Scott Stratten Lied to me about Blogging

scott-stratten-smcI attended Social Media Camp in 2010, and only two things really stand out in my memory. The first was that I borrowed an iPad from a friend and had no idea how to use it. During the first session I was in, it began speaking to me very loudly in Spanish, and would not shut up. I had no idea how to stop it, and it garnered more attention than the speaker. I left the room in a similar fashion to how Sissy Spacek in the movie Carrie left her prom (minus the bucket of blood and prom queen crown).

The other part that I do remember was the keynote address delivered by Scott Stratten. It was awesome, and to this day I compare any keynote address to Scott’s. During his keynote he said something that really stuck with me, and impacted how I approached blogging. With a look of intensity and passion he uttered the words:

“Only Publish Awesome Frickin’ Content”

As this was 4 years ago this is likely not the exact quote, nor do I recall the exact context in which it was said. I only remember what it made me think at the time and how it stuck with me. At the time I was exploring the notion of filler posts and pillar posts. Basically you create ‘awesome frickin content’ whenever possible (pillar posts), and to keep your audience sated, you would write simple post that were short, and provided a bit of value (filler posts).

I Drank the ‘Awesome Frickin Content Kool-Aid’

The advice that Scott dispensed stuck with me. If I were to hit the publish button, I had to be sure what I wrote was awesome. I was filled with this renewed sense of blogging. I had a ton of ideas a day, and I tried to ensure that I my content was frickin awesome.

After a while I found that the amount of time needed to craft a post was much longer than I would like. I was too focussed on ensuring that what I was publishing was awesome, which increased the amount of time needed to write a post. Eventually priority work took up more time, and blogging fell to the wayside. I just didn’t have the time to create my awesome frickin content anymore. I fell out of practice, which leads to quote my son’s favourite television show, Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood.

Keep Trying You’ll Get Better

daniel-tiger-keep-tryingThe old adage of ‘practice makes perfect’ is 100% true, however if you are just starting out blogging, how can you be producing awesome frickin content? If you are a gifted writer, then perhaps you have a head start. Whenever anyone asks me for advice on what they should write about, or what their blog topic should be I always tell them to just write about what interests them, write about your day, write about something funny your kids said. I recommend this for a few reasons:

  1. It allows people to find their blogging style & ‘voice’
  2. They get some practice writing
  3. They get into the habit of writing on a regular basis

When you first start a blog, there is likely no one listening, so there is no harm in writing these less than awesome posts. You just keep trying and eventually you will get better. Eventually you will be awesome.

How Do You Define Awesome?

I think one of the biggest challenges is how to define what awesome content actually is. While you may feel that the post you have written is pure awesome, your audience may disagree. You may have troubles finding awesome without some testing first. This is another reason why I advocate practice, you can create a number of posts and then check your Google Analytics to see what posts and topics generate the best results.

This leads to a fact that awesome is also quite subjective to both the audience reading, and the author. For example, if Chris Brogan were to write a post on his blog that simply said “Hi, how are you today?”, I am sure that it would get many comments, Likes, +1s, Tweets etc. While this is not awesome frickin content, it still receives the benefits that are typically reserved for quality content. Because someone like Chris Brogan has practiced his blogging skills and built up an audience he can still post less than stellar quality content, but still have the benefits that awesome content gets.

The above example also shows that while you should push to create quality within your blog, you should also work to build your audience. Finding that mix of creating good content, and having an engaged audience to back it up is important.

While I agree that awesome frickin’ content is important, especially for established businesses, public personalities, and high profile bloggers, I think that the fear of not putting out your best content should not hold you back from practicing and keeping a regular schedule. I agree with Scott that you should be publishing awesome frickin content, but it should not come at the expense of having a stagnant blog.

The Goal is Awesome Frickin Content but…

I think that one should not obsess too much about how the content is perceived when you are first starting out blogging. You need to find your voice, you need to practice, and you need to determine what your audience considers awesome before you can actually start cranking out awesome.

If you have an established blog then you need to review your blog statistics to determine which posts are being well received, and which posts are being ignored. You can only do this by following the 3 T’s – Test, Track and Tweak.

You will not nail awesome right out of the gate, but if you keep trying, keep a schedule, review your stats, and adjust to what your audience wants then you will be able to produce awesome frickin content.

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