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Are you having a hard time keeping up your blog?

Back in the day, I read quite a few posts that stated “Your blog is not your business.”

I always nodded in agreement, but I don’t think the message truly sunk in until I started my actual business.

The simple test.

Do you currently, or plan to, support yourself from advertising revenue from your blog?

If not, your blog is not your business.

It’s either a hobby or a marketing tool.

Mine happens to be a marketing tool I enjoy quite a lot. Some might call it a passion (I would).

What this means.

It’s okay to take a break from blogging if business picks up.

I just did so, completely unintentionally. And you know what, I felt anxiety about it. Like I was letting you down (and myself).

So I asked why.

Do I really need this guilt?

It turns out … not so much.

The blog is one of my marketing engines, sure. But it’s not even my main one. In a race, the blog wouldn’t take a medal.

For my business, the most important piece of writing I do is PR Ideas for Busy People.

The main drivers of traffic to PR Ideas are guest posts and forum participation.

As much as I may not personally like to admit it, when business picks up, the blog is — and should be — the first thing put on hold.

Is this also true for you?

Take an honest look at your marketing. If your blog is a primary driver for your business, feel free to ignore the rest of this post.

If it isn’t, don’t let guilt get the best of you.

You are not required to announce a hiatus.

Your true fans will still be around a week later.

Do not take away from your customers to give to your readers.

Give yourself a break when you need it.

 

Something’s missing in blogland

Today, I want to talk about blogging. Now, before you groan (because we all know the subject’s done-to-death), stay with me for a moment.

Blog strategy is fresh in my mind, because I’ve recently shifted both my design and my content.

(If you read via e-mail or Reader, pop on over and take a look-see)

My reason for changing was simple. I wanted to eliminate the huh? factor.

What the what?

I’m ready to take on more clients. I need to market the Media Blueprint. But I knew that someone visiting my site after talking to me about media relations or outreach strategies would be thoroughly confused.

Other than PR Ideas for Busy People, I simply wasn’t talking about the work I do. What the heck does a post like What are you saying yes to? have to do with spreading your message?

A lot, actually. But I wasn’t making that clear.

My site is motivated by a passion of mine, an obsession, really.

I’m obsessed with the idea of congruence.

To me, congruence means making your outsides reflect your insides. The past 5 years of my life have revolved around a process of constant experimentation and alignment, as I strive to bring my actions in line with my values (as stated in my personal mission statement).

That’s what this post is about. And this one. And, well, pretty much all of them.

It’s also what my work is about, on two levels.

First, the design of my services bring into alignment my passion for indiepreneurs, my deep feeling that they deserve the attention given to their established competitors and my particular skill set for outreach strategy. My work reflecting my values.

Second, my particular approach to PR is to create outreach strategies that flow from my clients’ fundamental principles.

For instance, in addition to asking clients where they’d like to see their work featured, I always ask how their product or service reflects a broader vision and what lessons they’ve learned since they first launched.

This is congruence, applied to business.

Outreach built on a rock-solid foundation.

I’m about to start writing a lot of posts about this idea. It’s a conversation that’s missing in the blogosphere, and it’s my personal opinion that it’s the missing link in helping people understand how to use the web or other outreach tools to get their message out there in a way that feels productive and focused.

I talk to a lot of people that feel confused or like they’re engineering sincerity.

For instance, in December, I put out a quick survey to find out what people wanted me to address in PR Ideas for Busy People. One of the questions written in was around blogging. It basically said:

I’m uncomfortable with the advice out there that says I should share my entire life on my blog, Twitter and Facebook. I forced myself to try it, and it didn’t feel good. And I also know super successful people who don’t do that. What gives?

The straight answer is that kind of advice probably isn’t right for your business, but it may be for someone else.

There is a range of bloggers out there, as varied from each other as Kim Kardashian is different than Bill Gates.

Some, like Kim, trade on celebrity. Heather Armstrong comes to mind.

For those people, sharing the intimate details of their lives is good strategy.

For the writer of this question, probably not.

Blogging is a tool. You can use it as a journal, a marketing channel, an inspiration board, or however else you want.

How you use your blog depends wholly on what your goals are.

This is what I see missing from the gluttony of posts on how to blog.

What good does a post on 37 killer headlines or round-ups of the best WordPress plugins or entreaties to blog from the heart do without asking first, “Why are you blogging?”

I struggle with this question all the time. It’s compounded by the fact that I identify more strongly as a writer than as a consultant. Here, I have an outlet. A large part of me just wants to write stuff, screw the why of it all.

To an extent, I allow myself a massive amount of leeway, and that’s okay. You might want to know that I’m settled in Sacramento now. People like connecting with other people, not organizations.

So, I’m posting an adorable picture of my cat napping in packing paper. Bask is the cuteness!

But probably you don’t care to hear what my breakfast was this morning. And it’d be pretty boring for me to write about that anyway. For me, writing is more fun with boundaries to test.

The day I tell you it has to be that way for everyone is the day I go get a new day job.

I’m here to help you break on through. To help you find the right way to share your message, in a way that feels good to you and is relevant to the people you’re hoping to serve.

Not to prescribe the tactics that work for me.

Do you agree that this conversation is missing? Is there something in particular you’d like to chat about on the site? I’m open to post topics, collaborations, guest posts, you name it.

What’s next?

Anyone trying to market themselves online today is susceptible to a nagging worry.

There are so many bloggers and online businesses today. Do I even stand a chance?

If you’ve ever asked this question out loud, you’ve probably heard something like the following.

I understand why you’re worried. But we see new superstars spring up all the time. Think of so-and-so. With a little elbow grease, that could be you!

I call shenanigans. This response may be true — but it’s also a gross oversimplification.

The tactics used by today’s established bloggers and indiepreneurs just don’t cut it anymore.

If you want to stand out, you have to be better than your predecessors.

Just look at what happened to the ’49ers. No — not the football team — but the pioneers who flocked to California after gold was discovered in 1848.

The first had it easy.

At the very beginning of the California Gold Rush, it was possible to pick chunks of gold off the ground. At this time, there was very little competition — only 2,000 American frontiersman had settled in the state (which had just been wrested away from Mexico).

Just two years later, more than 100,000 immigrants arrived, from all over the world. As you might imagine, no one was tripping over pieces of gold by this time.

Compare this growth to Internet pioneers.

There were only 361 million Internet users in 2000, in the entire world. For perspective, that’s barely two-thirds of the size of Facebook [just 10 years later].

Latecomers have to be more sophisticated — from the very start.

Very quickly, miners adopted sophisticated techniques. You probably learned about panning techniques, but these were quickly replaced with hydraulic mining.

It’s time to stop pretending that marketing your business online is as simple as putting up a website, setting up some social profiles and writing a guest post or two.

In 2012, readers have higher standards. Beautiful websites and stellar content aren’t a competitive advantage — they’re the point of entry.

Think of what happens when you see a website that’s a hot mess. You move on, right? Why tolerate confusing layouts, poor grammar or mediocre images when you don’t have to? Why add yet another blog to your reader if it doesn’t offer you something new?

And, we face another challenge…

Regulation is inevitable.

When the ’49ers arrived in California, they quickly developed codes of conduct. Respect my space. Don’t steal gold out of my pan. No back-stabbing.

In less than a year, competition and sabotage plagued miners’ camps. Handshake deals no longer protected you. In response, vigilante groups started enforcing law and order. Today, California is {in}famous for its regulatory environment.

Right now, the Internet is caught between the vigilante and regulatory stages. It’s a challenging time, when laws are confusing — and where the establishment is employing powerful lobbyists to protect their profits. Not only do we have to create stellar content, but we have to pay attention to these turf wars to ensure we don’t lose everything before we even begin.

The rush is over.

Just 4 years after it started, the California Gold Rush was over. Anyone arriving on the scene in 1852 had to rapidly adjust their plans — or chase fool’s gold until they went broke.

And yet…

Fortunes are still made in California. The Gold Rush ended, but California didn’t fall off the map.

Successful bloggers and indiepreneurs spring up every day.

In both cases, the prosperous survey today’s landscape. They don’t keep panning for gold.

Just like the pioneers who arrived in California in 1852, we must ask ourselves, what’s next?

  

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