I recently ran a six-week course, to help people start blogging about their work. My mission was to blast those “I would blog, but…” excuses I often hear, straight into oblivion.
Such excuses are usually linked to not having enough time, ideas, or confidence – so the course set out to address all three issues. If you signed up, you’d have access to a private Facebook group to share your ideas. You’d also have to come along to a physical location with your laptop every week – and actually write a new blog post during each session.
In short, there would be no getting out of doing the work! (I know, I’m a tyrant).
I knew exactly what my lucky course-ees were going to come away with. Or at least, I thought I did.
But as it turned out, they all came away with some magical extra knowledge I hadn’t anticipated. That knowledge was a welcome reminder for me, too.
It’s this: you learn more if you listen.
Online life is a frenzied shouting party a lot of the time, with every guest clamouring to be heard. We’re all advised to post on social media eye-wateringly frequently, writing keyword-rich content that charms the pants off search engines…
…just so we can increase our chances of being heard before everybody else.
Done well, blogging will give your business a megaphone. But if you pay attention to others’ voices every once in a while, you’ll come away with new insights that might surprise you.
For starters, I learned that my blogging course wouldn’t have been as effective if it had been online-only.
(I did know this beforehand, but I thought the only reason was because having to show up every week would instil a sense of discipline).
Meeting in person meant everybody had the chance to share information about their work, and their approach, that they just wouldn’t have thought to include in a blog post.
During our sessions, throwaway personal comments would be seized upon with a “why don’t you include that in your post?” The result was always a more interesting and enriching read; one that sung with individual personality.
Reading other people’s blog posts can give you a head start on so many things. If you’re looking for a particular product or service, a blog will tell you more about the way that company approaches their work (which is important, when there are usually so many similar businesses to choose from).
You’ll probably come away with surprising facts and little bits of information you didn’t know before…and if you pay attention, you’ll pick up some extra tips that will help your own efforts along.
The things other people share will help you work out what you could share. You’ll start to realise that no business has ever been brought to its knees by a humble blog post, so as you read more and you post more, you’ll become bolder and braver.
Well, that’s what happened during my course, at least.
Here are a few surprising facts we all learned:
• There’s a recognised global community of people who have a balloon fetish (they’re called “looners”)
• Pilates used to be called Contrology, and was developed to help soldiers’ physical rehabilitation from war.
• Our favourite fruit in the UK is the banana (Russians love apples most).
• Rhubarb curry tastes surprisingly nice.
• If you’ve got an allergy, the reason could be emotional rather than physical.
(One last thing – it’s always nice to know someone’s listening, so if you read a blog post and it ‘speaks’ to you, why not drop that person a quick message to tell them? They’ll feel good, and so will you).