If you’re anything like me, sometimes you want to punch the so-called “blogging gurus” in the face.
This is probably because you’ve done everything they’ve told you to do. You’ve implemented their social media strategies, and tweaked them for your own blog. You’ve written about controversial topics with a strong, original voice, and you’ve made your blog look clean and spiffy.
Yet no matter what you try, it always seems like a failure.
But guess what?
There’s something very important about all that work you’re doing, a blogging success secret that no one wants to talk about. And it all has to do with that ever-so-frustrating word: failure.
Never Heard of This Blogging Success Secret? Not Surprising.
A lot of people don’t want to admit they went through a period of failure, and in society in general, it’s pretty taboo to talk about this success secret. For some reason, it’s seen as shameful to fail.
Who cares that Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple when he’d started the company in the first place? What matters to the world is that he found “success” in the end (which in this case means he started earning shit-tons of money).
Sure, his failure helped him accomplish this success in the long run, but that’s always the point, isn’t it? That perseverance and hard work can overcome failure?
But this is really just a distraction we keep telling ourselves as human beings, that we’re so awesome we can “beat” failure.
Have we ever stopped to think about the value of failure itself, especially in terms of blogging?
Success Sucks; Failure’s Freakin’ Fantastic.
When our blogging pursuits fail, we’re so eager to overcome this to prove that we can be “successful” that a lot of the time we forget to reminisce on failure itself.
We often want to skip the “what did I learn from this?” step and just move right on to the next blog project to prove our worth, and not feel ashamed. On the flip side, we might get so tied up in our blog’s failure that we refuse to move forward ever again.
However, there’s a far better way to deal with failure, and it’s one of the best-kept blogging secrets there is. To better illustrate how to deal with failure, let’s look at one of my favorite movies, Elizabethtown.
The film’s about a young shoe designer named Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) whose poorly designed product flops and loses his company $972 million dollars. Now fired, Drew refers to his failure as a fiasco:
As somebody once said there’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success. Any fool can accomplish failure. But a fiasco… a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folktale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn’t happen to them.
Fortunately, as typical Hollywood scripts have it, Drew meets an upbeat young woman named Claire (Kirsten Dunst) who gets to know him over the course of a few days. Once she understands his situation, she forces him to confront it instead of just commiserating over it. She sends him to pick up the latest issue of Forbes which covers his “fiasco” story, and then says:
You have five minutes to wallow in the delicious misery. Enjoy it, embrace it, discard…and proceed.
If you as a blogger listen to Claire’s advice, you’ll realize there’s not much wiggle room for wallowing in your blogging failures. And there’s definitely no command to just ignore them, either.
What she’s suggesting is that you acknowledge your failures, learn from them, and move on, because failure in blogging is only shameful if you don’t do anything about it.
Failure: The Secret of Our Success.
The reason failure is the shameless blogging success secret is because the successful bloggers are the ones who took the time to confidently embrace their failure in the first place.
These bloggers didn’t let themselves get stuck in the “Woe is me! I’ll never blog again” trap–which is really far more shameful than failing and learning from it, if you think about it. They’re the ones who took those five minutes (but no more) to wallow in their misery. They continued handling failure the right way by enjoying and embracing it (maybe they threw darts at a sheet of paper with their bad ideas written all over it or something).
Finally, they discarded their misery and proceeded to create those hugely successful blogs that you’re comparing your own failed one to (you are comparing, right? Don’t lie).
The point is that they dealt with their failures in a positive manner and then moved on to create something awesome.
Copyblogger’s Jon Morrow is one of the pro bloggers willing to talk about his failures, which is a great help in a world where people are afraid to talk about the value of failure.
It’s also why anyone who follows him knows that failure is one of the best, most shameless blogging success secrets. Jon started 3 blogs, all of which flopped, before he realized that he needed to take that vital step of addressing his failures and learning from them.
Now look where he’s at. You’re probably insanely jealous.
But you know what? He didn’t get there by wallowing in failure, or by ignoring it. And neither will you.
If your blog fails, consider yourself blessed to have the opportunity to learn how to fix your mistakes.
You’ll become a better blogger for it, one who people will relate to and gladly follow.
Then in the future, when a frustrated blogger asks you how you achieved blogging success, you can smile and say, “I experienced failure, but I took five minutes to wallow in it before I enjoyed it, embraced it, discarded it, and moved on.”
What’s your biggest blogging failure so far, and what did you learn from it?