The danger of absolutes

Headlines. They are poignant, powerful, suggestive, and ultimately, the reason you decide to keep reading anything. Be it an article, advertisement, or flyer – the headline is designed to hook, line and sinker you.

In the digital universe, there are endless articles available that tell you the absolute dos and donts for writing – and they often have catchy headlines. For example, “Three blogging mistakes that will ruin your business” or my personal favourite, “Follow these five tips and make money fast.”

These headlines work because you want to believe that success is easy when you follow a clear set of rules. Unfortunately, that isn’t how the world always works. And that isn’t necessarily how blogging works. Absolutes are black and white. When we work with such a small margin of error, we risk the chance for growth. You don’t need to hear it from me, but if you are looking for evidence of that statement, might I suggest googling your favourite ultra successful mentor and read their story.

Robert Herjavec, Shark on ABC’s Shark Tank, recently spoke about the journey to success – speaking heavily on how failure contributes to success. Don’t read it because he is a millionaire, read it because he is one of many examples of hard workers who have found great success, regardless of failure.

Unless you tread over the line of moral turpitude, your blog cannot be destroyed by any one error. When did making a mistake become such a critical fail? By working in absolutes, we set an unhealthy expectation, specifically for writers, that their content or approach might be completely wrong.

Have you seen any of these?
– Write every day
– Never write a post a day
– Avoid themes
– Use themes
– Use lots of pictures
– Pictures take away from your content
– Spice it up
– Simmer down

The list is endless. Each article contradictory to the next. So what should we believe?

For that, I go back to the basics of creating and forming an idea. Outline what you want and expect from yourself. Then outline what your potential readers want and expect from you. Set reasonable goals for yourself. If writing an article a day seems too lofty, then aim for 2-3 times a week. If themes aren’t your thing, then write about whatever inspires you. Be excited about new followers and your site’s stats. Those aren’t bad things to pay attention to. For a new site, they give reassurance that your content is getting seen and even liked. Yes, your first ten followers are probably spammers, but who cares! You created a site, you made a plan, and you committed to something new. Pat yourself on the back – it’s exciting to watch new plans and ideas come to fruition.

I have been using the WordPress platform for over ten years. This current website is not my first or my one and only. When I start a new site, it is not a re-invention of myself. That’s a term I refuse to use as it suggests that everything up till this point hasn’t contributed to the writer I am today. I make mistakes all the time – and I’m definitely alright with that.

If you’re looking for a “how to guide” that has healthy growth tips, WordPress webinars are likely the best landing spot. Information right from the source. Tips from site pros who know the inner and outer workings of WordPress.

I recently sat in on a webinar focused around increasing traffic to your WordPress site. I took copious notes and implemented the changes that they recommended. One day later, I had close to 100 visitors on my page. Did they give me magic? No (I wish). But they gave me tools to supplement my content and together, they worked. It doesn’t mean today will be like yesterday, but I will continue to focus on growth and great content. Those two factors are major contributors to WordPress success. Also, sometimes it comes down to sheer, great luck.

Cheers and have fun people. Write like no one is waiting to rub your mistakes in your digital face. And when you do make mistakes or fall into those dreaded “absolute” categories, shrug them off and simply learn from them. When you see a climb in your stats, allow yourself to smile and be proud. And when your phone gives you the tone that indicates a new follower, excitedly open it – even if it is a spammer…