Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ten Seconds Upward

What can you accomplish in ten seconds?

Given ten seconds, I can pour a fresh cup of coffee, complete with cream. Barring unforeseen glitches, I can post a picture to my blog. Most people would be able to locate their keys, wallet, purse, or other essential, leaving-the-house-type effects, but that’s way beyond the scope of my personal capabilities. I’m OK with that, though, because I have some other ten-second skills that trump organization: I can hug a kid, offer a compliment, give a “thank you.” And now, thanks to today’s blogging tip at the SITS blogroll site, in the same amount of time it takes to tie my shoe, I can now efficiently and perhaps even engagingly describe my blog.

Today’s tip explored the “elevator pitch,” which, in a nutshell, is the ability to interestingly and accurately describe your blog in the time equivalent to an average elevator ride, which I conservatively estimate to be about ten seconds. I settled on that time, also, because I figure that’s about 2-3 sentences, which is important for a reason I’ll share in a moment. But I want to take a moment to reel in those of you who may not have a blog and have come to the errant conclusion that this post doesn’t pertain to you. The reason it does? We all have messages we’re passionate about communicating—in fact, most of us have more than one idea, concept, or project we’re hoping to “sell” at any given time. For some of us, it’s a cause. For others, it may be a blog, or perhaps a book. Whatever our passion, the ability to make a concise statement to an inquiry about its nature is key.

Author, speaker, and consultant Sam Horn addressed this topic at a workshop hosted by the writer’s conference I used to coordinate. Horn drove home the idea that every idea we put forth will be accepted or rejected based solely on the 2-3 lines we use to present it. That’s grim news for an author of a 50,000 word manuscript…or perhaps even for the writer of a blog of any length. However, the truth remains: no one wants to listen to a rambling blow-by-blow of all the quirks and nuances of our book, cause, or blog. Your average casual listener wants a concise-yet- captivating recap of the highlights.

So what’s your elevator pitch? Do you have one? When I considered the question this morning, I came to the conclusion that although I had a couple of catch phrases and one liners about my blog, I really didn’t have a 2-3 sentence description of what goes on here at Running With Letters. And, as the readership here seems to be happily on the rise of late, what better time than now to think of one?

I typically struggle with feats of brevity, so I decided to start with something I already knew. In this case, it was the little blog description I already had to the left of my current post. You might say, well, isn’t that your elevator pitch? In this case, not really. It’s just a little literary snapshot of who I am—a pitch is about the “personality” of your “product.”

I then remembered a tidbit from the Sam Horn session (pay attention to this freebie, readers--Horn is charging $27.00 for her "pop your elevator speech" book at her site...why pay that when you can get my rusty--er--distilled and processed memories of her speech for free, right here?) wherein she suggests likening your product to two seemingly unrelated ideas already existing in popular culture. I’ve always thought of Running With Letters as the blog about nothing, a sort of Seinfeld-esque meander through coffee shops and general mundane mayhem. On the other hand, I often wax introspective, posting essay-like pieces in the style of say, early Robert Fulghum, or Anne Lamott. As I haven’t heard too much talk of Fulghum in recent years, aside from the requisite “All I Really need to Know I learned in Kindergarten” poster in elementary classrooms, I went with a Lamott reference.

Fourteen different takes eventually morphed into:

My blog operates at the intersection of Seinfeld and Anne Lamott. It’s a tongue in cheek travelogue of ordinary, underrated streets merged with upbeat commentary about the iffy state of mishap that all of us call home. Think of it as the Life section of the community paper where you REALLY live, and yourself as a valued contributor.

So is this "IT"? Is it THE description of RWL with which I'm going to stick? Maybe. For now. We'll see. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your elevator pitches about your blogs. Or your ideas, concerns, and opinions about writing same. Or even what you think about I need to keep tweaking it? Do I need to shell out the $27.00 for Sam Horn's book? Talk to me.


Anonymous said...

I've never really considered my elevator pitch. I'm not sure that I have a "theme". I just write about my life and sometimes it's like an open diary where I write in order to see my words which helps me figure out situations and better understand them. I'm just glad some people want to come along on the ride that is my psyche!

Charisse and Holly said...

I love how you stuck with it! I read the SITS and saved it for another day. You dove right in. I would leave you a longer comment, but I just took a dose of Nyquil for my terrible cold, and now I can hardly focus. Gosh that stuff is great! Great post. Holly at

S.E. Sward said...

This is what I have at the top of my sidebar to describe my blog:

Part bully pulpit, part not-so-secret diary, this blog is where Erma Bombeck meets Florence King meets Andy Rooney and represents an on-going record of my thoughts on anything and everything from current events to slices of life, personal musings to philosophical and political debates, black holes to macrame.

I also put in a 'disclaimer' of sorts because I use adult language from time to time, just so folks kinda know what they're getting themselves into.

I may have to see if I can spiff it up more in the spirit of the elevator pitch, but I really love what it says right now ... and it seems to be working well for me.

What do you think?

Happy SITS Sunday Shout Out.

Amandasaurus said...

Nice concise elevator pitch. It's always good to catch people with pop culture references. I haven't come up with one yet.

I wanted to thank you for stopping by my other blog and letting me know the comments on A Silvertongued Serenade weren't working! No one else thought to do that and I couldn't figure out why no one was leaving me any love =(. Looks like it was just a glitch with my new layout; they're up and running now!

Holly said...

Now you have inspired me to work on this elevator pitch..I thought I could just let it side, but like I said, now I am on to thinking...

Holly @ 504 Main


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