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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
4. How much you will improve.
When I started, I thought, “I can write some blog posts. No sweat.” Turns out, my earliest efforts were not so great. Quickly, I learned to write in a way that thinks of the reader. If you don’t see a benefit, some advice, something you can take away, then it is pointless. When I started interviewing people, I wasn’t that good either. It took me too long to prepare, and then the result still was not great. Mistakes are far greater teachers than successes.
3. How you will annoy everyone.
Perhaps this applies to blogging, your current novel manuscript, and maybe the new entrepreneurial venture you just started. When you first start anything, you are passionate. You can’t help but talk about what you are doing. You want to talk about your project, your dreams, what you are learning. News flash: no one cares. Over time, you learn to temper your conversations, and eventually it just fades into the background. I still share lessons I am learning, but I did that long before I had a blog. For me, a website is a small part of who I am. I am not defined by my job, a website, nor activities. I’m defined by what I believe, what I am committed to, and what I become. Success to me has always been about becoming a better person, year after year.
2. How wrong you are about what will work.
I would write something, carefully laboring over every word. Crafting it into the perfect message. I just knew it would spread virally. Uh-huh, not so much. It would fall flat. Something else I wrote, not thinking about it, likely on the back of a napkin, bam! Off to the races. Often it is in the title, the hook that pulls people in.
1. How the people you think will sign up and read don’t.
Before you launch a blog or a book, you often size up your audience. My family will sign up or buy, of course, and my closest friends. Of course, my co-workers will be in. I think this is often the biggest surprise. The people you are counting on likely will not be there. Maybe they aren’t interested in your subject. Maybe they don’t like you. Who knows? Who cares? Find the audience that does care. Online, you will have an incredible opportunity to meet and attract fascinating people who build your audience. Eventually, you may even win over some of those family members and co-workers.
The great Jim Rohn often said, “Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it.” The same can be said of writing, journaling, and blogging. What you become and the skills you gain are worth it. Whether I blog forever or stop, I am confident it has helped me become a better, more effective leader.