Are you settling for ‘good enough’ or pushing to be the best?

If you’re a good writer (and a good communicator), you should be able to talk the talk when it comes to blogging about a particular subject.

But can you walk the walk? For a blogger dealing with subjects that involve practical application (self help, any skills-based area (SEO, web design, wood-working, photography, fitness, self defense, etc), competence in your chosen field goes a long way in establishing your credibility.

For example, suppose we’re talking about a lady teaching self-defense techniques through her blog. Now short of actually seeing her in a live, unscripted situation, how would you judge her competence in the field that she is teaching? There are several ways to do this (and I’ll discuss 5 key steps of doing so in a bit), but the most obvious has to be to show evidence that she practices what she preaches and is successful because of it (social validation works even if the person selling you the idea is showing that it works for them).

This lady should accompany every blog post about a technique or pointer with a video demonstrating how that works. If this was someone doing SEO you’d ask him to show proof that he can actually rank websites highly using his ’suggested methods’, and if this was someone talking about digital photography you’d want to see snaps taken by them. Proof in action.

What if you don’t have a blog on something that uses practical application? In that case you must show your competence in knowing your field of interest and show your expertise in different ways.

Let flesh this out and look at a 5-step model for demonstrating competence in your chosen field – whether you’re a car blogger, a copywriter or a web designer, being “good enough” is NOT good enough. To truly succeed, you must aim to excel, and with that excellence comes natural credibility that oozes through your blogging.

1. Show Up Every Day
Are you still waiting for opportunities to come knocking at your door? There’s a saying: “All good things come to him who waits.” Unfortunately all that’s left by that time is leftovers from people who got there first and took initiative.

In blogging terms, don’t just do what is expected of you (by your readers, by the niche, by people who are giving you advice about blogging) but go one step further. Be there working on your blog every day, and instead of taking the option to slack off once or twice a week, show up with your “game” on.

Whether you’re blogging or promoting your blog, it’s not enough to just go through the motions – give it your best shot; give it 100% every time.

When 99% of your competition is going to slack off, just showing up and making the effort every day will make a world of difference to your blog’s success. And when it comes to credibility, nothing is better than establishing a habit in the lives of your readers. If you can get your readers to return, on their own, to your blog every day to read what you’ve written, your biggest job in terms of branding and reader loyalty is done. And how does this happen? When your readers see that you’re making a special effort to give them something interesting to read every day, and when what you’re blogging actually helps / fulfills a need for your readers.

2. Keep Improving
Sometimes (I’ve been guilty of this more than once) there’s a tendency in bloggers to take their foot off the gas when things start going well. For example, suppose that your blog hits the search engine rankings jackpot in October and thanks to AdSense and affiliate product sales, your blog’s revenues go from $1000/month to $5000/month. A 5x jump is nothing to laugh at, but it has the possible danger of allowing you to relax, kick back and enjoy the moment.

That is worst possible thing you can do at that point (short of shutting your blog down, that is) – remember that the results you see today from your blog are a direct consequence of your actions in the past few months. It’s the hard work you put in all those months leading up to this ‘boom’ that is showing you the profits. Similarly, what you do today will have an impact on how your blog performs in the next few months.

If you let up, your blog will go downhill again after the boom dies out, and it’ll be back to the grindstone again for you. On the other hand, if you DON’T stop to pat yourself on the back and instead keep working on improving your blog, the rewards will be even greater in a few months time.

3. Follow Through
It’s one thing to be able to practice what you preach – it’s quite another to deliver on the promises that you and your blog make. Following through doesn’t apply just to what you say to your readers on the blog (although it’s a big part of it) – your blog itself makes certain promises to your readers and it’s up to you to make sure that you follow through, with excellence, on those promises.

In a world where more and more consumers are finding that it’s easier to switch providers instead of push for product improvement, your ability to deliver on your promises will be your primary strategy in gaining an edge against your competition.

4. Accomplish More Than Expected
A constant theme throughout this article has been that as a blogger, you should be looking to do more than what is expected of you. Considering that you have a role in setting those expectations, it follows that you should be setting the minimum standard a bit high and then, every day, focus on doing better than that.

When you under-promise and over-deliver, your customers are impressed. But when you promise quality and THEN you over-deliver, you earn fans.

5. Inspire Others
Does your blogging provide inspiration to your readers? If you look at the top bloggers, a defining aspect of their time as bloggers has been their ability to inspire their readers directly because of their success in their specific field. Excellence combined with good communication skills (i.e. good blogging) is a guaranteed way to build your blog’s fan club. Most people look for external sources of inspiration when it comes to doing something in their lives – if you can be that source for your readers, not only will they be lifelong fans but they will also talk about your blog everywhere.

From “Good Enough” to “Great”
Ryan reminded me that this article was somewhat incomplete, so I’ve added suggestions on what to do when you want to push your game from being ‘good enough’ towards ‘being excellent’.

  1. Get your head in the game: If you’ve been mentally or emotionally detached from your work, it’s time to reengage. This often happens when we’re distracted by real-life stress that *shouldn’t* be there, or if we get involved in too many secondary activities and forget the core objectives of our blog(s).

    First, rededicate yourself to your job. Determine to give it an appropriate amount of time of your undivided attention. Second, figure out why you have been detached. Do you need new challenges? Are you in conflict with your boss or coworkers? Are you in a dead-end niche with no prospect of growth?

    Identify the source of the problem, and create a plan to resolve it. This will never happen unless you give your project your undivided attention.

  2. Redefine the standard: If you’re not performing at a consistently high level, reexamine your standards. Are you shooting too low? Do you cut corners? If so, hit your mental reset button, and outline more demanding expectations for yourself.
  3. Find three ways to improve: Nobody keeps improving without being intentional about it. Do a little research to find three things you can do to improve your blogging skills. Then, dedicate the time (and money, if necessary) to follow through on them.

What About You?
Do you settle for being good enough in your blogging, or do you push forward and give it your absolute best, every single time?

This article was originally written on 24 Sep 2007 for Performancing.com.

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