How to Manage Your Time and Stay Motivated

We had a fantastic meeting of the Colorado Blogettes tonight at Boulder Digital Arts. We called it the CONTENT EXTRAVAGANZA, Part ONE!! And yes, you need to say it in a very excited voice with multiple exclamation points!

Instead of just having a single presenter for tonight’s meeting, I really wanted to hear from the Blogettes members about their best strategies for content creation and management. We had a lively and interesting talk, and I learned a lot!

I think one of the most interesting parts of the discussion was about managing time in order to write and publish on our blogs. We also touched on a parallel topic – staying motivated in our writing.

I gave the Blogettes an assignment at the end of the evening. I asked them to add a comment to this post and share their best blogging time management and motivation tips.

Okay, I’ll go first! My favorite way of staying motivated is to look at my Google Analytics numbers, and notice how much my traffic spikes on the day I write a new post or send out a newsletter (for my business, emailing out my weekly newsletter with top-quality content is just as important as writing new posts).

After looking at the traffics spikes,  I then take a look at how low traffic dips in between posts. It’s clear that my readers are just waiting for me to write new stuff so they can read it – they WANT to hear from me! A few weeks ago, I even printed out a screen shot of my traffic stats and hung it over my desk, so my motivation is right there at eye level.

I say it to my classes all the time – the more you write, the more traffic you will get. If you write it, they will come! That’s the best motivation I know.

What are your best tips for staying motivated and/or finding time to write? If you’re not a Colorado Blogettes member, we’re still love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and share your ideas and tips with everyone.

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What Bloggers Can Learn from Viral Videos

An unconventional wedding video, featuring the wedding party dancing down the aisle to a popular hip hop song (Chris Brown’s “Forever”) has been getting a lot of attention on the Internet and in traditional media lately.  The video itself shows the entire bridal party of the Minnesota couple’s wedding doing a choreographed routine down the aisle.  The video lasts for over five minutes and is riveting from start to finish.

The Minnesota couple, Jill and Kevin Heinz, first published the video on YouTube on July 19, 2009.  By the time I saw it on July 23 (a friend of mine sent it to me on Facebook), it was up to 300,000 views.  Within days, it passed one million views and the couple (and their dancing friends) were featured on the Today show to talk about their famous processional dance and the explosion of the video’s popularity around the world. 

As of the time of this writing, the video has racked up over 14.6 million views

There is a specific reason that some videos on YouTube go viral – meaning that they gain widespread popularity through Internet sharing, usually through email, blogs and other media sharing websites.

That reason is JOY. 

In videos – as well as in real life – People relate to other people when they are at their best – whether they’re excelling at a sport, graduating from college, snuggling a brand new baby, or dancing down the aisle on their wedding day. When someone witnesses moments of true joy seen on video, they want to spread the joy by passing the video around.  Viral videos become popular simply because they are being passed around, just like a cold or flu germ, except that the passing is done via email, Facebook, blogs or Twitter.  The Minnesota “Forever” wedding video is a classic example.  People take this path – see joy, revel in that joy, and pass it on.  Beautiful.

The lesson bloggers can take from the huge popularity of these videos is this – You will attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.  When you’re writing blog posts, write about what you love, rather than what you hate.  Write about someone or something that thrills you, excites you, makes you light up.  If you’re passionate about something, and if you’re writing about something that’s unique (or you’re writing about it in a unique way) it will resonate with people.  With any luck, people will start to pass it around and link to it, which will lead to more traffic, more loyal readers and subscribers, and a bigger potential audience.

More great examples of joyful, passionate writing and film in social media (in blogs and viral videos):

Do you have favorite videos or blogs that come from a place of joy? I'd love to hear about them!

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Why “Bad News” from the NY Times May Actually Be Good News in Disguise

The New York Times recently published an article on abandoned blogs called "Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest".  In a nutshell, it says that many bloggers don't stick with blogging.  The article says:

"According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine
for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company
tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95
percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the
Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an
ambition — unfulfilled."

So overall, that's not such great news.  Most blogs get abandoned because the blogger tires of writing, he/she feels like they want to go back to living a life out of the public spotlight, or because the blogger gets frustrated that she's not getting enough traffic. 

But the golden nugget of good news it that if you DO stay with blogging, and pay regular attention to your blog, you're doing better than 95% of the blogs out there.  That's pretty astounding!  If you make a post more often than every 120 days – FOUR MONTHS – you will keep gaining traffic, grow your audience, and you'll be well on your way to becoming a successful blogger. 

In the meantime, you can increase your odds of getting heard by concentrating on your content, promoting your posts in appropriate ways, and participating in the public conversation by regularly commenting on other people's blogs. 

In the world of blogging, it's the classic tale of the tortoise and the hare.  Just keep going, slow and steady!

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Turning Your Blog Into a Book

Authors and would-be authors, take note – it is absolutely possible to turn your blog into a b0ok and get publishers to buy it.

I work with a lot of authors in my coaching business, and one of the biggest questions I get asked is "Am I going to get in trouble with a potential publisher if a lot of the material in my book has already been published on my blog?"  I used to a give a tentative "no" answer, with some caveats and disclaimers.  Then
it moved to a slightly-less-tentative "no".  I told people that smart publishers are figuring out that authors who have developed big fan bases by blogging turn out to be GREAT authors – and their books really sell. 

Now I tell my authors to blog away with no hesitation whatsover, and that blogging can help them build exactly the kind of big reader base that many publishers are looking for these days.  I can cite many, many examples of books that have recently published that are comprised almost entirely of re-mixed and re-edited material that had already being published on a blog. 

Cases in point:

Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too
by Shauna James Ahern (who blogs at Gluten-Free Girl)

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly
by David Meerman Scott (who blogs at Web Ink Now)

Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions
by Christian Lander (who 
blogs at Stuff White People Like)

All three of those books are made up of previously-published blog material, and they are all terrific reads.  And for those of you concerned about the size of your possible advance – take note that Christian Lander actually received a $300,000+ book deal for his book, which is one of the largest deals ever for a previously unpublished author.Cover

And in case there's still any doubt in your mind, notice that Heather Armstrong, author of the wildly popular blog Dooce, just announced that her new book (again, comprised almost entirely of edited material from her blog), It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita
is available for pre-order.  It is currently #1 in Amazon's "Motherhood" category, #4 in "Family Relationships" and #221 overall – it's that's just in PRE-ORDER.

Authors, you can blog your heart out and then find a perfect publisher for your blog-book.  Stop hesitating now and start blogging!

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I Don’t Want My Mother Reading This.

I get a lot of questions about what people should and shouldn't post on their blogs.  Here are three questions, all related:

  •  I’d really like to have a place to spout off about some relatives that drive me bonkers.  Can I start another blog for this and never disclose that it exists?
  • Can I safely assume that if I don’t give away its location, potential employers will never find my personal blog, in which I talk about my wild personal life?
  • If I write a blog about how much I hate my job, do I need to worry about my employer finding it?

I heard a great rule of thumb a few years ago regarding these types of quandaries, and I follow that rule every single time I put up a new post or start another blog.  When you're writing anything on your blog, consider what would happen if the person you'd be most horrified about reading that post would read it.  The person in front of whom you'd feel embarrassed or humiliated.  Or the person whose feelings would be most hurt if they found out you were writing about them.  Or the person who could cause you the most legal problems.

Then decide if you can live with the consequences if that person DOES see it.  Because she eventually MIGHT see it – in some cases, it's likely she will.  If you can't live with the consequences, don't publish those lines of text that are leaping out of your hot little fingers onto the keyboard.

If your name is attached to it, you can safely assume that it will be found – and read – by the very people you’re writing about.  People manage to find EVERYTHING, and since search engines love blogs, your “secret” blog will rise to the surface quicker than you'd think.   And before anyone gets their undies in a bunch complaining that there’s no privacy on the Web, remember this – it’s the WORLD WIDE WEB.  When you publish a blog, you’re publishing a web page to the world.  That’s how it works, and you cannot expect to maintain any secrecy when you’re publishing publicly. 

That being said, here are some options if you still want to publish your thoughts –

1.  By using free, hosted services like WordPress.com or Blogger (and blogging under an assumed name), you can take your best shot at blogging anonymously.  If you do this, you will need to set up an entire account under that new name.  You should also use the service’s domain name (i.e. MyAnonymousBlog.wordpress.com).   If you must use your own domain name, use a proxy service with your registrar so people can’t see the domain belongs to you.  I don’t recommend using paid blogging services like Typepad, because you’ve got to give the service your name for payment processing, and that’s one more way the blog can be traced back to you. 
– OR –
2.  Password protect your blog.  Most services will either let you password protect the whole blog and/or certain pages on the blog.  Give the login and password only to the people you want, thus assuring that you won’t get any eyes on the page that you don’t want.  This is what I’d recommend for most people, rather than writing under an assumed name and staying up at night wondering if your fake name will be traced back to you.

So my advice is – don't put it online without password protection (under your name, anyway) unless you're okay with it becoming public.  As for those rants and raves you really want to make, but you don’t want anyone you know to hear them?  Pick up a pen and put ‘em in a diary.  I’m a big fan of those. 

Okay, I’m climbing off my soapbox now.  Happy blogging!

 

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