Thursday, October 28, 2010

1,000 posts in: 7 blogging home truths and ideas

Blogger tells me that, counting some drafts-in-progress you'll see shortly, I've hit 1,000 posts (on this, my first blog--I now have a few others). That's perhaps an occasion to reflect, even if it did sneak up on me. Here are some home truths, conundrums and ideas I've developed from blogging "so much:"
  1. Persistence adds up:  I'm 5 and 1/2 years into working on this blog, which means the 1,000 posts average out to just over 3 posts a week. The early years are sparser; these days, I aim to post 5 times a week. Some days get a motherlode of posting. Honestly, that's nothing compared to many bloggers (see why, below). But it adds up, and fast. If you are just starting and blogging regularly seems like a long, endless road, start with 3 posts a week. I promise, it works.
  2. Selectivity widens your opportunities:  I decided a long time ago that this blog wouldn't aim to compete with the we-publish-12-times-daily blogs (which is why I'm only celebrating 1,000 posts on this blog).  I stick to my topics. And I have a hard-and-fast rule: I don't write posts that aren't ready for you to read.  A couple of those draft posts have been rolling around in this pinball machine for a while, but you won't see them until they're done. Readers have caught on, and they bring me ideas nearly every week nowadays: "You should write this," or "This made me think of you" or "Have you ever written about...?" is what they say.  That tells me they've read enough to know what I'm doing here, the nicest compliment of all.
  3. Vocalese takes time:  A good friend and colleague just ranted at me, nicely, for a long time about my distinctive blogging voice. I winced a lot, but since she's an amazing writer and can quote the blog to me, I have to admit that's working. Even so, my voice has taken time to develop on this blog; it's not something you solve overnight, especially if you've been a professional writer. How you refer to yourself, for example, will tie you up in knots, if you let it.  Don't let it, but do give some thought to the search engines. What sounds like you talking? What makes you smile, frown, ponder? Put that in. Say the things you think should be said. Keep it simple. Don't hit publish if it isn't you, at the core.  I don't object to bloggers writing clearly labeled sponsored posts, but most of them read like dreck, compared to the blogger's usual fare. Don't be two people when you write. Relax a little more, so we can tell there's a person in there.
  4. Watch, read, listen. Place yourself by looking around. You must show up, listen, read and watch what others are doing all around you in order to have what Bill Bradley, in his basketball days, called "a sense of where you are." Only then do you get to score. For that reason, my compatriots on Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader have done more to fuel my blogging than almost any other factor--not just in driving traffic here, but in allowing me to cast a wider net than I could imagine for ideas, news, fragments of blog posts in the making and more.  The "sources" whose posts I favorite and save in Reader, Twitter and Facebook are on my secret contributor list--without their insights, shares, comments and curating, this blog wouldn't have lasted this long. Go get your own list of inspirers, and ask them questions, all the time. You'll get the best blog posts that way.
  5. Love the crawlers. I don't mean the search-engine bots, though I'm glad they're getting my posts out where folks can find them. I mean the deep readers, the ones who keep coming back again and again and yet again.  Sometimes they're regulars and sometimes they're newcomers. They like to dive deep...and then, eventually, they call or email or DM me and say, "Would you ever do a retreat for...?" or "speak at our meeting?" or "think about helping us figure out what to do when...?" Sure, absolutely.  Love that educated consumer of my services. Please keep reading.
  6. Have a secret goal.  Sure, I blog here to share my expertise and market my services and prompt potential and current clients to think about issues. But the blog neatly solves, at the same time, a personal and professional goal I had to write more of my own stuff. Being your own publisher makes that eminently possible. One thousand posts in, I think that goal's well underway.
  7. Sometimes, be fast, super-fast.  You don't have to be Right On Top of a story that's breaking in most cases when you blog, beat reporters excepted.  But once in a while, it pays to be able to drop everything and respond to a current situation. Weighing in thoughtfully and fast is a golden skill right now, and you'll get a march of traffic as a reward. Of course, when these opps have turned up for me, it's usually been a reader or social-media pal who's given me the heads-up.
By the way, I'm not stopping here. Stay tuned for more...and thanks for reading, and your contributions, which are more than you know.

Related posts:  10 blogging lessons, five years in

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