24 Posts to Inspire Independent-Spirited Writers Everywhere

writing inspiration

You choose your audience.

You choose your topic.

You choose your theme, your plugins, your widgets.

You choose when to write, what to write, and how to write it.

You decide all of those things because you’re the boss, and you answer to nobody.

But let’s face it; few endeavors are as independent-spirited as blogging.

And that’s why we’re delighted to showcase a collection of outstanding posts created by bloggers who truly embrace that spirit of independence by sharing their ideas, on their terms, with a waiting world.

Some have just started a blog and are tentatively taking their first steps; others are experienced bloggers who continue to hone their craft.

But regardless of where you’d place yourself on that spectrum – or even if you’re only now thinking of launching a blog – you’ll find plenty here to motivate and inspire you.

The True Meaning of Independence for Bloggers

When independence and blogging are mentioned in the same breath, they often conjure up an image of location-independent bloggers building their internet businesses while hopping from one exotic location to the next.

But while that lifestyle is the dream of some, it’s a narrow view of the independence afforded bloggers.

More important is their freedom of expression – independence from anyone else’s rules or predetermined agenda.

And whether you blog from a beach bar in Belize or a basement in Baltimore, the fact that you can reach a global audience with your uncompromised, unfiltered ideas gives blogging a rare power.

But having that potential reach and not doing everything you can to capitalize on it is like having the freedom to travel but never leaving your home town.

You owe it to your ideas to give them the best possible chance to spread, and that means seizing every opportunity that comes along.

One such opportunity is the Serious Bloggers Only quarterly contest.

The “Serious Bloggers Only” Summer Contest 2015

As you probably know by now, Serious Bloggers Only is our membership program for readers who see blogging as more than just a casual hobby.

Since we invited members to submit their posts and guest posts for our first contest at the end of last year, hundreds have entered, and dozens have appeared in our winners’ line up, earning wider recognition and that prize beloved of all bloggers – more traffic.

This is our third contest, and we continue to be surprised by the range and quality of the entries. More proof (though none is needed) that our readers rock!

Congratulations to all our winners and to everyone who entered (because if you entered, it means you’re getting in the game.)

And if you’re not a member of SBO, that’s fine too, but keep looking for ways to put your ideas in the spotlight.

So here they are, organized by category, our official selection of the best entries from the Summer Contest 2015.

And The Winners Are…

Category: Most Inspiring

Winner – Doug Hay – Rock Creek Runner

Ultrarunning as a Microcosm of Life: My Black Mountain Monster Report

Most of us can’t conceive of running 100 miles in a week, let alone in a single day. Yet runner (and blogger) Doug Hay somehow makes us want to. His gripping account of the physical and psychological challenges of participating in a 24-hour ultramarathon are hugely inspiring, not least because of the window it gives us to the friends and family that support him through the entire event.

Runner-up – Sarah McKenna – Bombshell Bling

Snapshots of the Emotional Stages of a Mother-Daughter Relationship

This post is a love letter to mother-daughter relationships everywhere. The happy photos of Sarah and her siblings with their mother – even during tough times – are moving. For me, the post shows how a parent’s love can transfer from one generation to the next and inspires us to remember that incredible relationships are within reach of us all.

Highly Commended – Sandi Lerman – Wing Builder

7 Lessons Raising my Adopted Daughter Taught Me About Starting and Running a Business

Another powerful story of mothers and daughters – this from the perspective of a mother who adopts a deaf child. In this post, Sandi brilliantly pivots between the challenges of raising her new daughter to those of being an entrepreneur. She manages to do this without us feeling we’ve fallen victim to an emotional bait and switch.

Category: Most Valuable

Winner – Anthony Smits – Aretezen

23 Ways To Increase Your Profile And Become A Significant Influence

What I love about this post is that it takes a topic – influence – that’s more often discussed calmly and coolly in the context of corporate leadership or authority building and gives it the kick-ass motivational treatment of a personal development post. Anthony writes with a lot of attitude and passion and packs a ton of insight and value into this long post.

Runner-up – Scott Sind – Activate Thought

16 Super Achievers Share Their Secrets to Success

Expert roundup posts are commonplace these days, but what’s remarkable about this one is the sheer caliber of the participants. Guy Kawasaki? Check. Pamela Slim? Check. Chris Guillebeau? Check. As a result, many of the answers shared by Scott via this post are truly valuable – hard-won insights from genuine high achievers.

Highly Commended – Elle Sommer – Live Purposefully Now

6 Things to Bear in Mind When You Don’t Feel Good Enough

In this beautifully written post, Elle offers a defense against the paralyzing power of perfectionism with simple wisdom persuasively argued. I particularly liked the idea of tiny choices, which seemed to me to be a kind of “compound interest” for personal intention – the effect over time becomes hugely magnified.

Category: Best Storytelling

Winner – Dan McGuire – Bako Heat

Worms for Sale

Dan’s childhood tale of two entrepreneurial pals collecting worms to sell to local fishermen (and making a small fortune in the process) charmed the pants off me. Details like the late-night trips to pluck “big fat juicy night-crawlers” from the greens of a local golf course and his mother’s pithy one-liners make this read like a Stephen King short story.

Runner-up – Jason Zinzilieta – The Victorious Writer

My Greatest Failure – And How To Avoid It Yourself

This simple story condenses nearly ten years of missed opportunities into just a few paragraphs, but by the end, the sense of loss is palpable. Too often procrastination is discussed in the abstract, but by chronicling its cumulative effect, Jason achieves a much more profound result. The message – there may not be a next time.

Highly Commended – Pamela Burke – Can. Will. Done.

How Do You Handle Challenges When EVERYTHING is Going Wrong?

Pamela’s post reminded me of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from childhood. She takes a true story and, through a clever shift of perspective, puts the readers at its heart, asking “What would you do?” at key moments. Her cliffhanger ending has us eagerly clicking for the next installment.

Category: Most Personality

Winner – Gigi Wolf – Chez Gigi

10 Things Women Don’t Do In Movies That Make Me Crazy And Every Toddler Knows How To Do

Gigi’s writing oozes personality, and her post achieves the rare feat of being laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end. Her distinct writer’s voice brands every sentence, and by the time I finished, I felt myself developing an addiction – I wanted to hear her hilariously rant about another topic.

Runner-up – John Yeoman – Writer’s Village

Five Great ‘Characterization’ Tips – Use Them At Your Own Risk!

This post was a strong candidate for the Details and Examples category; it’s so rich with both. But it’s John’s ability to bring personality to his writing without sacrificing one note of authority that landed him as the winner of this category.

Highly Commended – Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

How to Prep When You’re NOT an Epic Wilderness Survival Guru

This post is a masterclass in audience bonding. Daisy uses a personal story and her natural, conversational style to make her readers feel she’s just like them, and if she can do it (disaster preparation), anyone can. By the end of the post, you can almost imagine Daisy by your side, helping you shovel that snow and chop that firewood.

Category: Most Fearless

Winner – Cylon George – The Change Blog (Guest Post)

Five Ways to Find Perfection in Your Imperfections

Revisiting painful childhood memories is brave; doing so on a popular blog is braver still. Here Cylon uses his childhood stutter as the starting point for a post about embracing our imperfections. Through his generous sharing, we benefit from the insights of hard-learned lessons without having to experience the pain Cylon suffered firsthand.

Visit Cylon’s blog here: Spiritual Living for Busy People

Runner-up – Casey R. Alexander – The Good Men Project (Guest Post)

10 Unconventional Tips to Get Your Wife to Look at You Like She Used To

A refreshing and bold pragmatism fills this post about rekindling the spark in a long-term relationship. Casey isn’t afraid to challenge popular advice and even give unexpected tips (like, it’s okay for your partner to look at other women) that might win her more friends on the other side of the gender fence. But this is unvarnished advice for the real world that feels like it would actually work.

Visit Casey’s blog here: Casey R. Alexander

Highly Commended – Ashley Trexler – Scary Mommy (Guest Post)

I’m a Lazy Mom, And I’m Not Apologizing

Admitting you’re a less-than-perfect parent takes courage, particularly when others make a show of doing a great job. In this post, Ashley proudly waves the banner for parents who kick back now and again in the name of their own sanity. Sharp, funny, and provocative – the web needs more posts like this.

Visit Ashley’s blog here: Lies About Parenting

Category: Most Practical

Winner – Christie Vanover – Girls Can Grill

Overcome 3 Grilling Mistakes

I can’t imagine how anyone could better execute this post about common grilling mistakes. It has a wonderful conversational tone, mouth-watering images, and some genuinely useful tips that transcend the typical commonsense advice. The problem-solution layout fits perfectly, and the troubleshooting angle is a refreshing twist on the recipe format we expect from food blogs.

Runner-up – Alexandra Campbell – The Middle-Sized Garden

The ‘Secret Garden’ Strategy – How to Turn Forgotten Into Fabulous

I love the way Alexandra uses a childhood book to inspire a super-practical post about how to make a neglected garden shine again. The tips are valuable but not too obvious, and she backs them up with interesting quotes and insightful tips from other gardeners. Gently inspiring and interesting even to those of us who don’t have a garden.

Highly Commended – David Ruiz – Torrevieja Translation

7 Reasons Why You’ll Get Mugged by Zombies in Spain

David’s guide about travel safety takes a fun analogy (pickpockets = zombies) and uses it to fuel a humorous romp through the various mistakes tourists make when visiting Spain – mistakes that make them prone to “attacks.” This unusual framing brings energy to a potentially dry and sombre topic and acts as the sugar that helps the medicine go down.

Category: Best Use of Detail and Examples

Winner – Anthony Metivier – Fluent in 3 Months (Guest Post)

How to Use a Memory Palace to Boost Your Vocabulary

Anthony is a professional memory trainer and uses this guest post to apply his techniques to the sphere of language learning. What makes these abstract ideas accessible to a general audience is the careful detail, from a colorful story of the origins of the “memory palace” technique, to the specific examples that show how the reader can make the technique their own.

Visit Anthony’s blog here: Magnetic Memory Method

Highly Commended – Bryan Collins – Copyblogger (Guest Post)

Beyond Chitchat: Here’s How to Extract Expert Knowledge From Your Next Interviewee

This slickly executed post about interviewing is peppered with the kind of practical detail that only comes from real-world experience. Bryan effortlessly weaves his valuable tips together with expert quotes creating a highly readable how-to post that significantly raises the game for all but the most experienced interviewers.

Visit Bryan’s blog here: Become a Writer Today

Category: Visually Awesome

Winner – Sumitha Bhandarkar – A Fine Parent

How to Deal With Sibling Rivalry Effectively (Infographic)

The best infographics communicate information more efficiently and engagingly than pure text ever could. In this wonderful example Sumitha takes principles from a third-party and repackages them (with full acknowledgment) in a way that’s easily digestible and beautifully on-brand.

Runner-up – Tony Messer – Pickaweb

Local SEO: The Definitive Guide

When bloggers incorporate graphical elements in their content, they usually focus on function over style. Either the graphic stands alone to convey the required information (as in the case of the infographic above) or it supports the content, like a screenshot or a diagram. What’s much rarer is the use of design to simply make the content more beautiful, like Tony does in this gorgeous resource list. With neat graphical touches and a meticulous attention to layout, he transforms a simple list of links into a visual feast.

Highly Commended – Helen McCarthy – Addicted2Success (Guest Post)

27 Confidence-Boosting Picture Quotes From Kick-Ass Bloggers

This is a simple idea, beautifully executed. We’ve all seen quotes overlaid onto attractive background images shared on social media, but this post extends that idea by creating an entire collection of quotes. Helen gives each one a distinctive visual style, any of which would be handsome if shared in isolation, but the effect as a collection is rich and inviting.

Visit Helen’s blog here: Blog with Confidence

Bonus Category: Most Epic

Winner – Tor Refsland – Time Management Chef

80 Productivity Tips From Incredibly Busy Experts

Tor’s post takes the expert roundup to a new level with a full 80 experts contributing to his truly epic post. Productivity is a topic that interests us all – we all want to get more stuff done, regardless of what our particular flavor of stuff happens to be. I found this post to be delightfully moreish – no matter how many valuable tips I learned, I was always hungry for another.

How Will You Celebrate Your “Independence”?

We live in amazing times.

How will you take full advantage of the independence and money-making opportunities that blogging gives you?

We live in an age our ancestors could hardly have imagined – an age where ideas published in one corner of the world are almost instantly accessible from every other corner.

You’d be crazy to squander an opportunity like that, right?

About the Author: Glen Long is the Managing Editor of Smart Blogger (a.k.a. Chief Content Monkey). Come say hi on Twitter. 🙂

65 thoughts on “24 Posts to Inspire Independent-Spirited Writers Everywhere”

  1. Hi Glen,

    Always a treat to see a “Glen Long original” posted here. 🙂

    Thanks for posting all these (I’m sure) excellent posts from Serious Bloggers Only members! Judging by their titles, the topics are all over the place. I should have a fun afternoon and weekend of reading!

    Congratulations to all the winners! I’m sure all of you earned it, and I look forward to checking out each of your posts one by one.

    Thanks again, Glen. I’ll be tweeting this one shortly!


    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your support as always. Yes there are some great posts here – I hope you were able to read a few of them.

      Thanks again for your recent Comments post – it rocked! 🙂



      1. Hi Glen,

        My pleasure! I’m a fan of everything BBT churns outs. 🙂

        Thanks for the kind words (and the opportunity). It’s appreciated!


        P.S. So far, the posts I’ve read have been great!

  2. Wow!

    Congratulations Tor, Helen, Tony, Sumita, Bryan, Debashish, Anthony, David, Alexandra, Christie, Ashley, Casey, Cylon, Daisy, John, Gigi, Pamela, Jason, Dan, Elle, Scott, Sandi, Sarah & Doug.

    I”m stoked to be in your company.

    Naturally, one enters these things to win, but still. Blown away that I actually did it. Thank you Glen et al. Muchly.

    With gratitude

    1. Anthony gives great feedback! Posted his comment and the whole shebang on my wall, and shared on Linkedin. Wish I could tell my mom! Hey, mom! Can you hear me up there?

    2. Well done Anthony. I really enjoyed reading your post – it grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and didn’t let go until the end.



  3. Great post here, Glen.

    Like Kevin said, these are all mot likely excellent posts written by SBO members. I’ll have one heck of a time going through them all … studying what made them great .. and applying them to my own works in the future.

    Great stuff again here, Glen. Have a great weekend, and to all those celebrating their Independence Day on Sat … have a great time and be safe.

    – Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes it would take you a little while to read them all!

      Lots to learn from these posts for us all. 🙂



  4. Hi, Glen,

    Excellent value given here, thank you! I love this post because it takes the work out it for me – what a great way to be tuned into new excellent content and awesome people to connect with.

    The only person in the list I’m familiar with is Tor. Congratulations, Tor!! Awesome achievement! Thanks again for including me in your list of Experts – I truly count it a privilege.

    Ah, have to spread the word…

    Carol Amato

    1. Carol,

      I somehow missed Tor’s name when I read the post. Thanks for pointing him out!

      Congratulations, Tor. Kudos, my friend! Same to you, Bryan (Collins). Getting to write for Copyblogger is big time (and I see you’ve done it THREE times).

      I’m not familiar with these other great (I’m sure) writers, but I will be soon. 🙂


    2. Hi Carol,

      thanks for the congratulations!

      It`s truly a huge honour to be the winner of the “Most Epic” category. But it was all a team effort. I`m so grateful for the contribution from the great 80 experts that joined, including you, Carol, and Glen.

      Have a great day.



    3. Great post Glen,

      What a wonderful way to meet so many great people. The only person here I know is Tor and want to say congratulations for making this list!

      I so appreciate you putting this together to make life so easy meeting new and wonderful bloggers.


    4. Thanks Carol,

      Please to have introduced you to some new writers and ideas.

      Yes, Tor’s post was great. It has some some genuinely fresh and useful tips and that’s tough to achieve with so much written about productivity on the web.

      Thanks for stopping by!



  5. What an interesting post proving the power of headlines. I read about things for which I have absolutely no interest. Thanks for sucking up my time this morning:)

  6. Hi Glen,

    a lot of awesome posts here (as always on BBT).

    I`m SOOOO honoured to win the “Most Epic”category.

    It`s truly cool to get some more exposure for this HUGE list of the 80 experts that joined my roundup 🙂 They are all sharing their BEST productivity tip that they use in their business, and all the tips are TRULY AWESOME.

    It makes all the hard work and sweat worth it.

    This REALLY made my day.

    Thanks again,

    *Happy Dance*


    1. Hi Tor,

      Congrats on winning the “most epic” category, my friend! 🙂

      And yes, I’d still be congratulating you even if your winning post WASN’T a post that featured a quote from me! Haha.

      I’ll be tweeting your post (again) in just a few.

      Congrats again, Tor.


    2. Well done Tor. I thought your post definitely deserved to be highlighted, so I created a category of one. It was well-deserved. I’m glad you’re pleased. Cheers, Glen.

  7. Hi Kevin,

    correction: my winning post DID include a featured quote from you 😉

    That was a good technique that was suppose to get me to paste your quote here, right?

    Sorry, man, your quote is too long 😉

    But what I can say, is that it was AWESOME 🙂

    Thanks again, Kevin.

  8. So honored to be included in this amazing compilation! I’ve got a few hours of reading ahead for sure! Many congrats to all of the wonderful writers here 🙂

    Thanks to the BBT and SBO teams for all the work that you do.

  9. Hello Glen,

    Lovely, celebratory post: thank you.

    May I thank all of those who actually entered this beauty contest and congratulate the winners?

    What a talented bunch of writers and inspirational too – thank you.

    BTW, I posted a little congratulations on John Yeoman’s entry and he has come up with a most creative idea for a logo for the winners (please see his link). Do hope it, or something similar, is given due consideration.

    Thank you everyone and kindest regards,

    1. Hi Zara,

      Of course you can thank the entrants and winners. Oh, you already did! 🙂

      Yes, I’m curious to see if that becomes our official contest winner’s badge. 😉

      Bye for now,


  10. Congratulations to all the winners! I’ve got a long flight coming up and all these posts are going to be on my reading list!

    Honored to be featured alongside such amazing bloggers. It’s writing like this that inspires me to keep stepping up my game.

    And a big thanks to the BBT team for doing all this hard work every quarter! You guys rock!

  11. Hi Glen!

    I am so stoked and pumped, and whatever other adjectives describe throwing coal in a furnace and getting buff! Thank you so much for the honor of selecting my post as a winner. I’m so glad I took the chance of ‘putting it out there’. I’ve learned a great deal from the authors on BBT.

    Writing has become a full time, non-profit enterprise, and it’s wonderful when hard work is recognized. I’m not sure I’ve ever worked quite as hard on anything I was paid to do!

    There is much to cry about in this world, and to counteract that, I write about all the nonsense and absurdities I can get my grubby hands on. You’ve given my motivation a big boost in the bottom.

    Thank you again, and now, I’m going to read the other winners in this lineup.
    (Let me know if I can do a Seinfeld for you, and be your butler for a week. That stoked I am!)

    1. Hi Gigi,

      Delighted to hear you’re stoked and pumped about being a winner.

      Putting a smile on the world’s face is an important job – even if it’s unpaid!

      Re: the position as my butler – you start on Monday. Sending address details shortly. 😉

      Congratulations once more and have a great week.



  12. This list has always inspired me to raise my game with my blogging, and this year even more so!

    Congratulations to all the winners, I look forward to reading as many of these posts and follow those rabbit-holes as far as I can this summer.

  13. Wow. And woohoo. It’s hard to believe that I made it onto your list Glen. This compilation of posts is awesome – so diverse and so fascinating to read. And to think I’m in there with some of these wonderful authors truly amazes me.

    Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who had the courage to participate.

    I love that you have this competition, it opens my eyes to the talent that we have in SBO. 🙂

    1. Hi Elle,

      Woohoo indeed!

      You earned your place in the line-up. Thanks so much for taking part.

      Hope you’re inspired to enter again next time around. 🙂



  14. How exciting!! Never would have made it this far without the support of BBT and members. Thanks to everyone! This community rocks 🙂

  15. I’m so honoured and so happy to be part of this compilation… amazing!

    The neighbours must have heard the WOW this morning when I saw the list of winners 🙂

    Congratulations to all the winners!

    All the best

  16. Mazel Tov to all the winners, and especially to the two in my circles, John Yeoman and Anthony Metivier!

    What’s involved in becoming a candidate in the future? Is it a fee-based “membership,” or do we submit posts to audition, or what?

    Interested…if it’s free of charge.

    Best to you all,


  17. Wow. I’m honored to be among the top 25. These posts were all so fun to read. There is so much talent out there. You have all inspired me to keep pushing myself . Have a great 4th of July weekend.

  18. Casey R. Alexander

    Thanks Glen, and the rest of the BBT/GB team, especially Liz. She gets at least half of the credit for the Good Men Project post. I couldn’t have done it without her! And a special thanks for including me in the Most Fearless category. That means more than you know. Congrats to the rest of the winners too. I’m going to be checking out all of winning posts, and like others have said, studying them!

  19. I am SO excited to see (especially) Tor and Gigi! They have worked with me in the past and I love how they write!

    Super job to both of them and to all the other winners! Congratulations!


  20. I’m so grateful to be included on this list of amazing writers and entrepreneurs! Writing well is hard work – but well worth the effort. I’m so glad to have the expert support of this community. Glen, thanks for the time and attention you gave to compile this great list!

  21. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up. I look forward to reading all your inspiring posts and learning from them. Happy Fourth of July! Jay

  22. What an honor to be included in this list of incredible posts/bloggers! I had a blast last night and this morning reading through all the other posts.

    My juices are flowing, and I can’t wait to write!

  23. I realized I miscounted. It is now titled 10 Things Women Don’t Do In Movies That Make Me Crazy. Has anyone else ever done this? 8 Ways To Foul Up a List Post, One Of Which Involves Not Knowing How To Count.

    1. Hi Gigi,

      Many years ago I gave a public talk and started by saying “There are three important things that we must consider ..” . Afterwards, I was told that I only gave two.
      The audience could count, I couldn’t.
      We learn by our mistakes – that’s OK.
      Hope that helps.
      Kindest, Zara.

      1. That does help! Thanks, Zara.

        At least you know the audience was paying attention. They were probably an audience full of A-type personalities, eager to take notes, and had 1), 2), 3) all ready to go on the lined notepads lying in their laps.

        Suddenly, at the end, their pens hovering over number 3, they realize…there’s no number 3! Aaahhh!!

        Thanks, again, Zara!

    2. Hey Gigi, I’m Glen’s new Editorial Assistant. I want you to know I updated the post to reflect the changes in # and the URL for your post. 🙂

      And…I enjoyed the post entirely – giggled the entire way through.

  24. Hi Glen,
    Ooh, fantastic!

    Having just signed up for SBO myself, I am super-excited about reading my way through all of these posts. (I’m even going to attempt to use my Pocket app or the first time so I can make my way through it ALL while I’m waiting on the kids at swim club later).

    I love all of the advice and inspiration that you guys share on here. Thank you again for giving us more (and I’m just off to tweet this now).


  25. Im still continuing my journey to becoming a better writer so these are all great posts Glen! Thanks for recommending them!

    Tor, if you see this, you rock brotha! 😀

  26. Great article with some really helpful tips on writing. A big question that I’ve been trying to figure out is how much time should I be spending on creating the content opposed to promoting it? If you suggest writing a couple times a week, that would limit the prep-work and time I would have to create each one. If I only blog once in a while, then I could spend more time on really great researched material.

    What do you think is the best approach? Have you found a writing frequency that works for you?

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