Five Thoughts for New (and old) Bloggers

I’ve spent a good portion of the weekend restructuring things around here at Technosailor. You can see that the site is much more organized around topics, as you can see from the new Masthead. Each of the verticals have been segregated into five separate blog-like entities.

Desk of the Editor is all of my content. Entrepreneurship, branded Venture Files, will continue to contain Steve Fisher’s content, but will also have contributions from others as appropriate to the topic. Web Marketing is branded Wicked Marketing and is a vertical dedicated to usability and interface design as it pertains to corporate marketing. Tech Policy, a.k.a. SuitCase will officially launch tomorrow with Andrew Feinberg. Finally, Contenido Español is our long time Spanish only content stream edited by Carlos Granier-Phelps. It is being branded Sincronizar, or Synchronize in Spanish.

The front page of the site will undergo some further enhancements that, hopefully, pulls together this content in a snapshot that works well for most readers. Honestly, the current layout which is only a few months old, is not working the way I had hoped. So you’ll continue to see changes over the next weeks.

During the process of reorganizing things, I had to go back through all four years of my archives, a step that kicked me into a significant introspective mode. Where have I come from? Where am I going?

Honestly, much of my content from early years is downright embarrassing. And really, it goes beyond the content. I’ve spent the weekend thinking about the mistakes I’ve made as a blogger and wondering what I would do differently if I could. Keep in mind that my goals for this site were always professional and that I foresaw a day when it would be my only job (I hope that day comes, still!).

Here is my advice for bloggers who wish to do the same thing.

Make Every Word Count

It’s so easy to get into the mindset that no one is reading a blog and this is “my” space and “I’m gonna write what I want to write”. While there is truth in that, content is evergreen. By evergreen, I mean that it will be there for years to come unless you take the wrong, in my opinion, approach and delete archives that you don’t want anymore.

Understand that people always grow and become more mature. You are no different as I am no different. In four years, if you go through the exercise I’ve gone through this weekend, you will look through different eyes than you did when you first wrote.

On the other hand, people who really only want to blog for themselves can use these opportunities for their benefit. It really is interesting to see progression in your own development and feel good about it.

My advice, though, is to make every word count. Even though you have unlimited space and there’s no such thing, to many people, as too many posts, I’d recommend the economy of words.

This takes practice and discipline. Knowing what you want to say and saying it with just enough words to make your point without being so verbose that you might as well divide a post into multiple posts.

Mark Evans used to tell me that if you can say it in 1000 words, you can say it in 500. If you can say it in 500 words, you can say it in 250.

Your blog is valuable space. Make every word count for something.

Attack Ideas, not People

Another bit of low hanging fruit, when it comes to traffic, is attacking people. Everyone likes a good controversy. I’ve done the “Mike Arrington said…” or “Jason Calacanis said…” thing more times than I care. For awhile, I was highly ranked (#3) in Google for the search phrase, “How to be a whore” because I wrote this article about my friend Duncan Riley. Duncan and I have mended the bridge and are friends today, but that is not always the case.

I’d recommend avoiding the attack paradigm altogether. It’s much more efficient, when building of a brand or property, to offer ideas. Offer solutions, offer ideas, innovate. Be a thinker and a leader. By attacking people, not only do you hurt the chances of working with them, but you garner a recommendation that will follow you for a long time.

Plus, you end up singing from their songbook and not your own. Not beneficial if you desire thought leadership or to be considered a subject matter expert.

Take Time Every Day to Soak In the News

Ever had a day when you just react to something that is going on? I have. Too many times. I’ve discovered, however, that a 1am reading of Google Reader, while I’m relaxed (and because I’m an insomniac), is much more conducive to “catching up” than doing a break-neck scan at 9am before the day begins. Why? Because you’re relaxed and much less likely to act irrationally or reactionary. You’re not misreading content because you have work to get started on. You’re soaking in every word that another blogger is writing.

Are you going to get breaking news that way? Probably not. But you have the benefit of multiple opinions from multiple sources during the course of the news day. On this site, we don’t break news anyway so I’m not looking for the benefit of breaking news. We do analysis and in the presence of the multiplicity of opinions, a story is vetted.

Never Hide Your Archives

As I went through my content this weekend, I came across a post where I was announcing my intention to do paid review posts. This idea smacks of PayPerPost and today I do not want to be affiliated with PPP.

In a moment, I almost sent that post back to draft status and unpublished it but I didn’t. The reason I didn’t is because the entire nature of an archive, as embarassing as it is, is a story of your blogging life. Sure, I wish it wasn’t there but it is and there it will stay.

Maybe one day I’ll go through some kind of exit where my content here is analyzed very closely. I fully anticipate posts like that and others like it will hurt me. Yet, I cannot hide my archives.

Never Think More Highly of Yourself Than You Ought

Today I can brag. Three years ago, not so much. :) I say that cautiously and some will think I’m contradicting myself. Today, I can brag but I have to do it in the humility of knowing that I have a very long way to go. This site is not the mega property I’d like it to be, but it is getting there. It does not have the highest subscription numbers, though all feeds combined are in the neighborhood of 2000 subscribers. It does not have the traffic I want, but it does have significant traffic.

It’s okay to brag if you have something tangible to brag about. Three years ago, I bragged and had no substance to back my bragging up.

Let me tell you a quick stoy about my friend Marshall Kirkpatrick who writes over at Read Write Web. Last November, while in Vegas at Blog World Expo, Marshall and I were at a party at the Wynn thrown by the fabulous Steph Agresta.

As the guests cycled out, Marshall and I were talking outside and he, in his very laid back Oregonian way said, “From one asshole trying to figure things out to another, take this however you want. Maybe you should just not be so aggressively ‘out there'”.

Initially, I was stunned but his comment has stuck with me to this day. Marshall and I were even laughing about it the other week.

See, none of us have really figured this stuff out yet. Some of us brag more than we ought. Maybe I do. However, if you’ve got nothing to brag about then don’t. Plain and simple. No one will think any less of you for not bragging, and if you genuinely have something to brag about then you won’t need to because people will take notice.

Five ideas I’ve picked up in my weekend of introspection. Feel free to add your own lessons in comments.

Published by

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

48 thoughts on “Five Thoughts for New (and old) Bloggers”

  1. Thanks for this post, Aaron. While all points absolutely ring true, I have to say I particularly agree with “soak in the news.” I realize that my thoughts take on a more interesting dimension when I am blogging in the context of other people’s perspectives and whatever is going/has happened on that day, whether I’m simply discussing my favorite handbag, posting a photo of a night out on the town, or contemplating how the latest tools are going to change the way I’m interacting/connecting with people. I’m still guilty of letting some of the feeds collect dust past shelf life, but trying to make a better effort.

  2. Thanks for this post, Aaron. While all points absolutely ring true, I have to say I particularly agree with “soak in the news.” I realize that my thoughts take on a more interesting dimension when I am blogging in the context of other people’s perspectives and whatever is going/has happened on that day, whether I’m simply discussing my favorite handbag, posting a photo of a night out on the town, or contemplating how the latest tools are going to change the way I’m interacting/connecting with people. I’m still guilty of letting some of the feeds collect dust past shelf life, but trying to make a better effort.

  3. Thanks for this post, Aaron. While all points absolutely ring true, I have to say I particularly agree with “soak in the news.” I realize that my thoughts take on a more interesting dimension when I am blogging in the context of other people’s perspectives and whatever is going/has happened on that day, whether I’m simply discussing my favorite handbag, posting a photo of a night out on the town, or contemplating how the latest tools are going to change the way I’m interacting/connecting with people. I’m still guilty of letting some of the feeds collect dust past shelf life, but trying to make a better effort.

  4. Thanks for this post, Aaron. While all points absolutely ring true, I have to say I particularly agree with “soak in the news.” I realize that my thoughts take on a more interesting dimension when I am blogging in the context of other people’s perspectives and whatever is going/has happened on that day, whether I’m simply discussing my favorite handbag, posting a photo of a night out on the town, or contemplating how the latest tools are going to change the way I’m interacting/connecting with people. I’m still guilty of letting some of the feeds collect dust past shelf life, but trying to make a better effort.

  5. Thanks for this post, Aaron. While all points absolutely ring true, I have to say I particularly agree with “soak in the news.” I realize that my thoughts take on a more interesting dimension when I am blogging in the context of other people’s perspectives and whatever is going/has happened on that day, whether I’m simply discussing my favorite handbag, posting a photo of a night out on the town, or contemplating how the latest tools are going to change the way I’m interacting/connecting with people. I’m still guilty of letting some of the feeds collect dust past shelf life, but trying to make a better effort.

  6. Thanks for this post, Aaron. While all points absolutely ring true, I have to say I particularly agree with “soak in the news.” I realize that my thoughts take on a more interesting dimension when I am blogging in the context of other people’s perspectives and whatever is going/has happened on that day, whether I’m simply discussing my favorite handbag, posting a photo of a night out on the town, or contemplating how the latest tools are going to change the way I’m interacting/connecting with people. I’m still guilty of letting some of the feeds collect dust past shelf life, but trying to make a better effort.

  7. Thanks for this post, Aaron. While all points absolutely ring true, I have to say I particularly agree with “soak in the news.” I realize that my thoughts take on a more interesting dimension when I am blogging in the context of other people’s perspectives and whatever is going/has happened on that day, whether I’m simply discussing my favorite handbag, posting a photo of a night out on the town, or contemplating how the latest tools are going to change the way I’m interacting/connecting with people. I’m still guilty of letting some of the feeds collect dust past shelf life, but trying to make a better effort.

  8. Thanks for this post, Aaron. While all points absolutely ring true, I have to say I particularly agree with “soak in the news.” I realize that my thoughts take on a more interesting dimension when I am blogging in the context of other people’s perspectives and whatever is going/has happened on that day, whether I’m simply discussing my favorite handbag, posting a photo of a night out on the town, or contemplating how the latest tools are going to change the way I’m interacting/connecting with people. I’m still guilty of letting some of the feeds collect dust past shelf life, but trying to make a better effort.

  9. At first, I thought this was going to be another top 5 blogging tips, but I have to say these are great ideas, Aaron. I especially like – well after rereading each is great!

  10. At first, I thought this was going to be another top 5 blogging tips, but I have to say these are great ideas, Aaron. I especially like – well after rereading each is great!

  11. At first, I thought this was going to be another top 5 blogging tips, but I have to say these are great ideas, Aaron. I especially like – well after rereading each is great!

  12. At first, I thought this was going to be another top 5 blogging tips, but I have to say these are great ideas, Aaron. I especially like – well after rereading each is great!

  13. At first, I thought this was going to be another top 5 blogging tips, but I have to say these are great ideas, Aaron. I especially like – well after rereading each is great!

  14. At first, I thought this was going to be another top 5 blogging tips, but I have to say these are great ideas, Aaron. I especially like – well after rereading each is great!

  15. At first, I thought this was going to be another top 5 blogging tips, but I have to say these are great ideas, Aaron. I especially like – well after rereading each is great!

  16. At first, I thought this was going to be another top 5 blogging tips, but I have to say these are great ideas, Aaron. I especially like – well after rereading each is great!

  17. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because of the ego. I prefer looking up to people who are smart, intelligent, witty, but don’t have the attitude that they’re too good for me. Only people who are too good for me are people who risk their own safety to keep people safe. Or people who give their lives to help those less fortunate than themselves.

  18. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because of the ego. I prefer looking up to people who are smart, intelligent, witty, but don’t have the attitude that they’re too good for me. Only people who are too good for me are people who risk their own safety to keep people safe. Or people who give their lives to help those less fortunate than themselves.

  19. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because of the ego. I prefer looking up to people who are smart, intelligent, witty, but don’t have the attitude that they’re too good for me. Only people who are too good for me are people who risk their own safety to keep people safe. Or people who give their lives to help those less fortunate than themselves.

  20. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because of the ego. I prefer looking up to people who are smart, intelligent, witty, but don’t have the attitude that they’re too good for me. Only people who are too good for me are people who risk their own safety to keep people safe. Or people who give their lives to help those less fortunate than themselves.

  21. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because of the ego. I prefer looking up to people who are smart, intelligent, witty, but don’t have the attitude that they’re too good for me. Only people who are too good for me are people who risk their own safety to keep people safe. Or people who give their lives to help those less fortunate than themselves.

  22. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because of the ego. I prefer looking up to people who are smart, intelligent, witty, but don’t have the attitude that they’re too good for me. Only people who are too good for me are people who risk their own safety to keep people safe. Or people who give their lives to help those less fortunate than themselves.

  23. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because of the ego. I prefer looking up to people who are smart, intelligent, witty, but don’t have the attitude that they’re too good for me. Only people who are too good for me are people who risk their own safety to keep people safe. Or people who give their lives to help those less fortunate than themselves.

  24. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because of the ego. I prefer looking up to people who are smart, intelligent, witty, but don’t have the attitude that they’re too good for me. Only people who are too good for me are people who risk their own safety to keep people safe. Or people who give their lives to help those less fortunate than themselves.

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