Can I be honest with you for a second?
I did not get into blogging to gain deep insights into life. I was not looking for the online equivalent of nirvana.
All I wanted was some subscribers who would eventually become clients. And I had an inkling that writing some heavy, heady, fact laced posts would do the trick.
It didn’t work out that way.
I made all the mistakes that a novice blogger (with an exaggerated sense of self) can make. I wrote on topics that I thought were impressive (but maybe not relevant to my readers), I worked on search engine optimization, I even covered start-up events thinking it would lead to social shares and links and…(I can’t reveal any more of my dark blogging failure secrets!).
Suffice to say is that I was doing it all wrong.
Three months after going live, I could still see the tumbleweeds rolling, the eerie silence overpowering.
I may have been a stupid blogger, but I am not dumb.
So I took lessons from the experts: popular bloggers and one of the most acclaimed gurus of blog marketing. I took copious notes, listened to call recordings and watched hours and hours of video till I had corrected my strategy.
It hasn’t been all uphill from there, but the tumbleweeds have disappeared, the sparrows are chirping quite often and I can boast of a few hundred subscribers (ahem!).
What I can also boast of is some surprising life lessons I learnt on the way…
Lesson #1: Blogging allows me to be myself
For the longest time, right from my days in an investment bank to becoming a professional trainer and consultant, I couldn’t admit to my failures publicly. I couldn’t say I had time management issues, I couldn’t admit that I got distracted easily, I couldn’t reveal that I got through graduation with mediocre grades in mathematics (which investment banker in his right mind is poor with numbers?!).
Hell, I couldn’t even admit that I hated golf. Because that would mean no networking with the old boys club- in other words – poor prospects!
Even when I started my own corporate training and consultancy firm, I had to appear as the infallible expert – a guy with excellent credentials and superb testimonials, someone who is already successful – during client meetings.
Very few large companies, that I interacted with, wanted to work with an upcoming start-up that had limited (albeit strong) testimonials, despite admitting that my training content was excellent. Fewer firms wanted to take consulting advice from a young chap like me, who only had 3 years of corporate experience, didn’t have an Ivy League degree nor had worked with any Fortune 500 companies.
Often to get business, i had to bring other senior (older) experts on board! It worked and I did win a few contracts. Though for me, it felt like compromising!
I was not being who I really was. I was putting up an appearance for the sake of others.
Becoming a productivity blogger changed all that.
I did not need experience as an author to write posts. My readers didn’t ask me for any credentials when they signed up for my list. None of my subscribers asked me about my experience when they became my coaching clients.
Because people trusted me.
I had gained that trust not by being an ‘accredited and certified coach’, but by being a person who is on a journey to learn to manage his time better and wants to share his findings with others. If I write on ’50 ways I failed to wake up early’ my readers will not reject me for admitting to my failure, rather they will learn from it (or at least that’s what I hope they do!).
For the first time in my professional life I can be myself, and it is a relief!
Lesson #2: Blogging creates amazing relationships
I am part of SBO, which is an online community of serious bloggers.
We are a large group of people who share ideas, experiences, lessons, mistakes, and achievements.
But I feel that there’s a bigger benefit to being part of SBO. A feeling of being part of a close knit community. A feeling of not being alone out there on a cold dark night.
One of the most challenging things about running a start-up is that you are on your own. I am part of local start-up groups, but only as a blogger did I feel that I was with people who were in the same boat.
I have befriended beginner bloggers and popular bloggers from varied backgrounds and geographic locations.
After a long time, I actually feel part of a community. I feel that I belong.
Lesson #3: Blogging creates a feeling of abundance
Recently two very popular blogs in the productivity and self development niche accepted my guest posts.
As a beginner blogger was I thrilled?
I was ecstatic! I was over the moon.
I needed that exposure to the tens of thousands of readers these blogs had and I got it. What did the popular bloggers get in return?
They got a good (great!) post, yes, but the exchange is not even close to being on the same levels.
Guest posts really promote a beginner blogger who is actually a direct competitor to the popular blog he is writing for.
So what the question boils down to is…
Why would a popular blogger promote his direct competition?
Is it because he has made more money than he can handle?
Or he is tired of being the only authority in his niche?
Its because of one thing – the ecosystem.
The blogging sector thrives on ‘the more, the merrier’ principle.
“The blogosphere is more about collaboration than competition,” Jon Morrow had said in one of his webinars.
I didn’t completely understand what he meant at first, but later the significance of those words dawned on me. To be successful, I must make the other person successful.
I didn’t have to be afraid of my competitors. I didn’t have to outsmart them or try to steal their subscribers. We could be successful together.
It gives me a profound feeling of abundance.
Suddenly for the first time in years, I am feeling like a winner.
Can bloggers actually make the world a better place?
I guess the jury is still out on this one.
But my answer is yes.
Does blogging let people be themselves? Yes
Does blogging build relationships and communities? Yes
Does blogging give us a feeling of abundance rather than scarcity? Yes
I think we are on to something. Don’t you think so too?