- Use social media better
- Master search engine optimization
- Guest post on more blogs
- Convince my boss to give a darn
All of these tactics make sense but I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable about them. They seemed to miss an important point that I could never capture until this morning.
I’ve been reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. Cal writes about a Charlie Rose interview with Steve Martin where the comedian summarizes his secret to success. He says “Be so good they can’t ignore you”.
He follows up with another insight –
“If somebody’s thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’ people are going to come to you.”
In Steve’s case, this meant working for a decade refining his signature stand-up routine. His labor paid off once his act was so good and so entertaining that the industry had to have him.
Cal Newport goes on to assert that there are two dominant mindsets when it comes to achieving success: The Passion Mindset and the Craftsman Mindset.
The Passion Mindset is the most popular and personally gratifying. It’s summed up in the phrase – “Do what you love.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this advice in the blogging space as well. “Blog about what you love.” I have to admit that I’ve offered this advice – even though it never quite captured my intent.
The Craftsman Mindset says create something rare and valuable.
I had a eureka moment where all of my misgivings about the “do what you love”, “blog when you have something to say”,“passion is the foundation of a great blog”, came into focus.
You see, passion feels good. It’s self-affirming. It puts you in a position to do what makes you happy and hoists the burden of acceptance on your reader’s shoulders. But, in the end, that doesn’t work.
What works is identifying the rare and valuable perspective, product, or service your reader needs and deliberately working to craft and promote it.
Basically, it comes down to what my Dad told me 30 years ago – “Work your ass off on something important and everything else will fall into place”.
I know this isn’t popular. Work your butt off doesn’t get retweets. I might even upset well-meaning people who’ve invested valuable capital in the Passion Mindset. But you and I know that the Craftsman Mindset has that ring of truth that you can’t ignore.
Great Blog Posts Are Nice but Not The Goal
Think about this.
Is having a great blog your goal?
Or is telling your valuable and rare story in a compelling way the goal?
This subtle distinction makes a difference.
I once worked with someone who got fed up with my insistence on writing and publishing a blog post on a regular basis. In our conversations she would infer that all I cared about was blog posts. The implication was that she was focused on building her business and I was focused on building a blog.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get her to realize that blogging was the key to building her business. My objective was simple, blogging was the training regimen, the act of craftsmanship that would clarify:
The Story: The businesses’ unique view of the world, its product, and customers
The Value: The reason clients should invest in the businesses’ service
The Approach: Why the client’s process was top-notch and revolutionary
Creating the posts, ebooks, workshops, and guides honed the businesses ability to tell their story in a clear and compelling fashion.
The same applies to you.
Adopting the craftsman mindset puts you on the path of continually getting better and better at delivering your core message to your reader. Blogging is just an effective tool for doing it.
Musicians have a truism that is a brutally effective reminder of why they practice until it hurts – The Tape Tells the Tale, meaning that the recording playback leaves no room for excuse, either you’re great or your’re not.
A blog post has the same clarity. Working at improving this skills get you closer to creating something rare and valuable.
Along the way, you’ll get so good they can’t ignore you.