It turns out blogging 5 times a week is as intense as it sounds. But I’m enjoying it more than I’d hoped, and learning a phenomenal amount in the process. Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:
This was in fact the least of my worries when I started since I already had a truck load of ideas tucked away from the past year or so that I’ve never had time to write. Every day something will occur to me either from the past or present, that seems like it might be worthy of more thought or explanation. If it doesn’t, I refer to my truck load of ideas. You definitely have to be in the right mood though – sometimes it just doesn’t come…
Writing with a hangover
The first Friday of the challenge I had a terrible hangover and knew I had to write something. So I decided I’d just write a short piece – how hard could that be? I’d seen a piece on a new video ad by Gucci which inspired a piece on humour and marketing. It was short and sweet, but felt a bit half-arsed and only had 10 views on Medium. I still look back at it and feel something’s not quite right about it, so I’ve left it on Medium and not posted it elsewhere.
Tip: Writing for the sake of it doesn’t work – your heart has to be in it.
My main approach is to connect an observational hook with a marketing tip. These are the blogs I enjoy the most. But these tend to be quite lengthy and time consuming, so I to solve that problem I’ve been mixing it up. I’ve found that Q&As are a good way to create something fast – by writing up a phone conversation or interview for example. Strangely these haven’t proved to be that popular so far though.
Fortunately, January wasn’t a busy month for me work-wise, so I had time on my hands – and I needed it. Some pieces come really easily, others take hours to hone.
I’ve found that strangely it’s the blogs I think will be quick – ‘round ups‘ for example – actually take longer. I think this is because you have to think deeply about each entry you’re making – they’re almost like mini blogs within one – rather than simply lists of things you’ve observed.
Killing your darlings
The risk comes when you’ve spent ages on something an obstinately keep going with it when you know it’s not working – I’ve fought through most of these and come out the other side.
But I’ve often had to cut huge chunks of prose in the editing process, which is hard to do when you’ve spent so much time on them. Most of the time the piece is improved – you just have to be ruthless.
The elusive 40 minute post
I did it! 29 Jan I wrote a blog in 40 minutes. One I wasn’t planning on writing anything that day until a sudden piece of inspiration hit me. I wrote about the Facebook algorithm change after listening to a podcast by Ashley Davies of Skyline Social – his angle on small businesses gave me the idea about it being good for human content. Admittedly most of the piece is quotes, but still, I was so glad to have nailed the spend and efficiency side of things – even just once so far.
Most popular post
I’ve been posting most regularly on Medium – this is where all my blogs go, whether they’re marketing related or more personal – and I’ve been studying their analytics carefully. My 5th post was one I wasn’t really sure was worth doing because it seemed to high level – but it’s been my most popular post by far – with over 200 views. It could have been the headline that did it: How to make your website look like a million bucks since Medium’s audience is predominantly US based. Having said that it was also a hit on LinkedIn.
This was more emphatic proof that Medium’s audience is definitely a different beast. The big dud was this piece on brand consistency via Delia Smith – the home grown reference was completely lost on this audience. I haven’t posted it on LinkedIn yet so can’t vouch for whether it’s just terrible!
All in all I’m pleased with how it’s gone so far. Going live every day as a huge discipline and forces you to speed up, ship and see what comes. The sheer volume of posts enables you to test and learn from all kinds of metrics. And over the long term it should improve my site’s search engine rankings.
So I’m optimistic about the next month – if slightly apprehensive about finding the time!