blogDifferent

Sometimes it seems like the entire blogosphere has been consumed with a very narrow-minded idea of what a blog is supposed to be. Many bloggers think their job is to create a never-ending instruction manual on a chosen topic. You know, find something you can teach and keep your audience happy with page after page of content. That has certainly worked for some, but it would be a mistake to think it is the extent of blogging. In the larger writing world, that kind of stuff is only a small fraction of the total content, so why is it so prolific online?

I think it’s all Steve Pavlina’s fault. Go back about 7 years and he (and a few others) had a disproportionate impact on the blog world. Their style of writing long-winded instructional pieces worked for them, so everyone copied it, and the copycats got copied, and here we are, with blogs occupying a pretty narrow band on the writing spectrum.

There are exceptions, of course, but not many. Godin blogs different. So did Gary Vaynerchuk with Wine Library TV. And a handful of others. But, really, only a small fraction of the blogosphere have the creativity and courage to do something truly different.

To use the analogy of books, self-help occupies 90% of the shelf space at the blogging “bookstore.” Not just by personal development guys, either, but bloggers on every subject have adopted that same “10 ways to X” model. What happened to other categories of writing, like novels/narratives? I don’t mean fiction (although that could make for a cool blog, too), but what about blogs that tell a story over time? That’s different, and that interests me. I want BlogAndrew to be more like a sculpture than an instructional manual. Each post has a purpose of its own, but it also chips away at a larger idea that simply couldn’t be expressed in 10 easy bullet points.

In a sense, I want my blog to be an expression of me, as a person, not a guidebook on some topic where I am merely the sterilized conveyor of information. To me, that is much more interesting 

Over the years, I’ve learned all the rules of blogging… how to guest post your way to fame and fortune, how to leave comments to get noticed, how to write killer headlines, how to hook your readers with emotional stories. I practiced those things with other projects in the past, but now, I just don’t care about what I’m “supposed” to do.

With BlogAndrew, I want to blog different. My only desire here is to find the most accurate version of “me” that I can be, and to express that every day. But, it turns out, “me” is quite a bit different than what the conventional wisdom says. For example:

  • I don’t follow the sacred Pavlina model of writing long, seminal pieces on my blog’s subject matter.
  • In fact, I don’t even have a subject at all. My blog isn’t “about” anything, it is just an expression of myself, again, more like a sculpture than a guidebook.
  • Plus, I don’t have a target audience in mind (other than human beings, I guess).
  • I’m not using marketing techniques hardly at all. I don’t plan on doing a lot of guest posts or blog comments or whatever else the blogging pros tell you to do these days.

Instead, the only thing that feels “me” to me is something totally foreign to a lot of bloggers: writing!

My content is my marketing. Publishing epic sh…stuff is the beginning and the end of BlogAndrew. This is why I post every day. As a writer, publishing is my only job, so I might as well do it right. And, since I’m not bogged down in some flavor-of-the-month strategy to gain more followers, I have more freedom to publish every day. I just write. For me. For you. For whoever wants to listen to what I’m shouting.

As far as marketing, most of my posts are designed to be shared. My goal is for you (and your friends!) to spend < 1 minute reading something that might make you think all day. I want my posts to be shared and talked about because people find them valuable. I write with the intention to inspire, and if I do that job well, I believe those who have been inspired will do the “marketing” for me. I mean, who needs to do guest posts when you have an army of inspired followers, right? :)

Will this work? I don’t know, and I don’t really care if it works in a conventional sense. Why? Because I have a deeply-held belief that the only way to make anything successful is to be 100,000% yourself. And this crazy path of writing every day and not doing any marketing and breaking all the rules is the one that fits me.

If you’re a writer (or a human being), I challenge you to blog/be different. Throw the rules out the window and just follow your own guidance. From that place, you can never really go wrong.



7 Responses to “Blog Different.”

  1. […] If you’re looking for some daily food for thought, my friend Andrew Olson’s blog, creatively titled http://www.blogandrew.com showcases intriguing, life-changing and provocative thoughts. He’s planning to write a post every day for the next year. Oh, I said every. single. day! His philosophy is to blog different – check it out. […]

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  2. Yes! and argh! It’s so hard not to follow the template. I’m on lots of these courses that teach you all this stuff that’s really just the basics, but it feels like no room for creative execution. It feels so against my being to be ‘formulaic’ yet I find myself writing those damn top 10 lists… (and they’re not even popular, which shows that people must know when I’m being inauthentic on some level). Your way of ‘blogging different’ is actually more like the old school approach when blogging was about being professional and selling products/services and it being more of an online journal. I miss that way of blogging. Felt like less pressure too. I haven’t really gotten the hang of guest posting.. I don’t do it much or aggressively look for opportunities. I know I should enjoy this process and blogging is fun. I DO love it. But sometimes if feels so futile and I have to ask myself what’s my REAL goal/vision. Do I REALLY want to be an A-list blogger or do I just want to do my art, have awesome clients, and serve people? I think it’s the latter so what’s the difference and how can I change my approach to align with the latter. Do I really need to be an A-list blogger to be good at what I do?

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    • Hey Janet, yes, it IS hard not to follow the template. I don’t know, there’s a balance, I’m sure those courses can be helpful, but on the other side there isn’t much room to be yourself. So maybe learn the techniques well, then let the ones you like become automatic while you go be you. Thanks so much for that insightful comment. Those are good questions. And I think the best answer is, the ONLY way to become an “A-List” blogger is to be good at being YOU.

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  3. I like this approach Andrew, and am seriously impressed at your commitment to blog every day.

    I try to use my blog to tell an ongoing story too, but at the same time I do want it to be useful to others. It’s a tricky balance but in the end I just can’t churn out those generic ‘how-to’ posts because it just doesn’t interest me. I think I’ve found a balance by also publishing a series of useful ‘guides’ to complement my blog posts.

    Hi again Janet! Seems like we have a similar issue with guest posting. Whilst I would love to have a ‘popular’ blog, I don’t think we need to be an A-Lister to make an impact. I’m just happy that I can help even a small amount of people!

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    • Thanks, Milo! Oh, well I wouldn’t get the impression that telling a story isn’t useful. Obviously, if I was just telling a story for myself I would write it in my journal :). I’m just going for a different kind of useful, if that makes sense. (and yes, each post should be useful on its own to someone somewhere).

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  4. Hey Andrew!

    Congrats on the new blog! I love it! And wow, publishing every day is quite the goal. I’m rooting for you.

    My blog is very much a teaching instrument. But I do my best to publish points of view that haven’t been expressed before, to find angles and say it in a way that doesn’t yet exists. Otherwise, I’m just rehashing old crap, and I have no interest in that. I’ve decided (not so humbly) that what I’m really trying to do it teach people how to think differently. I offer different perspectives than they might’ve come across before and, if the resonate, the instruction on how to achieve that perspective. So, in way, I’m doing exactly what Steve Pavlina did, lol. And sure, many people have tried to copy Steve’s style of blogging, but they forgot that he also provided TONS of value in each epically long post. He didn’t just rehash other people’s stuff. His posts weren’t long because of some formula, but because it took him that many words to make his, often huge, point fully. My posts are often really long for the same reason.

    I think when you try to follow some formula, it often doesn’t work. It’s stale. It lacks passion. But when you follow your heart and your intuition, the “formula” that’s right for you will present itself. I love the idea of telling an ongoing story with your blog, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. :)

    Huge hugs,

    Melody

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    • Thanks, Melody! I totally agree with what you’re saying and thanks for leaving such insightful thoughts. See, my problem isn’t with Pavlina or his model, it’s with the fact that people think “that” is what blogging is. Period. It can totally work (you’re a good example) and I’ve done it too. But I wanted to try something different this time. It might not work, but I want to give it a try and see what happens :)

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