Get More Value from Blogging, Part VII: Inspiring Yourself and Inspiring Others

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Get More Value from Blogging

Paul Gillin invited me to do a tweetchat on the professional and personal value of blogging. When I brainstormed some of the things I’d like to talk about, I ended up with a big list: not just the value I get from blogging, but also tips for how you can build that too. I hope you enjoy this blog series! You can also see other resources in this value of blogging series.


1. Making your goals real

Writing about your goals can be scary. You might feel that people will laugh at your goals, or that they’ll embarrass you if you don’t achieve them. You might worry about sounding over-ambitious, or not ambitious enough.

But there’s a lot of value in writing about your goals, even if you start by doing so in a private entry. When you write about what you want in life, why you want it, and how you can get to that point, that path becomes clearer. When your goals dim and your willpower fades, you can inspire yourself by reviewing your notes, reminding yourself of your goals and why they matter.

Tips: Set a goal for yourself. Write about it. Write about why it matters to you. Write about your plans for achieving your goal. Review your notes when you need a burst of energy.


2. Connecting with inspiration

The Internet can make it easy to connect with other people who have similar goals. Look for blogs that inspire you. If you share your reflections through blog posts of your own, linking to the posts or people who’ve inspired you, you can build unexpected relationships and learn from or even help your role models in surprising ways.

Tips: Comment on inspiring blog posts. If you have more to say, write a blog post that refers to theirs. Share what you’re learning from people and how you’ve tried those ideas in your life.


3. Progress

Change can be long, slow, and tiring. If you can look back at the progress you’ve made, though, you might find it easier to keep going. You can use your blog to keep track of your progress.

If you’re trying to establish a new habit, you might write about how well you’re doing, or what you can do to make it easier to do what you want to do. If you’re working on improving your skills, your blog posts can help you keep track of your growth. For example, when I started learning more about drawing, I blogged my stick figures. Thanks to my blog, I can see how my drawing techniques have evolved over time, and I get less frustrated because I know I’m making progress.

Tips: Write about your progress, and think about sharing examples of your work so far. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, lapse into old behavior, or slide backwards. Focus on the positive, and keep going.


4. Inspiring others

Inspire others? Yes, you can do that, even if you’re just starting out. If you share what you’re learning and how you’re living life, you might be surprised by how you touch other people’s lives. And it gets even better – you might learn a lot from the people you inspire, too.

One of the things that makes it easier for me to think out loud – to share whatever I’m learning about or struggling with on my blog – is that I often hear from other people who’ve learned a little from what I’ve shared, or who are glad to find someone else dealing with similar situations, or who are happy to finally have words for something they’ve struggled to describe. We’re all in this together, and it’s great to be able to help and inspire other people.

Tips: Don’t be afraid of sharing what you’re learning, even the parts that are hard. Who knows whom you might help along the way?

Questions and answers from #infoboomSC tweetchat on blogging

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Get More Value from Blogging

Paul Gillin invited me to do a tweetchat about blogging. I learned so much from it, and I hope others do too! Here’s what we talked about.

On making the time to write

Your output is amazing. I don’t know where you find the time to post daily. How do you do it? @infoBOOM
Writing != extra work. Making it part of the way I work helps me be more effective. http://sachachua.com/blog/p/21845. Also, I think about ROI on my time. No TV; yes writing, reading, experimenting. http://sachachua.com/blog/p/22053.

How much time do you spend per blog? What time of day do you do it? @dgriess
I’ve tried writing morning pages, but I usually just write whenever I’m learning or solving problems.
Let me ask another way, about how much time goes into each entry? @dgriess
Depends on topic. Usually 5-15 minutes extra, or 30+ if I’m braindumping tips for others / exploring something new.

What would you recommend for those who try to blog on behalf of their company? How can they carve out time? @KevinMGreen
It’s marketing, professional development, networking, and all sorts of good stuff. Great ROI. Makes sense to do it.

Finding time always seems to be the biggest challenge. @KevinMGreen
Try tweaking your workflow so that you write along the way. Check importance/efficiency of other things you do.

On perfectionism and personal branding

My question for this chat: What would help _you_ get more value from blogging? What are your challenges / goals?
kurtisgriess: Hardest thing abt blogging for me is planning and perfectionism… takes me forever!
pgillin: Hardest thing for me abt blogging is feeling I have to always be profound. Worried about wasting ppl’s time.  (Sacha: Reading is optional, skimming is easy. You don’t have to be perfect, or profound, or even interesting. ;) )
KevinMGreen: likewise Paul #infoboomsc always trying to deliver can be intimidating
Sacha: Me, I’m looking forward to writing about more things (life! work! awesomeness!), and getting better at organizing for discovery.

What are common mistakes you see/experience? @KevinMGreen
Perfectionism and the related fear of having to publicly change your mind or admit room for improvement. ;) Partly our collective fault, because we scare people re: the unforgiving memory of the Internet. I disagree with that. You are never going to be perfect. You’re also never going to get better unless you try. ;)

I wrestle with “perfecting” a thought. Probably thinking too hard on my individual entries. @dgriess
It’s easier to work with a draft or post than with a blank slate. There will always be a better way to say things.

I can imagine there would be some folks out there who may not feel comfortable about blogging their work. @elsua
Blog transparency may not be for everyone just yet, but it’s surprisingly less scary than most people think.

How can people bypass that risk aversion and dive into it slowly, but steadily? Don’t fear, just blog? @elsua
Small steps can help people get over fear, experience immediate benefits: http://sachachua.com/blog/p/7316

… Ideally that people should understand how blogging is perhaps the most powerful trait for their personal brand @elsua
I wish people worried less about “personal brands” and felt better about connecting as _people_. =)

On finding ideas

Many people have trouble coming up with ideas for their blog. Any tricks you can share? @infoBOOM
Write about everything (http://sachachua.com/blog/p/22082). Don’t worry about niche (http://sachachua.com/blog/p/7046).

Can you share any tricks for what to do when you run out of ideas? Or does that ever happen? @infoBOOM
Do you ever run out of things to learn, or things you can help other people learn? No lack of material.

What’s the one tool/resource you rely on to create such compelling content? @KevinMGreen
Best resource for blogging: Life. Best tools: the questions: “Why? Why not? How can we make this even better?”

On practices

Do you write in your blog more for yourself or for others? What’s the balance? @kurtisgriess
Mostly myself (can’t trust my memory). Often for (usually specific) others, just in case others find it helpful.

What’s your thinking on comments? Do you try to respond to them all? @infoBOOM
I reply to as many comments as I can. I’m sure some slip through cracks. Easier than e-mail. =) Also, warm contacts.

How would you describe your voice? Or does that even matter to you? @infoBOOM
My blogging voice? Me. I’m like this in real life. It makes writing much easier — and living’s easier, too. =)

You don’t use gimmicks like “top 10″ lists or “best and worst.” Is that by design? @infoBOOM
Can’t stand reading or writing generic blog posts with arbitrary rankings. I’ll use mnemonic structures, though.

You post weekly review lists. What’s the reason? @infoBOOM
On the practice of a weekly review: http://sachachua.com/blog/p/6946

In your opinion, what’s the ideal length of a blog post? Or does it depend on the topic? @elsua
I try to stick to one clear thought per blog post, saying as much or as little as I have to say about that. Lengths vary.

What do you use to manage your editorial approach? I still send myself emails which is not really effective. @KevinMGreen
I keep a big text file on laptop with rough notes and ideas, and I post snippets on a regular basis or by plan.

When someone sends you a question by e-mail, do you often post answer to blog and send them link? @infoBOOM
Shift e-mail conversations to blog posts when possible. Widens the conversation, reaches more people, saves more time.

You do write about a lot of topics. Do you ever worry that you lack expertise in these areas? @infoBOOM
When you’re learning, that’s the best time to write. Don’t wait until you’re an expert and you’ve forgotten.

Miscellaneous

When you started your blog, did you set goals on spec. milestones (traffic, subscribers)?  @kaeppler
Early: class notes, Emacs snippets, things to remember. Didn’t care about traffic or subscribers, but happy I helped. Still don’t focus on traffic or subscribers, although honoured to see them. It’s not about numbers, it’s about people.

[…] Was “living an awesome life” your first blog at all? @kaeppler
It’s actually just an alternative name for sachachua.com – livinganawesomelife.com is easier to remember/spell. ;)

You’ve written that blogging has made you a better presenter. How? @infoBOOM
Practice in figuring out what to say, how to say it. Archive of potential material. Better ROI and reach. Invitations. Also, feedback on content, delivery, and technology. Continuous improvement. Confidence. Connection.

Many bloggers are too focused on the audience and less about the personal value they receive. @KevinMGreen
Tons of immed. indiv. value.http://sachachua.com/blog/p/22119 New bloggers, take heart, even if no one reads you! #infoboomsc

Can you tell one or two stories of remarkable things that happened to you because of your blogging? @infoBOOM
Got job created for me (http://sachachua.com/blog/p/6456), found mentors (http://sachachua.com/blog/p/6928)…

Sacha, would love for you to share insights on how you use blogging to narrate your work @elsua
Blogging is a great way to understand complex issues. It also helps shape culture of knowledge-sharing – many benefits!

Is there one blog post that stands out as particularly memorable to you? And why? @infoBOOM
It’s like asking me what my favourite book is. ;) Lots of context-sensitive favourites. A recent highlight: http://sachachua.com/blog/p/22017, but that could be because I cut my finger in the process. ;)


We’re thinking of doing another tweetchat with #infoboom in three months. In the meantime, if you have any questions, thoughts, suggestions, or tips, please feel free to share them through comments, blog posts, and Twitter! Would you like to host a conversation about a topic I’m passionate about? Let’s talk about it!