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The Difference Between Amateur and Professional Bloggers? Amateurs Have Hope But Pros Have A Formula

In a noisy world — you must find a way to stand out. Your blogging isn't a cute cat video. It isn't Chocolate Rain. It's a dream — and we can make it a reality, we just have to focus on what matters.


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Jon Brosio

5 months ago | 6 min read
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Step away from your viral dreams because virality is not a winning strategy, and that’s a good thing.

Bloggers striving to become viral make me want to dry heave.

It's not because I don't want to cheer them on and appreciate their success. It's because I can see, clear as day, that they're going about building a sustainable freedom machine using their talent, skills, and abilities the completely wrong way.

They're choosing the shortcut of instant gratification over the proven strategy of long-term prosperity.

In a noisy world — you must find a way to stand out. Your blogging isn't a cute cat video. It isn't Chocolate Rain. It's a dream — and we can make it a reality, we just have to focus on what matters.

What matters is a winning strategy — not going viral.

Too many bloggers perform this cardinal sin

Well — I see that this person has 18k followers, let me see what he has written and copy the bare bones of what he's saying. This woman has 58k followers — she has hit on a subject people like — I'll do the same.

Raise your hand if you've had some version of the thought above.

*Shamelessly raises both hands*

Why do we do this? Because we're told we should follow what works. Listen — I don't have a problem with that.

I wouldn't be on this small mound I was able to build without turning to the inspiration of others before me: the Ryan Holidays of the world. The Pressfields, the Kleons (not to be confused with Klingons), the Ravikants, and the Mansons (not Charlie).

For years I hid behind taking what they were saying and putting my vanilla spin on it.

But that's the cardinal sin: taking what others have successfully done before you and not being vulnerable enough to show your true personality.

When people join your email list — they are giving a very intimate part of their lives to you. They don't want another Business Insider article in email form.

They want to go along with the journey. They're the hero in the story. They're Frodo — you're just Gandalf showing them the way.

"Be the different writer you wish existed in the world. Not an imitation of a writer who already exists."

— Nicholas Cole

Chase tomorrow's article (or book, or product, or newsletter)

So you popped off with a viral article.

I'm shooting rockets out of my pants to help you celebrate…

What now? Are your problems solved? Are you now a successful blogger? Are you going to the book agent's office tomorrow to sign your writing advance?

Chasing the viral article is like chasing a drug-induced high. Flick the needle, slap the vein a few times to swell that puppy up, inject, and sink into Nirvana…

What happens when the next viral article doesn't come for a few days? What if it doesn't come till next month? What if you go the rest of the year and there's no next viral article?

You'll find yourself sitting on Content Platform Skid Row with the shakes. Looking for that next hit of the sweet, sweet nectar.

Only it never comes…

It's because chasing the viral doesn't work. Algorithms are too advanced for one. More importantly, there are always human eyeball organs reading what you've written.

Great content always beats an algorithm. No cap.

What should you chase instead?

How about tomorrow's blog article? The one that is 1% better than yesterday's. Not in terms of reach or traffic, but in terms of your storytelling ability.

What if you focused on getting more intimate with your audience using your next newsletter? That's where you can get to the people who want to get to know you.

Wouldn't it be great if your next article was a section of the book you're ultimately going to write? Treat it that way instead of it needing to be a viral article.

Take some pressure off yourself and get back to the purity of your writing voice.

One conversation has the power to change everything

"What's your dream?" he asked me.

I had just turned 27 years old. I couldn't think of dreaming — the restaurant I had been working at just caught fire and burned down the night before.

"What?" I asked, "I guess I don't have a dream."

"Huh…that's interesting. Because I would have thought your dream was to be a writer."

"Oh yeah — that, I guess that is a lofty dream I have — but let's be realistic."

"Jon — are you ever going to stop being so hard on yourself? Listen, we both lost our jobs last night but what's the alternative? Are you going to have a bestseller by the end of the day?

No. Are you going to have a sizable following? No. But you might have something. And writers write. That's all you have to do."

That conversation started my 30-day commitment to write every day. It was January of 2017 and I had just lost my job, I was drinking heavily, smoking cigarettes, and messing around with shady people.

Of course, the 30 days turned into 5 years of consistently writing. I'm not going to lie and tell you it was every day — because it wasn't.

I did learn an important lesson on dreaming that morning, however: Writers write. Bloggers blog. Before you can do something — you have to become someone.

Viral-ers… viral?

Nope.

Activity follows identity.

The only (boring) blogging formula you'll ever need

Amateurs rely on hope — winners follow a formula.

There's no formula for going viral — it's all hope. If you've had a viral article — you probably know what I'm talking about: the article that you write that you think will go viral falls flat, and the article that was a struggle to write that you had zero expectations for picks up a substantial reception.

Blogging isn't some Obey Propaganda T-shirt with Tim Denning's face on it that reads:

H-O-P-E.

Although — how rad would that be?

We can't rely on hope. We don't hope we'll get into a great university (if that's our goal) — we study our ass off and work hard, we join the necessary extra-curricular and take the appropriate entrance exams.

We don't hope we'll get the prettiest girl at the bar — we build ourselves into the most badass human that people want to be with.

If we can't use hope to reach our blogging goals, what's the formula we use?

(Your unique voice + content people are interested in + consistency) x number of platforms

People need you. They need your authentic voice (especially in this whacky world we're living in). You need to mesh that with the already established interests of human beings.

You must be consistent (one of the most important pieces). Finally, multiply it over the number of platforms you're on: Twitter, Quora, Medium, Substack, Facebook, Reddit, etc.

If you keep that formula operating over the long haul — the world will notice.

The universe wants you to win — you just have to prove it first.

How to win at blogging: what it really takes

Don't get swept up by the viral overnight celebrity allure and its trickery.

You're better than that.

You're better than that, your content is better than that, and your future self is better than that.

Blogging isn't about how flashy you can be, it isn't about how provocative you can be (though it might help), it isn't about how handsome or beautiful you are.

Winning at blogging is about doing the work others don't, so you can later have the life others won't. It's about giving the world the unique you that lives within. It's about choosing to be, right now, who you want to become and performing the work to get there.

When you can do all of that — just maybe, will an article pop off.

Consider it the frosting on top.

“We all love things that other people think are garbage. You have to have the courage to keep loving your garbage because what makes us unique is the diversity and breadth of our influences. Don’t feel guilty about the pleasure you take in the things you enjoy. Celebrate them.”

— Austin Kleon

Ready to make more?

If you want to excel and earn more than what you’re currently making by doing what you love — regardless of your experience — check out my guide.

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