Why Bloggers Should Be Anarchists

Anarchy Heart Switch Blue by Christopher Sessum   CC BY-SA 2.o

 

This is an article I’ve always wanted to write.

I’ve been an anarchist (to varying degrees) since my failed attempt to become student body president in 8th grade.

True story: after my nomination was rejected, a small group of my friends agreed to help me take over the school. Overthrow the faculty and everything. Maybe we’d watched too much professional wrestling, because the NWO “hostile takeover” of WCW was fresh in our minds, but for some crazy reason, we thought we could pull it off.

Our coup d’état was stopped by forces beyond our control. President Clinton declared the entire city a disaster area after downtown was flooded by the swollen Red River, just a matter of days before we enacted the plan.

I can neither confirm nor deny that I was placed on an FBI watch list for my activities in 1997.

In those days, I was more of a rebel than a true anarchist. Yes, there’s a difference. A rebel or revolutionary fights against the “powers that be” with hopes of replacing them with powers he likes better.

That's me in my radical middle school days.

That’s me in my radical middle school days.

An anarchist wants to remove those powers and replace them with…freedom.

Embracing Anarchy as a Blogger

The word anarchy literally means “without ruler.” I like this definition of anarchy from Vernard Eller:

“’Anarchy’ … is simply the state of being unimpressed with, disinterested in, skeptical of, nonchalant toward, and uninfluenced by the highfalutin claims of any and all arkys (powers).”

For bloggers (or would-be bloggers), this should be a liberating concept.

There are no kings before whom you must bow in the blogosphere. Even if there were, you’re not obligated to bow in their presence or follow their rules.

That’s one of the things we love about the internet – blogging in particular: Freedom! But so often, we find ourselves tied up…restricted by some imaginary rule. Or squeezed into a mold that someone else designed.

The truth is, we’re doing it to ourselves. Knowing the truth shall make you free.

This call to anarchy is a call to freedom.

What does that mean for you, specifically?

Even though there are no kings here, the blogosphere is full of “arkys” (to use Eller’s word) trying to govern our thinking and shape our behavior.

If you did a search for “rules of blogging,” Google will give you over 55 million results. Bing gives twice as many. There have been tens of millions of attempts to tell you how you should blog.

How do we deal with that?

Well, as your brother in anarchy, I won’t try to tell you what to do. But if you don’t mind, I’ll share some observations with you and maybe that will shed some light on the situation.

In short, becoming an anarchist is a declaration of independence – even from the advice I’m about to offer.

De-throne every form of fear

Fear may be the Number One provider of blog abortions. And if it doesn’t stop blogs from being born, it often keeps bloggers from making them all that they could be. It smashes brilliant ideas before they ever hit the page.

Fear only has as much power over you as you give it. So refuse to give it any.

That doesn’t mean that fear just goes away without a fight. Arkys never do. Your decision to ignore fear doesn’t mean it won’t scrape and claw to maintain its hold over you. Fear will strike. You’ll be nervous to express your ideas sometimes, if not every time. You’ll feel trepidation as you move the mouse to click Publish.

Blog anarchists recognize fear’s strength but refuse to allow it to paralyze them or determine their decisions.

Feel the fear and keep moving forward.

Although the battle is never truly over, freedom from fear enables you to…

Celebrate your creativity

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you.” – Arthur Polotnik

It’s important to know what you want to accomplish with your blog; what is your overarching theme? Who are you writing for? Will you position yourself as a friend, a teacher, a whistleblower?

The beauty of building your own blog is that you can say whatever you want, however you want (as long as you don’t break any laws outside the blogging universe):

Your subjects.

Your style.

Your format.

Don’t care for the rules of proper grammar? Throw ‘em out the window. (That usually makes you a better blogger/writer, anyway.)

Leaders, Not Rulers

Seth Godin writes on his blog every day.

Roy H. Williams writes his weekly.

Matt Loomis blogs somewhat randomly.

Dan Pink, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t blog at all.

Some of Ramit Sethi’s blog posts are over 3,000 words. The last Jeff Goins post I read was barely 300.

Who’s doing it right? Who has the right formula?

I don’t have to answer that for you.

They do what’s best for themselves and their audiences. They have the freedom to do that.

As outstanding as these writers are, they don’t define what good blogging is, no matter how many fanboys you come across proclaiming “Seth’s way is the best way.” (I haven’t heard any of these guys make that claim for themselves.)

You don’t have to fit into anybody’s box.

Great bloggers don’t impose authority on their readers; they inspire admiration. And, hopefully, action. Rather than push you into a specific way of doing things, they pull you forward into your own unique greatness.

Can I be honest about something? Sometimes the great ones are so good at what they do, lesser mortals like me can feel intimidated. Ever read a post that was so good that it made you want to quit? Maybe that’s just me…

Quit Trying to Write

Perhaps I was over-impressed. I felt as if I’d never reach the level of skill required to write that well and momentarily felt inadequate. It happens from time to time.

If you’re passionate about your craft and honest about your own skills, you may have similar experiences. Be encouraged; moments like these illustrate how much you care about growing and improving. Try to flip that intimidation back into inspiration and press on.

Throw Off the Chains

“Elephants can pull over 1,000 pounds with ease and yet a 10-pound chain will cripple them. Elephants have for centuries been contained by humans simply by placing a chain around their ankle… there is a conditioned response that if a chain is around their ankle, it cannot move…” Brett Faris

Did you know that you and I have this same conditioned response built into our brains?

Growing up, we’re taught to follow rules, no matter how arbitrary. To give the “right answers” instead of expressing ourselves.

It doesn’t end when we get out of school. Most of us carry this conditioning into every part of our lives.

(Funny thing: the great leaders we learn about in history class, the pioneers who fill the physics books, the geniuses who advanced math beyond counting fingers and toes – they were basically all rule-breakers. Paradigm-shatters.)

Bloggers need to throw off every chain the keeps us from being great. Or how will we make it into our children’s history books?

Today is the day. Declare your independence – from “rules”…from fear…from the need for external validation…from the need to emulate one of the big names in the blogging world.

Today, and forevermore, let us live by our own rules. Let us be fully ourselves. Let us be anarchists.

P.S. What other blogging “rules” do we need to unchain ourselves from? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Author Bio:

Donnie Bryant is a Chicago-based direct response copywriter, marketing consultant, speaker and author of Stealth Selling: Non-Pushy Persuasion for Professionals.
After working for big-name clients around the country, he has dedicated himself to helping small businesses and solopreneurs grow their businesses with unusually effective direct marketing strategies. Find out more about Donnie on his website. Or you can connect with him on Google+.

25 comments

  1. Kaboom Schneider   •  

    LOVE IT! “Here’s to the crazy ones…” as Jobs said.

    • Donnie Bryant   •  

      The link between craziness and genius is well-documented…by crazy folks.

  2. Roger Bush   •  

    Great article! I actually forgot that I make my own rules! I have the right to be creative and free in how I express and share my thoughts with the world. Thanks for reminding and inspiring me to think outside of the box!

    Roger

    • Donnie Bryant   •  

      Thanks for the comment, Roger.

      What’s great about your blog/podcast is that you’ve already determined to follow your vision instead of trying to fit into someone else’s niche.

      You’re a giver dedicated to serving your audience (Faith Nation!). Creative freedom for the sake of others (not self-aggrandizement) — that’s the best kind of anarchy!

  3. Brett Faris   •  

    Donnie, first sweet pic of you back in the day rocking the headsets in middle school.

    Secondly this is an incredible post. It reminds me of “a truth will set you free but a lie will keep you in bondage.”

    For someone like me who is starting out I have been fighting fear all the time to go online and start sharing my message. I have found myself many times looking to other people to follow their steps or want to give up because I don’t have what they have. What I’m learning over time is that I need to be me and write how I want to write. That’s the freedom that I want and that is the freedom you are offering us today.

    Thanks!

    • Donnie Bryant   •  

      The truth will make you free! (Thanks for letting me borrow your elephant anecdote for this post, BTW.)

      Feeling free to be yourself can be difficult, especially early on in the game. A lot of times you have to learn what the “rules” are so you know how to properly ignore them. And we’re all copycats to a certain extent. Who do you know that hasn’t been influenced by the example of one of their predecessors — either for good or for bad? Stephen King wrote this:

      “…most writers can remember the first book he/she put down thinking: I can do better than this. Hell, I am doing better than this! What could be more encouraging to the struggling writer than to realize his/her work is unquestionably better than that of someone who actually got paid for his/her stuff?”

      It’s taken me a long while to destroy some of my idols. Some of them continue to creep in the shadows, looking for an opportunity to sneak back into my mind.

      Thanks for the comment, Brett! Keep pressing forward!

    • Sharon Grotts   •  

      What you just said is exactly how I feel!

  4. Christopher White   •  

    Liked this article a lot. I have felt “pushed” recently to imbibe the numerical formula for blogs “4 things you must do” “10 easy paths to changing your life, lose weight, and get rich” etc. etc. ad nauseam. As I do it I know this is not who I am and that this trend is really a trend not an axiom. Thanks for the encouragement Don.

    • Donnie Bryant   •  

      I think most of us go through a phase where we try to learn what others are doing, what’s “working,” etc., and there’s nothing wrong with that. But as we mature as writers/bloggers/creators, we have to learn when to break the “rules.” In order to be more true to ourselves and instructive/entertaining to our readers, we have to be free to be ourselves.

      There’s a place for the “10 Easy Paths to Changing Your Life” type of articles, but we shouldn’t be bound by that format.

      Thanks for the comment, Christopher!

  5. Diana Cairns   •  

    Thanks for your article, Donnie! I have been fighting many fears for a long time, which is the reason I haven’t started my blog yet. I fear the technical aspects of creating my blog and I fear the response (if any) when I do. I also fear getting no response!
    As you rightly point out, the world wide web is the vehicle of freedom, but freedom (like everything else) has a price.
    I used to submit my poetry to a site and I really enjoyed reading other people’s poems. I also appreciated the fact that others could understand what I was saying, even though it was cryptic. The site was closed down because of some extremely negative responses to some of the poetry – it became a war zone!
    Can you comment on this potential for “violence” in a “free” world wide web?

    • Donnie Bryant   •  

      I think your question is a good one, Diana, but maybe we should be asking a different one.

      Shouldn’t creatives be violent?

      "Violence" can be creative or destructive, sometimes both. We should try not to hurt people — malice is never good — but violence may be necessary to replace the old and antiquated with something new and better.

      I love this quote from John Maynard Keynes: “Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.” Words can, and often must be, violent attacks on deception and apathy.

      Freedom isn’t the issue, in my opinion. Man’s depravity will reveal itself, whether free or bound. Intention can’t be regulated by any structure, online or off. So if people want to get nasty, they’ll find a way.

      People have an inner drive to be themselves and express their uniqueness. If they’re free to do so, there’s a higher chance that their “violence” will be creative rather than destructive.

      Does that make sense?

  6. Sharon Grotts   •  

    Donnie, I really enjoyed reading this post. I’m at a place within myself right now that’s not good, but this post has given me inspiration. I have a website, and I’ve published some blogs, but after reading other blogs people have written, I’ve gone back and deleted everything I wrote so many times! I’m a new Blogger, and I got started by reading a lot of “how to Blog” Blogs. A lot of them stress that in order to get noticed we have to use the right Key Words. After using as many key words as I could in my Blog, I felt it totally took away from what I really wanted to say and that my Blog sounded fake. After reading this post I think I’ll just write what I want to say the way I want to say it. You have helped me to remember that in the end – I write my own rules.

    • Donnie Bryant   •  

      I hear ya, Sharon. I’ve filled many digital wastepaper baskets…

      Don’t get me wrong — it’s very important to continually improve your blogging, writing and marketing skills. We should all strive for excellence. But we should try to stop shoving ourselves into a box called Success that someone else has defined.

      You’ve come to the right place. Build Your Own Blog has TONS of helpful material that will help you create success on your own terms (and meet some great people, too).

  7. Margaux Daughtry   •  

    Great theory and yes you definitely want to be unique in your blogging to stand out from the crowd. BUT all the other articles on this site tell you the tips you should be doing while writing your unique articles. It’s all very confusing! lol Sometimes I feel like I need to post something because I haven’t in awhile and then feel like it wasn’t my best work! Do any of you ever go back and edit later on after you’ve posted an article or do you just make it a goal for future writing? I do a lot of tutorial style articles and I haven’t really found a way to make them entertaining! I know it’s all a learning process! lol I am bad for over thinking things!

    • Donnie Bryant   •  

      Thanks for the comment, Margaux!

      Did you ever play sports as a child? You spend hours practicing your skills, learning plays, developing your muscles and reflexes. The same thing day after day. But when it’s game time, anything can happen.

      You use all the skills you honed. Your body works flawlessly. Everything you practiced routinely and systematically is expressed freely, reacting to unpredictable game conditions. Sometimes you surprise yourself by what you can do.

      But the game isn’t random. It’s freedom. That freedom comes with mastery.

      Blogging is similar. Only there is no referee, just an audience. And you’re not exactly sure where the out-of-bounds line is (you find that out as you play. And it’s flexible). And you get to set your own goals!

      • Matthew Loomis   •     Author

        “Freedom comes with mastery.” – Donnie Bryant

        *Donnie stands up from his computer chair and leaves the room*

        What more can we say?

      • Margaux Daughtry   •  

        Nicely put! Thank you for the support! I guess sometimes it’s nice to hear these words from successful bloggers when you are a newbie! Not getting results makes you start doubting yourself. I just need to keep at it! Thanks again!

    • Matthew Loomis   •     Author

      Hi Margaux,

      Great to hear from you. I hope you will comment again. 🙂

      You ask a great question, and Donnie’s sports analogy was brilliant and right on target.
      Like sports, there are fundamentals to blogging that we all can and should practice. But because we are each individuals with unique personalities, skills and life experiences, there is no one way to blog that perfectly fits everyone the same.

      We must keep practicing and learning. Like baseball players, they all have different batting stances they use when at bat. Some are slow runners while other fast. Some throw left handed while others throw right. Some can bat on both sides of the plate! But that doesn’t automatically make them a better hitter! LOL See what you’ve done, Donnie! I could go on with the sports analogies. 🙂

      To answer your questions, yes I sometimes do revise a blog article after it’s been published. Could be a week later or 9 months later. Really depends on what you’re doing. I don’t do this with every article though, just to be clear.

      Of course, you can always take an old blog post and make it into a new blog post. http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/125-old-content-new-heat.html

      Keep in touch, Margaux,

      Matt

      • Margaux Daughtry   •  

        Thanks for the support! I guess I know all this I just get frustrated and start doubting myself. It’s frustrating making sure you are delivering quality work along with figuring out how to get readers! I feel like I try to follow all the great tips I read, but get no results. I just want it to magically happen! lol Again thank you for responding!

  8. Vera Collins   •  

    Good stuff right here. I am always worried about punctuation, sometimes makes me not want to write at all. I know I have awesome stuff to write about, who cares what it looks like, how does it make you feel? LOL

  9. vernetta sims   •  

    That was really good, the only fear that I have at this stage in my life is fear of not being all that I was created to be! You just can’t spend your time worrying about the opposition because it will all ways be there.

    • Matthew Loomis   •     Author

      So true, Vernetta. And the higher to go, the louder the opposition gets. You just gotta choose to ignore the noise.

  10. ivan   •  

    right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! , absolutely , entirely , completely , right !
    to all those who spew free speech and right to chose , why not , not just try , but actually DO .

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