Starting is easy, getting anyone to read a blog is difficult.
Do you have the time?
Are you going to burn out?
Why do you want to share all of this for free?
You want to do this without a business model?
The technical side of it is more challenging than you know.
How long can you keep this up?
What’s the best way to promote a new blog?
You just joined Twitter a month ago. Learn that before doing something bigger.
I’ve now been blogging for five years. After millions of hits, you’d think the naysayers would stop. Maybe they’ve been silenced a bit, but every now and then I hear something that reminds me that success is the pull against the current of mediocrity. Somehow my brain uses negativity and difficulty as fuel to propel me higher. Truth be told, it’s not others who may cause me to pause. It’s my own thoughts. I think negative thoughts from inside us are the worst offenders because it’s much harder to tune out the voice within.
“Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.” -Charles Glassman
And, yes, I’ve often asked myself whether I should continue, whether it matters, and whether I will keep blogging. I’ve never promised that I wouldn’t quit, but instead I just plod along, writing the next post, interviewing another author, sharing a story that uplifts or a quote that inspires. Discipline wears down any obstacle in the way water seeks its own level. Often the biggest successes come after powering through the most challenging times.
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” -Vince Lombardi
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
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
There are many articles about how to get people to sign up for email updates. Aimed at marketers, they cover topics ranging from pop-ups to providing incentives to a call to action.
Most don’t seem to cover the question why. Why should you sign up for an email of recent posts? If you have a favorite blogger, why would you choose to opt-in and receive email as well?
I thought about that recently and about this Leadership Insights blog. I decided to ask people why they subscribed and why they didn’t. I learned more from those who said they did not subscribe than from those who did.
Here are the top 7 reasons I was told people do NOT subscribe and my responses:
1. I get too much email.
Sure, you get too much email. We all do. But most email that is in this category is spam. If I opt-in, I want to get periodic emails that will encourage, inspire or teach me something. When someone has spent time reading, researching and writing, and I am interested, I am happy to get those emails.
Key Question: Do I get too much positive email?
Whatever your favorite hobby or topic, you can find an exceptional blogger writing about it and providing free updates.
“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” -Elbert Hubbard
This is a flavor of too much email. In today’s world, so much is coming at us from social networks, phone calls, emails, texts, and everything else. One way to deal with it is tune out. I get that, and I do that.
Key Question: Are you more likely to achieve your goals with regular reminders?
Regular updates connect you to ideas in a powerful way. You are fueling your subconscious, revving up opportunities.
“Positive communication fuels your subconscious, readying you for opportunity.” -Skip Prichard
Sure, you do. It’s not even close to the same. You miss too much. Jim Rohn once said, “The book you don’t read won’t help.” That’s exactly right. The blog post you miss won’t help either. And, it is far more efficient and much easier to have an email sent to you than trying to remember what you viewed on your last visit and where you left off.
Even a single idea that makes you more effective, saves you time, increases your earning potential is invaluable.
Key Question: Do you want to miss the one idea that could change your year?
Find a blog and subscribe for a period of time. If you don’t find one thought, fact, or idea that you can use or refer to after two months, then drop the subscription.
4. Some of the topics don’t interest me.
Two things come to mind. First, it takes a second to delete it if you are not interested. Second, I have seen extraordinary benefits to reading widely. Someone once told me to make sure you are exposed to different ideas, different points of view. That will strengthen your arguments, challenge your thinking, and make you more empathetic. You will understand what someone else is thinking. And, if nothing else, you will never be at a loss at a party. Read as much and as widely as you can, and you will never be at a loss for good conversation.
Key Question: Do I want to miss everything because I don’t like something?
“The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions.” –James Russell Lowell
I would be surprised if anyone did. Most people don’t realize that I don’t agree with all of the opinions expressed here either. That’s the point. When I was growing up, I learned a powerful lesson. If I agreed with a teacher, I did not learn because the conversation ended. But, if I disagreed and argued, I learned more than I ever thought possible. Adults would become animated, passionately defending a position. And, for me, that’s where I learned best. Here’s the other benefit. Often, it made me change my opinion. What if you are stuck in a mindset and changing that opinion is the key to your success?
Key Question: If I only listen to people who agree with me, am I any better off?
“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” –Leonardo daVinci
Now this one, I definitely understand! I am constantly worried about spam and receiving unwanted offers. Know that Leadership Insightsdoes not share your email with anyone. Another concern I have heard is that you may want to opt out later. The email from this blog includes an easy link at the bottom of each post so that you can unsubscribe, at any time, for any reason. It’s easy.
Key Question: Are you allowing a possible fear rob you of a definite benefit?
“Always do what you are afraid to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve heard this in various forms, and it stops me because I think, “No one really can feel that way!” Apathy is insidious. When I hear this, I am passionate in my response. I believe that everyone has the opportunity to improve, to do something great, and to serve a greater purpose. Of course, not many people tell me directly, “I cannot change.” Yet, that’s the feeling they are telling me.
Key Question: Are you more or less likely to get what you want with your current habits?
If you are not currently subscribing to blog email updates, I am asking you to change. Try it for 60 days. Not only do you have nothing to lose, but you will also be able to download my free ebook on Servant Leadership: Leading With Others in Mind. Making this small change in your weekly routine may give you just a bit more of an edge. And winning often happens right at the edge, where you are distinguished from the competition.