Building something with honesty

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.

Spreading your wings

Over the last few weeks I have been invited to write for some very exciting projects. Some are online, some are in books and some are in magazines. I am excited about all of these new opportunities but most of all I am so happy I decided to start this blog.

It is because of this blog that people have got to hear about me, to know of my work and to know of my thoughts & feelings. This blog has given me a chance to express my views on the world to anyone who wishes to read them. If it wasn’t for my writings and ramblings on this blog none of these opportunities may have come about.

Freedom

The great thing about blogging is that you can create your own space for free online and write about what you want to write about; in a way you want to write about it. On a blog you are your own writer and editor with no restrictions. There are few places where you can get this freedom to express yourself so I would encourage anyone to get in to blogging. I am thankful for everyone that does view the blog but I just enjoy being able to write my thoughts down and if they help or inspire then that is just a bonus (a very big one at that though).

Writing for other people and companies has been a much different experience than blogging. Instead of writing something, proofing it and posting it like I do with my blog, writing for others is a more involved process. The process of writing for others has involved a lot of communication, going back and forth on ideas and then a lot of drafting and re-drafting. When writing for others you have to understand that your words are being used for someone else’s mission and vision, you have to understand that they know their audience better than you do and you have to be prepared to take criticism of your work.

Hope

My hope from these new projects is that they will help me become a better writer and help improve the quality of my own blog, at the same time as getting my name out there and gaining more awareness. I hope that what I have written about in this blog encourages others to spread their wings and take on new challenges. Never be afraid to try something new or different, as you never know where it might take you.

From one blog, my sphere of influence is about to increase in big ways, bigger ways that I could have imagined when I started writing last year. If you want to know where your writing can take you, again I urge you to start a blog. Over the next few weeks I will be able to share a little more about where my words will be featured but I for one am very excited by what lies ahead.

Is all media propaganda?

In today’s world I find it very hard to watch, read or listen to any type of media without thinking that there is an agenda and then I start thinking about what their agenda is. This stops me from just getting immersed in any media I consume, because I am always trying to think of what the agenda is and if that agenda is just. It just seems that in this world everyone is trying to convince you to believe something.

Media everywhere

Media is now everywhere; at every moment we have our phone, our tablet, our laptop, our computer, our TV, our radio and our newspapers with us. It has never been easier for people to put something in front of us and try to get us to believe something or think in a certain way. No one has to fight to reach us any more and this is why media is being used so aggressively.

Media to me falls in to two forms, one is media which is overtly trying to persuade you to think a certain way, the other is the media that is subtly trying to get you think in a certain way. To me I think the more subtle pieces are the more dangerous media. We very rarely question why we think in the way we do and I think media is a big contributor to the way we think about the world around us. Sometimes media is affecting us and we don’t even know that it is, if you had to ask yourself why you think in the ways you do, you probably can’t remember the media you have consumed that made you think the way you do.

The media assault

The media assault is helping many people to convince others to think in the ways they want to. Because we are consuming so much media we can’t remember everything we have consumed, this is key for media companies who are trying to go undetected. Do we even know what is media any more? Do we know what consuming means?

When do we turn off from media? Is there any point in our waking day when we haven’t got media around us? I think many of us don’t understand what we are taking in when we have the TV on in the background, are searching the Internet or have the radio on when we are concentrating on other things. Even without realising it our opinions and thoughts are constantly being affected.

I think expecting the world to turn off from media is an impossibility but what I want is for the world to become more media savvy, a world that understands when media is affecting us and why it is affecting us. Lets not get angry when media is affecting us let’s do something about it.

Keep it Simple

There are many of us out there (me included) that would love to impact and change the world. There are people with big goals and lots of things they would like to achieve or change about the world in which we live. The problem is that a lot of these ambitions are so hard to achieve, that many people give up. My message today is – if you want to impact the world, start with something simple.

If you read my blog regularly you will remember my blog about the crowdfunding page, that was set up to help a football fan that was attacked after a game:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/dont-just-read-the-news-react-to-it/

This was a simple idea, which not only ended up providing financial support for him but also worked as a platform to unite football fans and to send messages of hope. From one goal, which was to raise money, many other things were achieved. It shows you that if you focus on one thing you can still achieve more things than you intended to.

Focus

The simpler we keep things the easier they are to achieve. If you keep your project or message simple, more people will be able to get on board and identify with it. To keep your idea simple you need to really focus on what is the one most important thing you want to achieve and think about the simplest way of achieving it.

My wife and I were at an event on the weekend and we heard a man talking about research in to Parkinson’s disease. This man was interested in gaining stats and information, so he set up a programme which records people voices through a phone app in which now thousands of people have contributed. This man was interested in vocal patterns and came up with an idea that was simple and easy for people to contribute to. People were willing to give of their time to record their voices as it was a simple exercise, wasn’t time consuming and could be done from anywhere in the world.

Action

I think before you start setting up groups, charities, NGO’s and not for profit companies, it is important to put a simple project in to action first and see how it goes. The project and what you want to achieve from it should be the focus, your time at the beginning of an idea should be to test it if it works or can have an impact, before you get caught up in paper work, committees and legalities.

I would much rather do one thing amazingly well, than doing good at a lot of things. I think if you focus on one thing you increase your chances of making a difference in this world. It is important to stick to what you care about and not get sidetracked from that path, the more you get sidetracked in to other things the less likely you are to achieve your goal.

Investing

Investing time at the beginning to really think your ideas through is key. If you can invest time to make your ideas as simple as possible, you start on the right foot. From then on it is up to you to make sure you keep to your plans and always keep things simple, this will save you from being overwhelmed, giving up or taking longer to achieve what you want to achieve.

Promotion

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.

The Media we Let in to Our Lives

It seems more than ever in todays society that media is everywhere with people wanting us to consume as much of it as possible. From a click of a button or a swipe of a phone we now have the world at our fingertips. Not a moment goes by when you aren’t connected to the big world around you in some way.

The problem with this is the lack of control it gives us as viewers. We have no control over what TV channels, newspapers and websites will show us. On social media we follow and like people that we trust but again we are only trusting these people not to put up things we don’t want to see and have no control. Add on top of this the advertisements that social media companies show us without our control and our feeds soon get clogged up with a lot of things we haven’t asked to or wanted to see.

When you go on your newsfeeds and timelines on social media its like playing Russian roulette. For some people it’s exciting because you never know from one day to the next, but the thing is once you have seen something you didn’t want to see you can’t un-see it.

What we see, hear and read has so much impact on the way we think about the world around us. Without us knowing, our opinions and thoughts are being changed. The media in all its forms is such an impactful force but in many ways we are very blasé in how we use it.

Now I’m not saying we should boycott the media as I think that would be impossible in todays world and would be forgetting the good things that the media does. I would however encourage us all to become more educated users and think more about how we use it.

When was the last time you had a sort through your friends on facebook or the people you follow on twitter and asked yourself do I really want to or need to see posts from each of these people? When was the last time you really assessed a website or newspaper you like, to see what their world and political views and standpoints are?

What hold does media have on your life? Are we now conditioned to check our smartphones every five minutes? To post as much as we can, to like as much as we can? For the time we seem to dedicate to it what are we getting out of it? More to the point by consuming all the media we do what are we missing out on?