Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturdays Are For Suggestions

Bottom line: I really love writing. I love crafting sentences, communicating thoughts, and sharing stories. I really love the dialogue that can come from a good article or blog, whether I've written it or not. I've committed to writing this blog because I wanted to stop making excuses. I also did it because I wanted to take on the challenge of building a strong base of readers. 

I'm two weeks into this thing and I think I want to build into my daily rhythm, a bi-weekly rhythm of reflection and feedback. I think it'll be huge to consider what has gone well, what hasn't, and what can be done to improve. 

My goal is not only to write, but also to get readers. And I would love your help. I am shamelessly soliciting feedback. If you read this specific post, I simply ask that you take an extra 2-5 minutes to share your thoughts in the comments below and provide any suggestions you can (please don't tweet them to me; I'd like others to see your awesome suggestions). Don't concern yourself with whether you think it's a good comment or helpful or whatever. Just share :). Here's what I'm considering so far:

I actually started blogging back in 2003, back when it was still called a "weblog." I didn't have enough foresight then to know just how big this form of content delivery would become. The space was much less crowded then; today, there have got to be hundreds of millions of blogs out there. It's crowded and people aren't just going to stumble upon this blog like they may have at one point. The word has to get out and I haven't done much in the past two weeks, other than tell my wife and people at work and share the blog on Twitter and LinkedIn from time to time. So here's what I'm thinking should be done over the next two weeks:
  • Send out to all my e-mail contacts. I've got a ton of contacts, many of whom have read my writing in the past. I think I could get a handful to subscribe.
  • Send specific blogs to friends, family, or whomever could benefit. This is just a hustle play. Often there are people I talk to who mention a topic I've written on. It'd be great to follow-up via twitter, LinkedIn or e-mail and send that specific blog.
  • Word-of-mouth. This is still by far the best way for word to spread, period. It's the best in business, it's the best in restaurant recommendations, it's the best for doctors. When someone we trust tells us we should check out something we've never heard of, there is an implicit trust that connects us to the unknown, regardless of it's own quality. For those of you who read this, you have really have no idea just how powerful your voice really is.
  • Guest bloggers. Inviting others to write on this blog gets exposure because they have a following that'd be willing to read some stranger's blog if they've written on it. I just have to think through who would guest blog and how that would all work.
  • Photos for every post. I've read over and over again that photos increase the quality of a blog. Yet, I often find myself completely uninterested in them, unless they are for a food blog and they help me see what is being written. Rarely are photos that contextual and rarely do they provide value. What do you think?
  • Better font. I love clean and simple. I've been very intentional about the black and white design, minimalistic in the experience because I want the words, the stories, the sentences to speak for themselves. But I also think there can be cleaner more simple items that can enhance that value. Perhaps a better font?
  • Better mobile experience. Currently, the mobile interface is subpar. If you've ever tried it, don't you agree? I'd like to figure that out more, but for now it is what it is. Ideally, I want that experience to be as much in line with the computer experience because that dissonance can be distracting.
  • Video. What do you think about the mix of writing and video? I've tried both in the past. I'd be curious what a "Thirty Minute Thought" would be like in video format. I don't think 30 minute videos is the answer. 
  • Shorter posts with more solid content. This one is huge. I appreciate writers who can say so much using so few words. Seth Godin is the perfect example of this. The idea behind this blog is that I spend 30 minutes writing, but I want the content to be quality and leave an impact on my readers that lasts longer than the 30 seconds after they finish reading. I know - this specific post isn't a good example of what I'm aiming for, but I'm aiming for it, right?
  • Themes. This week I wrote a lot about money and budgeting. That theme provided continuity and built expectation in my readers. Is themed writing the way to go? 
  • Read the "experts" who have built a following through their blog. There is no shortage of people who are now self-employed because the blog they once started for fun turned into a legitimate source of income. Jeff Goins is the first one to come to mind for me. Though I don't read much of his stuff, his story led to being one of the seeds planted for this blog, in particular the commitment to write everyday for a year. Another is Brett McKay and the Art of Manliness blog. Are there others out there? Is it worth it to go this road? I'm always skeptical to blindly start following the advice of "experts," but that may just be the way-too-strong contrarian in me.
  • Grow in writing better titles. Again, this is a hack more than anything. I've seen too many articles out there on the formula for writing a good blog title. And we all know what those are: "How to..." or "8 Ways to Transform Your..." or "33 Proven Methods for..." Again, part of me feels sleezy heading down that road, but truth is that even though we know these are clickbait, they hook us all nearly every time.
What other suggestions would you have? Hit me up in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked the series you did on budgeting! I think as you have ideas for more series they'll be great on this blog. I do really like the clean look of the blog, and agree that when you've added pictures that does add to the appeal of the page! (I do like to see blogs with pictures! haha). I also think having guest bloggers is a great idea. Personally, I'm not a fan of video blogs and don't usually watch videos if they're included on a blog. That's just me, though. I'll work to do my part in spreading the word about the great writing you're doing here!