I had to take a moment to pause and reflect on the first 100 posts of my personal blog. When I think about what I’ve learned, and how those will influence my next 100 posts, 10 things come to mind that may also be helpful for you as you chart the course that lies ahead for your blog, whether you’re just starting out or are planning the next phase.
10 things you learn
1. Objective is boring.
I’ve learned that there’s little point in being objective because I figure if people want that, they’ll tune into their nightly news. I like giving credit to people who I think have done a good job, and calling out people who whiff at brand development. At least I know it’s important to keep it real, no matter what. When I think about blogs that I find interesting, they inject opinion. And if they’re not taking a side, they’re asking questions that provoke thought and continued discussion. I’m striving in the next 100 posts to do more of that.
2. One post can explode the traffic.
Seriously. I awoke some days to find that one post has just a little traction, and it was through the roof on other days. These are the posts that keep generate readership months and months after they’ve been posted, much to my amazement. The takeaway is to look for the commonalities between the posts that are really taking off. Is it because they have a certain format or subject matter or tone?
3. You do not have to post every day. Not even close.
There’s always so much made about frequency. Yes, you have to post consistently, but post when the spirit moves you to write something meaningful, not because someone said you have to post every day. At this point, I’ve tried to say something useful at least twice a week that will benefit readers. That’s the consistency part. Beyond that, when the moment grabs me, I write a post usually in one sitting and never look back. When I’m not feeling it, I don’t force the issue.
4. Don’t try to be Hemingway with every post.
I know, I just said to write something meaningful. And I did mean that. But I sometimes found myself over-analyzing my content quality when I also had to remember to get it out there to express myself on a time-sensitive topic. Again, I think having a loose weekly deadline for yourself can give you the balance of a time boundary without rushing your content out there too prematurely (“I have to comment on that news today!”). Relax. Absorb it. Craft your take thoughtfully. Then stick to your focus of making sure you comment on it within a reasonable time-frame. If something important happens on a Monday, I try to comment on it within the week but not three weeks later when it’s old news.
5. You touch people you never thought you would.
It’s been very cool to see business relationships and opportunities transpire in the last year as a result of this endeavor. Students, CEOs, blog communities, folks inviting me to sneak preview events and conferences and so on. Think you can get these kind of things from spending a bunch on direct mail? Yeah, right. Blogging works. But if you think you can get amazing results after your first 2-3 posts, don’t bother. Patience isn’t just a virtue. It’s mandatory.
6. Subscribers take time to accumulate.
Chris Brogan said it took him 8 years to get 100 subscribers. Knowing who he is and my admiration for him, that fact has really stuck with me and encouraged me. I guess in that context, getting about a 1/3 of that in year one ain’t too shabby. There’s definitely a lot of people visiting and reading, so I can’t complain about them not taking the subscription step too much. I’m sure there are tweaks I’ll explore (without being too gimmicky about it) but when you focus on the content that your potential subscribers want to hear about regularly, that’s far and away the most important thing.
7. E-mail still offers plenty of share-ability.
After Facebook and Twitter, I found a lot of sharing of articles going on via e-mail. So even though e-mail may feel like a communications dinosaur, the fact is it’s not going away for a very long time. Especially among people over 30 years old.
8. Don’t sleep on StumbleUpon.
Nobody talks about this channel as much as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Google Plus. But I’m telling you, on certain days when you get lucky by your post being voted up, it’s a traffic bonanza.
9. Could that long post have been divided into a Part 1 and Part 2? Probably.
I’m wordy. Sometimes more than I’d like to be. And I think if I’d divided some posts in half, I might be at 150 posts or more by now. Not a horrible thing, but considering how much Google likes more and more pages within a site, this might be helpful to consider going forward. Plus I think people have a general threshold of wordage.
10. Offering guest posts is great for variety.
What “cousin” industries make for good guest post opportunities? I’m in Social Media Marketing, but guest posts from people in other industries have given readers the perspective of people in HR, Operations, Agency New Business and more. It also hopefully helped drive some good traffic to their sites because some still get great readership, which feels good. Plus it helps alleviate the pressure of a post that day, so that certainly doesn’t hurt. Do remember to guide your guest posters so they’re writing within your blog’s theme and audience rather than anything they feel like.