It’s not whether or not you fall down, it’s whether or not you get back up. That is the essence of all motivational quotes on perseverance. Today I’m giving myself a pep talk. Because after having established and adhering to a very regular blog writing and publishing routine, this week I published… nothing. Not even a gif of tumbleweeds blowing past my keyboard.
I have a tall stack of excuses to lean on for my posting miss this week. I had work travel. I had long and late shoot days. But the biggest issue I didn’t overcome was that I got sick. I have been dealing with a strange kind of sickness that attacked my lungs and seems to have fractured my sleep-iphram, or whatever your sleep mechanism is called. After not sleeping all night, the last thing you want to do is get up at 6am to write for an hour or so. So I let myself off the hook.
Now I have to get myself back on the hook. Starting with a Saturday post that is really an apology. The apology is to me, from me. As I wrote about in, How to use fake deadlines to make your dreams come true, we make progress by giving ourselves false deadlines. They are the key to self driven accomplishments.
I had set false deadlines to publish blog posts every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. But this week I missed my own false deadlines. Boo. It’s not that the one week is a major problem. But I have annual blogging growth goals to meet. And I need every post to help accomplish those goals.
We all stumble on our journeys at some point. The key is to not let those stumbles become the norms. The exception should be the exception. Don’t let it get promoted to the rule. Or the law.
I first heard about web logs in the early 2000s. I fell in love with the idea right away. Suddenly, everyone could write and share their own ideas with the world, for free! I immediately wanted to write my own. Over the next decade I dabbled with at least 8 different blogs. But like cheap tape, nothing stuck
The Perfect Agency Project
I started this blog in the fall of 2015 as I began planning to launch my own advertising agency, The Weaponry. I wanted to write about the startup process, the entrepreneurial experience, and all that I knew and learned about advertising and marketing. I hoped that people would read this and think that if this clown can start his own business, I certainly can too. (Which is true.)
The Surprise Education
I expected to share what I learned about business. But along the way I also learned a lot about blogging. When I hit 200 published posts last year I wrote a piece entitled, What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts. I shared all my best tips and tricks about blogging. Today, when people ask me for advice on blogging I simply point them to that post, like Babe Ruth calling his shot. Except there is no baseball, no bat, no outfield wall, and no candy bar at the bottom of the country club pool.
Today I am publishing my 300th post. Over the past 100 posts I have learned even more about blogging. So I am adding 12 more tips to my blogging body of knowledge. Here they are in a particular order.
12 More Tips On Blogging Learned From Writing 300 Posts.
1. Just keep writing.
The most important factor in writing 300 posts is to simply keep writing. It is easy to write one post. And it’s really easy to quit after writing that one post. To get to 300 hundred, 3000 or 30,000 posts you have to just keep writing. It’s like Dory’s swimming philosophy. There is no magic to it. Just stick-to-it-ness.
Get your blog posts up and running and fix them along the way.
2. There is always something to fix.
When I look back at my published posts I feel like Michael Jackson looking at his face. Because there is always something I want to change. Always. I would add another example, smooth a transition, insert another joke. But the blog posts must get published. Published is better than perfect. It’s a blog. Not a book. You get a round of writing. A round of improving. And then you have to push that post out of the nest to fly or flop.
3. Errors are part of the game.
In the process of pushing posts live on a regular basis you are going to make mistakes. A typo may sneak through. You may miss a word, or double double a word, or misuse or misspell a word. You have to work to minimize errors. But accept that they will happen. My readers help me find the errors. Kind of like friends who tell you when you have something stuck in your teeth, or toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or a bat in the cave (a booger in your nose). These are good friends and good readers. Because they want to help you succeed.
4. There is no telling what will be popular.
I am often surprised at what posts become really popular. It’s hard to predict what gets passed along. It’s difficult to know what will generate a lot of comments. I haven’t found a lot of consistency in my most popular posts. It’s kind of like dance crazes. So just keep dancing and enjoying it.
Missing, one great blog post. Last seen by nobody.
5. Sometimes a great post goes completely unnoticed.
This is a the hardest fact about blogging. Sometimes you write a post that is really great, that you know is important, and smart and real and maybe even funny. And then it goes virtually unnoticed. This will happen a lot when you first start, because you don’t have much of an audience. And you wonder why you are bothering to write at all. But do bother. Because you learn from writing.
Blogging has a cumulative effect. The more you write, the more your work is discovered, read and shared. You can always repost or update a great post that phantomed through the opera. Know that what you are writing is good and that others are missing out on some great ideas.
6. The off-channel feedback is the best.
In social media and blogging everyone talks about engagement. Which is the aggregate of your likes and comments on your posts. But what I have found most meaningful is the feedback I get away from the blogging and social media platforms.
I regularly get emails, texts and in-person comments about how much people appreciate a post, or my blog in general. These are genuine, thoughtful, appreciative comments that are not intended to show engagement, increase influence scores or sweet talk an algorithm.
When I get these messages they typically come in the following format:
‘All joking aside, I really appreciate that you are writing this blog (or this specific post). I am really getting something out of this. I wanted you to know. Please keep them coming.’ – Feedback Franny or Freddy
This type of feedback is really what motivates me to keep writing. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share such notes.
7. Don’t trust the data.
WordPress offers analytics on my blog about:
But the data doesn’t always jive with reality. I am not sure how the data on page views accommodates for people who subscribe and read the blog via email. Or how pass along of the email is captured. I often see a strong uptick in likes or comments on other platforms where I share a post, like LinkedIn and Facebook. But there is no movement in the data on WordPress. So don’t be a slave to the numbers, or take the WordPress data as gospel. Just keep writing good posts.
8. 3 times per week is my sweet spot.
Over the course of the past year I went from publishing 2 posts per week to 3. As a general rule I publish on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Occasionally I may slide those a day earlier or a day later based on my travel, work or world events. But I fully expect this to be my final answer on blogging frequency. It offers me 2 days to write each post. It offers 2 days for each post to be read before a new one takes its place at the top of the pile. The algorithms seem to want you to post about every other day so that you don’t flood the feeds.
Adding the Sunday post means that I no longer go Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday without publishing. As a result I have seen my overall monthly readership increase by 50%. If you can trust the data.
9. The real impact is not measured in views, follows, likes or comments.
Let me address measurement one more time. I am certain after 300 posts that you can not measure the impact of a blog in views, follows, likes or comments. The true impact of a blog is in how it impacts a life. It is in how the insights, education, information, motivation or inspiration you share improves the lives of your readers.
Blog posts are meant to help in some way. That help is not measured in likes and comments. It is measured in confidence, and in successful actions taken and in opportunities seized. Never lose sight of this. The real impact of your blog may not be recognized for years, or even decades. Be patient. And just keep writing.
10. The Blogger learns as much through writing as the reader does through reading.
When I first began writing my blog I expected to teach others a bit about the things I write about. Including advertising, marketing, creativity, entrepreneurship, business, and networking. But I am learning more than anyone else.
Regular writing forces a lot of self reflection, and analysis. You start viewing everything in life as lessons and insights worth sharing. The writing and editing process teaches you to clarify and refine your thinking. You draw scores of new connections and aha’s along the way. #takeonme So regardless of whether or not anyone ever reads your writings, you will profit from the writing itself.
11. Sneak in anything you want.
It’s your blog and you can write whatever the ef you want to. Sure, it’s best to have a general theme, direction, perspective or angle in your blog. People want to know generally what they can expect from reading it. But take advantage of the fact that it is your platform to share your stories and your perspective.
Blogging pays off. But it pays off slowly. You have to be patient. And persistent. But the cumulative effect of writing and sharing good content regularly increases your value to others. Which in turn becomes valuable to you in ways that are both monetary and life-i-tary.
Blogging keeps your voice and your viewpoint top of mind for others. Which means that you are both recently and relevantly recalled when opportunities surface. It works for me. It can work for you too. And despite all the tips it really comes down to this:
Think, Write, Review, Publish, Repeat.
If you know someone who writes a blog, or would like to, please consider sharing this post with them.
In 2015 I started The Perfect Agency Project blog when I began planning the launch of my advertising and ideas agency, The Weaponry. I wanted to share my experience, learnings and insights with others. Today I publish a new post 3 days a week. I enjoy writing this blog because I like sharing what I know. You name a topic and I can write about it. Because I have philosophies on everything. In fact, even my philosophies have philosophies. The wide range of topics I cover include:
Today is Father’s Day. So naturally I am thinking about my father, Robert Albrecht. He knows so much about so many subjects that he could easily write a great blog and share all of his accumulated wisdom with the word. But he won’t. That’s not his style.
My Dad is not a writer. He is not a philosopher, reflector or pontificator. He would never write a book of Roberts Rules of Order. Although that title sounds like it would be a hit.
My Dad didn’t tell me and my sisters how to be successful, productive or impactful. He showed us.
My Dad is my action hero. Because he is always in motion. He’s a doer. A maker. A baker. A builder. A griller A gardner. A fixer. A shower-upper (meaning he shows up, not that he shows you up). And he’s a see-things-througher. (meaning he completes things, not that he has X-Ray vision).
He is a Can-Do, Will-Do, Did-It, What’s-Next? kind of guy.
He is an early riser. He’s a frick’n workhorse. He makes the most of each day. And he’s really hard to keep up with. I love that about him.
Thank you Dad for being such a great example. You didn’t have to write a blog, a book or a manifesto to teach Heather, Alison, Donielle and I how to be great at life. You showed us. So we get up early. We put in the work. We make and we bake and we do and we don’t complain. We are people of action. Just like you taught us, through your actions, not your words.
I love you Dad. Happy Father’s Day. Thanks for stopping for a moment to read this post.
I talk to people all the time who want to know how write a blog, podcast or book. A major writing project can seem attractive but intimidating. Because it isn’t easy to find time to write. You probably don’t have large empty spaces of time just waiting to be filled. Unless, of course, you live in a penitentiary or a nursing home.
I have found that writing requires a regular routine. You have to find a time and an approach that work on a daily basis. My regular writing time is in the mornings between 6 and 7am.
Fast Draft Friday
Whether you are a regular writer already, or you are looking to get into a good habit, try adding a Fast Draft Friday to your routine. Fast Draft Friday or FDF helps you pump out several quick drafts to build on later.
How It Works
I give myself a 10 minute max to write on a given topic. Then I save what I have written after 10 minutes, and start a draft of another topic. By the end of an hour I have a minimum of 6 new posts to come back to later.
This is important because publishing blog posts, podcasts, articles or editorials regularly can be hard. (It can also be hard to publish if you are irregular.) It is much easier to polish something you have already started than it is to create a great post from pixel dust. And for clarity, I mean polish, as in polish the silver, or polish off the donuts. Not Polish Sausage, Polish Festival or Lech Welesa.
Also, my writings get better with multiple drafts. The more times I go over them the cleaner and clearer they get. I am more likely to add a relevant quote, an interest-enhancing image and humor. All of which make the final product more enjoyable for the reader. So having a quick first draft of 6 or more posts created on one day has a positive impact on my blog brand for months.
The key to great writing is getting started. I currently have 252 drafts of new posts. But I started with zero. I got into a good routine, and now publish 3 posts per week. I get a little bit smarter about it all the time. You can do the same. Make today a Fast Draft Friday. You’ll be surprised by how much progress you can make in 1 hour.
*If you know someone who wants to write more, consider sharing this story with them.
When I began writing the Perfect Agency Project blog in 2015 I was in the early phases of launching my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. I had so many questions about starting a business that I tried to find information anywhere I could get it. Much of the information and inspiration I found was in blogs. I realized that future entrepreneurs could also benefit from my accumulated knowledge. So I began publishing blog posts on WordPress every week. I wrote about my experiences starting and running a business. I wrote about my philosophies on advertising, marketing, strategy and creativity. I wrote about networking and sales. And I wrote about a strange encounter I had with a woman at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Because hey, I had a blog.
Developing An Audience
Three years later, as 2018 draws to a close, I wanted to share a few interesting statistics that demonstrate the power of the blogging platform. When I began writing I knew that I would have readers across the United States. Not because I’m well-known. But because I have 31 aunts and uncles spread from Philadelphia to Phoenix. And 43 first cousins stretched from New England to Nevada. So thanks to my adventurous grandparents, I had America covered.
What I didn’t anticipate, at all, was how my blog would reach an international audience. Sure, I figured some of my friends is places like Norway, India and Germany would occasionally stumble across my posts. But my readership has now gone well beyond that.
In 2018 alone, my blog has been read in (I’m stalling to let you guess the number before you read it yourself…) in 105 countries! That is hard for me to wrap my head around. But it serves as quantitative reminder of just how connected the world now is.
As I look at the map below of the countries where my blog has been viewed, I am in awe of the potential to share widespread messages without paid media, access to a personal satellite (sung like Dave Matthews), a radio tower or fleet of macho carrier pigeons. The map also indicates that when you are interested in a topic, you can now find and connect with others who are sharing what they know on the subject from the other side of the globe.
Where My Blog Is Not
As I look at my blog’s heat map, I can see that my coverage is pretty spotty in Africa. My posts are not the most in Mongolia. And I’m getting no love from the Stans, including Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and the birthplace of the Afghan: Afghanistan.
I’m dreaming of a green Christmas.
Based on the geopolitical climate, I am not expecting a sudden burst in popularity in the Stans. But the country I really wish I had at least one reader in is Greenland. Look at how huge Greenland is! That is a large chunk of land just sitting naked on my map. However, the Earth’s largest island has only 55,000 people on it. Which means that not even Kevin Bacon is well-connected there.
I flew over Greenland on my trip to Iceland several years ago. It is amazingly beautiful. Although there was no green to be seen. What really stood out to me was the endless sea of rugged, inhospitable, snow-covered mountains. As I flew over Greenland I remember thinking those mountains would make it hard to get to a good blog if you really needed one. But maybe, just maybe, by writing two paragraphs on Greenland, and an accompanying tag and category mention, I can turn this great white land mass yellow on my map before the end of the year. It would be a very sweet Christmas present.
A little more detail on my international exposure.
Here are a few other facts that I found interesting when I performed Adamlytics on my blog:
My blog has multiple views from 79 different countries. Which means there are only 26 countries that have only 1 view (depending on whether you like your stats framed positively or negatively.)
My Blog’s Top 10 Countries By Total Views:
The United States
Canada (Thanks to all my friends in Quebec and Ontario)
There are 5 different continents represented in the top 7 countries!
In a very symmetrical statistic, the 20th most popular country, Brazil, has 20 views of the blog.
The only continent that the blog doesn’t register on is Antarctica. But I’m not sure a view would register as being from Antarctica anyway. Because it is so cold there.
There are at least 2 countries where the blog has been viewed that I had never heard of before: Mauritius and Vanuatu (which I think may have been a Survivor Island (meaning a location for the reality tv show, not the rock band from the 80s).
The Perfect Agency Project’s International Exposure By Year
2015: 25 countries
2016: 41 countries
2017: 68 countries
2018: 105 countries
Blogging is an amazing way to reach a very wide audience. You don’t need approval from anyone to start a blog. You don’t have to buy media to get your message out. You simply have to write about things that people are interested in reading. As you write, be patient. Keep writing insightful, educational or entertaining posts, and people will find you. Even halfway around the world. I look forward to seeing where this goes next. Because thanks to the world-wide web, there are no limits to how far your message can reach. Heck you might even get noticed in Mongolia, the Stans, and, Leif-Eriksson-willing, Greenland.
*If you’d like to see if I ever make to Greenland, please consider subscribing to this blog.
Last week I wrote about how Social Media is Killing The Christmas Card. But the Christmas card and its non-religious cousin, the holiday card, are not dead quite yet. I know this because yesterday my wife Dawn and I finished creating our Christmas cards.
Dawn had the Christmas message on the front of the card covered, but she asked me to add a Happy New Year message to the back. I wrote a bunch of options, but we could only use one. So…
Here are the 6 rejected messages:
1. Happy New Year! This card is proof that you and the Albrechts are friends, family or both. Carry this card with you to gain access to exclusive establishments, including grocery stores, shopping malls and public libraries.
2. Happy New Year! Now that you’ve opened the envelope and read both sides of the Christmas card, it is ok to pitch it in the garbage. We understand. That’s what we are doing with yours.
3. Happy New Year! May we all rejoice in knowing that the US Postal Service has survived another year.
4. Happy New Year! Yes, we know where you live. And it would be helpful if you kept your curtains open a little wider so we can see what you are doing in there.
5. Happy New Year! We all survived another trip around the sun. We hope you don’t fall off the ride next year.
6. Happy New Year! May it be better than the depressing collection of days you muddled through this year.
Everyone should have a blog. Because it gives you a place to share the messages and pictures that you couldn’t put on your real Christmas card.
In 2016 I left a comfortable job to start my own business. After working in the advertising industry for two decades I had a clear vision of what the perfect advertising agency was like. I used that vision as a blueprint to create a new agency called The Weaponry. At the same time, I began writing The Perfect Agency Project blog to share my experience and learnings along the way. And in case you didn’t notice, I just created a link to this blog, in this blog. Which may technically be the silliest thing I’ve done in 219 posts.
The Perfect Agency
I have thought about every aspect of the perfect advertising agency. From the dress code (which is only 9 words long), to the way we respond to client requests (always explore them), to the way we deliver invoices (singing telegram*), we are creating both the agency I would want to hire to create my advertising, and the place I want to work.
But one thing I haven’t done since launching The Weaponry is think about our competitors. In fact, I don’t even know who our competitors are. We are not trying to win a geographical area. We are not trying to win a singular discipline, or serve a niche industry. So it’s hard to find another agency to throw in a cage match with us.
We are focused on building a machine for developing great creative ideas, delivering excellent customer service and providing a fun experience for everyone involved. That’s it. Oh, we’re also drinking a lot of chocolate milk.
Occasionally in an RFP (Request For Proposal) we are asked who we compete against in various services. I always respond by saying we compete against everyone who offers those services.
But I don’t pay any attention to those supposed competitors. I don’t worry about what other agencies look like. Or what their websites say. I don’t go to awards shows to see their work. There is not a thing I can do about how they conduct their business. I am not trying to hurt them or steal their business. I am solely focused on us handling our business and delivering against our client requests.
In fact, there are only two agencies I think about at all.
The Weaponry in its current state.
The fully formed version of The Weaponry.
I am focused on closing the gap between the two, and making the business we work in today look more and more like the ideal.
Mind your own business. Don’t become distracted by what everyone else is doing. Understand what your customers and your employees want, and work diligently on delivering that at the highest level. It’s the shortest path to success.
This same principle hold true for us as individuals. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, or how they are doing it. Focus on what you believe in. You can never go wrong doing what you know is right.
(*Okay, so we haven’t fully implemented the singing telegram invoice delivery system yet. But let me know if you would like to be part of the beta test.)