I just spent an hour and a half working on a blog post that I eventually gave up on and deleted.
This happens to me on a weekly basis. I get an idea for something to write about, spend an hour or two trying to figure out exactly what I want to say and how to say it, write several hundred or even a thousand words… And then realize that it’s just not something I want to publish on my blog.
WHY do I reject my own blog posts, and why is it imperative that you do the same?
(And just so you know, this isn’t a very skimmable post. You really need to read this one through for everything to make sense.)
Why do I reject my own blog posts? (And why you should, too!)
I’ve set a high standard for the posts on this blog. That’s why my guest posting policy might seem brutal. But I assure you, I’m much more brutal with myself.
I try to make every single post on this blog to be as awesome and valuable as possible. There are too many blogs that have very varied content. Sometimes you’ll get an amazing post but most of the time the posts are just… meh. Standard.
But the blogosphere is too saturated right now. There are too many “standard” blogs with “standard” posts. To get noticed, you’ve got to have unique content. Differentiation is the key to a successful blog, and that differentiation is noticed, appreciated, and valued most when it’s seen in your content (as opposed to uniqueness in design or name or something like that).
Does that make sense? In other words, your blog posts need to be better than everyone else’s. Otherwise, you’ll just be adding to the blogosphere’s cemetery.
[Note: Most of the above section is geared toward the blogger who is looking to eventually monetize his/her blog, not the purely recreational or personal blogger. For that, you can write about whatever the crap you want.]
My criteria for choosing what to write about
So that’s generally why I reject posts, but let’s now get into specifics. Let me first go through the criteria I go through when choosing what to write about. It’s pretty basic. Every post I write has to be
- relevant to my audience
- better than what other people are writing on the subject
And… I think that’s it. In my experience, if whatever I write meets the first two criteria, it usually automatically also meets the last three.
My process for writing blog posts
So if I go through all of that, how is it that I can write blog posts that I still don’t end up publishing here?
To answer that question (I know I know, but bear with me here and this will all be tidied up by the end of the post), I first need to take you part of the way through the process I go through when writing my posts.
I have a large list of things I want to blog about here on Blogging Bookshelf. There are 200+ potential posts on the list and it grows every day. Here’s the thing, though. Not every idea is a good one. Some of them just plain suck. But by writing down everything that comes to me, I make sure none of the good ideas fall through the cracks. I figure that out of the sheer volume of ideas there, SOMETHING will jump out of me and be really good.
That SOMETHING generally meets all 5 of the requirements I mentioned in the previous section. So far, so good.
But wait… Even MORE reasons I won’t publish something on my blog
Then I make a quick outline of the post in Word or just start writing, and this is where I start running into trouble. I realize (sometimes later rather than sooner) that just because it meets the 5 requirements I have for blog posts, that doesn’t mean it’s something I should write. Sometimes I realize that I simply don’t want to write about the subject. Just not in the mood, you know? Or the post might require more research than I currently have time for.
Other times I realize that I have less to say on the subject than I originally thought. My posts in the last month or two haven’t been quite as long as they were when this blog first started (mainly because it takes a REALLY long time to write those posts), but I still don’t like publishing something if it’s only a few hundred words long.
Occasionally I realize that I can’t really add much to what others have said on the subject, so I don’t bother. I know I don’t like reading “common knowledge” blogging posts, and I’m sure you don’t either.
And finally, sometimes I realize while I’m writing that the post does indeed violate one of my 5 rules for my posts. Oh well.
What should you do with rejected blog posts?
Ok, you’ve gone through all of this and realized that your post just isn’t a good fit for your blog for whatever reason. What do you do with it then?
First off, I always keep the ideas on my main list, even if I try to write the post and it doesn’t pan out. Because even if I can’t come up with a good post for an idea now, I might be able to in the future. Or there’s a chance that I’ll look at that idea in the future and it will help me think of something else that I could write about.
If I’ve written only a few hundred words on the aborted subject, I’ll usually just delete everything and not save any of it. Anything that’s just a few hundred words probably isn’t going to be too profound and I’d be able to duplicate those words again pretty easily if I ever needed to.
And finally, if I’ve written an entire post but am not happy with it for some reason (yes, this happens), I do one of a few things:
- Sometimes I’ll save the post and revisit it later to see if I can add something to it or change it. I’ve salvaged a few posts this way.
- I might submit it as a guest post for another blog. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t.
- Something I write might just be so lame or terrible that it’s not worth publishing anywhere. If this is the case, I trash it.
Having said all of that, let’s keep things in perspective here. In the end, the occasional not-so-great blog post will not bring down your blog. Your blog is NOT only as strong as its weakest link. Your blog is as strong as the average strength of your posts. And THAT is why you need to be consistently picky with what you publish. One above-average post every once in a while isn’t going to be enough to keep your sinking blog buoyant.
- I’m guessing most bloggers have unwritten criteria for their blog’s content. In your comment, write them out. This will help you with guest posts (you can even post it on your guest posting page if you have one) and with the posts that you write.
- Have you ever rejected one of your own posts?
- If you HAVE rejected your own posts, how often does it happen, and what have you done with them?
- What kinds of posts do you NOT like seeing on other blogs?