Does 8 Women Dream Suck?

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Does 8 Women Dream Suck: Bruce Lee Be happy but never satisfied by Simon Shek

Does 8 Women Dream suck?

This is a question I ask myself every Sunday when I pull up my half-broken kitchen chair to the dining room table that is my 8 Women Dream office and begin to work on this site. I know, some of you hate the word “suck,” but if you stay with me here until the end, I’ll explain why I chose to use that term.

The reason Sunday is my day for asking this question is because it’s the one day during the week where I block out at least six hours specifically to look at the entire 8 Women Dream site, from the 8WD comments, to Google Analytics, to Facebook Insights, and to our social engagement for the week (did anyone link to our work or mention us on their website).

Frankly, most of the time I know we can do better.

I am never satisfied. It was actor, film producer and director, Bruce Lee who once said, “Be happy, but never satisfied.” He was considered the greatest at his craft, but personally, he was never satisfied. Satisfied gets you completed work and a good night’s sleep; it doesn’t bring success or win you any prizes.

The only way to blogging greatness is to never be satisfied with your work.

I am constantly worrying about the site layout and how it looks and feels to the visitors, but I lament most about what we dreamers are writing.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that any of the dreamers on this site are bad writers — I mostly question if we are giving our posts everything we have.

I don’t leave myself out of this equation either, in fact, I hold myself to a higher standard because I am the crazy redhead leading this dream pack. Talk about pressure to set the bar high…

If you want to know what it’s really like to run a top blog, then welcome to my world of always wanting 8WD to be better all the time. And if you have a blog, you should be doing the same.

For example, this week we’ve had exactly two outside comments on 8 Women Dream, whereas, if I hop on over to one of my favorite blogs, Copyblogger, owner Brian Clark’s latest post garnered 536 comments, 1665 Facebook shares, 1300 Twitter shares, and 189 Google Plus votes. They just systematically kicked 8 Women Dream’s butt.


20 Warning Signs That Your Content Sucks by Jonathan Morrow

Copyblogger Associate Editor, Jon Morrow would use his great article, “20 Warning Signs That Your Content Sucks” to tell us why —

I’ll take you through Jon’s suck warning signs with 8 Women Dream and I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

1. You think your content is “good enough”.

Jon says, “You’re either blowing people’s minds or putting them to sleep, and there’s nothing in between.”

Did 8 Women Dream blow anyone’s mind this week? Are any of us on 8WD just phoning our writing in each time we post? You tell me. Is our content any good?

2. Your posts read like journal entries.

Jon says, “If your posts look more like “Dear Diary” than a magazine you would see at the newsstand, you’ve probably got a problem.”

This one is particularly hard for women bloggers — being that many of us were first introduced to novel writing through our journals. When I first started blogging I wrote this way, until one day a guy wrote to me and said, “You are boring the shit out of me. Write something funny, red.”

Does 8 Women Dream read like a journal to you?

3. You’re not getting many (or any) comments.

Jon says, “Comments are one of the best ways to measure reader engagement. If you have a few hundred subscribers, and yet none of them are commenting, then it might be because they find your content unworthy of their attention.”

BAAM. There it is. We have very few comments. Why?

4. Your visitors stay less than two minutes, on average.

Jon says, “For most traffic sources, anything less than two minutes is bad. If you are at less than one minute, then your content is repelling people. You can do better.”

From January 1, 2012 – November 1 2012 8 Women Dream’s Average Visit Duration is: 00:01:09

We just barley made it over the threshold, but I’m not out dancing in the streets. Part of this can be related to site load times and I do know we’ve had issues with this over the last 6 months. But to be honest with you, we do have posts where visitors have averaged visits less than 16 seconds…

5. You spend less than an hour on each post.

Jon says “Most of the popular bloggers I know spend anywhere from 2 to 10 hours on each blog post they write. If you’re not, you should be.”

For myself, I spend three or more hours crafting my posts each week, but there have been times where I haven’t made my post the priority it deserves and slammed it out at the last minute in under an hour.

And oh, trust me, it shows.

I can also tell when any of the other dreamers here have done the same. How disappointing it must be to the reader who has just landed here for the very first time and a mediocre post is their first experience. Do you think they will ever come back?

6. You’ve never received fan mail.

Jon says, “If your content is good, people will go out of their way to tell you how good it is. We’re not just talking about nice little tweets; we’re talking about five page e-mails where they tell you their life story and thank God for your existence.”

I’ve received three of these personally, but there should be more. I’ve also seen a few go to some of the bloggers here for superb, heart-wrenching stories, but the lack of feedback tells me that we are not engaging our readers enough.

7. You’ve never received hate mail.

Jon says, “If your content is good, you’ll always have a small but vocal group of people who think you’re wrong, rude, or inconsiderate. Their mockery and screams of outrage are merely signs that you’re headed in the right direction.”

I’ve received hate mail for the bloggers I’ve invited to write for 8 Women Dream and the stories they’ve written and some of the hate emails came from other dreamers on this team (they are no longer writing for 8 Women Dream) because they thought I had lost my mind.

But I have this theory that there isn’t “one way” to accomplish your dreams, that dreaming can be messy and it’s okay to share the mess. It’s okay to be controversial. Just look at the fact that “Real Housewives” is still on television…

8. You focus on SEO before you get your first link.

Jon says, “First, you need remarkable content, and then you optimize it for search engines. Skip the remarkable part, and all the optimization in the world won’t help you.”

I waited until the end of the second year to begin my SEO marketing for this exact reason. If you are going to ask people to read and share what you are writing, then it needs to be content worthy of their time.

9. You believe SEO is the secret to building a popular blog.

Jon says, “SEO can’t, by itself, make a popular blog. First, you need remarkable content, and then you optimize it for search engines. Skip the remarkable part, and all the optimization in the world won’t help you.”

I don’t have this problem, in fact, 8WD has quite the opposite problem. I can’t get the dreamers here to share their posted stories with the world beyond every now and then sharing them on Facebook (with the exception of Natasha and Maria).

It’s like they are afraid to tell the world about what they are doing.

We most definitely do not have this problem.

10. Your blog is about — well — everything.

Jon says, “One of the quickest ways to frustrate your readers is to write about everything that’s on your mind. Here’s why: people don’t come to your blog to find out what you think. They come to your blog for solutions to their problems. The moment you stop talking about them is the moment they stop reading.”

If I had a dollar for every time I have argued this point with a dreamer who writes on 8 Women Dream I’d be retired by now. For whatever reason, staying on subject (or niche topic) seems to be the hardest thing for so many bloggers — especially women.

It may be why some dreams haven’t come true. Let me just put that right out there.

If you are always changing what you are writing about, then you probably aren’t focusing on you need to be focusing on in order for your dreams to come true. And if you keep changing the subject, then maybe no one will notice that you are ignoring your dream?

Give me a dreamer who keeps shifting around her dream, and I’ll give you a dreamer who will forever be searching for her dream.

This has been one of my biggest concerns for 8 Women Dream’s ultimate success. I allow the writers free-reign in their choice of topic, but I can tell you, I am always disappointed when one doesn’t write about their dream. I am sure the readers are too.

Are you?

About Everything - Times Square

11. You’re saving your best ideas for later.

Jon says, “Are you planning to do an e-book, and you’re holding back all of your best ideas, waiting for your blog to get popular before you publish them and make gobs of money? If so, stop. To riff on Warren Buffett, waiting until your blog is popular to publish your best ideas is like waiting until you’re old to have sex.”

I’m an open book. I believe you should involve your readers in the development of anything you are wanting to sell to the public. Maria of 8 Women Dream and I just had this conversation about the book she wants to write. She was afraid to share her stories on 8WD out of the fear that no one will buy the book.

I told her to share her stories  Your readers will tell you what works and what doesn’t and you can build on what resonates with them the most. I’ve purchased blogging books that are a collection of the best advise the blogger shared on their blog. It was easier to have it in a book than searching their website.

12. You don’t know the benefit.

Jon says, “Pop quiz: one year from now, how will your readers’ lives be better? What specific, measurable results will you have helped them obtain?”

I once worked with a young woman who was afraid to change colleges to pursue her acting dream. We exchanged a dozen or so emails and I researched information to help her make the change and then wrote to her while she made the shift. In her final note in a comment on 8WD, she wrote that she had successfully been accepted into a university drama department and she was living her dream.

It was one of the most personally satisfying experiences I’ve ever had with 8WD. But there haven’t been more. And honestly, I cannot tell you if a reader has a successful blog because of what she read here on 8WD.

13. You think you deserve more traffic than you’re getting.

Jon says, “I used to feel annoyed that no one appreciated the value of the knowledge that I was giving away for free and it took several years of struggling to realize no one is entitled to attention. You have to earn it, day in and day out. No exceptions.”

To be honest here, I set the bar rather low for 8WD. I once thought that it would be awesome if we hit 100,000 page views in a year … now we do that in a month.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d like even more traffic, but I agree that traffic is something you earn over years of hard work and quality content.

14. You have a science, engineering, or technology background.

Jon says, “I know, it sounds horribly prejudiced. But here’s the deal: scientists, engineers, and other types of technologists are trained to be objective, passive, and detached — all three of which will destroy you as a blogger.”

This one caused me to clinch my butt-cheeks. Because, you see, I have a technology background.

Gulp, but I did start my life out as a writer…

I get where Jon is going with this: you cannot be afraid to hang it all out there as a blogger. You have to be willing to take big risks with your writing and your writing has to be emotional when you are writing it or you will feel detached to the reader.

15. You’ve never read a book on copy-writing.

Jon says, “Writing a blog post without studying copy-writing is like hunting for buried treasure without a map. You might be able to do it, but you’ll have to get astoundingly lucky.”

Luckily, I’ve studied Dan Kennedy for years and I have the battered copy-writing books by my computer to prove it. Blogging is half copy-writing. A great blog post follows this sequence: First comes arousal, then interest, then desire, then action. It’s hard for many bloggers to write this way because their college English professors didn’t teach them how to write for the Internet.

And yes, I bug the other 8WD bloggers to do this every chance I get — whether they find it annoying, or not.

16. You have no idea what keeps your readers up at night.

Jon says, “Great writing is about intimacy, and nothing is more intimate than knowing what keeps your readers up at night. Find out what makes them afraid, find out what makes them excited, find out what’s going through their minds at 2 a.m.”

This is such a great statement that I hardly know what to write here, but I do know that very few of the bloggers on 8 Women dream could answer this question about their readers. I wish I could tell you differently and it’s not because they don’t care. I think it’s because no one has ever put it to them quite like Jon has.

My reader is frustrated because no one is reading her blog and she wants to know what she is doing wrong, thrown in with a dose of inspiration. But I should know more about them, shouldn’t I?

17. You write less than 1,000 words per day.

Jon says, “Of all the warning signs, this is probably the biggest. If you’re not writing at least 1,000 words per day, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to write anything but mediocre content.”

I agree with this 100%. I can always tell when any of the bloggers on 8 Women Dream are not writing more than just their post day. Their writing doesn’t flow. I write 1,000 words (or more) every single day — 6 days a week. Toxic Mom Toolkit owner and former NYTimes Co journalist, Rayne Wolfe taught me this while she was writing for 8 Women Dream.

18. You read less than 10 hours per week.

Jon says, “Reading exposes you to different writing styles to learn from; it gives you new stories and metaphors; it keeps you abreast of what’s going on in your field.”

Most everyone on 8 Women Dream are veracious readers, so I don’ think that this could be part of the reason that 8 Women Dream could suck.

19. You’ve never talked to a reader on the phone or in person.

Jon says, “A one-hour conversation with one of your most ardent readers will teach you more about how to communicate with your audience than anything else you can do.”

I’ve had quite a few conversations with 8 Women Dream readers, but I can bet that I have fellow dreamers here who have never talked to an 8WD reader who wasn’t a friend or family member.

20. You’ve been blogging for less than six months.

Jon says, “If you’ve been blogging for less than six months, there’s almost nothing you can do; your content is going to suck to some degree.”

We’re lucky to have time on our side here on 8WD. Most of us have been at this 3 years or more and this is the reason why I’ve become more particular about what I allow on 8 Women Dream and who I allow to write it.

So there you go. There are 20 reasons why 8 Women Dream may suck. These are the issues I must work through every single day, just as each of the writers on 8 Women Dream need to work through them too so that we are all on the same page: providing you with the very best stories about dreaming on the Internet.

And if you are curious as to why I chose to work “suck” in to the title –

I am always thinking about marketing when I write a blog post.  The number 1 way to find out if a website or a person is hated is to Google their name with the word “sucks” behind it.  Search will return anything negative written about them on the web.

Now this post will show up in search when someone wants to know anything negative about 8 Women Dream. I’ve just added something to our own PR.

So what do you think? Do you think 8 Women Dream sucks?


  • Josie

    Hi. I was researching graphic design and came across this post of yours: It says you yourself are a graphic designer. I know nothing about graphic design and I do not mean to insult your work, but as a graphic designer shouldn’t you have a little more attractive webpage layout? It’s not very engaging or original, I have to admit. Logo’s not bad, but the rest of it could use some zest. Visual appeal is personally important to me as a reader.

  • Iman Woods

    I often read from my iphone and its a bit hard to navigate the comment module on my phone. So if its a Facebook post I’ll “like” and comment/share because its easier. So perhaps a friendlier comment module on mobile? Many times I’ve been blown away by a blog, but didn’t take the time to comment. I’ll make sure I comment for future.

    And for the record: everyone has room to grow, but 8 Women Dream is the opposite of such. ;) Brilliant marketing maneuver. I’ll be re-reading this and try to apply his suggestions to my own blog which rarely sees comments.

    •  I think we need to update Disqus – I’ll check into it and we can test it.  Thanks for letting me know that – you are the best!

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  • Caroline

    I’m glad to hear that, Catherine, but I never knew, so I never tried to comment again until today.  Part of the problem may be that others also gave up trying to comment because of the former troubles.  

    • Cath

      Caroline – you are wonderful to let me know this.  I think you have given me my idea for next Sunday night’s post with your name :-) because you are doing EXACTLY what I had hoped readers would tell me without fear.  Thank you so very much for caring enough to call me out on this.  

  • Caroline

    Considering that about a year ago, I contacted you regarding the comments sections being locked all the time and you told me it was to prevent spam, I am very surprised that you are lamenting the lack of comments.  I, for one, just gave up trying.  On a positive note, though, I love the addition of Maria.  Her posts are heartfelt and well-written and I look forward to her posts every week.

    • Thank you Caroline.  Actually, you are the reason I went on a search for a comment solution because what WordPress provides was not doing the trick — it is just plain awful.  I was spending an hour or more a day just cleaning spam and spam hack attacks.  I couldn’t justify spending time away from my son to be a comment cleaner :) so I had to shut it down until a more viable solution could be found.  I work with a company whose IT department had the same problem and found the solution through Disqus.  I watched how it worked for them and decided to install it as a solution.  It works outside WordPress you can track your comments that you leave across the Internet.  Thank you for caring enough to give feedback Caroline, which in turn, has made the 8WD experience better.  Thank you.


  • Nunyabidness

    Consider Lisa Powell Graham’s: How to Publish a Bestseller blog post title.   Has she authored a book yet? All her posts are generic cheers full of platitudes and cliches.  There, now you have some hate mail. 

    • Actually Nunyabidness, it’s not my first hate mail, but I appreciate the feedback from Tuscon, Arizona (.gov).