My blog has been baptized by fire and water.
It began with a passion for understanding myself and has since become a passion for helping people better understand themselves and the role of work in their lives.
It’s a fire that often overwhelms me, but I don’t run from the flames. I sit down at the computer and write my innermost thoughts to gain clarity through the heat and the haze.
After thirteen years of continuous writing, I have an extensive and recognized body of work in other digital and print publications. I have an Amazon author page. I’m recognized as an HR expert. It’s the honor of a lifetime to be a professional writer, but when I meditate on what makes me feel so much joy, the answer is clear: it’s the blog.
At this point in my career, I don’t need someone to tell me that my blog is exceptional and makes a difference. I don’t need industry recognition or external validation to encourage me to write.
I know it.
The act of writing purifies my soul and pushes me to write more. The only critic that matters is the inner critic who knows if I’ve done my best work and written something that’s true. And, while I want to mentor the ever-living-hell out of everybody who writes to me and asks how to become the next great HR blogger, there is only one answer.
You’ll go through three phases before your writing is any good. The first phase is where you find your voice by journaling. You may think you’re writing cogent material that relates to your field of expertise. You’re not. It’s awful. But you are figuring out how to structure sentences and tell stories in a voice that mimics other writers you admire and might morph into an original way of storytelling.
Mimic the hell out of those writers. Stumble your way through the rules of grammar. Get brave and ignore the rules. Find your voice. Hit publish and don’t be too hard on yourself. This phase takes at least a year. Probably longer if you don’t write daily.
The second phase is where you do a deep dive into your industry (or field of inquiry) and solve problems for your readers. The Forbes and Entrepreneur models are built around this phase. Those websites feature writers who have a mature but relatable voice, and they provide commonsense advice.
A lot of phase-one bloggers want to be regarded as “thought leaders” and get caught up in phase-two. They never make it. Just as many phase-two bloggers think they’ve achieved nirvana by writing about leadership, business or the cult of happiness. They never get better.
I want to tell phase-two writers: Keep pushing because there’s more to your body of work.
Phase-three blogging is where you have permission to create content anywhere you want to create content. If you’ve worked hard enough on phase one and two, you’ll be invited to contribute to print magazines, newspapers, journals, podcasts, conferences, webinars, on Instagram, on video, or anywhere you want.
These bloggers get to be choosy with their art because it’s art. They’re at a place and time where it’s possible to publish universal truths that are relevant and meaningful for broad and diverse audiences. And those bloggers aren’t afraid to dip back into phase one and two to practice writing and thinking and clarifying their messages.
So how do you get to be a phase-three blogger?
I only know my journey. And the only way to be a phase three blogger is to write.
Do it for thirteen years. Do it every day. Do it when nobody is reading your blog. Don’t get caught up in writer’s block or grammar. Don’t listen to the external critic who tells you that your blog isn’t very good. It might not be very good, right now, but the tough love is the affirmation you need to keep writing.
So if you want to be a successful blogger, be a blogger. Start your journey right now, aim high, and don’t stop. You can’t be baptized by water and fire if you’re on the sidelines consumed with uncertainty and fear.