This is the third and final post on things I’ve learned about blogging over the course of 100 posts. Parts one and two focus on continuity and the process. In this post, I want to highlight a few things I’ve learned about content and audiences.
Creating a Destination is Tough
The greatest challenge for anyone looking to cultivate a vibrant content destination is that you’re only as good as the last piece of content you put out. When I first started blogging, I thought that a viral post was all it took to be off to the races. That’s far from the truth. Sure people might venture to your blog that one instance, but that doesn’t mean they’ll ever come back or you’ll get a seat at the exclusive Google Reader table. It’s very reminiscent to a startup’s first TechCrunch article: it may drive a few hundred signups, but that doesn’t mean people will ever come back and actually use your product.
In the content ecosystem, there’s limitless supply – there’s a million places I can go to read or watch something interesting. The only way to be be relevant is to consistently put out high quality content that people find helpful or interesting…or possess something that makes everyone want to be your friend.
People Like Silver Bullets
It seems like my most popular posts are “silver bullets.” No, I’m not talking about Coors Lights. I’m talking about content that provides actionable solutions to problems. These often take the form of “How To’s”.
When I’m introspective about my consumption habits, I behave the same way. I’m constantly looking to optimize parts of my life whether it’s sending an email or getting in pool party shape.
Readers Rally Around Authenticity
Anytime you create something that didn’t exist before, you’re making yourself vulnerable to judgement. Many people fear putting themselves out there precisely for this reason. That’s why there’s far more content on how to do things successfully than stories detailing times people came up short.
I’ve found that opening yourself up on your blog is one of the most powerful things you can do. We’re all human and in our quests to do something great, we all fall short, make mistakes, and learn lessons the hard way. Most people hide these instances to sustain a contrived appearance. That’s why overt honesty is so refreshing. People are drawn to those who make themselves human which is one reason why authenticity is so effective at creating intimacy.
Have you ever been guarded about the way you felt only to learn that someone else feels the exact same way? I’ve often felt closer to this person after learning this…it feels good not to be the only one doesn’t it! Authenticity in action.
Beyond creating intimacy, authenticity commands respect. It takes balls to admit when things are tough or talk about a time you dropped the ball. By doing this, you project a degree of self-confidence that people respect. I love when I ask a founder how it’s going and they give me the real deal instead of the standard “great things are really coming together” when his company and life are in shambles. I wrote a whole post that outlines in detail why I think people should be authentic when asked how they’re startup is going.
Community: Why Consistency is Important
Consistency is the only way to build a community. Providing value is essential, but if you’re only delivering it every 3 months you’ll never build a community. The magical combination is high value delivered frequently. Easier said than done.
I’m not a fan of pushing out total crap in the name of consistency. Everything you put out could be the first thing presented to someone who just found you…and first impressions are important. This is why a lot of the ramblings I write never make it to my blog.
Writing consistently is also important for maintaining and improving your skills. Ever hear the maxim “use or lose it”? I’ve found this to hold true in my writing practice. When I’m writing a lot, I produce higher quality content and the process is much easier. Conversely, putting pen to paper after not doing it for a long stretch is like pulling teeth. My voice/style tends to wains if I haven’t wrote for awhile as well.
There’s no question I’ve definitely learned a few other things that I am probably forgetting to include in this post. And to be authentic, a few were left out intentionally : ) Some things we learn about human behavior are best left unsaid.
Hopefully the next 100 posts will provoke an equally rewarding learning process.