Let me guess…
At least one of your New Year’s resolutions relates to your writing.
Am I right?
Maybe you’ve decided to commit to a daily writing practice.
Or set your sights on a specific writing goal, to be achieved no matter what.
Or committed to launching a blog to showcase your writing to a waiting world.
Even if making resolutions isn’t your style, making some kind of plan for your writing in 2016 is a smart idea.
But there’s a problem. And it comes down to human nature.
Most resolutions slide before January ends. And most plans crumble at the first sign of trouble.
That’s because even our best intentions soon stall without the right fuel…
The “Serious Bloggers Only” Winter Contest 2015
During 2015 we’ve run four contests for members of our Serious Bloggers Only membership program.
And while the winning posts have been as diverse as the blogosphere itself, they’ve all had one thing in common.
The ability to inspire other writers.
How they do it varies, of course.
Some remind us of the power of effective writing.
Some lend us models of successful writing to emulate.
And some reassure us that taking action brings rewards.
Without inspiration, we struggle to produce any work, let alone our best.
So as 2015 draws to a close, I’m proud to announce the winners of our latest contest.
As you review these remarkable posts, consider what you can draw from them to fuel your own writing in 2016.
And The Winners Are . . .
Most Inspiring – Quinn Eurich – Aha!NOW (Guest Post)
Countless personal development posts have been written about discovering your true purpose. Despite this, many people feel they’ve yet to find their right track in life. What’s refreshing about this post (and also so inspiring) is the central message that meaning can be found even in the absence of a clear purpose.
Visit Quinn’s blog here: Outsmarting Panic and Anxiety
Most Epic – Si Quan Ong – BreakDance Decoded
This post is organized into chapters and that’s a good thing, because it feels more like a short book than a blog post. At over 15,000 words, this post is staggeringly comprehensive.
I loved the author’s commitment to exploring his topic – breakdancing – to the fullest, and I thought the basic format – a detailed guide to the first three years of building a particular skill – was original and should inspire other bloggers to give their own topics the same treatment.
Most Practical – Meredith Blevins – Pro Writers Toolbox
This post oozes authority borne out of the author’s hard-won experience. Meredith is a writer with a career spanning more than forty years. In her post, she tackles a common mistake of beginning writers head on – blindly sending manuscripts to publishers in the vain hope of being spotted.
Meredith cuts through the crap and tells her readers the tough truth – getting published is just as much about building relationships as it is about being a good writer.
Best Use of Details and Examples – Bryan Del Monte – Jeff Bullas (Guest Post)
Bryan’s excellent guest post for Jeff Bullas explores how we can be manipulated by visual content. It’s packed with thought-provoking examples and a central analogy (that two forces are battling for control of our attention, personified as Felix and Oscar from the T.V. show The Odd Couple), which carries us entertainingly through the post.
Visit Bryan’s blog here: Blogs That Sell
Best Big Idea – Leon Altman – Freedom Business Cafe
Most writing about entrepreneurship tends to focus on the “how to,” perhaps because the “why” seems obvious. But here Leon comes at the topic from a fresh and interesting angle – the health benefits of running an online business.
Many would-be entrepreneurs long for the flexibility a “freedom business” can offer without deeply considering what that freedom could mean.
Most Valuable – Rob Kornblum – Mirasee (Guest Post)
Starting a blog is tough. The sad truth is that many blogs are doomed from the get-go because their owners don’t have enough of an idea of the blog’s audience or what sets it apart from the blogs already serving that audience.
Rob borrows a positioning model from the business world and applies it so clearly to the blogging realm that any new blogger will improve the life expectancy of their blog by reading his post. Truly valuable to anyone launching a blog (or attempting to revive a failing one).
Visit Rob’s blog here: Start Launch Grow
Most Fearless – Tracy Gillett – Raised Good
This post courageously tackles a topic that will likely provoke some strong opinions, with many on the opposite side of the argument as Tracy. But she’s unafraid to challenge societal norms and presents a persuasive case, backed by evidence, for nursing your children into toddlerhood – even if that earns you the disapproval of many of those around you.
Best Storytelling – Vicky Cox – The Good Men Project (Guest Post)
Vicky’s post opens with a powerful personal story that sets the scene for an exploration of a complex and divisive topic – gun violence. What’s remarkable is that the post maintains its cool despite her connection to a gun-related tragedy. By looking at the reasons why people – and young men in particular – might be driven to pick up a weapon, it makes us view a well-trodden topic from an unfamiliar angle.
Visit Vicky’s blog here: Vicky L Cox
Most Personality – Lynn Hauka – A Daring Adventure (Guest Post)
You’re unlikely to land a guest post on Tim Brownson’s blog “A Daring Adventure” unless you can write with a healthy dose of attitude, and Lynn brings plenty to this post.
There’s a fun clash of ideas at the heart of the post – that someone practiced in the art of meditation can still be filled with rage, and that that’s normal. Notice how Lynn uses power words to fill each paragraph with emotion.
Visit Lynn’s blog here: Quit the Crazy
Most Engaging – Claire Wholam – The Change Blog (Guest Post)
This post reads as smoothly as slickly-written sales copy but still manages to maintain a rawness and authenticity. Claire blends storytelling with her tips for living courageously, and I loved her subtle distinction between fear and “afraidness.” Pay particular attention to the closing, which is an excellent example of the motivational style we favor here at Smart Blogger.
Visit Claire’s blog here: Still Standing!
Best Execution – Sonia Thompson – TRY Business School
At one level, this is a familiar type of post – an expert roundup – but the execution lifts this example above most others. Sonia uses attractive graphics to highlight each expert’s main quote but also includes the full text of the extended response.
She also adds value by linking to three examples of each expert’s work for those readers who want to find out more. And her empathetic opening sets the scene perfectly.
Most Creative – Corey Willis – Hey There, Home
This wonderful craft project has just the right balance between written instruction and supporting images. This post could easily inspire a reader to embark upon their first home DIY project, and if the pictures are anything to go by the results are stunning. Creative and practical, this post shows “how to” blogging at its best.
Best Visuals – Tony Messer – Pickaweb
Choosing the right web host is difficult – particularly if you’re not very technical. Most people are confused by the options and overwhelmed by having to make the choice. But Tony’s comprehensive infographic-style flowchart breaks a complicated process down into a set of much simpler decisions. And you’ve got to love any flowchart that includes “I don’t understand the question” as an option. 🙂
My Favorite Contest Posts of 2015
In addition to selecting the winners above, I also wanted to round off 2015 by choosing a few of my favorite posts from each of the quarterly contests this year.
So here they are, my personal favorites:
July 2015 – Doug Hay – Rock Creek Runner
Doug Hay’s gripping account of the physical and psychological challenges of participating in a 24-hour ultramarathon is hugely inspiring and easily one of my favorite contest entries of 2015.
April 2015 – John Yeoman – Writers’ Village
John Yeoman’s personality-filled writing has been featured in every one of our contests so far this year and his inclusion on this list was a no-brainer. This short post, packed with humor and attitude, showcases John at his best.
October 2015 – Ashley Trexler – A Fine Parent (Guest Post)
Ashley Trexler’s guest post for “A Fine Parent” has a big goal – that the next generation will grow up a little less close-minded than the last.
Visit Ashley’s blog here: Lies About Parenting
Resolve to Make 2016 Your Best Writing Year Yet
As most of us know from bitter experience, resolutions are far easier to make than to keep.
But if your scribbled list of good intentions has an entry or two about writing, do yourself a favor and bookmark your favorite posts from this list.
Return to them to fuel your writing efforts during the coming year.
And before you say goodbye to 2015, ask yourself the following question:
When your future self looks back on 2016, what achievements will you see?
Once you have an answer (and remember to think big), start sowing the seeds for those successes.
And in the meantime, have a very Happy New Year!