“If you want to appeal to a larger audience, you need to stop with the profanity.”
“If you’re targeting youth coaches and parents, they’re going to be offended by your language.”
“If you want to grow your business, you need to clean up your act.”
Now that I’m four years into blogging, everyone’s taking notice. And when I first started writing back in 2014, little did I know I’d go from 10 readers to 10,000. To that end, it isn’t just my family who is reading my work. It’s international coaches. It’s sport scientists. It’s researchers. It’s soccer studs. It’s hot shots. It’s youth soccer parents. It’s hobbits from the Shire.
I guess you can say now I’m under a lot of radars. And with more eyes, comes more opinions.
Alas, I’d be remiss not to mention with more eyes from readers, comes more anxiety-driven thoughts on my end: ‘how can I please all these people?’ or ‘how can I cater to a larger audience?’ or ‘should I tweak my writing?’ or ‘should I change my voice?’ or ‘are these Lord of the Rings references too nerdy?’ or ‘is Fitsoccerqueen too pompous?’
Excuse my Dutch, but fuck no.
I started blogging for one reason: to have an intimate outlet to create my own work and speak my truth. None of this began with the intentions of “wanting followers” or “wanting higher readership” or “wanting SEO optimization.” First off, fuck SEO. Second off, with all due respect, I blog for one reason only: myself.
And since I blog for myself, I give myself permission to write whatever I want. This is my house, after all, and you’re just popping by.
You’ve also probably noticed there’s a hell of a lot of profanity in this house. So let’s talk profanity.
This is a fun conversation to have, no doubt. For some, words like “fuck” “shit” “asshole” and “damnit” are as offensive as Marilyn Manson wearing a onesie. And for others, these words are as hilarious as Dave Chapelle doing stand-up on intimate relationships.
Who is right and who is wrong?
The answer: no one.
Funny enough, we live in a magical world where we can choose who we vibe with and who we don’t. I like to make the online consumption analogy to ice cream flavors. Once upon a time, the only flavors around were chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. But nowadays, we have chocolate fudge, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter, cookie dough, cookies n’ cream, and so much more to choose from.
Online content is the same thing: we can choose which flavor we like the most, and which to consume.
Oh, so you don’t like bloggers who write in profanity? Don’t consume their work. There’s a plethora of other bloggers out there who write on the same niche topic who you resonate with and who use PG-rated language.
Oh, so you love profanity? Happy to have you. And so is Cartman.
With that said, you’re probably wondering why I use profanity in my writing. If you missed my first article Why I Use Profanity In My Writing, then read that first. Once your face has melted from that piece, read these additional pointers:
1. It’s just words.
While I get we should be sensitive to others’ traumas, words are words. And everyone perceives words differently. As an example, “fuck” is a term of endearment in some cultures, yet an offensive term in others. The word “savage” is a light-hearted term to some, while it’s a demeaning term to others. I get it.
As a writer, I need to be more aware of sentence structure and cognizant of diction choice.
Personally, I’m torn between walking on eggshells, and living in my authenticity. Because look: I write how I write. I use words freely. And sometimes I’m not thinking because I’m scribbling fire in my notebook. Sure, I try to be meticulous with my words, but my intent is out of passion, not out of maliciousness.
Expounding further, my use of profanity is purely tactical. Rarely do I use it to fill a sentence because I have writer’s block. In fact, I have plenty to say and use my f-bombs wisely.
However, people will be people. And if they’re offended, I prefer they get on the phone with me to have an adult conversation. Don’t worry…I have “fuck” and “savage” in my vocabulary, but I promise love puppies and will jump in front of a bullet for anyone in my life. But again, you’d have to talk to me to know this, instead of hiding behind your computer screen and holding onto judgement.
With that said, it’s hard to win in this situation, as someone is bound to take offense. So if that is the case, let someone know why you’re hurt, in fact, have a mature conversation with them, in person or on the phone. If you’re going to stay behind your keyboard without speaking your truth, then that’s the problem right there. I promise I don’t bite.
I truly believe it takes strength to confront someone and challenge them with, “hey, you said this and here’s where I’m at and I’d love if you’d be open to understanding my thoughts and why I was offended.” Honestly, I prefer this. And this has happened to me before, leaving both parties enlightened and better off.
2. Profanity delivers a punch.
“Erica, I bookmark your articles and refer to them when I’m having a bad day and need a pick-me-up.” – a 13-year-old girl
Are you surprised a 13-year-old girl reads my work? Me too. In fact, a lot of my youth athletes read, as well as others across the country. It’s worth pointing out I’ve received emails from parents saying, “Erica, your articles are so harsh, I had to share with my 10-year-old.”
It’s funny because while most think profanity is offensive to this population, it’s the opposite. In fact, many youth athletes find my articles helpful, whether these are on soccer performance, strength training, mindset training, or life coaching. Why? Because they deliver a punch so hard that it inspires them to live their lives with confidence, passion, and fervor.
Admittedly, yes, sometimes, I curse on the job, but only with athletes I *know* who are comfortable with the language.
“Tighten your fucking core!”
The world doesn’t end.
We’re still alive and thriving.
We’re having fun.
Athletes are performing impeccable form.
Beyonce is still a boss.
3. I feel in my flow when I write.
Never do I want to live my life in resistance. I want to feel like I’m staying true to who I am at my core, writing through authenticity, and feeling in my flow.
I feel the moment bloggers start feeling in resistance to their voice, is the moment their shit gets fucking boring. Like vanilla ice cream boring. Like making a copy of a blank paper over and over again boring. Like mindlessly scrolling through Instagram while taking a shit boring.
Yeah, I’m not about that life.
Personally, I want to write with spice.
Sure, I could listen to what some critics are saying and sugarcoat my articles with rainbows, unicorns, and sparkles, but I would be going against my uniqueness, let alone, not expressing my personality to the fullest.
My feelings about remaining unique are tantamount to the rap industry: the moment an independent rapper signs to a label, is the moment he caters to a large audience and loses his unique flare.
Remember Eminem during The Real Slim Shady times?
As raunchy, politically incorrect, and offensive as his original work was, it was fire. Let’s be honest.
Nowadays, his work is good, but it’s not *that* good. It doesn’t push the envelope and make people squirm anymore. Sorry not sorry. It’s just OKAY.
Anyway, just like a rapper doing his thing during his pre-sell-out stage, I’m happy with delivering an uncomfortable punch to make people rethink their lives.
After all, isn’t that what powerful writing is for? To light a fire under people’s asses?
Yeah, thought so.
4. Keeps people engaged.
This much I know: people have short attention spans nowadays.
Also, everyone is blogging about fitness, strength and conditioning, and life coaching. What are you going to do stand out and rise above the noise?
Now this isn’t to say profanity is the answer, but for me, it’s gone a long way. Even when I had zero readers, I still used it because I felt in the present moment. And when I started growing my readership, I stayed true to my voice, which people loved and connected with for a long time.
Profanity has worked, folks.
Even my teenage girls save my articles because they laugh hysterically while reading them. Or they’re inspired to work out on their own. Or they’re excited about training.
Sure, I can’t control how someone perceives my profanity, but if it inspires kids to level up in their personal, academic, and athletic lives, that’s huge. And I know that’s been the case for many of my girls.
So before you judge someone for their potty mouth, have you gotten on the phone with them? Have you made an effort to get to know all the facets of their being? Have you talked to their loyal readers and clients about how they go above and beyond for them? I think not.
I get curse words are icky.
But yo, if you’re not a fan of prose with a profanity cherry on top, then go consume another flavor.