Exhausted With The Same

exhausted with sameI have a dog named Hippopotamus. Aside from being the goofiest, happiest dog dude on the planet, he’s an expert at  seek-and-destroy tactics. Squeakers in toys, bird watching (and killing — I do recall one bloody bird-related event when I lived in Vegas involving flighted prey that made a fatal mistake in his presence). Lately, it’s been squirrels. This year, the tally stands at:

Hippo: 2

Squirrels: 0

The first was lovingly deposited on my sofa. The second (yesterday) was not escorted/carried inside through the doggie door but rather, left by the tree that was its demise. In light of my impending move to Boulder from Denver, I have no doubt that the squirrel population of greater Denver will hold an all-night nut-and-kegger when Hippo departs the area.

Hippo’s a fan of The Same. He’s a dog. That’s what he does. He lives in a world filled with squeaky toys, chewy bones, birds, and squirrels.

You don’t. We don’t. And for fuck’s sake, can we please stop acting like we do?

Quit the “Look ma, I puked!” Routine

When is the last time you went out to dinner, ate your meal, and then came home and puked up everything and asked your best mate to have a look at the pile of recycle? Unless you have someone holding your hair back during a wicked bout of food poisoning, I’m betting the answer to that question is never. So why the hell are you doing it with your blog? When you sit down to write a blog post, slow down and think for a second. Ask yourself, “Am I adding anything new to this conversation?” If the answer is no, all you’re doing is asking your audience to gather around something you’ve regurgitated that they can find elsewhere (and in many cases, everywhere and anywhere else). It’s pretty hard to infuse a personality into thoughts that already belong to someone else.

Photographers don’t take someone else’s photograph, doctor it up in Photoshop and then post it on their website as “theirs.” But that’s what most people do when they ride trends and decide they want to hop on the latest and greatest bandwagon with their own iteration of a broad-topic post. So why don’t you…

Have an Original Thought for Once

For once. GAH! Quit it with the pithy quotes (and quit hashtagging them with #quote on Twitter) and use your Big People Words. Your audience will remember you NOT for the 82.5 ways to build a bomb-ass Facebook page post. They’ll remember you for making them think. Making them read another paragraph further. Making them look like a rock star for sharing a post that encourages their audience to think. And I get it — list posts are great. Everyone wants the shortcut. A quick read. Pointers. Tips. But the difference between the brands that earn and keep an audience and the ones that only get the fly-bys is the effort they make to serve their audience. Quotes? I can find those anywhere. A list post on Pinterest for business? Go hump an oak tree. Give your audience something that draws them in, makes them think, and builds a conversation in the comments section. And there’s only one way to do this…

Challenge Yourself

The only way to attract and keep an audience that’s not a herd of sycophantic lemmings is to first challenge yourself. Ask yourself what isn’t good enough for them. Ask yourself what they deserve. If you really think your audience deserves an upcycled post designed to boost your keyword rankings, go ahead. Give it to them and see what you get. And here’s where I speak from experience.

I’ve always held my audience in the highest regard. I have never taken for granted that they’ll continue to stop by, subscribe, comment, or share. And the greatest detriment came to this blog when I stopped challenging myself. When I forgot what they deserved and why they started dropping my my little left-of-fucking-center neighborhood in the first place. And when I deigned to ask the question, “What do you miss?”

Shoo, lawdy — they told me.

Challenging myself as a writer means cramming my being into the most uncomfortable of places. Places where I might be wrong. Places where fucking up is inevitable. Little nooks and crannies where I do battle with grizzly bears with Sarah Palin heads wielding light sabres where I can emerge victorious and scream a battle cry of AYUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! with a bad ass ZZ Top soundtrack playing in the background. (Perhaps your battleground looks a bit different than mine…) And while every blog you post doesn’t have to be of earth-shattering import, each post always holds one pervasive responsibility: challenge.

You can’t challenge anyone by regurgitating shit that other people have already covered.

And I get it — there really are few new thoughts in the world of business, just new voices sharing them in ways that might reach new people.

But if you sit down to write something and aren’t challenged by what you’re sharing, how the everliving cherry popsicle of a fuck do you expect anyone else to be challenged by it?

Sidebar: I just took a potty break and ran into the “toilet paper roll is empty” scenario. I caught myself perching the new roll on top of the spent one in the wall holder. Who the fuck does that? Apparently a writer talking about how you shouldn’t be lazy with your blog content. Oh haiiiiiiiii pot — meet kettle. 

Remembering Why You Blog

It’s not because your boss said you had to do it. It sure as hell isn’t to “monetize” anything. It’s definitely not to drive more traffic to your website.

The only reason to blog is because you have something to share — not “say.”

Sharing is collaborative. Saying is broadcast.

Sharing gives your audience the power. If we remember that we’re simply conversation starters that empower our audiences to join in and lead the charge, I’ll bet that the regurgitation, quote-dropping, and other mindless bullshit we might be party to stops in short order. We blog — we write — because we’re human. We have opinions, experiences, and our own iterations of grizzly bears with mutated heads wielding weapons. There’s no one who can compete with US. And you’re not a dog.

You don’t have to be satisfied with The Same. My brightest days come from conversations I never thought I’d be involved in, the realizations that others generally have better ideas than I do, and the humility that comes from sharing my shortcomings so that I can tap into the strengths of others to make my world — and business — places made up of stories.

Hippo? He loves him some squirrel. Humans? We love stories. Solid stories. We know they’re solid when we close a book, flip off the Kindle, or leave the room and still play them through as we close our eyes and drift off to sleep.

What story will you share today? We all have the opportunity to share a story like no other. Why would we settle for re-sharing someone else’s?

 

 

 

22 comments
Kim
Kim

So I'm painfully late to the game with this comment but it's worth leaving a comment anyhow. My blog traffic sucks goats. My writing skills? In my mind, mediocre at best. I've lost my ability to craft a well-written post that encourages readers to comment and return at a later date. While some have said I am an excellent writer I tend to argue to the contrary at this juncture. I freely admit I am to blame for my shitty writing skills. I'm getting better...slowly. But it will be awhile before I feel like a total bad ass again. As for bloggers who regurgitate the same old slop? Boring. Though I fear I may be guilty as well. Oops. List posts and anything that doesn't get me to think (read: review blogs) are irritating. Also, too much "Look at me, look at me, look at MEEEEE!" from some bloggers pisses me off. *sigh* I'm complaining too much aren't I?

Lauryn Doll
Lauryn Doll

As I was reading this... I saw the following quote on Twitter: "When you don't know who you are you will attempt to be everyone else." So fitting.  I used to feel as if I needed to get up as much content as possible ASAP when it came to my site; however, I've come to realize unless it's unique, it's a waste of gotdamn time, no matter what.  Thank you for this post... and for the phrase "Go hump an oak tree." 

MichelleGillies
MichelleGillies

"Sharing is collaborative. Saying is broadcast"... thanks for that. I often think that the stories I tell are just that...my stories. Why would anyone want to read about my stuff? Maybe I should find a topic and stick to it, etc. etc. etc. You know what? When I tell one of my stories I enjoy writing it and reading it so much that I am pleased just to have a record of the tale.  Getting a comment or even a new follower is like a bounty of riches. 

Virginia
Virginia

While I blog for my company in my job-for-pay, I also maintain a personal blog from home which is sheer pleasure for me. I agree    with you 100%  in the distinction between   sharing and saying.  All the world loves a story and a story has failed if we do not  sharing an experience with others so they might identify with it in some way. And when a reader  says "oh,  I'm not the only one who's done that or felt that way," we all share in the human experience, don't we?

Rick Copper
Rick Copper

and this is why I write fictional short stories and novels (OK, 1 novel so far). Takes longer and I have nothing new to say with my blogging. Not on a weekly basis anyway. Your efforts far outdo mine. Plus, you're far faster and… dare I say it… fucking bestest.

Shalagh
Shalagh

New blogger, old soul, that’s me. I dig the no regurgitate shit. In fact I was confused when the blogging seminar lady said I should check the top daily topics daily. I have a healthy fear of social media but not of speaking my mind sorta ever. I’m missing the dialogue part on my blog though and I crave that empowerment of speech my thoughts might spark. Hoping either the imminent facelift of my blog or a bunch more brave subscribers will jolt my dialogue action. Thanks for the reaffirmation of integrity of communication. No danger here of the same. Don’t need perfect, just need a soul scratch now and again.  

Christianrward
Christianrward

Congratulations for shaking the shit out of us. Still your thoughts are dead on. I debate always over the direction of my blog because I didn't want to fill the world with one more piece of dreck. (Well, it still might be dreck but it's original dreck.)  I still seek my voice as a writer and I bust my balls not to sound like a writer. I strip away pretense, extra verbiage, cute language, cliches and, forever, too many words. I see my role as a blogger as someone who is starting a conversation.  Thanks for the mini-manifesto and for grabbing our balz and getting our attention. 

Angi Harper
Angi Harper

My most satisfying blog to date - on da bidness blog - is the one that I posted in LinkedIn and I swear the entire group shot me down. I maintain that they're wrong. And that's why I wrote the post.

tomRmalcolm
tomRmalcolm

Erika,  You embody the message in Steven Pressfield's latest book, Going Pro.You're real, the hang all the pieces out there for all to see. I'm learning to do that finally. It's terrifying, but terribly thrilling.Here's to leading with your chin, butt naked!Tom

Bill Dorman
Bill Dorman

And that's why we love ya, you'll run out on stage naked and everybody else is thinking ' I don't think I would have done that' until they see the reaction you get and either reaffirm their original thought or think 'I wish I had the balls to do that.'  Good or bad, it's all you that's for sure. Don't change....

Stacey Hood
Stacey Hood

As I've gotten back into writing recently and changed my outlook on what and how I'm writing, I will admit that it's tough to continuously come up with new material. But that's a challenge I accept when I made it to myself. I can see the other side of it (and have done it previously) where may you want to discuss your side of a hot topic that may have already been discussed on 20 other blogs, yet I think it comes down to what you really want to be perceived as...I've unfollowed folks on the Twitters because I grew tired of them just retweeting everything. I want people to think when they come away from one of my posts, even if they don't comment. Unlike many others though, I don't write to get business, I already have that. I write for self-enjoyment and to hopefully influence others. If I can make people think beyond what they're reading, then I'm happy.

creativeally
creativeally

This is freaking amazeballs and totally something I have been struggling with in regards to my writing! I have come a long way from just trying to be like everyone else out there but it's still SO hard for me to come up with new exciting ideas when it feels like everything has already been said! What tips do you have on how you come up with ideas for your posts? Do you write a bunch at the same time and schedule them out or are they all spur of the moment "This needs to be said!" type of posts? Thanks so much for all of your awesomeness! : )

Lee Anne
Lee Anne

AHHHHHGREED! As someone just starting out...literally, I have been conflicted with what I'm trying to say, share, give because of this very thing. I hate cookie cutter. I hate re-using the same old shit. As artisans, originality is the very core of who we are. Individual one-of-a-kinds. But I find myself falling somewhat into the trap, sometimes out of fear.  Fear that what I have to give isn't perfect enough (I'm a Virgo, what do you want?) I axe half of  my shit because I think it's too diluted. I want everything to be 100% Concentrate....even though it's probably not.  I don't necessarily buy into "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Imitation annoys the shit out of me. Be yourself. But sometimes being yourself, is believing in what other people are putting forth. And believing in it so much that you just wanna share it with the world. Not steal it, put your own sticker on and try to pass it off as your own, but collaborate, build, amplify. 

FileCatalyst
FileCatalyst

While I agree that we probably serve readers better by following your advice, I just wanted to stick my neck out and say that it's not true that we all blog to collaborate rather than broadcast. Heck, many bloggers even turn their comments off! Me, I'm for sharing. But I do also enjoy many blogs that broadcast.

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  1. […] to Own Your Voice Online June 14, 2012By KimberlyA few days ago, I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Erika Napaletano. This outspoken redhead wrote about how tired […]

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