I received the following email from a professional acquaintance/friend:
I just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your blog these days! I subscribe to a lot of blogs and yours is one of the few that I make sure to read each post. That may be due to knowing you personally, but truthfully, you’ve really honed your craft. You seem to be posting more these days. What is driving that for you? Curious how you get your motivation because I’m looking for some.
Since my friend reads each post, I figured that if I respond through the blog, then not only will he see my response, but whatever “wisdom” I pass on will be shared with other readers of this blog (who, I realize, might not share his level of enjoyment, but might be searching for helpful hints to kick start their own blogging efforts).
Thanks for your email. I certainly don’t get emails like this one every day! When I saw the line “I’m enjoying your blog” I immediately thought that it was my mother emailing me. But then I realized she would never email me to compliment me on my blog, since the only reason she contacts me is to complain that I haven’t called or sent her pictures of her grandchildren.
My second thought was “And why don’t I get emails like this every day? What the hell is wrong with the 177 other subscribers to this blog?” Can’t those bunch of lousy ingrates take 2 seconds out of their day to tell me how much they enjoy the blog like you did?
But then I thought: “Wait, is that it? I only have 178 subscribers to this blog? Other (i.e., “lesser”) bloggers have 10x and 100x more subscribers than I do. What am I doing wrong?” So, are you really sure you want my advice on blogging?
But I think you asked a serious question, so I will give you a serious answer: You’re asking the wrong question.
My take: Blogging isn’t about motivation, it’s about process.
I have a blog because I’m motivated to write, express my opinions, influence people in the marketing and financial services industry, and establish myself as an expert in financial services marketing. That’s why I blog. But that has little to do with whether or not I’ve “honed my craft” or whether or not I’m “posting more these days.”
The quantity/quality of blog posts comes from having a process. There are three key aspects to this process, and I think they serve as recommendations for you and anybody else who wants to write/maintain a blog:
1. Know your triggers. Triggers are things that happen in the world that are fodder for blog posts. For me, triggers include (but aren’t limited to):
- Lousy market research conducted by some PR-seeking technology company
- Stupid social media advice from social media guru-morons
- Unsupported claims of marketing ROI or other marketing results
- Bad marketing/strategic advice from where ever it originates
- Quantipulation (completely self-serving, gratuitous link here)
When I see some stupid-ass blog post from some stupid-ass social media moron, BINGO!, refuting the BS is great fodder for a Snarketing 2.0 blog post. More often than not, these days I actually have to get pickier about what I attack since there’s no shortage of social media morons out there.
Knowing your triggers really stems from knowing what it is you want to (and can) write about. Listen, this might sound like bad marketing advice, but you have to write about what you can write about — not about what the market wants. If the market wants blog posts on inspirational marketing platitudes, and you can’t write IMPs, then you’ll always find it a struggle to get “motivated” to blog.
I write about what *I* want to write about, and can only hope that there are others who share that interest. I’ve found 177 others besides you. Screw the masses. I’ll take 178 highly intelligent readers over 178,000 bozos any day. I hope I didn’t offend any of those bozos, but then again, I don’t suppose they’ll ever see this.
2. Have a writing formula. Nearly all of my blog posts are written in 45-60 minutes. Very few — if any — take more time. There are two reasons why:
- I’ve mentally thought out what I want to say before I put fingers to keyboard, and
- More importantly, most blog posts follow the same structure.
Having a common structure for most blog posts means I don’t have to spend time thinking about this aspect of writing. You’ve read my posts, I’m sure you know the structure: 1) Somebody said something wrong/stupid/moronic/etc. (i.e., the trigger); 2) My take: I don’t agree; 3) Here’s what I believe; and 4) Bottom line (sum up and conclude).
Develop a formula and you will find the writing part to be considerably easier.
By the way, the concept of a “formula” is closely related to — but not the same as — having a “voice.” A lot of blogging advice I’ve seen recommends developing a voice, and I do think that’s good advice. But the voice flows from the formula, not the other way around.
3. Schedule it. On days that I’m not traveling (which are most days), I have a routine: At 7:20am I take Promzilla (the 17 yo) to school, and I’m at my desk by 7:30. I write a blog post, and when I’m done — usually between 8:15 and 8:30 I go upstairs and eat breakfast. When I’m done, I come back down to my desk and start in on my real job — namely, tweeting snarky, cynical, and sarcastic comments to the rest of the world. Yes, I have a great job. And yes, I’m pretty sure my boss doesn’t know what I do.
Oh sure, there are days when I leave the blogging part until the end of the day, or, upon rare occasion, use the lunch hour for the blogging effort. But regardless of whether it’s at the beginning, middle, or end of the day — there’s a time carved out for blogging. I don’t try to fit blogging into cracks in the schedule.
Bottom line: I hope this helps. As I said before, I don’t think you need “motivation” to blog more, you need a process.
One other thing, and I hope you don’t find this discouraging. Remember that, fundamentally, my job is to write. I write reports for my real job. I like writing. And I spent 9 years at Forrester Research learning how to write.
As one of the great philosophers of the 20th century once said (I’m talking about Ringo Starr): “It don’t come easy. You know it don’t come easy.”
If you don’t write a lot, and haven’t learned how to write well, effortlessly cranking out blog posts won’t come easy. It’s like exercise: You’ve got to get into a routine.