The 3 month review
July 9, 2006
It’s just over three months since I started the interactions blog and last week I penned the last entry in a personal blog I’ve been writing for three years so it’s about time for some review and reflection I think. I suspect that the things I’ve learned from blogging (reading, writing and commenting) are lessons that will continue to stand me well in all areas of life. But for now, here’s what I think I’ve learned so far:
Find your voice – It takes time to find your voice. It took me the guts of a year to settle into the personal blog – I’d experimented with all kinds of ways of telling my stories and decided at the end of it all that I was writing for myself and if someone else found me interesting then they would listen in and chat back. I’m still struggling with this space in that regard. I guess it’s a bit like starting a new job – you know where the desk and water cooler are but you have to sit it out a bit to find out when and where to make a contribution!
Stay connected – I realised that at the end of three years with the personal blog I had said what I wanted to say and I didn’t want to continue filling in blanks on a web space just because that’s what I’d always done. It was a tough decision to make but ultimately the right one. Likewise with this space – I’ll write when the muse strikes and if I find that I’ve nothing more to say then I’ll re-invent myself or move on.
Talking to yourself is a good thing – that’s effectively what I did on the personal blog and I guess to a certain extent what I’m doing here. It’ll take a while to build a readership (and I’m delighted to say that’s growing so thank you to the faithful regulars who stop by). But if I’m not interested in what I’m writing about – how can I expect anyone else to be?
Be yourself – this is connected to all of the others but it’s particularly relevant in the world of business blogging. I’m very conscious of audience in this space…much more than I was while writing a personal blog. What happens if I screw up royally in public here? How the heck can you hide? And of course this is precisely why I started a business blog – so I can actually be and show myself (Believe me I have the suit and formidable glasses for the other occasions as well!).
It’s all about the space between – regardless of whether I’m consulting, training, coaching, having lunch or reading the newspaper – life happens in the spaces between people and blogging is my way of creating a mechanism for more in-between spaces. For now I’ll stuggle on with the other stuff but every time someone comments or takes up something I’ve said in another forum or offers me the opportunity to do that here I count my blessings.
So that’s the current list of learnings…continually being added to of course but not a bad way to start the second trimester of business blogging?
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About that last point (“the space between”)… Lots of folks here in the States at least see business blogs as being a silver bullet: start a blog, and instantaneously you’ll have a following, your website will get tons of traffic, and you’ll get loads of new clients. Of course, blogs don’t work that way. Although a “blog buzz” builds virally, it still takes a long time to build a faithful readership. In order for things to spread by word of mouth, you have to attract “mouths” one at a time, at least in the beginning.
That’s where the “betweeness” comes in, I think. I’m sure a lot of folks are reading this because, like me, they started reading your personal blog first: in one sense, this business blog is 3 years & 3 years old. Unless you’re in the business consulting/coaching biz (and those folks are your competitors, not your clients), you probably don’t want/need to read about business consulting/coaching every day. BUT, if a blog has enough “between bits”–if it includes interesting things about human nature, books, current events, etc. in between the strictly business stuff–people will keep reading.
It’s a lesson I learned while doing retail sales in a previous life. If *all* you talk about is the product you’re trying to sell, potential customers tune out. Sometimes you have to ease your way into their confidence by talking about other, seemingly unrelated things.
You know this, of course. I just wish the folks hyping business blogs as the Next Biggest Thing new this, too.
That’s a good point Lorianne and working my through business blogs over the last year or so while I’ve been thinking of starting one has been really instructive. I get bored very quickly with blogs that have been set up to push a book or a particular technique…They are fine to drop in and out of occasionally but I’m always attracted to the particular voice of a writer (same with personal blogs) and if that voice is writing about ice cream or consulting I’ll generally come back! I often wonder if the “start a blog and you’ll be a millionaire” hype is the new century equivalent of the dot com boom in the last one and we all know what happened there.
I’m happy to potter along and see what happens in this space…there’s no agenda apart from “thinking out loud” with like minded people – so thanks for migrating over!
PS: Lorianne – how is your own business blog going? (I’ve added it to the blog roll)
Right now, I don’t have a business blog per se, just a website that’s sitting there while I figure out what I want to do with it. Eventually, someday, I think there’s a need/niche for someone to talk about the mix of things I do (meditation practice, writing, etc)…but right now I haven’t figured out the right mix of “anything-goes personal blog” vs. “on-topic business blog.” (And who has time, really, for more than one blog???)
It’s something I’m currently grappling with, something I’ll probably blab on blog sometime soon-ish. I guess I’m so burned by the type of one-track biz blog you’re talking about–one that clearly has a self-serving agenda–that I’m loathe to define myself in any way. But as a writer, of course, I know that’s stupid since definition is essential if you’re going to say much of anything.
So, I guess the short answer is “stay tuned while I figure myself out…” 😉
I like your emphasis on what blogging does in you rather for you. I’ve been reflecting on what blogging is doing to me – and I think it is good. For one thing it has helped find a bit of my “voice” that I have never known before.
Thanks for pulling the curtain back so we could see what you are learning.
Keep creating, Mike
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