Top 10 Surprises of Writing and Blogging

My Top Surprises

I’ve been blogging now for four years. I have done some things right, but many things wrong. If you are thinking of starting a blog, I shared my advice in an earlier post.

Someone recently asked me, “What surprised you most about getting this project going?” At first, I thought about the platform I used, about the wrong advice, about the misunderstanding I had about it all. As I reflected on it further, it was even more basic.

As I think about this list, I realize that these surprises are not only for bloggers but also for authors. See if they ring true for you:

 

10. How long it takes.

When I first started, oh my word! Everything took so long. I would labor over something. I thought I was a good writer but learned how far I had to go. The formatting, the images…the everything. It just took forever even with some help. Fast forward a few years and all that has changed.

Benefit: I have a greater appreciation for digital content creation and design.

 

9. How fast you can write and produce.

Sure, I may labor on something for longer than I should, but I don’t need to anymore. I can write posts quickly. What took forever is now routine, easy, and takes little time.

Benefit: I’m now a faster, better, clearer writer. This has been a big benefit at work.

 

8. How critics emerge.

Who ARE these people? Produce free content, designed to help people whether increasing their productivity in meetings or their creativity, and you want to argue about it? Out of nowhere, people will criticize what you say, what you do, or how it looks. Look closer and you may find that these people are unhappy, unsuccessful, and unfulfilled. Don’t ignore them, but write posts to help encourage them.

Benefit: I now handle critics better than I ever did.

 

“If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.” -Malcolm X

 

7. How easy it is to be discouraged or stop.

I can’t tell you how many times I consider just shutting it all down. Anything worthwhile requires a commitment, so I power through those times.

Benefit: I learned to be self-motivated and find encouragement in the small things.

 

6. How disciplined you must be.

Everyone has a different process. Some people regularly get up and write a post. That’s not at all what I do. I may write numerous posts on a long international flight and then queue them up. Some of my posts that appear were written some time ago. This blog is not my main job and not my main focus, and I keep everything in perspective. But it has increased my discipline and focus in a way that I never imagined.

Benefit:   No doubt about it. I am more productive, manage my time better, and am more efficient as the result of my blogging experience.

 

5. How content does not always equal success.

Some people will tell you, “Just keep writing. Eventually, it will all come together.” Maybe that’s true. On the other hand, get crystal clear on your goals. Is it to sell something? Generate traffic? Enhance your career? Use it as a stress outlet? Great content no longer is enough. Your site must be optimized for mobile. You need social media expertise. Your design and branding have to work. And the more like-minded people you are associated with, the better your chances are for success. Great writing is not enough. You need great promotion. And you need social proof.

Benefit: I have become an online networker, met more positive, productive people due to blogging than I ever could in person. Many I now call friends.

 

“Great writing isn’t enough. You need great promotion.” -Skip Prichard

 

 

The Power of Positive Social Proof

Why Is Positive Social Proof Important?

You’re walking down a busy city street and turn the corner only to see a small crowd of people all looking up in the air, at a point across and above the street. What are the odds you’ll be able to stop yourself before looking up to see what they’re all staring it? I know for me, it’s almost impossible…and I’ve tried!

Similarly, in movies and TV shows, it’s easier to laugh along when we hear the show’s laugh-track. I once watched a funny old movie with no laugh-track, and the child I was watching with didn’t know what was funny. We take our cues from others.

It’s the same online. One of the main reasons that people make a choice is because they have “social proof” that others have done so before. It’s a strong motivator.

 

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” Ken Blanchard

 

Whether you are a business, a blogger, or an individual with career aspirations, you should be harnessing the power of positive social proof. The concept is not a new one, but its importance continues to grow both for businesses and individuals.

Wikipedia defines it this way: “Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”

Dr. Robert Cialdini’s famous work on persuasion called this phenomenon out as a particularly effective marketing tactic. His book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a must-read classic.

We tend to adopt as correct the behavior of others around us.

 

“Leadership is an action, not a position.” –Donald McGannon

 

Positive social proof:

 

Helps you stand out. Competition isn’t slowing down, isn’t letting up, and isn’t taking a break. If you want your business to get noticed, then social proof is one way to do it. With more sources competing for our attention every day, it’s vital to differentiate your offering from everything else.

Improves your success metrics. Studies show that we are more likely to share something that others are also sharing. We watch what we see others are watching. Visit a new town and you see two restaurants side-by-side. One has an empty lot and the other has a line wrapped around the block. Which one appeals to you?

Builds credibility. Unless you are already an established expert, a bestselling author, or a of host a worldwide talk show, it helps to build credibility. In Nashville, I see many up and coming music artists using quotes from famous musicians. Authors routinely ask for endorsements for book jacket quotes. Businesses include testimonials from others. All of these are ways to differentiate and add credibility.

 

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” –Vince Lombardi

 

YOU Need Social Proof

Some of you may say, “Sure, I can see that building social proof matters for a business. But it’s not something I need to think about.”

Think again.

If you want to increase your chances of promotion, see higher raises, or reduce your chances of getting let go from your organization, you should use some elements of social proof. Do you have a marketing plan for YOU? Today, you must promote yourself.

You don’t need to blatantly self-promote. No one likes an egotistical, self-centered know-it-all. But, if I want the boss to choose me for a new project, how do I keep my name out there? How do I stand out? It may not be a blog, but it may be that you wrote an article in your company newsletter or an industry publication. It may be that you are speaking at a customer event. And there is nothing better than the word of mouth social proof because you delivered a key project or pitched in to help when it wasn’t even your responsibility. When your colleagues are buzzing about your performance, that is the best social proof possible. There are many ways to build your social proof as an individual.

 

“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” –Mother Teresa

 

Your Website Benefits From Social Proof

Recently, one marketer sent me a list of the ways I have used positive social proof on this blog. Here is what she shared (with my explanation).

Shares. On the top of each post, you can see the number of shares. Here’s where I ran into a problem last week. Because I have preferred Twitter to other social media, my Twitter shares are higher than others like LinkedIn or Facebook. Recently, Twitter made a strange, surprising, and I think wrong move by removing counts from everyone’s websites. That turns some posts that were shared by the thousands to showing nothing overnight. Why they did this is answered in a strange post, but I still don’t quite understand it. And, for the record, it alienated a large community of content creators who are now rethinking strategies for Facebook and LinkedIn over Twitter.

 

Does it matter? Adele recently smashed records with the release of 25, becoming the best-selling album in the US of any single week. Large numbers create even more numbers. What would have happened if just as her sales took off Nielsen made a decision like Twitter and just zeroed out the sales?

 

“A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.” –Cullen Hightower

 

Awards. These are listed on the right side. I haven’t included all of the kind awards, but I did include many of them. They are a form of social proof.

Why You Should Comment on Blogs

I’ve been blogging for just over two years now.  One of the strange things I have noticed:

Most readers are not bloggers, but it seems that most commenters are bloggers.

Why You Should Comment

So, if you aren’t a blogger, why should you comment on a blog?

If you like what you read, it is hugely rewarding to the blogger when you share the post via your social networks.  When I see a post take off, I know what is resonating and it helps me prioritize what to write about in future posts.

Most readers are not bloggers, but it seems that most commenters are bloggers. -Skip Prichard

There’s nothing worse than writing a post and hearing nothing but crickets.

In addition to sharing, consider adding a comment.

Why comment?  Well, technically it helps the blog because it shows that the page is updated.  That, in turn, increases the relevance and the chance that Google will rate the blog higher.

But that’s not why you should do it.

ENCOURAGE

Yes, that’s reason enough.  If you like the blog you are reading, why not encourage the blogger by jumping in?  When I started commenting on other blogs, I saw the power of a little encouragement. Feedback matters. In addition to encouraging the blogger, I have noticed that it encourages the community of readers at the site to think about issues differently.

INFLUENCE

What I like to see is the dialogue, the conversation, the debate, or the agreement.  You may add a story or an additional thought.  You may agree or point out something that I missed.  You may change someone’s thinking.  My own views are more informed when I read what others are writing.

RELATIONSHIP

You are able to build a relationship with someone fast when you comment regularly.  I have made friends this way and have connected with my regular commenters, too.  It makes a difference.

Why don’t most readers comment?  It ranges from fear of making a mistake to not knowing how to do it or even worrying about getting spam email.  It really isn’t hard.  Most blogs, like this one, do not spam you or send you any email because of your comments.

COMMUNITY

I receive a lot of personal email from people about posts I write, but I have decided not to engage in side conversations for the most part.  Because, if you have a comment or question, others likely will have the same one.  Why not let everyone benefit?  And, frankly, I just don’t have the time to answer a question many times when it could be done once.

 

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Why Bloggers Comment

Why do bloggers comment on other blogs?

If you study Web marketing, you know that there are many reasons you want to be a regular commenter.  A few of those reasons are:

  • Gain traffic back to your Website.
  • Build backlinks to your blog.
  • Build a relationship with the other blogger or the community.
  • Increase your authority as an expert.
  • Improve your search ranking with the search engines.
  • Because they appreciate and know how hard the job of blogging really is!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER LEFT A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG.

I do have a comments policy where I reserve the right to delete any comment that is inappropriate, spam, advertising, offensive, profane, or for whatever reason is not wanted.  That’s the right of the blogger.  I try to leave comments that disagree with me and have only deleted a handful of comments in two years.