8 Lessons Learned from The Long Blogging Road

Brass Tack Thinking - 8 Lessons Learned from the Long Blogging RoadI’ve been blogging in some form or another for about 6 or 7 years. Most of that stuff is long defunct, but my current blog at Brass Tack Thinking has been around since 2008 (it was previously called Altitude Branding).

Sifting through the archives the other day, I was reflecting a bit on how far this blog has come, and what I’ve learned along the way. And when I shared a few bits on Twitter, several folks asked if I’d share what I’ve learned.

First, it’s important for me to make a few things clear about my goals for blogging, because they’re likely different than yours, and it gives context to what I’ve been doing this for.

Why I Blog

One of my favorite quotes is from the writer Joan Didion, who once said “I write to discover what I think.”

In my case, that couldn’t be more true. I started blogging because I wanted to explore my own point of view on topics around communication, branding, and eventually the emergence of social media. More than anything, writing helps me work through ideas, find clarity, and find connections between threads. It has helped me establish an area of expertise, a personality and point of view, and work through ideas that interest me. Also? I love to write. Words are my chosen medium, so blogging is a natural fit for me.

I know some of you will roll your eyes when I tell you that traffic and subscribers were never a huge aim for me, but they weren’t. They’ve definitely become valuable along the way, because visibility has brought me opportunity, like jobs and speaking gigs and book deals. So I don’t discount them, and I value sustaining the growth, but I don’t obsess over analytics and I don’t do a lot of gerrymandering purposefully to improve my stats. I just write, and spend a little money on decent design.

I didn’t, for example, ever set up my blog for the purpose of generating revenue through ads or products, so my immediate goals were NOT centered around traffic or hits or anything of the sort. I just wanted to start creating content that could form a basis for other things (like my then-consulting services). And that content has had the residual benefits I’d hoped for in terms of establishing me as an authoritative voice in my industry.

It’s also worth noting that I write in social media about social media. Which is a bit of a jolt, because social media people love to read about social media. So the natural content consumers, creators, and sharers are a big part of my audience (the rest is the more mainstream corporate management/exec type). That has most certainly made it easier to create a visible blog in a very nascent industry. If you’re writing about lapidary work or illuminated calligraphy, you might find that there’s a much smaller niche for that and your results will be relative.

So, here’s a bit of a rundown of what I’ve learned through the blogging adventure.

1. Consistency Counts.

I used to hate the idea that I needed to write regularly, or to adhere to some kind of schedule. Some people still get hives when you say that, preferring to focus on the “write when you have something to say” mantra. I think both are true.

I definitely write more passionately when I have something to say, but the practice of writing is equally important in cultivating a voice and a body of work overall. Getting good at writing for an audience means creating some cohesion, and it’s hard to do that in fits and starts. Sometimes, you can accomplish that by writing even if you don’t publish.

If traffic and eyeballs are a goal you have however, my experience (read: stats) also says that writing and publishing consistently and regularly makes a positive difference in that regard. My sweet spot is about 3 posts per week, but you’ll have to test yours to see what works best for you since there ain’t no secret formula here.

But writing is a discipline, honestly. If you have aims to use your writing as a vehicle to something else – work, leads, speaking gigs, book deals, advocacy – you have to work at it to make it good. And the only way to work at it is to do it. A lot.

2. Sometimes Blogging Sucks.

Not every moment of blogging is bliss. That’s just the way of it.

If you can think of your blog more as a ground for adventure and experimentation instead of gospel, that’ll go down a bit easier. But you’ll have clunkers. You’ll have posts you look back on months (or years) later as cringe-worthy. You’ll piss someone off, you’ll contradict yourself, you’ll get absolute crickets for the post you were convinced was your masterpiece.

You’ll get critiques from your closest friends and complete strangers, and some of them will sting. You will hit a wall or a dry spell, and you won’t want to write anymore at all. It’s all part of the game, and so many factors contribute to it.

That’s why #1 above is important. The more you work at it, the more you find what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll shove yourself through the rough spots. You can write once a month and figure it out eventually, but it’ll take a lot longer to do.That’s your choice.

But the universal truth is that blogging is like every other pursuit. There are ups, there are downs, and they’re both important to creating a complete picture. If you’re lucky, you’ll learn something from both.

3. Know What You’re In It For.

Some people blog to make money. Some write for ego and attention. Some people blog to rally people to a cause. Some (like me) write to express and explore ideas. Some write to publish their work or exercise their creativity. They’re all perfectly fine objectives.

Your audience will be different depending on your goals, so will your approach, your success rate, and how much work and effort it takes. But whatever your aims, know what they are. That way your decisions can always be measured against those aims to see if they line up, and you’ll know when you’re off the reservation.

4. Capture Ideas Everywhere.

One of the most common roadblocks bloggers face – and the one that often leads to giving up – is a lack of inspiration. You just run out of things to say, or you think you do.

One thing that’s helpful to me is having a way to capture fleeting post ideas whenever the inspiration strikes. I happen to love Evernote because of its translation across phone, iPad, and laptop. But I also think things like Dragon Dictation could come in handy. I scribble in my Moleskine, and have even been known to use my daughter’s bathtub crayons to scrawl something on the shower wall if it hits me then. Whatever it takes. :)

At present, I have about 112 blog post ideas in varying stages of draft in my Evernote folder. Some are just titles or ideas. Others are partially written drafts. Others are photos, or clips from other articles that inspired another thought. I may or may not ever get to them, and I delete drafts that I go back to later and make me think “meh”. But if I’m in writing mode and I don’t have a topic immediately to mind, I *always* manage to find something in my drafts folder that seems to fit my mood.

5. Your Content Will Evolve.

That’s part of the idea.

You may start in one direction, and end up somewhere else. Your posts will mature, your voice will change and settle in, you’ll find new things you’re passionate about and you’ll frequently question your own direction. You’ll write lots of list posts, then you’ll hate them. You’ll go crazy with the latest blogging meme, then you’ll be a purist all over again. You’ll sit and stare at the screen and wonder if you’ve lost your edge, and you’ll try something different. Some of those things will fail, some will be wildly awesome. You’ll get newly inspired by something you’d never known about before. You might try different types of content, or different subject matter altogether.

When you change stuff, it might be just a tweak in direction, or a complete overhaul of your blog from the ground up. You might come full circle, and find that where you started was where you wanted to be after all. It’ll happen. It’s all part of the adventure. Content isn’t an absolute, it’s dynamic. As it should be. That’s what keeps us – and you – interested and engaged.

6. It’s a Long Haul.

So, three years it’s been for Brass Tacks. And it’s a fairly successful blog that’s gained a bit of recognition, though I’m no superstar.

But at the beginning, it took me six months of blogging, several times per week, to really find the start of my footing. (Keep in mind that’s also after having THREE other blogs in past worlds that ended up nowhere). And by footing I mean starting to establish a clear focus, a unique voice, a sense of confidence, and yes, some regular attention that stuck around for a while. That’s when other people started to share my content. Comment more. Send other people over to check things out. That kind of thing.

And you know what?

It still needs my attention. Blogs don’t coast. You can’t just set it and forget it. You’ve got to keep feeding the machine, keeping it fresh, devoting your attention to it. It’s like a relationship, really, with your blog. Once you get it moving, you’ve got to *keep* it moving, or it stagnates and even dies on the vine. If you don’t care about momentum or lack thereof, then by all means, do it or stop doing it for a while, or whatever you feel like. But if a long-term, thriving, authoritative blog is something you’re striving for, it’s not an overnight thing, and you’ve gotta keep it going.

7. No One Is Making You Do This.

You don’t have to blog. And if you don’t want to blog, you’re better off not doing it.

I enjoy writing. It’s part of me, which makes blogging something I enjoy, not something I dread. Sure, it helps me from a business perspective, but if I hated it, I’m not at all sure I’d keep doing it. There’s not a universal law that says you have to have a blog. You’re not a victim of social media pressure, either, you’re in control. If you can’t find an approach to blogging or a topic that motivates you to keep wanting to do it, that’s a problem. And you’ve got to figure out why you’re beating your head against the wall.

Why? First of all, we can tell. If your content is created because of some sense of obligation, it’ll read that way. Second, there are far too many other things you could do to make an impact on your work and life that DO motivate you, so why burn energy on something that doesn’t?

If you hate blogging, you have my permission to quit doing it. Or change gears completely, nuke your blog, and start over (no unicorns will die if you do that, I promise, even if you’re famous). Unless it’s a requisite of your job, then I want to talk to your boss about why they’re giving that job to *you*.

8. Quit Comparing Yourself. And Forget This Post.

Oh, how many times I would look over my shoulder at the other bloggers I was supposed to emulate, or want to be like. I would read copious amounts of content about how to make my blog better and get myself all wrapped around the axle about everything from plugins to what lists I was on to how long a post should be and whether I should follow some kind of secret writing formula.

And then I realized the truth: the only universal constant of blogging is that there is none.

For everything I’ve learned and say works for me? Your success might be found in the opposite. For as much as I’m not focused on blogging for traffic, plenty of people have it down to a science and make good money doing it. I’ve questioned my own ways, changed them, gone back again. Taken advice, ignored it, adhered to some of the rules and broken many, many more.

The only thing that seems to really matter is that I keep working hard to write stuff that people want to read and that also feels like stuff I want to write. Somewhere in the middle, good stuff happens. Much of it probably unlikely to be instructed in a blog post, ironically enough. Be ok with forging your own path rather than following the one someone else laid.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear what you’ve learned, whether you’ve been blogging for a month or a decade. And if you’re blogging, are these obvious? Are they things you know are reassuring to hear anyway? Were there any surprises?

The hard part about these “lessons” posts is that some of these things might seem obvious, but aren’t to everyone, so someone may just find the encouragement they need to write or keep writing, and that’s worth a bunch. At the same time, it can feel really unoriginal to share a bunch of stuff that doesn’t feel very groundbreaking at all.

So, some of you asked and I answered. And if there’s something that I can weigh in on in the comments that I didn’t think of here, I’d love to do so. Hope it was helpful. Share what you’ve learned, too?

  • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

    Great post and some great points.

    Earlier this summer I crossed my 8 year anniversary of Blogging and I certainly have changed a lot since then. Biggest change being that I was much more open when I first started writing because so few people were reading. As more people got to know me I had to think a bit more about what I was saying before I said it.

    My approach has always been to treat my blog like a journal. This means I write about whatever comes to mind and I write when I have something to say. This does not make me the most consistant blogger in the world, but you know what? I don’t care.

    I’ve also learned that there is always a lot more people reading then will ever leave a comment. I’m always surprised when someone will reference something I posted and I’ll have no idea they’ve even been to the site. I love those little moments.

    And the one advice I’d give is don’t follow the numbers. Write because you want to. Because you need a place to share. If people read then that is great, but don’t write for that sole reason. Write because you need to get the thoughts out of you head!

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      I love your point about the quiet readers. They’re *always* there yet we tend to focus on what’s visible and obvious. I definitely learned that lesson, and am so glad you brought it up. Thanks for commenting, dear friend. :)

  • http://twitter.com/swoodruff Steve Woodruff

    For me, Amber, blogging is somewhat an end in itself – the self-expression part – but it is mostly a means to an end. Sharing and discovering. Growing and learning. Creating business. Meeting people and building a great network. Figuring stuff out iteratively. Exploring leading-edge communications. I’ve never gravitated either toward the statistics or direct revenue generation aspect – different staring point and goals, I guess. Every blogger should probably sit down early on and ask the big question: What am I trying to build? (and be ready for the answer to evolve somewhat over time…)

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      I think that’s probably the most important part. Because if YOU know what you’re writing for, it’s so much easier to find your footing when you hit a rough patch. It’s like the anchor you can always go back to. 

  • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

    Love these lessons, Amber. Thanks for sharing. Even though I haven’t been blogging nearly as long as you, these points really reinforce the lessons I’ve learned also. 

    I think the set it and forget it point is especially important. You’re right –  no one likes to hear that they have to blog regularly. But, the fact is, if you wait until inspiration strikes, you might never blog. It is a discipline that gets better and easier over time.

    I would add that it really helps to know your audience – even if that audience is just you. While some might blog for journaling purposes, I’m blogging to help build my consulting business. Paying attention to who my readers are is critically important. It’s way too easy to write things for yourself. But, you are not your client/prospect/reader. It helps to keep their questions, struggles and challenges in mind when you write.

    All that said, I think one of the best things I love about blogging is the ability to share ideas and flesh out concepts. The discussions that take place in the comments act like a mini focus group. I love hearing different points of view and how I might want to approach things differently.

    Great post! 

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      I like your point about knowing your audience, Laura. For me it’s a balance. In order to stay motivated and have this blog be a project that I cherish, I *need* to write stuff that’s “just for me” sometimes and hope that someone else finds value in it too. But it’s also easy to get caught in the trap of not writing something because it’s not of particular intrigue to you, yet your readership finds it very valuable. I’ve had a few of those, and they’ve always been good reminders that in order to grow a blog, it needs to be both self serving AND serving of the people that come to read it. All of one or the other is a recipe for burnout and fatigue.

  • Anonymous

    All very valuable, true, and realistic lessons about blogging, Amber. Number 8 is particularly pertinent, and oh so hard to do. It’s so easy to compare in the social media world, but much of the time, you just have to forge ahead with your own perspectives and ideas irrespective of what somebody else is doing!

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      So very true, and indeed the one I think more bloggers struggle with than not. What other people are doing is so VISIBLE out there that it’s hard not to get caught up in it. And while I’m all for learning through observation, it can be really difficult to simply take something at face value without trying to figure out how you stack up. 

  • http://twitter.com/vargasl Lauren Vargas

    After six years of blogging, I have found that lesson learned #6 is what I have found the most challenging. You are correct, blogs don’t coast and take constant nourishment. It is like having a pet! Also, I have found it is much easier to stay consistent then have to regain momentum if you let things slide.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      That last point is a biggie. Oh, how many times I’ve hit a dry spell only to have trouble getting started again. Part of the deal, I guess. :)

  • Salvador Vilardo

    Great points. The biggest thing I struggled with until recently was capturing all the things that inspire me. Then I found Evernote. Oh, how I love thee. I can pull out my phone, take a quick photo, jot a few words down and hit save, then when I am back at my computer, pull up the desktop and review all the things I did for that day. It is brilliant.

    I must say, though, you have about twice as many drafts saved as I do…but oh, wait…Did I just compare myself. Crap. Need to go re-read the article again ;)

    • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

      I saw that part about Evernote in the post and realized I had found a kindred spirit, and, by reading the comments, I’ve found another one. Here’s to Evernote! Oh, and memo apps, notebooks, et cetera…

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Evernote is a savior to me, not just for blogging but for work in general. There’s a post back in my archives somewhere about how I use it. Definitely helpful for grabbing those passing thoughts. Oh, and Salvador, a huge drafts folder is not exactly the sign of a prolific writer. :)

  • http://www.socialmediamercenary.com Leslie A. Joy

    “The only thing that seems to really matter is that I keep working hard
    to write stuff that people want to read and that also feels like stuff I
    want to write. Somewhere in the middle, good stuff happens. Much of it
    probably unlikely to be instructed in a blog post, ironically enough. Be
    ok with forging your own path rather than following the one someone
    else laid.”

    That meant more to me than you can imagine.

    I’ve been blogging for a year-ish I think-and I’m juuuuust starting to find my voice. Basically, I finally got over my awkward adolescence stage and then entered it with blogging.

    This post was not only helpful, but inspiring. Half the time I read how I *should* be writing my blog and I feel like Mugatu in Zoolander when he says he feels like he’s taking crazy pills.

    And, if absolutely nothing else besides the book deal and work and speaking gigs-you inspired one incredibly hard to inspire, jaded, cynical, sarcastic, snarky chick.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      So glad to hear it, Leslie. Thanks for the kind words. And keep at it. I know you’re starting to find your stride, and I think that’s awesome. 

  • http://YourStressMatters.com Dr. Rae

    Began blogging as a journal in 2001 and still learning Amber.  Thank you for sharing your “lessons learned from [your] long blogging road.” 

    Blogging this week [Wednesday] on “lessons learned revisited.” 

    Looking forward to seeing you there…

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Looking forward to it, and thanks for reading.

  • http://twitter.com/etceterabeauty Genell Banks

    Thanks, I thought something was wrong with me for starting a post or title and letting it sit. And I will definitely keep this article in mind as I discover my voice.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Oh heck no. I do that all the time. And sometimes I go back and read the title and wonder what in the hell I was thinking about because it makes no sense at all. :)

  • http://twitter.com/webby2001 Tom Webster

    What turned my blogging around (and I’m not the best practitioner of #1, by a long shot) was embracing #3 – know what you’re in it for. When I stopped writing for search engines, retweets, “corporate strategy” and “personal branding,” and started to write for what turned out to be the *right* reason, my blog got a LOT better. And, it turns out, your last point – to stop comparing yourself – is what allows you to be *incomparable.* And so you are, Naslund.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Thanks, Webster. And yeah, the comparison or blogging for mechanics thing really takes a chunk out of things. Some people can do it, but I can’t. I have to feel personally compelled by what I’m writing, or I can’t write it well. 

  • http://www.jonfmoss.com JonFMoss

    Thank you for peeling back the curtain a little on your process. I’m sure everyone who blogs (or wants to) has creative flashes at inopportune times. The soap crayons in the tub story illustrates how we need to capture these thoughts, and organize them in such a way as to reference them later.

    Sketching out an idea on the shower wall, or recording a brief audio note is step one. Where I’ve fallen down is not coming back to those inspired ideas soon enough to fill in the gaps. This week I reviewed a number of captured ideas and for the life of me couldn’t figure out what some of them meant! So before you draw the kid’s next bath, common sense says expound on those ideas. Otherwise, they may run down the shower wall and turn into a smeared mess.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      That definitely happens, as I mention in a comment above. There are casualties in the blogging world. There’s also ideas that ARE fleshed out, but that later just aren’t inspiring. I’m not afraid of the delete button. :)

  • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

    I can relate to all the lessons you have learned, but, at the moment, I feel the most kinship with the fifth one. A blog’s content should and will evolve. I have found that to be the case as I’ve refined what my company does. The natural progression of that refining was an evolution in my blog’s content. Fortunately, I enjoy writing about writing, entrepreneurship, and social media, so it’s been a fun evolution.

  • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

    I can relate to all the lessons you have learned, but, at the moment, I feel the most kinship with the fifth one. A blog’s content should and will evolve. I have found that to be the case as I’ve refined what my company does. The natural progression of that refining was an evolution in my blog’s content. Fortunately, I enjoy writing about writing, entrepreneurship, and social media, so it’s been a fun evolution.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Our businesses and personalities aren’t static, so why should our blogs be?

      • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

        They shouldn’t be. I think it’s fun to look over the past year’s entries and to see the growth that has occurred.

      • http://www.factotumep.com Erin Feldman

        They shouldn’t be. I think it’s fun to look over the past year’s entries and to see the growth that has occurred.

  • http://www.nextdoorneighbormarketing.com Ryan Colby

    Great info!  You need to enjoy blogging, be consistent with it (my goal is 3 posts a week too), and know what your goals are.

    I also struggle sometimes with finding inspiration.  But when I do, I’m also writing notes wherever I can. :)

    As a blogger myself, these are things I already know, but reminders and affirmations are always important in life.  Nice job!

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Glad to assist with the reinforcement, and keep up the great work!

  • http://www.communityorganizer20.com/ Debra Askanase

    Such a good wrap-up. For me, knowing what you’re in it for (#3) is what keeps it clear. I’ve been blogging 2.5 years professionally, about a year before that, personally. Knowing who I am talking to over the past 2 and 1/2 years has made such a difference – it helps me to find the right content, think about content analysis, keep my voice, etc.

    One other point: blogging also helps me to process ideas. When I’m working through an approach or idea, I’ll often blog about it as it evolved. Both the writing and the conversation in the comments help move the idea forward.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Debra, I love bloggers that share the evolution of their ideas, even how they’ve changed their mind. Shows critical thinking, and humanity, both of which can indeed be in short supply. :)

  • http://digitalb2b.wordpress.com/ Eric Wittlake

    Amber, as one of the people that responded to your tweet last week, thank you for writing this. It is great to see your perspective, particularly as someone with a “successful” blog (by many’s standards) yet one that isn’t written as a pure corporate or business venture.

    #3 really resonates with me, and it is what I love about seeing a post like this that isn’t focused on pure business blogging. Just like content evolves, I’ve seen the reason I blog start to shift in just 6 short months, as I have seen more of the potential benefits of blogging. Like you, I started writing in part as a way to work through ideas. Know, although engagement has been limited, the feedback I get challenging me or adding to my perspectives is as valuable as the time initially spent working through my views.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write this and share with the rest of us.

    – @wittlake

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Glad you found it helpful. And ideas and writing often evolve through the process itself. That’s why books have editors. Blogs on the other hand are self-steered things, so we have to be willing to adjust course as we learn more about ourselves, our audience, and the things that are driving us to write in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    Another brilliant post, Amber. I’ve only been blogging for about 18 months I can honestly say the biggest gamechanger for me was when I stopped comparing myself to all the other marketing and PR bloggers out there, and started writing for me and my goals.

    Oh, I’m also obsessed with Evernote. I jot down blurbs and ideas all the time. It really helps me keep writing and avoiding “long dry spells.” 

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      It’s hard to do, isn’t it? Break away from the “but they’re doing” thing? For example, I used to be in the top 25 on the AdAge 150 or whatever. I blogged when I didn’t want to. I wrote posts more for the search engines and the social media fishbowl than for me or for the audience I wanted to attract. Now I’m not even visible on there, and I’m ok with that. If the prominence comes WITH the things I want to achieve? Fine. If not, that’s gonna be ok with me too. :)

      • Anonymous

        Well-said. I’m the same way. I write for me and the audience that I want to read it. Getting a lot of exposure for a post is great, but it’s not the end all be all for me. 

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

    My favorite on this list is the Kung Fu Panda one – Number #8  “There is no secret ingredient in the “Secret Ingredient” soup.”

    There is no “The” way. There is a way. Many a way. :)

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Indeed. And man, we get ourselves all wrapped around the axle trying to find or dictate The Way sometimes. There are many ways to tackle this internet thing. :)

  • http://www.toddharris.me Todd Harris

    #4 is a great tip and I should start using Evernote more for this purpose. Maybe it’ll make me less of a lazy blogger. :)

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      I’ve found it really helpful, but whatever works for you is good!

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.grigsby1 Danielle Grigsby

    I found your blog via an @ErinBlaskie tweet. I have been blogging since December–kind of. I have a style blog and I am a fashion designer. Thank you for a great article. http://www.danielleceleste.me

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Welcome, Danielle. Hope to see you around here again sometime!

  • http://www.arrelle.com Lisabeth Rosenberg

    Thank you Amber for your insights about blogging.  I’m still discovering how to do it; my goals have changed since I first started.  I’m not going to worry but try to savor the experience and find my voice. I write about my area of expertise (Fine European Linens & Home Decor) and about my thoughts and creative endeavors. So far not much has happened (as I’m self-employed and recently closed a business) but who knows about tomorrow.  A good way to exercise my creative muscle while participating with the modern world. Still learning.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      That’s a worthy goal in itself, Lisabeth. Keep at it, and I wish you the best of luck in your blogging adventures!

  • http://twitter.com/HotSpotPromo Darlene Hull

    This is a wonderfully uplifting post, Amber.  I so agree with you about blogging often clarifying where you’re going and what you’re doing.  Blogging has shifted the direction of my own business because it’s allowed me to discover what isn’t my passion (though I thought it was at the time) and then shift into what is my passion, and that brought such joy.  

    I would add that it’s really important to let your personality shine through.  It’s not always just about the information.  Often, as I’m discovering, it’s about the heart.

    Darlene

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Ah, I love that Darlene. I too had a business shift early on when I was independent, and it made all the difference. And I *love* your point about letting your personality through. I happen to believe that’s the secret sauce to blogs that really work. Great addition. Thanks for mentioning it.

  • Lise Janody

    What an empathetic, smart, and inspirational post. I’ve been blogging for a little over a year, and I’ve struggled, not so much with writing as with shipping. I probably have as many unpublished drafts as I do posts. I get them 90% finished, and then I…stop. Or worse, I do finish, and think…nah, not quite right. I think it’s also because I write to clarify my own ideas, and am still uncomfortable publishing something that isn’t quite there yet. The good news is that I now have a substantial source of material to develop. All I need is the commitment to make blogging as central to my business as billable hours, business development, networking, cooking, cleaning, long discussions with my daughters, dinner with friends…you get the picture. 

  • http://theflaggagency.com/blog/ Chuck Flagg

    Back when I was in radio, one of my mentors told the story of getting to meet Jean Shepherd who was his idol. If you don’t know Jean Shepherd told and wove these great personal stories on his radio show. Some he turned into the book, “In God We Trust, all others pay Cash.” This became the basis for the movie “A Christmas Story” which he served as narrator.

    My mentor had the chance to meet Jean and Jean asked him what he wanted to do with his life and without missing a beat Jean told him that was a horrible idea and he had been lying to himself as there was only one Jean Shepherd. Tail between his legs, it was one of the hardest lessons for him to swallow.

    I think of this lesson often as I continue on this journey. I watched a short YouTube clip with Seth Godin and Tom Peters at an OPEN forum where they both talked of how blogging had improved their personal and professional lives. I am not looking to be my own version of Chris, you, Seth, Guy, or others. I am just trying to be. It took me a bit to evolve and find my voice. Mostly I try to write in what I feel others are interested in and try to write for the second person, but when I shared some of my true passions this has led to more exposure.

    For someone in the travel industry, my most popular series of blogs with the highest traffic are always the ones that are “live” posted during a particular trip. They serve as a library of posts and have helped closed a sale when sent to someone on the fence about a particular type of vacation.

  • Nina Torres

    Can I just say, this blog post touched the very fibers of my heart. I’ve been writing since I was five, and I recently came across a slump in my blogging, feeling uninspired. Some of the points you touched I hadn’t thought of, and it really clicked in my head. For example, I’ve tried different things, and bent “blogging” rules that for others would have been a criminal mistake, and sometimes it’s worked! Other pointers, although not new, are always good reminders, like to be constant. 
    I’m the kind of person that doesn’t exchange links with just any blogger to get cheap hits or likes on facebook, so it’s refreshing to see I’m not alone! I love reading your blog and am so happy to see there are bloggers out there that write because they love writing, and not because they’re overly concerned about SEO words. Keep those gold posts coming.. 

  • http://www.bsitko.com Bill Szczytko

    I thank you, obviously for your fantastic writing but for putting into words the very reason I found myself registering a domain name, installing, importing, and setting up my blog back in January. I was pulled by some force which I could NOT explain then but now can.

    Expressing and exploring ideas that bounce around in my head like a pinball machine is therapeutic. Blogging is fun and although it’s a just a hobby now, it’s helped me to explore 2 different crafts. Writing and me.

    Excellent post as always Amber.

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  • Christy Loerzel

    This blog post really spoke to me in that I’m just starting to learn these lessons myself. I started blogging about a year ago and I thought I was starting it for one reason (experimenting and $$), but realized just recently that it is really an outlet for my love of writing. If I stay true to that thinking, my posts are more authentic and I care less about who sees it.

    And like you, it helps me explore my ideas…lovely post, thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.vision2voice.ca Andrea

    I am a new blogger and this post was interesting and reassuring. I love to write, have lots of things to say, and am happy to have a voice. Sorry, but I did find myself comparing…

  • http://www.myg3.net Karenszander

    Thanks for writing this post.  You’ve given me permission to go with what my gut is was telling me as I start my blog.  I, too, wrote for an internal company blog (had a great experience), but am now out and about on my own starting a new company and idea.  

    I’ve been frustrated by advice to “do this” and “do that” and “you must” and “it’s essential that”.  While I realize learning from those who have experience is valuable, I appreciate your advice to “forge your own path”.  I’d like to own it if it succeeds just as I’ll own it if it fails.

    Count me as one of the “quiet readers” who decided to speak up. Great discussion, post and blog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SuzanneFrazierArtist Suzanne Frazier

    I’m a newbie at social media.  I’ve been working the “social media” network since last October.  I find it fascinating.  Thanks for the encouraging words.  I took the month of August off from my consistent attempt to be a consistent social media adventurer.  I’m in the process of collecting information on how to take the next step.  Thanks for your good advice.  I will follow it in SEptember.  I know I should start now, but I have this garden to harvest first.  by the way….
    my blog:  http://www.contemplativeart.blogspot. com.

  • MCT

    Great post.  Been around the blogging world for a bit but am really just getting started making a career out of it.  Thanks for the solid advice, it’s clear that it comes from experience.  Also love your voice; there’s a lot of power in the way you write.  

  • Glen Morris

    This is very reassuring, I have been debating on starting to blog and you have really pushed me over the fence I was sitting on. I will be starting and this will be a great reference to come back to. Thanks Amber

  • http://www.arizonadan.com Arizona Dan

    Great Blog Amber. I couldn’t agree more. I did use a bit of it in my blog but I gave you full credit for it. Arizona Dan

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