Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 27, 2011 8:48 PM

The Most Overrated Piece of Blogging Advice I've Ever Heard

"Blog every day."

It's a real fear that both individuals and brands have when it comes to Blogging. They think that Blogging is a never-ending churn of content in an attempt to appear both relevant and fresh to their readers, consumers and community members. There was a great Blog post today called, The Most Overrated Piece of Blogging Advice I've Ever Heard, on Daily Blog Tips (hat-tip: Chris Brogan) that helped to better frame for individual Bloggers how to both better pace themselves and how to think differently about what value their Blog brings to an audience. The message is just as valid for brands as well, but I have some differing/different perspectives.

Blog every day...

  • Even if no one is reading. In the beginning, it's not about readership and audience. It's about practice and building experience. Think about a hugely famous rock band. They jammed for years in the basement and in crappy clubs. The best stuff happens over time, so Blog everyday and get there faster.
  • Even if you have to force yourself. The resistance to not to do it will go away over time. Forcing yourself will create a habit. Habits are very hard to create (they can take weeks or even months), but once you have the habit, it will become that much more natural and an integral part of your development. A Blog is to your brain what the gym is to your body. Getting into the habit of working out is tough, but the benefits outweigh the struggle to get there.
  • Unless it's about self-promotion. A Blog is an amazing tool for self-promotion, but that's the by-product and not the reason to do it. If the sole purpose of your Blog is self-promotion, odds are it will be doomed from the beginning.
  • As an act of critical thinking. Blogging is the period at the end of the last sentence of my day. It's an opportunity for me to reflect on something that struck me on my daily journey and a creative exercise in explaining it and thinking about it. Use your Blog as a sketchpad for you day and the industry that you serve.
  • Unless you're really stuck on what to Blog about. A Blog can be an amazing expression of what's on your mind and should not be an exercise in grasping at straws. Blog posts without substantive content read that way, and it's impossible to build credibility if all you're doing is grasping at straws.
  • Unless you're doing it for the SEO. It's hard to believe, but some brands have a Blog simply to appear higher up in the search engines. Can you imagine creating content for the sole purpose of trying to game the search engines? If the content isn't authentic, what's the point?
  • And don't worry about the length. Some say you have to keep it short and simple others believe in long-form content. I don't think either directions are accurate. For once, the male readers can sigh a sigh of relief because it's not about the size (really, it's not). It's about the quality. A Blog should be no longer or shorter than it takes to get a great idea across.

"Be brilliant. Be brief. Be gone."

I love that quote (I wish I knew who said it, but it's something that one of my business partners at Twist Image always says). Ultimately, Blogging is not easy, it's not obvious and it's hard (very hard) to get real traction with as a Marketing engine. Nothing happens unless you are consistent in your effort and work. It has to be relevant to your audience and yes, you need a high level of frequency in your publishing habits. But, you have to define what "consistent," "relevant" and "frequency" means to you and your audience. Nobody can do that for you.

What would you add to this list?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Richard Jenkins
    Mitch Joel

    I would add "Don't be afraid". Anything worth doing is worth taking risk and it is okay to be wrong as long as you have a thoughtful point of view. Acting afraid comes across in blog posts and makes for boring commentary.

    I say this because I struggle with this one all of the time.

    Reply
    • I fear that the best content never gets published because people are afraid of how they will be perceived. It's not easy to be an artist for that - exact - reason. You have to be willing to "put it out there."

      Reply
    • Posted by Miriam
      Mitch Joel

      This is so true, not only for blogging but for all actions in Social Media Marketing. It's always the biggest step for my customers. Best advice: just start! Keep some important things in mind (find a great subject line, don't blog to much, include pics etc.) but after that: just do it. And if it backfires, play with this as well and turn it in to an advantage- people are talking about you!

      Reply
  • Posted by Berniejmitchell
    Mitch Joel

    I am completely sold on the "Do the work" & "Ship your art" position, even more than that I "write to find out what I think" - which I am sure I heard in one of your podcasts.

    Blogging a lot is actually a time saver for me, I write and then send people there to find links, last year I had blogs all over the place and now I am focused with the favourite parts all in one place.

    All my best ideas come from listening or reading something, writing about it and seeing what sticks with my community.

    Reply
  • Posted by Gordon White
    Mitch Joel

    I've always held the view that you should blog when you have something interesting and relevant to say (which may not be everyday) however, you present a compelling arguement here, thank you for giving me something to think about!

    Reply
  • Posted by Sean McIndoe
    Mitch Joel


    My best blogging advice is based on an old Seth Godin post I read when I was starting out: Make it your goal to be the best in the world.

    That's intimidating, and it should be, because it's unrealistic and ridiculous. You're guaranteed to fail. So your instincts tell you that you have to compromise, and your instincts are right because you do.

    But most people compromise on the wrong half of the goal. They start changing the definition of "best". They decide that it would be OK to be one of the best, or at least pretty good, or above average, or maybe just to not embarrass themselves.

    The secret is to keep the "best" and compromise on "the world". Start shrinking the world. Find a niche. Keep shrinking it until you realize you can realistically aspire to be the world's best blogger in that niche.

    It's possible that you may need to find a niche so small that you're the best by default because you're the only one in the world blogging about it. That's fine. Or you may find you can aim a little higher. That's also fine.

    But once you find that niche, don't settle for being anything less than the best.

    (One important note about this advice: Don't try to pick your niche right away. When you start blogging, virtually nobody will care what you have to say for months. That's a gift, because it gives you a chance to try all sorts of different things. Try writing every few days, or every few hours; write short, then write long; be funny, then be angry; be smart, then be silly. And try all sorts of different topics. Eventually you'll figure out what you're good at, just in time for the audience to start to arrive.)

    Reply
  • Posted by rdopping
    Mitch Joel

    I would add "Be real".

    Your ideas and inspirations need to come from a place that is true to you or your brand or your business or whatever you are about. You need to believe in your ideas and fully commit for them to be relevant.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bianka LeGrand
    Mitch Joel

    I agree very much on the "critical thinking" part. Blogging is a huge validity debate these days, and one thing in regards to blogging that resonates with me is the idea of personal truth that comes along with it. We are not asking anyone to agree with our ideas/concepts, yet by sharing our critical perspectives, we are bound to meet the minds that think alike. Another beauty of blogging is challenging others to "speak up" on their opinions and ideas, further allowing both parties to, in fact...learn something new. And as with everything, doing something every day makes the skill muscle grow stronger.

    Reply
  • Posted by Craig Killick
    Mitch Joel

    I would suggest to remain on topic. Yes, add supplementary context, but remain focused on the message - the things you want to be known for.

    Too many people I come across see their Company Blog as a way of transmitting personality above and beyond everything else. Yes, it should be conversational, but if it goes off topic too much you will dilute your marketing messages and fragment your audience.

    Reply
    • Posted by Miriam
      Mitch Joel

      I agree- some people show only their personality and no longer their brand message. The trickiest part is to find the right mix- but that's what a blog in the beginning is for- experiment, find the right mix you feel comfortable with and what meets the interest of your target audience. My advice: Blog 3/5 about your brand topics, 1/5 about geek stuff you found on your way and 1/5 about personal stuff

      Reply
  • Posted by John
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    Thanks again for sharing. One item that I would add is to be interactive and encourage communications with your audience. By this I mean respond to your audience when they comment or have questions. Also, take a little extra time to read and comment on the blogs of your audience. Identify good ideas that you found from your audience in your blog, and give credit to those who published those ideas.

    As Mitch commented in his book Six Pixels of Separation, "Connecting is not engaging" (p. 209).

    Reply
  • Posted by Laura Click
    Mitch Joel

    I don't think you have to blog every day. But, I think it does help to write every day. I don't publish everything I write. After all, sometimes, when you start fleshing out an idea, you find that it doesn't have wings or that it's not a fit for your audience. I do agree that blogging/writing helps you think through things in a critical way and it helps you improve your writing skills. That's why it's so important to do it. So, I would add, blog/write every day, but don't feel like you have to hit the publish button every time.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mike Duncan
    Mitch Joel

    Blog everyday because content begets content. Each time I draft a post, I open another document to capture the parallel thoughts spinning off as I am writing - stuff that stands on its own as compelling content. Most posts result in 3 or 4 additional posts. Do the math. Blogging is a perpetual motion machine. (I think I just came up with another post).

    Reply
  • Posted by Luis London
    Mitch Joel

    This post is pure bliss. I really enjoy your blog, thanks for sharing your knowledge on this blog and during conferences.

    I will say Blog everyday that you have something relevant to share. Of course some people have relevant things more than twice a day.

    Reply
  • Posted by Nancy Davis
    Mitch Joel

    I post content five days of the week, because if I don't my head would explode! (well, not literally...)

    For me, blogging every day helps me fight off the resistance that is so easy for me to slip into. I am also becoming a better blogger by posting content every single day. I challenge myself to make my point and use as few words as possible.

    This is perfect for me to see Mitch, and this is why I love your blog.

    Reply
  • Posted by Shel Holtz
    Mitch Joel

    Are you old enough to remember Mr. Ed? He never spoke unless he had something to say.

    Reply
  • Posted by Cowtown Pattie
    Mitch Joel

    The best advice I was given early on: don't overthink it and be genuine.

    Reply
  • Posted by blackberrywhite
    Mitch Joel

    I think 90% of blogs are just egotistical & dont get read

    Reply
  • Posted by Serene
    Mitch Joel

    I always think that I should blog only if I have something important to say, so at least the post is a quality one, in my eyes at least. But your points make sense as well. Maybe I should blog everyday, but not publish everything. What do you think?

    Reply
  • Posted by Stephen
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    Can you go into more detail about the SEO point? I agree that blogging solely for SEO purposes as a sort of content farm to rank higher in the Google results pages isn't the right way to approach it- but if you're creating great content and optimizing it for SEO, I don't see it as gaming the search engines. If the content is authentic and it's attempting to be helpful, relevant, etc. to a target audience, I don't see the harm in blogging for the SEO...I don't want to put words in your "mouth" (blog post here), but are you saying it's better to blog with that as a thought in the back of your head instead of the principal driving factor? Because if I'm starting a blog for my company, damn straight one of the main results were looking for out of it all is higher rankings from the search engines and we'd be foolish not to aim for that-wouldn't we?

    Reply
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    Reply
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