In 2003, an ex-lover of mine, the co-founder of a tech company in New York, said to me:
If you blog, I can make your website rank high on search and make you famous.
I thought: “Yeah, right.”
At that time, I was working as a newspaper reporter. I lived at home and barely survived on my meager salary. My ever insatiable ambition got the best of me — and sent me in the wrong direction. I quit my newspaper job and moved to Manhattan to be a starving something.
That didn’t last long.
I should’ve listened to him. All I needed to do was keep consistent with my writing and post it online, but I didn’t. Now, ten years later, on the other coast, I’m still figuring out blogging. How has it changed? Could it still help me be something, do something? Where are all the personal blogs, anyway?
With the rise of the great social networks, the masses became quick to post and troll. The replies, likes, shares and retweets instantly gratifying and addicting. Why rant in a silo when you can tweet 140 characters to thousands of your followers? Or argue with your Christian conservative neighbor on his Facebook wall about gay marriage and satisfyingly get supported by one of his liberal friends? That is too much fun!
But in hindsight, posting only to my social networks was a waste of time — especially on Facebook, a closed platform that isn’t search engine optimized for me or you. Additionally, real-time feeds and lack of archiving bury posts on Twitter. Tweets are short-lived with an average lifespan of 18 minutes.
For many years I’ve considered myself an early-adopter of all things digital, yet I’ve never been consistent on any of my blogs. I’ve probably built (and destroyed) over 50 websites and blogs in my life. My first was a Geocities site that I created in 1997 for my high school class. I can’t find it anywhere on the WayBackMachine, unfortunately. It’s been a life-long effort finding ways to keep consistent with my writing and online presence. As I try to figure it out, the media landscape on the Web continues to evolve.
The Huffington Post truly changed the game for opinion writing. These writers are no longer in silos. HuffPo bridged the gap between the bloggers and the reporters or columnists from traditional media. For these writers, HuffPo has a community and built-in audience, and now the power of big media through which this man won his Pulitzer. And that’s worth something.
Why didn’t I pursue writing on The Huffington Post? I mean, I certainly know enough people there to find a way to get an account. In fact, I got my friend Brian Weinberg in with the Impact section. I’ve always been intrigued by HuffPo, but I don’t read it much because I haven’t found that many articles useful. And even if I wanted to write on there now, it’s too late. Like today’s World Wide Web for personal bloggers, HuffPo has become over saturated with writers. To start there now and attempt to build credibility would not be as effective as it was a few years ago.
So, what do we do from here?
Practical tips on writing, sharing and earning credibility
What to write?
What do you enjoy writing? Don’t force it. Be natural. Read a lot and get inspired.
How to be consistent?
Reality is, you can’t always be consistent with writing. If you’re super-duper passionate, then perhaps that will be enough of a motivation for you. But things get in the way: like earning a living. I found the best way to consistently build my online presence and thought leadership is to read and curate other people’s articles, posts and media to my Scoop.it topics. I also take the opportunity to micro-blog and add my insight to each piece of content I post. Curation helps me learn and inspires my creativity, and it also fills the publishing gap between my original work. Then, once I’ve published both curated and original content, I share to my social networks sending my posts to Buffer, which automatically schedules my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts. Sharing to social networks helps give me that chance to get sweet affirmation for my work and taste in knowledge.
Where to publish?
If you have a desire to share your thoughts with the world and build an audience that likes to read your writing, find your place on the Web that has a built-in community. Make sure you keep local copies of your work in case you find a less-than-stable platform (like Posterous). Also, the more niche you go with your publishing, the easier it is for you to build your audience. Hence the reason why Medium encourages you to publish to a collection.
Who to write for?
Whomever you want. Again, do it naturally. Ideally, the platform you choose has a community with your audience. Some generally unknown authors on Wattpad have readership in the millions, mainly from younger readers who crave “fan fiction.” Wattpad is a place to publish for aspiring novelists, but you can even find successful authors on the platform like Margaret Atwood. My preferred audience to write for is women, so I post and share content that would appeal to my audience through my Innovative Woman and Resources for Professional Women topics. I also curate any original content to relevant curated topics.
When to write?
Anytime you feel inspired. I woke up this morning at 5:30 AM. After cleaning out my Macbook Pro and installing the Flickr app to back up my iPhone photos, I decided to start writing around 7:30 AM. Now it’s almost four hours later, and I should head to the office.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am the Marketing Director at Scoop.it, but I was publishing on Scoop.it almost a year before I got the job. Even if I didn’t work for Scoop.it, I’d be using the same system because it works for me. I’ve never been this consistent with my online presence. Time will tell if these rants on Medium will prove effective, but these things I leave to you:
- Do what’s natural.
- Stay consistent.
- Don’t give up.