I have been blogging for over 4 years now and it has been one of the most enriching activities of my life.
Like most great things that happen to me, the joy and magic of blogging unfolded somewhat accidentally – imposed by outside forces – triggered by a convergence of factors and circumstances.
I went into blogging purely for commercial reasons. Many start-up pundits and in-bound marketing experts will tell you that you must have a blog to grow your business. So, shortly after I quit my job to pursue Keyhubs full-time, I started the Keyhubs Blog.
I was desperate. I had a short runway and I needed a cheap and easy way to spam people about my business. Even though the experts will tell you that when you start a commercial blog, your posts shouldn’t be commercial, in the beginning, all my posts were about Keyhubs.
Keyhubs this, Keyhubs that.
I mean, if I am not going to use my blog to promote my business, how is the blog going to help me?
I didn’t get it.
While some of my early posts did a decent job of conveying what we did and why, after I while I got pretty sick of writing about the same old stuff. If you’ve been with me since then, I am sure you did too.
Blog About What Makes Your Heart Sing
After about the 5th or 6th post (which I was writing about once every other month), I started to venture out beyond the core offerings of Keyhubs. I would write about topics that had little or nothing to do with my business. I started writing about whatever my heart felt called to write about. Topics ranging from entrepreneurship to networking, from spirituality to education, from career aha’s to life lessons.
I started to write with no expectation for commercial outcome.
Soon, my blog was morphing from a marketing vehicle to a platform for personal and creative self-expression.
Focus On Quality Not Quantity
Early on I decided that I was going to focus on quality, not quantity. While many experts recommend that you write as frequently as possible, I didn’t have the stomach or time to do that. I focused on creating one really good, thought-provoking post at least once a month. Even that was hard and I have since settled into a pattern of about one post every two months. That suits me perfect.
The response from readers was also positive. While some people would urge me to write more frequently, one reader told me:
“I think if you send something every few months, or every other month, that is about right. Email is not novel any more. People can easily send too much with the email promos, and I, not unlike others, am always scanning for targets to hit “Delete” and reduce the obligation of my inbox. But if something comes in a little bit rarely, then that seems valuable and I am far more intrigued to give it some time and energy.”
Build Your List and Push To It
When I first started blogging, I would publish my post via our WordPress driven website and share it on various social media outlets (e.g., Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). This didn’t seem like the most effective way to reach my audience. I needed to be more targeted and “intrusive”. So, I decided to copy the content of my post into an email and spam everyone I knew using the blind-copy (bcc) field. In this way, I pushed my blog to people.
I knew that if I had good content and it showed up in people’s inbox, without requiring a click to view, I would get more reads.
Over time, I started to build my email list. If I met someone new at a networking event, I would add them to my blog list. If I met someone at a party, I would add them to my blog list. If I had a business meeting with you – sorry, you were on my blog list. Of course, folks could opt out with a simple reply “unsubscribe”, but I was very loose with the way I added people to my list.
While I got a few unsubscribes with every post, my list grew at a much faster rate – a list that began with a few dozen has now ballooned to roughly 2,000 people across the Twin Cities and beyond. I have since moved from bcc’ing my “followers” to using MailChimp for email distribution.
My blog has been a powerful way for me to stay connected to the countless people I meet everyday.
I have several friends that blog and I have asked them why I don’t see their posts in my inbox. They say, “I don’t want to intrude” or “I don’t think everyone wants to read what I have to say”.
I want to hear what you have to say. I am your friend! If I don’t want to read your work, who will?
Keep Going and Let The Magic Begin
After about 10 or 15 posts, I started to get into a rhythm. As my list grew and as I found my voice, so did blogging magic. I started to receive many positive and encouraging responses via email, not to mention comments and shares across the social media spectrum. I would often bump into people in the streets who I hadn’t seen or heard from in ages and they would mention my blog and how they read it religiously.
Really? My blog?
There is no greater joy than to have someone respond to an article you write, with your own creativity and thought, and have them say something like “that was the best piece of writing I have read all year” or “I just shared that with my college age kids” or “Can you come in and talk to us more about this topic?”
The feedback increased my motivation to write more. To write better. To grow the community. To find a way to translate my life lessons into meaningful posts that would inspire others.
In due time, blogging became a spiritual practice, a therapeutic journey, an opportunity to celebrate life’s great mysteries.
Be Human – Create, Share and Grow
Ironically, as I started writing purely for the sake of sharing what was in the deep recesses of my soul, more and more people expressed a desire to do business with me. Posts that had nothing to do with our offering would inevitably lead to opportunities – either a speaking engagement, a warm introduction or a project (some of our largest of all time).
It seems somewhat counter intuitive, but it actually makes complete sense when you think about it.
What business needs today more than ever is a human voice. We need stories, not advertisements. We need hearts, not sales pitches. We need creative self-expression, not sterile, doctored, corporate jargon.
You are human and you are extraordinary. You have a story to tell. We can learn from you and your life experience. Write about it, share it with the world and watch your passion unfold like a blossoming flower. See your life transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
While there is a good chance your writing will translate into business and / or career opportunities, even if it doesn’t, the simple act of writing and sharing will give you rewards no amount of money can buy.
I am going to be blogging for the rest of my life. As long as I am physically and mentally able, I will be writing and sending my posts to a steadily growing list of friends and well-wishers. If I have enjoyed this much magic in four short years, I cannot even imagine what awaits in the decades ahead.
Thank you for reading, encouraging and inspiring me to bring forth a part of myself I had left buried for so long – my creative Spirit.
Blogging has changed my life and, if you follow the simple steps outlined above, it will certainly change yours.
Vikas Narula (@NarulaTweets) is Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs (@Keyhubs) – a software and services company specializing in workplace social analytics. He is also Founder of Neighborhood Forest – a social venture dedicated to giving free trees to kids every Earth Day.
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