300 Blog Posts & Still Running

This entry marks the 300th post on this blog. As this is something of a milestone I wanted to mark the occasion. I could use this as an opportunity to share my blogging process and best practices. But I’ve done this before and pretty comprehensively. If this blog were a TV sitcom marking a milestone number of episodes, we would have a clip show where the cast phones it in for a week and sits around introducing clips. Remember that time when we … [FADE TO CLIP].

I thought I’d take a similar approach and take a look at what I’ve learned personally and how it’s informed my blog. Like a clip show, these lessons are peppered with links to posts that have explored these ideas further.

Never Forget the Beginning

It’s humbling to go back and read your old posts. (Remember those “oreo” posts where you’d blog about another article by featuring a clip of it in the middle and then you’d write an intro and conclusion?) It’s good to go back and remember where you’ve been. If you’re feeling really brave go back and look at your first post. If you’re braver still post a link to it on a new post (deep breath) — like this. I guess it wouldn’t be a clip show without a scene from the pilot.

Schedules & Calendars Rule

… for me. While this is the 300th post and I’m proud, I’ve also been at this since 2005 so anyone with elementary-level division skills can clearly see that my posts have ebbed and flowed through the years. It took years for advice I got from Mack Collier at a MarketingProfs Digital Mixer to sink in — set a schedule that’s manageable (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) and stick to it.

This is where I get into some trouble every now and then arguing with blogging purists who decry setting arbitrary deadlines as it forces you to post even if you aren’t feeling “it” and “may not publish your 100% best work.” I hate exercise but dammit, I hate losing control of my waistline more. I hate running but I have to run. I don’t hate blogging. Quite the opposite — I want to be good at it. But to do that you need to remember what my college playwriting instructor David Adjmi said, “writers write.” Sorry — not every at-bat is a home-run. Not every story filed wins a Pulitzer but you have to keep at it and take the plate. And for me, nothing does this better than following a schedule.

“I … Am a Writer”

Many know that I am partial to Rip Torn’s embellished declaration as an author in Wonder Boys, “I … Am a Writer.” I mentioned playwriting earlier but additionally, as an agency guy with a copywriting background, I did a lot of writing there as well. Through all of that I was never comfortable applying the label ‘writer.’ That changed when I started blogging consistently. You could have a semantics war over blogging vs. writing (I don’t really think there is a difference) but for me I became a writer when I became a better blogger.

The Eye of the Storm

The other thing that happens when you have enough posts under your belt and a strong blogging practice is that other bits of content start peeling off from them. A series of posts on an emerging topic come together to form an eBook, a shorter post gets expanded into a 40-minute presentation, and so on. My blog is the vortex of my content storm. It organizes my thoughts not just around my writing but also my speaking, teaching, and training programs as well.

Time & Money

Blogging takes an enormous commitment of time to do consistently. As such, many are eager to learn when your WordPress blog will start printing money and sending you checks (there’s a plugin that does this, right?). In most cases, it doesn’t work that way. If you look at direct sales made from my blog, I’m not sure I have any. However, when you look indirectly this changes significantly. In my business, my blog is useful in generating a lot of attention which can lead to conversations, opportunities, and, yes, even business in some cases. It’s what Million Dollar Consultant Alan Weiss calls creating marketing gravity.

Quit looking for the quick blogging buck. Instead, look for creating a community that you can help and add value to. Beyond professional services/marketer types this applies to any business exploring blogging as a channel. This is less a direct sales tool and more a support and nurturing tool or a front-end attention-getting channel. Regardless of whether you’re using blogging pre- or post-sale, remember the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “it’s a marathon not a sprint.”

Lightning Round!

Okay, casting aside the big picture for a second, let’s speed through what’s good and what could be better here. Go!

  • What I’m Good At — Consistency! Again, schedules work for me. If consistent posting is part of my un-diagnosed OCD then keeping the ritual going is easy. The post images are good (thanks Flickr — and iStock when I am lazy) which is important as visual branding is an emerging conversation here and part of my brand’s DNA. I’m also getting better at letting my own voice and humor peek through.
  • What I Can Do Better — Sharpening the point of view of this blog. What does it really mean to sit at the axis of branding and social media? Is it an intersection or is social media a means to an end — a stronger, more social brand?

At this point in the clip show, The Golden Girls realize that they’ve eaten all of their cheesecake (and shown all of their best clips) and turn in for the night. As we return to our regularly scheduled Brand Driven content, I wanted to take a moment and thank YOU for reading, commenting, and sharing. This blog would be a pretty dismal campfire if no one was around it. I treasure each and every one of you and enjoy the conversations we have here.

Here’s to the next 300!