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On April 20, 2009 I registered the domain, TheSkooloflife.com. Today my blog is 4 years old. The journey has been a perpetual roller coaster ride and opened up opportunities beyond anything I ever expected. It’s been 1000 days of blogging and the journey seems like it’s just starting.
One of the questions that my friend Roger Law asked me was “what mistakes have you made? What would you have done differently?” Although I’ve made enough mistakes to write a book about it, I’ve also learned some valuable lessons along the way. So in no particular order, here they are: Lessons learned from 1000 days of blogging.
I think back to a quote I heard in the movie Step into Liquid when professional surfer Keala Kennelly said “the best surfer in the world is the one having the most fun.” In the midst of trying to grow, increase traffic, and keep up with all the rockstars, many of us lose sight of this. If you’re having fun, then working on your blog will never seem like a chore. It becomes something you get to do instead of something you have to do.
Live a Life Worth Writing About
I have to give Colin Wright credit for this, since he really does live a life worth writing about. But you don’t have to sell everything you own and travel the world to live a life worth writing about. All you need is a passion that lights your eyes up. I’m not sure that my writing would have evolved the way it has if it hadn’t been for surfing. Find the fuel for your creative fire and you’ll never be at a loss for words.
I’m as far from perfect as one might get, and thank God for that. The pursuit of perfection is a rather exhausting fools errand that leads most to misery. Vulnerability makes it easier for people to relate to you and connect with you. Don’t be afraid to showcase your imperfections in your writing.
Make a Long Term Commitment
There are many people who started their blogs when I did. Some of them have disappeared. But the ones who have stayed the course have achieved remarkable things. I’ve seen people get book deals, launch speaking careers, and launch companies because they had the courage to stay the course.
Ask for Help
I’ve probably said this close to 100 times on BlogcastFM. Every single person I’ve interviewed who has been successful has had a mentor or coach of some sort. Maybe you want to escape from cubicle nation, have somebody light your fire, or get your creative juices flowing. Asking for help will save you years of trial and error. Don’t be like most males who drive around unwilling to ask for directions.
Have a Plan
If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you ever going to get there? If you want to write a book then find the people who have done it. If you want to launch a speaking career talk to those who already have. Figure out what you need to do and start doing it.
Deviate From Your Plan
When I started The Skool of Life, the only goal I had was to use the blog to get me a job. I had no plans to launch BlogcastFM, but my willingness to deviate from the plan opened up a world of opportunities. Be flexible.
Focus on What Matters
It’s easy to get caught up in measurements, metrics and the success of other people. Social media can become a giant time suck and hurt more than it helps. Do the things that move the needle forward. That could mean creating content for products, writing guests post to grow traffic, or attending conferences and events to connect with people.
Don’t Neglect Your Email List
This is hands down the biggest mistake I’ve made in the time I’ve been blogging. Chris Guillebeau said something in the 100 Dollar Startup that really struck me. The only metric he measures on a daily basis is the number of subscribers to his email list. My friend Dan Andrews was spot on about the silent majority. The real members of your tribe, the true fans are the ones that read your newsletter. Treat them accordingly.
Create Things That Have Lasting Value
When I look back at BlogcastFM, I can happily say that I’ve created something that has lasting value. I’m always amazed by what I find in my own archives that I can still utilize today. Something you wrote a year ago could have a profound impact on somebody today.
Blogging is nothing but writing about something we have experienced in our lubes. It may be of any type like happy and sad incidents. Blogging will help us to remind everything happened in our lives and while writing blogs we will again go back to those days and will definitely make us feel fresh and happy. The bloggers can earn money by writing blogs for some websites and they will give More bonuses when they are impressed with our writing style.
Surround Yourself with Awesome People
When people ask me what I do, I can tell them “I talk to extraordinary people who are doing extraordinary things.” I’ve been really fortunate to pick the brains of some of the smartest, most interesting and successful people I’ve ever known. I’ve also been fortunate to make some of the most amazing friends I ever have.
Don’t Compare Yourself With Others Too Much
There are bloggers who started after I did, who by many measures are more successful than I am. But comparing myself really doesn’t help me accomplish anything worthwhile.
Show up Early and Show Up Often
I have to give credit to Tim Conolly for this bit of wisdom that applies to life just as much as it does to blogging. When you show up early you set yourself apart. When you show up early and often you’ll become a household name.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across blogs by people with amazing credentials that make me want to gouge my eyes out. In the online world people do a judge a book by its cover. You wouldn’t show up at the oscars in jeans and a t-shirt. The same applies online.
Get Away From Your Computer
After spending the last three days away from the computer, I’ve realized how much a digital sabbatical enhances your creativity. Incorporate it into your life on a daily basis and you’ll be amazed how much your productivity will improve.
Buy a Moleskine
For the longest time I thought spending 20 bucks on a notebook was ridiculous. But when you put that kind of money into it, you take writing in it a bit more seriously. As much as I love all the technology at our disposal, I think it limits the imagination. It puts us in a creative prison made up of the things we already know.
When you’re unplugged, and have nothing but pen and paper, the imagination can run riot. You can create things that don’t already exist. I’m convinced that’s why Sarah Peck is such an amazing writer. It doesn’t hurt that she has handwriting nice enough to write greeting cards (p.s. send me a commission check if you ever start that business).
Trash Things that You’ve Made Lots of Progress With
Sounds completely insane right? If you don’t know anything about Pixar you might not know this story. Jon Lasseter apparently scrapped Toy Story 2 after close to 2 years of working on it and they started from scratch. The results speak for themselves. Even when I wrote this post, I read through it and though, “this is crap.” The words flowed so much better with a blank slate and as you know by now you can’t paint a masterpiece on a cluttered canvas.
Keep Making New Friends
The other day my friend Jon said to me ” you probably have the most interesting listing of amazing people you’ve talked to out of every one I know.” Even though I’ve become really stringent about the guests on BlogcastFM, I still make it a point to continually befriend new bloggers. In fact some of those friends that were baby bloggers when I met them became guests on BlogcastFM. Besides that, they bring a fresh perspective to things.
Things I’ve accomplished in 1000 days of Blogging
Since I just interviewed Danielle Laporte, I thought it was worth sharing something she calls “Gloryboarding” aka things you’ve accomplished or are proud of. So here are mine:
- Secured Livfeyre as a sponsor for BlogcastFM
- Interviewed over 200 people including best selling authors, successful entrepreneurs, and other people who are kicking ass and taking names.
- Grew BlogcastFM to over 70,000 downloads month and a 5-star rating in itunes
- Took the Skool of Life to over 50,000 Monthly Page Views and over 4000 Subscribers
- Became a contributor at Mark Schaefer’s blog GROW
- Spoke at both Blogworld Expos in 2011 and at Eye for Travel 2011
There are probably several other less significant things, but those are my “hell yeah, I did that” accomplishments.
So after 1000 days here’s what I can tell you. It’s been a bit like riding a wave. You continually adjust to what the wave is doing, so you don’t wipe out and eat shit. And when you inevitably do eat it, shake it off, and paddle back out to the line up. As I’ve said before, if you’re not in the water you’re not going to catch any waves.