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Blog Courageous or Careful?

Guy Crossing River on Log

In his post today on Businesses Grow, Mark Schaefer talks about a new blogger’s biggest problem: Lack of confidence. He gives some good advice for getting over the fear of putting your work out there on the world wild web.

I want to share his article with you because I know some of you are struggling with this. However, when you read it you’ll probably see some apparent conflicts between Mark’s advice and some of the things I’ve said in class.

First, go read Mark’s post. I’ll be here when you get back.

Now, let’s go over a few of the points that seem contentious.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect

Mark wants you to realize that your posts aren’t going to be perfect. He suggests setting a time limit when you’re writing them. When your time is up, you publish (within reason).

You know how important I think it is to develop your web-writing skills and style. You probably already realize that I’m a pretty big stickler for proofreading. You may even agree with me that you should strive for mistake-free posts. Mark has a good point though.

Perfection can be paralysing. Getting new posts up and learning from each one is more important than torturing yourself trying to make each one perfect. This is especially true when you’re just getting started.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon your attempts at writing clearly and well. Writing great posts takes more than running spell-check before you hit publish. Improve your skills with each post, but it’s alright to learn by doing.

Write As Yourself

Mark suggests writing for yourself instead of trying to script out what you think your audience wants to hear.

I agree with him to a point. Write in your voice. Write your stories. But choose the stories that will be helpful and interesting for other people. Write in a way that will help people connect with your posts.

Talk it Out

Mark is talking about blogging coaches here. We’re lucky. We have each other.

On a related note, talking through a post idea with a friend can be really helpful. Explaining a topic to someone else helps you work through your ideas, test them out, organize them and maybe even come up with new ones.

Turn an idea into a conversation. Then turn the conversation into a post. (Bonus points: Turn the post back into a conversation online.)

Don’t be Scared

I like Mark’s comments about not focussing on what could go wrong. Get out there and get some experience instead.

Besides, if you do get some negative feedback, it’s a great opportunity to learn how to deal with it constructively. That’s a great skill to have when you’re managing communications for a company or client in the future.

And Mark’s right: The pros outweigh the cons. Take the chance to express yourself, make connections, get leads and have some fun with your blog.

What do you think? Are my comments in class and Mark’s suggestions compatible? Mark, if you’re out there, did I get it right?

10 thoughts on “Blog Courageous or Careful?

  1. Mark Schaefer

    Thanks for the great piece! And we really don’t disagree. I agree with the nuances you bring up here which I would have added myself in a longer post. BTW I was delighted to see a misspelling in your well-written post. Just goes to show you have the write stuff! : ) Pursuing the perfect post is elusive!

    1. Jared Lenover Post author

      Thanks Mark!

      My students will appreciate the irony of the spelling mistake. :P You’re right though: If you spend too much time trying to get it absolutely perfect, you may not get it out at all!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it. :)

    1. Jared Lenover Post author

      I let Mark know on Twitter that I’d written a companion post for the class. (I discovered his article through one of his tweets earlier tonight.)

      He was nice enough to come by and take a look. :)

  2. Mark Darovny

    Thanks, to you and Mark for both sets of advice.

    I find I’m wrestling with the question of what my audience will find interesting, or new, or worthy of discussion/debate or comment/critique, or something they want to share to others.

    PS: Your typo actually seems rather appropriate. ;-)
    (I was going to mention it specifically, but that would spoil the puzzle for other readers :-P)

        1. autoblot

          Who would you like to write for? :)

          It doesn’t have to be written in stone, but deciding on an audience (even before you have one) might help.

  3. Mark Darovny

    One question in the vein of “careful” – when it comes to using images from other sites (even very common ones), is it always proper etiquette to reference the source? Sometimes people do, but I see many more cases where it is not done.

    The picture you used made me think about it, but I was wondering before.

    Does it really matter? Not if it’s your own I would think, but images produced by others? And what about commercially-related ones? (e.g., a picture of a car taken from an ad, or something with a corporate name or logo)

    1. Jared Lenover Post author

      If the picture is yours, it’s completely up to you whether or not you give yourself credit. :P However, remember to be sensitive about the content of your picture too. For instance, it’s usually a good idea to make sure people in your photo don’t mind you posting it online.

      If you have permission to use a picture that isn’t yours, it would still be nice to give the owner credit (and maybe link to their site). There are also sites like Morgue File that provide images that you can use for free.

      Then there are services like iStockPhoto, where you can buy pictures (often for very reasonable prices) for use on blogs, print materials and so on. I got the picture for this post from there.

      “Fair use” is a factor when it comes to using some images too, but I’ll leave that for now. Anyone have any insights when it comes to fair use of pictures on the internet?

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