The Value of Being Not-Awesome

Scott Stratten, who is perhaps better known as Mr. UnMarketing, has written that blogging frequency is less important than blogging impact. My interpretation of his words is that you should make every post awesome, but maybe write less often. I disagree

I blog six days a week, every week. I took a few days off over Christmas, but I started to miss the blog pretty quickly. Writing this blog has become something I do. It’s a part of my life, and I value it. No one is making me generate this much content, but I’m not about to stop. It’s something that I do because I choose to do it.

Now, it’s true that every post I create may not be as awesomely impactful as it could be. Sometimes the words come easily, and sometimes it’s a struggle to get them out. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit in this chair, and sometimes I have to force myself to leave this chair to make dinner for my children. It’s not always sunshine and roses, and not every post feels like a home run.

In spite of (or maybe because of) my struggles, I’ve learned a few things over my years of blogging. One of them is that what I think is good is not necessarily the same as what you think is good. Sometimes I write posts and waffle over publishing them, because I’m not entirely sure about them. Then I do publish them, and I get a huge response. And sometimes posts that I’m really proud of get hardly any response at all. On top of that, there are posts that get no comments but tons of page views, so people are reading but not responding. My point here is that it’s not always easy to tell which posts will be great.

The other big thing I’ve learned through blogging, and really through everything that I’ve tried, is that the way to get better at something is to show up. We improve by trying again and again and again, putting in the hours of practice, and being willing to take risks. Sometimes the risks will pay off, and sometimes we’ll look back on them two years later and wonder what we were thinking. But it’s all valuable, because by being frequently not-awesome, you get better at being awesome.

I love this blog, and I love the community surrounding it. I love that I have this space to share thoughts and ideas. I view writing blog posts as holding up my end of this bargain. I show up six days a week, I try, and I put myself out there. And then we discuss and share and connect.

In many ways, pursuing an interest like blogging is a lot like parenting. We learn as we go. We make frequent mistakes. And slowly, by showing up and investing ourselves in the process, we become better. It isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always obvious, but we become better.

I will continue to show up here regularly. I will continue to put these words up on the internet, hoping they’re awesome, but accepting that they may not be. And I will embrace the imperfections. Because they’re what make me human, and help me to grow.

What do you think? Do you think that you’re more awesome when you do something often, or when you give yourself more time to polish each work? And if you blog, how often do you blog, and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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  1. I agree with you. If I waited to only publish what I thought was (going to be) awesome, then I might not ever blog. I think the journal-ing part of blogging is why I even started, so why change that just because the blogosphere changed their view or description of blogging? And I find the more real I am, the more I reach. And sometimes I need to write a few meh days in order to get out the words for that awesome post a few days later.

    Adventures In Babywearing’s last post … This GuyMy Profile

  2. i think about this often, and even wrote a response to Scott’s post because i couldn’t get it out of my head. like you, i am a {nearly} daily writer. i think there’s something to be said for bloggers who polish every word until it shines, who edit and re-edit and don’t post that often. but- this is also a fluid medium. it’s a little different than writing a book. writing day in and day out every post isn’t going to be the BEST most interesting post, but i think i’m ok with that. it’s a process not a product.
    the grumbles’s last post … a rose by any other nameMy Profile

    • “It’s a process not a product” … I love this.

      It so much depends on what your goal is. to make money? To get one million followers by July? To get better? Proceed accordingly.

      I read stuff I wrote two years ago and it’s so much better than what I wrote today. In two years I’ll read what I wrote today and wonder why I can’t write that well again. It’s a process. And a bit of a mind game, really.

  3. I do my best to express what’s on my mind as clearly and gracefully as possible in the time I have to write, which is always much less time than I’d like to have. As a result, I can do a written post only twice — maybe three times each week. I’m happier now that I’ve actually figured out a regular schedule that I can sustain, given all my other obligations. Alas that it’s not possible for me to do it daily. But I am showing up regularly — and having that internal promise to show up on specific days each week has given me a sense of ease about the whole process.

    As for awesomeness — I’ve given up trying to predict what other people will think is awesome. As I said, I just do the best I can. Some posts that I’ve given a lot of time and thought to haven’t gotten much response. Whereas the post that’s gotten the most response (other than posts I’ve written for the Carnival of Natural Parenting) took me ten minutes to write and, what with uploading the photo & proofreading, probably twenty minutes altogether to post.
    Rachael’s last post … On My Mind- The Apocalypse Is That There Will Be No ApocalypseMy Profile

  4. The trick to getting awesome at something is to just do it really, really regularly. No “preparation,” just “doing.” And I love that you do this six days a weeks–so that I have something to read every day when I come in to work 😉
    Sarah’s last post … Do Art!My Profile

  5. i’m also a ‘just write it out’ person – if i waited for awesomeness my blog would be empty (hooray, i hear some of the peeps i’ve pissed off over the years cheer). also, awesomeness is in the eye of the beholder. what i think is awesome is ‘meh’ to someone else.
    and all the advice i’ve ever seen about writing and improving your writing is to just get down to it and write. that’s the way to learn, improve and perfect your craft
    pomomama’s last post … the real shout-out Sunday post- the Crafting my Life CourseMy Profile

  6. i couldnt agree more that much of life is showing up – and blogging is no difference. thanks for the encouragement that it’s ok to be not-awesome.

    As Woody Allen said best, and first, “showing up is eighty percent of life”
    anna’s last post … Chag Sameach! Purim fun!My Profile

  7. I’m still fairly new to blogging, but I too think it is important to write in order to get better. And I’d never think anything was good enough if I was waiting for perfection. I promise myself that if I don’t have something to say, I won’t force a post, but I try to blog 5-7 days a week.

  8. I tend to only write/tweet, etc when I have something I really want to say. The world is already filled with so much excess information, I don’t want to add to the conversation unless I feel I really need to. But I’m like that in person as well. All the same, I do agree with you that what you think is good isn’t necessarily what the audience things is good. I’ve certainly found that with my fiction. And I also think it’s true that the more your write, the better at it you get. And yet, for me personally, I find it hard to just sit in front of a blank screen and try to force it to come. I get most of my ideas while doing other things: driving, washing dishes, etc. When the ideas come, I jot them down and type them up when I can…things go so much smoother that way. I can sit down and write a 1000 word piece easier when it has already written itself in my head, than when I sit and try to force something out of nothing. But everyone has their own methods.

  9. I read somewhere that you should never give your customers (in this case, readers) LESS than what you’ve previously delivered. But giving MORE is always welcome. So in other words, if you’ve made a commitment towards blogging 6 days per week where some posts are really awesome and a few “not-awesome”, then everyone expects that from you, and you should keep it up. You’ll continue to gain readers, and everyone is happy. And if you end up blogging more often or more awesome, then all the better. But don’t suddenly go down to 3 posts per week, or more “not-awesome” than awesome. Or, everyone will be sad. Simple, right?

    I try to blog at least once per week. And oftentimes I force myself to sit in my chair and come up with SOMETHING. Other times, the posts flow freely, and I have to restrain myself from posting everything I’ve been thinking about all at once. I never like to release a post that hasn’t been fiddled and edited – yet – sometimes in an effort to get something out there (because that’s the commitment *I’ve* made) then I do release “not-awesome”. But I think that’s okay. I do believe consistency is the best. Of course, I shoot for consistently awesome. 😉
    kelly @kellynaturally’s last post … Why Should You Breastfeed Your BabyMy Profile

  10. My thoughts on blogging are similar to yours, which is why I blog 5 times per week, taking weekends off. I do have favorite blogs that are much less frequent. For me, each post being very polished is too much pressure and brings out too much of my not so healthy perfectionist side, so the way I do it suits me well.
    Happy Blogging!
    Wendy Irene’s last post … Line of Credit- Is it the Right Choice for YouMy Profile

  11. I totally agree. The only way to get better at blogging is to blog. For me that means balancing writing when I don’t want to with giving myself the freedon not to write. But I know that if I only published posts that were “quality”, or what I thought was good quality, then I would only publish a quarter of my posts. I think we need to give ourselves the freedom to put posts out there that aren’t perfect as a way of learning how to blog.

    Thanks Amber.
    Capital Mom’s last post … SuperMy Profile

    • I think the idea of blogging quantiy versus impact also speaks to a certain kind of blogging. I don’t blog my opinions about anything. My blog is my way of storytelling about life with two young kids. I don’t expect my posts to have the type of impact that an editorial post would.
      Capital Mom’s last post … SuperMy Profile

  12. I look forward to your blog everyday! I’m glad that you show up and even on the days that you think you are “not-awesome”, I want you to know that on those days, your blog of suburban life gets me through my own day. 🙂


  13. I LOVE that you are pro-frequency. it’s a BLOG for cripes sake not the New York Times! If you can’t play, experiment, goof up, pour your heart out, or do whatever the heck you want, it’s not a BLOG! I think this empasis on perfect is ridiculous. I can be an excuse for not keeping up your blog (if you are a professinal that is – anyone else can do whatever the heck they want!). Honestly, the less I blog, the less I blog – that’s how that works.


  14. No, you’re right. I try to post three or four times a week, but I probably should be aiming for six, if only because every day I skip makes it that much more difficult to force myself to do it again — I have incredibly fast-hardening blogging inertia. I do have a hysterical fear of people looking at a post I forced out and going ‘shouldn’t have bothered, honey’, but overcoming that kind of thing is why I started blogging in the first place. GOD I love teaching myself the same damned lesson OVER and OVER.
    allison’s last post … Knowing Me Knowing You – MarchMy Profile

  15. I read your blog everyday. I am impressed by your ability to write about interesting topics each day and you say it so well. I would like to be more like you.
    I love blogging, but sometimes I just can’t get it right, exactly what I want to say. I tend to post about 3 times a week and I love the creative outlet it gives me and the ability to connect with other people.
    Lisa’s last post … Lets Talk About our FeelingsMy Profile

  16. I don’t worry about awesome, I blog when time and ideas permit. Lately it’s not as much as I’d like, but that’s life. Homeschooling and a clingy toddler do not make for much quiet time, but they sure can be fun.
    Stephanie – Home with the Kids’s last post … 3 Ways to Face the Frustration of Growing Your Home BusinessMy Profile

  17. I like to sit on an idea and let it marinate for a while and then write it and then let it marinate some more before I post. So with all that marinating, I’m only able to fully cook something about two or three times a week. I would LOVE to be able to spend more time on my blog, but it just doesn’t seem to happen – work and life always seem to get in the way. I marvel at how you are able to put out quality, thoughtful and thought-provoking posts six days a week – it’s very inspiring!
    Amanda’s last post … House of Lilahbility 2011 Spring Style GuideMy Profile

  18. I am a brand new solo blogger (with no pen-name anymore to protect me) so I’m much more cautious about what I post and since I’m generating all my topics instead of being asked for something, it’s like flexing a different part of my brain-muscle. My goal is to post something every four days because I’m able to blog without compromising my real life, as I would if I commit to more often. I’m glad to read your and the others commenters’ opinions who are more “seasoned” bloggers. My hard part is to stop noticing that the stats drop significantly when I don’t post more often…

  19. I like your point. I would like to go one further and say I’m trying to post less often AND be less awesome. Or, to be more accurate, to accept my un-awesomeness and embrace it. Particularly with a new baby on the way, which is looming in my mind like a Death of My Blog Deadline, I want to get a bunch of easy-peasy posts scheduled for when I just cannot find my way out of sleep deprivation to write. It’s hard to let go of my own expectations for these things, though — whether it’s posting frequency OR posting awesomeness. I think I’ll just try the showing up when I show up (consistency be darned) and try to learn to live with that.
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama’s last post … Wordless Wednesday- Quite the snakeMy Profile

  20. I love that you post frequently and that you time after time share quality content. I really do believe that you are a top notch writer Amber. I love love love your blog. And I agree that putting a blog together involves a lot of missteps and learning but it is writing and another kind of art all at once and can be whatever you make it. I love how you’ve presented your blog and I look forward to reading it for so long as you craft it, 🙂
    Jessica’s last post … A Portrait Session With My KidsMy Profile

  21. The first year that I blogged, I wrote every day, and I believe that made a big difference to my writing. I try for five days a week now, and mostly it’s just short clips, not long thoughtful essays like yours, but that routine still matters to me.
    Lady M’s last post … Treats- Nordic StyleMy Profile

  22. I’m in the daily posting camp, myself. I thought it was excessive when I first started, but I did it anyway. Then when I started a postaday challenge, it seemed to add legitimacy to my practice and I kept going (it’s also a bit of a shield…if posting every day seems gratuitous or too much or something else negative, I can hide behind the challenge).

    I definitely think my writing has improved with my frequent blogging and just showing up, as my writing profs used to encourage us to do. I guess I could always write every day and only post those things that I think are really good. But like you, often what I think is great and what my readers think is great don’t match. So, I just post it all and let everyone else sort it out.

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