Top 10 Surprises of Writing and Blogging

10 Surprises & Benefits of 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

 

 

Why You Should Comment on Blogs

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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.

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.

 

 

Establishing Yourself as an Expert in Your Niche

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This is a guest post by Ivan Serrano, who has his very own niche blog of his own on 1800NumberNow.com, is a writer who is constantly finding new ways to be the voice of business communications, globalization and future tech. He hopes that these tips will help you in your own venture of becoming an expert in your niche.

When it comes to choosing a business to patronize, customers are more likely to choose the better-regarded, better-informed professional. The obvious challenge to being considered an expert in your niche, however, is publicity. Some of the best-regarded minds in any field aren’t well-known in their field, and certainly not by the general public. Establishing oneself as an expert in a particular field can be tricky to do, but there are media options to do so.

 

“Expert: Someone who brings confusion to simplicity.” Gregory Nunn

 

1) Start a professional blog.

A cheap and easy way to announce to the world that you know what you’re talking about is by simply starting a blog— a consistent blog with the most relevant content, of course. Many will agree that blogs are designed to be a bit informal, so it’ll be acceptable at times to allow your blog to let readers know that there is a real person behind all of that content.

On the business side of things, this can be the blog on your company website, but the company would be better-served should the experts start a completely different site to discuss their field, and their understanding of the work. This will drive traffic back to the professional site, while still appearing to be impartial.

Having an online presence is one thing– being an authority in your niche is another. Personality is a big thing, and it plays a huge role in your blog’s voice. Regardless of whether you’re starting a blog for your business or for your own enjoyment, blogging has certainly become a viable marketing tool for both options, and it’s a great way to gain exposure.

It probably won’t hit the ground running right away, but if you remain committed, you’ll reach a strong readership in due time. Don’t forget to add those social sharing buttons as well!

 

“What is an expert? Someone who is twenty miles from home.” American Proverb

 

2) Guest-blog for an established professional blog

Writing for a professional blog that is already established in a particular field can garner more visitors for your newly-founded professional blog, as well as your own website. Building relationships in your networks will take time, therefore, you should be consistent in your activities (i.e. a single post won’t do much, especially when trying to forge a relationship with a certain site).

The more in-depth, well-researched posts you are able to produce on authoritative blogs, the more often you will have the opportunity of communicating and interacting with people.

The purpose is to get your name circulated among the people who can trust what you have to say. If you’re managing a business, guest blogging can also be a great way to promote your services and products. If you conduct a Q&A or dispense information regarding a particular topic, viewers are more likely to want to know more about you and why you are an expert. That’s what you are looking for.

3) Host a podcast

Long reserved for those with spare money to rent out a recording studio, hire a producer and then spend on advertising for the show, podcasting is actually quite easy to do.

Using a simple microphone (in a pinch you can use the microphone built into laptops, but an external microphone provides better quality), and free audio editing software like Audacity, anyone can record, edit and export audio to an mP3. Post it on your blog and website, and now visitors can put a voice to the name, as well as listening to you display your expertise on the matter.

 

“Expert: a man who makes three correct guesses consecutively.” –Dr. Laurence Peter

 

4) Guest-speak to classes

The 12 Top Posts of 2012

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Last week, I posted a list of my 2012 interviews with over fifty thought leaders.  From sports to business, I’ve been fortunate to learn from such distinguished leaders from all walks of life. Apart from the interviews, what posts proved to be the most popular in 2012?

What Works Is Often A Surprise

Talk to any blogger and you will likely hear the same thing.  It is always a surprise to see what becomes popular.  I may work like crazy on something for hours, post it and it may see very little traffic.  Something else ends up taking off and it was almost a last minute thought.  You just can’t predict.

In putting together a list of popular posts, there are also so many ways to look at the data.  Do you measure purely by the traffic?  If you do it that way, doesn’t that give an unfair advantage to content posted in January?

After looking at the statistics, I decided to pick the top posts by traffic with a weight based on the date.  If a post was dated later in the year, it received a slightly higher weight to equal things out.

I also decided not to put them in any order, so this is a random list:

  1. Don’t Let Others Determine Your Value
  2. Why Leaders Don’t Need Parrots
  3. 17 Resume Don’ts from the CEO’s Desk
  4. 7 Steps of Crisis Leadership
  5. Take Our Introvert / Extrovert Quiz and Relationship Tips for Your Opposite