Do you ever wish there were a better way to manage your blog? A recipe that you could follow to result in instantaneous success! Well, in business there’s a book called, Managing by the Numbers by Chuck Kremer. The book is basically a self-help guide to help business owners understand their company’s financial indicators and translate that “financial understanding into better financial performance.”
That sounds perfect, don’t you think? Why can’t we create a similar template for bloggers? If we did that, what would our indicators be? What numbers should be used to manage a blog: Google analytics, Technorati Authority number, advertising dollars generated? You could also add to this list the score you can get for your blog at Website Grader and the number of followers you have at Twitter or Facebook. And I think we’d all agree that these indicators can be important for bloggers. But they should come with a warning: Beware, managing by numbers has a dark side.
Anyone who has obsessively stepped on a scale day-in and day-out, please shout an Amen! to me here. What you weigh from day-to-day can vary and may have little to do with your diet. As a result you can become so discouraged that you derail a diet before it’s really even taken steam. The same can be true of blogging.
Have you ever felt the dizzying rush of a huge spike in traffic? You try to figure out what you did the day before to generate that buzz and you replicate it…to no avail. Try as you may, you don’t generate that kind of traffic again for awhile. You keep at it, trying this keyword here and that forum post there. You track your website traffic stats and look for signs of trends.
What is a better way to manage your blog? Here are my top 5 tips:
- Become Autotelic. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has written about the importance of flow in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Csikszentmihalyi describes how autotelic people do things for the experience it provides. On the opposite extreme are exotelic people who do things not necessarily for personal fulfillment (such as joy), but to achieve a goal. Blogging for the joy of it will get you in the “flow” which is where you want to be in order to produce high-quality posts.
- Be Authentic. If you’ve spent any time on other blogs it’s easy to imagine that everyone has a better life. They cook spectacular meals, adore their kids, have immaculate houses, and (gulp) beautiful kitchens. (I have a problem with kitchen envy…I’m happy for people who have them, I just wish I had one too!). We all have to make the best of what we have while at the same time continually improving (I’m painting my kitchen cabinets to try to prove this point). It’s not an easy tightrope to walk and we can find ourselves with hands flailing about when we lean too far to one side. Take a deep, centering breath and know that who you are is enough.
- Be Brave. Blogging requires putting yourself out there and that takes courage. You might have an idea that you want to write about but you’re nervous about how people might react. Trust me, I know how you feel. I’m a vegan and I just recently posted about my “secret” hatred of squirrels. It’s not so secret now and I worried about receiving hate mail from the millions of other vegetarians and vegans out there. People gravitate toward authenticity because there is an element of realness to it. Being yourself in person and on the page allows others to understand their humanness better as well. Your audience will appreciate you more in the end.
- Focus on Quality. Rather than push yourself to post on some arbitrary schedule of 5 times a week (or more), focus on producing high quality content. Rather than emphasizing key words that supposedly generate a lot of traffic, write about things that matter to you and to your target audience. Writing takes time and you need to allow yourself time to do it well. Quality first, traffic second.
- Have Fun. Ask yourself this question: Why did you start your blog in the first place? Did you hope for a million hits a month? Or were you hoping to write words and/or show photos that impacted people? I started my blog to talk bout something that I feel is important: people and their names. In the meantime I’ve expanded my topics to include vegan recipes and thoughts on life…and squirrels (again with the squirrels?). Because I realize that in talking with you about names, I needed to share other parts of my life too. That helps you understand who I am and where I’m coming from. And I also find that when I’m talking with someone who is monomaniacal, it’s either boring or worrisome. I didn’t want either of those for my blog.
If you realize that lately you’ve been focusing more on the numbers than the flow of your blog, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all lose our way sometimes. Commit to taking time away from the computer living your life. But be sure to carry a little writing pad with you because once you get out amongst the living, you’ll be surprised how many blogging ideas come your way. My very best to you all!