The Ultimate Guide to Blogging Your Ass Off

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Warning: The post you are about to enjoy contains language that some might find offensive. If you prefer not to be subjected to such language, you are welcome to read the clean version of this post instead.

You have a blog. Congratulations! We are all very excited that you have chosen to join the rest of the human population. With the exception of my Mom of course. She doesn’t have a blog. Not yet anyway.

There’s only one problem.

It sucks. Your blog, that is. Not the fact that my Mom doesn’t have one. That I’m OK with.

It’s nothing personal. If it makes you feel any better, you are in good company. Most blogs suck, so why should yours be any different?

Who the Hell Am I to Say That?

I’m one of your readers. Or at least I was one of your readers. I stopped reading your blog because it’s safe. It’s poorly written, inconsistent and irrelevant. It’s filled with self-serving drivel used to sell some crappy product that, let’s be honest, you wouldn’t buy yourself if someone else were selling it. And it’s painfully obvious that its sole purpose is to act as a vehicle to help you reach your first million or make you the next big Internet celebrity.

It only exists because someone told you that blogging was a good idea. And it shows.

So if you want people to start reading your blog, sharing your posts, commenting on your thoughts, signing up for your newsletter and coming back for more, things are going to have to change. You are going to have to change. Starting right now.

Here are your choices:

  1. Stop blogging. Destroy all evidence that you even had a blog. Go back to taking pictures of your food and playing Farmville. Pretend like this never happened.
  2. Skip to the bottom of the page without reading another word and leave a comment about what an asshole I am and how much my blog sucks too. I know it’s coming.
  3. Start blogging your ass off.

If you chose 3, keep reading and I will share with you the secret to blogging your ass off. And it’s not about fancy titles, word counts or clichés like “quality over quantity.” Blogging your ass off requires much more than a catchy phrase or a mathematical formula.

You Must Be Authentic

Being authentic means not compromising your values or your voice in exchange for traffic, subscribers, money or fame. That what you have to share and who you have to share it with are much too important to jeopardize the long term in exchange for “winning” in the short term.

It means being yourself with a complete and utter disregard as to what other people might think of you. Knowing that you will not connect with all of your readers. But the ones that you do connect with will move heaven and earth to help you spread your message. Not because they feel they have to. Or even because they want to. But because they believe in you and your message so much that they need to.

That’s what friends do.

And you won’t cross over from “followers and fans” to “friends and family” without being your true authentic self with every word you type. So, dig down deep and figure out exactly who you are. Not because you did the research or found a niche. But because when you cut yourself open, this is what you bleed.

Your audience will find you. I promise.

You Must Be Scared to Publish

If you don’t get butterflies in your stomach that moment before clicking the publish button, your post isn’t ready. It’s too safe. It’s missing something. And your readers are going to feel it, but by that time it’s too late.

In order for your blog post to grab someone’s attention long enough to read the entire thing, let alone share and comment, it has to be challenging. Or thought provoking. Maybe even controversial.

And that stuff is scary.

Some people aren’t going to like it. They may challenge you on it. They may prove you wrong. Or make you look stupid. And then there are the ones that are just downright mean.

And there is only one thing you can do about it. Continue.

Because that’s what good bloggers do.

That fear you feel right before publishing tells you that you are on the right track. That you are sharing something powerful. That some people may not like it.

But others will love it.

You Must Have a Fucking Opinion

Sitting on the middle of the fence hurts. Pick a side. Have an opinion. No, better than that. Have a fucking opinion. It’s like having an opinion but with everything you have inside.

You can’t answer a math problem with “maybe” just to ensure that you don’t get the answer wrong. And you can’t change the world by tiptoeing around both sides of the problem.

Have a fucking opinion and own it. Challenge people to see it your way. Piss them off if you have to. You might lose some readers. But you will gain a lot more respect than if you were constantly trying to make everyone happy all of the time.

Just don’t be a jackass about it and light something on fire and run away. Take your medicine and be ready to fight for your opinion publicly. That’s why it is so important for you to believe in what you are saying from the very depths of your soul.

Because you eventually will have to stand up and fight for your opinion.

You Must Give a Shit

Giving a shit is not easy. It means actually caring about your readers. Not seeing them as just numbers and conversions. Or prospects and opportunities. But seeing them as human beings. Actual people. Because they are.

It means getting to know who your readers are and what they need. And then doing whatever you have to in order to give it to them. It means connecting with them on a much deeper level than “what can you do for me.”

It means being the solution to your visitor’s problems instead of expecting your visitors to be the solution to your problems. (Tweet this)

It’s what separates those that are wasting their time by writing with those that are making a difference by writing.

All while expecting nothing in return.

You Must Be Extraordinary

Write good stuff. Stuff that matters. Stuff that is thought provoking. Stuff that is educational. Entertaining. Valuable. Controversial.

Stuff that makes other people wish they wrote it.

People don’t share “pretty good.” They don’t come back to read more “not bad.” And they don’t take action because of something you wrote that was “OK.”

You must be extraordinary.

Extraordinary means spending hours rereading and rewriting your own work. Adjusting and fine-tuning until it is just right. Losing sleep over one word you can’t quite get right.

Writing something extraordinary takes a lot time and even more effort. But you will be a better writer for it and you will have built a better community because of it.

We all have the ability to be extraordinary. But not all of us have the tenacity to do whatever it takes to be extraordinary.

You Must Embrace Your Shortcomings

Your mother was only humoring you when she said that you were perfect. That’s what mothers do. The truth is that you make mistakes. You have weaknesses. And you are often wrong.

Perhaps you aren’t a good storyteller.

Or maybe you have no freaking idea when the hell to use a damn apostrophe no matter HOW…MANY…TIMES people point it out to you!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahem. Sorry about that. Where was I? Oh yeah…

Whatever it is that you are weak at, it’s not likely to change. And chances are we’ve already noticed it. So embrace it. Poke fun at it. Be the first to shine a light on it.

It’s OK.

There is something nice about being imperfect. It makes you human. And it makes those in your community feel good about their imperfections too.

While you might think that your shortcomings are a sign of weakness, the truth is that embracing them is actually an act of strength.

You Must Write for the Right Reason

If the goal for your blog is to rank high on a search engine or to get people to sign up or buy something, stop blogging.

These are not goals. They are the results of your goals.

Think back to when you first started your business. Was it because you always dreamed of being first on Google? Was it because you thought it would make for a pretty analytics chart?

Or was it because deep down in your bones you knew you had something to share with the world? A solution to someone else’s problems. And you felt that there were enough people out there with that problem that you could make a difference and start a business around it?

Somewhere you lost sight of that purpose. That goal. And exchanged it for a number. A number of visitors. A number of followers. A number of friends. A number of sign ups. A number of conversions.

All of these numbers are important. But they are the result of the work you put in. Not the purpose for the work you put in.

Rediscover your purpose and make sure it oozes out of your blog. Get back to writing for the right reason, and I promise the numbers will improve without you even trying.

You Must Be Human

In a digital world full of automation, shortcuts, spammers and “marketers” constantly trying to sell you something. There are very few human beings left online. Just look at your Twitter stream. Count how many Tweets out of 100 where people are actually engaging others rather than spewing links to their blog or some random quote from someone else in order to fill space.

Out of 100, I just counted 82 links and 7 quotes. And that includes several “celebrity bloggers.” Only 11 Tweets were making even the slightest attempt at being engaging. Trying to start a conversation. Looking to connect with other human beings.

Think about that.

Only 11% of Tweets were people trying to be human.

If you went to a party where 89% of the room was trying to hard sell you something, you would leave and never come back. The same with your blog. Which explains why you are failing miserably if you are using it as a sales tool instead of an educational tool or a communication tool or a community building tool.

Just be human.

Write as if you were talking to your readers face to face. Connect with them. Let your guard down and welcome them into your life.

Tell them your story. But in a way that adds value to them, instead of you.

You Must Be a Giver

Stop being so damn cheap. What if you were to focus on writing a blog because you had something that you felt could help so many people that you just had to get it out? Where it wasn’t about your “list” or how many Tweets or comments you get.

What if you gave away so much valuable information on your website that you became the Wikipedia of your industry? The largest resource containing the highest quality information anyone could find online. Where even your competitors pointed to your site as a resource.

It sounds like it’s a ton of work. It’s not. It’s a shit-ton of work.

But it’s worth it.

Imagine what it would do to your traffic? To your reputation? To that pit you have in your stomach that questions whether you are actually making a difference.

Give it all away! Everything! Give away more value than anyone else in your industry is willing to give and more value than any of your visitors would ever expect from you. Those that are going to try and do it themselves weren’t planning on buying from you anyway so stop worrying about losing business.

The more quality content that you have on your website, the more relevant your website becomes. It dramatically increases the number of opportunities you will have to appear at the top of the search. It gives visitors something to share through their social channels.

It will introduce your website to thousands of new readers that are specifically looking for the answers that you have and will openly share them.

But Then Again, Blogging Your Ass Off is Hard

I get it. Blogging your ass off is hard work. You will spend a week working on a post until it is perfect only to have it do OK. Maybe a little better than last weeks post. That’s why most people won’t do it.

But that’s what makes you different.

Stop listening to that voice in your head that’s telling you to take the easy way out. Push through the tough days. The days where people aren’t appreciating the effort you put into it. It’s going to take more than a few posts for the rest of us to take notice.

But we will.

Just keep blogging your ass off.

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  • Melissa

    Love this post! Also loved the “clean version”. It was hilarious :)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thanks!!! I wasn’t exactly sure how that would go over…so far so good!

  • pvdevoor

    Hi Marc,

    Thanks for this great post, it actually gives me energy to start posting again on my own blog!

    Best regards,
    Peter

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      That’s awesome! Make sure you come back and include a link to your next post…let’s see how you did!

  • Laura Amerman, CFRE

    Great advice, Marc! You know me, I’m thinking of nonprofit blogs…so many focus on “look how awesome we are” or “we are thought leaders” (for the love of Baby Jesus, nonprofits, STOP using that ridiculous statement) or, worse, “what have you done for us lately” lame-ass attempts at gift solicitation. It’s hard, and scary, and risky to abandon the comfortable, traditional methods. But if we start focusing on what happens when “we do what we do” (i.e. carry out the mission), and how our awesome donors (not OUR awesomeness) made that happen, I think we’ll find followers and donations growing. Who doesn’t want to be told they are awesome?

    Oh, and the clean version is exactly what I would expect of you!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Exactly! Non-profits are often the worst offenders because they are so underfunded and tend to have 3 people doing 100 different jobs. Yet, they are the ones that could gain the most from this approach because they have so much to share and give away! You need to get out there and kick some non-profit ass Laura!

      Oh and I think a part of me wrote the clean version specifically for you! Mission accomplished.

  • Diana Gardner Robinson

    Thanks, I needed that “straighten up and fly right” message. Only disagreement I have is your implication that using a tweet to link people to your blog is not trying to engage people. That’s how I found your blog, and it engaged me. I don’t think the one extra step is a failure to engage, and if it causes people who might not otherwise find the blog… why not?

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Don’t get me wrong! There is nothing wrong with sharing your content on Twitter! It’s an EXTREMELY valuable resource for that sort of thing. The only problem is when that’s all it is used for. When you look at someone’s feed and every single Tweet is a link to their blog it becomes very self-serving and adds no value to the community. After a while people just tune you out. Better than that is to spend 3/4 of your time engaging people. Building relationships. Making friends. And then share a link to your post because then your friends will listen and share it.

      • mickhaensler

        I unfollowed Jeff Bullis……it’s coming…….must…….hit…….”publish”……I’m skeert…..

  • VeronicaSicoe

    That’s right. Keep reminding me it was a good idea to sign up to your blog, Marc. ;)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      You mean I didn’t scare you away with the language? Whew!

      Thanks for always coming back and always leaving a comment. It reminds me that I’m on the right path!

      • VeronicaSicoe

        Scare me away with your language? Fuck that noise.

        • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

          OK, that was awesome.

  • http://www.pbjbusinessconsulting.com/ Brian Stephens

    Thanks for the shot of adrenaline, Marc, in an otherwise dreary world of internet marketing repetition. I hate reading a great, catchy title and clicking the link only to find the same 7 “tips” on how to be a blogging success. Ugh! Nothing new here, moving on.

    What you are saying here is exactly where I want to be. I just need to continually shake off the usual IM garbage and stop chasing the new shiny IM objects that are littered across my social media outlets. That’s why I really appreciate your fresh outlook here. I can come back to it for motivation when I fall into the next IM pit of despair. Thanks!

  • mickhaensler

    Ever since we redesigned our blog and website, I’ve written 6 blog posts and not one has gotten a comment or repost. Guess what…..I don’t give a crap. I love writing! I love working the craft. I love the process. What I don’t love is the time management it takes to do this and balance all the other things I need to do in the course of the day. I’m not good at it. But if I want to be successful at this, I’ve got to improve. Baby steps…….I’m in no hurry!!!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Mick, I love you but you are playing it safe. Remember, I’ve read what you’ve published and what you haven’t published. Get it out there before someone else does. Just remember, if you get smacked because of it I know nothing.

      • mickhaensler

        The gauntlet has been thrown down. Challenge accepted. Tomorrow 8am…..

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/107418054739711167675 Rand Wilson

    @MarcEnsign:disqus you have crystalized my thoughts perfectly! And beat me to making a great post about it.. fucker..

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Potty mouth.

  • Sarah Pressler

    I stopped blogging when I finally understood blog traffic. It lost it’s appeal for me. I haven’t really been able to get back into it…. I’m trying though. Just. Sort of over all of it. I call it the new rat race of the internet: the blogdome.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      It certainly does resemble a rat race on some days. Others it feels really good to make a difference for somebody. I choose to focus on the good and go hit the pool on days where the bad rears its ugly head!

  • janeleonard

    Great post, just at the right time for me. I am tired and bored of writing safe stuff. I am going to print this post and hang it on my wall, remind me to be different

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thank you Jane! That makes my day!

  • http://pjrvs.com/ Paul Jarvis

    Does not compute…

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or it is the most brilliant thing you have ever said Paul! Or maybe it’s a new tattoo that you got? Help me out here.

  • Wendy Hernandez

    Love your voice and loved this post, Marc. Thank you!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thank you Wendy! That means a lot! Seriously!

  • Robyn M Sayles

    Brilliant! Just the shot in the ass I needed!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thanks Robyn! Now, how about that lunch!?!?!?!

  • Myra Nicks

    Love this and your free e-book!! Thank you!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Thank you Myra!!

  • http://googleplushelper.blogspot.fi/ Jaana Nyström

    I’m giving it all I can.
    Blogging about Google+, well, being opinionated when trying to educate… How do those fit together?
    Besides blogging in English when my native tongue is Finnish. If I’d let it scare me, then I wouldn’t be doing it. Just because I might say something wrong.
    That’s the being human part? :-)

    It’s a ton of work researching, testing, finding things out for myself before publishing even a line.
    But it must be done. I want to help others with what I know. The blog posts are becoming tutorials with all the editing.

    Shoot me but I’ll carry on… Knowing I’m not near perfect.
    Still, loving every moment!

    Cheers and thanks for the good stuff, made me realize my limitations.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Think of it this way. Suppose I was standing in front of you right now and had a question about Google+. No need to get nervous. I don’t care about your accent or language mistakes. I’m just seeking your help. Once you relax, I’m sure you get into a zone where it feels so natural. Almost like an out of body experience. Mistakes don’t matter. Language doesn’t matter. You are flowing.

      That’s where you need to write from. Where you are writing from is a place of insecurity. As you are writing you are worried that people won’t like it. Or you are making a grammar mistake because of the language barrier. Etc. You have to shut that stuff off!!!

      You are looking at someone that has no clue when to use an apostrophe. I can’t spell definately. My high school english teacher told me I was doomed. And I start half my sentences with either And or But.

      But I don’t care.

  • Eric A. Bier

    I’ve been trying to start a new blog ever since
    I started this position! Issue is, I like to write about too many different
    things — in fear of inconsistency, I’ve been holding off until I figure what
    it is I can write about without getting off topic. UGH! What a pain in
    the ass just THIS phase has been. I like this post though. It reminds me that
    it’s important to have a focus and to work my ass off for my future blog. Thanks
    Marc :P

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Whatever. Why you aren’t writing the greatest blog the world has ever seen on “Cheerleading” is beyond me. With your PR background, sense of humor, understanding of building a community, resources at the office (and in Florida) and your crazy-ass love for Cheerleading, you have no excuse. None! Zip! Don’t want to hear it anymore.

  • Katelin Tiernan

    This is a SUPERB blog post. And I really needed someone to say pretty much all of these things to me, so thank you.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Well thank you Katelin! And as luck would have it, I really needed someone to say that exact thing to me today? So, we’re even!!!!!!

  • Teresa Capaldo

    Geez, just as I was beginning to feel more confident about blogging…now I’m not so sure ;)
    Excellent post! Thank you for illuminating this topic in a way that empowers us to strive for our personal best, while “keeping it real” when blogging. You da’ man!

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      I’m afraid to feel too confident about blogging because I’m afraid I might get too cocky if I did. I like making myself feel as though I may get fired after each blog post if it sucks. It forces me to swing for the fences each time.

      And for the record, you are doing great! ;)

      • Teresa Capaldo

        Being humble as well as bringing reverence that is uniquely you…is what keeps us coming back for more. You know, since we met on Twitter, you’re audience has expanded a lot and I’m very happy for you, because you earned it and you deserve it!

        • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

          I’m supposed to go on about how much work it is, but to be honest, it’s not because I genuinely care for the people I’ve met on Twitter. Some of my best friends hang out here. So it’s an honor to serve you guys!

  • nathashaalvarez

    You did it again! Love your posts. :)

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      Oh good…because “you did it again” was often said to me as a kid and was rarely a positive thing.

  • Pollgera

    Yes, oh yes. I am going to strongly advise several of my clients to READ, PAY ATTENTION, and FOLLOW what this article is saying.

    I will do so without swearing (out loud), threatening (in their presence), or begging (okay, that one is going to be difficult).

    I will cross-my-fingers (and other appendages), that they will actually take it to heart. Just in case though, I would appreciate everyone putting a little bail money aside for me.

  • Guest

    Such a great post. Thank you for eloquently verbalizing what I’ve been stumbling to say for the past couple years. I’m inspired.

  • Daniel Butler

    Marc, Ok, i get it. I’m human. Check. I’m a giver (i think). Check. my ultimate problems is failure to launch, and what do i do after i write my first blog post? I have no content for my second blog? and so on. What do you recommend for content strategy? I love Architecture, I love Sailing, I Love helping people understand what all this technology can do for them. How do i drill down my niche? Will Anyone care? How do i promote it? Whats the end-game? Is there an end-game? Or is Blogging just for fun and a muse? Am i overthinking this and just frigging write something about something. By the way…Decent Post…AGAIN! :)

  • http://www.chrismorriswrites.com/ Chris Morris

    Marc,
    Once again you save me from the blogging ninjas with your no bullshit approach. I think i drank the kool-aid of the experts a little too much and pulled away from my passion for a while. Just not getting back to it. Except I need to stop being safe a little more. Okay, a lot more.

    • Mark Ryan

      Thanks for sharing this on twitter Chris.

  • Mark Ryan

    Big thanks to Chris Morris for sharing this on twitter. Enjoyed the post, enjoyed the comments a little more. Seems like you’re a blogger who is doing it right, actually responding to comments made and continuing a conversation. I guess I should follow you on twitter and subscribe to this blog. I have blogged a couple times in the past month about being authentic and real and all those things while pointing out the shortcomings I have. I like it, it’s me.

  • Gina

    Amen! Hallelujah! High Five! Oh you get where I’m going with this. Yes, the hills are alive with the sound of blogging! Onward I go to finish the sh@#-ton of work on my website!

    Motivational blogging at your finest!

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  • Cindy Flanders

    Love this!!!. Plus, am I the only one who thought the picture was hysterical? I’ve been trying to do exactly what you say, but traffic has stayed stagnant. Maybe I’m not being controversial enough? I know I don’t have very effective tweets. Will work on that. Thanks Marc for a great post.

  • Brent Allan

    Marc,
    This is probably one of the best posts on blogging I have ever read. Nice job. Way to keep it real!

  • http://avgjoegeek.net/ avgjoegeek

    Marc – ran across this post surfing the intarwebs. And I so needed to read this. I’ve been re-evaluating what I’ve been doing – and I decided to say “Fuck It” – I’m going to do my own thing. (Please… seriously don’t visit my blog – give it 6 months and see if I took your advice!)

  • Bo Blaze

    Great post Marc. Lose fear, seek truth, find integrity! Viva la Jersey

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  • Eric Deeter

    I clicked on the clean version out of curiosity. Hilarious. I love your sense of humor.
    Your post reminds me of the time Einstein was asked to make a speech at a college and he stood up and said, “I have nothing to say right now.” Then he sat down. Then he got back up and said, “I’ll be happy to come back when I do have something to say.” He went back 6 months later and spoke.

    I like what you have to say. I’m going back to blog my ass off.

    • Lena Sinclaire

      Hmmmm, I haven’t realized there was a clean version. Not that I care for it, but still.

      • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

        I take it that you haven’t tried clicking the clean version yet.

  • Diana Gardner Robinson

    Thanks, I needed that.

  • http://iamles.com/ Les Dossey

    I swear I heard your voice in my head while I was reading your post or maybe it was an audible voice …. How the $%^& did you do that?

    Quick someone update Websters and Wikipedia where ‘Write Epic Shit’ is defined and put a link to this post because Marc just redefined it.

    • http://www.marcensign.com/blog Marc Ensign

      OK Les. What do you need? You are being WAY too good to me lately! Is it money? A lift to the airport? Are you moving? What is it?

      • http://iamles.com/ Les Dossey

        I’m making deposits for a future withdraw.

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