Write for yourself. No, you should write for your readers.
Posts over 500 words will bore your readers to death. But nothing worthwhile can be tackled in a post in fewer than 1,000 words.
Your posts don’t need to be interesting; just instructive. Wait. Your posts had better be interesting or your visitors will click away.
No wonder we freeze up. Lose our confidence. Start doubting our ability to crank out quality content. Fear that we aren’t good enough. There is just too much conflicting advice out there.
Blogging fears. We all have them. And we don’t always want to talk about them.
But when we sit down to write, they rear their ugly heads, those nasty trolls with the beady eyes and crazy orange hair:
“What makes you think you can write?”
“Why would anyone be interested in what you have to say?”
“Didn’t you know there are no interesting things left to blog about?”
When we finally take them out of the jar and hold them up to the light, as each one squirms and struggles to get away, when we look them in the eye, they are really about one thing:
We are afraid our readers won’t like what we write.
10 Monster Blogging Fears Worth Chasing Down
Whether you started blogging yesterday or you’ve published a million posts, you will recognize these fears. Some you could knock over with a feather Others are lurking, waiting to terrorize you every time you sit down to write.
The good news is, unless you have multiple personality disorder, you can only have 5 of these fears at any one time. And that already makes the whole thing more manageable, doesn’t it?
Okay, here they are:
1. I have nothing to say.
It’s that Big Blank Screen. But the ideas, or what Stephen King calls “The Boys in the Basement,” are there. You just need to get them, before they go poof.
Pay attention to when they come. Maybe it’s in the shower. Or when you are scrubbing the sink. One of my clients said that one day, when she was driving, the radio broke and rich, juicy ideas started flooding her brain. She found that driving brought her the best ideas, but the radio had been drowning them out.
2. I have too much to say.
This fear usually means that your topic is too big. If your subject is huge, break it into manageable chunks.
Try mind mapping. Put your big topic in the middle of your paper or whiteboard. Draw a circle around it. Quickly break the topic into smaller chunks, with straight lines coming out from your center topic. You’ll find the farther you go out with your circles and lines, the more specific your sub-topics become, until you have a subject that is just the right size to write about in one post.
3. If I don’t have a niche, no one will read my posts.
This fear is real. Listen to it. If you want to write about everything in the world, just know this one thing.
Niched blogs attract more readers.
It’s easier if your business (or author genre) is already “nichified.” But even it isn’t, you can find your blogging focus. If you think about where your interests and passions intersect, what your target clients care most about, the thing you are best at doing and a topic that has enough content to write about, you are well on your way.
4. If I have a niche, I’ll lose readers.
Let’s knock this fear off its feet. Yes, losing readers is painful. But you will lose the right readers, the ones who don’t fit your target market.
And they will be replaced by people who sit on the edges of their chairs, watching the clock until your new post comes out. You know who they are. They are the ones who can’t wait to consume all that rich, focused content.
5. If I take a stand, some people won’t like that.
This fear will only hold you back. True, some readers won’t like what you write. But they will respect your courage in taking a stand.
Your readers are looking for bloggers with passion. And no mattter what side they are on, they want to read posts that engage them. A bonus: You’ll usually see a healthy discussion in the comments section.
6. If I don’t take a stand, my posts will be boring.
Pay attention to this one. Because if your posts are wishy washy, they will be boring. Many of my favorite bloggers are not afraid to voice an opinion. I don’t always agree with them, but I love the reader engagement their posts spark.
It’s like watching a great debate. Who knows? You may even need to put a road sign on your blog: “Watch for Falling Ideas.”
7. If I write as an expert, my readers will think I’m pompous.
Let’s put this one on the bad fear side because it makes you doubt yourself. It makes you wonder, “Who am I to give advice? Will my readers just think I’m full of myself?”
But here’s the thing. If you write from the heart, about the thing you know most about, you’ll have happy readers. So write both about things you know and ideas that you aren’t too sure about, the ones rolling around inside your head.
8. If I don’t offer ‘expert’ advice, readers will go somewhere else to get it.
This fear is genuine. Although, the word ‘expert’ has gotten a bad rap (everyone seems to be an ‘expert’ these days)—or that annoying term, a thought leader— your readers are looking for someone who can give them advice in the one thing they need help with.
For instance, let’s say you are a realtor who blogs to promote your business. If your reader is young, married, expecting her first child and looking for her first house, will she want to read a blog that just gives general real estate advice? Or would she rather read posts by a blogger who focuses on topics to help first-time home buyers who are starting a family?
And if you are a writer and aspiring author, focusing on the topics related to your current nonfiction book in the works, or aspects of the novel you are writing—time period, characters, etc.—will keep those readers interested in those topics coming back for more.
9. What if I don’t get any comments? (Also known as fear of failure.)
That big fat “0″ in the comments can be depressing. But we all started with the goose egg. Even Chris Brogan. Even Copyblogger.
If it really bothers you, start a Comment Buddies program. I helped some new bloggers start one and it did wonders for increasing traffic and comments, not to mention their bloggers’ self-esteem.
10. I’ll get a bunch of comments and then what will I do? (Also known as fear of success.)
Managing reader comments takes time. As you become more successful and engage more of your readers, you may find that it isn’t physically possible to reply to every comment. Give yourself permission to skip a few.
Fortunately, you can ignore some comments, especially the ones that just say, “Nice post.” Because what can you say to that?
Do any of these fears have your name on them?
Which one consumed you when you were a start-up blogger?
Is one of them preventing you from starting?
Have you discovered a brilliant way to vaporize any of them?
Leave a comment so we can learn from you.
Oh, and I leave you with a post by Danny Brown over at For Bloggers By Bloggers: 12 Bloggers to Learn from When It Comes to Growing Your Blog. Danny was kind enough to put me on the list. But the really cool part is that there are 11 other amazing bloggers who would love for you to check them out. Who knows? You may find a new blog or two to follow.