Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reflections on 150 posts, 2.5+ years of blogging...

It is a wow feeling!!! In retrospect it is surprising as i never meant to take blogging seriously. :)

It is time for some history. My first post was born out of anger and self-doubt. I felt I need to check if i what i was saying is uncommon, un-remembrable or if my language was difficult. Candidly, I wanted to check on my prophecies. Thus the thought that sharing what you believe and getting to know if it is being accepted or ripped apart by your readers was the first motivation.

No comments slowly became a good motivator than perceived otherwise. I felt no shame in writing what came to me at a given moment. Felt that I get it out there, and no one responds means I have a "safe zone of expression". Alternately, got prepared to accept the fact that if some one said the post is not great or right,  I would just be pleased to have a first client whom I connected with emotionally (tone not withstanding). 

Few things happenned during the journey. Funny that I didn't visualize that current state and their importance then.

Starting point:
No, not the time my post was born. But starting point goes 2 years back from my first post. It is the time I was following bloggers and reading them.  I was a passive consumer. Neither commented or did anything on their blogs. Just read it, reflected it and at times, copied it for my discussions. From sidelines, I saw many of my friends attempting to blog and admired their courage to present their views in front of the world without fear. At this time, one of my close colleague jumped into the bloggers world. He could be noted as my trigger to establish contact with blogging world as a contributor. Alas, he is no longer active in this circuit and is now full time facebookian.

Jumping Procrastination:
#1 Where is the time?: Traditionally, working professionals often have to surmount the challenge of time and goals. The procrastination group often talks about "what is the use"?, "how much money will i make"?, "why should i share my ideas for free"?, "What if some one else uses my ideas and voice and gets ahead?" and more such noises run in head. Particularly, these noises find support when your co-team is not exposed to bloggers world.

I didn't escape this either. The way I circumvented this procrastination is to always say "Need to do it". Making it a mandatory routine is the main lesson that my colleague mentioned to me in our conversation on the subject. In hindi he said it as "Karna padta hai. Kaam bhi karni hai."

#2: Naming Ceremony: I did this too. Felt I need a great name and a "google" type name that can become an instant hit. I went for months together on this one. Felt I had hit a great name which is meaningful for my writing. Only to later realize that is not a good one. See, the benefit of blogging beneath a radar is that you can learn from your mistakes and later not even remember you committed one. Before "Learningpractice", my blog title was "projectstand". So much for all the research i did on the naming of my blog.

#3: Branding, Traffic and other Worries: Such worries constitutes the longest procrastinating thought that prevent you from blogging. Investing time in branding your site, researching on SEO optimization and trying to drive traffic artificially by registering across many promotional sites are all dissipators. If you have great content you can be sure that someone somewhere is liking you silently. Leave the worries. You can get in pros to do that job for you. But you cant pay for creating your own content. It has to be in your words, your thoughts, your opinions. In short, an authentic "you" goes a long way in getting your circle of friends who are thought minded as you.

#4 Fear:  All the above reasons arise primarily out of fear. Fear to start something new, fear that it too might fail, fear of peers comments, fear of time being frittered on a flirtatious effort, fear to write, fear to think, in short resistance to all things blogging. So doing the 3 points above which is available in drones in net, pushes your actual effort a little away.

There is no magic to overcoming fear. As I realized, to remove noise, always say "Need to do it".

Moving On
#1 Few initial posts: Overcoming fear, if you have to write, you cant think through. They need to have inspired you and you just passed on. I wrote them as they occurred to me. Over a time, blogging gave me a way to practice my speech. In essence, it was allowing me to write my stage script and subtly prepared me for my next day act.

#2 When there was a pause: It is scary. Reason is if you lose touch, you will lose the habit. You need to keep up to ensure you are always in touch. We miss our friends when we part ways in college or school and need reunion party to look them up. But the moments, the continuity, the sharing of long list of endless musings all get time-bound and never is the same. At times, I didn't feel like blogging. It was like, there is too much pressure from all sides that this is an overhead (or so it seemed.) But the fear factor that I will let out the habit and will never get to blog as my usual self again kept me going.

It wasn't easy. You know it is actually not a good position to be in. You know you have to blog, but you cant think of what to write. Writers block hits you. This is the time I started looking at my immediate surroundings. Each person, each situation you encounter, every little nuggets of statement in arguments, discussion get to eventually become a valid entry to be in a blog.

If you stay inspired and you are conscious about your look out, there is a long tail of topics that you can blog with.

#3 The spikes and Rewards: I got my first known reader may be after 70-80 postings. My posts were liked and recommended as good weekly posts 4-5 times in a given period by another blogger, I admire. In this time, I started expecting myself to see responses and site meter to show readers every day when my post is out. When it didn't happen you feel that you have lost your readers. But no, the gratifications come in other forms.

You get to reach out at personal level and from the realm of public relationship, you move to a closer bonding of matching thought wavelengths. With every new post, you get to treat spikes and rewards with more pragmatism. You know you can get responses, you have seen little publicity, you get to attract unknown people just with your topic selections and you can "write" the way your readers expect it.

But what counts, is keep the long tail list coming on without any affectations to "all outer gratifications".  It is "you" who got readers choose and close in on you. So leaving the "you" or an "affected you" might have a reverse placebo.

Road Ahead:
Promotions: You need to do this. This shows your interest and your passions. Self-interest is accepted in this world. The best news is people respond and almost all times, positively. But postpone them till you are clear to start, sustain and succeed in the initiative. It is a bad repute to market heavily and lose the touch after some time.

Gaining readers and losing theme in a battle of million blogs is not a great sign of leadership.

Lessons Learned:One lesson in social media is that long tail is essential. Long tail is analogous in time, frequency, velocity of topics and passion that scales past time and everlasting in the heartful journey.

It is not that I have achieved anything impossible. Nor there are pinnacles that are scaled. But innate bondings don't rely on external gratifications. Blogging to me has given myself a voice, a subject that I can phrase in my words, the expressions that is now refined compared to years ago.

What does it give you: Blogging is akin to your daily duties. Missing to do them doesn't bother you much. But it signals a failing health. It is just not a good feeling. Missing a heart beat means a lot to our existence. In simple terms, blogging allows you to maintain mental health better. It can turn the ante against you to a pro-positive effect in a discussion. 

It is important to reveal your self and publish posts with authentic mistakes. Such trademarks are not copyrighted or patented but by default gets associated with the person with recognition of patterns.

Refinements and Growth: I now have 3 blogs running. Hope and wish I get the other blogs off the ground to celebrate 150 posts there too.

Wish and trust I will have each one of you in my continued journey on this site and together create a strong .co-learning network


Top Agile Blogs