In this continuing series, I am covering how you can become not only the best blogger you can be, but also how to become recognized in your field and thus adequately compensated. The first two installments covered tactics - commenting and optimizing for search - but in this third post, I am making it more personal. There are traits that are uniquely ideal for blogging. I believe the most important of these traits is curiosity.
But how can something as abstract as curiosity lead to concrete blogging results, nay success? What are the benefits of curiosity? I've gathered some of the best comments on this topic and I hope it proves enlightening. (If so, please feel free to comment below and subscribe to be notified of future posts on the subject.)
The Pain of Not Knowing
Curiosity is arguably caused by the pain - or perhaps frustration - of a gap in knowledge. Most of us have experienced this condition in acute or chronic form.
Long-time readers of this blog know of my appreciation for Chip and Dan Heath's Made to Stick. They quote behavioral economist George Loewenstein on his gap theory of curiosity: "[Loewenstein] says that as we gain information we are more and more likely to focus on what we don't know. Someone who knows the state capitals of 17 of 50 states may be proud of her knowledge. But someone who knows 47 may be more likely to think of herself as not knowing 3 capitols" (pg. 89).
Think of the smartest or most ambitious person you know. Are they also naturally curious? I'm willing to bet that they are. Is this correlation a coincidence?
Motivation - Buzz, Buzz
Reading the original Loewenstein study is illuminating. He describes the pain of the knowledge gap's intensity as "explained by the fact that it is a loss phenomenon; information seeking is motivated by the aversiveness of not possessing the information" (pg. 92).
Most good marketers I know possess a "bee in the bonnet" mentality - vivacious and prone to excitability - stimulated by the pain of not knowing something.
But don't think of pain as purely negative.This pain acts as a strong creative force too. Jonny Bentwood describes the feeling: "I blog because I enjoy learning more and the feeling I get when I scribe my (previously incoherent) thoughts into a blog post. When this creates dialogue with a community that I respect and value, this feeling is compounded."
Passion is linked to curiosity. You can find evidence of this online every day with bloggers and marketers. To become an A-list blogger or marketer or just great at your given profession, you must have a passion for your work - passion motivated by a curiosity to learn everything there is to know on that subject.
C.C. Chapman spoke about this in his Managing the Gray podcast #50 - How to Break Into New Media as a Career.
"You've got to be involved in the space...whatever your niche is gonna be... And you have to be curious. I think that's a big player in what you're going to do...[Re: virtual world like Second Life] It wasn't about business. It wasn't about launching companies. It wasn't about bringing brands in. It was about 'WOW, this is cool; I'm curious about what more I can do with it.' It was the curiosity factor. And I think that's a driving force behind anybody who is playing in this space. They're curious. They're inquisitive. You've got to be curious...Just be curious, get out there, and do it. And get over this over-night success crap."
Innovation - Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Of course, all of this pain and passion is nothing if not translated into action. You can be a brilliant marketer or blogger but believe me, it means nothing if you don't do anything with it.
Author of “The Open Mind” Dawna Markova was recently quoted in the New York Times: "You cannot have innovation," she adds, "unless you are willing and able to move through the unknown and go from curiosity to wonder."
Curiosity is essential, as are the pain, motivation, passion, and innovation that comes with it. But that means you have to translate this to action. Have you been thinking about starting a blog? Or want to apply to a new job in the Web 2.0 world?
DO IT. I live by the philosophy of: "The worst they can tell you is 'No.'" Start that blog and accept the fact that you might screw up. Go for the gusto in your career. If you are curious, put it into action. Then, write back and let me know how it goes. Good luck!