September 3, 2015

You're Not Blogging, My Friend.

And That's a Problem.

I’m home after a long day’s work and the last thing I want to do is open up my laptop and write a blog post1. But this is week 1 of #NYCblogclub and so here we are.

I’ve been writing blog posts for 8 years. That’s not to say I’m any good at it, but here’s a few of the things that blogging has done for me:

  • brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for Distilled
  • helped me build relationships with future employees
  • helped potential employees apply for jobs I was recruiting for
  • secured speaking slots at conferences
  • built lasting friendships and inspired healthy debates
  • helped me get hired at Google
  • took me to Staten Island for a family BBQ the first day I arrived in NYC with no friends

You see the world has changed. The power structures we believe are at work (“your boss”, “the system”, “career paths”) are false idols. The modern world is driven by distributed networks.

What does that mean? It means that attention and value have never been easier to grab by writing a simple blog post.

So. Here we are.

The Intellectual Rigor

One of the most interesting aspects to blogging is discourse - the idea that in order to write something you must think about it with a critical eye and that this process actually helps you clarify your thinking around it.

But it’s a false assumption that blog posts must be fully-formed thoughts. I put up a blog post earlier this year on Decentralized Brands & The Future of Content Marketing which frankly was nothing more than a bunch of notes and connected quotes I’d found. It led to two speaking gigs and opened the door to some interesting meetings with startups here in NYC.

So what’s the lesson here? Blog on topics you’re thinking about - but remember you don’t need to finish the thought to put the post live.

Of course, none of that helps if no one reads your post…

How to get your blog post read by the people that matter

Here’s my best trick for writing blog posts. It’s simple: write a blog post, think about who cares about that topic, email it to them asking for their thoughts.

That’s it.

Sounds too simple right? When was the last time you tried it? Hmm? You see the trick to networks is that they’re made of nodes and connections - both weak connections and strong connections. You might look at a popular blogger or twitter account and marvel at their weak connections - but the thing that matters is strong connections. And everyone has those.

Could be an old boss, a friend, someone you met at a conference - it doesn’t matter. Write something they’d find interesting and email them a thoughtful email. Don’t send more than 5 of these per blog post otherwise I guarantee you’re doing it wrong and spamming people.

This is something I use every time I write a blog post - it’s a great routine to get into because it forces you to write a blog post so that at least one person cares about it.

Helping my friends blog - 12 weeks at a time

So when I looked around and realized that I’m not blogging frequently, and neither are many of my close friends I decided to do something about it. 5 minutes later I had a Trello board live and sent out a call on Twitter and an email.

The result?

Me and 10 friends in a shared Trello board with the shared goal of publishing one post a week each for the next 12 weeks.

The first posts are starting to roll in for week 1:

I’m going to be learning as I go about feedback loops and goal setting but one thing’s for sure: we should all blog more.

A debt of gratitude is owed to Gary Chou for building wonderful feedback loops through his Orbital program. Read more about what he’s up to in his post Scaling Caring Through Networks. The whole reason I’m running this group via Trello is because of Gary2.

  1. Before you worry about me, I firmly believe in work/life balance and I’m disconnecting for the upcoming long weekend :) 

  2. Guess who one of the people I’m emailing this post to is? Hi Gary! This footnote’s for you. 

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This post was written by Tom Critchlow - blogger and independent consultant. Subscribe to join my occassional newsletter: