(First person to email me telling me the irony of my title with my picture above will get $1 sent to them via Venmo!!!)
. . .
“So then why did you stop blogging?”
I found myself at a loss for words. Yesterday, my friend Cassidy asked me this simple question on our train ride back from the day’s adventures.
Why had I stopped blogging almost five months ago (this was the last article I wrote when I was in Barcelona on January 19)?
. . .
Ladies and gentlemen…I’m back.
Not that you didn’t have enough noise in the blog-o-sphere already. But, as I said to Dr. Adam Grant yesterday after reading one of his touching tributes to the late Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey and husband to Sheryl Sandberg…
We live in “a day and age where there’s more content being created than ever, but less and less generosity and care being put behind those words as a result.”
I hope you accept my humble apology, and welcome me back with arms with open (don’t hate on the hyperlink. I just had to do it.)
. . .
The last few months have been full of learning experiences, highs and lows, insights, new friends, and classes at the School of Hard Knocks. I’m ashamed I haven’t taken the time to share it with you in more detail other than Facebook posts here and there (my personal page is FB.com/JaredKleinert), but I plan on sharing why I left, and why I’m back.
Why Most People Stop Blogging (Or Any Productive Habit…)
Our excuses all seem logical at the time of implementation.
When I stopped blogging back in January, a part of me hit the “this is not a revenue-generating activity” panic button that many entrepreneurs are programmed with. As entrepreneurs born with, or trained to, be capitalistic wolves with goals of helping as many people as possible, and making money along the way as a result en route to changing the world and “disrupting” and “innovating” and all that good stuff, we sometimes get caught up in which of our activities actually matter, and which just take up time. And, being productivity hounds ready to pounce on any ounce of wasted time and rip that time-sucker up into shreds, sometimes we misjudge what’s important because it may not be yielding immediate returns.
With blogging, there are ways to make money. Many ways. When I stopped blogging in January, it was in part because my blog, and my posts, were simply not optimized to make money.
I’ll get to why blogging is important for sustainable personal revenue, both as a tool for active content marketing and lead generation, and as a passive tool for platform creation and scaling, but first I want to finish telling you all of my excuses…
A close cousin to not thinking something is a “revenue-generating activity” is thinking you don’t have time for something.
When I was 18, Alexis Ohanian released his New York Times bestselling book Without Their Permission. I was living at home in South Florida at the time, and took my then-girlfriend with me to hear Alexis speak at the University of Miami on his gigantic, 200+ stop book tour. The talk was great, but what I want to fast-forward to is the image he put up on the big screens after his talk, but before the book signings. It said…
“You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce.”
(By the way, here’s a picture of me recently with Bey.)
It’s not a matter of not having time…To me at least, it comes down to three things:
1) What you prioritize as important (the things that should get done) and urgent (the things that need to get done, now).
2) Time management in the sense of both setting yourself up to be productive and get more done in an hour than others can (by taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as using science-backed productivity hacks like Pomodoro techniques, 80/20 analyses, Parkinson’s laws, and implementation of external tools people are constantly creating to help us recapture our lives) and also avoiding distractions (bye-bye Snapchat, Netflix, TV, texting, calls, Instagram, Facebook, and maybe even friends when it is time to sit down and “get sh*t done”).
3) Similar to the above, but slightly different, would be outsourcing unnecessary tasks or weaknesses to co-founders, employees and interns, assistants, and others in general (right now, as I write this, my co-founder/co-author of 2 Billion Under 20 is doing design work that I’ve handed off to her because it is not my strength, the team members of my consulting firm are sourcing new leads and preparing the week’s business development campaigns, and virtual assistants courtesy of FancyHands are looking up things like immunization information for my upcoming trip to South Africa).
James Altucher, whom I look up to as a major source of blogging/writing/book-authoring inspiration, says he wakes up at 5 AM every day to read for two hours, and then he spends the next two hours of his days writing because that’s the most important thing for him to do.
Is blogging a revenue-generating activity for him? Hell yes (although maybe not in the ways you’d expect). Does he have time for it? He makes time for it. Why? Because it is important to him.
I’ll give you my third, top-of-mind excuse for why I stopped blogging really quickly, and then we will go on to benefits of blogging.
I was scared.
I feared no one was listening to my ideas. I feared that consistent vulnerability would showcase me as weak or lacking confidence (although I’ve come to realize that vulnerability is a sign of real strength both in terms of relationships, personally and professionally, as well as one’s character and, yes, blogging). I feared that I was wasting time in my life jabbing my fingers at black buttons with alphabet cross-sections printed on them, when I could be out in “the real world” doing 8 hour silent meditation retreats or posture-training with Miss West Virginia (both fun things I’ve been fortunate enough to do since the last time I blogged).
The truth is…blogging allows you to have more of these real-world experiences!
So, to answer Cassidy, who asked me why I stopped blogging…those are my excuses. There’s no good reason(s) as to why I haven’t posted anything in months. However, there are very good reasons for why I’m back, and why everyone should blog.
Blogging Benefits Others…and PEOPLE ARE WATCHING YOU!
This is perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve picked up from some recent conversations. In the past two weeks, quite a few people in my network have told me that my writings and example had some sort of profound impact on them.
My buddy Chirag Kulkarni, Founder of C&M Group, shared with me over the weekend that he had been using a content marketing hack I’d shared in one of my blog posts last year in order to get new clients and grow his business (the hack was simple, and will be shared in more depth later…use blogs, media columns, podcasts, and other content creation platforms as an excuse to initiate conversations with influential people, potential clients and others you’d like to speak to, yet can’t easily get attention from).
Matt Guthmiller, the youngest person to fly around the world solo, told me he’d been implementing many of the points we ideated together for a joint article in Coca-Cola’s online magazine for his budding speaking career, not only leveraging the article as additional “social proof” he’d need for actually securing those speaking engagements, but also sharing some of the content we crafted together as major “take home” points in his keynote.
(My jaw is still on the floor from these pieces of feedback, so if you find it, please send it back).
And others are reaching out to me as well…
It makes sense, however.
Whether or not you get signals (an opt-in for your email list, a Facebook like, a retweet, an email, a new subscriber signs up for your Youtube channel, etc), more people are watching you, engaging with your content, and utilizing (or negating) your ideas than you’ll ever fully realize.
This is so important.
As a content creator, you become a thought leader. Yes, you can literally lead other people’s thoughts. It’s one of the most powerful things on the planet…real world jedi mind trick type shit.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. And opportunity. Whether or not you’re getting the signals, you have to be extra careful when it comes to presentation of your personal brand. Want to appear polished and “presentable” for a job search? Make sure anything anyone says about you online is spotless. Throw some “Timeline Review” tools into your arsenal to protect yourself. Call people out when they are about to take a picture of you drinking when you’re not “supposed” to be, or with people you’re not supposed to be with, or when you’re in a “quiet” period within your company and need to keep operations tight.
From a marketing perspective, know that your messages are being engaged with more than simple metrics can measure. Those baseline metrics (RT’s, likes, click-thru’s on emails, subscribers, etc) are a great way to build a solid, less-guess-like standard for decision-making and A/B testing purposes. However, the difference between a 4 figure product launch and a 6 figure product launch may be in small nuances of quality that make a person go buy your product one week (or one month) after they’ve digested your content, even without you ever indicating interest through a signal.
From a “helping others” perspective, you never know who is actually going to read your content, and what parts of the entirety in your posts, or videos, or speeches they will pull out and actually implement in their everyday lives. I don’t know before I write a post that Chirag will only use the “thought leadership” and tactics presented in paragraph 5, line 3 of my 32nd blog post. I also don’t know when a potential client, or a potential reader of 2 Billion Under 20 may decide to make a purchase decision after seeing one of my posts, one paragraph of one post, a headline of one post, or (more likely) one month’s posts (or one year’s posts!). It make take getting blog posts, podcasts, and other free announcements from Tim Ferriss for an entire year before I buy the Tim Ferriss Experiment TV bundle for a measly $14.99. However, he’s playing a long-term and large mass of orders game. For consultants, enterprise software providers, and other groups that sell services in bulk (or even job seekers, authors, and Youtube stars), it’s hard to tell which piece of content may drive half a year’s pay in one flood of new gigs, or two-thirds of your fan base, or literary agents to come knocking at your door to turn whatever magic you shared with the world into 200+ pages of deeper-thought-out magic.
That’s why blogging needs to be a strategy. It’s true power, like investing, going to the gym, running a business, etc is in the consistency of it all. Obviously, with smarts you can tinker and drive data-led tweaks here and there to optimize, but only after consistency has become the standard.
I’m back to blogging because it can help more people, more often, and at a consistently growing scale.
Blogging Benefits Self
Who has time to think anymore?
Between all the sales calls, team calls, calls to home, calendar reminders, email back-and-forth, requests of our time, coffee meetings, dates, commute times, inbox-zero-obtaining, and the like, most people do work, but actually don’t sit down and just think too hard anymore. I’m becoming more and more convinced that just sitting and thinking about things will separate us from the masses of people who just do, but don’t know why, or don’t think about whether there’s better, more deliberate ways of going about partnerships, processes, product launches, client work, and life in general.
Blogging is one way to sit and think. For me, the act of writing is a way of organizing my thoughts. To me, this whole post is alphabet-vomit of the thoughts and ideas I’ve consumed for a lifetime (and obsessed about for the last 24-48 hours), and it probably doesn’t make sense. But, people will read it, and make sense out of it all, and find value from it. I don’t give myself enough credit…of course there points, flow, and all that jazz to my posts, but even if there weren’t, the simple art of writing would clear your head and warm your brain enough to a point where you can actually think critically.
Do you actually have something to say? Is this stuff actually important? What do you actually think about all this when all eyes are on your words, and you’re planning to lead thoughts with your released content?
Ask yourself those questions before you make your next blog post, social media post, video post, vlog, selfie, or whatever. You’ll think harder about what you’re sharing, and why.
From a business and personal finance standpoint, leverage your content and funnel your audience to sign up for an opt-in email list. Of course, as I write this, my site has an opt-in email list, but it is not optimized at all. The copy I’ve used in past posts, and will use until I overhaul this site and prep for The Gap Year Experiment’s book pitch to publishers in August, as well as product launches in fall, will look much different, and will be optimized for that type of stuff.
Point is – build a following that you can wisely, carefully, and respectfully monetizing (by offering services, products, and such that are actually valuable and make people’s lives better!!!) and you’ll be free from “having” to work for someone else, radical shifts in the marketplace or workforce, or other changes that crush people who are simply less prepared and haven’t taken the time to diversify their income and audience by craftily creating community and audience around their ideas.
Thinking is good. Money is good. What else?
Honestly, the entire previous section of this article covering the idea of helping others is totally selfish! I mean, who doesn’t feel good when they help someone? When do you never not learn by volunteering, introducing other people together and watching the aftermath, or even sharing some thought leadership. We learn better by teaching others than simply sucking in info ourselves, so blogging helps others, but again, that means blogging also helps self.
The Challenge: To Others and Self
My challenge to you is to start creating more quality content. You all have stories to share, about many subjects, that can help many people. Think critically, think long, and think hard about whether blogging, developing a Youtube channel, writing a book, starting a podcast, or the like may be a good option for you right now, and then start doing it! The key then is…don’t stop!!! Find a consistency that works for you, and set standards for your work, then optimize for whatever you’d like to optimize for (a specific type of client, “virality”, email opt-ins, pats-on-the-back from Mom and Dad…). Do as I say, not as I’ve done in the past (I’ve already apologized!!!).
The challenge to self then is for me to continue blogging beyond this “I’m back” post. I’ve neglected to share 5 months’ worth of amazing, mind-boggling experiences with you in real-time (although they will be synthesized, carefully sorted and arranged, and presented in The Gap Year Experiment book and later suite of products, community opportunities, and more). I’ve also missed out on 5 months’ worth of building a platform (that’s a LOT of time), opportunities to help more friends, and time for critical thinking that may have happened during the collective writing time I would have amassed with 5 months’ worth of articles for this blog, The Huffington Post, Addicted2Success.com, and Coca-Cola’s online magazine (all outlets I have the ability to regularly write for).
I’ve done my job writing this post. I’m here. It’s up to you now to use it, take with you what you wish, and grow.