Blogging, where do I start?

A friend recently started blogging for her NGO. She asked me for a few tips on blogging. Instead of just sharing with her what I have learned I thought I would share it here for everybody to benefit and connect better with their tribe.

-Writing about topics you are passionate about makes things a lot easier.

In his book “Crush It”, Gary Vaynerchuk recommends blogging about something 500 times. If you can do that, you can be sure that you are passionate about the subject. If that seems really hard, try tweaking the focus of your writing. For example. If you are a food blogger and love to travel, focus on travel cuisine or obscure locations and their foods. It sure worked for Anthony Boudin!

-Make it as short or as long as you want.

Some of my favorite bloggers often only post a sentence. Don’t let anyone tell you “you have to do it this way or that”. My friend Jon Dale wrote an excellent post on this topic. I completely agree with him.

-Use an editorial calendar.

Woman writingWhat is that? It is any way that you plan out your posts based on a set schedule. I use a couple of different tools depending on the blog. You can use Google calendar, a WordPress plugin or a paper calendar. One helpful way to make this tool your best friend is to write down even the simplest idea (for me it sometimes is a video or web link or a topic headline.) Then I can go back and write the post later. At least I captured the idea and scheduled it for a possible post date. Before you know it you will have months worth of posts planned.
Here is more on editorial calendars:

Editorial Calendar: from sporadic to consistent blogging

-Enlist the help of others

If you are blogging for an organization, ask others to help you write posts. For one company I created a blogging team with every employee. From the fifty plus employees, we ended up with a team of about ten dedicated bloggers. Find a way to incentivise the plan. You may be surprised by the results.

Another way to gather help is to invite others to guest post. Plan this well. You always want to make sure the message stays on topic.

-Think outside the regular “post.”

A blog post can be a picture, video, cartoon. Open up the limits of what you think a blog post is. Break some rules.

-Become a regular blog reader.

Find a few blogs that you enjoy. They don’t even have to be limited to your topic either. Make it a point to pay attention to the posts that get you thinking or wanting to comment in response. Those are the ones that have just inspired a new blog post of your own. Take whatever you are thinking or wanting to comment and turn it into a post of your own. I always try to link it back to the original inspiration somehow and give credit to where the idea originated. Sometimes it does not work that way. That is ok too.
Here is a post I wrote on that topic.

Turning that comment into a blog post

-Don’t hold back

One lesson I have learned is not to edit myself. Yes, be careful not to post things that will get you or your organization in trouble. In other words, don’t be stupid. That said, there is plenty of room for more here. Being too careful also makes us boring.
If this is a topic that you love, I guarantee you will have a controversial thing to say about it. Say it.

-Gather some tools that will help you become a great writer.

I love to write. Editing, not so much. I have become a great at it with a little help. Here are some resources that will help.

1. I found this tool about a month ago and it has not only made my writing better but has taught me so much. The full version has over 250 points of grammar checks. The free version checks 150 of the most common error. Check it out and be amazed.

2. Focus better with OmmWriter. This tool turns your Mac into a focused writing environment. Making it hard to jump into the browser and keeping your social apps and notifications at bay allows that time for the good writing to happen. I just free write when I have it open.

3. A journal for your notes. I try to carry one of these everywhere. I do use my phone as well, but I prefer a paper journal for the days I want to be offline. I jot random ideas. Coming back from a conference once, I wrote ten blog posts in my journal and later transcribed them to the blog. You never have to worry about batteries dying either.

Well, that has been a lot to digest. I have turned off comments since I have been blogging daily (another useful tip if you want to focus on writing and not answering comments), but I will turn them on for this post. Please ask me anything and I will try to answer them as best as I can or enlist the help of some blogger friends.

Happy blogging and connecting!

Night owls and dawn breakers

clockHere is a quick assignment:

Make a list of your closest friends, family and co-workers.

Next to their name write “night owl” or “dawn breaker”(crazy folks like me you rise way too early)

If you can’t think of which they are, ask.

Now start thinking how you can best connect with them around this discovery.

I bet it will make thing easier. You may need to adjust your own schedule, but they will be much more responsive when you respect their preferred daily routine.

Ned and Nancy

Dog with coneA nuclear Ned or Negative Nancy steps into a conversation. “Wait until the teen years” to a parent soaking up the joys of young parenting. “I failed three times” to the entrepreneur who just secured their first angel investment. Worse is the know it all who has to have the last word with the new mom, college grad, freshman, private, new-recruit. Let’s be honest. At best it is not helpful. At worst it is bullying.

Life is hard enough. If you have done this, stop. If you have received it, I am sorry. The truth is no one knows each other’s experiences. No one has been in your shoes.

If we do have something to share, make it wisdom and if that only after a pause. Ask a few questions first: Do they need it? Am I not over something (failed marriage, parental regret, bad business decision, betrayal)?

Most of all be a noticer. On the receiving side, be careful who you hears the details.

Last (but this can be the most important) be ready to forgive.

One question

Coffee beansAs if behind a mask, he was hiding. I had known this man for years, or had I? Maybe it was his unassuming stature or gentle demeanour that kept his complex character hidden? This evening it started, and changed, with one simple question. My curiosity had been sparked by a comment he had made. It surprised me because he never talked.
So I asked if I could hear more. As he opened up and told the story in detail, I was reminded of how we all are. Each of has a rich story, abilities, and contributions to make. We often hear from the louder members of humanity. Those who are more reserved or even settled in their spirits, miss our radars. Who’s story stands a chance in our busy and cluttered world?

One question can change all of that.

Sunday Thrill

What if you looked forward to your regular day-to-day? What if your mood on Monday didn’t include “Blue” as a description. What if Sunday nights did not go along with anxiety?

We all need mountain top experiences, weekends away, casual adventures, sabbaths, times outside of the day-to-day. What would change if our day to day was something to look forward to instead of something to escape?

Our mindset can make a difference not just for us but those we lead, influence and inspire. Choosing our mindset can be a start. It may take a more radical move, though. Quitting something may be the only path. Disruption may be required. Whatever the path, the outcome will impact not only our life but every connection we have. We suddenly become ambassadors of quan, agents of change.

A question and thanks

Happy Sunday. First thanks so much for reading this post. If you have not noticed, I have been posting daily since February 12th this year. So, if you have been occasionally stopping by or reading daily, I deeply thank you. It means a lot to me.

I plan to continue writing about connection, communicating better and leading with the occasional post on art and creativity. So with those topics in mind, I am opening up the comments here today.

Here is my ask. What topics on these subjects would you like to hear more on? What questions or discoveries do you have? I want to hear them.

Thanks in advance. And thanks again for reading.

Over do it: communication

talkingStop emailing me. Stop calling me. Stop talking.

I would rather hear these from staff, co-leaders, my kids, spouse, friend, and strangers.

Instead, we often hear; I didn’t understand, I heard you wrong, you were not clear, I did not know.

You see, people can filter, schedule, turn off, sign off and ignore.

We think everyone is listening but really few are.

So to really lead, to really change we have to often over-communicate. State things clearly. Sometimes this takes multiple tries, multiple ways. Send a simple “got it” to an email. “Sure” go a long way to say “I hear you and I have it covered”.

Did that make sense?

See what I did there? 😉

Going first: Review of Udemy Leadership Course by Seth Godin

deskLeadership for me has become an exercise in connection.

In my experience, I have only learned to lead as much as I am willing to go first in the harder things in life.

Usually, that means that I will be breaking things first, failing first and sometimes stumbling on what works.

Not many people are willing to go first. I sure wasn’t for probably the first 30 years of my life. Instead, I chose to let others break the ice. That also meant that not much happened for me. I now realize that I was over and over again settling for second best. I had settled for whatever was left in the wake of those who decided to stick their necks out and try something. I was risk averse.

Along the way I learned to step out more. Every time I have, something remarkable has happened. I meet incredible people, nothing stays the same and many opportunities are presented. So in a way, I have become addicted to it.

In this pursuit, I have found many good resources along the way. Probably one the most valuable ones in recent years is the online leadership course I just completed from Seth Godin on Udemy. You can read my assignment journal entries (most of them) here as blog posts. Check it out. For those with a busy schedule it really only costs an hour for each session. The challenges and insights you will gain from are valuable though.

Desperate to connect

Broken human connection can results in isolation not only from others but ourselves. Internally we lose the ability to process our emotions and inner life. Going to the extremes, broken connection can cause us to dive into addiction and self-destructiveness. Tina Francis Mutungu, like my self-travelled to Thailand with The Exodus Road to tell some of the stories of those trapped in sex trafficking as well as the people rescuing them. I was struck by Mutungu’s video and how she framed this disconnection not only for the people working as sex workers but the men who fuel the trade.

I could not help but turn the question inward too. What am I doing to further isolate myself? What habits am I feeding that further disconnect me? Take a moment and watch the video. Think of those who may be disconnected in your circle. How can you offer them friendship? How can we disrupt this vicious cycle here in the US by offering healthy connection?


MIT professor and author Sherry Turkle gave this TED talk on being connected but alone in 2012. Think off the tech that has burst on the scene since she gave this. Virtual Reality was barely in our vocabulary. Now it soon will be in the hands of millions. Tech that supposedly connects us continues to march forward (how connected does that smart watch make you feel?).

I urge you to rewatch Turkle’s 4-year-old talk. Reflect on all that has occurred since 2012. Do you feel less connected to those you care about or more?

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

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