September 19th, 2008 by
When you’re looking for the perfect flower to give to your lover, do you want any bent petals?
When you order a meal at your favorite restaurant, of course you don’t want it to come out to your table
But is blogging like that?
When it comes to blogging and perfectionism, one of my irrational beliefs is that if I can just make the perfect post, if I can just come up with a truly useful and mind-blowing post, then somehow this will skyrocket my blog to popularity.
I’m starting to see that this is never true. It’s not that great and polished content isn’t important, or that it has no value. The real question I need to ask each day before pushing publish is: “is this content concise, and is it relevant?”
I think the irrational belief in my head is that the only thing that really qualifies as being “perfect” for a blog post is something that is:
2) In depth (long)
3) Polished (good grammar, no typos, maybe an inspirational pic or two)
But I’m starting to think that the better recipe for link-worthy posts is:
1) Insanely useful
2) Concise (shorter)
3) More relevant (the post delivers more thoroughly on what was promised in the headline)
I think those ideas work well with the concept of eliminating perfectionism and getting out concise posts that get to the point.
The Role of Perfection in Successful Blogging
There’s a time and a place for perfection – wholeness, completeness, error-free-ness.
I’m using “perfect” not in the sense of “incapable of becoming better,” but rather “not requiring any changes.”
When you insist (as I sometimes have) on only publishing blog articles that feel “perfect,” you run several risks.
1. Wasting time
I’ve written recently about how not to waste time in your blogging. Waste is when you don’t put something to the best possible use.
In the case of your blog, the time you spend on building it is precious. Every extra minute spent editing a post is a minute you could be spending to write the next post, or to network with blog readers and commentators, or to learn a new blogging skill.
2. Stifling feedback
There’s impact and then there’s feedback. Perfection often generates tremendous impact but discourages thoughtful response.
Have you ever poured your heart and soul into a blog post and found that no one seemed to notice – even though you begged and pleaded for input and suggestions and follow-up thoughts?
Could it be that your content was a little too good? That readers felt its power internally but felt that there was nothing left to say except, “Great post?”
3. Being boring
Did you watch swimmer Michael Phelps in the 2008 Summer Olympics?
How about golfer Tiger Woods in the 2008 US Open?
The most fascinating moments during the victories of each man stood out for their imperfection.
Phelps losing his goggles. Phelps finishing with a chopped stroke to win by a hundredth of a second. Woods secretly wincing through a double stress fracture in his left tibia and still (just barely) beating everybody else.
Blowouts in sports are boring (except for diehards). Blowout blogging is boring too.
4. Alienating your blog readers
When your writing is too clean, too flawless, you risk scaring people a little – or causing them to view you as prideful.
Moral: Don’t always try to be Superman.
Bleed a little.
So when is blog content perfection a worthwhile aim?
When you’re striving to achieve an effect that requires it.
Dan Zarrella could have written a stub instead of a perfect (as in complete, not needing correction or addition) viral marketing glossary. I think he chose the perfect route because he wanted people to talk about his glossary as a polished product and not a work in progress.
If Dan had wanted instead to get a bunch of people together to create a glossary of terms, there would have been no need for perfection – in fact, he probably would have intentionally avoided the appearance of completeness.
Is there such a thing as the ultimate perfect blog post?
I’m not saying there is “The Perfect Blog Post.”
Just that there is always “A Perfect Blog Post” for each time you sit down to compose – or, maybe more accurately, a set of potential approaches that could be considered perfect.
And that sometimes (but not always) you shouldn’t blog that way.
And the choice depends on your vision for your blog.
I sure hope this post ain’t perfect. I really need to hear what you have to say in the comments below.
How do you decide to write a “perfect” blog post or not?