‘Done’ is better than ‘Perfect’ when it comes to blogging

by Mack Collier

I’m enjoying reading Ekaterina Walter’s new book Think Like Zuck, which is about the five keys to business success that you can learn from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.  In the book, Ekaterina talks about one of the sayings often heard at Facebook is ‘Done’ is better than ‘Perfect’.  Reading this reminded me of a recent blog post I read by a person in this space lamenting the fact that there were too many ‘bad’ blogs out there.  Too many people creating worthless crap, and this person announced that they weren’t going to contribute to the problem.  They proclaimed that they were only going to write when they had something worthwhile to share.  And if that meant that they didn’t blog for weeks or months, that it didn’t matter because when they did, their blog post would be more valuable to everyone, including themselves.

This person was lying to himself.

Many of us have had this same conversation with our blogging selves.  We tell ourselves that we just can’t blog every week, or for some of us, not even every month.  There’s too much going on, and besides, if we write a new blog post and no one comments or RTs it, well…I just don’t even want to think about it.

Blogging is like anything else, it’s a learning process.  The more you blog, the easier ideas come to you.  The more chances you have to see how people react to a particular topic you cover, or the tone you use.  As a result, your overall writing becomes better and the entire blogging process becomes easier for you.

As a byproduct, your platform expands.  Not only is your blogging improving, but more people are being exposed to your ideas because they are being shared more often.  And as they are being shared more often, you get more engagement on your blog, and more ideas for better blog posts.  Which leads to more (and better) blog posts, which grows your platform even more, and the cycle is created.

At first I wasn’t going to write this post today.  I have one ready to go for tomorrow, and besides, I wanted to wait before publishing this post.  I wanted to make it ‘perfect’.  What would have likely happened is I would have kept putting off finishing this post, and after a week or two, I would have deleted this draft.

But in 2013 I am going to publish more imperfect blog posts rather than saving more ‘perfect’ drafts.

 

{ 36 comments }

Leslie Anneliese January 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Nice article. You are definitely an inspiration for me. It seems like it’s always a balance, don’t put out “bad” blog posts, (ie, typos, no editing) but don’t paralyze yourself with the illusive “perfect.” (PS I wasn’t going to post this comment either because it’s not yet “perfect” but decided to be brave!).
;-)

Mack Collier January 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Ha ha, thanks Leslie, that proves the point of the post ;) Typically our writing gets better with the more posts we write. A couple of weeks ago I forced myself to commit to starting the new year off with at least 5 blog posts a week. I was scared to death of writing more ‘bad’ posts, but I found that it was a piece a cake. What happened as I wrote more was that post ideas came much easier. Soon I was not only writing 5 posts a week with ease, sometimes I was writing on the weekends as well! Blogging became much easier, simply through additional practice.

And I think that’s the point, when you go ahead and ‘ship’ that blog post, you not only learn from the experience, but you train your ‘writing muscles’ to do better. At least that’s what I have found.

Claudia January 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm

You’re right – in fact I wrote a similar post a while ago ;) Blogging means giving your creativity some room to grow. You can edit to the point of rewriting entire posts from the moment you start blogging but really, posts seldom improve so much that it compensates for the extra effort! It’s pretty much “learning by publishing”.

Mack Collier January 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Hi Claudia! Yes you can definitely edit the life out of a post if you aren’t careful!

Christa M Miller January 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

On the flip side of this, Mack, isn’t there a danger in adding to the noise? Your argument assumes that an undone blog post won’t sound exactly the same as a lot of other undone blog posts, and therefore won’t be easy to ignore along with the all the others.

“Undone” isn’t the same as “settling for mediocre”… thought should still go into a post, there is still an art form to provoking conversation that improves everyone’s spheres IMO.

Mack Collier January 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Hey Christa! What I’m saying is that if you wait until you are perfect to blog, you will never blog again.

Additionally, if you blog more often, you WILL get better through sheer repetition and experience.

My guess is if you started today and blogged every single day this year, you would write a lot more ‘awesome’ posts than if you only blogged when you had an ‘awesome’ post to write.

Will you write a few more ‘unawesome’ posts? Of course you will. Seth Godin writes stinker posts all the time, IMO. But he also writes a ton of ‘a-ha!’ posts!

And the common denominator? He writes a ton of blog posts period.

I think the whole ‘I don’t want to contribute to the noise’ excuse is just that. I have used this same excuse and what I was really saying was ‘I just don’t want to make time to blog right now’. It’s like exercise, it’s easy to stick with it when you are doing it regularly and seeing results, but if you ever stop, it’s easy to come up with reasons to stay at home.

Christa Miller January 2, 2013 at 7:04 am

I don’t think Seth Godin is a fair comparison at all. He’s Seth Godin — he can afford to write stinkers! In fact his readers probably read brilliance into his worst stinkers because they expect brilliance. Most other bloggers trying to catch clients are not Seth. If they don’t consistently sound at the top of their game then I think that communicates the wrong thing. (Also: if I have a limited amount of time to read per day, think I’m going to waste time on a blog that may or may not communicate something helpful? No — I’m going to go for the ones that are consistently smart.)

I think the approach that’s maybe more what you’re trying to espouse is Valeria Maltoni’s — prolific *and* brilliant. And I think the difference is not that she leaves posts undone, but rather, that you can tell her *thinking* is complete while she leaves the post itself open to conversation. That takes a different kind of writing/editing/conversational discipline altogether, but it’s one that I would emulate if daily blogging were my goal.

Mack Collier January 2, 2013 at 8:39 am

First, about Valeria. She IS an amazing blogger and it’s mostly because she spends a TON of time on her posts making them so good. A couple of years ago I was with Valeria and a group of people at the Hilton at SXSW, it was like 11pm on a Saturday night. We found a couch and some chairs at the hotel bar, and all just collapsed. We were all about to fall asleep, when suddenly Valeria grabs her laptop and starts pecking away. I asked her what she was doing and she says ‘I need to do some research for tomorrow’s post’!!! She’s incredibly dedicated to her blogging, and it shows in the quality of the posts she writes.

Most bloggers don’t have that level of dedication, I certainly don’t. But I refuse to subscribe to the idea that some bloggers can only create ‘noise’ and there’s nothing they can do to improve. That’s a crutch, the only blogger I have ever known that could blog once or twice a month and consistently produce amazing posts is Kathy Sierra. My approach is that if you blog more often, the OVERALL quality of your blog posts improves.

I believe the more you write, the better you become at writing. Do you disagree?

Christa Miller January 2, 2013 at 8:50 am

Of course I don’t disagree. But just because you write it doesn’t mean you have to share it with the world. Journaling used to be not just for private thoughts, but also for those that weren’t yet fully baked. There used to be value in private exploration as a prelude to sharing.

Really we are talking about two different sets of values. There are people who will not mind a blogger sharing stuff as ideas come to him or her. But bloggers should never assume that’s true for ALL their readers. Time is at a premium for a lot of people and I think if bloggers really want to make meaningful connections with people, they will take into account that some folks prefer well-thought-out pieces. That’s not a matter of perfection — that’s a matter of “the best I can make it for right now.”

Mack Collier January 2, 2013 at 8:59 am

I’m not talking about just vomiting random thoughts up as they come to you ;) I am talking about how to ultimately become a better blogger.

If you REALLY want to become a better blogger and create better content for your readers, then *I* think the best way to do that is to blog more often. The more you write, the better you become at writing. That doesn’t mean that you force yourself to write every single day, but it also doesn’t mean that you force yourself to only blog when you truly think you have a masterpiece of a blog post.

IMO if you committed to blogging weekly, whether you had a ‘perfect’ post or not, you would end up being a far better blogger than if you only blogged once a month when it was ‘perfect’.

Will you write a few more stinkers? Maybe, IMO you’ll also write more ‘perfect’ posts. Plus as you become more experienced, the number of ‘stinker’ posts should gradually decrease, so that the overall blogging product increases.

I just don’t want anyone to use ‘contributing to the noise’ as an excuse not to blog. There’s ALREADY way too much noise. Don’t worry about it, the cat’s already out of the bag!

Christa Miller January 2, 2013 at 9:11 am

“Contributing to the noise” is really about “do I have anything meaningful to say?” And all I’m saying is that it’s not fair, to readers whose time is valuable, to assume on their behalf that ideas for ideas’ sake are meaningful. The pursuit of “perfection” does kill some writers’ creativity, but for me it’s always been about respecting readers’ time and energy.

Ultimately, if we’re trying to win business through blogging, then we together with our potential clients deserve the best of what we have to offer through this free resource — because I wouldn’t want a blogger to use “done” as an excuse to half-ass something.

Mack Collier January 2, 2013 at 9:23 am

I think this is where we are getting our signals crossed, Christa. I’m not saying blog just to be blogging, regardless of whether or not you think the post is valuable to readers. Of course you have to create content that you feel will create value for your readers.

But at the same time, I think too many bloggers get caught up in the ‘I’m not blogging till I have something meaningful to say’ trap. Which is kinda like saying ‘I’m not branching out on my own and launching my own business until I have that killer idea that I know cannot fail’. IOW, you’re probably never going to launch your own business if that’s your mentality.

Likewise, you will probably never have a great blog if you resign yourself to only blogging when you have something amazing to say. There’s a difference between half-assing a blog post and putting your all into a blog post that ends up being a stinker.

I’m in no way shape or form advocating being a lazy blogger or half-assing anything. In fact I am saying that if you tell yourself that you will only blog a few times a year or ‘whenever I have something meaningful to say’ that THEN you are half-assing it.

Again, we become better by doing, not by waiting for perfection.

Steve Revill January 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Thanks Mack, as ever, for the thought provoking and incredibly timely post. After a 5 month gap between posts on my blog, I’ve just set myself a goal of publishing a new post every week in 2013 and have just written “‘Done’ is better than ‘Perfect’” on my whiteboard to remind me of your advice!

Mack Collier January 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Thanks Steve, hope it helps your blogging efforts this year!

Leslie Anneliese January 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I appreciate all the comments. It encourages me to hear that the act of writing will help with more writing, since I’m nervous that I’ll “run out of ideas.” So I’m counting on that advice!

Susan Giurleo January 1, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Agree 100%, Mack. The “only post when you have something epic to say” mantra seems to come from those who are either afraid to really show up or are feeling burned out and want an excuse to dial down their content production. The real issue is that of confidence and strategic planning. Waiting for inspiration isn’t how businesses grow. Haphazardly showing up for work doesn’t get us paid in any reality (blogging, corporate, brick and mortar store, etc). Blogging is a commitment and like anything, we only get better with practice. My goal is to post 3x a week to my blog this year. I’m committing to doing the best I can on those posts, develop my voice and stand out from the crowd. Hopefully that won’t add to noise, but instead contribute to a conversation.

Santel January 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Thank for bring the concept here. I started my day at 4:30am, I am not sure if there are many people out there practice this routing but my main goal is to post more often.

I think we could make a good balance between the quality and the quality. We can’t write perfect blog post everyday or every week but maybe we could reserved one or two perfect post per month.

My regular schedule right now is to post twice per week. So as you said I don’t wait until the perfection come, if I wait I will miss my schedule.

JoAnne Funch January 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Mack,

Good post – good reminder! I am going to share this with my local LinkedIn Blogging group because its a great way to start off the year and getr’ done!

Mack Collier January 2, 2013 at 8:04 am

Thank you JoAnne!

Janice January 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm

So I’ll get more Mack Collier in my inbox this year? Sounds perfect to me!

I think that a lot of us let insecurity, self-importance, etc get in our way. It is better to communicate more frequently than infrequently. Sure it helps that people have something to say but if that is so rare, maybe folks should guest post. I love having people do that on my blog and I offer them an audience that enjoys reading things more frequently. I think everyone can blog, just some choose not to. And all of us are good enough if we try, perfection is overrated and rare too.

Miriam Gomberg January 2, 2013 at 2:26 am

I have found the posts I put the most work into are the least interesting. This was also true when I wrote papers in school. Too much overthinking can cause boring content. I still edit a little but I want it to be real and be me so like everything else I do, it just jump in.

Thanks for a thoughtful post Mack.

Mack Collier January 2, 2013 at 8:05 am

Hi MIriam, it’s funny how many bloggers say that, that the posts they spent days on often flop, but the ones they write in 5 mins are successful. As you said I think we can overthink them and edit our ‘voice’ out of the posts. I have definitely done this before!

Jennifer January 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

Thanks for sharing this idea that you don’t need to be perfect to post a blog post. It’s hard to publish something that you’re not 100% satisfied with, but I agree that it has an avalanche effect in terms of improving your writing.

Cathy Chester January 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I am glad you did decide to write that post because it made me feel better about trying to blog once a week. I drive myself crazy to make my posts as perfect as possible. I am newer at this, and beat myself up with the writing process and pray that someone will read it, share it and like it! You calmed my nerves – thanks!

Christina Pappas January 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I was going through my computer the other day looking at blog drafts and couldnt believe how much good stuff was there. And it was all stuff that I had kept unpublished because it wasnt ‘perfect. Great reminder here Mack.

Mack Collier January 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Christina I bet many of us have great ideas in the Draft folder that we have forgotten about. Maybe this year when we are out of blog post ideas, we should strive to pull one out of our drafts?

Karen Swim January 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Mack, it’s funny that many of us often live by this mantra when counseling clients but fail to take our own advice (sheepishly raising hand). I am guilty of deleting drafts so often that I stopped writing posts. It’s a sad thing because I denied myself the chance to grow, in chasing perfection I missed the chance to progress. Your post definitely resonates with me. Thanks for hitting “post.”

Mack Collier January 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Karen I know, if most of us consultants would follow the same advice we ask our clients to follow…. ;)

Rick Wolff January 3, 2013 at 7:02 pm

If I’m not allowed to wait till I have something to write before posting it, then I will not blog at all. There.That’s a load off my mind.

Sara January 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm

“But in 2013 I am going to publish more imperfect blog posts rather than saving more ‘perfect’ drafts.”

I’m going to work on this, as well. I used to write a lot more and I really want to get back into it. Do you have suggestions for jumping back in the ring, or on completely starting over?

Mack Collier January 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Hi Sara, is this at your current blog or a new one?

One thing that’s always helped me with post ideas is to create ‘blogging buckets’, like 2-3 main topics that I want to cover on my blog. Like for here it would be blogging tips, how rock stars connect with their fans, and social media case studies. And a few others from time to time. But just thinking about the few main topic areas I want to cover really helps me find new post ideas.

Another way that helps is to do Google News searches for certain terms related to those topics. It’s a great way to read new sources that might not be what you see passed around on Twitter and Facebook.

Sara January 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I’d like to keep the same domain name (cloverdew.com), but freshen it up with everything from design to content. I’m thinking about more photography and focusing on my 3 words for the year (of which I have two so far: gratitude, beauty). So, your advice really hits home. I’m going to think about this some more today and hopefully, by the time I settle on my third word I will have some more ideas. Also, Google News search is something I hadn’t thought of. Might try that! Thanks.

Matt Brennan January 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm

There’s definitely a balancing act, when it comes to blogging. You don’t want to bore the crap out of your readers, writing things that no one cares about.

You also don’t want to be like that “book author” who gets two paragraphs into chapter one, and scratches the whole idea, never writing anything. Good post!

Nona Carson January 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Thank you. I am your poster child. ;)
(Just saw this today…perfect timing. First post of the year just went up a little earlier. I tell my clients, “Do as I say, not as I do!”)

Rebecca Makas January 16, 2013 at 8:07 am

I really appreciated this post. I have found, like so many others, that practice makes perfect. I learn from every blog post, and I find that the more I blog, the more traffic I get. Even when *gasp* the content isn’t perfect. The increased traffic is very motivating, so it’s truly a positive cycle.

CASUDI February 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I don’t agree. “DONE” is like “good enough for government work.” I understand perfection and how it can stop anything from ever happening, I’ve been in biz with a partner for 23 years who has perfection as his middle name. We might strive for perfection….however key is learning to settle for excellence.

{ 7 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: