A different way to focus your efforts
Why do you write?
Is it because you can’t not write?
Do you have a story inside that must be shared?
Do you have a lesson to teach that can help a lot of people?
Platforms abound. Opportunities to share your message are as wide as the Internet itself.
This means there’s a lot of noise.
Have you ever tried to have a conversation in a noisy bar? It’s not the easiest thing to do. You have to get close, lean in, and maybe even yell in your friend’s ear. And if you’re not looking at each other, you can be distracted by the music, the people bumping into you as they pass by with their drinks, and even chatty new acquaintances asking, “Come here often?”
It’s a lot easier to talk if you can go outside where it’s quiet and you’re free to think and focus on each other.
Create an intimate space.
Coffee houses are better designed for conversations than noisy bars. They’re filled with small tables that seat no more than 4, and more comfortably, 2. The drink you hold is warm and nudges you to reveal a secret or two.
It’s an introvert’s paradise.
More than that, the atmosphere encourages deeper conversations. You can’t chug coffee, unless you want to burn the inside of your mouth. The pace is like the rhythm of a small town. We’ve got your order, and we’ll get it done sometime. Just sit a spell while we spin some yarns.
Invite your reader into an intimate space and she’ll stay around until your story is over.
If she has a good time, she’ll look forward to the next visit.
Can you create that with your words? Can you turn your blog posts into an afternoon at the coffee shop with your best friend?
Of course, you can.
But first, we need to get some clutter out of the way.
We’ve got it backwards.
The pros tell you that if you want to make it as a writer, you’ve got to focus on the end game.
- Making money.
- Building a following.
- Getting attention.
- Getting published.
- Getting your message out.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all great things. They’re important.
But they’re not the first thing. Not if you want to create something with heart, personality, and humanity.
That probably sounds counter-intuitive. It certainly breaks all the laws the pros offer you in their courses, their blog posts, and their social media.
But will it help you do the first thing?
The first thing is…
Write for readers, not the numbers.
Google isn’t reading your posts. People are (or aren’t). What do they want? What do they need? What hole can you fill with your words?
What product or service can you create that not only fills the void, but does it in a way that no one else can?
Sound like a tall order?
Can you see what’s going on around you? Do you have an opinion about it? Can you connect the dots that people aren’t connecting?
Do that and you’ll have a spot all to yourself.
Write your posts like a conversation over coffee or a letter to a friend.
Coffee isn’t warm by accident.
When you want someone to warm up to you and share a secret, you invite her for coffee. Churches and community groups use it at their social gatherings. Warmth is security. Cold is harsh and unfriendly.
There’s an implied freshness in coffee’s warmth. It says, “I care enough about you to get the best.” Cold coffee is good for the microwave or the trash.
How can you warm your reader to you? Share something personal. Get vulnerable. Let her know you know how she feels. You’ve felt the pain. Experienced the problem. And you care enough to share what you learned with her so she can stop the bleeding.
Your best blog posts will leave your reader better than you found her. Entertained. Educated. Smiling when she’s feeling down. Make the time you spend with a reader count toward the change you’re here to bring.
Even if it means you gain nothing (but the satisfaction of making her day better).
Remember every post, every status update, and every interaction is an investment in something bigger.
Everyone has goals.
What are yours?
- To write for a living?
- To use your words to open doors to serve people?
- To pen a bestselling novel or how-to book?
Everything you do either supports or takes away from your goal. When you write it down, it’s like sticking a pin on a map when you plan a vacation. Your destination is in view, and so are the roads that lead there.
When you can see, you won’t be distracted by what doesn’t matter.
My wife and daughter love to do jigsaw puzzles. Since they’ve done hundreds of them, they’ve developed a system. Build the border. Separate the pieces into common piles that correspond to a section of the picture on the puzzle box. Then start filling in the gaps, piece by piece until it’s done.
Your puzzle may consist of blog posts, guest appearances, and Facebook groups. The finished work may be a book, a course, or a service that changes the culture.
It only happens when you put all the pieces together. Paint a picture of your future and you’ll know what pieces go where to finish.
Focus on giving, not getting.
Metrics measure what we get from publishing.
Of course, you want to make a difference. You want people to read, share, and remember your work.
So you write early and often so you’ll have a green light on the stats bell every time you log on.
Since Medium informs you of everything, you could have a lot of reinforcement for your new habit.
Or you could follow a different set of metrics.
How many people did you touch? How many otherwise silent readers made a comment? How many thoughts did you provoke? How many will do something differently tomorrow than they did today?
Sure, these metrics are hard to measure. Probably impossible. But they’re the most important if you want to do work that matters.
What you measure is up to you.
Think in terms of what you’ll give. Breakthrough advice. Heartwarming stories that change hearts. Essays that challenge the status quo.
It won’t always make you money.
But it can open doors to opportunities you’d never know about if you only measure what everyone else is.
Go make a difference.
You’ve got what it takes to start a movement.
- A gift that allows you to work wonders.
- A talent forged in difficulty and refined by pushing through it.
- A burning desire that drives you, whether you’ve named it or not.
A better future is within your reach. Grab it now, one blog post at a time.