How can you be a blogger and be a blessing? OK, dear readers, I’m going to get a little hokey but bear with me. My mind often goes places that are alien even to me. Here it goes.
I haven’t stopped thinking about a post Jaime Donovan wrote a few weeks ago called The Greed That Ate The Blog. She wrote about bloggers who get so caught up in money that they forget about pleasing their readers. Jaime is wise beyond her years, which is why Mr. Groovy and I adore her. Anyway, I commented on her piece, as did many others, and then I forgot about it—or so I thought.
Later that week, Mr. Groovy was watching a TED Talk given by Nick Vujicic on Overcoming Hopelessness. For those of you not familiar with Nick, he’s a motivational speaker who was born with a rare disorder which left him without limbs. I first heard him speak on Oprah’s Life Class.
In Overcoming Hopelessness, Nick expresses that although we may not be GIVEN a miracle in our own lives, perhaps we can BE the miracle for someone else. He recalls being bullied and tormented horribly as a boy. Can you imagine the cruelty thrust upon a kid with no arms and legs who is integrated into a school program among children without disabilities? Nick no longer wanted to live and attempted suicide, unsuccessfully.
Flash forward to grown-up Nick, where during one of his speaking appearances he noticed a little boy in the audience with no arms and no legs. Nick recalled how when he was a child, he had never seen someone like himself, without limbs. Images of the misery in store for this boy immediately flashed through Nick’s mind. He sprang into action and had the father bring the little boy up on stage, while 2,000 people in the audience cried. This little boy’s life would never be the same again.
Nick’s point was that although he never received the miracle of being physically restored, he could use his own experience to BECOME the miracle for someone else.
The morning after watching Nick’s Ted Talk, Mr. Groovy and I were discussing Jaime’s greed post. And it occurred to me that as bloggers, we too may be in a similar position as Nick—granted, we may not be a miracle for someone else, but we have a wonderful platform in which to connect to others. Can we use our platform to be a blessing?
Think back in your life to someone who offered a gentle word or a piece of advice on a day that perhaps was one of your worst, ever. Did the kindness of an acquaintance bring you out of a funk? That’s certainly been the case for me. Sadly, I’m sure I never told the person, or said thank you. But was that person looking for thanks or praise? I don’t think so.
Now consider our blogging experiences. Sometimes we’re running on the hamster wheel, seeking comments, Twitter followers, or more side-hustle income than someone else. But do we really know the reach of our words? I don’t think so. Analytics, comments and all that stuff are fine, but they won’t tell us if we made someone’s day. They won’t show how we lifted someone’s spirits. We mustn’t forget that we send our words out into the ether, with intangible results.
I know the kind of bloggers Jaime was referring to and I don’t consider myself or Mr. Groovy to be among that money-hungry tribe. And if you’re a blogger reading this now, you probably don’t consider yourself a part of that tribe either. But we’re all capable of becoming greedy. It doesn’t take much. A little flattery, recognition, or blog income may be bestowed upon us and we suddenly morph into someone we never set out to be.
Therefore, I wanted to remind everyone, including myself, to consider your reach and your responsibilities to your readers. What do you really want to accomplish when all is said and done? If you pulled the plug on your blog tomorrow, what would you hope people remember? Is it possible to be a blessing through your writing?
Here are a few tenets to consider and questions we might ask of ourselves:
Service. Do you want to set an example, inform or teach? How do you wish to help others? Do you share knowledge and experiences with honesty? Do you admit your mistakes so that others may avoid them? Do you reach out to readers or other bloggers who are struggling, or who need a push?
Personal Connections. Do you answer your comments and emails eagerly? Do you make kind remarks on other people’s websites? Do you offer words of encouragement? From what I’ve seen, personal finance bloggers are among the most gracious and civilized writers in the blogosphere. But we still need to remember the old adage—if you have nothing kind to say, don’t say anything.
Write for People, not Page Views. This is a biggie. Many of us feel we need to be slaves to analytics, SEO, our number of readers, page views, Twitter followers, etc. But we cannot focus primarily on writing for results and accolades. Writing is an art form. And as is true with any art form, if you produce your art solely for results and reactions, you might as well throw in the towel now.
We must write for people. How do you offer value to a reader who is taking his first financial baby step? Or to the one who knows everything? How much time and preparation do you put into a post before you publish? Do you do research to back up facts or claims? Do you write and re-write?
Do you have a zany sense of humor? Maybe you find irony in most situations, even the bad ones. Use it. Use all of your experiences and all of your smarts to find your voice and express it. People will connect to YOU.
What did you need to be exposed to when you began your financial journey? When you surfed the internet for that one sage piece of advice you want so badly, did you find it? Information overload is ever-present. You read one article and before you know it, you’ve clicked through link after link, until you no longer remember what the heck you were searching for! Then you feel exhausted and annoyed because of the wasted time.
But what happens when you find someone with a clear and genuine voice? When you feel the charisma, as if that person is speaking directly to you? Do you find yourself returning to him or her like an old friend? I know I surely do. And that’s the kind of blogger we should all aspire to be.
Be selfless, especially when you feel like being a selfish hoarder. Have you found some great tool, shortcut or trick of the trade? Or a superior way of making money? Do you feel like keeping these gems to yourself? Share them. Have you been offered a guest post and you find yourself in a conundrum, wondering how much of an effort you should give to someone else’s blog? Give your best effort and share your best work. Be generous in all you do and you’ll be surprised at what you get in return.
Be patient. Above all, be patient. With your readers and your fellow bloggers—and mostly with yourself. Mom always said Rome wasn’t built in a day. That goes for a good website and a decent following too.
Be a blogger, be a blessing.