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Blogging the Hero’s Journey

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Last week I discussed profile writing as an alternative to just printing a regular interview. This week, I want to take that a step further and discuss writing a profile as a life story. Writing a life story might seem a bit daunting, but if you have the right outline you can stay on track and create an original, interesting article. The outline we are going to use is the “Hero’s Journey” or monomyth.

The Hero’s Journey is a storytelling format originally identifed by Joseph Campbell, but one that is as old as stories themselves. Once you are familiar with the pattern, you will realize that it applies to many stories you already know, from the fictional Star Wars to the true story of Abraham Lincoln. As a blogger writing a profile, you will find that you can follow the Hero’s Journey for many of your subjects.

In a fictional Hero’s Journey, you can write and arrange your characters in whatever way best works with the pattern. As a blogger you will be writing about real individuals and so you can only outline your story in this format if you have enough information to track a Hero’s Journey at some point in your subject’s life. It will not work for every person you interview because some people just do not share the type of information you need to follow their journey. But when it does, you will end up with a solid and unique profile that hooks your readers and, if you study the process carefully, can really highlight your writing ability.

The Hero’s Journey is essentially a process of Separation, Initiation and Return. These three sequential occurences are further broken down into somewhere between 8 and 12 steps. As you can already tell, this pattern gives you a clear outline with which to work and you will know very quickly if it can be applied to your subject or not. Here is a brief overview of the eight basic steps:

Step One: The Call

The call is an invitation into the unknown. The unknown can be either physical or spiritual. Physical calls may take the hero away from family, place him* in a strange land and/or overcome a hardship or constriction. Spiritually, your subject may have felt trapped, out of place or like she just did not “fit” anymore. A call can come gradually or be sparked by some sort of crisis or sudden change.

Step Two: The Threshold

The threshold is the line between the known and unknown. This is the point at which the hero must decide whether or not to accept the call, knowing that he will not be able to turn back after making the choice.

This is also the place in the story at which helpers first appear. In fiction, helpers often bring divine gifts to aid them in the challenges to come. However less magical they may be, helpers are just as important in a “real-life” monomyth. Mentors and guides are the most important types of helpers as they usually provide knowledge or focus that the hero would not otherwise have had. In both fiction and in our own lives, helpers tend to show up when we need them. Carl Jung called this synchronicity.

Step Three: The Challenges

Whether outward (physical) or inward (spiritual, psychological), the challenges faced on the Hero’s Journey are menat to build maturity, skill and confidence. As the journey progresses, the challenges generally increase in difficulty. Temptations are some of the greatest tests on the journey, usually brought by someone attempting to pull the hero away from his path. The hero must face the temptations and deny them to continue on the journey.

In nearly all monomyths, the challenges will target the hero’s weakest points. This will enable him to improve those skills, overcome those fears or otherwise better himself in order to successfully pass the challenge. If a challenge is failed, the hero may suffer a minor setback or be forced to end the journey and return home defeated.

Step Four: The Abyss

The Abyss is the greatest challenge of the journey. It comes after the hero has had time to improve upon weaknesses, but usually requires that he give everything of which he is capable in order to succeed. It is at this stage of the journey where the hero must defeat or work past his fatal flaw or risk failing the challenge and, by extension, the journey.

Step Five: The Revelation

The revelation is a shifting of the way the hero thinks or views life. Generally sudden and/or dramatic, the revelation either takes place before or after the hero descends into the abyss.

Step Six: The Transformation

Once the Revelation has taken place and the Abyss is conquered, the hero has completed his change. Having overcome great fears and weaknesses, he is a new person and is nearly ready to complete the journey by returning home.

Step Seven: The Atonement

Before the hero can make his way back home, he must come to terms with his “new” self. The transformation has been fully completed, but it may take some reflection for the hero to fully integrate everything he has learned on the journey. The Atonement is essentially the official rebirth of the hero, bringing harmony and balance back to his life.

Step Eight: The Return

To complete the journey, the hero must come full circle. Because he has changed, he often is able to use his new knowledge or skills to better the world he left when he answered the call. Sometimes the hero returns too enlightened for his old home and either backslides, enlightens others or must again accept a call in order to find balance.

Though a novel or other work of fiction generally focuses on a single Hero’s Journey, in real life we usually go through many. These journeys can be short or long, profound or somewhat mundane. What they all have in common is that we come through them changed. In my lifetime I can think of several just off the top of my head: going to kindergarten, going to college, coming out, my mother’s battle with cancer…the list goes on and on. The point is, nearly everyone has at least one Hero’s Journey in his life. As a writer, it is your job to find it.

The monomyth format can create a unique and unexpected outline for a profile on your blog. While it is not widely used in non-fiction, it is used even less by bloggers. So next time you are interviewing someone, as him about a life-changing experience and see if he will share enough for you to map out his Hero’s Journey. Not only are they fun to write, they are also very interesting and enjoyable to read.

*I used the male pronoun because it was the first one that came to mind and constantly writing he/she or him/her can really ruin the natural flow of an article. I promise I am not sexist.

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Blogging

Why Cold Pitching and Bartering Do Not Work in Blogging

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2 words: nobody cares.

I just checked my email. One stranger who came in cold – as strangers always do – emailed me a reply:

“Is that your lowest price?”

I deleted his email. On a day when feeling less compassionate, I junk the email. Label it as spam. Why?

Nobody cares.

I genuinely care about someone who genuinely cares about me. I do not care much about a stranger who tries to barter with me when he ignored the email where I told him my final, fixed, non-negotiable price. Thousands of strangers have tried this approach. Thousands of strangers get ignored.

Nobody cares.

That was one of the bartering emails.

I received a handful of cold pitch emails. Bloggers emailed me as strangers, asking to guest post on my site. 90% did not even bother to address me by name.

2 words: nobody cares. Meaning, I do not care about them. I delete. I ignore. I move on.

I checked my spam folder to delete the emails. I scanned. 3 more pitch emails popped up in spam. The bloggers pitching through these emails pissed off enough bloggers to ensure; all future emails of theirs land in spam. Try building a blogging business from the spam folder. I dare you.

Genuinely, nobody cares.

Analogy

Imagine someone knocking on the door of your home right now. Go ahead. Visualize this scenario.

This person wants to sell you a vacuum cleaner. You shut the door in their face unless you are 1 of 1,000,000 people who would actually buy a vacuum from a stranger at your door. The remaining 999,999 human beings either buy one on Amazon or via their local department store.

Save the 1 person, nobody cares about a stranger who blindly pitches their sales services or who blindly pitches an opportunity at the door of their home. Just like nobody cares about a stranger who blindly pitches them a guest posting opportunity.

Nobody cares.

How to Get People to Care

If you want people to care enough to buy your blogging course or to feature you on their blogs, care about them.

If you want to land on Blogging From Paradise just do these things:

  • spend 3-6 months promoting me on your blog
  • spend 3-6 months promoting me on social media
  • publish 2-3 posts weekly
  • practice writing daily; offline

I begin to care about people who care about me generously and genuinely.

You stand out from the thousands of strangers who I do not care about when you care about me. It is such an easy tactic to build bonds with leading bloggers. Simple, too. Care about me as a human being. Ask for nothing. Expect nothing. Pay your blogging dues. Be generous. Be genuine. Be patient. Be persistent. Guaranteed; you will stand out from the crowd eventually. You have to, because generosity is always repaid in some way, shape or form down the road.

My generous, skilled friends get links on Blogging From Paradise for free.

Strangers need to pay my rate. If a stranger tries to barter my rate after I noted my fixed, non-negotiable, price, I delete the email. I may spam the email. People who do not have enough respect for me to read the entire email belong in spam. Landing in spam is the blogging business kiss of death; you will fail blogging for 1,000 years if your emails wind up in spam. The Blogging Scarlet Letter is S, for Spam.

Just freaking care about bloggers. How hard is that? Stop focusing on yourself and your needs and what you want to GET out of me and do some GIVING. Fool proof, simple, powerful way to build a successful blog. Plus you will have the money to invest in sponsored posts so you need not try to barter like a cheapie. Plus you will receive more and more free links on top blogs.

Doesn’t that sound fun?

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Why Insta-Impatience Damages Your Blogging Campaign

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I posted a few images on Instagram right now.

Sweet snaps from Thailand.

Instantly, a few generic, lifeless, bland, spam comments popped up. Nice post. I love your profile. Keep up the great work.

These people get swept up in the culture of Instagram Impatience. A hefty majority of Instagrammers want something for nothing. Spam commentors want me and my followers to click on their profile link to Like their updates and to buy their stuff. Being too impatient to:

  • address me by name
  • make a specific comment clearly related to the photo

I ignore their spam. Wasted time. Wasted energy.

Some of these fools take it even further into blogging delusion, believing their Instagram profile is an actual blog. You do not own Instagram. You sit on rented real estate. You can be evicted at any time for any reason. Plus you have nil branding potential on Instagram. But I digress.

If you allow Insta-Impatience to bleed into your blogging campaign you will:

  • want something for nothing
  • spam fellow bloggers with generic comments
  • destroy your reputation
  • struggle
  • fail

Good things take time. Impatience breeds failed ventures.

Monks, Fish and Thailand

I observe Buddhist monks walk on alms every morning here in Pong Noi, Thailand. We live by a temple.

Monks are poised, patient, calm individuals who built up these qualities through meditation and by renouncing a worldly life. If you give everything up you cultivate detachment. If you are detached, patience is your natural state.

Inst-Impatience is the polar opposite of a Buddhist monk vibe. You want 5, 10 or 100 Likes in a split second. You want sales in a split second. You fear waiting. You fear working. You fear wasting time creating and connecting. Apply this vibe to your blog and you will fail because you skip the stuff you need to do to succeed.

I recall the Japanese Wisdom spouted concerning cooking a fish; overcook fish and it becomes shoe leather, under cook fish and it remains raw. At best, under cooked fish tastes terrible (unless it is sushi). At worst, you become horribly ill consuming under cooked fish.

Inst-Impatience creates a raw, unfinished, unpolished blog. Best scenario; people take a bite, hate the taste and leave. Worst scenario; people trash your blog and brand, you lose your reputation and your blogging business fails.

Solution

Be generous, patient and persistent. I spend little time on IG to avoid the culture of mass impatience over there. People expect to make a fortune with 3 lines of copy and 20 hashtags.

Good things take time, energy and generous effort.

Look here:

I have helped people on the Warrior Forum since 2010.

I have written 5,361 posts.

There are no shortcuts to successful blogging.

Patience, Grasshopper, patience.

Follow the lead of Jane Sheeba and Sue-Ann Bubacz. Both bloggers patiently, generously and persistently create value and build bonds. Both bloggers know success is a marathon, not a sprint.

Do not panic. Do not lose patience.

Blogging Becomes Easier with Your Generosity and Patience

I would only write one post weekly a decade ago. I was not generous. I was stingy. I struggled because blogging simply mirrored back my stinginess to me.

At 10:25 AM Thailand time on a Sunday morning I have:

  • published 2 posts on Blogging From Paradise
  • published this guest post
  • broadcast live on Facebook
  • mentioned 2 of my blogging buddies above
  • commented genuinely on blogs

Each bullet point is generosity. The more patiently I have displayed such generosity the more easily worldly blogging success finds me.

Give freely.

Be patient.

Receive generously.

 

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Blogging

What Is the Harshest Blogging Wake Up Call?

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My harshest blogging wake up call occurred nearly a decade ago.

I would write and publish one post weekly. I spent 1 hour writing and publishing the post.

I spent the rest of the week:

  • watching TV
  • watching YouTube
  • working out
  • hanging out with friends

After a good year of following this routine I saw a few visitors to my blog daily. I recall 3 daily visitors for many months, stumbled upon my blog.

I experienced a big time blogging wake up call; you cannot build a successful blog by listening to music and watching TV all day long, minus the 1-2 hours you spend blogging, weekly.

The harshest wake up call: blogging gives you what you give blogging.

Blogging Gives You What You Give Blogging

I know of a few bloggers who complain about having terrible business prospects. When will they get more clients? When will they get more traffic? When will they make more money? I mean, they have been blogging for 5 to 10 years already. Things should be growing SO much more quickly right now, they say.

These individuals will get more clients when they stop watching Netflix all day. Do you want to be a professional Netflix watcher or a professional blogger? Pro Netflix watchers spend hours daily watching Netflix. Not sure how well that job pays. Professional bloggers spend 6-8-10 hours daily:

  • creating helpful content through your blog, through guest posts and through videos
  • building your friend network by generously promoting other bloggers and by genuinely commenting on their blogs
  • freely promoting your premium products and services through each piece of content you create
  • generously following the prior 3 steps for months

The person who follows each bullet point for months, then years, sees more and more clients. Traffic increases over time. Blogging profits increase over time. Blogging gives them what they give blogging.

Janice Wald is always after it. She’s a hustler. Follow her for inspiration.

Ditto for Saurabh Tiwari. He is one of the most dedicated bloggers I know. Follow him for inspiration.

Do Not Fight Good Advice

I have personally coached bloggers who fight my smart advice. These people say networking is not for them. These folks resist creating content because they do not want to force it. This crowd ignores good advice, then goes back to watching Netflix or sports for the next 3 hours.

If you fight good blogging advice, you will struggle and fail. It has to be that way; you are doing the opposite of what it takes to succeed. Put your ego to the side. Follow smart advice. Succeed.

Listen to the guy with this home office in Thailand. He knows what he’s talking about.

Your mind wants you to fail because it fears the fears you need to face to become a successful blogger. I feared facing deep fears years ago, so spent most of my time and energy doing everything BUT blogging. You may nod, then, go back to watching Netflix or YouTube for the next 2 hours. 2 weeks down the road, after you spent only 2 hours of your time and energy blogging daily, you feel frustrated and want to quit because you have signed up no new clients, money seems to be running out and no business looks promising, on the horizon.

It is 100% YOUR CHOICE to spend 6 hours watching Netflix today and 2 hours blogging. You are doing this. You are making this choice.

It is 100% YOUR CHOICE to make a massive shift; spend 8 hours creating content and building connections, today.

Blogging just mirrors back to you your choices and energy, you make every waking hour of every day.

Right now, you have the next 8-10 hours to generously help people through creating and networking, or you choose to focus on yourself, watching TV, streaming Netflix, hanging out with friends.

Spend those 8-10 hours daily blogging for 3-6 months, and eventually, you will see more clients.

100% your choice, your decision, your energy, your commitment to blogging success.

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