Blogging Tips – Penguin-Style!
I realise penguins strike fear into the heart of many bloggers, but I’ve been watching some real ones on the telly recently and their antics got me thinking about blogging. In case you’re wondering, this post’s not about Google’s Penguin – we’re talking about the genuine article here, those weird and wonderful little creatures who live in the southern hemisphere.
When you’re struggling to make money blogging, it can seem a daunting task. So how about taking some lessons from these strange, comical, flightless birds who overcome almost impossible odds, year in, year out?
I must admit I don’t often have the stomach for nature programs on TV – there’s always someone eating someone else and I’m a bit squeamish. But I’ve been unable to resist an extraordinary series about penguins; it captures them on film, up very close and personal, thanks to sneaky cameras hidden in fake penguins, eggs and rocks. Just as well wildlife can’t sue us for breach of privacy!
The program follows three groups of penguins as they make marathon journeys to breed and raise their chicks against seemingly impossible challenges, in the toughest places on earth. Emperor penguins cross the treacherous frozen wastes of the Antarctic, while Rockhoppers brave the storm-lashed rocks of the Falkland Islands and must scale cliffs 100 metres high to reach their nest sites. The Humboldt penguins have to endure Peru’s arid, baking hot Atacama desert – and there was I thinking penguins only hang out where it’s freezing cold!
Here’s a brief clip of the Rockhoppers clambering up to their breeding ground – enjoy!
What Can We Learn About Blogging From a Few Crazy Penguins?
Against all the odds, these penguins do survive and thrive. So how do they do it? I think these are some of the keys to their success:
- HAVING A CRYSTAL CLEAR OBJECTIVE: The penguins all know exactly where they’re going and why. Their sole aim is to reach their breeding grounds and raise chicks. There’s never any doubt what their journey’s all about.
- So What Are You Aiming At? Do you know what your objective is where your blog’s concerned? What’s your goal? What are you trying to achieve?
- SINGLE-MINDEDNESS: Those penguins just never take their eyes off the prize. While the Emperor penguins were being filmed on their long trek, one got left behind after getting lost in an ice maze. By the time he’d worked his way out, his buddies were miles ahead and way out of sight, but he just kept on going – one weary, lonely step at a time. I was longing for the camera crew to give him a lift as they followed his agonizing progress; his situation looked pretty hopeless but, incredibly, his dogged persistence paid off and he made it.
- How about you – are you consistently moving in the right direction? I think a lot of bloggers fail because they get sidetracked and wander off the path that leads towards success. Do you ever get disheartened and a bit lackadaisical, or distracted by shiny objects? Are you sufficiently single-minded to succeed?
- TENACITY: These penguins epitomize grit, dedication and determination, making the most of all the skills and resources at their disposal. Let’s face it, they’re not exactly designed for rock climbing, but look how the Rockhoppers ingeniously use their claws, flippers and beaks to clamber up those perilous cliffs.
- How determined are you to succeed? There are probably aspects of blogging you find difficult. Maybe you’re not a naturally gifted writer or perhaps, like me, you struggle with the technical side of things. How tenacious are you when it comes to overcoming those hurdles?
- THEY’VE GOT BOUNCE! The penguins beautifully demonstrate the power of a sheer bloody-minded refusal to accept defeat. The tough, irrepressible Rockhoppers keep slipping down rocks and getting washed back out to sea, but they just never give up. As Ben Affleck said in his recent acceptance speech at the Oscars, “It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, all that matters is that you get up.”
- How readily do you bounce back? If you want to make money blogging, you’re bound to have set-backs and defeats. How do you react when something goes wrong and you fall flat on your face? Failing won’t defeat you – as long as you keep getting right back up and try again, as many times as it takes.
- THEY’VE GOT GUTS! There are no easy routes to the penguins’ breeding grounds; they all have to go through tough terrain and face obstacles and dangers. And boy, are they brave! The little Humboldts, in their determination to reach their nests, have to navigate through a daunting colony of thousands of aggressive sea lions. They show enormous daring, dodging in and out and sometimes literally climbing over the snarling beasts. Then when they seek refuge in a cave, they come up against a bunch of hungry vampire bats…….ugh!
- Are you brave enough to succeed? There are no sea lions or vampire bats on the web, but we have our fair share of spammers, hackers, trolls and computer viruses to contend with – not to mention Google’s own Penguins and Pandas! Do you have the nerve to deal with these threats?
- CAMARADERIE – PENGUINS DO IT TOGETHER. They may have their squabbles, but they basically work as a team, learn from each other, protect one another and help each other out. The Emperor penguins play follow-my-leader across the frozen wastes and form an enormous “huddle” for warmth when the cold of a fierce antarctic storm becomes unbearable.
- Where do you get your support? It’s difficult for any blogger to succeed in isolation. On your own, you’re much more vulnerable and likely to get lost and give up. That’s why so many bloggers belong to “mastermind” groups – they’re a great way of sharing knowledge, as well as supporting and motivating one another to succeed.
- INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE AND CHARM: OK – I know I’ve just said they work as a team – and they do – but penguins are also marked by their individual attributes and personality. It’s the unique, feisty character of each individual that adds to the power of the group; besides which, at the end of the day, each penguin has to figure out his or her own way, albeit with the support of their comrades.
- What makes you special? What qualities would you bring to a blogging mastermind group? Which individual traits are going to contribute most to your success? Do you have what it takes to forge your own way through the blogging maze?
- UNPRETENTIOUSNESS: In the water, penguins look magnificent, but on land they’re often clumsy and ungainly. They slip, slide and slither down slopes; they fall on their faces and flat on their backs. There was a hilarious moment in the documentary when one penguin, whose mate was late for their date, mistook a decoy “penguin-cam” for a real female and began making amorous advances towards it (he was getting desperate!) When his mate finally appeared, she gave “penguin-cam” what for!
- Can you cope with looking like an ass? We all foul up from time to time. One of the keys to blogging success is not being afraid of making mistakes that might make you look like an idiot. Maybe you’ve fallen for a “get rich quick” scheme, started a blog that’s gone nowhere or made an embarrassing gaffe on Facebook or Twitter. Never be too proud to own up to your mistakes. Apart from anything else, this will almost certainly endear you with your readers, who’ll be comforted to know you’re not infallible.
Do You Have the Spirit of a Penguin?
I don’t think you’ll have much to fear from Google’s Penguin – or Panda – if you take a few tips from these genuine superstars of the natural world.
What do you reckon – do you have the tenacity of a Rockhopper, the courage of a Humboldt or the determination of an Emperor? Do you think you possess sufficient penguin-like brilliance to succeed? Has this list brought to mind any weak points that could be getting in the way of your success? Perhaps there are some issues you need to work on, or maybe there are other factors you think are more important.
I’d love to hear from you – if you’d like to join in the conversation, please leave a comment below.
And if you have friends or followers who might enjoy this post, please don’t forget to “share”.
PS If you’ve got this far and not watched the video, please give yourself a treat – it’s 2 minutes 49 seconds of sheer joy!
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