Ten Things I’ve Learned After Two Years Of Blogging
As you’ve likely read by now, the Mr. Media Training Blog is celebrating its second anniversary this week!
To commemorate the first anniversary last year, I ran a piece called “12 Things I Learned In My First Year as a Blogger.” So this year, I decided to refresh that piece by deleting a few points and adding a few new ones. Here is the updated list of the ten biggest things I’ve learned after two years as a blogger:
1. Daily Blogging Requires a MAJOR Commitment: Over the past two years, I’ve written more than 560 stories, each of which takes about 90 minutes to write and tag (some take significantly longer). That’s 420 hours a year – or 17.5 days per year – just for writing. Marketing the blog requires hundreds of additional hours.
2. Daily Blogging Makes Work/Life Balance Difficult: Before starting this blog, I was already stretched thin: Running a busy practice, traveling too much, and trying to spend a few relaxed hours with my wife each weekend. Writing a daily blog means that my already busy schedule now borders on sheer insanity. If you’re looking for a relaxed work/life balance, daily blogging on top of a full-time gig isn’t the way to do it.
3. Once You’ve Written The Obvious Posts, The Hard Work Begins: In some ways, the early days of a blog’s life are easier, since you can write all of the posts about the subjects you know best. But at some point, you exhaust those topics and have to find material that is less obvious.
4. Blogging Rewires Your Brain: If you write about a niche, you start filtering any news you hear through the prism of how you could write about it for your blog. That means you screen out some of the big picture to isolate the relevant, and often smaller picture. The crises that hit Penn State and the Komen Foundation weren’t primarily about child abuse or canceled grants for my blog – they were both about inept crises responses.
5. Quality of Visits Is More Important Than Quantity of Visitors: It’s easy to be disappointed that your blog had fewer hits today than yesterday. But on those “disappointing” traffic days, I’ve gotten phone calls from prospective clients who learned about me through my blog. Or from journalists who wanted to interview me because they read something on my blog. If the right people are visiting, it doesn’t matter how many of them are visiting.
6. There Is No Correlation Between Quality and Number of Hits: Some of the stories that took me hours to craft attracted just a few hundred readers – and some of the ones I cranked out in 45 minutes attracted thousands. Timing is everything. If I can post a decent article about a story everyone is talking about within minutes of it breaking, people are going to click on it.
7. Your Work Is Going to Spread: Since starting this blog, I’ve been surprised to see hundreds of visits from Estonia, Bangladesh, and Qatar, and thousands from Indonesia, Sweden, and Malaysia. I can’t say I saw that coming when I started the blog.
8. Some People Think They Can Discern Your Political Leanings From a Single Post: I’ve been called a liberal, a commie, a conservative, and a neocon. The truth is that I’ve made a strong effort to both criticize and praise Republicans and Democrats. But some months, more Republicans commit gaffes than Democrats (and vice versa), and it doesn’t mean I’m ideologically “biased” to say so. My favorite moment came last year when, during the Anthony Weiner scandal, a fellow tweeter told me I “was obviously prejudiced against NYC Jews.” That I live in NYC and was raised by Jewish parents did little to dissuade her view.
9. Some People Steal Your Content Without Attribution: I always appreciate when bloggers and website editors link to my work, sometime by excerpting a key paragraph or two. But occasionally, they just lift my work and run it without attribution. One person ran my work verbatim with his own byline. One changed a few words and ran it with his own byline. One prominent website editor went on the Fox News Channel and claimed my work as his own. Intellectual property theft still bothers me a fair bit.
10. I (Still) Love Blogging: Despite all of the downsides, I still love blogging. I love having a voice, love having my ideas appreciated (and occasionally debated or criticized), and love the discipline of coming up with daily story ideas. On most days, writing the next day’s blog post is my favorite professional task — so I often put it off until the end of the day as a reward for finishing the rest of my tasks.
Thank you for reading and making all of this work worth it! Here’s to year three!
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Excellent post! I especially agree with numbers 4 and 5. Daily blogging is A LOT of work, which is why I don’t do it! So congrats on keeping it up over a two year span. That is what I call commitment!
PS I think I will link to your post with attribution, of course!
Thank you, Brad. I don’t make it hear everyday, as having my own writing tasks sometimes means wearing blinders ;). But when I do, I always gain some knowledge, and often gain a smile.
I can always use more of both.
As always, thank you for your thoughtful and considered blog posts. I agree with all you’ve said above. I decided to stop blogging due to some of the issues you’ve encountered.
Your insight is appreciated and has helped me in my strategies for speaking and delivering key communications to my staff.
Turn n’ burn Goose!!
Two pieces of advice Brad:
1) Have departments — just like a newspaper (you know, News, Sports, Arts etc.) And tie them to specific days of the week. Thus, instead of having a completely blank slate in front of you every day, you have a much narrower, smaller blank slate (which is therefore easier to fill.) You can ALWAYS ignore your departments, if something newsy happens. But if it doesn’t, you’re more likely to have better ideas. For example, I produce a blog for writers. I now do a word of the week every Wednesday and a sentence of the week every Friday. (I “collect” these words/sentences all the time so these are really easy slots to fill.)O
2) Take holidays. I’ve been doing a weekly newsletter about writing for six years. I only ever miss one week at Christmas. I started my five-days-per-week blog this last March. Now, I’m going to take most of August off. (The only thing I will continue to do is my Tuesday newsletter/blog post and I wrote those all in advance.) We all need chances to recharge our batteries or we’re likely to burn out.
Please don’t burn out. I really enjoy reading your blog!
To all of you – thank you for your supportive comments and for your readership!
To Daphne – thank you for your thoughtful comments. In particular, I need to keep hearing number two over and over again. I have a (possibly irrational) fear that I’ll lose a significant chunk of the audience if I dare take some time off. But I know that’s untenable, and am happy to say that later this month, I’ll be taking my first week off this year. Of course, just watch Mitt Romney announce his running mate while I’m off. It’s always something…
Thanks again for reading and writing, all!
Excellent post. I admire your discipline and appreciate your honesty. You inspire me. Many thanks for sharing your valuable counsel and wisdom.
love the blog, Brad. Thanks for sharing your expertise