Every time you sit down to write, do you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?
Do you worry that what you’re about to write won’t be as awesome as the posts you read on popular, established blogs?
It’s a fear many writers know well: the fear that you just won’t be good enough to size up to your favorite writers.
It can be inspiring to want to write as well as your favorites. But it can also be a huge stumbling block waiting to trip you up.
As long as you’re trying to emulate some other writer, your writing won’t have the quality you want. It won’t draw the audience you want, either.
I mentor writers, and I find many feel insecure when they contemplate the success of writers who have already hit it big with their blogs.
How can I ever stand out, when so many other bloggers are already doing it, and they’ve been at it longer?
Think like that, and you’re going to be too paralyzed by fear to write.
Fortunately, there’s a way out of this problem
Stop comparing what you write to the work of other writers. You’re never going to be them.
But you can be successful. It doesn’t matter that others have been at it longer, or currently have a bigger audience.
Five years from now, do you think there won’t be any great new faces? Of course there will. Blogging and writing stars will continue to be born. You can start now and still create a blog that will get noticed.
How will you make your blog stand out from the millions of blogs already crowding the Internet?
By using your secret weapon.
Your secret weapon
Every writer has a secret weapon only they can use. Know what it is?
I’ll give you a hint: If you traveled the Earth from now until the end of your life, would you ever meet another you?
No. There is only one you.
That is your secret weapon. Your uniqueness.
Only you have your memories, experiences, ideas, and point of view. Create a blog where that uniqueness can shine through, work hard on your blog writing, and people will read you.
How to deploy your secret weapon
Now that you know what you’ve got that no other blogger can deliver, you’re ready to perfect the use of your secret weapon.
There are two steps to deploying it:
- Picking the right topic, and
- Writing the heck out of it.
Let’s start with the topic. Have you picked a subject for your blog where you can offer a truly fresh perspective? Is it something you’re passionate about? Does it provide an opportunity to make full use of your secret weapon?
Take a look at your blog right now and ask yourself: Is your blog truly different from any other blog out there?
If not, maybe it’s time for a new direction. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it doesn’t usually result in stellar writing.
Great blogs are one-of-a-kind
Often, the one-of-a-kind element is a fresh approach to a well-loved topic.
Like blogging for a year about cooking every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I think only Julie Powell from Queens could have come up with that idea — and gone on to write that particular blog (which, of course, became a bestselling book and a popular movie).
Another example: There are a million mommy blogs. But there’s only one Jenny Baitch Isenman, whose comical, often profane descriptions of stultifying American home life make The Suburban Jungle one of the few blogs I’ve just got to stop and read.
Most blogs are boring because they have no personality. They don’t feel authentic. They don’t add anything new.
Focus on a subject where your personality comes out, where you have something unique to offer, and where you can use your secret weapon to stand out.
Power up your weapon
Once you are focused on a topic that maximizes your secret weapon, you’re ready to look at the quality of your writing.
Pull up a bunch of your posts or article clips and take a look at them.
Proud of what you see? Good.
Could you do better? Always.
Focus on improving the quality of what you produce. Specifically, focus on making your unique point of view — your humor, your analysis, your reactions — come out in your blog.
In the changing world of freelance writing, the single factor you have the most control over is that you can always make your writing better. Polish your work. Make sure your voice shines through.
Look at it again tomorrow morning. Read it out loud. Ask yourself what observation you have to make that no one else can offer.
Worry only about perfecting your writing. Write stronger, leaner, sharper, each time.
Launch your secret weapon into the blogosphere. Keep getting better at being you. People will notice.