What Makes a Good Blogger? (Plus an Announcement, Which I’m Pretending You Care About)

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image courtesy of tobiabischoff

If you’ve spent a few seconds on this site, you know I’m going through a quarterlife crisis. I’ve pretty much done every self discovery exercise possible, taken all skills assessments, read my face off on career advice, begged for feedback from friends and family, and tried anything out there to figure out what to do with my life.

So at this point I probably have more self knowledge than anyone on the planet, and….yes, I’ve made a decision about my career. (Squeal!) But we’ll first talk about what you came here for: characteristics of a good blogger.

As I reviewed my talents as identified by the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment, I picked up on something: I was basically born to blog. Looking at the things I’m good at made the reason I put so much time and effort into something that pays me next to nothing very clear: my “career” as a blogger is a perfect fit for my natural strengths.*

I started wondering what other innate abilities might lead a person down a blogging path. Here’s what I came up with.

Note: I use words like “good” and “serious” and “successful” to describe a certain caliber of blogger below, but I’m aware we all have different definitions for the terms, inside the blogosphere and everywhere else. For the record, I’m thinking of people like Chris Guillebeau, Emilie Wapnick, and Penelope Trunk when I use these words. Also for the record, I do not believe any of them describe me. Yet.

And, the announcement is at the bottom. So if you don’t care about what makes a good blogger, go ahead and scroll.

AND: this is a long-ass post, so if you’re planning to skim, read “Sense of Responsibility” and “The Announcement.” I’m reading over everything right now and that’s definitely where the good stuff is.

Curiosity & Intellectual Qualities

Bloggers explore ideas, starting in their own mind. Sometimes a conclusion is reached and the concept is articulated via blog post; other times the exploration continues “out loud” in the blogger’s writing, inviting readers to contribute and build a discussion around the topic. Whatever the case, it seems to me a blogger is probably constantly wondering, pondering, reflecting…and enjoys working toward the discovery of truths. Essentially, I think good bloggers are good at thinking.

Love of Learning

If you’re perpetually looking for answers and information–as it seems most bloggers are–you probably really dig reading, researching, and just generally figuring things out. More than that, though, I think it’s quite likely the serious bloggers derive satisfaction from the process of learning itself, rather than the end goal of a definitive solution or sufficient level of understanding. Sometimes, knowledge isn’t immediately (or perhaps ever) applicable, and remarkable concepts can come together from bits of accumulated information way down the road. Someone who sets out to learn only when the destination for the data is defined probably wouldn’t be comfortable with the lack of purpose seemingly attached to the effort.

Input Habits

The folks at Strengths Finder call a knack for collecting, organizing, and archiving things “input.” This is kind of boring so I don’t really feel like writing a lot about it, but basically, it seems logical that a blogger–whom we’ve now established thinks a lot and learns a lot–would need the ability to effectively process large amounts of data in a way that makes recalling or locating them later (like for use in a blog post) relatively easy, right? There are probably several good methods out there; some are discussed in the comments section of this post.

Confidence

You put shit out there when you’re a blogger, and there are always going to be people who don’t like your shit. Always. People attacked me as a writer and as a person (which is kind of hilarious. Not that big of a deal, people.) when an an article I wrote made it to AOL’s homepage–I don’t expect this to ever go any other way. I could absolutely stand to beef up my confidence in general, but when it comes to my writing and my ideas, my skin’s a little thicker. If it weren’t, I think the backlash that comes with blogging in any meaningful way would crush me.

Doggedness & Patience

I launched Alternative Badassery in January after half-ass blogging on two other domains for about three years. I knew I wanted to take it to the next level this time–to regularly produce content, spread my message, and change lives. A little experience, a lot of prep time, and a ton of research effectively set my expectations in terms of the work ahead of me and the traction I wouldn’t be able to make quickly. I imagine the successful bloggers out there are real go-getters with tremendous amounts of patience–there are always a million things you should be doing, and often, a gigantic amount of effort does NOT yield a gigantic amount of results (especially when you’re still a no-name).

Sense of Responsibility

I mentioned I’ve been blogging for over three years–I’ve never been able to explain why. I just feel like I’m supposed to. That’s the only way I’ve ever been able to describe it that sat well with me. I feel like God gave me ideas and a way to communicate them, and I’m being a total shit head by not fulfilling my duties if I don’t write. I don’t even like writing that much when I really think about it. It’s difficult and frustrating and time-consuming and exhausting. (Really. I am worn out when I finish a post.) But if I’m not blogging, I feel like I’m procrastinating on a to-do the universe has assigned me. I can’t quit blogging when I try. I’ve tried a million times in the past. (I felt like I should just give up completely if I weren’t going to whole-ass it.) I always, always come back to it, though. I imagine the good bloggers feel this drive, too.

***

The Announcement

It may be obvious: I am committing to making Alternative Badassery my future career. I am committing to getting the products and services (ebooks! courses! consulting! so many other ideas!) I have in my head out into the world. This is both a completely logical and totally irrational decision, depending on how you look at it (good fit vs. financial security).

I gained another insight from the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment: judging from my natural talents, I’ll never find a career that’s a good fit for me. At least not in the traditional sense of the word “career.” There is no pre-packaged job out there that makes sense for Cassie. This conclusion, after the months of searching and evaluation, is now undeniable to me. I must build my own career and business.

This possibility had occurred to me before. I’ve decided before that I should work for myself…and then I started getting chicken. I started feeling silly, and started looking for a more stable option that would still be a good fit. It doesn’t exist. When I looked at my list of talents, the suspicion that doing my own thing is the answer came back. But I have so little trust in myself in terms of professional decisions–I’m scarred by my own bad career moves–that I needed someone else to confirm it. Penelope Trunk did. (Yes, I did a career coaching call with her, and yes, it’s absolutely worth the money. And even more wild than you’d imagine.) In her words, “You don’t fit in to how we pay people…”

“I think you think the whole thing’s bullshit…” she noted later in the conversation, of the attitude I have about the concept of employment. She’s right. Ultimately, if I’m being totally honest, I think almost all jobs are stupid. I think the goals of most businesses are unworthy in the scope of life, and I think the time employees spend working to fulfill them is absurd. I’ve said it before (in my newsletter) and I’ll say it again: you can’t make me believe we were put here to do things that suck.

I want to make lives better, and I want the opportunity to make every second of my life meaningful. It’s possible to make a huge impact on the world through traditional employment, sure, but that second bit–the overwhelming desire to do meaningful work only–makes it a terrible setup for me. You ask me to create a spreadsheet and I feel like I’m dying. ‘How is this improving lives????!!!!! We are not on earth to do things like this!!!!!!!’ If my feelings could talk, that’s what they’d say.

So, here we go, friends. I have so much work to do. Should be a good-ass time.

*I guess now I’m going to ditch the quotation marks.

***

Discuss

What else makes a good blogger? What role or line of work do you feel responsible to the world to fulfill?

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Your thoughts?
  1. Nicole says:

    squee! good luck!

  2. Richard says:

    Woohoo, go Casssie!
    I’ve always thought you were an amazing blogger ( I liked your old sites too) and were always bursting with energy enthusiasm and passion!

    If you ever need to pick my brain for ideas and tips please do!

    Rich

    • Cassie says:

      Thanks so much, Rich! Crazy, I’ve been thinking about you lately! I may reach out soon. Thanks so much for reading!

  3. Emilie says:

    So awesome, Cassie. I think you’re farther along than you think. I find your writing really captivating. Glad you’re getting that mindset in place though. That’s when things start happening!

    And thanks for the (humbling) shout out too. 🙂

    • Cassie says:

      I can’t sing your praises enough, Emilie! You’re an inspiration in my work and my LIFE–thanks for all you do.

  4. mary says:

    thanks for the info lady. i wish you much success 🙂 i ran across this when i was reading article on blogging. im new at this and i just want something to go along with my web store since i left the world of facebook. i havent written much since highschool(that was about 9 years ago) so im just a bit nervous about all this. haha but this post has me looking at things a lil different and i feel better about it.

    • Cassie says:

      Glad it was helpful, Mary! I’m always happy to hear someone is giving blogging a try–I really can’t say enough good things about it. Good luck!

  5. Hey! Great article. I found it by searching google for “what makes a good blogger” Congratulations on pursuing what you love to do. Ignore the “haters” and blog on!!

    -Caitlin

    • Cassie says:

      Glad you found me, Caitlin, and thanks very much!

    • Rebecca says:

      I found you the same way. Am taking a course on learning communities and we have to create a blog. What you taught me Cassie is just. To be real. I found you the same way…searching for what makes a good blogger. You’ve got good stuff here. Thank you

  6. Jon says:

    Hi there,
    Thought you would find this article interesting…
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/08/labour-markets-0

    Great post and love your website.

    Jon

    • Cassie says:

      I love this angle! I never really thought about this specific positive impact technology and automation could potentially have on employment and our lives: if we’re automating more, don’t give employees more bullshit to fill their time with–give them the time off! Love it. Thanks for sharing, Jon.

  7. I actually possess some of the qualities of a blogger. My concern right now is that, I have ideas but I cannot express them well since English is my second language. But I am going to persist and learn,learn, learn. This is what I love to do and I hope I will be successful at this.

  8. Susan says:

    Good luck Cassie…. Blogging is pretty hard IMO and I am still afraid of writing. I was just searching for something like why can’t I write and I ended up here. Anyway it was a good read 🙂

    Cya

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