I decided to bring in a guest blogger for todays post. No, I’m not being lazy. I just thought it might be nice for us all to see things from a different perspective. Don’t worry, I’ll be back on Thursday. It’ll go by fast, I promise. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to todays guest blogger. My dog Cali.
Bark! Bark! Bark!…HA! I’m just kidding. Of course I am able to speak and type. It’s using the mouse without opposable thumbs that’s a bit of a bitch. Get it? Bitch? OK, so I tend to use a lot of puns in my humor. That’s just how I roll-over. See what I did there?
Now that you mention it, that is pretty annoying, isn’t it? OK, I’ll stay. (Last one, I promise.)
Now, before I begin, I just want to clarify the title a bit. Marc can get all weird when you talk about him as a master…you know, that whole “I’m not a guru” thing he does. That’s not what I mean when I say master. I am referring to him as my master. You know, because I’m a dog. That’s just kind of our deal. I call him my master and he let’s me drink out of the toilet. Oh stop it. It’s actually quite good. Just flush first. And look out for the blue stuff.
Anyway. Even though I’m only 6 months old, I’ve been around the block a few times. I have been by Marc’s side since the very first post and every single one since. In that time, I have made a lot of observations of how he works. Here are a few of them.
1) Study 10 of the best bloggers in your industry. Study more and it gets hard to keep up with. Study less and you don’t have your finger on the pulse of what is happening within your industry. Start using the Google Reader (or other RSS reader of choice) by subscribing to your favorite blogs from within your industry and the blogging industry as a whole. Then every morning instead of reading the newspaper you should spend 15-30 minutes of your morning routine reading the blogs of your peers to see what they are talking about and get inspired!
2) Keep an idea journal. Your best ideas are going to come up at the most inopportune times. You need to keep an idea journal and train yourself to stop everything you are doing the second you have an idea and jot it down. Trust me. I know. I have a ridiculously small short-term memory. My entire life is like watching the movie Groundhogs Day. One of the best tools for your idea journal is Evernote. It’s free and you can download it on your phone, computer, laptop, iPad, etc. They will all synch up perfectly so no matter where you are you have access to adding or reviewing your ideas.
3) Write everyday. Carve out a specific time everyday to write and do your best not to miss in order to build the habit. You don’t necessarily need to write something new everyday. Sometimes you will be working on a new post but other times you will be editing the post you are working on or even adding to it. Just make sure that you are in front of whatever it is that you use to write and do it. Religiously. An hour or more a day. Find the time.
4) Do your research. When it comes to getting things right, spend the time to do your research. It’s important that you get your facts straight otherwise you are going to have a credibility issue where people are not going to trust the things you say because they don’t know when they can believe you.
5) Find a quiet corner of the house. You are not going to do your best work when you are in the center of the circus that is your life…screaming kids, spouse giving you that disappointing look for “playing on the computer” instead of helping with the dishes, cat just being annoying like all cats are, phone ringing, etc. Instead make sure you have a place set aside for you to write. A place where people know not to disturb you. A place where you can remove yourself from the rest of the world for a little while. Perhaps this may not be a place, but a time. For example, wake up an hour before everyone else in your house. Stay up hours after everyone goes to sleep. This is my favorite time. It’s when I can get away with eating out of the garbage and stuff without getting yelled at.
6) Don’t fall for the old “I have writers block” excuse. Usually you get writers block because you are trying to get it perfect on the first attempt. That’s way too much pressure. Just write. Whatever comes to mind, start putting it down without focusing on the final product. Like they say, don’t get it right, get it written. And if you are at a loss for ideas and really can’t come up with anything, sometimes writing about how you are at a loss for ideas and really can’t come up with anything is what will get you out of it.
7) The answer is out there somewhere…but I’m pretty sure it’s not on Facebook. While writing you are likely going to come to a place where it’s tough to find the right thing to say or perhaps you just don’t know where to go next. Get up and walk around the room a few times. Take me for a walk. Read your post aloud and talk yourself through it. Just don’t head for Facebook, Twitter or your e-mail. These are classic avoidance methods that will leave you with no answers and in fact it will take you away from what you were writing and make it much harder to pick up where you left off.
8) Have a blogging buddy. Someone that will give you honest feedback. Have them read each of your posts before you publish them. It forces you to have a look at it through someone else’s eyes. Be clear that their job is not to stroke your ego. You need them to be critical. Don’t ask “so, what did you think?” as you will almost always get the same canned “it was really good!” response. Instead ask “what are 3 ways you can think of that would make it better?” You’ll get a much more honest answer that way and something specific you can take action on.
9) Read your posts out loud. I know you may feel a little ridiculous. Who cares. Everything sounds so much different coming out of your mouth than it does in your head. Reading your post out loud will help you catch spelling and punctuation mistakes since you are paying closer attention as you read. It also gives you a bit of an idea of what your post sounds like to your readers.
10) Don’t check your stats 10 times a day. You will drive yourself mad if you obsess over your analytics. Publish your new post, Tweet it and then run over to Google Analytics to see if anyone read it. It’s a losing combination and one that will take you away from what you should be doing. Focusing on writing quality content week after week. The visitors will eventually come if your stuff is good enough, not because you hold the record for the most logins to Google Analytics.
That should do it for now. I hope you enjoyed my observations. It’s been entertaining to watch Marc write every night although I’m not sure why he always has to write in his boxer shorts. Uh oh. I probably shouldn’t have said that. I don’t know where the delete key is so you’re just going to have to pretend that you didn’t read that last part. Sorry Marc.