Sure, you write a blog, but are you getting the most out of it? The old Socratic saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” applies as much to blogging as it does every other aspect of life. Yet ask bloggers whether they regularly evaluate their efforts, and you’ll find that a strong majority answers in the negative. This applies not only to the smaller players, but to A-list bloggers as well. Both are missing out on distinct opportunities.
Why Bloggers don’t Evaluate
If you’re reading this, chances are you blog or at at least thinking of blogging. If you do blog, ask yourself, why don’t you evaluate what you do? This is the one question that turned around my entire thinking on the matter. I couldn’t come up with one good reason why I wasn’t evaluating my blogs. The only remotely acceptable reason involved the ephemeral nature of blogging. Here today, gone tomorrow. Right? That turned out to be patently wrong.
While our blog posts today might not mean a lot tomorrow, the process that went into their creation means plenty. The process by which we create and write blog posts, in fact, might be the most important aspect of creating a successful blog. After all, anyone can look at the news and slap together some commentary. It takes a well thought out and disciplined process, however, to turn that into something that readers will enjoy.
In essence, the biggest reasons bloggers don’t self-evaluate is because it simply hasn’t occurred to them. It just doesn’t seem like something worthwhile enough to pursue.
Why we should evaluate
To repeat, the payoff of self-evaluation is the creation of a process. This process informs us of what works and what doesn’t. It lets us put laser focus on aspects that need improving, while letting our stronger areas coast. It means finding out what works and what doesn’t, and then working to create more content that works while avoiding the stuff that doesn’t.
If we’re able to focus on improving our weaknesses while retaining our strengths, it follows that our writing will improve. More people will notice better writing. That kind of content gets linked more often. People share it, via social media, email, and word of mouth. That exponentially increases the potential number of people reading the content. Isn’t that the whole point? Don’t we want to reach as many people as possible with our writing?
The best way to reach this critical mass of audience is to staunchly evaluate ourselves.
How to evaluate your blog
It should now be plainly clear that part of your responsibilities as a blogger is to evaluate what you create. Here’s a quick checklist of what you can do to evaluate yourself.
- Read. It’s obvious, but it’s effective. Not only is it the easiest way to evaluate, but it’s also something that few, if any, bloggers actually do. Once a week sit down, notebook in hand, and read all of your posts from the previous week. If you have a prodigious output, pick out 5 to 10 posts, making sure to select posts that were both easy and difficult to write. Read them thoroughly.
- Ask big questions. What do you like about each post? What don’t you like? What came easy? What was difficult? Does it have a clear structure? Stick with general questions like these at first. You’ll get to the tougher ones in due time.
- Read aloud. Here’s something that almost no bloggers do. Find a place where you can speak aloud without anyone hearing you and read your post. Make it slow, and make it deliberate. This is the most effective way to asses clarity. There is nothing more important writing than clarity, so you’ll want a good test for yourself. Does it make sense when you read it aloud?
- Read again. This time focus on the small things. Do your sentences flow into one another? Did you use all words correctly? Does each paragraph have a topic sentence followed by support?
All the while, you should be writing down all of your evaluations. Once you’re done, go over your notes at least once. That will help you put them strongly into the front of your mind. Then, the next morning, read them again before you start writing. That will keep them at the forefront, and will help you actively improve your writing.
The Smart Grid Process
After you evaluate your blog, you’ll start noticing trends. Some posts will be difficult to write. What do they have in common? Perhaps you struggle with certain parts of posts. Some people have a hard time writing solid intros. I can’t write a conclusion at all. Once these trends emerge, you’ll have a better idea of what needs improving and what doesn’t. From there you can create a process.
Liken this process to a smart grid. Electric companies use smart grids to send power where it’s needed, when it’s needed. To accomplish this they pull from locations that don’t need as much power at that time. That’s what you’re accomplishing by creating this process. You’re pulling from areas where you’re strong and devoting more time to working on your weaknesses. That will help you improve your overall game.
The next step is the equivalent of the electrical company upgrading its infrastructure. Your weaknesses will eventually turn into strengths if given enough attention. Then you can look for other weaknesses, perhaps ones you didn’t even notice until you improved and moved to a bigger stage. The cycle repeats, only at a higher level. And so on, until you’re top in your niche or category.
Remember, your biggest advantage over the competition is how you use your time. Spend it evaluating and improving, and you’ll get a leg up. It’s the most surefire way to blogging success, and it’s completely within your control. So what’ll it be?
Joe Pawlikowski is the editor of Prepaid Reviews, and is a staunch advocate of the smart grid system for blogging success. If you wish to write for us, kindly check out the guidelines to write a guest post.