This week marked the end of the Intentional Blogging Challenge (phew!). Although I’m busy preparing for 30 Days of Thanks, I decided it was important to put some time and thought into the challenge and what my take-aways are. Here’s the list of lessons learned (hey – one day’s task was a “list post” challenge! Would this count?!). While this list is specific to the challenge, I believe many of these lessons are transferable to other areas of life.
There are many amazing writers who are struggling to package their writing in a format others find accessible, relevant, enjoyable and meaningful. I suspect this is true for other creative artists – musicians who are searching for a wider audience; photographers who are hoping to gain recognition for their work. While I have enjoyed watching the number of blog followers grow, I have realized I’m still writing for me and not to grow an audience. This doesn’t mean those who want to grow an audience are doing the wrong thing – it just means right now I’m still not there.
I am not alone in my fear of sharing my personal writing with a wider audience. We all struggle with putting our personal stories in a public forum, fearing others may not relate. Our shared fear can give us empathy and connection to others who are not letting fear control their happiness or their pursuits.
Success at blogging can be measured many different ways. It is up to each blogger to decide what his/her goals are in order to evaluate whether or not a post or blog is successful. If you don’t take the time to outline your purpose and your goals with a given task, project or event, how will you know when you have accomplished them? Action without direction is just being busy. I should probably learn how to do that fancy blog trick where you can tweet that last sentence.
I can be brave, share my vulnerabilities, and others will not view me as weak or needy. This is empowering, and will take more time for me to process while deciding future writing goals.
Words of encouragement, no matter how small, help everyone remain focused on the task at hand when they may have doubts. Many times, when I was searching for the right story to tell, or the right phrase, I would share my struggle in our Facebook group and my fellow bloggers would jump in with a compliment or a “don’t give up!” Comments on my blog posts helped validate my writing decisions. Likewise, I was happy to be able to serve as a cheerleader for others facing difficulty. Yes, I am still learning, still making mistakes, still finding my voice and still deciding what my writing goals will be. But the support, “likes” and comments remind me there are others out there cheering me on, excited when I succeed.
Sometimes you need to tell people what you want them to do, even when you think they know. I started my blog hoping for it to be conversational. I never thought of my blog as a one sided communication. In my early posts, I did receive comments. But when I actually put questions and invited comments in bold print, centered down at the bottom of my posts – WOW! The number of comments increased in measurable numbers as did the number of people following my blog. So, I will probably continue to do this in case any of you are shy about offering your opinion in the comments. I welcome your feedback and promise to continue to respond to each of you who takes the time to comment. At least,
until I become world famous and need to hire an assistant to manage my communications while it doesn’t distract me from maintaining employment.
While the official challenge may be over, my participation is not complete. There are still challenges I have yet to tackle. However, I have a plan and I will finish the tasks in due course. As I said to more than one fellow blogger, the challenge was never about completing tasks on a time schedule. The challenge was about creating intention or purpose in our work, forcing us to step back and set goals for our writing and our blogs, and taking steps towards those goals.
Thank you Jeff Goins and all my fellow bloggers for a wonderful three weeks. I look forward to continuing to see your blogs develop and grow. I hope you will stop back from time to time to check on my progress.
Now it’s your turn! Did you participate in the Intentional Blogging Challenge? What were your lessons learned? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.