How Blogging Works For Me - And How It Can For You
""Writing is like taking care of sick kids. It takes a lot of work, can keep you up all night, and can involve some gross messes."
You might know these guys...the two on the ends, at least.
The one in the middle? Just some pathetic dude who snuck into the picture. You find all sorts here in the Badger state.
A few months back, I had the opportunity to meet and hang out with a couple of guys I managed to connect with over the last two years. On the right is Doug Ales, who deals with the creation and engineering of electrical systems in several disciplines not too far from me here in the greater Fox River Valley.
On the left is John White, or as you may know him by his alter ego, Juan Blanco. John is a former wireless communications refugee and social network expert, now running his own gig in social media management for a growing body of clients in the US. Chances are you recognize him as he's a pretty visible figure within the social networking community and a Brand Ambassador here on BeBee.
Both of these guys are connections in my LinkedIn world, or what my wife and kids mockingly refer to as my "virtual friends." It's one of the many jokes and barbs I endure from my family regarding my frequency of time spent surfing and posting articles on LinkedIn, Facebook and BeBee to name a few.
Thanks to some creative scheduling and the proper alignment of celestial bodies, the three of us managed to find ourselves discussing a breadth of topics over drinks in the Lambeau Field Atrium in Green Bay, Wisconsin. No subject was off limits, but the dominant points surrounded the comparing of notes from our constant networking online and the people we interact with daily.
Strangely, I felt like I had known these guys for years. It wasn't like businessmen meeting to discuss how we could mutually stuff money into each other's pockets through the manipulation of our combined networks.
No....it was like old army buddies getting together to exchange war stories and re-hash old times. Twenty-four months of conversing back and forth online had created a level of camaraderie that I really wasn't expecting.
As much as social networking can sometimes frustrate the bejeezus out of me, I can't deny how it's helped my personal development. Hanging out with Doug and John reminded me of the rewards of writing and putting my thoughts, opinions and observations out there in blog form for the world to view, mentally and journalistically speaking. I never would of met these guys and countless others had I not taken that jump. What was once an experiment in formulating a few cohesive sentences two years ago has become an obsession of sorts, what Jim Murray once accurately described as a "compulsion to write."
Some fortyish posts later - which is nothing compared to other human writing machines that have produced hundreds (Cory Galbraith and Jeffrey Strickland come to mind, guys who have literary napalm in their blood) - I'm still here. I've taken my beatings on sub-par posts from some readers and had moderate success with others. A few authors have quit due to low readership and frustrations with distribution, but I'm just stubborn or too stupid to give up.
Why, you ask?
Because writing here is not solely about how many people follow me or how much traffic I receive. I will readily admit, though, it does help the ego. For most other bloggers I've met, it's about the skill and the craft of writing. That's something I knew precious little about once I started pounding out these little gems.
Originally, I went to college to study how to be a broadcast journalist. Much like my father before me, I had intended to become a television news anchor or reporter. One of the things I learned was to effectively tell the story and evoke human emotion through video, if the story required it. Take the right pictures, show the right interview and form your words in the proper way, and you can soften even the hardest of hearts.
That's a different animal all together when it comes to the print medium. With video, you can show the narrative. With writing, it must be properly described. Take too long, and you bore the reader. Go too fast, and you miss the essentials.
Storytelling takes a special talent, one I hope to someday ace. I've learned much from other authors who can bang that kind of mastery out in mere minutes, whereas I will obsess for days before release.
Then again, it's not all about speed. It's about the craft.
LESSON LEARNED: Write from the heart. Tell the story. Screw statistics. If you do those things and stay true to yourself, the audience will hopefully come. If they don't, then try again.
Small as it may seem, I have influenced others. Bloggers have heightened expectations, in that they crave immediate gratification and rapid engagement in the form of likes and comments on their work. Sometimes, that doesn't happen, which could be due to a number of reasons, not necessarily because of quality of material.
When you don't get the response you want, it's disheartening. I know of many excellent writers who've quit because they mis-interpreted low readership for bad material. It's human nature to take it personally. I know....because I do it too. When my viewership goes down, I wonder if I'm spinning my wheels and just taking up blank space where others could be writing useful material.
Then I end up running into a few connections or friends who read my ramblings, and they give me strict instructions to continue. They tell me how much they enjoyed something I recently put out, or were touched by a particular post.
Sometimes they'll say they laughed. Others, they were inspired to act.
From time to time, they'll shed a tear....and that's the equivalent of a crack addiction to a writer.
And then, I only want to write more.
LESSON LEARNED: Keep the faith. It’s impossible to understand the full impact or difference you're making. To someone, personally or professionally, you are.
Ain't nothing but a family thing. One of the biggest compliments any writer, blogger or author can receive is to inspire someone else to act. The most common form is when another person takes to writing a post of their own in a support, defense or protest of something they read.
It's become personal for me as my fourteen year-old daughter has taken to blogging on her own. She's pretty good at it too, and she's learning how to influence through language choices every time she sits down at a keyboard and bangs out her thoughts.
I'm not presumptuous enough to suggest the only reason she's doing it is because her Dad does, but I'd like to believe I have a little to do with it. After all, my children are my proof readers, and she's made several worthy suggestions that I've incorporated into my articles.
Not long ago, she penned a post about the trials and tribulations of friendship. That's a pretty dynamic thing, especially for a teenage girl. Her thoughts displayed a certain level of maturity that can only be gained by experience and frustration. Feel free to check it out here. She's pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.
I'm pretty proud of that...and of my little girl.
Am I biased? Damn right.
LESSON LEARNED: Don't give up. You never know who's really watching and paying attention.
Readers, bloggers and writers...it's your turn. What benefits have you gleaned from your social media network? What's the biggest takeaway? What's the good, bad and ugly, and what can we all learn from your experience? There's plenty of space below. Leave a comment and tell us about it.
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Title image property of author. Duplication is strictly prohibited. Other images courtesy of veressoftware.com and beablogger.com.
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Text Copyright © 2016 by Andrew Books — All Rights Reserved
Andy Books is a Client Operations Program Manager for a leading provider of technology-driven communication services. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member at Marian University in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin where he facilitates courses in Business Management.
When not working or teaching, you'll find him in his Wisconsin home laboring on unending projects as well as fulfilling his most important role, that of being a Dad, husband, and all-around family man. He is an Unfluencer and member of Writers for Writers and Publishers and Bloggers writing groups on LinkedIn. His collection of writings can also be found on Blogpoets.com and goodmenproject.com.