Blogging is arguably one of the best, most fundamental actions you can take to further your business, your self-expression, and deepen your understanding of your place in the world. Don’t just take my word for it; ask Seth Godin & Tom Peters…
But there’s a big difference between writing for the heck of it, and actually expecting to get some positive return out of it. There’s also a big difference between writing a five-post boom-and-crash, and blogging for a lifetime.
Hoping to get some help both of those points, I recently watched an excellent video by Mr. 4HWW, Tim Ferriss, and I thought it was fantastic. He calls it “How to Blog without Killing Yourself”, and says, “one of my favorite presentations I’ve given in 2009.” After watching it, and taking notes of the highlights for myself, I’d have to agree.
Now, for anyone reading this who’s anti-Tim, just let me say this: On one hand, that’s cool. Like who you want, and don’t who you don’t. I’ve got no beef with you. But, if you’re thinking to leave me a trollish comment because you’ve got an issue with him, then answer this: Who are you? What have you done with your life so far? How many people have you impacted? Smile on your brother, y’know?
What I’ve written below is my own personal commentary on the notes I took from the above talk. He covers a lot more than what I took notes on, which is why I recommend you watch it – my takeaways are going to be different from your takeaways, by necessity and design. My hope in adding my notes is that it’ll help add some context to quotes taken entirely out of context, and lend some insight from my own personal perspective, for what it’s worth (and hey, if you’ve read this far, then maybe it’s worth enough to you to keep reading…).
- It has to be fun, or your readers will not have fun.
- If you’re not having fun, it will come across very clearly in what you write.
Darn tootin’. That’s precisely why I moved my blog to adamkayce.com, and why I’m writing about this. I dig Tim’s stuff; his approach to sucking the marrow out of life is, I believe, admirable. I like his perspective, and how he’s not afraid to go against convention.
And, I also believe that fun has to be paramount in your life. If it’s not, what are you doing it for? You only get one shot at life, and it’s your choice completely if you want to spend it miserably or enjoy every last minute of it.
On fun and blogging:
- Think big, but play often. Take fun seriously!
- Blogging can be your own self-imposed hell if you let it. Most people do that; they follow rules from people who are not paying them to blog.
- Don’t take advice from people you don’t want to emulate.
- My blog is not a source of stress for me. It has been a huge, hugely positive thing in my life, and I plan to keep on doing it for a long, long time.
This spoke to me greatly, having gone through what I’ve been through in blogging so far. I got so wrapped up in what the “experts” were saying needed to be done, that I lost sight of what it’s all about: joy.
I love to write. I’ve been writing for fun since I was kid. I used to write stories while the tv was on, because I loved having paper in front of me, and I loved being able to express in words what was going on in my head. I think it’s only natural that English was always one of my top subjects in school (I even won awards for it), my college degree is in writing, and I’m writing this right now.
Writing is cathartic. It’s ecstatic. It’s a gateway to a fuller expression of who you are, and it grows you as you go, like Seth said in the video up top. And yet, if you’re not careful about the reasons why you do what you do, it most certainly can become a prison, and a self-inflicted torture device.
My advice: Get really clear on why you’re blogging. Chances are, there are going to be a lot of reasons, both business and personal. Just make sure there’s joy in it for you, and that the foundation of the reasons is a personal one. Otherwise, you’ll run out of gas, out of juice, and it’ll sputter and die.
On negative comments, trolls, hate mail, etc.:
- There’s enough negativity in the world; you have no obligation to put it on your blog.
[He says he treats it like his house; if you come to a cocktail party and start cussing him out, you’re gone! And you’re not coming back.]
This one took me a while to grasp.
When I had my first troll appear on my first blog, I didn’t really know what to do. Unfortunately, I tried—too quickly—to address all the issues the person had with what I had wrote, taking it way too personally, and way too far. I was coming from a mindset that wanted people to like me, and that liking = agreement. And that if I could please them, everything would work out fine.
Big, big mistake.
One of the greatest lessons I ever learned from marketing champion Sean D’Souza was that—no matter what you do—you’re never going to please everyone… and that’s a good thing. If you are, you’re probably either being too bland, or too afraid to say what you really think. And that doesn’t attract people to your cause, or help you to spread your message. (Great example: Tim Ferriss. The people who love him spread the word about him as they praise him, and the people who hate him spread the word about him as they denounce him. Either way, he gets more press. It’s the classic Law of Attraction at work: What you give attention to, grows.)
On multiple topic blogs:
- If you run a niched blog, the every once-in-a-while stray post is fine.
- Otherwise, you want to make it clear by the branding of your site that it’s fairly broad. (The blog of Tim Ferriss: Experiments in Lifestyle Design.)
In case you aren’t familiar with Tim’s philosophies, he’s a big proponent of examining the status quo and seeing if so-called “conventional wisdom” has any wisdom in it at all. Because you aren’t obligated to follow the herd, unless you choose to… and many times, you’ll get the best results if you don’t.
When it comes to blogging, the advice you’ll often read is that you should create only niched content, specific to a certain audience, and never stray from that course. Keep it tight, keep it focused, and keep everything else out of it.
But there are plenty of examples of people who have defied that convention, and had spectacular success because of it. Tim is one. Christine Kane is another.
So, am I saying you should write about everything, conventions be dammed? No, because it depends. It depends on your goals, your attention span, your passion, and the kind of person you are. What’s right for one isn’t necessarily right for another.
The takeaway here is that there’s not one right way – and many of the self-proclaimed masters would love to sell you on the idea that it’s their way or the highway. And that’s just not true. You have to take a lot of factors into account, and make the choice that’s right for you.