Cabo: a place I call paradise.
Nine years ago, my wife and I came out to the Fiesta Americana resort in Cabo San Lucas. It was part of our two-week honeymoon that we took months after being married (we had no idea that her teaching job would start just days after we got married in July).
I remember reading the notice (for the first time) in the cab that this resort may not be like the ones in the United States (a disclaimer I'm sure Hilton uses to protect and manage expectations). I got worried, but it was for no reason. They were right; it was different. In a great way!
Since then, we've come almost every year at the same time. And while I was here last year, I decided to join Chris Brogan in a little 30 day challenge to blog daily for the next 30 days.
That was a year ago.
I'm back in Cabo, and while on vacation, I reflected a bit today on what I've learned over 365 days of daily blogging. So here are my seven lessons learned.
One: You will get better at anything you do daily
When I wrote some of my first posts, they took me over an hour. I'm not talking about the ones where I had to do research. I'm simply saying that writing down my ideas, cleaning them up, breaking them into smaller chunks, and all that good stuff took me a long time.
Today a post like this might take me 25-30 minutes, if it's stuff I've been thinking about. I've also found ways to tell the stories I want to tell. All much faster than when I first started.
Two: You will still get stuck. There are no shortcuts.
Every now and then I get a tweet about how someone imagines that I've loaded up a whole bunch of articles and now they're just scheduled to post on particular days. Then I send them back word that no, I write daily. And I explain it's a discipline I like.
But let's be honest, there are still days where I'm stuck. I don't know what I'm going to write about. I have an editorial calendar that may tell me it's time for a blogging post, a WordPress post, a tutorial or a comparison, but that doesn't tell me what to write.
And the reality of being stuck is the reality that we all know – there are no shortcuts. How do you write daily? By doing it.
But the discipline is something I appreciate and embrace. (oh, and I jot notes in Evernote to help me in dry spells.)
Three: Always be helping (instead of closing).
I don't do a lot of selling on this site. I don't write posts with any intention to sell. That doesn't mean I don't get leads from the site. It just means that I've learned something by happenstance that I really appreciate. And it's simply this: the more helpful I am, the more influence I get. The broader the influence, the better the impact.
For a guy who loves impact, it's a great formula that doesn't require me to pitch anyone on anything.
So instead of closing, I just focus on trying to be helpful.
Four: Your blog is your platform.
By having a place to consistently share stories, insights, tips, tutorials and comparisons, my blog has become a core part of how I engage others. People I never thought I would have ever met, or heard from, or interacted with, have shown up to my site and left me notes. Each one has been shocking, amazing and tons of fun.
I guess I knew it was possible but I didn't realize how much I would value it. Every week Google sends me more folks over to the site. This past week I had close to 24,000 pageviews. That's about the same as all of October and November of last year! That's a lot of eyeballs I would never get to influence (even in tiny ways) without my blog.
My blog has opened doors to more speaking engagements, more coaching, more opportunities to write, to collaborate with others, and connected me to the communities I value in a deeper way.
Five: Blogging isn't dead.
Many times over the last 8 years I've had a blog for one reason or another. I've always killed them. And I've always heard people suggest that blogging was on the way out and (fill in the blank) was taking its place.
Guess it hasn't died yet. 🙂
A friend of mine just started blogging a couple of weeks ago, and I love how she's developing her voice. I've coached others over this year and they've started their own as well.
If you've been thinking about it, stop thinking and just do it.
Six: It's one more tool in your tool belt.
By now, if you've spent time here, you know that I have a value for generosity. I never would have thought that I could use my blog to be generous. But after a year of writing, I can tell you that it's very possible. I get to shine a light onto people, products and projects that I think are worthy of attention.
You may have a different set of values, but blogging can function as another tool in your tool belt, for you to use strategically, where appropriate.
Lastly, I also nap daily.
I have a friend who asked if I do everything daily. My answer was no. But that's partially because I say no a lot.
But I noticed that my habit of taking a daily break after my work day was done, to rest for an hour, had a significant impact on my refreshed ability to sit down and crank out another daily post.
So consider embracing a daily nap!