In early 2017, Cisco and my leader Robert Kovach invested in social media education for us. Our teacher was Mark Schaefer, one of the world’s leading, marketing influencers. The decision to become a blogger was a natural outcome of that learning.
As always, Mark was generous and truly wanted us to succeed. His key advice was:
- To become a blogger, you just begin.
- Blog, at least once weekly.
- Do not chase perfection
If you’re a blogger and you’re looking to begin in the new year, the following lessons could be just the ROY (Return on You) you’re looking for!
1. A Blogger’s Creative Outlet
A blog is a safe and sacred space that allows you to express yourself. As a remote team member, my blog provided the creative outlet to share my views with my colleagues and leaders. On good days, it inspired me to tell stories of hope, joy, and grit. On difficult days, it gave me a reason to write with pain and grief. It offered catharsis. And helped me stay sane despite everything.
2. My Personal Learning Portal
Blogging weekly requires you to read, listen, research, and reflect more than ever before. Like a gift that keeps on giving, it became an endless source of wisdom and knowledge for me. It allowed me to learn and view things in perspectives I hadn’t considered before. I learned and wrote about mindfulness, leadership, and the power of teams. Coaching conversations and engagements turned into provocative thoughts. It pushed and questioned everything I thought I knew.
3. Expansive Reach
The biggest privilege of being a blogger is the volume and scale of reach. Every time I published a post, it had the potential to reach anybody in the world. While that seems ubiquitous in a world that lives and breathes social media, it also served as a reminder of a blogger’s responsibility to the digital world. If anybody in the world could read my blog, what message would I like for it to convey? How can it give hope? What can I do to further human connectedness? How can my content make or break my brand? What message should my digital presence communicate about me? How is that aligned to my values? I had so many questions and they were exciting and terrifying, all at once. As Darcy De Leon mentioned in a LinkedIn conversation, “…creating content is an act of service…” As a blogger, it pays to remember that, always.
4. Every Week brings a New Challenge to a Blogger
One of the earliest lessons I learned from Mark was to Stop Creating Random Acts of Content. Following this diligently meant that I cared enough to be Relevant, Interesting, Timely, and Entertaining (RITE) every time I wrote. This means I don’t litter the internet with content just because I can. Instead, I worked to keep it fresh and relevant. I didn’t always succeed but I have never stopped striving to stay true to this framework. Keeping this in mind dramatically improved my Facebook and LinkedIn posts. It has now become the mantra for every post I publish on my blog. It’s hard work but it’s short-term price for a long-term payoff.
5. Practice Your Craft
Practice may not make you perfect but practice, most certainly, creates permanence. Ashley Goodall, SVP – Leadership and Team Intelligence at Cisco once said:
I find that writing, is like many things – fluency comes from practice.
After 9 months, 37 blog posts, and approximately 42,000 words, Ashley’s quote is a reminder that the journey to fluency has only just begun. The more I practice my craft, the better it will keep getting.
6. Patience as Strategy
“Writing is hard and lonely. And rewriting is the essence of writing. Writing is a craft, not art.”
As you begin your journey as a blogger, you will find that writing teaches you patience in a way, nothing else (truly) can. Extending that learning furthermore was something I heard from Gary Vaynerchuk. In an Instagram video, he said that most people have the hunger to win and the talent to crush it. What they are lacking is patience. This is a powerful lesson. Expecting to make mega bucks, winning top-notch clients, and becoming a celebrity overnight are all fabulous. They just don’t happen overnight. Often, it takes years of consistent execution to a strategy and building trust before your work begins to get noticed. Until then and beyond, I honor the practice of converting patience as strategy. It really helps to stay and play, for the long haul.
7. Social Media and Dopamine
There’s enough research on the correlation between the use of social media and the potential ‘dopamine’ like addiction it can cause to users. As someone who regularly uses Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, I’m no exception to the ‘high’ I experience when people like my posts, comment, or follow me. However, my blogging strategy is informed by my commitment to serve. If my content gives my readers hope, perspective, and courage, I believe it would have served it’s mission. I will continue to enjoy the ‘highs’ of engagement but it won’t distract me from my main purpose.
8. People are Kind and Helpful
When I first started to blog, I agonized endlessly about the content and my writing style. I spent hours worrying (and wondering) if what I had crafted was appropriate. Often, I worried about reactions, rejections, or worse still, silence. I feared abuse and rude comments. What I discovered instead is that people are actually kind and helpful. Just like you and me. From strangers to colleagues and friends, I have received messages and e-mails when something I wrote, resonated with them deeply. They have also shared notes when they disagreed with what I wrote. We live in times when disagreement amounts to dissent and divisive thought. When people engage with my content in a genuine way, I hang on dearly to that hope and promise of true engagement.
9. Best Investment in Your Development
When I wrote, “Why I Blog“, I shared how writing is enormously humbling and terrifying. It demands clarity and asks with pointed sharpness everything that you hold true today. It is through writing that you may discover that there is no truth or falsehood. Every thing simply is. Our life experiences and values compel us to view them in a certain way. Any activity that challenges your views on everything you thought you knew has the amazing power to shift perspectives in myriad ways. Therefore, blogging is one of the best investments you’ll ever make in your development journey.
Over 409 million people view more than 21.5 billion pages each month (Source: WordPress.com Activity). Those are jaw-dropping numbers and they continue to grow. If people within your network take the time to read, subscribe, follow, like, comment, and share your posts and your website link, it is a gift! When people you’ve never known or met before share a kind word about your post, accept it graciously and pay it forward. If they care enough to disagree with you, give thanks! Never, ever, take their generosity for granted. I’m forever grateful to this lesson that Mark continues to teach.
Expanding Your World
In less than 72 hours, it will be a brand, new year. I hope it becomes the year you start to express yourself. Through whatever medium that makes you shine and thrive. And, if becoming a blogger is your favored path, please know that I will be toasting to your magical success! I wish you and your loved ones a joyous, new year. May the force be with you!
Anitha Aswath is a Senior Leadership Coach, Team Consultant, and Global Facilitator. In an illustrious career spanning 19+ years, she has served organizations like General Electric, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Target, and Cisco in regional and global capacities. She works with clients from all over the world to serve, teach, and enable the success of leaders and their teams.
THIS IS A PERSONAL BLOG AND VIEWS DON’T REPRESENT ORGANIZATION STRATEGIES OR OPINIONS.