If you’re a blogger who spends your whole day reading blogs, you’ve got a problem. But if you’ve convinced yourself surfing around the web is better for your business than knuckling down and writing, then you just might be brainwashed. I know there’s a school of thought that says you’ve got to spend all the time you can reading, absorbing, learning. But too many of those ideas are the kind of seductive, easy to believe ideas that leave new bloggers and marketers broke.
I thought I’d take a few minutes to weigh in and give you the other side of the argument – a few good reasons to put down the mouse, and pick up the keyboard.
Nobody Is Paying You To Read
What’s your goal here, seriously? Maybe you got into blogging to become the world’s most famous blog reader. People from all around the world, grabbing you and begging you to read their latest work. Maybe you imagine sipping some coffee, scrolling down the page, nodding sagely as the writer weeps a single tear of joy…
But somehow I doubt it. Look, you stated writing for a reason, right?
Maybe you wanted to build your business. Maybe you wanted to expand your social network. Maybe you wanted to share your knowledge and insight with the world. Whatever your goal is, reading blogs isn’t going to help you do ANY of it. Browsing the web is a time suck. In the time it takes to read a few articles, you can write a guest post, you can comment on other websites and email people you admire.
If you are a marketer, you can be creating products, reaching out to JV partners, supporting customers, and building your list!
You’ll Improve Faster By Actually Writing
Promoting yourself and your business takes courage, time, and every drop of energy you’ve got. And you’re not going to be perfect all the time. I’ve been in plenty of workshops, to become a better and more efficient communicator, and while there’s a little bit of reading, they don’t call them “readshops” – that’s because the best way to improve your work is to do the work, and then get feedback from other people.
Reading other people’s work won’t develop your skill as well because you’re not a perfect internal feedback mechanism. You might not understand what makes a good blog post “work”. You have biases and blindspots.
Expecting to improve as a writer exclusively from reading is like trying to become a bodybuilder by reading about Arnold Schwarzenegger. As Patti Stafford said in her entry on information overload, you’re never going to do anything perfectly. So why not start now and get your mistakes out of the way?
There’s Inspiration In The Real World
Inspiration doesn’t need to come from some other guy’s blog. We live in an interconnected, online society, and it’s easier than ever to tune out the world and soak in all the information that’s at the tip of your fingers. But believe it or not, the internet doesn’t have the entire sum of human knowledge and perspective.
My uncle died earlier this year. He was a drunk, a mooch, and he made the lives of my relatives harder by refusing to ever, ever take responsibility for himself. Over the years we grew apart, but when his heart gave out and he feel down dead in front of my shocked and hysterical grandmother, I was the guy called in to pick up the pieces.
I met the people my uncle knew, to tell them the news. Lives he’d touched – some for bad, some for good. Door to door salesmen in old folks homes with stories to tell. African garage owners who went back to the old county for two weeks vacation every other month and left my uncle in charge of the place. A fat, weary looking preacher’s wife who taught me about perfection and patience over a Sunday sympathy meal.
Now, did I learn more about marketing from those real life experiences then I would have picking at my underwear and reading numbered lists?
God, don’t we have enough people following trends and chasing them down? For every Lost, there’s a dozen executives making Invasion and Surface and The Nine and a bunch of other unmemorable shows. Now there’s nothing – absolutely nothing! – wrong with being inspired by other blogs and putting your own spin on what you’ve already seen. But there are enough mechanical aggregators and mashups and remixes.
People want to hear about you. I promise.Your unique thoughts, ideas, and life experiences have a tremendous role in your marketing if you’ll just step up and embrace YOU instead of hiding behind other people’s filtered ideas.
Most of The Internet Sucks
Your day only has 24 hours, and you’ve got to sleep sometime. That means that every action you take in this, your one life… needs to be put to the question: is the most important and most useful thing I can be doing right now? The idea of investing so much time into reading assumes that everything you’re reading is amazing, life affirming, and making you a better person.
But is that the kind of stuff you’re reading? Really? All the time?
95% of the internet is hot, wet, stinky garbage – fluff designed to amuse you, comfort you, distract you and sell you stuff.
And you’re not going to be hurt by missing it.
It’s easy and addictive to devour “popcorn content” by the handful… then read some funny comments… then watch the latest social media drama unfold. But it’s tougher to stare at a blank page and deliver something that’s helpful, useful, and lasting.
Observation and Analysis Inspire Fear
If you’ve got a goal, you don’t have time to learn about 100,000 ways to achieve the goal. Information overload sends way too many marketers to failure. We can read tons of opinions, read second guesses of those opinions, compare and contrast – but the more information we have to juggle, the harder it is to decide and move on.
But all information isn’t created equal, and the most important information is the information that we act on. So why not limit your intake to a handful of trusted sources and spend most of your time DOING what they suggest instead of giving every source equal weight? And if you’re reading in order to become a better writer, why not read great writers over and over and learn as much as you can from them?
Too much information doesn’t just create confusion – it creates fear. It tempts you with other things you could be doing. Things that sound easy and aren’t relevant to what your plan.
And hey, I get the allure. Reading a blog post is never going to scare you like closing the window and taking action can.
But if you want to grow your business, help your readers, share your story, and impress yourself with what you’re really capable of… you’ll do it anyway.