The Tale of Two Bloggers

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Blogger's MindsetBoth women launched their blogs on the same day.

Coincidentally, they select the same niche helping corporate woman leave the 9-5 corporate drudge and start their own businesses.

Each took the time to research their subject and their audience. Each invested time in a professional blog design and made smart choices about their personal brand.  Understanding the power of mastery, both woman invested in teaching and actively participated in private coaching forums.

However, within a month one of the women started pulling ahead of the other.  Her blog posts caught the eye of influencers within her niche who sent quality traffic to her blog.  Also her blog readers enthusiastically commented and shared each post.

While the other blogger managed to attract decent traffic she didn’t feel a connection with her readers.  Each post was technically correct but felt distant and repetitive. Soon She was struggling to get her posts noticed and shared.  Every week posts become harder to brainstorm and publish.

A year later, one woman has started monetizing her traffic and considering starting another project.  The other had put her blogging on “hiatus”.

What was the difference?

The answer isn’t what you’d expect.

It comes down to who you are writing for.  One woman wrote for her reader’s.  The other wrote for herself. This distinction points to a mindset that can predict failure or success.

The Lie Successful Bloggers Tell

Most successful bloggers will insist they write for their readers.

However if you dig beneath the surface, you’ll find a deep-seated need to write for themselves. Their posts solve problems that they confront in their everyday lives.  They push themselves to deliver more value because they imagine what they want and deliver it.

Their readers are the happy beneficiaries of the blogger’s passion. In fact, the blogger’s needs are so closely matched with their readers that they honestly believe they are writing for them.   This mindset always leads to success.

The Two Minds

Steven Pressfield, author of the War of Art, explains how artists tend to have one of two mindsets: hierarchical or territorial.

Hierarchical artists focus on their audience.  They write what their audience wants and takes their creative cues from the marketplace.  These artists, copywriters, poets, and photographers work for cash.

I don’t believe this is evil. Artists need to get paid.  However, the hierarchical mindset doesn’t inspire.  It just puts the artist at the disposal of fickle public with a ravenous appetite.

The alternative is the Territorial Mindset.

The territorial artist possesses a domain.  Their territory is where they eat, sleep, love, and breathe. They work solely because it fulfills them.  It doesn’t matter if their audience appreciates or desires their work.  They perform their task out of love for the game.

Pressfield offers Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example.  Schwarzenegger’s territory is the gym. He owns this domain and he has put it decades of training to master it.  When Schwarzenegger enters the gym he instantly becomes its ruler. He doesn’t need to get paid, admired, or retweeted to dominate this territory. He just does.

The territorial blogger publishes no matter what.  They publish work that is controversial, provocative, unpopular, and revolutionary.  They appreciate their readers but they don’t work for them.  They recognize that their reader wants leadership and they offer gleefully offer it.

Inspirational leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs won’t let their customers or readers handcuff them.  They fight against the hierarchical mindset because their dreams depend on it.

How to Break Free from Hierarchical Writing

I’m guilty for pushing the hierarchical approach.  Pushing Social has hardcore capitalism coursing through its veins.  I’m plugged into the market and want to satisfy it’s needs. But…

The “market” doesn’t always know what it wants.  In fact, the market just wants more of what it already has.  The market didn’t request the iPod or the iPad. Homeowner weren’t clamoring for a bagless vacuum from Dyson.  Book readers didn’t mail Kindle schematics to Amazon.

Thankfully, Jobs, Dyson, and Bezeau didn’t wait for the market to deliver their breakthrough innovations.

You and I need to follow their lead.

You can shift from the hierarchical to the territorial mindset by:

1. Challenging the Status Quo: Business as usual tends to create “group think” that leads to stagnant thinking and me-too work.

2. Scare Yourself: Write outside your comfort zone.  These Boogie Man posts will challenge your readers and give you confidence to lead the market.

3. Respect Your Readers But Don’t Be Led By Them: Value reader feedback and respond where appropriate but realize that you are the leader and your community is looking to you for inspiration.

4. Be Patient: Territorial artists often labor for years before the world recognizes and rewards their innovation.  Reset your success time horizon to years rather than months.  Don’t be discouraged, you are building for long-term dominance.

Can You Make the Shift?

Which type of writer are you now?  Will you find it difficult to shift from a hierarchical to a territorial mindset?

{Photo Credit:by redcargurl}

P.S. Join the cool kids getting even more practical tips on how to dominate their domain. Become a Pushing Social Bootcamp member and get a FREE Blog Review plus weekly advanced blogging techniques.

About Stan

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

29 thoughts on “The Tale of Two Bloggers

  1. Laura Kimball

    I love this post, Stanford, and how you broke down two types of bloggers. I’m guilty of bot: I’m a territorial blogger on my personal blog (http://lamiki.com) where I literally own, manage, and rule that territory; and I’m a hierarchical blogger on my employer’s blog (http://www.jolkona.org/blog) where I’m representing a brand.

    The part that I’m struggling with is how to convert myself into a territorial blogger on Jolkona. I’m the managing editor and one of the contributors over there and I have full editorial control, but for some reason I can’t bring the same voice and passion that I do at lamiki over to Jolkona.

    I realize it’s a mental shift. Any advice about how to make the shift and “own” multiple territories? :)

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  3. Russ Petcoff

    Wrote a blog titled “If a writers writes and there’s no one to read it, is he a writer?” where you helped me figure out what type of blogger I want to be. Thank you.

  4. Stanford Post author

    Sure, go ahead and poll them. However, remember that readers often want more of what they are already getting. You’ll need to think creatively and experiment to find the nuggets that your readers have overlooked or can’t verbalize.

  5. Thérèse Cator

    This is a GREAT post Stan! I loved the examples that you used. It’s true, customers didn’t directly ask Amazon to bring out the kindle. Like Amazon I want to constantly challenge myself to write/create content that’s dictated by my experience on both my personal blog and business blog. I think that’s the way we become visionaries opposed to hacks just hashing out the same stuff over and over again. Thanks for the insight!

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  7. Russ Petcoff

    This is amazing. I’ve lately been having a crisis in my blogging in wondering if people were reading. Then last week I had an epiphany that changed my outlook. Write because I want to write. Write because I enjoy it. Write because God gave the ability and passion to write. All that matters is I write.

  8. Jay Baer

    Fascinating post Stan. I think I’m more on the territorial side, with a dash of hierarchical market and SEO reality thrown in. I publish on the same schedule – always. And while I love the regular readers of Convince & Convert, I do not blog to create a community (which is why I don’t have the same kind of community you’ll find here or The Brandbuilder or Conversation Agent or Spin Sucks or Grow). I do blog to educate and think through where this is headed.

  9. Stanford Post author

    E.J,
    I’m asking you to make sure that your personal drive, challenges, and aspirations match with your readers. If they don’t then you need to seriously question if you are going to be able to sustain your blog. I’m definitely prioritizing innovating new directions over simply letting your readers pick your topics.

  10. Ian M Rountree

    I’m in the midst of changing up my publishing mentality – moving (unintentionally) from hierarchical, to territorial.

    It’s hard to believe you’re worth a hierarchical position when you’re not constantly on the way up. Owning a territory is far different than owning a vertical spot; not necessarily easier, but a different proposition.

    Keep kicking the good stuff, Stan.

  11. E.J. Apostrophe

    Hi Stanford,

    I have been lurking for a while and this post compelled me to write something.

    Wow, you really challenged me on this one. I am confused though. In one of your e-book “Seven Minutes”, you said in essence to write about what your readers are struggling with or have challenges with. With the post, I sense a paradigm shift now. I am reading this shift correctly or is what you wrote in “Seven Minutes” needs to be tossed out now?

  12. Stanford Post author

    Thanks for commenting Mark. Having fun is a key ingredient to building a sustainable blog. I’m glad you are enjoying yourself.

  13. Stanford Post author

    Brian, I can’t argue with that. One problem is that it’s difficult to find the right mindset for being “deliberately successful”. Although I have been accused of being a bit too complicated, I believe the territorial vs. hierarchical framework provide a push in the right direction.

  14. Brian Vickery

    Nice read. I am a fledgling blogger right now (only a couple weeks). I definitely picked an approach to a topic that may “subset” my overall readership because I am writing about social media from a sports analogy perspective. As a result, I may cover the topic from a judo, football, basketball perspective. Time will tell if that captures the readers’ interest. I’m not looking to make money from my blog, but I am looking for people to develop a trust in my viewpoint and then perhaps check out Pulse Analytics. Either way, I’m having fun with it.

  15. Steve Byers

    I find that what I most want to do is find the place where what I have to say intersects with what others need and/or want to follow. In other words. Really other words… I like to find ways to pull in my myriad interests to my posts that are by design meant to pass on something of what I’ve learned in life and business thus far.

    Great post, I’ve sent it along to friends!

  16. Mark Johnson

    Great post Stanford. It was a very simple and accurate analysis.

    I find myself firmly in the territorial artist catagory. Of course I would love my writings to entertain readers and make them think. But, while I didn’t start with this in mind, I am finding that I have become more aware of my surroundings, am reading more, and I am having fun making the obvious…more obvious. I will continue blogging whether I get a boat load of readers or not.

  17. Brian Clark

    Let’s make this simple: if you’re succeeding, you’re satisfying an audience need or desire. If you’re not, you’re not.

    This whole question of author intent and motivation is confusing and ultimately a waste of time. It’s just a matter of being accidently successful, or deliberately successful, or a failure.

  18. Stanford Post author

    Thanks buddy. I was thinking of taking the weasel political way out and saying that I’ve merely “Refined” my position. But you guys would have called B.S. on that in a heart beat. :)

  19. Kenny Rose

    Well, Well

    What have we got here :-) My main red blooded Capitalist introvert friend switching mind sets. Oh Dear.

    Seriously though. The cliche is coming!! Great Post.

    The real motivation eventually shows up. I never had any doubt at all Bloggers write for themselves. It is the denial syndrome. People like to follow the herd and replicate what other people do. To an extent that works but you still have to find your own voice and communicate that in a manner that does provide value whilst fulfilling our need to be heard and earn a living.

    I write/blog because I want to earn a living in this space. I am still working and refining my concepts and shortly will have the time and space I need to focus my effort 100% on delivering excellent content built on cornerstones. And that is not an excuse!!

    I do genuinely believe delivering our own dreams helps fill a need in others, I want to own my territory and in owning I hopefully will inspire others to do the same. I use social media as part of that process. So I share ideas I know will be taken up and blogged and used in a variety of ways. And that is part of the process of dream building and collaborating.

    Long term dominance is the key. You have to show up every day consistently and put in the work to deliver anything of real value. Nobody is made over night. It takes years of work to be an overnight success. I can’t remember who said that but I know it is absolutely true in my experience.

    I enjoyed reading this Stanford. Another quality post. Art is Art!!

    Well Done. :)

  20. Stanford Post author

    You know what? I totally disagreed with you a few months ago! But when I did the gut and passion check I realized that you were right. Darn it.
    Glad you liked the post Mark :)

  21. Mark W Schaefer

    I wrote a post with this same theme a few months ago — “stop writing for your audience” — and I think it is one of the great blogging myths. I hate this whole ideas of personas, more or less following a script for your blog. How in the world can you do that and have any soul to your blog at all? You and I are so aligned on this one and your post is so beautifully written! Great job!

  22. Krissy Brady, Writer

    I’m definitely a territorial writer–for me, I do write about personal experiences, with a spin on my experiences to help benefit my readers, since my readers and I are in the same boat–we are looking to create a successful writing career, but our current struggle is balancing our work life with our writing life. I find the whole process to be very inspiring, being able to help others and all move ahead together. It’s definitely a win-win situation.

    Wonderful post! I always look forward to your new articles. :)

  23. Kiesha @ We Blog Better

    Hi Stanford!
    Okay, you got me! I secretly write what I enjoy writing. I’m often motivated to write things that I want to know more about – I get out and do the research and then when I discover something interesting, I pretend to myself that my readers desperately need know the same thing! :)

  24. Natalie Copuroglu

    Hi Stanford,

    Great article and great advice.

    I agree with Kristi. I think if you write what someone else wants you to write, it does show and your writing can deteriorate. Of course the ideal scenario is to write posts about the exact topic that your readers wanted to read about. It doesn’t happen every time though.

    I think if you build good relationships with people in your niche, they will read your posts. It may not be what they had expected to read on that particular day, but by being passionate, you will shine.

  25. Stanford Post author

    Thanks for the comment Kristi! I’ve ended up exactly where you are now. It seems like the only way to build a sustainable blog.

  26. Kristi Hines

    I think I’m somewhere in between the two types. I take into consideration what my audience wants to read about, but at the end of the day, I can only write about things that interest me personally. It’s awful trying to write an article that someone else wants you to write, but it’s almost a piece of cake to write about an idea or strategy that I’m really into right now.

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