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On Monday we discussed the importance of your most current post. It was decided our best work may be buried in our archives.

But, how do we know what is our best work?

Is it the post we spent days constructing, editing and reediting until we had it perfect?

Or was it the post we wrote in ten minutes?

Today’s Lesson

I usually spend a fair amount of time writing and editing my blog posts. I preview them many times before I hit “publish”.

I want them to be “just so”.

Sometimes I write a post and KNOW it will be a hit.

It often bombs.

Other days, I jot down my thoughts, do a few quick edits and hit “publish”.

I know it wasn’t my best work, but for some reason, it’s a HUGE success.

Comments pour in, as do kudos.

What gives?

Are we worrying too much about what we post? Are we wasting our time on research and edits?

Are we our worst critic?

Should we learn to listen to those who respond to our posts?

I’m beginning to think so.

I’ve had this same discussion with other bloggers, they feel the same way, what about you?

Today’s Assignment

Do you find this happening with your posts too?

Are you your worst critic?


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  1. Here is what I’ve concluded. True, some of what we perceive as our best posts are ultimately going to get buried after enough time goes by. But, this is just an illusion. As bloggers, we must make our next post the very best one we’ve ever written. I used to want to save my best posts for some future date. There may be a place for this on rare occasion. But I finally realized, who am I kidding? My blog no matter how unpopular or popular it is, is going to demand excellence. When you lack popularity you necessitate great posts to gain it. When you already have the popularity you seek, it is required that you continue to write great posts in order to maintain what you’ve achieved. No matter how you look at it, excellent posts each and every time are going to be demanded of you. Yes, blogging is the ultimate challenge! One I feel privileged to take part in.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..Being Happy for Others: Something to Truly Aspire to

  2. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Bamboo Forest,

    I can identify with what you’re saying about “saving” a good post until later, and like you, I realized if I didn’t get it “out there”, it was only collecting dust while I waited for “whatever”.

    Blogging does give us the opportunity to get better with each post. They say “practice makes perfect” and that holds true for blogging. as well.

  3. Dr.CasonNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,

    I was thinking of this the other day when comments flowed in about Jake and his remark, “My penis is peeing right now”.

    I thought it was simple, funny and easy to talk about. It took 5 minutes to write and scan and post. Other times I’ve literally spent hours on a post and people barely glance at it.

    One thing I feel is pretty sure is that people really don’t want to read more than 200-300 words. I certainly don’t unless it’s really compelling or informative. If it’s just saying the same thing then shorten it.

    I hear you Bamboo, about the saving the best for later. I feel this as well. I think- when people really come flooding in then I’ll break it out the “good stuff”But the thing is you can always reintroduce a subject and expand on it, paraphrase or repost. I will read a similar article over and over if I like the content.

    Dr.Casons last blog post..Have You Found Your Get Away Location?

  4. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, this has happened to me. My Friday’s post about the first pancake was written on the spur of the moment at work, but it’s one I enjoy most. It makes ME laugh. Then I have other posts where I spend hours researching and editing and they’re okay because they generated a pretty good comment count – more than I expected anyway.

    Some of the best posts are the ones we don’t think about too much. They’re not long and they’re just more natural, maybe people can “feel” that….

    We can be our worse critic, at times that’s okay, we need to challenge ourselves, but we also don’t need to try so hard all the time.

    I never know what the response will be, I just keep being me.

    Naturals last blog post..If I Only Had A Brain

  5. I’m the hardest on myself. The thing is I can always improve there is no doubt about that, but I know that I give value. Sometimes I have to remind myself that blogging is a learning process, it’s like no other type of writing. We get almost instant feedback from our readers, which I love. No other writing medium has such instant response.

    Sometimes I over edit and I’m working on this habit. It reminds me of a post from skelliewag.org. She talks about not needing to be perfect, but as long as we get our point across and do it in an entertaining way that’s all that matters.

    Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matterss last blog post..7 Awesome Lessons from Bill Gates – Love Him or Hate Him, He is a Genius

  6. “Are we worrying too much about what we post? Are we wasting our time on research and edits?”

    Yes, but I’m still going to do it. πŸ™‚

    I try to check carefully for typos, which is time consuming if you do a good job, and yet the effort isn’t appreciated because people don’t really care about typos. But I still have to do it for myself, even if people don’t care.

    But time spent editing posts to make them shorter or easier to understand–I think people do appreciate that.

    Sometimes a well thought-out post bombs. I think when this happens, it’s because the post offers a lot of value, but to a more limited audience. For example, a post could tell you everything you need to know about XYZ, but maybe it’s too long for most people to read. It’s great for those who read it, but maybe it won’t get too many comments, so we think it bombed.

    On the other hand, we could post just a couple of sentences. It might not provide much value, but maybe it provides a lot of value relative to the time it takes to read it. And it’s very simple, so it’s easy to comment on. And then it hits the front page of Digg and we wonder why. πŸ™‚

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..SEO School

  7. AxeCityNo Gravatar says:

    You are right, results usually come unexpected. I think this is because of the changing needs and attitudes of readers.

    So, I usually put my best and try to learn from the results I get and the critiques I receive from my readers comments and emails.

    AxeCitys last blog post..Successful Blog Design

  8. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara: I definitely think we’re our own worse critics, when it comes to blogging and to everything else. I always do my best before pushing the “publish” button, and I often think that maybe I should have added a little more information (although my posts already tend to be over 1,000 words long). This is why I’m going to follow my own advice and adhere to Parkinson’s law: set a reasonable time limit for each post and whatever I have at the end of that time limit, gets published.

    Marelisas last blog post..Creating Your Dream Life: Your Thinking Style

  9. Ellen WilsonNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading through all the comments.

    I think I’m my own worst critic. But what I like about blogging is I can experiment, kind of like cooking. Some things I say will appeal to some people, but not to others. You just never know.

    I really think you have to write for yourself. You have to love your writing, or no one else will.

    @Dr Cason – Haaa! That is the funniest thing! Now I have to go see what’s up with that.

    Ellen Wilsons last blog post..What are You Fishing for?

  10. I don’t really have a sense of how to measure a “successful” post. Do you measure it by the number of comments? or by what people write in their comments?

    I try to write with authenticity; being honest with myself about my quest for order and serenity (where I’m falling down) and hoping that I might encourage someone else to start their own journey.

    My blog is as much a journal as it is a source of information, so maybe I can measure success of a post by my level of inspiration for writing it!

    Ann at One Bag Nations last blog post..Just Do It – Starting is the Hardest Part

  11. VeredNo Gravatar says:

    Of course I am my worst critic. πŸ™‚

    I think it was Skellie who said, that people don’t READ online – they quickly SCAN the page for ideas. So, in many cases, a well-crafted post is not as important as a great idea that makes people think and sparks a discussion.

    Vereds last blog post..Are Bloggers Allowed To Have A Life?

  12. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I think it’s easy to put too much pressure on ourselves and expect to write amazing posts all the time. It just can’t happen.

    I used to worry about every little thing I wrote – especially – “What if nobody likes it.” It’s silly really – no matter what you write, there will always be people out there who don’t like it and you can’t please everyone.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Wonderful Wednesday

  13. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Dr. Cason,

    That was a funny post, and definitely inspired others to comment.

    It’s hard to know what readers “REALLY” prefer, and although shorter articles are quicker reads, often you can’t put all in you need to say in less than “x” number of words.

    Hi Natural,

    That post made me laugh too.

    Being ourselves is one key. If we try too hard, often we lose our essence, and the our loyal readers can tell.

    Hi Karl,

    Isn’t that amazing, knowing our words “go public” so fast and others can (and do) respond to them, often in a matter of minutes. Once we hit that “publish” there’s no turning back.

    Hi Hunter,

    I agree that editing is VERY important as it’s easy to be redundant with our words.

    Long posts are usually filled with value, but do take a lot longer to read. Often those are the posts I save until later as I want to read them completely, thus I may not comment right away.

    Like you, I look for typos, but everyone once in awhile, a few slip through. That’s why I like that you come and visit as you’re a good proofreader and (thankfully) point them out to me. πŸ™‚

    Hi AxeCity,

    Yes, putting our best foot forward everyday is important, and learning from our readers/critiques can take us far.

    Hi Marelisa,

    I can tell you put a lot of thought into your posts. They are longer than most, but they’re also value packed. For me, they are always great read.

    Hi Ellen,

    Everyone who has commented have great ideas, don’t they?

    THAT is a key. You do have to love what your writing about. If you don’t, it gets to be a drag, and the results will show.

    Hi Ann,

    Measure the success of a post is a tough one. Usually a commenter will shed light on that by saying you helped them, saved them time, made them laugh, made them cry, inspired them, etc….and sometimes it only takes one comment to reveal that.

    Hi Vered,

    Yes, bloggers often scan posts and don’t read every word. It can be disheartening knowing that, but like you said, if it sparks a discussion, than SOME of the words served their purpose.

    Hi Catherine,

    You hit a nail on the head. We can’t please everyone no matter how great our post is. For whatever reason, there are those who will pick it apart.

  14. SarahNo Gravatar says:

    This is a very interesting question.

    I have gotten to the point where when I hit publish on the posts that I personally feel are my best, I already KNOW they’re gonna bomb. And when I publish the ones I just threw up there in a few minutes, I always have this feeling they’re gonna get a zillion hits.

    I have no idea why this happens. πŸ™‚ But it doesn’t stop me from writing my favorite posts, the ones I spent hours working on, because in the end, I think I’m writing mostly for myself and I like the stuff I spent hours on.

    It does amuse me what people are drawn to, though!

    Sarahs last blog post..Which Disney Princess are You?

  15. SaraNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah, I’m my own worst critic, but with blogging, I feel a lot less pressure. When writing for a specific client or publication, I know I’ve only got one shot. With blogging, there’s leeway. Not miles of leeway, but a healthy shoulder.

    I’ve definitely had the classic experience of thinking I’ve got a winner, only to have it bomb. And releasing it on the same day that a ton of other people talked about a related subject, making it a double yawn. At other times, my intuition is correct. The posts I write on the spur of the moment tend to get the best reactions, and that doesn’t surprise me.

    And Hunter, your time spent proofreading is not wasted. I always appreciate good grammar!

    Saras last blog post..Weekly Links: Gone Swimming

  16. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Sarah, with an “h”,

    Welcome to the BWAB community.

    I like how you put that, “I think I’m writing mostly for myself and I like the stuff I spent hours on.” In many ways, I think we’re all like that.

    Hi Sara,

    Being a writer (and getting paid for it) would be a lot more stressful. You have a client to please.

    As Catherine said, with blogging we won’t please everyone, but we will please some, (plus we’re not getting paid for it). However, we do want our readers to return so it better be half way good.

  17. Wow! Okay, now I’m starting to think about my posts being best posts, and good posts, and not so good posts…I wasn’t rating them. I just write what makes me feel good and brings a smile to my face. I do re-read my posts probably too many times, although I really only make actual edits to it once, before I hit the publish button.

    I do agree with Vered about questioning what makes a post successful. It is gratifying to see volumes of comments (good for the ego), but if I spark one really good one, such that I know I’ve made the person smile, laugh, or really think, then my post was truly successful

    Urban Panthers last blog post..Francophone Fridays

  18. chrisNo Gravatar says:

    At times I’m my worst critic but most of the time my family usually do me in. I’m fortunate because if it’s comming from my wife or my children, I know that they are not criticizing my work out of malice.

    Like you, I my most popular posts are usually the ones that I thought were terrible and the ones that I thought were going to be a hit, usually bombs.

    chriss last blog post..Miscellaneous Things From Hahvahd Yahrd

  19. Linda AbbitNo Gravatar says:

    “To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.” Anonymous

    This quote came to mind as I was reading your post and everyone’s comments, Barbara.

    We can’t please everyone with every post — so to some people our posts may just be “average,” but if our posts (or as Vered says, our ideas) strike a chord with just one person, that feels great!! (Hopefully they’ll comment, so you get the positive feedback! LOL Barbara, you’re great at that!) That’s definitely one of the reasons I’m writing my blog.

    No one is perfect in their jobs 100% of the time, so how could our posts be? Some will hit, some will miss, but we just have to keep going.

    Cheers!

    Linda Abbits last blog post..It Is Better to Laugh Than to Cry!

  20. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, this happens to me all the time. I think I’ve got a real winner and it just flounders. I can’t figure it out. I don’t know what people are interested in. What I think is funny people seem to take serious. I get frustrated at times, but in the end, I’m just going to write what comes up and hope for the best.

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..Wordless Wednesday -How Does Your Garden Grow

  21. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Urban Panther,

    Writing what makes you feel good, says to me you’re following your passion. If we stay true to ourselves, undoubtedly others will see/read that and find value in what we’ve written.

    Hi Linda Abbit,

    I love that quote.

    Comments are great (I know I love the ones I get), but when we start blogging, we may not get any ( I remember those days), so we write to our imaginary audience and visualize others being helped by our words.

    Yes, it is important to just keep going.

    Hi Debbie,

    I remember when we discussed this subject before, and it’s almost like a mystery. We have hits and misses but as long as people show up (commenting or not), it helps to keep us motivated to write.

  22. […] you read the comments to yesterday’s post, Vered mentioned she had read (possibly on Skellie’s blog) that some bloggers are scanning […]

  23. I can’t help but nod in agreement when I read this post. You are sooo right! There have been many times when i felt nerve wrecked just before and after publishing my post! Nowadays, I try to ease up. My attitude is so what even if the whole world disagrees with me; what I write is my own reality and no one can fault me on that!

    Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Maps last blog post..Five Hindrances To A Successful Meditation

  24. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Like you I have written was I was sure would be an award-winning post only to receive no comments on it. I have then written something I wasn’t quite sure my readers would get and received a great deal of comments on it.

    I think that as writers, and not just bloggers, we need to write things that speak to us. I don’t think we can worry about the audience. Some people will appreciate our thoughts, some may not. There is no sense worrying about it.

    Chase Marchs last blog post..Different Roles We Play

  25. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Evelyn,

    You’re right! It is your reality. Although others have the right to disagree, because it’s your belief, you can take a stand.

    Isn’t blogging great? πŸ™‚

    Hi Chase,

    In some aspects (of blogging) we should worry about the audience, but in our writings, when we speak from the heart, our audience will either understand us, or not read us. That’s the chance we take when we share our work (and I think that’s true for all “artists”).

  26. Thanks for this. You was help me. Article who your writen was so important for me. Thanks again πŸ™‚

  27. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Yemek,

    You’re welcome. I’m happy to be able to help. πŸ™‚