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Why Great Writing May Not Be Enough To Win Blog Readers

The genesis of the tweet below (and this blogpost) was a realization late last night that I am my own enemy to growing my blog. Bailey WorkPlay has existed since 2004 in various incarnations. To date it contains nearly 500 posts, some of which have been featured on AllTop, The Social Customer, and The Customer Collective. Over the past few months, I was getting more and more angry about my relatively low readership and lack of general awareness.

I kept brooding that after eight years it still shouldn’t be this hard to build and keep an audience. This thinking was exacerbated lately by having a handful of people tell me – based on reading this blog – that writing is one of my key strengths. Well, if it’s one of my strengths, then why the hell don’t I have more readers?

But all of that angst ignored the fact that the problem is not “out there.” The problem – and responsibility for solving it – lies solely with me.

Here’s the question that is now driving my actions: Am I prepared and committed to doing the work of building an audience and growing my awareness as someone with expertise in marketing, branding, and customer experience?

If the answer is “Yes” then that means I need to commit to a few things if I want to win more blog readers:

  1. Post more frequently. Probably at least once per week, preferably 2x if at all possible. I can’t blame others for not being consistent readers if I’m not posting great content consistently.
  2. Improve my titles and other copywriting techniques. I’m wagering the single biggest reason why I don’t get many clicks is because I give throwaway titles to my writings. I’m opening myself to learning from smart practitioners such as Mack Collier and the folks over at Copyblogger.
  3. Bring even more “me” into each post. Tell more stories. Open the kimono just a bit more. I’d like to thank this post from Entrepreneur and this one from Amber Mac at Fast Company¬†for the inspiration here.

But enough about me…what about you? Are you satisfied with your reach and influence as a blogger? Take it further. Is there another area in your life where things are just not where you want them to be? If so, stop looking for answers or blaming others out there. Look inside, instead.

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Hidden Talents Part 2: Identifying Your Talent and Strengths

How do I know whether I have a talent?
This is a case not of if you have a talent, but what your talent is. I wholeheartedly believe that we’re all endowed with something unique within us that can be put to use, something that connects us to our own distinct purpose for being. Our primary challenge is figuring out what that is. If you’re still searching – regardless of your age – it’s okay. Some of our talents are well hidden from our view. To help, there are countless assessments and resources out there you can turn to that will help you. Two books to consider are:

Is Your Genius At Work? by Dick Richards. Dick works from a model that we all have one unique genius that is an exceptional power that just comes naturally to us. His book is a wonderful guide for discovering our talent and how to apply it in our life and work.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Once you complete the web-based assessment, you can return to the book for ideas on how to bring your five strengths into daily action. The real key to the assessment and book is taking the strengths and compiling them into a unique concept of who you are and what you can do that no one else can.

Just don’t fall into the trap of considering each resource the end-all, ultimate source of insight about you and your talent. Instead, take each one and combine them all to form a story. This may take some help from others around you.

Make the most of your talent…practice it.
If you do happen to pick up StrengthsFinder, you’ll discover that Rath uses an equation that ties talents and strengths together:

talent x investment = strength
Talent: a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving.
Investment: time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base.
Strength: the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance.

When you do figure out your talent, that’s just the first step. The next step is develop and fine-tune it. Here’s an example to help illustrate how this equation works. Say you have a passion for the cello and practice your heart out for years. But no one is going to confuse you for Yo Yo Ma or even a symphony-level performer. There’s nothing wrong with this, but recognize that cello playing will never be a strength regardless of how hard you practice. The reason is that you lack the talent. But let’s say you have incredible talent, but don’t bother to put in the effort to hone it. You’re simply wasting your talent because you don’t make the investment necessary to make it a strength.

In the end, it takes the ability to recognize your talent and invest the time and effort to make it a true strength.

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