Tag Archives: blogging

8 ways people talking about intentional social media strategy may (still) be right

(This first appeared June 25, 2008. I think that the points are worth repeating and the people would probably appreciate new traffic!)

You know, them.

The people who suggest that you can be thoughtful and strategic about this blogging stuff.

I mean, the people:

  1. like Joanna Young, who suggests that you can generate a month’s worth of posts in 30 minutes. She talks about creating a mindmap with the theme of your blog. I tried it one day, while driving. I wrote one phrase, “affirming words” on the middle of a post-it index card. I generated 5 post topics in four minutes. They wrote themselves quickly and they actually were thoughtful and connected and significant.
  2. like Liz Strauss, who suggests that you can build an editorial calendar for different days, and that you can map out a month of blogging activities and control your blogging time rather than having it control you. A month ago I started a theme for Sundays. I’m working through the week the same way. (Note: the calendar idea is near the bottom of the post. It stayed with me for months before I realized that I could do it, too.).
  3. like Chris Brogan, who suggests that you stop just thinking about your personal brand and instead, actually do specific things in social media. I discovered that I have several things covered, but that I need to be more specific about a few more.
  4. like Becky McCray, who says that we need to learn to say no. Actually, Becky has said a lot of things to help me focus, but that’s one collection.
  5. like Rob Hatch, who is proof that people on the other end of social media are people. There are other examples, and you know who you are, but who’d have imagined Brogan’s and Hatch’s and Swanson’s in the same physical space at the same time?
  6. like Cheryl Smith who started a blog intended for public consumption but didn’t tell anyone about it until she had written enough posts to prove to herself she could. That kind of patience has borne fruit for her. (And she let me look ahead of time and helped me find some words from Isaiah that I had been trying to remember for months.)
  7. like Paul Merrill, who I finally believed about turning off the comment approval. It has freed up conversation wonderfully. (In the process, I also finally got wordpress set to email me each comment so I know. It hadn’t been working before.)
  8. like these faces who remind me by their daily patience and love that the core of social media is the social, not the media.
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the next post

It was huge, that post. Not that we care about traffic, mind you, but somehow everyone came. It may have been the Brogan bump, the traffic that comes when Chris puts your post or blog on Twitter. It may be because we had a really trendy word (technically known as a keyword) that everyone was looking for. It may have been because all of our friends linked to that post. Whatever the cause, it was a huge day.

It was horrible, that post. Everything that was cranky, mean-spirited, small, and critical in the last six months somehow got poured into that one 300 word screed. And we would have deleted it but we didn’t. And people saw it. And we just couldn’t delete it then.

So what do you do after a wonderful or a horrible post?

Write like you have been writing.

[I suppose I should offer a disclaimer. This is not intended for people trying to build traffic, to make money from their blog, to blog their business. This is not intended for people wanting to maximize SEO or  ad income. This is for the majority of us who are finding and using our voice.]

When I was starting grad school at the University of Texas, I received an A on my very first short paper in my very first class. Unfortunately, there were no comments. So I asked the prof. He couldn’t tell me much other than, “what you did worked.” I wanted more. I wanted to know how I measured up, why I got the A. As I remember, I tried to figure it out so I could write for the A. What I should have done is to just keep writing like I had been writing. The grade, the bump, the kind remark is helpful, but I should be writing for to help people understand or to help myself understand. To suddenly say, “if person X gave me a shout out for that, I’ll write more exactly like that” is foolish. (which is not to say that I’ve not done that.)

On the other hand, when I had a bad lecture one day, I had a prof tell me that everyone has a bad day teaching. Everyone has a class session where everything goes wrong, where you feel completely unprepared, where you seem to offend everyone. The secret, he said, is to not have two bad classes in a row.

You get to have a bad post. The question is, what will you do with the next one that is more thoughtful, more intentional, more respectful and respectable?

You are, I am, post by post finding a voice, building a presence. There will be highs and lows. There will be wildly successful posts (as measured by traffic) and wildly successful posts (as measured by individual emails that say “I needed that.”) There will be horrible posts (as measured by traffic) and horrible posts (as measured by an absence of grace or of integrity).

The secret is…there is no secret.

Just write the next post.

Write like you have been writing.
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This is another occasional entry in the next sentence series. Follow that link for the previous sentence.

what are you spreading?

Out of context, this sign is hilarious.

When I took the picture, I sent it to a friend who was in a meeting. I said, “this is blogging.”

I never heard back.

And it was only partially right, my comment. Because the comment plays with what we usually think of manure. And I don’t write that way.

What is true is that this is a sign behind Yoder’s General Store in Shipshewana, Indiana. Not far from this space are the pipes where the Amish horses are tied. In remarkable efficiency, the pavement can be cleaned up and the manure made available for people needing fertilizer for gardens. And In the 6 hours we were in town that day, the pile got smaller, not larger.

Before you laugh, I paid $1.39 for 40 bags of manure/soil mix at the beginning of the growing season. Here it’s free. The difference is delivery, not quality. Here it looks like a joke. At Lowe’s it looks like good gardening.

And now, back to blogging.

In my reading list, I am finding much that is fertilizing my thinking these days. For example, Joanna Young wrote the other day about her theme for October. She’s going to be talking about writing with responsibility. She regularly addresses themes on her site, and many have been helpful. This one, however, has been incredibly challenging to me as I think about it. What does it mean to write responsibly? To take responsibility for your words, for the effect of your words?

I am looking forward to watching how this series of hers develops. So should you.

This writing from Joanna, from [insert your own favorite linklove here] is writing that is free. It is the kind of writing that I pay for, all packaged and processed from Amazon sometimes, but blogging has made it possible for quicker, fresher, more local delivery of ideas, with the possibility of immediate application and effect in my life.

Of course, Joanna doesn’t make any money from this writing. But some days she benefits from the vegetables that grow from well-fertilized gardens of friends.

And in the informal community of interdependance that exists behind the hardware store, and in circles of friends out here, there is the sense of an inside joke. Laugh at us all you want, our sometimes awkward signs and our less-than-polished prose.

But when you see our gardens and wonder why they grow so healthy and vibrant and extravagant?

It’s free manure, carefully applied.

8 ways people talking about intentional social media strategy may be right.

jon and texasYou know, them. The people who suggest that you can be thoughtful and strategic about this blogging stuff. I mean, the people:

  1. like Joanna Young, who suggests that you can generate a month’s worth of posts in 30 minutes. She talks about creating a mindmap with the theme of your blog. I tried it one day, while driving. I wrote one phrase, “affirming words” on the middle of a post-it index card. I generated 5 post topics in four minutes. They wrote themselves quickly and they actually were thoughtful and connected and significant.
  2. like Liz Strauss, who suggests that you can build an editorial calendar for different days, and that you can map out a month of blogging activities and control your blogging time rather than having it control you. A month ago I started a theme for Sundays. I’m working through the week the same way. (Note: the calendar idea is near the bottom of the post. It stayed with me for months before I realized that I could do it, too.).
  3. like Chris Brogan, who suggests that you stop just thinking about your personal brand and instead, actually do specific things in social media. I discovered that I have several things covered, but that I need to be more specific about a few more.
  4. like Becky McCray, who says that we need to learn to say no. Actually, Becky has said a lot of things to help me focus, but that’s one collection.
  5. like Rob Hatch, who is proof that people on the other end of social media are people. There are other examples, and you know who you are, but who’d have imagined Brogan’s and Hatch’s and Swanson’s in the same physical space at the same time?
  6. like Cheryl Smith who started a blog intended for public consumption but didn’t tell anyone about it until she had written enough posts to prove to herself she could. That kind of patience has borne fruit for her. (And she let me look ahead of time and helped me find some words from Isaiah that I had been trying to remember for months.)
  7. like Paul Merrill, who I finally believed about turning off the comment approval. It has freed up conversation wonderfully. (In the process, I also finally got wordpress set to email me each comment so I know. It hadn’t been working before.)
  8. like these faces who remind me by their daily patience and love that the core of social media is the social, not the media.

8 ways to waste your blogging time.

Yes, I know that blogging is never a waste of time. But we can waste the time we spend on blogging.

1. Never tell anyone how your posts are connected to each other.
Liz Straus wrote a wonderful post about internal links which changed my posts…and changed my traffic. Go read it and then come back. And to see an example, look at the bottom of this post.

2. Write a draft and then never publish it because it isn’t ‘perfect’.
This is a conversation, after all. Invite our conversation rather than waiting to wow us with a work of art.

3. Try to figure out how to attract more people to your blog.
Shouldn’t you be spending your time writing, thinking, and living life so that you have something to actually say?

4. Check your statistics incessantly.

5. Decide that blogging isn’t real writing.
For many of us, writing is how we think, how we find out what we know and who we are and whether we believe what we say we believe. A blog is a perfect place for all of those things to be true. But if it merely is a place to rant, to vent, to blather, to spout…then you are missing a perfect opportunity…to write.

6. Spend months searching for your voice.
If you just write and live, your voice will find you. I promise.

7. Assume that people will be able to find you again in the equally random way they found you the first time.
Use tags. Make a subscription link. Send emails to the people who comment. Build a relationship with as many people as you can. And don’t worry about making your community bigger than you can relate to.

8. Decide that just because the title is 8 ways, that you have to spend hours finding that perfect last point.
Maybe it is staring you in the face.

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I’m writing a series of 8 ways posts. Here are some of them:

To ruin your day
To be thanked
To increase your stress

To explain 2.0 friends to 0.0 parents
To lose your faith
To make yourself angry
To make yourself jealous
To make yourself depressed
To ruin your marriage

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8 ways to not finish a post

When I was a student of rhetoric (persuasion), we studied what Aristotle called ‘inventio’, finding topics. Today I didn’t have any trouble coming up with topics, but I don’t have enough energy to write 8 posts tonight. So here are 8 starts to posts without any of them being finished.

1. This morning at church I tossed a DVD to a friend. He picked it up gingerly. He assumed there was something valuable on the disk. There had been,  but as of today it held old news. Lesson: sometimes valuable has an expiration date.

2. After I finished with that DVD, I picked up a fresh one. I realized that although the media itself only cost about 25 cents, with the right video recorded on it, it could become invaluable. Lesson: sometimes value is measured by what is added.

3. I’m cleaning out emails these days. Nancy said, “delete all the ones from me. Most of them are things like ‘what time are you coming home for dinner?'” I just smiled, realizing that the sheer number of those messages, simple in themselves, are the evidence of a deep caring relationship.

4. I drove by a fitness center today and noticed the sign: “Good health __arts here.” Obviously, ‘starts’ is what the word was supposed to be. However, I love the idea of a health center going beyond the physical workout into the arts. A post that talks about a wholistic view of life would be fun to write.

5. I walked into a credit union today to get change. The two tellers were yawning, waiting for customers. One said, “customers were coming in groves.” At least that’s what I heard. However, what he really said was “droves”-a more accurate sense of what the customers were doing. Lesson: old people lose hearing. Lesson two: don’t assume that people use words wrong.

6. In the same exchange, after the teller said what I heard as “groves”, the other teller said, “what?” He said “groves”, I said, “I think he means droves”, and he said, “that’s what I said.” Again she said “what?” She had no clue what even the right word meant. Lesson: people need vocabulary lessons.

7. There have to be about 16 posts about the interlock on a microwave not working and so your hand gets microwaved while you try to get the popcorn popper out of the oven. But my fingers are tingling so I don’t want to take the time.

8. I went to a concert this afternoon. I wandered all over the building trying to find wifi.  After wasting 15 minutes on that project, I finally just sat down and did some editing on my ebook. Lesson: redeem the time you have for productive work rather than always wanting to be able to browse.

If you want to flesh out any of these posts, feel free. Just link back to this list.

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Others in the 8 ways series:
To be thanked
To increase your stress

To lose your faith
To make yourself angry
To make yourself jealous
To make yourself depressed
To ruin your marriage

Subscribe to this blog for free by clicking here.