how 2 blog if u suk at writin’

Blogging Loser?

These days, being a professional blogger is cool.

A couple of times now, I’ve been at dinner with a group of people, many of them substantially more financially successful and socially engaging than I, but as soon as everyone hears that I blog for a living, I’m suddenly Mr. Popular.

People seem enamored with the idea of sitting at a computer all day, pumping out pithy bits of wisdom for legions of adoring fans.

What’s more, they feel that it’s something they could never do, because, even though they’ve always wanted to start a blog, they kind of… well… “suk at writin’.”

The first few times this happened, I would just sit there with a smug little grin, offering polite lies like “Oh, it’s not really that hard,” but really thinking, “You’re right. You could never do what I do.” We all like to believe that we are one-of-a-kind rock stars of our craft, that we were born with some special talent that predestined us for greatness, that we’ve achieved some pinnacle of mastery at which the rest of the world can only gawk.

It’s a great feeling, especially when it means being fawned over at the dinner table. But is it really true?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about it. Despite the urgent shushing of my ego, I stopped to consider if it’s truly necessary to be a good writer in order to become a good blogger. Yes, many good writers are good bloggers, and vice versa, but is there a scientific correlation? Are the two skills locked in marriage for eternity?

Nah.

As much as it pains me to say it, I think you can become a superstar blogger without being able to pass a fifth grade composition Class. In fact, why write at all? Blogs as a medium are no longer dependent on the written word. You can blog just as effectively with video, podcasts, or even little cartoons on the back of business cards.

Here’s how:

1. Stop Trying to Do What You Can’t

Some people are born with a quill in their hand. Others learn to wield it effectively through a great deal of effort and refinement. Still others despise writing, but their teachers and parents nagged them often enough that they learned to write a coherent sentence, and although they’ll never be eloquent, they can get their ideas across.

But some people are hopeless. No matter how hard they try, no matter how much they want it, they’ll never write anything without sending their readers into a cloud of confusion. There are many people like this, and if you’re one of them, I can offer you this starting advice:

Stop.

Attempting to do what you can’t will only frustrate you. I speak from experience. When I was a child, I wanted nothing more than to be the next Bruce Lee. I read every book I could find on every style of martial arts. I attended every school within a 50 mile radius. I went to expensive seminars from renowned fighters. I was bound and determined to be able to kick anyone’s ass.

But I was in a wheelchair. Worse, I had (and still have) a disease that caused me to become progressively weaker, eventually losing the use of my arms altogether. Pursuing martial arts was the sort of hopeful foolishness that only a child can muster, and it led me to oceans of frustration. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted it, I would never become the next Bruce Lee.

Eventually, I wised up and put all of that energy into mastering the use of words instead, and after about 10 years of studying every aspect of writing and practicing it on a daily basis, I’m finally getting pretty good it. I still can’t kick your ass, but I can probably persuade someone to kick your ass for me. Not quite as satisfying, maybe, but it’ll do.

The lesson?

Writing is a means, not an end. You can get to the same end result through any medium. The end result I’m referring to is a superior experience.

2. Craft a Superior Experience

Most people think the purpose of a blog post is to teach your audience how to do something. While people value content that leaves them with a lesson learned, it’s not usually what they came for in the first place.

No matter what anyone tells you, the reason people come to blogs is generally not to learn (outside of Copyblogger of course… but this isn’t a normal blog). They come for the same reason that they listen to the radio, go to art galleries, and watch movies: they want to escape.

The average person’s life pretty much sucks. Their work is stressful, their friends are stressful, and their home life is stressful. As such, they spend as much time as possible distracting themselves with experiences superior to their present reality. Checking out their favorite blogs is one way of doing that.

You thought blogs were something more noble? Well, maybe they are… to you. To the average person though, they’re simply something to do while they sip their coffee in the morning, unwind before going to bed, or take a break at work. If they didn’t read your blog, they would have to think about how crappy their life is, and that’s unacceptable. So, they turn to something more interesting: you.

Understand and accept this simple fact, and you’ll be ahead of 99% of other bloggers. In the beginning, you might find the perspective a little depressing, but in the end, it’s actually quite liberating. It means you don’t have to be a never-ending source of knowledge. It means you can be creative and have fun. And it means you sure as hell don’t have to write anything.

3. Choose the Medium Where You’re the Most Interesting

Here’s another distinction that’s taken me years to uncover: talent, as we normally define it, is highly overrated. Being interesting is far more important.

Yes, I like to think I’m a talented writer, but that’s not why I’m successful. There are thousands of writers infinitely more talented than I am who are laboring in obscurity. The reason I’m successful is that I’m more interesting than most of them. By studying copywriting, I’ve learned how to craft headlines, tell stories, and bring simple lessons to life in a way that makes people want to pay attention.

It’s also no coincidence that I write far more than I speak or do video presentations. I’ve experimented with them, and frankly, I find it harder to be interesting on a podcast or video than I do with the written word. One day, this may change, but I doubt other media will ever overcome writing for me. I’d guess I’ll always favor the written word.

So… what’s your medium of choice?

  • Do you come to life when you’re presenting to large groups of people?
  • Do you like to bring stories to life through acting?
  • Are you a cartoonist? How about animation?
  • Or do you like to illustrate points with simple diagrams that you draw on a blackboard?

Look through the ways that you interact with people and figure out where you’re best at holding attention. Then, when you start a blog, figure out how to take advantage of that medium to make your content interesting for your audience.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t write. Really. If you’ve been worrying about your grammar, spelling, and obscure points, thinking that they’re holding you back from becoming a popular blogger, then use this post as permission to stop. The problem isn’t that you’re a bad writer; it’s that you’ve chosen the wrong medium.

Choose the right one, and you’ll become dramatically more interesting.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger and co-founder of Partnering Profits.

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Comments

  1. Thanks Jon. I feel much more confident about what I have been doing!

  2. Number 3, no doubt. Those sites that I visit on a daily basis may be all over the map, but the one thing they have in common is that they are able to consistently maintain my interest. Not all of them are well written, in fact some of them on the more amusing side are pretty far from prosaic, but they are able to keep me engaged. Why? Because they are interesting.

  3. Hi Jon,

    I completely agree with your post. I know some people who would fear to start blogging simply because they don’t have tips or other “lecture” type things to share. I told them that is not the “be-all” of blogging. All you need to have is a thing that you’re passionate about to ‘talk’ online and stick to it. Your thoughts will be interesting enough as you post and blog because you are following and writing from your object of passion.

  4. I love this: “I still can’t kick your ass, but I can probably persuade someone to kick your ass for me.”

    Story of my life.

  5. Thats a great post and shows that although, you cant do what ever you put your mind to, there is something that you can do and be successful at. You just need to find it.

  6. You made me feel good about me self.

  7. Whew! That took a load off. Now I can really get creative and stop trying to teach. Thanks.

  8. Number 4, baby. I come to life in front of a whiteboard. Especially if I’ve been with a group of people for several weeks. This is why I like teaching so much. I shut down when I have to speak in front of people I don’t know. Like neurotic shut down.

    I’ve seen the same in blogging. As you grow the audience you’re afraid to upset anyone, but once I’ve got a captive audience I’m comfortable with, the clothes come off. [Not literally. ;-)]

  9. Great to see this topic discussed here on CopyBlogger, it seems that you are certainly “interested” in this material. Good perspective and great heading for the article… people should really use ‘suk’ more often.

  10. Great post Jon.

    This post reminds of another post you did a while back: “How to Stop Being Invisible.”

    That one may be the very best post I’ve ever read on how to be a successful blogger, period.

    I agree with your sentiments.

  11. I just recently started blogging, but as I do love to write maybe it is a bit easier. Having something interesting to blog about helps tremendously and that does keep the post interesting.

  12. Excellent article for a newbie :)

    Writing is not hard – but finding out if you suk at it is a lot harder.. Not sure how to measure that – by no traffic – by no comments – or maybe that someone is blunt enough and tells you.

    Loved Sonia’s note here “I still can’t kick your ass, but I can probably persuade someone to kick your ass for me.”

    Maybe I need to figure out where I suk and persue someone to kick my blog ass..

    Article is bookmarked and I will tweet it too..

    Cheers…

  13. Dang, awesome article. I need to work on #3.

    You know, that article is also true for marketing and life in general. Great stuff. =) Probably the most insightful article I’ve read in a few months.

  14. The moment I saw the title I thought to myself… pictures! videos!

  15. Yeah, it can be hard to figure out whether or not you need to give something up. Traffic and comments are definitely good to watch, as they are indications of whether or not anyone is paying attention. Of course, that assumes the only variable in question is whether or not you’re good at writing. If you suck at marketing, you’ll fail to get attention in any medium, regardless of how good you are. :-)

  16. excellently written! and great wisdom therein!

    Interesting eh… I recently started writing a real CV of all the jobs I’ve ever had, including babysitting as a teenager (I used to earn what is in today’s terms about €20 a night, and that was at least 3 times a week, sometimes more!) a nice little money earner that was.
    And here I am… writing what I now know will be my next blog entry! That’s what I’m good at, reading other people’s work, and getting inspired by them.

    Thank you for being interesting :)

  17. Just be in good humour, a little of good things, and all blogging will be almost perfect :)

  18. My time is at a premium-whose isn’t-but I make a concerted effort to read your blog posts on a regular basis because doing so is always worth the time. You have mastered the fine art of overdelivering quality content. This is commendable. You teach, you entertain, you inspire-all in one fell swoop. Kudos, kiddo. And thank you very much.

    Wishing you well,
    Connie Baum
    follow me on http://www.Twitter.com/motherconnie

  19. You are hilarious! I was busting out laughing at #2. People’s lives are pretty pathetic and they’re looking for an escape. I’m sure you were very serious but it just struck me as funny – and true! I never really looked at it like that.

    Great new perspective.

  20. I enjoyed this post the most! I subscribed to your blog a few months back and I read all of them,but this one hit home w/me. I’m going to be doing a better job w/my blog from now own I’ll bet, for the most part anyway. Thanks a million.
    Happy Trails

  21. Personality and having something people really want is far more important than great writing. Look at Jeremy Schoemaker (better known online as “Shoemoney”). His personality comes through in everything he does, and even though his grammar is laughable, his story-telling powers are top-notch. I think he followed your plan without knowing it.

    And as a few others have noted already, video and audio is becoming easier to do. Transcription software or services can “make” a writer out of you even if you can’t even hardly type. And really, Jon, I think your points apply regardless of the medium.

  22. Thanks, Jonathan. I love reading your posts! Another great one from the Bruce Lee of blogging!

  23. Anytime I feel like my “skill” is waning or I am inadequate at writing, overall, I come here and get pep-talked into thinking I’m a great blogger. I thank you for that. :)

  24. Morrow 2:3
    “The average person’s life pretty much sucks. Their work is stressful, their friends are stressful, and their home life is stressful….So, they turn to something more interesting: you. ”

    You nailed it right there. Amen brother!

    Greg

  25. Great insights! I always thought that useful blogs should be sources of knowledge. But a lot of high traffic blogs are actually fun blogs – not necessarily useful posts, but more of entertaining and funny.

  26. Since I am the number one authority on the subject, let me say it like this:

    Best Blog Post Of All Time … so far ;-)

  27. As has been said many times in many ways your post was timely and uplifting. I’ve often worried that my grammar wasn’t good enough to write a post and then just press enter. I agonize, I rewrite, ask second opinions and procrastinate about posting. I know I can tell a story that is entertaining and now I will just trust that I can write it as well. Perfection is out the window. Thank you…look out world (okay my little one)…I feel a blog post coming on.

    Bee

  28. This post is absolutely spot on!

    The biggest stumbling block for me is writing, I do have my own blog and I do write all of my own content but it’s painstakingly slow because I really find it difficult.

    The other thing I find excruciatingly difficult is knowing what to write about?

    How do you know what to write about in any niche?

    I’d be eternally grateful if someone could answer that question for me. If I knew what articles to write about I’d then probably outsource the writing of them so that I could put up more content much quicker and about things that people were really interested in.

    Help…Someone…Help

  29. But Jon, how would you know… you don’t suck at writing. :-)

    Seriously – We hear a lot about different learning styles and adapting the medium (books, DVDs, classes, tutorials, audio etc) to the learner – but not so much about different teaching (or entertaining) styles. Thanks for rectifying the balance – I’ll be pointing my ‘non-writer’ friends to this post when the subject comes up at dinner parties!

  30. Hi,

    The article brings a very good point and that is to express yourself by the means that place you in a good light. Of course that discovering what you do best comes after you messed up a few things. It’s important for you to realize that only by discovering your week points you’ll find out about what is your best. I mean, you might say that “I like doing this” but unless you really try to do it you’ll never find out how good you are.

    Thanks,
    @TomaBonciu on Twitter

  31. Great simple advice thank you, I am just not sure where that leaves me. I am very technical (mathematics and science background) and I hated writing when I was in school. Maybe I should find a different way of sending out my message?.?.

  32. The key quote for me is “Being interesting is far more important.” … so while I dont consider myself all that good of a writer – I like to think that when I’m writing on a topic that I’m passionate about and interested in – that I can actually be quite interesting to read. – Eric

  33. :-)
    Thanks for that,
    consider me a struggling blogger like the weekend writer with dreams of big time. Maybe I should consider point one, recognize that I can’t get to the big time from where I am at currently and then stop worrying about it.
    Just enjoy expressing myself – word.

  34. Thanks…I feel a little better knowing that there are others out there like me who suck at writing but want to blog.

  35. Hey, no fair starting a blog post with that distracting picture.

    The post is oddly inspirational. I’m hoping that folks take it for what it is and consider this valuable advice. Judging from the comments section, I’d say that is exactly what is happening.

    George

  36. Well, if you do suck at writing than you can always put a nice-looking chick at the top of the post. I’m just kidding. But, it definitely would help.

  37. nicely said. thank-you.

  38. nicely said Jonathan. thank-you.

  39. And the more you blog, the more you’ll learn, the more you’ll want to do a good job.

    Knowing you have an audience eagerly awaiting your next post is a great kick in the ass for sharpening your writing skills!

  40. Great article Jonathan!

    For some reason, writing has always come naturally to me. I’m not a very good speaker and can completely relate to your experience of preferring the written word. It’s nice to know there are others who feel the same! It’s also inspiring to know that you can be successful without using videos or giving presentations.

  41. Thanks for sharing those timeless advice for us. That was great. It’s really a matter of learning, perseverance and loving what you do.

  42. Splendid advice. Great to be reminded one doesn’t have to dish out useful advice every post you write. I now have a permission to goof off. Very liberating thought. :)

  43. now i feel better ,thanks for this great tips

  44. this information is OUTSTANDING…thanks for your help

  45. Thanks for the post Jon, it’s great advice that made me think about a few things before I set off on my next personal blog project.

  46. Thanks, good tips.

    “Attempting to do what you can’t will only frustrate you. ” Yes, you’re right. If you can’t write, try f.e. videoblog…

  47. I love this: “I still can’t kick your ass, but I can probably persuade someone to kick your ass for me.”

    Story of my life.