How To Win at Blogging and Influence the World

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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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There’s blogging and then there’s blogging.

Believe it or not, there is a difference between the two.

I agree with blogger, Lisa Barone, who on Outspoken Media wrote a piece titled, Why I Hate Bloggers, and to quote her–

“Here’s something you may not know about me: I hate bloggers and I hate blogging …The problem is you didn’t post anything interesting. It was only your sister commenting because you were boring. You provided no value to anyone outside of your immediate family. You weren’t writing a blog. You were writing your Christmas letter to Aunt Millie. Not even your family is interested in that letter. That’s why it’s crumpled up the kitchen drawer right now.”

She continues–

“I hate bloggers because their ‘hobby’ gives my profession a bad name. We’re not doing the same thing. The thousands of words I write for different blogs on the Web each week is not the same as Molly writing about her day, attracting comments from her sister and her two best friends. But we’re lumped into the same category. And that’s why blogging is a joke. Because 95 percent of the people who blog treat it that way.”


Wasn’t it Gloria Steinem who famously said, “The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.”

And this is the ugly truth about blogging and being an online success.

When bloggers create a blog they should treat their work like it belongs in its own section of a popular magazine or newspaper. They should strive to make the content award-winning — but the problem is that too many bloggers don’t look at it this way. When many creatives decide that having a blog is something they want to try, they don’t even bother to learn anything about the online publishing medium they are about to join.

Creating a blog is more than putting words to a page and hitting the publish button.

Boy … if I only had a dollar for every time I have said this to a new blogger…

What you place online should be professionally worked through as if your site is a part of the NYTimes media group. It will serve as a representation of you and your body of work over time, so being a professional is going to take you farther on your dream journey over treating your posts like an annual family Christmas letter.

The problem that Lisa Barone (and many other top bloggers) have with the term “blogger,” is that far too many so-called bloggers treat their blog like a hobby.

There should be a different name for the other professional bloggers who spend hours learning every detail of writing and publishing online.  They are the ones who strive for personal excellence with everything they touch online. Because they get that there is a stark difference between a professional blog like the Huffington Post, and a mom showcasing on Tumblr what her children ate for dinner.

I agree with Lisa that we all get lumped together, which further dilutes the credibility of those working to showcase themselves among the very best online.

Each year at this time, I pick up the latest copy of Writer’s Market, a book considered to be the go-to guide for getting published. It’s part of a collection of books about the publishing industry that sit on my desk along with the AP Style guide.  I do this because I want to know what is happening and continue to adjust my work online.

The problem with blogs is that many first-time writers dream of landing a six-figure book deal so they turn to blogging because they think, “I should be doing this…”

It’s enough to make a girl like me scream.

After about six months or less, these new bloggers are ready to give up because no one is commenting on their articles. They’ve run out of topics to write about as they become bored with their subject.

If the above describes you, then I am here to tell you that you will never be a success online.

Because to be a success online takes a lot of work, sweat and frustration.  The only way to eventually become a  hot commodity is to learn how to be a professional.

5 Ways to be Considered a Hot Commodity and Win at Blogging

1. You need a platform. PERIOD.
Do you have a platform? You must think platform, platform, platform. Sit through any writing conference, query2014 Writer's Market by Brewer, Robert Lee any agent, lunch with any editor and you’ll hear the “P” word over and over gain. (Source: WM 2014, p 36).

2. You need cross-promotional partnerships.
You have to have a list of organizations or individuals who are ready to support you in the 20,000 plus range and this is not likes on Facebook or Twitter followers. These are living breathing people who are interacting with you. You’ve got to think big here. This is why bloggers will write for other blogs like Tiny Buddha, Copyblogger, and Huffington Post — to expand their reach and secure a large following of engaged readers.

3. You need specific, verifiable numbers proving the loyalty of your audience.
As Writer’s Market will tell you, for the big deals, you’ll need a solid base of raving fans at 100,000 with access to hundreds of thousands more. If not millions. This is why they advise that you get as much of your work out on the web in as many places as you can.

4. Media exposure.
You need on air interviews and to be featured in newspapers and magazines about what you are doing.

5. Influencers who like to rave about you.
If Oprah were to suddenly announce that she loves reading your blog, or Elisabeth Gilbert professes that your writing makes her cry, then you are getting the attention of influencers.  This will help you in securing a book deal and gain the attention of top advertising agencies.

The choice is yours to make when you decide to showcase your work online. You are the only person who is in control of your success. Treating your online dream like it’s a hobby won’t get you anything but an abandoned website and vitriol from creative-types like Lisa Barone, who working their asses off online.

If you are going to join the game, be a professional. Do the work. Learn the craft. Learn it all so that you can win at blogging or whatever it is that you want to create online.

I should add here that treating my blogging professionally has landed me paid writing gigs and landed some great jobs for several other bloggers on 8 Women Dream.  It’s worth it to give it your best.

Catherine Hughes
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  • Can we come up with our own name for professional bloggers? Blogpro, or maybe Problogger (wait, no, Darren Rowse owns that one), or how about just “insane”?

    Loved this article. Truth can be so painful, so I’m off to do the work now!