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The Greatest Blogging Skill

Posted By Darren Rowse 24th of March 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

The following guest post was submitted by Easton Ellsworth from Visionary Blogging.

Spiral StaircaseWhat is the greatest blogging skill?

It’s not the ability to produce excellent blog content.

It’s not the ability to build a strong blog community.

It’s not the ability to monetize every page view, click and pixel.

It’s not even the ability to improve your content or your community or your monetization or anything else.

The greatest blogging skill is:


Meta-improvement is the improvement of improvement.

It’s not just self-improvement. It’s self-self-improvement-improvement.

In other words: Becoming a better blogger faster and faster.

Why Meta-Improvement?

Picture 3 runners in a race. All start at the same speed.

Runner #1 never changes speed. Flat line. No improvement.
Runner #2 speeds up at a constant rate. Upward slope. Improvement.
Runner #3 speeds up at a constantly increasing rate. Upward curve. Meta-improvement.

Guess who wins?

3 Keys to Blogger Meta-Improvement

Self-Awareness. (See Metacognition.) Consider your personal efforts to improve your blogging skills. What’s your routine? Do you madly surf the intertubes for tasty blogging tips on how to boost any skill about which you’re momentarily feeling insecure? Or is there more of a method to your madness? Begin now to think about how you think about how to improve.

Focus. This meta stuff can be overwhelming. Take it one step at a time. Each week or month, consider your blogging skills one by one: content creation, design, community building, monetization, email ninja-ness, etc. Pick the one that you need to improve most urgently in order to meet your blogging goals. And keep that sucker in your sights until it’s licked.

Relentlessness. Never give up trying to become a faster improver. Lather, rinse, repeat. How quickly do you apply the blogging wisdom that you discover? How easily do you let your skills relapse?

The Blogger Meta-Improvement Motto

“I will do my best to improve more today than I improved yesterday.”

Meta-improvement is hard. It’s much harder than improvement alone. But it’s also worth the struggle. Your struggle is its oxygen.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Dive beneath the surface and you’ll find a never-ending series of layers: meta-meta-improvement, meta-meta-meta-improvement, etc.

Your mind can probably only wrap itself around that first submarine layer. But take the dive; it’s well worth it.

May this help you begin to see yourself in a new way and become a better blogger – faster.

Photo: Upward spiral by gerriet

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. Meta improvement and thus keyword management is essential cornerstones of a healthy and vibrant blog. All too often I see blogs and quite frankly web site content that does not adhere to a Keyword Strategy throughout a given page of a web site. Theme based and laser focused writing/blogging is essential to a long tail road to victory!

  2. I really enjoyed this post, insightful, positive and encouraging.
    I strive to improve each day in everything I do, though not always a success the effort and will remain.
    I think the following quote is very relevant to blogging or any web based endeavor: “Sometimes you are ahead, sometime you are behind, the race is long and in the end it is only with yourself”. I think of this quote in terms of perseverance not pure competition.
    I have been working on my blog for 5 months now and am starting to see some minor traffic, would love to see more, but am happy with what i have achieved thus far, and looking forward to the next level!

  3. As I understand, Meta improvement is like Six Sigma quality improvement tool which helps to achieve perfection by continuously eliminating defects.

  4. Excellent and informative article. I especially like the runner example to explain meta improvement to the blogging uneducated.

  5. I would add that this equally applies to other aspects of life as well. Great post!

  6. Sure it is the greatest skill, I agree with ya, and I will go to improve my blog now!

  7. I recall Stephen Covey’s seventh habit of highly effective people. Sharpen the saw.

    With warm regards,

  8. Matt L says: 03/24/2008 at 2:32 am

    Going to fast could lead to falling over yourself.

    Make sure there is a stone in front of you before you take that step… don’t fall into the water.

  9. Interesting. As a new blogger I’m trying to post great content.

    Admittedly the idea of meta-improvement is exhausting me already!

    I definitely see myself making improvements with every post – even if they aren’t perfect, I learn from the imperfection.

    Tony Robbins calls it “CANI: Constant and Never-ending Improvement”.

    I can’t help wondering if consistancy is the most critical factor. Improvement, for sure, but I’m not sure it feels natural to pressure oneself to constantly improve, improve, improve. Strikes me as a little hyper and unnatural?

    I think improvement comes in slower, steadier chunks.

    But perhaps you guys can enlighten me further.


  10. Very insightful post.

    There is always room for improvement and when it comes to blogging you certainly need to stay on top of the improvement curve.

    I remind myself when writing to never be in a hurry. When I rush I tend to make mistakes.

    When I take my time I tend to make course corrections for the better.

    The Masked Millionaire

  11. It’s a never-ending motive to keep you blogging even when everything seems like its going downhill. Stop worrying about what’s going wrong with your blog and instead just work to improve your knowledge in one category at a time.

    A blog is much like a diary. If you go back to your earlier posts and re-read them again you’ll find a few seconds of nostalgic thoughts. Maybe you didn’t know anything back then. Maybe you were overly excited. Maybe you were just really happy. It’s these kind of things that make your content genuine and not the same as every other blog on the internet.

  12. Thanks for the article, reminds me to go take a look at my blog again and see what can be improved upon. There is always a certain amount of tweaking to find what works best, but I agree, your suggestions are a meta-must :)

  13. I love the title you have given. By terming it the greatest skill – it says it all. About staying one step ahead always.

  14. I’m still struggling with myself as to whether this is a spoof post on ProBlogger… but my calendar tells me it’s not April Fools Day for another week.

    So just in case it is genuine – I suspect anyone who embarks on a *meta-improvement* scheme is one day doomed to fail. As, just like runner number 3’s constantly increasing speed, there’s a point beyond which it is impossible to progress.

  15. Silky, I’m with you on this one. Meta-meta-meta…

  16. Meta improvement…so true. Thank you…

  17. i hope to be the best improver! :)

  18. Is this a joke?

    This is pretty lame.

    Not just improvement, but META META IMPROVEMENT!!!!!!

  19. Excellent post! I’m always striving to improve day after day- meta style!

  20. That is in fact the best blogging skill.

  21. If anything, this is one of the most overlooked skills when it comes to blogging. Most people are focusing their time in other areas and seem to neglect this one. Good tips!

    Blue Sunshine,

  22. Meta improvement, that is something new for me. But I guess that is why this blog is so special, you always learn something here.

  23. Good tip, but I am afraid if there is anyone with this type of improvement. Please don’t scare the readers hard tips like this.

  24. Darren, in your runner example, it is not relative speed that counts, but absolute speed. If one starts at 1mph and meta-improves, it still matters nothing (at least in short distance).

    Not to mention, whatever the speeds, the finish can change the winner. But surely you didn’t consider running that thoroughly, did you?

    I think you should’ve chosen a more relevant example for your case.

    Your point of improvement is still valid, though.

    With experience, runners tend to understand and estimate their running skills, the terrain and other runners more adequately and easier. They train not only their running, but training skills as well. (Not that you’d put this technical example in your post, of course, but FYI.)

  25. Interesting, but the use of the race metaphor doesn’t “jive”.

    For a short 100m dash, sure, someone who runs at a constantly increasing rate will win. But for a 1000m, or a marathon, I don’t think so — that person will keel over dead.

    For me, creative great content is still king (or queen).

    All the other stuff will, indeed, help, there’s no doubt, but you can get all the visitors/traffic to your site, and if the content is lacking, will they return?

  26. Very encouraging post. Thank you for this. There are just some times when we have to push that extra inch and perfect our blogs. There is always room for improvement. Laziness is a blogger’s worst enemy!

  27. improve and improve ..
    It is a learning process to become successfull blogger…
    Learning process won’t stop untill die..

  28. Growth is the key, but don’t forget balance too

  29. Definitely insightful, some people may even use the term “cheem” to describe this post.

    This is a piece of inspiration that will definitely push me to think and act beyond what I’m currently doing with my blog.

    Thanks for the contributions.


  30. Good morning everyone. I’m warding off my youngest kid (fishing Easter candy from my pants pockets) while telling the oldest I’ll get him his bread with butter on it in a minute.

    And I’m reeling with pleasant shock that Darren was so kind as feature me here. I haven’t read any of your comments just yet. After breakfast, I promise! Good to meet you all.

    By the way, any work-at-home dads here? I bet I change more diapers than you do. :P

  31. Explained like a wonderful teacher.
    Focus on goals and a good concentration will definitely make the reaching of goal easier.
    Nice post. Congrats.

  32. Good advice – but at the same time don’t work too hard or else your blogging spirit will disappear after a few months.

  33. Meta-improvement… this will also be my motto for my blogging as well, and a new word to my vocabulary too.

  34. @Steve, Sibirskiy: Amen. I totally agree.
    @Adam: Right, exactly – this is not about comparison with the next runner. This is about comparison with your own capacity and your effort relative to that capacity.
    @OldSailor: I’ll check that tool out, thanks.
    @Chris: I am prone to coming up with weird examples so it feels good to hear you say that it made sense.
    @Meredith, Franca, Scott, Otto, king kong, Miguel, Joseph, Blue Sunshine, Young Online Millionaire, shy guy, suresh: Thank you, sincerely. Best blogging wishes.
    @Sudheer: Exactly. And, improve your ability to sharpen that saw! (There’s that dizzying hall of mirrors effect again …)
    @Matt: Spoken like Gandalf, I love it.
    @Mark: Don’t worry – one thing at a time, you’ll get it. I’ll have to learn more about Tony Robbins’ perspective on this. You’re right, to – it’s best to not see meta-improvement as a very time-consuming thing – it’s more like an attitude mingled with regular, brief introspective review and planning. Taking it to the extreme, you would worry so much about improving that you would actually waste time.
    @The Masked Millionaire: Slowly but surely wins the race … and I think “surely” denotes continuous effort and stretchign and reaching … so that you’re really not going slowly by race’s end.
    @Niklas – Boy, do I know that “jaded” feeling. Yep, it certainly helps to refresh yourself on the good things you started out with.
    @Deepa: Exactly. Greatest as in the summit – the little point on top that consummates the whole and allows the climber to meet heaven, as it were.
    @Silky: It’s genuine. While you can’t actually improve everything eternally (there are limits and bounds), I still think the meta-improvement thrust is valuable because it leads to maximum growth and acceleration. So you do hit some barriers on some things, but there are others that you actually can keep improving (knowledge, for one; friendships, for another) your whole life.
    @Ben: I know, it’s dizzying. It’s like wondering how long eternity is and how you would feel if you found yourself alive at the end of it. But I think it’s worth the shot to ponder.
    @CtTaxed: I understand that it can be confusing. I’ll try to clarify the idea in my own research down the road.
    @Paul, Jaseem: It’s scary for sure. But I know it’s worth it to ponder this, even it overwhelms at first.
    @Yura: The potential effect of meta-improvement, like that of compound interest, increases over time. So while it won’t do much good in a sprint, it will work wonders over the course of a marathon. Most bloggers here are marathoners – after the long dollar rather than the short penny. Also, you’re right that sometimes the absolute matters more than the meta comparison – for instance, a grown man will always outrun an infant, even if the infant speeds up a bit and the man slows down. But in terms of personal growth – not compared to others’ growth – the relative matters much more. The quest for never-ending improvement doesn’t eliminate the need for benchmarks and milestones – on the contrary, it makes them more meaningful. I do need to expand the scenario and offer several more illustrative examples. Thank you for highlighting that weakness in my argument.
    @Nez: I’m sure there’s a better example. I’ll keep searching. Maybe I need to frame it so the example isn’t featuring people against each other – since meta-improvement is all about the self emerging from ever-widening husks, rather than competing against others. I agree with you that the ability to create marvelous content is superb – but I think that meta-improvement reigns over it because it’s the difference between making the same great content always and actually making content that gets better and better over time. Great content without improvement and the effort to meta-improve will remain where it is.
    @VernLai: Thanks – my goal for this post is met in you.
    @Jeremy Steele: Right. It is unwise to try to run for too long at a speed that could utterly exhaust you. But stay diligent and look around you as you go, trying always to get faster.
    @Sangesh: Sweet! A neologism and a new start!

    Another way of putting my idea here: When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and evaluated, the rate of improvement increases. Bloggers who regularly stop and think about where they are going and how fast are more likely to increase their success.

    Maybe the running example isn’t the best since we all know that there’s a limit to how fast the human body can run and most people’s top running speed is actually somewhat hard to increase by leaps and bounds (pardon the pun). I’ll come up with something better if I can. Any thoughts of yours are invited as well.

    In the end, I think the value of this principle lies in the effort – in really thinking about and sweating to achieve better results, and to reach them more quickly each day. We get strongest by pushing on that boulder hard every day; whether or not it moves is beyond us.

  35. Really good post here. This is a problem i have to deal with. I tend to get better at something but then just stop when iIget to a certain point when I really need to keep trying more. Thanks for the post.

  36. Great post. Very good insight into what it takes to truly be a great… anything. The biggest reason there are so few truly great bloggers, or superstars anywhere, is because of the lack of wanting to continually improve on what they do. Blogging is definitely an art, but it can be taught, learned, and improved upon. We must take it upon ourselves to want to improve and then get to work on it! Great stuff.

  37. Thanks that was great! That helps to think about focusing on the most important things first. I am just trying to launch a blog in the next week and it is very overwhelming dealing with the details and technical aspects at times. I need a minion! Until then, it seems I can write an article on just about anything about health in a matter of minutes or hours but then fiddling around with wordpress and other things seem to really slow me down. Progress not perfection!

    I will be better tomorrow…only because you said so…

  38. @Rob, Tim, Dr. Nicole: it’s all about the struggle to improve and being aware of that struggle. Sometimes we get so caught up in a flood of advice that we fail to take just what we need and apply it in a timely manner. It’s the “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” syndrome.

  39. Thanks Easton! I was so overwhelmed by details and minutia over the past month that I got more accomplished in two hours today after reading this article than I have in all that time combined it seems. Whenever I am doing something with my blog I feel like I should be doing something else more important, mainly because I feel like I should be paying someone to be doing half the stupid stuff I am doing. LOL


    Regardless it feels good to get something, anything done!

  40. Improving improvement…Sorry I find that to be laughable as a post. Some people here will understand that but it seems the rest will just say what a groundbreaking post…

    This blog and many others like it are becoming like the wizard of oz hidden behind the curtain…saying a lot but not meaning much.

  41. Easton,

    Thanks for this post (and Darren for putting it here), have now fed your blog to my reader ..

    Very impressed that you took the (would have been a fair bit) time to answer everyone’s comments. Nice work, kudos.

    I imagine you _could_ write about a number of characteristics which would vie for the greatest blogging skill. I really enjoyed your post, so I’m not being negative ..

    For a blog’s longevity, I’d say Endurance/Stamina/Determination/Never-Say-Die would be it.

    For a blog’s readership, then probably your meta-improvement would be it. Although you could also say that “Exterior Popularity” would also be a very important factor.

    You know now I think about it, for both of them combined, longevity + readership + good writing (chucked this one in for posterities sake, heh) I’d back “Meta-Improvement”.

    Again, kudos.

  42. Nice concept … keeps the focus on improving yourself. However, the more you improve the more you need to focus on improving even more …

    Because of this there is a danger of slowing yourself down again ;)

    Then again,

    if only realistic factors such as time, technology and your own creativity would expand synchronous to your own meta-improvement, then in theory it should be achievable …

  43. Def a great article!!! Everything revolves around improving and bettering yourself.. and becoming a great blogger is not exception. Hard work, determination and Common Sense are key factors too to keep in mind! ;)


  44. I really liked this :) I am often trying to think of different ways of improving my site. I feel my writing is improving from headlines to content – which is great. I have many new ideas and as I implement them I am experience a growth that didn’t come from remaining stagnant

    excellent point D :)

  45. Meta-Improvement happens always with each posting. Writing about it like here is great!

  46. @Nicole, congratulations! I’m glad I was able to help a little.

    @Tim, I think I understand you. In this post, I offered no data to support my assertion that meta-improvement is the greatest blogging skill. I will try to fix this problem in my upcoming book. I agree with your belief that we can judge people by their fruits far better than by what other people say. Thank heavens for the curtain-pulling Totos of the world.

    @Stu: You’re welcome. A comment is just a comment. But a sincere comment between humans can become an unforgettable point in the development of a meaningful relationship. I’ll address and respond to your suggestions in my first book.

  47. Well… technically, you’re talking about exponential improvement. Meta means organic or part of or granular.

    Meta Improvement describes improving in more and more related ways. Not increasing improvent. Fine detail, but a detail nonetheless.

  48. Aaron, that’s a great way to put it. I studied the word “meta” for a while before submitting this post, and it seemed to fit pretty well because it can mean “self-referential.” However, I like “exponential” because it accurately describes the nature of the ideal improvement curve. Sadly, there is no single word that captures the full meaning of this concept.

  49. No worries, Easton. I just don’t want a buzz word to be created here that means something completely different than intended. ;)

    You know… like… social graph! ;-)

  50. Okay, I think it’s great to improve your self-improvement, but you have to do some serious self-improvement to start with, or what the heck would you be improving?

    Cool post anyway. :-)

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