Successful Blogging – 5 Tips for Writing With Confidence

This post was guest blogged by Steven York of seopher.com.

The world has literally millions of bloggers competing against one another (Technorati alone claims to track 112.8 million of them). So how can you automatically give value to your writing? Easy, just write with confidence. Most people assume writing with confidence is all about your use of language but that’s not even half the story.

Let me explain this in a way that you’ll certainly have experienced; you’re reading a post about “how to get more traffic” yet the next post is about “I got 1,000 visitors yesterday”. Suddenly the credibility of the information in the first post is sullied by the user’s inherent lack of confidence. A user who is excited about 1,000 users is unlikely to have a lot of traffic – therefore their advice on the topic loses value. Here are my 5 tips on writing with confidence.

#1 – Don’t Ever Talk About Being Dugg/Reddited/Stumbled

Unless you’re being featured in the national press don’t discuss the exposure you’re getting unless it’s topical; otherwise it completely detracts from the message you’re giving. Bad bloggers talk about “I received 2,000 visitors yesterday from Digg”, good bloggers talk about “How to leverage Digg for traffic”. Showing your excitement about bursts of traffic shows your inexperience and stops your information being reputable.

#2 – Don’t Disclose Failure Unless It’s To Make a Point

While failure helps you to be seen as “real” to your anonymous reader it can also make your readers doubt your abilities. This is especially true in the professional blogging field – Shoemoney didn’t become famous by showing you his smallest Google Adsense cheque did he? No, he shows you a massive one and suddenly his advice means something. So unless you’re trying to make a point (e.g. why making money online is hard) don’t discuss your failures.

#3 – Shout About Your Successes

While I don’t recommend disclosing your failures it doesn’t mean you can’t shout your successes. As I stated above, you become reputable by proving that you know what you’re taking about. When Shoemoney posted the picture of him and his biggest Adsense cheque he suddenly gained credibility within the “make money online” field. The best way to introduce your successes naturally is to use them as case studies: if you’re an SEO analayst then you can explain “how I got [x] to #1 on Google for [whatever]”. If you’re talking about how to make money online, then explain “how I made $10,000 this month”. Just make sure your success is worthy of being bragged about – otherwise you’re going to be that inconfident blogger again shouting about his 1,000 visitors from Digg.

#4 – Write with Authority

Ambiguity doesn’t inspire. Professionals don’t offer uncertain advice – they have given it many times before and know exactly what they’re saying. Your blogging needs to become more like this. If you’re explaining “how to get more traffic”, a confident blogger will write specifically how to leverage various sites and mechanisms as if they have done it before. A blogger lacking confidence will offer suggestions explaining that you “might do quite well” if you get Dugg. This leads me onto my next point:

#5 – You Don’t Need To Tell The Truth All The Time

If you’re feeling evil you can use confident language to make it seem as if you’re experienced in a field you are not (while I don’t advocate this). It’s entirely possible for you to write about “how to get Dugg” without ever having experienced it. You can read other blogs and collate this use this information to add authority to your own musings. So if you are lacking confidence on a given topic it pays to research it properly rather than express your inexperience.

There you have it, 5 tips to write more confidently. But don’t just limit them to your blogging, these can be used in any aspect of your life. If you speak (and write) with authority and confidence then people will pay attention. When was the last time you read a blog by a famous writer that lacked confidence? Exactly.


88 thoughts on “Successful Blogging – 5 Tips for Writing With Confidence”

  1. Some very nice methods added above, will try to incorporate them in my posts and my vblogs.

    1. I would hope you read the responses before implementing too many of these. These methods will put your blog and your reputation in a risky position.

      1. Alan Johnson says:

        I agree with #4 but aside from that one, I have to say that the rest of the points are debatable to say the least.

        Alan Johnson

        1. It depends on the situation but yeah, for the most part I’d agree with #4. However, #5 sort of overshadows that and I certainly would not recommend lying to your readers.

    2. HostingCow says:

      Fifth tip is pretty catchy.. You CAN lie to your readers, but you have to do it the right way. If you lie about something that you aren`t really experienced with, you might get caught by a reader who knows more about that subject than you.. If you get caught, you are declared as a lier and it`s gonna be impossible to show your readers that you are honest on other subjects.. so be careful..

  2. Another posting on how to blog/live your life… why not use a different style of writing to convey the same points? It’s not hard to do.

    Kenneth

    1. Collin LaHay says:

      I agree.

      For the record, #1 and #3 are completely controdicting eachother. I do not agree with you for #1 because when I received 80,000 visitors from Digg I had over 25 emails asking for stats… which was about 20% of my readership at that time.

      Your #5 is just bad advice too… why would you pretend to be an expert on a subject you know nothing about? You could end up having your readers lose a lot of money depending on the topic you were writing about. #5 all boils down to the thousands of clone-bloggers who rehash the same information… you are only making the top bloggers stand out more. Be creative… be unique… be an authority. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

      -Just my 2 cents.

      1. in order to be successful sometimes you need to project an image of success. Despite what your actualities are. Watch the movie Pursuit out happiness for an example.

        1. Kym Huynh says:

          Great comment. Dress for the part you want to be promoted too. ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. Seopher says:

            Exactly, that’s what I was trying to convey. Sitting at the bottom of the pile and continuing to act like it won’t get you anywhere.

            Thanks for the comments.

          2. Dressing the part and lying are two different things. In an interview if you dress the part you might get hired. If you lie, you risk being fired when it’s discovered.

    2. yea you could definately use some of these tips in life.

  3. Justin says:

    Very nice comment I am a new blogger so It will help a lot

  4. Will says:

    Nice tips man. This is the stuff I need to work on my blog.

  5. alanj878 says:

    It is true people do not want to hear about your negative or not so important they dumbfounded by success like how for instance got o to the top of digg. Not the bad experiences I am experiencing now. On the road to success never talk about the bad things until you get where you want to be and then publish a book or a money making blog.
    http://livelymoney.blogspot.com/ , alanj878

  6. alanj878 says:

    The road to success is paved with gold not pyrite so you should embrace success in front of others and keep failures secret until you write a book

  7. Awesome tips. Just when i was about to write about my failures in the past as an affiliate marketer…guess that wont happen now. (yes it will…)

  8. Nice Tips for new bloggers and well said too ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  9. dcr says:

    When I write with confidence, my traffic increases tenfold!

    No, not really. But I bet that got your attention, didn’t it? Thus validating this post for all those people that say John Chow doesn’t post anything worthwhile anymore. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You see, it’s not all just lunch and booth babes and cars no one can afford!

  10. nithin says:

    Hey you really got to the point. I often think that its not that much interesting to talk about the number of times we got digged and all unless we broke any record on them.

    But many sites think this as a success and as you told share your success so they even talk about the number of times they got digged and stumbled.

  11. Darren Rowse says:

    Steven – I respectfully disagree with most of your points:

    1. Talking about being Dugg/Stumbled etc can actually be a good move strategically. By mentioning it you introduce your regular readers to social bookmarking. I did this a couple of months ago on my photography blog and mentioned that the day before I’d had a lot of new readers from StumbleUpon and Digg. What I found is that most of my loyal readers had never heard of StumbleUpon or Digg before but many signed up to them that day. The next day I had massive traffic as a result of loyal readers submitting posts from my archives. I didn’t tell them to do it and only mentioned social bookmarking in passing but it was enough to get a lot of new readers using the tools.

    2. Disclosing failure is something that I think is important on a blog for numerous reasons. It makes you more relatable, it gives you something to build on when you teach how things SHOULD be done and it can show real character and transparency to your readers. I find that when I talk of my weaknesses or failures that many readers email me and comment thanking me for showing that side of things.

    3. Shouting about your Successes – I partly agree with you here but only to a point. If you don’t talk about your successes to some degree they might go unnoticed – but when you ‘shout’ about them you can actually hurt your reputation. Constantly talking about how well you’ve done things can alienate readers who don’t achieve what you’ve achieved and it can come off as arrogant. I’ve seen numerous bloggers lose audience over being perceived in this way. I do agree with your words about using case studies to highlight your successes as this is a more helpful way to share them – but just be careful about doing it too often.

    4. Authority – I agree with this point the most, although think that there is room for ambiguity on a blog. If you’re not sure about something – I wouldn’t recommend saying that you are or you could end up being caught out by readers. Authoritative statements that turn out to be wrong can hurt your reputation. It’s about being transparent – but also about covering your butt if you’re wrong. Yes do blog with authority but only when you are an authority.

    5. ‘You Don’t Need to Tell the Truth all the Time’ – Again I’m not so sure on this. While it is possible to write about something that you’ve never experienced I generally find that it’s more powerful to disclose your experience level on a topic. Again it’s about transparency – but also about connecting with your readers. Perhaps you’re different to me but I’d much rather read someone tell me how they’re trying something as a beginner than read something by someone who presents themselves as a know it all who obviously has little idea of what they’re saying.

    I don’t mean to pick on your post – but what worries me about the style of blogging that you’re describing is that if people follow it they could end up hurting their reputation. While some bloggers might well get away with some of it – if you’re looking to build a blog with a long term profile in a niche and that is respected as a credible and authoritative source then I think a blogger needs to really consider the impact of taking this kind of advice.

    1. Collin LaHay says:

      I completely agree.

      I only posted a quick response of my opinion (see above) because I did not want to intrude on your guest post, but it looks like Darren went the whole 9 yards that I was thinking to myself but didn’t publish.

      My main point is that with 500 people following your blog I would hope you would not pretend to be an expert and end up costing them their reputation (like Darren stated), or their money (like I stated above).

    2. Seopher says:

      Darren, re:#2
      What I meant is that if you’re explaining failure to make a point then that’s fine (as you highlight, if someone is learning something then failure makes them real). But shouting your failures more than your successes may make you seem real but it does negate the authority of your advice.

      #5
      I don’t advise people to “bluff” their understanding of topics but there’s certainly arguments for doing so. No one wants to read about people learning to use social networking because it’s been done so many times before – and that’s the enemy.

      Like I said, 112 million blogs are competing for readers and by doing something painfully ordinary (because you know no different) won’t win you readers.

      Maybe it wasn’t my best post but I think some valid points were made. Thanks for the feedback though Darren.

      1. I’d have to disagree with you again on. It’s simply false that people don’t want to read about others learning to use social networks or whatever the case may be. If you don’t know it, chances are there are a lot of other people out there that don’t know it as well and watching someone learn the process might very well be interesting to them.

        You seem to be operating under the assumption that everyone will have read other peoples’ posts on the subject. In my experience assuming your readers have read or encountered something is often a mistake unless you’ve presented it on your own blog (and sometimes not even then).

        1. I have to agree with that. I was almost completely ignorant of the point of social networking up until about 6 months ago. It was because I read about it on several different blogs and in magazines that the light finally came on. I always welcome a better explanation of a topic.

  12. caplondon says:

    Good tips and information for us to remember. They are simple, but easy to forget!!

  13. My thoughts exactly when it comes to writing. Keep powerful, authoritative writing no matter what niche you’re in. Otherwise you’ll seem like you don’t know jack squat. ๐Ÿ˜

    1. Alan Johnson says:

      The point about writing with authority is the only one I agree with. You always need to know what your doing and write in a style which reflects just that.

      Alan Johnson

  14. Nice post. I need to follow #4 more often.

  15. Good post Steven, I enjoyed reading your point of view. I also enjoyed reading Darren’s point of view. Very nice โ—

  16. I think Steven didn’t follow #4 here. I think your authority suffered from this post. The authoritative statements came out wrong and many bloggers will make a lot of mistakes if they follow your advice.

    On the other hand, this post is a great way of starting a debate ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Nice post you got there, definitely something worth reading..

  18. CatherineL says:

    Hi Steven – interesting post. So in which situations exactly would you encourage people to lie?

    1. Seopher says:

      It maybe came out wrong, I’m not advocating “stretching the truth” but John always errs on the side of evil so I included it for this post.

      If you’re blogging about SEO for example it’d be inexcusable for you to not understand things like Latent Semantic Indexing, but what if you don’t actually know it at all? Sometimes avoiding the topic isn’t an option so you can stretch the truth a little.

      It’s a desirable skill in life to be able to “blag” things and to assume the blogging world is different would be naive I think. Still, it’s better to be honest (like I am on Seopher.com, look for the posts where I talk about my PPC failures) but to write with confidence you certainly don’t want to concede things like that.

  19. Steven, I respectfully disagree with most of what you’re saying. I think that it’s a better policy to be completely transparent as a blogger, admitting to both what you know and what you don’t know.

    Your tactics sound like posturing, which I agree can be a successful approach to use on people who are less inclined to investigate both sides of an issue… however, in our industry, people are too well educated to be bulldozed by fast talking. It’s way too easy to check your background in any number of ways to see if social proof backs up your supposed confidence.

    I do agree that maybe 9 out of 10 people may be too lazy to conduct such an investigation, but I know bloggers who are aggressive enough to make a name for themselves by “outing” people who posture themselves too strongly. I’d be careful about using tactics like posturing on my own readers…

    1. Seopher says:

      Lying to your readers is bad if you’re trying to make a honest blogger out of yourself. But it’s a VERY competitive market and sometimes the truth isn’t wrapped with the glamour that attracts readers. People need sensationalist material to remain interested. What would you rather read? “How to attract 50 readers a day” vs. “How to attract 5,000 readers a day”?

      If you’re going to be “that” kind of blogger you absolutely need to ooze this confidence and stretch the boundaries of truth until you’ve got unparalled success to inspire your audience with.

      Maybe I should rename myself to “Devil’s Advocate”

      1. That same argument would mean that it would be ok for newspapers or magazines to print false stories and lies on a regular basis. Before long, they’d end up the national enquirer.

        In blogging your reputation is all you have and if you ruin it by lying to your readers, you won’t have anything left no matter how much confidence you portray.

  20. yea i found this advice a bit one sided but this posting is a much more complete posting when you read it then read Darren Rowse’s rebuttal post.

    1. How is it more complete? This is flat out bad advice and it’s presented as THE way to blog. On the other hand, Darren’s response was presented as what he believes but allows that there are other ways to do things.

      1. its more complete when you read the comments and see Darren Rowse rebuttal. Because the comments are a part of the posting, (this is a blog), Darren’s comments (counter argument) made it more complete.

        1. Oh, got ya. Yeah, I agree having Darren’s point of view as a counter point definitely made this an interesting conversation about the issue.

  21. KiwiPulse says:

    Great advices for beginner bloggers. I can’t agree with you about that zillions of bloggers are competing each others. Do you see any challenge anywhere? I don’t see any blogger in the blogsphere b#tching eachother. I see people blogging, posting articles daily, communicating, sharing advices and donuts but competing against one another! ๐Ÿ™„

    1. Interestingly enough, I agree that in some sense bloggers are competing against each other. We all want readers and unfortunately, those readers have a limited amount of time they’ll spend reading blogs each day. If you get them and I don’t that seems to be a competition to me.

      Conversely, I disagree this is great advice. I think it’s a good way to get yourself in trouble, and put yourself behind before you even get started.

  22. When trying to lie about your expertise, it’s good to remember what Abraham Lincoln said, “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

    1. How right he was. And if you can’t get away with it, why even try in the first place?

      1. Alan Johnson says:

        Exactly, lying to your readers is the worst “business model” you could possibly have. Lying to them shows lack of respect and, under such circumstances, why on Earth would readers want to follow your blog on a regular basis?

        Alan Johnson

  23. Asela says:

    After reading this article, I feel like sharing some good news of my own of how my blog is ranked No. 1 on Google.com for “John Chow dot Com Entrepreneur“.

    1. Asela says:

      Surprisingly! I am also ranked No.1 on Google.com for “Sri Lanka Dot Com Entrepreneur“.

      1. Fantastic! Guess how many people will find your blog using those keywords…exactly ZERO!

        1. Asela says:

          I seriously don’t believe that you still think that the world revolved around the USA. There are so many more countries around the world that do so much better that you do; its just that you Americans seem to steal all the people with the best brains and claim as your own to gain recognition and prove to the world that you are so much more superior and more powerful than anyone else… that totally sucks!

          1. Dude, you are a spammer, LEAVE!

          2. Asela says:

            The double post was a result of an accidental refresh… FYI there is nothing you anyone else can do to make me leave! So deal with it dude!

    2. Asela says:

      Surprisingly! I am also ranked No.1 on Google.com for “Sri Lanka Dot Com Entrepreneur“. :mrgreen:

      1. Collin LaHay says:

        Spam much?

        Those are non competitive terms…

        1. Asela says:

          Same goes for you buddy! Just because you think you were born in USA doesn’t mean you are more superior than anyone else in this world!

          1. Collin LaHay says:

            What Blogger Confession and I said has NOTHING to do with your race… and yet you make a blog post calling me a racist…

          2. Asela says:

            Hmmm… do I need to quote??? Although some of you may be so high up that you forget that at some point in your blogging life, you too were impressed with something as little as mine!!! As for racism, I don’t think anyone in USA or Canada ever takes seriously what the rest of the world does however more great it may be… so yeah… I will stick by it! The only thing everyone can really do is… live with it and give other some gratitude for atleast trying…

        2. Asela says:

          Although John Chow is not from Canada or USA…. he seems to have done pretty well for himself… I don’t think he got to where he is by forgetting where he came from!!!

  24. Henry says:

    I just got a real job that pays consistently week to week doing exactly what I love.

  25. I think my blog is a perfect example of the fact that you don’t need any of these points to be successful. I talk about hitting the front page of Digg (which is a hell of a lot more than 2k visitors by the way), I have a semi-regular feature called “Learn from My Mistakes”, I try not to toot my own horn at every new milestone, on more than one occasion I state that I’m just trying something out and I’m not sure whether it will work or not, and I always tell the truth.

    While I’m certainly not as successful as John Chow, I am happy with where my blog is at. Plus I don’t have to worry about being found out as a fraud. I think that’s the way to go.

  26. I have to disagree with points 2 and 5 in some respects.

    On # 2 – When you disclose your failures it just helps other bloggers relate to you better. Not everybody makes $25K per month like John does, people need to know the road to blogging and affiliate riches can be fraught with deep valleys.

    On # 5 – Dude, the blogosphere is filled with posers, we don’t need more. I think people want to read genuine information from bloggers or marketers that have gone through the experience. While you don’t need to have first hand knowledge of some things, a little experience in the field makes your writing more believable. Take a ride through Entrecard and see how many blogs are named “So And So Expert SEO Advice” and then see that they have no idea what they’re taking about.

    That’s why I call my blog Affiliate Confession, because I’m doing my best to be honest about the journey.

  27. Monsenior says:

    Ok this is great i want your post more on blogging. http://www.money-on-blog-easy.blogspot.com

  28. The article is well written and has some really good (valid) points. But what makes me bookmark this post is the comments from the readers that go more indepth in the subject and explain each point from their own experience and opinion.

    1. Will says:

      lol yea. looks like some stuff got a little heated as well.

    2. Alan Johnson says:

      Exactly, even if the points mentioned in the article are not exactly valid, a reader has a lot to learn from the “comments” section, where quite a productive debate is taking place.

      Alan Johnson

  29. Nice article, great points.

    Great response to, was nice to see the other side of things. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Rebecca says:

    This is good. I am learning that even small things add up over time. I am ready for the google update, the predictions for all of my blogs look very promising.

  31. youfoundjake says:

    What we think about, we bring about.
    Speak it into existance.
    ’nuff said.

  32. Sheff says:

    Funny you should talk about this today. Because I was thinking about writing about my last article getting dugg. I guess there’s some good karma going on here.

  33. I find I write more interestinglier if I’m just being myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Alan Johnson says:

    Steven, I have to especially disagree with “#1 – Donโ€™t Ever Talk About Being Dugg/Reddited/Stumbled” and “#5 – You Donโ€™t Need To Tell The Truth All The Time” here.

    You are basically stating that bloggers should not talk about their small successes.

    Do all blogs start with tens of thousands of daily unique visits? I didn’t think so. Did this blog start that way? Of course not, but that hasn’t kept John from sharing his blog income graphs and referring to every one of his achievements, no matter how insignificant they appear compared to the blog’s current status.

    Blogging is all about sharing your experience, think about it: if you are teaching others how to make money online and don’t disclose your own stats or, even more so, lie to your readers, as you suggest in point #5, what do you think the results will be?

    Your readers will end up thinking that a website has to be successful right away. They launch their own project and, big surprise, overnight success doesn’t come. What do they do based on your suggestions? They think that “this project is a flop, I’m giving up” just because their website isn’t successful right away.

    Is this the type of mentality you would like your readers to have?

    People need to understand that, in order to reach the 10k RSS subscribers mark, you need to have 1k RSS readers first and, in order to do that, you need to cross the 100 RSS readership barrier. You can’t just go from 0 to 10k, things simply don’t work out this way and it is your job as a blogger to help readers realize that, let them learn from your experience, that’s what blogging is all about.

    If you are serious about long-term success as a blogger, you need to provide value and not being honest with your readers is a shaky foundation for your business model to begin with.

    Let them know what you did right so that they can follow your example. Let them know what you didn’t so that they can avoid your mistakes. Share your results.

    John Chow has shared his experience every step of the way, so has Darren Rowse and so have most successful bloggers out there, just check a few of their past posts and you will realize that the fact that they have shared every step of their journey has been a major advantage and has helped them become what they are today.

    All in all:

    As a blogger who teaches others how to make money online, you need to present the facts, not mislead readers.

    Fact: all bloggers have started with a domain name, 1 visit, no RSS readers and no newsletter subscribers.

    Fact: your website makes no exception.

    Fact: success doesn’t come overnight, you need to take things one step at a time

    As a blogger, the same facts are valid in your case as well, why would you want your readers to think otherwise? Why would you not want to share your success with them? Why would you want to mislead?

    Steven, I hope you will take this as constructive criticism and not act according to point #2, where you’ve advised against telling people that you’re wrong. Sometimes, you just have to admit when you’ve made a mistake, there’s nothing wrong with it as long as there is something to learn from that situation.

    Best wishes,

    Alan Johnson

  35. I agree, blogging is more personal and you should be telling people about your own situation instead of just trumpeting the successes. With lots of blogs, people are looking to read about other people’s experience whether it be success or failure. Personal blogs are different from blogs that run by major corporations (they try to keep theirs more commercial and wont talk a lot about failures). If I was interested in reading the blog of a fortune 500 company, I could find that as well.

  36. Seopher says:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve published an editorial on seopher.com explaining what I was thinking.
    http://www.seopher.com/articles/a_few_lessons_in_blogging_from_the_past_24_hours

    1. dude, you didnt follow your own advice and you admitted you were feeling sheepish after that. Also I noticed your comments dont allow people to link their own blog so it isnt as useful as the comments on other blogs.

  37. thats a good way to linkbait Seopher ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  38. Mike Huang says:

    Wow! This is my read of the day ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep up the good work!

    -Mike

  39. David Chew says:

    For what i think that people can choose not to tell everything that is true but sometimes it depends on what is the content if is something important like telling how much money you earn than many people will prefer to know the truth.

    1. Alan Johnson says:

      Even if you choose not to share things such as traffic stats, people can still check your alexa rank and, while it is not exactly relevant, it’s enough to help a person form an opinion as to how much traffic you are currently receiving.

      Alan Johnson

  40. Duckeldanny says:

    great post, thanks

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