You Have To Suck First

There are several people who have an uncanny ability for amping up the game of pinball that is constantly going on inside my head. When two of my must-read bloggers attack the same topic, things quickly go into multi-ball mode (rest assured, I am unceremoniously abandoning the pinball metaphor starting… NOW!).

Last week, two of my favorite people, Gini Dietrich and Danny Brown decided to voice some of their frustrations with the Social Media blogging bubble1 with Danny going as far as reconsidering the direction of his writing. While Danny’s gripes were aimed at those who have fallen into lazy rhythms, it was Gini who decided to take on those who are trying to take the easy route to internet celebrity. Now, I hate arguing with Gini (especially considering the facts that she is way smarter than I am and that she makes some exceptionally valid points.), but someone has to speak up for the screw-ups.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from being a really bad and utterly inconsistent blogger it is this… You have to go through the steps of being terrible before you ever have the hope of being great2. Sure, some people just jump in and take to blogging from day one, but I’m not talking about them… they really suck3. I’m talking to you (or more likely me), the guy or girl who really wants to do this, but hasn’t found a voice, a rhythm, a topic or even made the time to take this seriously. Those of us who are still fumbling, but really want to add value to others through our writing.

We’re going to have to work a lot hard to stand out and we are going to have to suck a lot less and a lot faster, but keep at it. It won’t be easy, but there is still room for something new in the midst of the mind-numbing banality and all of those taking the easy routes.

Related side note: If you aren’t reading Gini Dietrich’s Spin Sucks and Danny Brown’s blog, it is going to be a lot harder for you to know what you should be striving for.


  1. Try saying that five times fast.  

  2. or good, or average or even bad for that matter  

  3. read: I’m jealous of them.  

7 Responses to You Have To Suck First

  1. You definitely have to suck first to be a good blogger. If you aren’t experimenting when you first start out, you’ll never find out what makes you different or what angle you like to write about. During this experimentation, you will suck. It’s just part of it.

    Also, on the note of standing out, there is a lot of content out there that is the same, but the Internet has plenty of real estate. I run a technology blog (and there are thousands out there), and I’ve still been about to find a nice audience and continue to grow. Solid content and hard work go a long way.

  2. LMAO!! I love you so much. Seriously. First of all, I agree that everyone has to suck before they get good. I think it was @tmninja:twitter who blogged about how long it takes you to do something the first time you do it. And everyone has to start somewhere…there is no such thing as overnight success. But what I was discussing was this idea that we use tools to aggregate content to make ourselves look good or we listen to the perceived A-listers without any thinking behind what they’re saying. We rally and say, “HECK YES!” and we repeat what they said. Over and over and over and over and over again. We don’t fight the status quo. And that’s what I was talking about…not the idea that you won’t make mistakes when you’re starting out. Heck, I still make mistakes. Lots of them. Every day. And I’ve been blogging for five years.

    • Gini, thanks! Can’t believe you referenced that post. (http://tmninja.us/gbw5GD) It was about tasks taking 4X’s as long the first time you attempt them.

      I think we both agree with Michael here.

      You have to go through the practice to get good. Whether you are Michael Jordan or Seth Godin… you didn’t start out as a star. :)

      You were right on with your post, too. At some point, the auto content generation becomes too much noise. Personally, I am worried people using auto content generators to create worthless “articles” on topics just so they can get backlinks. It is this type of fake content that threatens to “trash up” the Internet.

      PS – And yes, I still make plenty of mistakes, too!

        • Sadly you are dead about the “articles” Craig, but thankfully Gini is dead on about the backlinks and the spin content meaning less with every passing day. That said, as someone who works predominantly outside the bubble, it can be tough to do things the right way.

          One of the things we overlook when venting about the echo chamber is that many of us would not have gotten to where we are without it, even those who deserve the success. It is a heck of a lot harder to spread quality content without it.

          Not saying there aren’t massive problems with it, just that it’s a double edged sword.

    • Thanks, glad you’re not ready to throw anything at me :) Looking forward to reading that @TMninja post!

      The thing is, I’m not so sure that it is simply a “me too” mentality (although there is a lot of that). Hitting the publish button on a regular basis is hard work and I think people use curation or even aggregation to fill the gaps while they find their topic, their passion and their voice. I’ve always tried to treat curation with care, but in truth, its main use was to get me into the mindset of pushing publish on a consistent basis. It’s not a matter of making mistakes, we all do and all always will make them. It really is a matter of flat out sucking when you start.

      At the start, we repeat a lot of what our own personal a-listers say because those are the people who inspired us to start the site in the first place. It goes on for a while like that, but from there one of three things happen: you either get bored and stop (probably the most frequent), keep repeating it and fail (common) or get bored and find a way to suck less (rare).

      I just think maybe, just maybe you, Danny and now Jeff may be underestimating how rare it is for people to really find their way at doing this.

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