By Ashwin Krishnan
To my loyal fans (that’s an ego trip!) who have survived 2017 enduring some of my forgettable blogs and some awesomely good ones too, I promise this is the last one for this year. And I will make it count with a focus on YOU. Trigger alert: This is a slightly longer blog than usual!
A common refrain I hear from a lot of my colleagues and friends in my awesome network when we talk about blogging is “I want to start writing myself” followed by “no time”, “fear of saying something stupid” OR “what if my boss or HR gets offended”. And I offer to support them when they are ready to start, but that typically that never happens (a few exceptions yes). And then we meet for lunch (or WhatsApp) months later and déjà vu happens. This stops now.
I wish to make amends for that lack of follow through on my part now with the last blog of the year. By sharing a few tips on how to make this more sustainable, fulfilling and enduring. So, strap your belts — here we go
1. Find your Raison d’être (loose translation — reason to be) — Three words but sometimes it takes a lifetime to get there (the tragedy is that many of us never do). And it takes a lot of trial and error to get there. But try you must. And fail you must. Again, and again. My own case, I blogged about a lot of technical topics in a previous gig, when I read it now the digital exhaust is nauseating (I exaggerate but you get the point). And then through experimentation, I hit upon a theme that is uniquely mine — and it is hugely self-fulfilling. What is my formula? Click here to buy — JK. #1 Taking complex technical topics and making them easy to understand using everyday analogies. #2 Draw inspiration from mundane activities — and seed subtle mindset change for a better world #3 Become a beacon of light in this all-consuming social, data, tech invasion in our homes, cars, and bodies — by exposing the so-called curators and educating the consumers through #TheMoralCompass podcasts and blogs with the amazing duo of @SeanMartin and @Marco Ciappelli. And if you want further inspiration, take a look at the awesome @DavidVaucher and what an amazing quest he is on to find his own.
2. Engage and nurture your audience — Your audience is strapped for time, typically suffers from the multi-tasking plague and has less than 7 seconds to decide whether it is worth their time to read your drivel (I mean blog). So, you need to treat them with respect and engage with everyone who responds. How? #1 I reply to every single comment I receive on every blog that I write — yes, it is exhausting and time-consuming. Even more so since it is not a standard “Thanks for your comment Jane Doe” cut and paste for everyone. So why do I do it? Simple — because they treat me with respect (again and again) by reading my blogs — when they could be doing some many other things — that is the least I can do to say ‘Thanks’. And if you believe in it, you will find the time. #2 Curate your readership. Reach out to your direct connections and let them know about your recently published masterpiece (see I did not say drivel). I reach out to my most avid readers and message each of them individually about a recently published blog post that would be further enhanced with their comments (Obviously not all of my writing may elicit comments but leave that to the discerning nature of the reader)
3. Pipeline & slow cooking — #1 Keep an index of ideas as they come into your head wherever that may be (I am not kidding, there is a shower door capture technology now where you write your steamy ideas and they will be preserved for you to ponder on after you are partially or fully clothed). I use a notebook, Excel, Trello, Evernote — and every time I miss a fleeting idea that goes into obscurity without harnessing, I kick myself. #2 If you don’t have the rage of the kitchen these days — ‘The Instant Pot’ — we need to talk. But for blogging, that does not work. The ‘slow cooker’ is my recipe. Write the blog, let it simmer for a couple of hours, sometimes a day or a week even, and it will get better as you revisit it. I typically do not ask for feedback before it goes live since it is a blog and your voice.
4. Generosity and Authenticity — #1 Be generous in calling out folks that have influenced your ideas and thinking behind that blog, the voices that have encouraged you consistently and constantly and your steadfast supporters. #2 Stay true to who you are. See @Susan Mishoe’s awesome and short post here. Be ‘unapologetically you’ — #YES. For that you need to find your ‘Raison d’être’ — then you are anchored — and all the detractors — bosses, colleagues, HR, Legal (hmm! Maybe you are in the wrong company), heck even friends — cannot shake your moral courage that stems from authenticity. Never ‘fake it till you make it’. I ratted out a creep a few weeks ago when he took @AdamHonig’s amazing blog on sales & life and posted it as his own (he got comments and likes and probably thought it was cool — #DONTDOIT).
5. Likes, Comments, Shares — It really is the last in my list of priorities and I encourage you to treat this impostor the same way. I would be lying if I said I was not motivated by the audience’s reaction that I am touching. I am! But, a higher calling is everything before this #1 — #4. I use the analysis of the audience’s reaction for my own ‘human learning’. Which posts of mine are touching which cross-section of society? Why did a certain blog on ‘What, Who and Why’ exceed the combined viewership of all my previous blogs? Why do certain blogs elicit reaction from certain demographics and not others? All to better understand the audience and the resonance or lack of it. The actual numbers are meaningless. I encourage you to not be taken by the need for ‘going viral’ as that will take you away from the ‘authenticity’ and ‘genuineness’ which is the underpinnings of any good blogger.
As 2017 winds down and the expectations, challenges, and opportunities of 2018 dawn upon us, I will give a sneak preview of where my writing is headed and in return, I ask for the favor of your time to indulge me in reading and providing feedback. #1 Expect more periodic and YOU focused blogging (WIIFY) #2 A ‘book idea’ of journeys with esteemed guests (interested — ping me) and my own that will hopefully help others in their quest for their ‘Raison d’être’ and #3 Extending the writing into videos and podcasting, Whew! That was a long one — atypical of my style — sorry if I took more of your time than you had budgeted. Looking forward to inspiring a few more regular bloggers. See you on the other side in 2018. Till then — keep safe, be happy and practice empathy.
Featured Image Courtesy: Pexels
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