Lessons from My First Year Blogging
I started this blog a year ago today, on April Fool’s Day (by coincidence, I think), with a post on Managing Creativity. I published 70 posts last year, and when I reread them, I’m generally proud. Here’s what I learned this year:
1. Join the conversation
The Good: This site’s 1st and 3rd most popular posts were full of praises: Best of PubCon 2009 and Best of SMX Advanced 2009.
The Bad: The 2nd and 4th most popular posts were angry rants: Why Derek Powazek’s Posts Were Reprehensible and Reality Check: Blodget’s Latest Calacanis Infomercial.
What the top 4 posts had in common? They were all linked to by prominent members of the SEO community. The top 3 were on events that SEOs were already discussing. The 4th was an analysis that sat virtually unread until Aaron Wall and Jason Calacanis started brawling on Twitter. I mentioned my post to Aaron, who linked to it in his subsequent article blasting Calacanis.
As 2009 came to a close, I counted down the 5 Best SEO smackdowns. This was an attempt to revive the year’s best SEO conversations and to get myself inside. 4 of these posts ranked in my top 20. The other ranked #49.
Your best way to get traffic and recognition is to get involved in a conversation.
2. Hit ’em where they ain’t
This may sound like it contradicts the previous rule, but it’s better when you use these two rules together. I was going to live blog SMX Advanced. Then I saw Lisa Barone, Richard Baxter, and Angie Pascale were already doing it extremely well. I needed a Plan B. So I found something nobody was doing, writing a post highlighting the best moments of the conference, and these became my most popular posts.
An unexpected open area was when a rant I wrote about Toshiba’s “No Matter What” warranty. This warranty is only available in certain countries, and not in the US, UK, or Canada. Without competition from bloggers from these countries, that post received more search traffic than any other post on this site.
So find areas where there’s unmet demand, things that people want but other bloggers aren’t doing.
3. Nobody cares which posts are my favorites
I list my favorite posts in the top right of every page on the site. Here’s where the these posts rank among this site’s 70 posts:
- Humility: Recognizing Greatness Beyond Oneself: #18
- From the One to the Many: #48
- In Defense of Negative Thinking: #53
- Performance Evaluations: 5 Do’s and Don’ts: #5 (almost all from search traffic)
- The Onion, Star Trek, and Communities: #58
- Technology & Nostalgia, Progress & Values: #69
- When Work Works: #57
- Know Thy Weaknesses: #37
People aren’t looking for my opinion of which content they should read. Also, as I’ve noticed elsewhere, people are fairly blind to elements in the right rail.
4. Write for others
This post started as “Reviewing the First Year of Managing Greatness.” Interesting to me, but probably not to anybody else. I changed the title to “Lessons from my first year blogging” and I tried to focus the post on what other people can learn from my experiences.
So start with your own experiences, but try to focus on the person trying to apply your lessons to their reality.
5. Write for yourself
There are many reasons I blog, but the most important is to get all the half-baked thoughts, ideas, and emotions onto the computer screen. Saves my friends and colleagues from having to hear my half-thoughts, unless they want to. Articulating my thoughts and feelings brings them from half-conscious vibes into the light where they can be explored, enhanced, and quite often rejected. I wonder if there’s software that tells you what percentage of the words you type get deleted. In my case, the number is probably quite high, which is one reason each post takes me so long.
Blogging really helps develop my thoughts, recognize my feelings, and clear my mind. And while it’s thus intensely personal, it’s also a forum where I really hope to connect to others. Somehow talking to others from the privacy of my own keyboard allows me far greater liberty and openness than any other form of interaction or self-reflection. So thank you for listening. And I’d love to hear your thoughts.