Blogging Bed Time Story – How I Spent $1,200 for 4 Quarts of Oil.

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pouring oilToday I just paid $1,200 for 4 quarts of motor oil.

I don’t know what’s more twisted, that I paid that much for 4 quarts of oil or that I can turn the situation into a blog post.

I’m sure you can’t wait to hear this tale.

First of all, I hate cars with a passion.  I’ve never met a car that I didn’t abuse.  For that matter I’ve never driven a car that missed an opportunity to drain my bank account dry.  My trusty, commuter-friendly, Ford Focus is no exception.

The old girl didn’t seem to mind even though I trashed the interior with spilled coffee, gummy bears, and Chicken McNugget Hot Mustard sauce.

But driving for 20,000 miles without a drop of oil – well that pushing things too far.  Today, on the way home, I saw the oil light blink intermittently.  No problem, I thought, I’ll throw a quart in when I got a minute.

Ten minutes later, a heard a rattle.  “Curious” I thought.

Two minutes later, I heard “Ka chunk!”

“Hmm that sounds weird”, I mused.

Even then I was determined to whip that car all the way into my drive way.  But my Focus (who I secretly call the F-Bomb) wasn’t playing around.  The engine shuddered and screamed – “I’ve had enough!”  I pulled over and called the person who could fix just about anything.

My wife.

Who promptly called my brother-in-law, who came and got my sorry butt and helped me figure out the situation.

Well, you know the morale of this “city boy” tale.  My car engine threw a rod.  For those who don’t know, the rod, links to the thing-a-majig, that pumps… the pumper, which turns the cranker – that makes the car go.  No oil means that rod starts punching holes in the engine.  I’ve learned that isn’t too good.

At the end of the day, it’s going to cost me $1,200 to make my problem go away and get me a whole new engine to abuse.

Thankfully, no one told me that several quarts of oil would have saved me from this horror.

Here’s the kicker.  I had 4 quarts of unopened oil in my trunk.

You can laugh now.

What Does This Sad Story Have to Do with Your Blog?

Ahh…plenty my friend.

I’ve looked at a lot of blogs that are working hard but are handicapped by their owners.  Sure the owner starts out with the best intentions (editorial calendar),  gets a car wash (new theme), and generally tries to keep things in good running order (weekly posts).  But this just overlooks the fact that the blog is heading for a “Ka-chunk!” crash unless you avoid one engine killing flaw –

I call it “Blogging without Oil”

Oil lubricates and keeps things running.  In your blog’s case, your oil is your obsession.  Your obsession is your blog’s topic.

Notice, I didn’t say “passion”.  Passion is too fickle for heavy-duty blogging.  No you need borderline dangerous obsession.  You see, obsession drives the writer to type for days barely taking the time to eat or sleep.  Obsession compels the artist to trash canvas after canvas until they get the right effect.  Obsession spurs the entrepreneur to keep working, driving, believing until they grab success by the throat.

Obsession keeps your blog going.

Now you can write all the posts you want.  You can hang out at Tweetchats even do a podcast or two but it all will fall flat without obsession.

Obsession is your blog’s oil.

Is your Oil light blinking?

Finding your obsession can be a little tricky. First let’s talk about where not to look…

Your obsession isn’t likely to be your day-job – unless you founded the business. Sadly, I rarely meet someone who loves climbing out of bed in the morning, fighting traffic, punching a clock and sitting in conference rooms for a $300 holiday bonus. (Hurts doesn’t it?)

On the other hand, your day job is good for something… It is probably funding your real obsession.

Here’s another obsession red herring –

Your College Major. 

Your major might give you a hint but it’s likely not what your obsessed with.  I should mention that College Professors are an exception.

Here’s where you should look…

Your obsession is connected with one of the 5 universal traits we all use to express ourselves.  In Mark Schaefer and my new book, Born to Blog, we say that these 5 traits are Dreaming, Storytelling, Teaching, Persuading, and Curating.  Find your trait, and your obsession is not far away.

As you know by now, I love fishing.  I can spend the entire day walking for miles around a single lake chasing that magical tug on the line.  I forget about everything – even my momma’s scrambled eggs and cheese – when I’m fishing.  It’s my obsession.  What about you?

There’s something that you won’t think twice about spending obscene amounts of money on.  That “thing” is likely your obsession.  You might think the object of your cash’s affection is trivial, but you’ll be shocked by how many people share your obsession.  Trust me on this.


What catches and holds your attention?  For me anything with a transistor or gills.  For you, it might be Chevy’s, model rockets, Christmas tree skirts, demoralized athletes, or wedding cakes.

I’ve discovered that most people learn to bury their obsessions.  Sometimes, their parents convinced them that their obsession wasn’t practical.  Other times, life shows up with a husband, three kids, and bills to pay.  But, at the end of the day, your obsession is still there…ready to propel you on your next adventure…

And be the life blood of your blog.

Tell me – what’s your obsession?

P.S. Did I tell you that I locked my keys in the car too?  Yep, I’m a genius.

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

16 thoughts on “Blogging Bed Time Story – How I Spent $1,200 for 4 Quarts of Oil.

  1. Jameson Bates

    I really enjoyed this post. I thought the distinction you made between blogging about your passion and your obsession was very interesting and true. If it’s your obsession, you think about it all the time and it doesn’t go away and it’s easier to see the type of person you are. I’d say my obsession is anything related to cars!

  2. James Roberts

    Great post! The points you raised are certainly great lessons for people obsessed not just with blogging, but with almost anything that catches their fancy.

  3. Michael Corley


    That makes it all clear. Honestly, your answer removes a large mental obstacle in my writing.

    I now know the “talent” I should be using in my blogging efforts.

    Thanks for getting to my question.

  4. Cathy

    I’ve tried all sorts of blogging before – but now that I’m starting up one to help support my business, the ‘click’ has happened. All of a sudden I’ve got tonnes of ideas and direction. Previously, I’ve sat staring blankly at my screen not knowing where to begin!

  5. Stanford Post author

    It depends on “what” you are talking about. Are you talking about how to learn the romance languages? If so, your method can be taught on one blog.

    Are you focusing on the history, expression, etc. of a particular language? If so then you should focus on one language per blog.

  6. Stanford Post author


    Great question Michael. There is a slight nuance here. Talents express your obsession, “drive” is not quite the right term.

    There are no rules for selecting a talent to express your obsession. Nor should you pick a talent to express obsession. Look for the talent you naturally use to express, communicate, or share your passion. Take my fishing obsession; I love telling stories about fishing. Guess what, I enjoy telling stories (my talent) about a lot of things – but especially fishing (my obsession).

    Does that make sense?

  7. Michael Corley

    Hey Stan, how did you know it was my birthday?

    If you didn’t then this post not only tipped me in the direction I needed to look for the lube in my blogging efforts but also gave me one more reason to pick up your new book.

    But I do have one question; in the Talents section, you listed five traits that drive obsession. Must you find one trait that drives your obsession or could it be more than one?

  8. Ligia

    Hi Stan,

    What a great metaphor! Definitely my obsession is foreign languages. I can speak three romances languages. I’m wondering if I could talk about them in the same blog or if I should choose just one of them only.


  9. Stanford Post author

    Are you the founder? I’m guessing you aren’t since you called it “work”. :)
    If you are the poor soul with the task of making your biz socially hip then start with what the founder is obsessed with?
    For example Jeff Bezos is obsessed with scalable customer service. How about your founder? If the founder isn’t around ask the CEO to describe the company’s obsession and then turn that into a blog. By the way, in my experience, a company’s products are evidence of a business’s obsession not the obsession itself. For example, the iPhone is the evidence of Apple’s obsession with consumer electronics that change how people work and live. Get it?

  10. Stanford Post author

    Thanks Allie. I’ve found that the best place to find blog posts is in my everyday life. The hard part was training myself to notice the little lessons.
    I really like your suggestion to ask four friends. The question I would ask is “What is the one thing that competes for my attention in our friendship?” I’m guessing that the answer is – your obsession.

  11. Malhar

    Good one Stanford!!

    Totally agree, every blogger worth his salt will need small amount of oil and little bit of servicing (relook at blogging strategy) regularly!

  12. Allie Conner

    Stanford, I’ve been a long time fan and lurker on your blog. This story made me chuckle, but I loved the way you’ve turned into a blog post.

    When someone told me that eating dinner with me was like eating with a med student, I finally realized that health and fitness are my obsession.

    If readers can’t figure out their passion on their own, they can usually ask the four people they spend the most time with what they talk about most.

  13. Jeff

    Enjoyed your post. Since I am trying to get a blog started for work, what would be your advice from your oil example?

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