I began writing this blog (originally as a newsletter) on January 3, 2020...
... and now, here we are, at my 250th post.
That works out to one post every 2 days (2.12 if you want to be exact) for the past 18 months.
Time flies when you're having fun, right?
I thought I'd use this milestone post to do something a little different: I'm going to answer the questions I get asked most frequently about writing, provide a glimpse at what you might expect from the next 250 posts, and offer some advice to those of you who may be inspired to begin publishing something of your own this year.
"Where do you get your ideas?"
The most frequently asked question I get from people is, "where do you get your ideas?"
And the answer is simple: ideas are everywhere if you train yourself on how to spot them.
Every every interesting article I read, great advertisement I watch, and insightful conversation I have is a potential article idea... so my trick is to read a lot, watch a lot, and speak with as many people as I can every week.
If you learn to carefully observe the world around you, you'll be surprised at how many conversation-worthy topics you'll find everywhere you look.
Also, in a pinch, pretty much anything Ryan Reynolds does is good for a post.
"How much time do you spend writing each week?"
It depends: I've written posts in as few as fifteen minutes, and posts that have taken me the better part of a working day; this one, which I thought would be a quick post when I began it, ended up taking almost three hours. On average, I probably spend an hour on each post, or three hours each week, but it varies depending on the topic and the source of inspiration. Analytical posts (such as My Sipscription) will take much longer to write than when I choose to share a great ad via an ADdicted feature.
"Where do you find the time to write?"
I don't find the time, I make the time. And I do that because I know I have a small but dedicated following of readers who now expect something from me in their inboxes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning.
So I block time in my calendar to write every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday... and it's not a coincidence that my lengthier posts (like this one) tend to be published on Mondays after I've had an entire day on the weekend to assemble my thoughts.
"How does spending so much time writing benefit you?"
While I don't get any direct financial benefit from writing my blog, there are three distinct benefits I get from writing consistently.
Train the Brain: Knowing I need to post something multiple times each week forces me to constantly be on the lookout for potential topics, training my brain to observe the world carefully for interesting ideas. As a marketer, that's a very useful skill.
Practice Makes Perfect: the more you do something, the better you tend to get at it. Writing has always been one of my strengths, but I wasn't always able to write quickly; doing it consistently allows me to put together interesting, coherent arguments in a shorter amount of time.
Hands-On Learning: I test a lot of different things when I write my posts -- from the type of content I publish to the formats I use -- and I can use Google Analytics to understand the types of posts that drive the most interest, then incorporate those learnings into future posts. Bonus: there's no better way to learn Google Analytics than to have your own website to analyze.
There's a fourth benefit that comes from sharing the posts I write on my LinkedIn feed: doing so helps to establish myself as a person with interesting ideas, which builds my professional brand. Plus, successful posts tend to drive a lot of views and a lot of engagement, both of which lead to people viewing my profile and sending me connection requests... and some of those requests have led to interesting conversations about potential consulting assignments and speaking opportunities.
"How do you make a post go viral?"
Short answer: you don't. And anyone who says you can "make something go viral" is either ignorant about how "viral" works or trying to sell you digital advertising or PR services.
You can't make anything go viral, you can only produce good content and then hope it strikes a chord.
What's good content? Well, if you're Ryan Reynolds, pretty much anything with you in it.
But if you're not, I've found "good content" tends to involve one or more of the following:
As an aside, if you're producing content professionally, you can (and should) "seed" your first few thousand views using paid media to increase the chances of it being shared... but even that isn't a guarantee of virality. Since I'm not doing this professionally, I haven't invested any money in paid media to promote any of my posts; I rely on my readers to share the posts they like best with their social media networks.
What have you written about in the past?
Although I try to ensure that everything I write can be classified as either an "Idea", "Insight", or "Inspiration" (as per the tagline of dpThoughts), I've typically written about anything I find interesting. If you're interested in knowing the topics I've written about previously without having to scroll through 250 blog posts, check out this handy tag cloud.
"I'd like to start writing too... what advice do you have for me?"
I share three pieces of advice whenever anyone tells me they'd like to start writing.
Just Start: the most difficult thing about starting a blog is starting. Don't wait for the perfect platform, the perfect topic, or the perfect style... just start writing. If you're not a confident writer, start by writing something every day in a journal. You don't have to publish it, but getting into the practice of writing is an important first step.
Find Your Voice: You need to find your own voice and your own style, and that happens over time by writing consistently. Personally, I try to write as if I'm having a casual conversation with an intelligent, well-educated friend; I know that writing "at a grade 5 level" is generally recommended, but anyone who knows me knows that's just not my style. If you want to write something more approachable or more formal, go for it... but if whatever you write doesn't feel natural for you, it's going to be a much more difficult practice to keep up.
Learn from your Mistakes: publishing something that isn't well-received is absolutely inevitable. Don't worry about that. Your writing mantra needs to be "Progress, not perfection"... because if you don't publish something until it's perfect, you're likely to never publish anything at all.
"You've written a lot over the past 18 months... which posts are your favourite and why?"
Okay, fine, nobody has ever asked me that particular question. But that might make an interesting follow-up post, right? So stay tuned...
One last thing... thanks for reading.
Not just this post, but however many of the 249 that preceded it you were willing to read.
You don't need an audience to write a blog... but it sure makes things more fun!
P.S. If you ever have any feedback for me, I'm just a few clicks away.