Two Simple (and sort of mean) Words Every Blogger Should Know

~ By Jennifer Chait

Before publishing your next blog post consider two little words. Those two words are, “So what.”

As a college sophomore, I was handing in a writing essay to one of my writing instructors. I gleefully said, “Here’s my essay.” She replied, “So what?” At the time, her comment made me really upset. I thought she was being extremely mean. Honestly though, it’s one of the best writing tips I ever got.

Later my instructor explained to me that she only said, “So what” to writers with potential – which what, was supposed to make me feel better? It didn’t. Not until she told me the following…

“As a writer we need to take the position of the reader. We need to think carefully – when a reader reads my words, are they going to feel anything? Are your time invested words going to invite people to say, “So what?” Will your words matter to even one reader – counting yourself? If not, you shouldn’t write those words.”

My instructor said, “So what,” so that I’d consider my words before handing them over to her or anyone else. As a blogger, you don’t want readers saying “So what.” You want readers to say things (or at least think things) like:

  • “Wow, what an amazing post!”
  • “This post really changed my life for the better.”
  • “This post moved me. It was so sad, yet, I’m glad I read it.”
  • “I love that this post taught me something new.”
  • “You helped me to solve a problem.”
  • “Well, I’m convinced!”
  • “I clicked the links because of what you said.”
  • “After reading your post, I’m going to act on your suggestion.”
  • “You can really relate to my situation.”
  • “This is the news I needed to hear.”
  • “You really know how to share information; not simply lecture.”
  • “I subscribed so I won’t miss another post.”
  • Even, “I cannot believe this post! It made me so angry. I don’t agree at all and you suck!”

The key is to only publish content that matters. Are you helping someone, entertaining someone, getting a rant off your chest, moving someone to do something, helping someone to feel a feeling? Those are reasons that matter. If you create posts full of keywords, just to gain hits. If you pull news and re-post it word for word, with no extra input, I guarantee, your readers are going to say, “So what.” Their lives won’t have changed one bit from reading that post you published.

I think it’s useful to note, that we can’t wow everyone all the time. However, regularly taking your reader’s position will increase the odds of your posts hitting the wow-factor mark more often.

Among other places, you can visit Jennifer Chait at Offbeat Homes, 7 Babes A Blogging, and Tree Hugging Family.

Comments

  1. Hey Jennifer, this post is inspiring.

    I almost typed something about what it meant to me… but it wasn’t really interesting.

    Still, I mean what I say.

  2. Excellent advice, thank you.

  3. And for the most part, this advice also pertains to all types of writing, really.

  4. Great post, thanks Jennifer!

  5. This was a great reminder for me. It’s easy for me to forget the reader’s point of view. Thanks for the great post!

  6. Thanks, Jennifer!

    I know posts have to be written with the reader in my mind, but it’s so easy to forget, especially when you have a killer “funny” story to tell that no one but you, ultimately finds funny!

  7. I know a couple of other words all bloggers should know.

    Spot on as usual, Jennifer.

  8. Thanks everyone!
    ~ Dorit Sasson: True. I’ve used this advice for most of my writing projects through the years. However, I do feel that it’s easier to write nonsense words on a blog. A blog is faster writing combined with instant publising, and usually, you don’t have someone editing you. It leaves you wide open to words that don’t matter. But you’re right.

    ~ PreSchool Mama, you know, I am guilty of the funny story situation. I try hard not to do it; sometimes I just can’t resist. That’s why I like having a personal blog or two stashed away. When I feel a story coming I can head over to one of my personal blogs, and then my work blogs (and poor readers) don’t have to suffer. :D

  9. So what.

    Just kidding!!! Great post.

  10. This is sort of like the old saying about “killing your darlings.” I can’t remember who said it first, but I’ve used in frequently as a writing coach. Sometimes clients or other writers will latch onto a phrase or even a word that they find extremely amusing or tasty…and they’ll try to stuff it into their copy even if it isn’t appropriate or useful. A timely application of your “so what” question can help a writer find the discipline to “kill the darlings.”

  11. Great article! I will try to keep those words in mind while blogging. I hadn’t really thought about them until I saw your post.

  12. Peggy – that was the best laugh I had all week. So, thanks, I needed a laugh.

    Thanks John, for your input. I’ve never heard, “kill the darlings.” but it’s true. I know people (um me) who get attached to phrases or words. It’s not wise to give in to that temptation though.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting Franklin :)

  13. I think this home truth is even more important when it comes to commenting on other blogs. Are you doing it just to get a link back?

    It’s great to have comments and I love to hear people sounding out that they’re reading but it would be fantastic to have readers who considered the, “So what?” factor of their comments. Leave something meaningful. Leave something interesting, inspiring, informative.

    If you take a moment to think about it you can always draw on some point in the post to express specific interest, share a personal opinion or additional tip, and interact with the writer and other commenters etc.

  14. Rebecca, true. I hate when people leave generic comments. The best way to comment is to add something to the conversation. The other option is to chat – like how people do here often (because it has grown into a nice community) but simply saying “great post” everywhere you go is so boring.

  15. Jennifer, glad I could make you laugh!

  16. I agree to a point, but also disagree. So what works for writing posts you want others to read, but not everyone reading is going to be interested in everything you write or post or link at any given time. Someone, maybe just one person out there WILL get that funny story you post…and that funny story you post YOU need to post, because, well…it’s your blog and you can post/publish/write what you want to. Same goes with the random news story. Of course, I’m referring to my blog which, is a hodgepodge of All Things and my readers know I’m all over the place. ;)

    Now when you’re talking about fluffing up a post with keywords to get links, now that’s another matter…more than so what, I think it hurts your original intent and voice which turns readers off. Might get more hits from search engines? But will you gain readers?
    Not likely.

    I also think as bloggers it is really important to share these WOW! comments with others when we read something on a blog that hits us…not to create a link, but to share the love.

  17. So what? There’s a big impact in that small question, and as stated in earlier posts, applies to all types of writing.

    Those two words can also be used to help the writer stay focused. If, when you’ve come to the end of writing your piece, and you re-read it and can’t answer the question, then you probably need to go back and revise or otherwise change the focus.

    Great food for thought. The question is now in bold writing on a post-it note attached to my computer screen. Thanks much.

  18. Yes. Good advise.
    People who blog must think.Then we will improve himself also.

  19. Thanks for the article, and I’ll keep it in mind when starting a new blog or reviving one I had last year.

    A wise and generous senior colleague who used to be at my workplace once taught me to try using the ‘so what?’ technique for preparing for job interview questions. It did help me think of more convincing answers for at least some kinds of questions.

    cheers
    Tim

  20. You mean no one really cares if I spent hours writing a post? Hey, defeat is a temporary situation. It’s giving up that’s permanent.
    Love your blog and “I subscribed so I won’t miss another post.” keep on posting! Julie

  21. Now those are great points to be kept in mind. I liked how you took the example of your teacher to bring the whole story together. I think if we give our readers what they expect from you (responsibly and honestly) they will always appreciate that and you would get more structure to what you are trying to express. Nice post!
    Rainbow Hues´s last blog post ..The Uninhabited Lakshwadeep

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