April 1, 2022

Notes on a Blogging Accelerator

How to get more people small-b blogging?

Blogging has changed my life. Writing online, not even consistently but gradually, in various forms on various platforms over a long period of time has changed my life. Opening doors and opportunities - leading to friendships, jobs, clients and more. It’s hard to overstate the impact it’s had.

And yet of the people I know “in real life” very few are bloggers.

Over the years I’ve tried various ways to encourage people to blog. I tried a thing called NYCBlogClub with a group of friends - the idea was to blog once a week for 10 weeks (there were 10 of us so this would have been 100 blog posts between us). I think we managed a handful of posts before the whole thing petered out.

Then I tried a private slack group where we’d meet once a week and try and move a few people intentionally from “not blogging” to “blogging”. None of that stuck either.

It’s all still a bit of a mystery how to get people writing online. Some of the resistance I hear:

There are a few programs out there that will get you writing online. Write of passage is very expensive, and yet does seem to work, at least for some people. Packy McCormick went through Write of Passage and then launched Not Boring. And Seth Godin’s altMBA program is actually largely about doing projects and then writing about them online.

Perhaps the most successful thing I’ve done to help get people blogging is by changing people’s mental model of blogging from one of prestige and polish to one of punk and plants. My two most well-read blog posts:

But the question remains and still bugs me. How do you get people to start and sustain an online writing practice?

Here’s some notes I had while biking:

A Blogging Accelerator

The idea is to make a blogging accelerator. Only you don’t call it anything to do with blogging. Instead you just make it an interesting project that people engage in, with a by-product being writing up the project online.

The thesis is this: don’t tell people they should be blogging or explain to them why to blog but instead trick them into writing online and show them how the magic works. Get them to feel it for themselves.

So.

There’s two concepts, they’re both very similar:

1) Pixel Poets

It’s a 5 week course to engage more closely with poetry and more closely with the web.

The idea is that you’d run this a cohort so people can have group discussion, make friends, bounce ideas off each other and maybe even collaborate on projects. I think this sounds like fun! But/and the kicker is that you have to write one essay a week about your experience in the group.

People aspire to be “poetry people” and instead we teach them to be bloggers by doing something interesting and writing about it. Sneaky.

2) Digital Walkers

It’s a 5 week course to engage more closely with walking & nature, and more closely with the web.

The idea is that you’d run this a cohort so people can have group discussion, make friends, bounce ideas off each other and maybe even collaborate on projects. I think this sounds like fun! But/and the kicker is that you have to write one essay a week about your experience in the group.

People aspire to be go on more walks and spend more time in nature and instead we teach them to be bloggers by doing something interesting and writing about it. Sneaky.


Would this be a more effective vehicle for getting people to start blogging? I don’t know but.. maybe? Seems like fun either way.

If I get enough time I’d love to get these projects off the ground. I’m blogging them here as a way to perhaps create some interest and kickstart some serendipity. Maybe I was too obvious about the sneaky trojan horse blogging thing?

In the meantime, I’ve been collecting some links related to pixel poets and digital walkers over on Are.na. If you have cool resources, essays and links for either interest send them to me, I wanna explore these spaces more!


This blog is written by Tom Critchlow, an independent strategy consultant living and working in Brooklyn, NY. If you like what you read please leave a comment below in disqus or sign up for my Tinyletter.