For the month of April I challenged myself to write a blog post every weekday. I mentioned it publicly and invited others to join me. Surprisingly, some did! Woo Hoo!
That meant we needed a hastag. #21in21 sounded good and so it was.
Along the way I learned a few things. In no particular order, here’s 21.
#1 They say if you do something for 21 days straight, it’ll become a habit. To me, I wasn’t looking at setting a new habit. I have no problem writing a post a day. Generally I write about whatever grabs me at that time. The thing I took away was a better appreciation for having a plan. That’s directly related to the next time.
#2 Chris Griffith has a plan. She’s also a blogging machine. Each day it’s a different style of post. In 7 days she’s covered seven different areas she want to cover to rule her local area. Monday for her is local business day. Each Monday it’s a different post on a different local business. At the end of the year she’ll have 52 posts on local businesses. Guess what? She’s been doing this for more than a few years. Thanks to Chris and Life in Bonita Springs, I learned I need a plan. (I’m working on it) 🙂
#3 People like a challenge. Never did I think anyone would jump into this challenge yet they did. They did on the spur of the moment too. Maybe there’s a better sense of doing it as a group that helps people. I’m sure people run 26 miles all by themselves but how often do you hear about that? Before you do… No. I will not run a marathon with you. Challenge NOT Accepted! 😉
#4 People like to bet. They like to place wagers. I’m not a betting type of guy. Which is probably why my friend Jeremy Blanton challenged me back. If either one of us failed to post the 21 in 21 we’d have to stand on a busy street for a few hours wearing a chicken suit. Yeah I accepted.
#5 Roger Colton is a poet. I went to High School with Roger. He may have been a poet back then but I didn’t know it. Roger found me on Facebook, accepted the challenge, and I started following his blog. Poetry Blog? Nope – but this post is pure poetry. Awesome stuff Roger!
#6 My feed reader is my friend. I added everyone who accepted to my Google Feedreader. I fire up my reader first thing in the morning. I set up a folder just for #21in21. From there I could read every post all in one place.
#7 There’s a lot more going on than just Tuesdays in Templeton. Diane Haley Brooks has been covering local for some time. She’s got a theme going on from Wordless Wednesdays to Thankful Thursdays. What can we learn from that? Theme is fun!
#8 Melissa Riley is incredible. She was one of the first to throw her hat in the ring. She’s the voice behind Fresh Picked Real Estate. She writes educational posts as well as posts about her community. Keep on Rockin’ it Melissa!
#9 My friend Lane Bailey loves cars. He’s a car guy. He’s also a real estate agent. He specializes in homes that a car guy would love. I joke that he sells 1 bedroom, 1 bath homes with 10 car garages. His blog?of course!
#10 I learn something daily from Ted Mackel. So do Ted’s readers. For the Record: I fully blame Ted for my obsession with DSLR Video. I had been shooting HD video for quite some time but then on April 29th, 2010, Ted uploaded a video he shot with his brothers camera. My camera of choice has been a DSLR since that day. Thanks Ted!
#11 Post early. My posts were not published as soon as they were written. Often times the time I write is just before bed. Living on the west coast and having an audience across the country I can pretty much guarantee the people on the right side of the country are not awake when I am. For that reason my posts generally go LIVE at 5:00 AM my time (8am theirs). I want to catch them when they are most apt to be online and ready to read. The dreaded “Bookmarked and saved for later” is a death sentence for that post. If my audience was local, I’d be posting at the best times they would be free to read.
#12 Be your Biggest Cheerleader. When you write a post you then have to get people to read it. That means you can’t rely on people wandering over to your blog just to see what Mike wrote today. You need to deliver it. Right to them, right to where they are, and at a time when they can read it. If your audience hangs out on Facebook, you need to post over there a “Hey, look what I just wrote!” The trick is also to know when they hang out on Facebook so that they’ll also have the best chance to see it.
#13 Comments are GOLD. In an age where people share and retweet everything, the person who takes the time to write a real comment is rare. When it happens I need to pay extra attention to them.
#14 People skim. We all do. I read over 200 blog posts a day. It doesn’t take me hours to do so. I skim (I also use a feed reader). Knowing that people are short attention span skimmers I need to be better at making a point in the opening paragraph. I need to be better at identifying the problem and how this post offers solutions.
#15 Many accepted the challenge, few completed it. And I think that’s ok. I set the bar ridiculously low. Just post once a day. That’s all. It could be a single picture, no words, nothing else if that’s what you wanted to do. If all you did was take a cell phone picture of your lunch and post it, at the very least you’d be reminded that you actually own a blog 21 times. Down the road, that might even encourage you to ease back into actually writing on it every now and then. Anything would be a win. Not surprisingly, quite a few couldn’t even manage that. Oh well, maybe for them Blogging is Dead.
#16 You need to redesign your site. In visiting many sites I found that so many were poorly designed. Sites should be visibly appealing, have great SEO capabilities, showcase the important Calls to Action and have your contact information right there. If I have to hunt and search your site for your phone number or email, chances are I’m not going to use your services. Speaking of services – what is it you actually do for a living? What makes you money? Is it obvious? Don’t you think it should be? For the record: I need to work on mine a bit as well.
#17 Titles are art. Some titles are just scripted pieces for SEO. Before you even get to the post you know it’s going to be drab crap written for search engines. And then there are titles that beg you to read them! Consider the following examples: “The Pleasure Dome“, “Nice Buns“, and the ever popular “Psssst Your Bottom is Showing”. None of which have anything to do with what you thought they did. But they got you to read them right? Did you know you could have one title for the readers and another for the SEO Bots? I do it all the time. Example: “My Secret SEO Weapon” is the title for the readers but check out the page title at the top of your browser when you get there. That was written for the SEO Bots.
#18 I’d look funny in a chicken suit. But had I lost the bet, I would have done it. That said, Jeremy would have looked funnier (or so I think). Enough of the chicken suits, eh?
#19 Write about you from time to time. Part of what we like to see or hear is what makes you tick. For me that might be Hockey, Formula 1, Motorcycling or Mt. Biking. None of those have anything to do with what I do for a living. That said, we work with people we like. We work with people who share the same hobbies, passions and values we do. Typically people will shy away from the big three: Sex, Politics, Religion but that’s completely up to you.
#20 Write about what you do from time to time. Toot your own horn! Not all the time – everything in moderation but this is something I don’t do enough of. Just in case you read this far down, I build custom Apps for Facebook Pages and Ad Campaigns, I build fantastic sites on WordPress that have great SEO, and I shoot high definition commercial video.
#21 Challenge Yourself. Constantly. Whatever it is. If you find yourself ‘comfortably’ doing whatever it is, challenge yourself in someway to do it harder, faster, better. I love to ride my bike with better riders than myself, or ride higher or faster up the mountain. Find or create your own challenges. Challenge yourself or challenge others alongside you. It doesn’t matter if we win – we become better just by trying. I know I am, how about you?