As many of you know, the first year as a blogger can be an extremely rewarding time when it comes to learning. If I compare my current knowledge of Internet marketing to what I thought I knew 12 months ago, I’m almost embarrassed at how behind I really was. This isn’t to say I’m caught up, but at least now I feel like I’m making some progress.
With that said, my first year has also been a hectic mix of mistakes: mistakes related to technology issues, content development, website design, and various attempts at marketing myself. Some were made due to a lack of time, some were made because I over-estimated my abilities, and some were made because I just didn’t know what the hell I was doing. As I start my second year of blogging, I have made a promise that I will implement a few changes—seven, to be exact—in the way I approach my blogging going forward. Hopefully, this list will be useful to others who are walking the same path.
Change #1: I’m Going to Make More Friends Online
Forging relationships has never been easy for me in person, and it has been surprsingly difficult online as well. In retrospect, I believe my problem stems from the fact that I spent too much time during my first year trying to make the Internet work for me, and not enough time giving back. During my second year as a blogger I need to do more commenting on other people’s posts, networking with people who are targeting the same audience, and handing out more encouragement and kudos to people who deserve it.
Change #2: I’m Going to Stay Focused on My Audience
Every once in awhile, it happens: I write a post, upload it to my blog, then read it one last time and wonder “What the hell I was thinking?” Over the course of my first year as a blogger I got distracted a few times, and let my writing go to places my target audience wasn’t willing to follow me. Going forward, I promise to do a better job of choosing my topics, and will ask my readers what they want instead of shoving content down their throats.
Change #3: I’m Going to Stop Watching My Web Traffic
If there were a rehab program for bloggers, there would definitely be at least one group session titled “Breaking the Addiction of Web Statistics.” At the present time I run no less than three (3) tracking programs side-by-side, which is a huge mistake for me—not because three tracking programs is too many for me to handle, but because I spend half of my day wondering why the data they’re collecting doesn’t seem to match. Starting today I resolve to spend more time writing than watching, and vow to not live and die minute-to-minute based on what my traffic reports say.
Change #4: I’m Going to Find a Better Filing System
At the time of this post I estimate my blog contains between 40,000 and 50,000 words of original content. I have no idea how I managed to push out this much writing by myself, but the fact is it’s there—presented as one big list of posts in the left and right-hand columns of my blog. This current layout frustrates me quite a bit, and I know in order to take the next step I have to come up with a better solution. During my second year as a blogger I hope to find a new tool, or upload a new theme that makes my posts easier to find for my readers. If you have any suggestions for me in this area, PLEASE feel free to reply to this post.
Change #5: I’m Going to Trim Down the People I Follow on Twitter
Over my first year as a blogger, I fell into the same trap many Twitter users do. With the exception of porn sites and pyramid schemers, I literally followed back EVERYONE who followed me. Now I realize I need to stop this practice, and significantly decrease the number of people I currently follow . . . starting with the people who Tweet me garbage. Starting today I won’t care if I lose followers on Twitter—especially if they’re wasting my time—and will concentrate on building a community with the followers who truly add value to my world.
Change #6: I’m Going to Write Something Different Once in Awhile
Since I started writing at my current pace (two new posts per week, every single week) I have written exactly one article that could be considered off-topic: The Dumbest Marketing Campaigns of 2008. This post had nothing to do with small company growth or strategy or marketing, but writing it felt like I took a vacation from blogging. And I need to do more of that. Going forward I will admit that I can’t save the world with every single post, and blow off some steam once in awhile by writing about something unrelated to small businesses.
Change #7: I’m Going to Think Bigger
During my first year as a blogger, I spent a significant portion of my time looking for a Digg or a Sphinn or a Stumble, hoping I could slowly grow readership by an extra dozen people per week. But recently it occurred to me that my goal doesn’t involve spending the rest of my life increasing my web traffic. I want to be syndicated. I want to see one of my articles on the home page of Slate or Fast Company or MSN some day. My goal is to write things for large groups of people, not to drive clicks to a 150 x 150 graphic on my home page. Ultimately, I want to write for millions of people, and unfortunately I haven’t done a darn thing in the past year to make that happen. As of this very moment I resolve to keep my head out of the little stuff, take more chances, and not be satisfied writing for a few hundred people per week.
Would you like to share a past mistake you made as a blogger? Have you made any adjustments or changes in the way you approach your blogging career? Feel free to post them here, and I’ll gladly publish your story—along with your name and a link to your blog if you wish to provide one.
Comments? Questions? Feel free to reply to this post. Otherwise a Retweet, Facebook Share, LinkedIn Share or other type of social share (handy buttons provided) would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!