Good Blogs are Embarrassing

Tue 14 September 2010 | -- (permalink)

So says Jason Cohen in How I got 6000 RSS subscribers in 12 months. He's the guy who writes the Smart Bear blog. He makes a bunch of good points, but this is my favorite:


Everyone says to “be authentic” and “admit faults” and “tell stories.” All good advice, but repeated so often it’s hard to know what it means anymore.

With few exceptions, my most popular posts reveal something typically kept secret.

If it’s embarrassing, that’s a good sign. If you’re scared that people will think less of you, that’s a good sign. If you know a lot of people will disagree, that’s a good sign.

It’s the controversial sentiment that thousands of people themselves secretly agree with but never had the courage to say. They appreciate and love you for your courage.

It’s the embarrassing underbelly people love to read about — a peek into a world normally hidden, a peek into a story people don’t want to talk about. When it’s embarrassing it’s honest, and when you tell the truth even when it’s difficult, everyone appreciates it.

It’s the story that makes you seem weaker, dumber, more scared, less sure — that’s the story everyone can relate to, though few will admit it. Be one of the few.

What’s more inspiring: Me confidently instructing you how to run a company, or me admitting that I was scared, unsure, almost gave up more than once, didn’t know what I didn’t know, and yet persevered?

Of course there’s a line between personal and professional, between appropriate and inappropriate, between revealing other people’s secrets and revealing your own. You need to decide where that line is, and it’s not true that you have an obligation to talk about home life in order to be authentic.

I probably don't reveal enough here to keep things interesting. Take this as my resolution to change that.