I’ve been a bad girl. The past six months, I have not been walking my talk. While I’ve been blogging elsewhere, I’ve left my personal blog behind. In fact, I haven’t actually written a blog post here in almost six months.
I’m well aware of the irony of this. I’ve been blogging since I was 10 years old. For almost a year, I coached AmLaw 200 lawyers how to blog regularly, coaxing them out of bad habits and helping them post at least once a week. I freelanced for almost 3 years and taught SMB’s how to blog regularly and taught them best practices (and often building out complete strategies they could implement internally.) So why have I not only abandoned this blog, but embarked down a road where I did everything you should never, ever absolutely do?
I wish I had an answer. But if I were to ask myself for advice, I’d lay out the ground rules again for this blog and my personal brand and fix the bad habits. So what were they?
1. Blog Consistently. This is what I’ve told every lawyer and small business owner for almost four years. For me, writing is easy. If I’m going to pick a day to write (or two or seven, whatever) I can easily sit down and write a few hundred words. (Ideally, you want 300 or more, but that’s really not the issue here. Like Nike says…Just do it.) To get back into the swing of things, I’ve scheduled myself a coffee date every Saturday morning for the next month (yes, it’s actually on my calendar) to write. Then I’ll either schedule these to post later in the week or sit on them and review them later in the week and then post them. The hard part for me the last six months was finding time to sit down and think of things to write about (I had a bad excuse of saying I was “too busy” even though I was just caught up in Reddit instead.)
2. Don’t Autopost. I hate, hate, hate it when people obviously auto-post anything using social media. Often times this makes it look like people are trying to force content around the clock, or look like they always have something to share. Unfortunately, my excuse of being “too busy” and lacking content led me right into this same trap, and for four months I automatically cross posted blog posts from Forbes and HasOffers, as well as my Instagram photos. This watered down my blog (which is my brand) and negatively impacted several potential relationships as this cross promotion didn’t strike the right balance of personality and professionalism. Yesterday, I deleted all these posts, and I’m picking up where I left off….at the end of January. (Yuck.)
3. On that note, it’s critical to stay on topic. Even when I auto posted, I pulled in a really random mix of content. Had I just syndicated specific types of content instead of everything posted to Forbes and the HasOffers blog (the later of which includes really varied content, sometimes from guests), it may not have been as bad to syndicate. Typically I strive to write about problems I have in my life and how I solve them with an emphasis on technology and social media. This post is just the beginning of starting that process again.
4. Don’t focus on the design. This is my biggest weakness and the piece of advice I have the hardest time listening to myself about. I have massive design envy to the point it was debilitating the past six months. I’ve watched as friends launched professionally designed blogs and could not get past how pretty they looked (even though they lacked much content.) Despite the irony that I started blogging with Geocities (blinking, scrolling text and all) I couldn’t hit publish on a new post without also playing with the CSS or designing a new header…which ultimately distracted me from writing entirely. The bottom line? The design doesn’t matter, and back to #1; just write.
5. Finally, don’t compare yourself. I didn’t start blogging so other people would read what I wrote. In fact, throughout my blogging career I often was surprised when I found out anyone was reading my posts (which sometimes led me to lock down a LiveJournal account or otherwise change privacy settings.) Over time I embraced an audience, but the apprehension of writing something perfectly, or about a topic better than someone else did was paralyzing. Over the past six months I followed other bloggers and would get stuck thinking about how I could do it differently, completely unaware that I was already doing my own thing. (Again, that paralysis.) At the end of the day, there is no winner.
My blog – my brand – might have lost its way. But I know better, and I also now know how easy it is do so. Being in the trenches with the people I work with – and want to work with – gives me a better perspective of the challenges they face, and helps me better understand how to guide them the right way….and now, with even more tough love.