“Forget the schedule. This post sucks.”
That’s the refrain I repeat to myself at least once a week. Whether it’s working on a piece for Copyblogger, my own blog, or our Google+ account … something’s not clicking and I need to throw in the towel.
Ever been in that position before? Perhaps you struggle to know which ideas to kill.
If that’s you, then this post should fix that.
1. The idea sounds bad to you days later
We preach the rules of writing first drafts. And there is a reason for number nine: “Once finished with your first draft, leave it alone for days — if not weeks.”
See, a delay between your first draft and your first revision allows you to examine an article with a fresh set of eyes. Even if you walk away from it for only a few hours, you need that break to objectively evaluate your idea.
If it still seems like a good idea, keep it. Bad idea, kill it.
And if a deadline demands you turn around a blog post in a few hours, then get someone else to look at your first draft. And make sure they will be brutally honest with you.
2. It’s likely to create controversy you don’t want
Friend and colleague Beth Hayden has some great advice about writing and publishing content that scares you.
Her argument is that that very fear could be an indication you are on to something. Something big. Something that will resonate with your audience — so much so you just might get the silent majority to come out of their closets to comment.
Do that and you’ve won.
Then again, you might find yourself defending a hill you don’t want to be on.
I’m an advocate of the occasional post that catches hell … but before you publish you need to examine your motives carefully. Consider these questions:
- Are you absolutely sure that your article is important enough to bother all these people?
- Are you sure you’ve cooled off long enough?
- Are you sure you know the full story?
- Is it possible that you wrote faster than you can think?
3. It looks like something you wrote last year
A daily blogging schedule can take a toll on a blogger. Burnout is not uncommon, but a more mundane result of over-blogging is redundant copy. In other words, you start repeating yourself.
After closer examination those eleven tips look too much like something you published last year … or perhaps you’re telling that marketing disaster story once again.
What you write may not be duplicate content, but it is redundant, and remember, one of the cores behind blog posts that Google loves is fresh and original copy.
3.5 It looks like stolen content
It’s interesting … this business of writing content … since everyone is doing it, it’s hard to come up with totally unique article ideas.
For example, search “content google loves” and you’ll get a lot of look-a-likes.
People aren’t stealing content. In this case, it’s really the second half to point 3: when you can pursue a line of thought (or particular keyword phrase) that has been glutted by others … the similarities in content, sources, and ideas will be close.
Maybe too close.
So, if after closer examination you feel like your article looks something that’s been overdone … kill it.
4. It looks shallow
This is not about short posts, necessarily. This is about content without teeth. Without original research. Without seductive metaphors … thoughtful, complex lines of reasoning … and opinions based upon solid, convincing facts.
Instead, think substantial.
Fortunately shallow posts are salvageable. You might just need to add quotes, scientific findings, and anecdotes.
5. It looks like a lunatic wrote it
Here’s what happens: you’ve wandered away from your original premise … and after repeated revisions the dots simply don’t connect. No matter how hard you try.
Your article is not a conceptual whole, but rather a fragmented body of unrelated concepts. What do you do?
This type of post, too, is salvageable. What you once thought was one post is actually three.
But if that doesn’t work, then save the fragments and use them down the road. They could be perfect for a completely different article.
Can you think of any other signs that indicate that you should kill a blog post and move on to another one?
Share it in the comments …