2014 was not a good year (1 failed business, 2nd bout with cancer, and 3 surgeries), but 2014 turned out to be a great year. It was at the end of 2014, after another failed tech startup (my 5th fail) that I learned that I could make a living creating content for other businesses and that other businesses needed that service enough to pay for it on a regular basis. I know, it sounds dumb, but it was news to me since I had always written my own content. My first paying client ended up not being a long term client, but I still treat them like a long term client because they provided the context in which I know make a large part of the revenue from Atlanta Tech Blogs.
That client understood, long before I ever met them, the value of content marketing. As such, their interview for a content creator was in the form of actually creating content based on their brand and audience. I was contracted to write 10 blog posts by interviewing their product SME, and then they would decide if I was their guy, meanwhile paying me to create that content. What a great way to thoroughly understand a fit between client and provider!
After that, I began the process of creating awareness of the service that I now provide and honing down the huge potential target audience to a target audience that fit my style and method. Now, at the end of 2015, 500 blog posts later, it’s starting to become just a little clearer. I jest, but as anyone in the agency or service provider industry knows, not every client is a great client for you. And, as Simon Sinek says, “the goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you do, but to do business with those who believe what you believe.”
I couldn’t have planned for exactly 500 posts if I had tried, but the number ended up being exactly 500. Go figure. Here’s what those 500 blog posts looked like, statistically speaking:
- Number of Clients:15
- Total Client Blog Posts: 203
- Posts to my blog: 297
- Average words per post: Just over 450
- Average time per post: just under 2 hours
Now, here’s what I learned, mostly about me, during this 500+ post year.
- Trying to write in a specific, very narrow voice doesn’t work for me. If I get too specific on the voice to be used, I lose my flow, my creativity, my mojo. What works better for me is understanding the persona of the audience, and then writing to them. The voice then takes care of itself.
- I can write, and have written, on a very wide variety of subjects from Wi-Fi to #webperf; marketing to mattresses; analytics to WordPress. For years, I wrote about networking and Wi-Fi, so that one came easily. Webperf took some learning and thank you to Billy Hoffman of Zoompf (now Rigor) for educating me as I caffeinated him (more than he already is!).
- Nothing hurts like a date. I simply work better under pressure. I have known that since my boss during my GRA position waaaaay back in grad school hired me because I had so much going on. He said, “Give a busy man a task, and he’ll get it done right away.” That’s how I work best. If I have too much time on my hands, trouble ensues.
- Buffer says the optimal blog post is 1,600 words, which is a 7-8 minute read. I respectfully disagree, despite the fact that they have many more millions of data points than I do. Every now and then a long form is good, but more people read the posts that are about 500 words than the long ones.
- Sharing any blog post just once is not enough. You must share according to a schedule like Buffer recommends. I’ve found that coschedule is a great tool, especially if you use WordPress.
- Creating blog content from other content – presentations, video, etc. – is 10x easier than writing from scratch. Most of the posts on my blog are generated from the content I created to teach a class or run a meetup. Pitch Practice is an amazing source of content, as are the classes I’ve taught at General Assembly this year.
Another lesson that I learned from the first half of 2015 is that writing a blog post every single day is ridiculously hard. David Cummings has my unwavering respect as a blogger. From January 1 to July 30, I wrote a blog post every day for my own blog, in addition to posts for my clients. After July was over, I slowed down, mainly to focus on my client work, but also because other lines of business began to pick up, namely leading classes at General Assembly. More on what I learned from leading 46 classes in a future post.
That leads me to one other fun decision I came to: I do not need a full-function computer. I’ve been using my trusty Lenovo Win10 PC for more than 2 years. During that time, especially lately, I’ve intentionally tried to ween myself off of MS Office for lots of reasons, but mainly that it just sucks so bad and Google Docs is just so smooth and easy. So, next week, I’ll be switching to a Chromebook and passing my trusty PC down to my daughter. She’s thrilled.