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I’ve been a blogger for over seven years, and in all that time there is only one thing about blogging about which I’m certain.

I suck at it.

Let me give you a quote from Stacy McCain to help explain why that’s so and, hopefully, why you will care.

Being an intensively competitive personality is a sine qua non of success in the news business, which is why every newsroom is a seething cauldron of thwarted ambition. Nobody goes into journalism aspiring to be the guy who proofreads obituaries, but somebody has to do that job, and if you don’t strive constantly to win, win, win in the news business, you’re gonna lose, lose, lose until one day you find yourself proofing obits.

I am not an intensely competitive person. I never have been. Oh, I like competition and I played hurt on more than a couple occasions. I love winning and don’t like to lose. I don’t hate to lose, though, unless I know I’ve been playing in a crooked game.

Blogging — very successful blogging, that is — is an exceedingly crooked game.

Now I don’t mean that bloggers lie and cheat, though there are certainly more than a few who play unfairly. I mean that the game itself — the daily quest to pull in hits, move up the food chain, and land the big prizes that wait for those to reach the upper echelons of the blogosphere — isn’t fair and the rules are not what most bloggers are told they are.

There’s a useful lesson here and I do hope you don’t think this is the kind of wailing in the dark posts that causes every emo teenager within a 100 mile radius to reflexively reach for their Bauhaus and Morrisey iTunes playlist. Let me give you a quick explanation and an illustration.

Pretty much every article, online course, and book you will read on blogging will boil down to four points: 1) Find a lightly-occupied niche subject about which you know a great deal and about which you are passionate, 2) Write “killer content” about that subject, 3) Write guest posts all over the place to spread your name about, 4) Shill your blog posts to other bloggers like a junkie two days separated from his last fix.

There. That’s it. You can now remove all the bookmarks to those “How To” blog sites you may have. You can throw away almost all those “Four Steps To Certain Blogging Success” PDF files you’ve downloaded. Heck, you can probably stop paying that big-name blogger all that money for the video course you bought a couple months ago.

You can certainly avoid this post, which is the biggest piece of trips I’ve ever seen on the subject of blogging.

The best way to start a blog that would make you money and make you successful on the net is to start the right blog with right intentions. If you blog for the right reasons, with right intentions – nobody can STOP you from making it into a million dollar business. And if you blog for wrong reasons – nobody will ever SPOT your blog. Time to take your call!

The formula is to know what you are getting into:

  • Do your homework.
  • Be ready for the hard work.
  • Be passionate about the subject.
  • Be clear about the plusses, minuses, expense, time, effort, & everything else that makes people successful and rich bloggers.

Wow. All I have to do to build a “million dollar” blog is follow a short list of non-specific platitudes? Well thanks, Daily Blog Tips, for that! What tremendous value your guest blogger has added to my life and career!

That, though, is what passes at dozens of sites as worthwhile blogging advice, as bad as it was. That’s what thousands of hungry new bloggers get pretty much ever day from “gurus” who, for the most part, have no more lasting interest in your success than they do in the success of an ant dragging a leaf across the sidewalk. Their mission is to bring in the web traffic and generate cash. It’s their job.

If you’re hinging your success on that advice, you’re likely to end up frustrated because there are a million other bloggers out there working the very same formula, doing the same things you are. You’ll need an edge, but you’re in luck, because there’s one more ingredient those other bloggers won’t get from the gurus. I’ll share it with you, but you have to swear not to tell anyone else. It’ll be our secret, okay?

Networking.

If you want a successful blog you must find the people who are the movers and shakers in your chosen niche and do everything you can, up to and including light stalking, to stay in their faces every day. The truth of the matter is that you can “do your homework” and “be passionate” but if you’re just another name on a web site masthead, your blog will go exactly nowhere. There is a reason that folks like Stacy McCain and Pete Ingemi get frequent Instalanches. They sent their posts to Glenn Reynolds over and over again until he got to know who they were. Sure, they wrote (and still write) “killer content” but the Blogfather had to see that content on a regular basis for quite a while before they became part of his regular reading rotation.

But I’ll go one further. You can write all the killer content you want and guest blog until your fingers bleed, but if you don’t have a relationship with bigger bloggers that goes farther than a few e-mails a week, you’ll always be on the outside looking in. It’s no coincidence that the Pajamas Media guys link to each other all the time. They work together. They know each other (and linking helps the business, too). The Hot Air bloggers link each other’s posts. Glenn Reynolds links not only to his PJM friends but also to Ann Althouse. That’s not to say the people who whom they link aren’t good bloggers. They are. But they have an advantage you, who might have written a post just as good as they, do not: a relationship.

That means you’re going to have to schmooze. You’ll have to get to conferences and blogger gatherings and stay for the after-parties. You’ll have to brush up on your handshake and your best smile. You’ll have to get in the middle of conversations on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. It won’t be enough just to guest-blog; you have to guest-blog in places where those people are most certain to see your work.

And even then you’re not guaranteed success. You have to keep at it, relentlessly, year after year after year. Don’t assume that because that big blogger remembered you once, they’ll remember you again. The next conference is coming and you can’t afford not to be there. Other bloggers will be there and I guarantee you they want what you have and they sure as heck won’t put in a good word for you if you’re not there.

And this is what I mean by “crooked”. The rules most bloggers learn from the supposed gurus will never get you to where you want to go. Success in the blogosphere, like success anywhere else in business, depends far more on who you know — and who knows you — than what you know, how hard you work, or how well you perform. That’s the cut-throat desire to win to which Stacy refers. The winners in that newsroom weren’t necessarily the best writers or the hardest workers. The winners were the ones who made the contacts that mattered then busted their humps to keep those contacts fresh and vital and useful.

I suck at blogging because I’m a rotten schmoozer and, at this point in my life, I’m not going to get much better at it. I’m an introvert who gets ground down quickly by crowds. I won’t elbow my way past a dozen other bloggers to shake hands with the big important person in the room. I’ve stepped aside to let someone far more hungry and eager take my place in a handshake line and I’ll do it again. I am who I am and, alas, that means I’ll be the guy most often remembered as “Oh, right! Him! Wow, how could I have forgotten Jimmie?”.

But that doesn’t mean you have to.

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11 Responses to “Why I Suck at Blogging and What It Will Take For You Not To”

  1. @budosworldcom says:

    I suck at it ! I never thought I would make money by writing, I butcher the English language so bad, that some people have mistaken English as my second language. I must have missed one to many English class's ….. Sports can do that to ya… Keep writing your one of the few that I read and like daily.. I read a lot of others but there are only a few I like…

  2. Jimmie Bise Jr. Is a Great Blogger : The Other McCain says:

    [...] var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true,"ui_language":"en"};He especially excels at blowing up Stupid Blogging Advice:Wow. All I have to do to build a “million dollar” blog is follow a short list of non-specific [...]

  3. The Secret to Getting Blog Traffic - The NeoSexist says:

    [...] topic will lead to an unbelievable amount of blogspam.  Jimmie Bise Jr. has a great post on why he sucks at blogging [he doesn't] and why most advice found on the internet on the topic does. Suck, that [...]

  4. @Don_C says:

    Stacy McCain, God bless 'im, sent me over. Great advice here. I'm introverted as well, which may be why my blog didn't really go anywhere. I still get the itch to try again, but I'm not sure I have the drive for it.

  5. Kaffir_Kanuck says:

    Here I thought this was going to be another SOE sell.

    You're right of course, blog often, network, credit links…and I would add, really work on your "tags". You can never have enough tags…that's what really gets google flagging your content…as long as you blog often.

    • Jimmie says:

      Have I ever mentioned that I hate SEO blogs with a red-hot passion. Oh, I do. ;)

      Zilla, you're right. You can blog about what you like, dump your heart and hard work into it and do well. That next level, well, it takes more and we don't always have control over that part.

  6. zillaoftheresistance says:

    I'm here via Stacy McCain too, and he's right, you ARE a great blogger, Jimmie!
    I'm not an introvert, but I am housebound due to my being a mother of young children who need me, so I can't get out and physically schmooze in person, but I do send emails, link to other bloggers both big & small, and hang out in the comments threads of some of my favorites. I have been at it for less than a year, and having come into it with no expectations, I'm honestly surprised by how far I've come and delighted with all of the great blogging friends that I've made.
    My life is richer even though my wallet and bank account are quite empty, but I was poor before I started blogging so it's not like I've lost anything while I have gained more than I could have imagined.
    I have a friend who is a great writer and he was thinking about starting a blog but was worried that he would not be 'successful', I say that when it comes to being a blogger, YOU get to define what you consider success, for some it's money, for some it's recognition, for some it may just be having a platform to say what they want to say, or some combination of any of those things. If you like what you do and enjoy doing it, than you needn't worry about what somebody else deems would make you a 'success', set your own goals and do what you're doing because you want to do it - most bloggers do not get rich off of it, and anyone who says otherwise is probably running a scam.

    • Kaffir_Kanuck says:

      Nobody gets rich from writing books, well, hardly anybody. It\s the following public appearances, the consultations, and the public figure you become. Git yer writer friend blogging "NOW" before he misses the opportunity of free exposure, esp before the Gov't shuts us all down (only if conspiracy theories have credence).

  7. Fausta's Blog » Blog Archive » The Bastille Day roundup says:

    [...] Blogging: Jimmie Bise Jr. Is a Great Blogger, with his post Why I Suck at Blogging and What It Will Take For You Not To [...]

  8. thatmrgguy says:

    Great article. I never was much of an ass kisser myself. Might explain why I'm still a Carpenter instead of job superintendent.

    Mike G.

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