It might be a bit selfish, but I feel the need to share with all of you this symbolic achievement - this is the 100th post published here.
When you decide to write and publish daily, you understand this commitment will be followed by many challenges. But the journey so far has been incredibly rewarding, and has convinced me to stick with it for at least another 100 days.
Writing every day has definitely changed the trajectory of my life and business.
So today I listed 5 lessons learned during this process, for those of you who need a little bit of inspiration and courage to get started.
You Will Suck At First
My first 20-30 posts are horrible, and so will be yours. The main reasons for this are:
- Your lack of a writing habit.
- Your lack of writing experience.
- Your lack of direction. This may be not knowing what to write about, or not having discovered your tone-of-voice, personality, or unique point of view.
The good news is that they all improve over time. All you have to do is focus on consistency, and block time on your calendar to write every day.
It's hard to start something new. Especially if you've never done it before.
To ponder an idea for hours, publish it, and see no reaction. This is where most consultants will give up. They publish 2-3 posts, and state content marketing doesn't work.
It works, and it gets better. But great marketing takes time. You have to do it at least 100 times to see a sustained improvement and learn to enjoy the process.
Being aware that your first pieces of writing will be horrible is the first step to do it anyway.
When You Start, Don't Aggressively Promote It
I find this to be a decent solution to avoid inaction since your first posts will be poor. When you first hit "publish", there's a whole list of irrational fears that come to your mind:
- "People are going to think I'm an impostor, a fraud."
- "There are probably thousands of posts about this same topic, probably much better than mine."
- "Do I have enough knowledge and experience to discuss these ideas?"
In the end, none of these fears came true to me (and they won't for you as well). In practice, what happened was... nobody paid that much attention since I wasn't promoting the blog. A few friends and clients did read those first posts and sent me messages of support, but they soon went back to their busy lives.
When you understand that your blog is not the center of the world, you get more comfortable sharing your unique opinions. Courage to voice controversial ideas. To experiment with your writing.
If you drive big traffic and eyeballs to your blog when you start, the criticism (or lack of engagement) can kill momentum and motivation. For the same reason, I recommend you to disable comments on your website - the people who offer constructive feedback are likely to be subscribers, who can directly email you.
People won't come to your blog the second you launch it, so if you're thinking about starting one just hit the damn publish button and focus on sustaining the habit.
People Are Paying More Attention Than You Know
This might sound counterintuitive since I just mentioned nobody will pay that much attention. But the moment you decide to distribute your content - even if you do it this a discrete way, on your social media profiles and among existing contacts - something magical starts to happen.
Strangers started joining my email list and sharing how they appreciated my writing style and consistency. And although I had just started my writing journey, in less than 60 days two partners from boutique consulting firms approached me inquiring about a private engagement.
As someone with an "outbound" background, I was happily surprised. This was the proof that blogging is not saturated - as long as you're writing for a specific audience. And that the "dark funnel" can have a larger impact on your business than you imagine.
The idea is simple. If one consultant took the time to reach out, there are many others out there thinking about doing the same thing. Now I just write for them. 99% of the people out there won't care about what you do, but it's that 1% that counts.
It's The Best Self-Development Exercise You Will Ever Tried
Consultants - in special the charismatic ones - can get away with sharing almost any idea on a speaking engagement or presentation. Communicate an engaging story with energy and emotion, and people will nod their heads.
With writing, it's not that easy. People can find different interpretations of certain ideas, but most written words have a clear meaning. When you share a non-fictional idea, you should be able to defend it with strong arguments.
In this sense, the most enjoyable part of writing for me is to challenge my own opinions. As David Perell puts it, "whenever you write, you'll find holes in your thinking that only the pen can discover."
The opinions I held before writing all came from my practical experience (client engagements) or previous reading. Apart from documenting the processes and methodology to put those ideas into practice, I never wrote about them. I adopted those ideas after verifying their effectiveness in the real world.
When I started to write, I noticed some of the ideas I used to share with clients were sitting at a weak foundation. Sometimes they were context-specific, and were only true in certain situations or for some kinds of consulting firms. Other times, I didn't have a clear understanding of what caused those ideas to be true.
The more I write, the more I improve on my ideas. The sharper I become, the better are the results I deliver to clients. Writing will create a flywheel in your consulting business.
Bonus points: The more you write, the easier it becomes to document and monetize your IP.
Treat It Like Work (Since It Is)
We always think we have enough time. Until we realize there's no more time left.
It's the same story for anything that requires a bit of discipline at the beginning - exercising, staying in touch with distant friends, writing. You can't wait until you have more time. You make time for it.
For the consultants that always use client work as an excuse to avoid writing, I have a tip: Treat this like a project you were hired for, and where you have to dedicate 1-2 hours a day. Writing will have a real impact on your business and is likely to be much more profitable than most of your engagements in the long term.
Once an activity becomes a habit you start doing it naturally. Runners don't need the weather app to take a decision - they just go out to run every day. Healthy people don't need to keep a strict diet - they just generally eat well.
Writing for the last 100 days made me start looking at myself as a novice writer. It might take 200, 500, or 1,000 days for me to feel like a professional one, but it doesn't matter. Until then, I'll keep on doing the work.
What are you waiting to start?