[AoB] How to Use Mental Models to Become a Better Blogger

The vast majority of blogging advice out there is tactical in nature. It teaches you how to start a blog, how to write articles, how to network and engage others, how to distribute your content, how to promote your blog on social media.

However, there are two things there are wrong with tactical advice:

  1. They never, ever take you from point A to point Z. Like I always say, the basics don’t work anymore. So mastering the basics won’t ever help you reach the blogging stratosphere. In today’s blogging ecosystem, the basics might not even be enough to get you your first 1,000 readers.
  2. They will take you from point A to point B, but only if conditions are ideal. And, you’ve probably guessed it, with a system as complex as blogging, conditions are almost never perfect. Algorythms change, there’s a new blog being released every minute or so, and there’s a lot of money exchanging hands. At times, it looks like chaos.

What are you supposed to do then?

You develop a set of strategies that you can deploy, so you can turn chaos into opportunity.

Read or Write

I love books but I’ve read very little of late. You may be asking, “If you love books, why aren’t you reading them?” A fair question. I will address it in a roundabout manner.

There must be at least a hundred unread ones on my shelves and in various piles about my home. Both my parents loved to read so I have them to thank my deep affection for the written word. Books are, in my opinion, the perfect gift, both to give and receive. The heft, feel and smell of books are intoxicating. Especially, old books.

Used bookstores are rarer and rarer these days. I’m sure it’s due to the rising rents, and the advent of selling books online. In the interest of honesty, I buy books online. Though I miss the thrill of going into a used bookstore, inspecting the shelves, and finding a gem. On the other hand, it’s comforting to be able to find that one volume you were looking for with a bit of typing and clicking search.

Back when the world was… I was about to say normal but what the hell does that even mean? So let’s just say when we could venture outside unmasked and could sit close to each other. In those halcyon days when I went back and forth to my job, I would read on the subway. If I was going to travel anywhere, a book was the first thing I would pack. There was always a book or two in my bag. After all, what if you finished a book and had no other book to read? Unthinkable!

Nowadays I am in between jigs and am unlikely to take any long-distance voyages. With all this copious free time I must be reading nonstop. It is with chagrin I must tell you that I have not. There are two reasons why. Here’s the first.

Media. By which I mean TV and the internet. When you are told not to do something, you instantly want to do it. Such as going out and seeing people. If you’re sensible, you will listen to Doctor Anthony Fauci and mask up, and take all necessary precautions. That still leaves a missing element in your life.

So you watch the news and then when you can’t stand that anymore, you watch everything else. Maybe it’s the hot new show that just started streaming, so when you chat with your friend over Zoom or Discord, you don’t want to be behind the curve. Or maybe you go back to a show that gives you comfort. Consuming episode after episode like a bowl of salty deep-fried treats. BTW, all pre-pandemic shows are now science fiction/fantasy because the characters do fantastical things like go out to eat and hug. Crazy!

The other reason is I was writing. I recently finished a novel called the Arrondissement, you can read it on this site.

https://jenicek.wordpress.com/category/arrondissement/

Am I a shameless self-promoter? Hell yes. If I’m not for me, who will be?

Back to the writing. I started it before the beginning of the pandemic and finished it before it ended. That might say more about the state of the world than my productivity. Nonetheless, I managed to complete a full-length novel, so that’s something.

I began this blog because I had written another novel, Chosen, which you also read on this blog.

https://jenicek.wordpress.com/category/chosen-novel/

See, I told you I’m shameless! Once I put up the last chapter I continued to post every Monday. It is a self-imposed deadline that I have met for the last seven and half years. Sometimes it’s my thoughts on random topics, like why isn’t “Happy as a dog.” an expression? If you’ve owned a dog and come home you know what I mean.

In my past, I’ve spent long stretches without writing, all the while calling myself a writer. I had written so I think I’m in the clear. However, having to post something new every week has made me a better writer. Well, I certainly hope so.

Once, I friend of mine asked me and another writer friend, “How often do we think about what we’re writing?” The answer is “All the time.” I find that before I set pen to paper, or more accurately fingertips to keyboard, there is a lot of musing going on. Or wrestling with demons, depending on the day. Outwardly it looks like I’m just going to the store to get some supplies but inwardly, there’s a lot of stuff going on.

I believe that you cannot write if you do not love to read. Technically you can. I’m not sure it’ll be worth reading. All writers must, in my opinion, have a love of language. Talented writers can paint a picture and invoke deep emotional reactions with an expert application of their vocabulary. Every wordsmith has a voice, some are more pleasant to hear than others. Milage may vary of course.

You might be asking yourself, “Where the hell is he going with all this?” I remind you that I said this would be roundabout. While I used to read on average, a book a week, #humblebrag, my stats have dropped severely. This is not to say I’ve read nothing, just not nearly as much as I used to.

At the end of the day, part of my lack of reading is pure laziness on my part. Damn you golden age of streaming content! But I’ve found myself being more focused on my own writing than others. Which is not terrible for me, but it needs to be addressed by me.

For my birthday, it’s in December in case you missed it, I received a much-anticipated book. Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey, the latest installment in the Sandman Slim series. I’m a big fan of his work and this setting in particular. Did I read it the day I was gifted it? No. I’ve been holding on to it, saving it like an expensive bottle of single malt scotch. Partially because don’t want to inhale it like a bottom shelf whisky while on a bender. I want to savor it like the aforementioned single malt.

However, that is a bit of a lie. I’ve just not been reading as much and I’m the only one who can change that. I started it last night, as of writing this, and I’m enjoying it immensely. If you like hard-driving, rock and roll urban fantasy, check his stuff out. See, I can promote someone else’s work too.

I think if I want to be the best writer I can, I need to read more. Make time for it. I’m never disappointed and if I am, I’ve got plenty more read. Remember, hundreds of unread treasures to open up.

Thank you for reading this. I hope it inspires you to read more if your book count is low. Or maybe to write more. Both are excellent choices. Now back to Ballistic Kiss.

[AoB] Should You Go Hyperniche?

We now live in a world of constant information overload. Content creators are sharing millions and millions of articles, podcasts, social media posts, and videos every single month.

This, in turn, changes the dynamic of how we create content, how we distribute it, how we promote it, and even how we monetize our blogs.

The main issue? Broad topics lack focus, direction, and are becoming less and less appealing.

The most lucrative niches are overcrowded and ultra-competitive, and a general blog that tackles a main topic (or a multitude of topics) has little to no chance of standing out from the crowd.

[AoB] Most Blogs Fail. Why?

At least once a year someone out there publishes a long article announcing the imminent demise of the blog. More bloggers than ever are giving up, content saturation is alienating a lot of readers, and the rise in popularity of different mediums will be the final nail in the coffin.

The truth?

It’s always been like this.

Out of all the bloggers I’ve networked with when I launched my first blog in 2012, only a dozen or so still publish regularly.

Out of all the bloggers that I’ve personally coached, only a dozen or so still publish regularly.

And out of all the people who decide to start a blog this year, only a small percentage of them will still publish new content regularly by the end of the year.

But why?

[AoB] 7 Unconventional Questions That Will Change Your Blogging Game

As the cliché goes, if you want better answers, you should ask better questions.

The right questions at the right time can help you become aware of your mistakes, adjust your strategy, and begin your journey towards the blogging stratosphere.

No, seriously. The right questions at the right time…

Okay, let’s stop fooling around.

Here’s me asking you 7 questions that just might point you in the right direction.

And you know that the right question at the right time…

[AoB] How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (as a Blogger)

If there’s one thing I’m quite the expert on, that’s alienating a large, engaged audience.

Seriously.

I started my first blog back in April 2012. By November the same year, I had over twenty thousand readers. I was earning about $100 every single day, and my articles were read by close to a thousand people within the first 3–4 hours of an article being published.

Somehow, in my quest to increase my numbers, both in terms of readers and income, I lost friends and alienated a lot of people.

Just take a look at this statistic:

Here’s how you can do it as well in a couple easy to follow steps.

[AoB] Who Else is Struggling to Come Up With Ideas for Blog Posts?

Writer’s block.

The most dreaded words in all existence by creatives.

Also known as creative bankruptcy, writer’s block is all about a single four-letter word. One that we rarely even want to mention.

It’s an “F word” that is frowned upon by people from all areas of life. And this word is keeping you from writing, editing, formatting, and publishing your next blog post.

Solitude and Creative Expression

“Solitude or working alone can help a creative person develop and refine their work, but it is certainly not the only way to nourish creative projects,” so states Douglas Eby in his new book. Well, to each his own. Some creatives prefer isolation while others seem to strive amidst a collective. Both environs serve a purpose. It depends, I think, on how you’re wired.

Many artists acknowledge the value of academies such as Juilliard, and less formal artist retreats and workshops, like Idyllwild. Others give credit to formal education at a university’s marketing and communications school or a structured curriculum at, say, the International Center for Studies in Creativity.

Eby points out that much of the writing and advice on creative expression and enhancing creativity focuses on the inner journey of the individual. Furthermore, creating happens in a social context, and often depends on inspiration and support from others, on finding an audience, and getting financing from publishers and producers.

Perhaps, I say, but not always…