So simple as to be, well let’s be honest, completely useless.
Because if you knew the secret to writing consistently popular posts, you’d already have a popular blog. Right?
But instead, you approach each new idea with a gnawing trepidation.
You quietly hope that this might be the post that finally rockets you to Internet fame, but it’s all you can do to suppress the creeping fear that people will completely ignore it – or even ridicule it.
The problem is that nobody – not even the A-List Bloggers – knows how a post will be received until they click publish. And even the top dogs understand that they are just one underwhelming post away from a raft of unsubscribes and a flurry of premature – but strangely prophetic – rumors of a fall from grace.
But there is a way to give your next blog post (and the one after that and the one after that) the best chance of being your most popular to date. More
Note from Glen: Can I tell you a secret? This is my all-time favorite BBT post. It was first published long before I became editor but here it is again because the message is still so important. P.S. Happy holidays!
Can I tell you my worst nightmare?
I’m lying in bed in a nursing home, sick and dying, gasping for breath, knowing that any minute now I’ll be passing into the great beyond. And I’m scared, really, really scared, because I’m all alone, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, and oh God, it hurts so much…
But then it stops. My body goes limp, my last breath rattles from my lungs, my bowels release, and the heart monitor beside the bed flat lines, loudly proclaiming the end of the great and mighty Jon Morrow.
A few moments later, a nurse walks into the room, checks my pulse, and looks at her watch. She writes down my time of death on a form, pulls the sheet over my head, and goes back to her office, where she calls the morgue. A day or two later, I’m cremated with five other bodies, all of us too important to even get our own urn.
And the worst part?
The next day, the sun comes up. The birds are singing. People eat breakfast, go to work, attend meetings… and nobody even notices I’m gone. The great wheel keeps on turning, and for better or worse, I’m forgotten. Goodbye cruel world, nobody gave a damn about me after all.
Scary, isn’t it?
Just writing it down gives me the willies.
It’s not just dying, although that’s certainly gruesome. It’s being forgotten. Down deep, I believe all of us have a primal need to be remembered, to pass something on to future generations, to leave some mark on the world saying, “I was here.”
If we’re being honest, I think maybe that’s one of the reasons many of us start blogging. There’s something immensely comforting about knowing your thoughts are out there for the whole world to read. You could kick the bucket tomorrow, but your words will live on, teaching, inspiring, and taking root in the minds of readers for generations to come.
Or at least that’s the idea.
What really happens, of course, is that you pour your heart and soul into a post, and no one seems to care. No comments, no links, no nothing. Come on over, friends, and check out my blog. We’re watching my ideas die in real time. Yuk, yuk, yuk.
And it’s disturbing.
When you pull up your blog, and you see it says “0 comments” next to every post, you feel like nothing has changed. Once again, you’re slipping through the cracks, passing into oblivion, one more nobody with a stupid little blog, God save your soul.
The good news?
It can change. You just have to realize your writing by itself isn’t a magic key to immortality. If you want that, you have to be unforgettable. You have to touch people so deeply, connect with them so powerfully that your ideas are burned into their minds.
“To write better, study the writing of other great writers.”
And on the surface that makes sense.
Until you actually try to do it.
Seriously, how exactly do you study great writing?
Should you just read other writers and hope their brilliance rubs off through some form of literary osmosis? Should you write out in long hand what others have typed, in hopes of similar spontaneous hand-to-brain absorption? Or should you rely on something more concrete?
Writing well is hard enough, and the last thing you need is ambiguous advice to further complicate the successful-writer puzzle.
What you really need is a cheat sheet. You need a map to help you navigate the successful writing tactics used by the masters.
Fortunately, you can learn many lessons about great writing technique from just one place – the blog post introduction.