My, my, my time sure does fly when we are having fun. Six months or so have passed since I started this blog and a little over six weeks since my last post. The world of the social web is spinning madly around and I have been doing my best to just keep up with the new stuff every day. Last week it was the announcement of Chrome OS and that Salesforce.com is integrating Twitter deep into its product (Chatter). You can now Tweet from LinkedIn. Google and Microsoft announce search deals with Twitter and Facebook. Received an invitation to try Google Wave. Twitter Lists. You get the idea.
The original intent of the blog was to write about the world of the social web along with some personal branding items tossed in for good measure. I thought I would have enough time, what with all of the professional and personal changes going on, and plenty to write about. Well, my current reality is quite different than I imagined. The following are some of the lessons I have learned so far, which I am sure you can apply personally or in the context of an organization.
- Blogging will be easy. It is easy if any of the following apply: you have an interesting subject, you have a lot of experience in the subject, you are passionate about the subject, you find it easy to write or some combination of these. I am very passionate about social media and the social web, I do have experience with the concepts and tools and the subject is very top of mind. However, translating everything that I read into distilled posts has been challenging. I also get caught in the trap of “I have already read 10 posts on Twitter advertising, why should I write one as well”. Weeks go by with no new posts. It has been frustrating to say the least.Fortunately there are many go blogging resources such as ProBlogger that have helped me break out of my funk. I am finding the ideas and tips useful and you might as well.
Takeaway: Whether you blog for personal enjoyment or are thinking about using it for your business just remember that blogging is not easy. Oh sure it is fun and exciting in the beginning but you will quickly find it is work and could get easily shoved aside when Life jumps in the way. Think about the theme of the blog, the underlying purpose and layout a schedule of topics. Be consistent. Be generous with your content. Stick with the blog until you get into a steady flow. Don’t be afraid to shut the blog down for a different vehicle to communicate your ideas.
- A blog will be the best method to express my ideas. I still believe that this blog will be the best home base for my ideas in the long run. As I have observed over the past few months many people are moving away from lengthy blog posts to delivering a steady-stream of bite sized ideas using Posterous or Twitter. I am not there yet. My life and schedule is such that I am not able to provide quick ideas every single day. On the other hand I can incorporate a variety of media and conversation streams to enhance the ideas I want to express.
Takeaway: Think long and hard before embarking on the blogging path. Determine how your community or audience consumes information and decide if your contribution can fit how they want to receive the information. Ghost blogging is not authentic so don’t set up a blog if you can’t invest the time. If you have a tough time writing consider setting up a video blog or try podcasting.
- Posts need to be unique. There is a lot of content out on the web on anything and everything imaginable. It is very hard to stand out among the sheer volume of information being generated every day. A blogging best practice is to produce unique content and ideas, stuff that you can not find anywhere else, so that people will find your blog useful and return. Don’t know about you but that is really hard to pull off. I have started so many posts only to put them aside because they do not meet the “unique” threshold I have set for myself.In fact, the best way to develop a steady stream of unique content is to be constantly writing material and sharing ideas regardless of its “uniqueness”. The 50th post will be far better than the 1st post; you always get better the more you practice. It is better to shoot for a unique post every so often while honing blogging skills on posts that share practical or topical information.
Takeaway: Stay away from the “perfect” trap. Write for your audience or just yourself in the beginning until you develop your “voice”. Try not to compare your blog to someone that has been writing for years or even months. Learn from what other folks are doing but don’t expect to an expert blogger overnight.
- Have a blog, they will come and stay. I had a lot of momentum out of the gate. I was consistent with posting frequency, friends and colleagues were visiting the site and offering comments, all is well. Then I go off on vacation and fall off the wagon. I post less frequently and the blog has lost any momentum it had in the beginning. I don’t know if it will ever regain interest or steady readership. I now have to work even harder to regain my original audience and build from there.
Takeaway: Do what you say you are going to do. If you are going to blog on a set schedule then do it no matter what. If you are going to write about certain topics then do it. Consistency is key to building trust and community.
What is next for me? I am not giving up on this blog as it still is the best approach for what I want to accomplish. However, I “AM” changing how I approach the creation and sharing process so that you, the gentle reader who decides to stop by for a few minutes can derive the most value possible. Beside the obvious step of writing more original content around “connecting the dots”, I am going to add widgets that make it easier for you to see the latest item I saved to Delicious or my the most recent Tweet/ReTweet. I am shooting for two posts a week on Wednesday and Friday starting in December. Maybe I will have more posts as time progresses but I am taking baby steps for now.
My goal is to help you make sense of the massive changes taking place and to help you find thought leaders and valuable sources of information. Let’s see what the next six months bring. Thanks!