follow your passion

Who would ever suggest that you should not follow your passion on your blog? Surely this post is about to commit some kind of blogging sacrilege.

But bear with me.

Passion about blogging is an admirable thing. We are passionate about it here; that’s why we build CoSchedule. But when it comes to the actual content marketing and writing, you might do well to be cautious about letting your passion be your guide.

Why Passion Can Be Dangerous

It seems to go against the zeitgeist of content marketing now, suggesting that you might approach passion cautiously. But passion can be deceptive and can get you into trouble if it is what you’ve based your entire blog’s existence on.

Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. – Robert SternbergClick To Tweet

1. Passion Isn’t Always Consistent

Passion is like the moon; it waxes and wanes (though not as consistently). When you only blog what you’re passionate about, you’ll find you might have 10 posts in one week and then nothing for a month. If passion is your sole motivation and guide, you’ll never make it blogging. You’ll start, but not finish. You’ll be inspired once in a while, and flounder the rest of the time.

2. Passion Gets Bored

Are you passionate about getting in shape? After months at the gym, if passion is your only motivation, you’ll get tired of the repetition. Passion quickly gets bored with how things are. Passion is too often motivated by measurable results. It isn’t always interested in the day-to-day building blocks; it prefers the exotic dream, the “what if.”

3. Passion Is Inspired By Big Moments

Passion is motivated by Big Moments. It is motivated by the day you lose 60 pounds, or the day you close the deal at work. It’s motivated by the thought of getting 500,000 visitors to your blog every day. It isn’t motivated by the unsexy work it takes to get to those big events.

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4. Passion Can Be Blinding

Passion can make you blind to decisions you ought to be making, misleading you into thinking that if you have the passion, you’ll make it. Ever heard someone who was passionate about singing, but just not very good? All the passion in the world is not going to change their ability to stay on pitch. Your passion is a terrible judge of yourself.

5. Passion Can Be Forgetful

Too often, the people who tell you that all you need to do is follow your passion if you want to see success are people who have already made it. It is easy, when you finally taste success, to forget the grunt work it took to get there.

Blogger Aaron Thomas puts it bluntly:

“These people took a less glamorous, more traditional route: working for years in passionless jobs to earn enough money to do what they want.  Sean Penn is picky about the scripts he’ll read now, but he didn’t always have that luxury.  Go look at his IMDB.  Between “Fast Times at Ridgmont High” and “Dead Man Walking” there was plenty of garbage.”

Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance. – Anthony J. D’AngeloClick To Tweet

How To Approach Passion

I would never suggest you ignore the things you’re passionate about, or that your takeaway from this is to lead a bland, passionless life. That would be miserable.

It’s not that you don’t want to feel passionate about anything. When you feel passionate about something, it’s a good thing. But you have to have to be aware that it isn’t enough of a driving force to actually accomplish anything. It might be a great igniter, it might be a great compass, but it isn’t long-term fuel. And if your blog needed anything, it’s long-term fuel. Getting started is easy enough.

So what can you do? How can you write a blog that isn’t based on your passion for the subject?

1. Fall In Love With The Process

Blogger James Clear does an excellent job explaining why we need to stop being mesmerized by the Big Moment and start learning to love the process that will, inevitably, get us there.

“All too often, we think our goals are all about the result. We see success as an event that can be achieved and completed. […] But if you look at the people who are consistently achieving their goals, you start to realize that it’s not the events or the results that make them different. It’s their commitment to the process. They fall in love with the daily practice, not the individual event.”

His best example is in weight loss. You have to fall in love with the idea of healthy eating and exercise, not the end goal, if you want to get there.

2. Get To Know Your Passion

You might be surprised if you took the time to actually consider what it is you are truly passionate about. Are you passionate about photography, or is it really about was bringing happiness to the people you photograph? Is it the activity, or the result of the activity?

That might sound a bit hokey, but it’s easy to mistake what you are really passionate about as the obvious thing.

If people had asked me what I was passionate about, I might say it was painting or writing. But, after sitting down to write a personal mission statement, I discovered something surprising. It wasn’t about the painting or the writing. It was about making a contribution, the act of creating something new, and helping to bring beauty into the world. There were deeper motivations and ethics involved. That changed my priorities, and actually freed up limitations that I “must be an artist or writer.” There were different ways to achieve what I was passionate about than those two activities (though I still very much love doing them).

Write a personal mission statement. Ask yourself questions, and answer honestly.

  1. Others. What do I want to be known for? Who is my community? How will I contribute?
  2. Self. What is important to me? What is the center of my life? What is my character going to be?
  3. Action. What do I like to do? Why doI like doing it? What do I hope might come from it?

After you finish writing your own personal mission statement, write a mission statement for your blog.

  1. Others. How do I want to affect my readers?
  2. Self. Is my blog about readers? Why am I writing it?
  3. Tangibles. What do I want my blog to do? What are the goals I hope to achieve?
  4. Action. What will I do to achieve my goals? How will I communicate with my readers?

I discovered that my personal blog wasn’t about making money or having huge amounts of readers. It was, instead, because I felt almost compelled to write, more than anything, and that it also tied into my personal mission statement in that I wanted what I wrote to matter to people.

Forget what activities or obvious activities you think you are passionate about. What qualities and goals are absolutely important to you? How does this translate into what you are writing about?

It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind. – T.S. ElliotClick To Tweet

3. Allow Your Passion A Seat At The Table

Blogger Jon Doherty said that “[t]here is nothing worse…than someone who writes because they feel like they should write, and not because they want to write.”

Indifferent blogging can stop any time, please. There are enough passionless blogs out there, doing the rote work just to get the clicks or ad dollars. While passion isn’t always a good judge, and it isn’t always a good long-term fuel, it has a particular quality that can’t be replicated through anything else: zest.

Passion keeps your blog from being bland, boring, predictable, insipid, tedious, and dull. All of those.

  1. It gives you ideas that matter. Passion will help you come up with blog post ideas that matter to you and your audience. A blog which has no passion behind it at all will quickly struggle to find ideas.
  2. It helps you write honestly. When you write about things that matter, you write in a way that matters. You address the things that are really important instead of just lists of items to fill a word count.
  3. It inspires real conversation. Passionate posts spark passionate responses. Passionate posts confront, console, and understand. They are the things people really want to talk about, not a list of 5 Ways To Be Awesome.

Passion always must be in the blog equation somewhere.

While passion may not be the best leader or object on which to base all of your decisions, it absolutely must be present or your blog wither away. Passion and a commitment to the process go hand-in-hand.