Learning your craft

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This week I have learnt the valuable lesson of learning your craft first, before starting on something you want to do. This week I have been reading a book on blogging and although nothing I have read has been groundbreaking stuff, I keep on having moments of saying to myself “why didn’t I do that” or “that makes sense.”

Writing a blog can seem like such an easy thing. You just sit in front of a computer, write what you are thinking about and then publish it for the world to see. The problem is that just because a blog post is on the Internet for the world to see, it doesn’t mean the world is seeing it. The two most important things with a blog have nothing to do with the words you type, the two most important things are being easy to find and making sure when people come, that they will want to stay and read other posts.

What do people come to your blog for?

I liked the example that was used in the book I was reading. It went something like this – Say you were searching for a recipe on the Internet and you stumbled upon one on a blog, you click the link, you like the recipe but you see other posts and the blog seems to be about the life of the family… lets call them the Smith’s. You don’t know them so you don’t care about their last holiday and at the moment you are in a recipe finding mood, not a mood for finding out about a family you don’t know or care about.

I wish I had taken time before I started this blog all those years ago to think why people would come and what would make them say. I think in life many of us are so eager to just get going with things that we rush in to things. The problem is with something like a blog, everything about it is your image, your brand and you can’t take it back. So if you go wrong to start with, you can’t take it back.

Don’t rush in

So over the next few weeks I am going to be trying to teach myself not to rush in to things, to learn from this experience and make every new start the best it can be. There are already blogs about everything on the internet, putting off launching for a few months isn’t going to affect you but not starting it right might have a huge impact.

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Building something with honesty

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I started this blog in the summer of 2014, in the hope to build a place where people would come to be inspired, stirred, provoked and to make people think about many different facets of life. Two years on and over 150 blog posts later I am still here trying to do the same things that I started doing two years ago.

Is this blog an Internet sensation with millions of hits – no! Is it doing as well as I hope it would – probably not. Do I still enjoy what I do and believe in what I do – 100% yes.

Fake it to make it

I could come on here and lie and say it is going great guns, put a spin on it using fancy words or not mention anything about how many people the blog is reaching. To me doing any of that wouldn’t be real and would be lying. So many people sign up to the ‘fake it to make it’ philosophy in life and it makes me sad. What have I got to gain by trying to say this is a blog, which is visited by millions? Everyone with an Internet connection has the possibility of one day stumbling across this blog and I really hope they do, but until they do I am just going to keep writing, keep hoping and keep smiling.

The people who have to talk about their audience and numbers are normally the ones that are disappointed by their numbers, whereas I am proud of the 6 people who read this blog yesterday. Yes 6, I’ll admit it, but I am so thankful that those 6 people did, as thankful as if 6 million people had. Things that have a big following normally don’t need to talk about their audience and people just know.

Not worrying about numbers

I would rather just focus on putting out content that I am happy with and proud of than worrying about writing for numbers. Like on Monday I wrote about the extra day we get every four years, not expecting much response at all and I got 4 likes which blew me away.

I could pay for advertising but I just don’t see paying for an audience as a success. I want people to read what I write and be touched by it. I want to feel great when I see people reading and interacting with my blog, not just think that people only came became because I paid for them to come, where is the success in that?

Foundation blocks

I see every blog post as a foundation block. My house may take 500 blocks to build, it may take 50,000 but what I am going to do is invest time in each one and build each one as strong as the last. My advice to every blogger out there is be proud of the content you produce, as good content is the only thing you can control and the only thing you should need to be proud of.

Never stop writing or blogging because the size of your audience wasn’t what you were hoping it would be. Keep writing because your content is what you hoped it would be.

My writing is now available in more places

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A little while back on the blog I alluded to new opportunities that had arisen for me and I can now tell you about one of them.

I am now a writer/contributor for a new exciting news outlet called “The News Hub.” It is an interesting place, where writers are incentivised to write engaging, quality content and a place where the community plays a huge role in governing the site and makes sure the best written and most relevant articles are easy to find.

Opportunities

I have been running this blog for two years now. It started as a place for me to share my thoughts and showcase my writing. Through my commitment to writing on this blog it has led to many exciting writing opportunities, including writing for other sites, apps, social media, other people’s books and my own book.

I have made no money out of this blog and in terms of traffic not hit the numbers I thought I would but this blog has done so much more for me than I thought it would. It has given me a platform to express myself and formulate my own thoughts. It has given me chances to experiment and work on what makes a good article. Most of all, it has kept me passionate about writing and active as a writer. To get good at something it takes practice and repetition.

Validated

I now feel validated as a writer because of the opportunities that have come my way and the people that have wanted me to write for them. Blogging is a powerful platform and there are many similarities in this new world between a blog and an article, with the lines between the two becoming more and more blurred.

One thing I would say to any other bloggers out there is – never under estimate the impact of your blog and your words. Impact can be measured in so many ways so don’t just think of it as number of viewers to your blog. Go after engagement and not views. Advertising and promotion can bring you views but it is good content that gets you engagement. It is better to have a small engaged audience than it is a big unengaged audience.

I hope everyone who reads this blog will follow my progress at “The News Hub.” To view my articles go to:

https://www.the-newshub.com/@adamsibley

100 and counting

Last week WordPress sent me a notification to let me know I had just posted my 100th blog. I have achieved this in a little over a year and the great thing is that I don’t think subjects to talk about are drying up.

That means on average, I have shared my thoughts on a subject in the form of a blog every 4 days. When I started this blog, I didn’t know how long I would keep it up for or how regular it would become. I started with one blog a week, but found I had lots more to say than one blog a week, so I upped it to 3 quite quickly and since then I have kept it up. Without fail every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I will now post a blog here.

Understanding the world around us

I think the world evolves faster than we can think about it at times and there is so much going on, that you will never be able to have an opinion or thought on everything. That being said however I am a huge fan of people sharing their thoughts and experiences and it is only by people doing, this that we can try and understand the world around us.

Through my blog I have been able to talk with some very interesting people and I have seen my blogs read in countries, that I might never get the chance to visit. That’s the great thing about a blog, it may not change the world but it can impact lives around the world. We all possess enormous power to influence people for the better and I for one am determined to use it to its fullest.

Your opinion matters

For those that have never blogged or too worried about what people may think if they did – I have one thing to say to you – your opinion is no less valid than anyone else’s and by voicing your opinion, you might empower others to do the same.

No one has to listen to what I say, but no one has the right to stop you from speaking. So many people would love the opportunity to speak their mind and speak up, but because of their situation they can’t, so don’t let your opportunity go to waste.

There is an audience out there for you

People out there want to read other peoples stories and thoughts. There is an audience out there for everyone and the Internet, social media and blogs have made it easy for bloggers, to reach an audience and for people to find blogs, which interest them.

So thanks to everyone who has joined me on my blogging journey so far. I hope I have entertained you or inspired you in some way. Here is to the next 100 blogs.

Pride

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A big way to drive traffic to a blog, is putting a link to your blog posts on your social media feeds. Last year when I started the blog I did that for every blog post, publicizing every new blog post on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr. This helped me attract a lot of traffic to the site, with Facebook being my biggest driver of traffic.

Last year I however stopped publicizing my blog on Facebook. I kept publicizing it on all the other platforms but not on Facebook, after I saw friends posting negative things about my blog. After reading the comments my pride was hurt and I didn’t feel confident sharing it on that platform any more, as my blog was all about trying to do something positive, so I wanted to shield myself and the blog from anything negative.

Missing out

My pride and confidence took a bit of a hit, my opinions and my blogs didn’t change but I was missing out on a huge market for my blog. My pride was hurt. I talk a lot in my blogs about stepping out and being confident, but sadly I fell short of what I blog about.

In my blog I stand for a lot of things and am outspoken because this is the way I like to live. I would rather be standing for an opinion and speaking my mind rather than standing against something or hiding my thoughts. I don’t quite 100% agree with it but I do like the quote “if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” I would also rather try and fail than fail to try.

A few weeks ago I got brave and posted a link to one of my blogs on Facebook:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/kingdom-building-not-church-building/

I was blown away by the amount of positive feedback I got and the amount of traffic that came to my blog because of the link. It built my confidence so much that I will now be putting more blog links on my Facebook. It is strange what a bunch of people clicking a like button and typing on computer keyboard can do.

Affecting people

If I was outspoken in an outrageous non-politically correct way, I would understand the negative response but I just never thought I would get any negative feedback from trying to do something positive. I will learn however, that whatever response I get positive or negative, that responses mean I am affecting people and that is a good thing.

I think we are all very prideful people at heart, but a key thing I am looking forward to master is how to take a comment and use it to help educate me, drive me and improve me. You may not agree with everything I think or believe in, but if you don’t I would be more than interested in hearing what you think and believe in. If we all instead of reacting with negative comments, used social media and the Internet to share our own thoughts and beliefs I think the world would be a better place.

A thought and opinion has more chance of impacting the world if it is shared and if you believe in that opinion enough, what people say about it shouldn’t matter.

Promotion

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If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

When I think about my blog and my current book project, that old philosophical question above always comes to my mind.

I started this blog and my book because I wanted to create and share high quality content with the world, which would impact and influence it in some way. The further I get in to these projects, the more I feel that creating the content is only a very small part of the battle. In a world, which is over-saturated with content, getting people to view your content, over others is a very hard battle.

Wishing content was king

When you start off on projects like this, you have no reputation and it is only by sticking at it that you can build a reputation. Reputation is what leads many people to your work and without it convincing people to view your content is very hard. You can have the greatest content, a great life-changing message but that has no bearing on how many views it will get, which I find sad. I wish people searched out blogs, articles and books based on the content, not on who has written them or who recommends them.

I believe there are millions of gems hidden all over the internet but just haven’t be viewed yet. I don’t think quality of content should be judged on the amount of views it has had, but if you goal is to impact the world then the number of views is hugely important.

Writing in hope

When you create content for the Internet you can normally see how many people have viewed it but you will never know how many people it actually impacted. Some people may read your content and forget about it in a heartbeat, but some will have a reaction to it and it may change their way of thinking. I think as a writer online you keep writing in the continual hope that you are affecting someone somewhere with the words you write.

Knowing that writing the content for my blog and book was only part of the battle, I have been working hard in recent months to promote both. It is important to remember that if you don’t promote your work then who will? I wish the world was more organic and I hate self-promoting with a passion, but if I want to keep to the reasons why I started both projects in the first place, I have to do it.

A snowball

I see self-promotion as a snowball. I tweet, email and post about things in my blog and book, in the hope that the people I connect with will be impacted by it and then promote it to their friends. I’m the one gathering the first few snowflakes in my hand but come a few months, I hope there will be a group of us pushing a gigantic snowball down a hill.

Writing something online and expecting people to read it is the equivalent of just talking at someone and not having a conversation. When we promote our work we can help build that conversation and it is that conversation that helps give our content meaning and attention.

Words are my Weapons

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I truly believe that some of the most important things I have are my words. In my opinion words have the potential to change the world and through your own words you can change the world around you.

Words have the power to inspire, excite, encourage, depress, comfort, sadden, anger and a million other things as well.

Nothing happens without words

If it weren’t for words written in a contract or spoken at a meeting nothing would ever get done in this world. Without using words not much happens. This is why I believe words are one of our mightiest weapons.

I am very passionate about doing something to help those affected by Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I don’t have bags of money and I don’t have the aptitude for science and medical related subjects, so at first I didn’t know what I could do to help. These conditions need a lot more money and research plowed in to them, as I would one day love to live in a world where we knew what caused it and what would actually work as a prevention and cure.

Experiences

All I have to play my part in the fight on Alzheimer’s and Dementia are my words and I want to make sure I use them in the best way I possibly can. With this in mind, I got to work writing a book to share with others about my experiences and thoughts. The book was published last month and I am now using all forms of social media to promote it. Again I am using words to promote my book that is full of my words, which just goes to show that words are involved in everything.

Through my promotion of the book I was asked a few weeks ago to write a guest blog for a leading Alzheimer’s website which was amazing, as now my words are in front of a new audience who may not come to this blog:

http://www.alzheimers.net/4-3-15-unbreakable-bond/

I love this modern age where we can sit down, type words in to a keyboard and then post them online for the world to see and to be stored forever. Every experience can be shared and we can all learn something from each other. My wish through my writing is that I encourage others to share their thoughts and experiences too. There will never be too many thoughts and experiences to share and each one that we do share could literally change someone’s life in a real and meaningful way.

Decisions

The decisions I have made over the year, which have changed my directions in life and got me to the amazing place I am today have mainly been based on words I have read or heard. That is why I think words are so important, as they can change someone’s directions, someone’s thoughts and someone’s opinions, which could help them on the most amazing journey in life.