great hours on content. It is only those posts that I have put the most amount of effort into, or have found to resonate greatest with the audience, that have risen to the top.
Andrew’s Checklist according to Andrew, the 6 steps
This conjures me to create a check list based on Andrew’s key points because they resonate with me:
- Engaging Images and complimentary ones (Because images are simply more appealing than text alone will ever be, we humans are wired to process images ahead of text, that will never change)
- Headline is boss (so spend longer on it because people don’t have long to think about the best payoff even if the content is epic)
- Include internal and/or external links (Google sayeth links are important, thou shalt put thine links in thine post, shan’t thou?!)
- Engage your reader (don’t be boring, be the Fonz of blogging, make it a conversation, exactamundo!)
- Proofread your post (proofing doesn’t extend purely to spelling and grammar. It also has to do with readability. If you can’t read back your article happily, then how is somebody else going to comfortably read it? Posts have to be digestible, in some ways easy to scan, classic long paragraphs of yesteryear should remain there.)
- Don’t repeat your mistakes (as in learn from your previous ones and follow the checklist before publishing)
That is a simple list which Andrew goes into much more detail about so I recommend that you have a look at the article. The link will open in a new window.
In my personal summary I would advise bloggers to generate their own checklist and to include the 6 steps above as core steps.
I would go on to add that when thinking about your publishing process, you shouldn’t think about what you’ve published as the final step. There is a serious process of publicity that goes on after you’ve launched your article into the universe. There is no magic that would make your article appear on page 1 of the Google organic traffic searches on the day of its launch. Blogging is not always a linear process, traffic flows can be sporadic and unpredictable. An article is not dead until you stop referencing it!