How to share your ideas around the world like I do.

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.

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America! Blog Yeah!

Going Global

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.

 

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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.

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A typical Stanscape.

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.

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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.)
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This is not my dashboard. This is not my beautiful wife. #waterflowingunderground

My Blog’s Top 10 Countries By Total Views:

  1. The United States
  2. Canada (Thanks to all my friends in Quebec and Ontario)
  3. India  (Thanks to this post I wrote about my work travel to India)
  4. The United Kingdom
  5. Germany
  6. Australia
  7. South Africa
  8. Sweden (Thanks Anneli & your friends at Ikea)
  9. Romania
  10. Ireland

  • 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


Key Takeaway

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.

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A follow up on my Christmas Card post.

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…

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We had a little trouble taking our Christmas card picture this year becuase the old Hilton Head Hairdryer was blowing on high.

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.

Key Takeaway

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.

Why you should mind your own business.

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.

Competitors

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.

  1. The Weaponry in its current state.
  2. 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.

Key Takeaway

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.) 

What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts.

I always wanted to write a blog. Ok, that’s a total lie. The term weblog wasn’t even born until after I was out of college. But ever since I first heard about blogs I knew I wanted to write one. But like a lame shopping mall, I didn’t have a hot topic to write about.

That all changed when I started planning the launch of my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.  I knew my entrepreneurial journey would make for an interesting story to write about. I just didn’t know if it would be more comedy, tragedy or a bit of both.

TPAP

I launched the blog The Perfect Agency Project to share my entrepreneurial experience, and to serve as a personal journal of the adventure. Since the fall of 2015 I have written regularly. I have also written posts when I was irregular*. (*Not true, but I don’t have an editor to stop me from writing such nonsense. Which is one of my favorite things about blogging.)

It’s A Hard Blog Life

But writing a blog is hard. It is an elective that can take up as much time as your required coursework. Maintaining a blog requires a dedication to writing and editing. It requires a commitment to learning, observing and listening to the feedback you receive.

Mr. 200

This, my readers, is my 200th post. I am extremely thankful for all of you who have taken the time to read any of my writings. This feels like a good time to reflect on the experience so far, and share what I have learned from my first 200 posts.

17 lessons I have learned from writing my first 200 posts.

 

Episode-82-Baby-Steps

#1  Starting is the most important step. I talk to people all the time who tell me they want to start a blog. And my response is always, ‘You should.’ And ‘The best way to start a blog is to go to wordpress.com and start writing a blog.’ It is really that easy to get started. Remember in A Social Network with Fake Mark Zuckerberg said, “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented facebook.’?  The same holds true here. If you want to write a blog, start a blog. (And how cute is that little Chariots of Fire Duckling pic above?)

five-706893_960_720#2  Write and publish 5 posts before you share any with others. This 5-post commitment ensures you are serious about blogging. It also offers your first visitors an established base of content to peruse on their first visit. This helps entice them to come back for more. The 5-post commitment also works for building fences.

 

SUPER BOWL XXXIX.  FOX Sports presents Super Bowl XXXIX, live Su

#3  Posts Don’t Have To Be Long.  Seth Godin’s blog posts are often very short. Often a paragraph or so. These are easy to read and easy to write. In our attention-deficit world people like a quick blog hit. If writing shorter keeps you writing, write short. And remember, if you dare wear short shorts, Nair for short shorts.

 

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#4  Make people laugh. One of the most important reasons people look forward to my writings is that I try to sneak funnies, or ridiculouses into my posts. I think humor is key to keeping people coming back, like the Costanza hat. But if you don’t do funny well, try profound, or smart. They offer value too.

 

#5  500-word rule of thumb. I like a 500-word average for my posts. That seems to be a good length that lets me share a full thought, but not so long that it starts to drag. For perspective, we just hit 500 words in this paragraph. And maybe I should stop here. But not today! Today, we’re going Ludacrous Length.

#6  Use the Headline Analyzer.  I often type my headline into the headline analyzer at coschedule.com. It helps me tweak the headline for maximum interest. It will show you what is likely to help your headlines draw more eyes and clicks. It gives each headline a score between 1 and 100. The headline on this post only scored a 69. But I snickered and thought that was good enough. Aim higher than I do.

 

man wearing sunglasses reading book on body of water

 

#7  You never know what topics are going to resonate with readers. Everyone comes to my blog from a different mindset. So different topics, perspectives, and quotes are more relevant to some readers than others. I am often surprised when readers tell me that a recent post was their favorite thing I’ve written so far. So keep writing. You never know who will benefit from it. There are a handful of random blog posts that have had a major impact on my thinking. Your wisdom could have that kind of impact too. Which is better than an impacted wisdom tooth.

 

#8  A photo is important.  The featured image seems to have a significant impact on readership. WordPress has a library of free images to use. Use them. They help. Apparently humans are visually stimulated. Who knew? (#ThePornIndustryKnew)

 

#9  Tuesdays and Thursdays work. Every community has specific days and times that work best for post readership. Although I have published posts on all 31 days of the week, Tuesday and Thursdays get the most love. I don’t know why. Experiment to find days and times that get the best response for your blog.

 

two men using white laptop computer sitting on brown wooden sofa

 

#10  Read your blog out loud before publishing. All of my posts are read out loud (ROL) before I push them live. You should do this too. It helps you find errors and omissions that you may not have found otherwise. For instance, by ROL-ing I might have realized there are 7 days in a week, not 31.

 

#11  6 is the magical monthly number. I talked to a mathematician who did statistical analysis on blog posts and readership. He found that posting 6 posts per month or more had a much greater impact on engagement and memorability. I have found this to be true. As soon as I made a habit of hitting 6 posts or more per month my average monthly readership doubled. Which doubled the pleasure and doubled the fun.

 

#12  Create a writing habit. I start each weekday morning by writing for about an hour from 6am to 7am. This has become a regular routine. It’s a positive habit that allows me to publish 2 posts per week. Establishing the writing habit is the key to making the blog work. My friend Jeff Hilimire, who blogs regularly, said that he frequently uses a 20 minute rule. He writes for 20 minutes, and publishes what he has when the dinger dings. I actually don’t know if there is a dinger. But the point is to find your habit and grab it like a rabbit.

 

#13  Run Spellcheck.  WordPress and other blogging platforms have a spell checking feature. Use them. They will catch things you don’t, like Odell Beckham Jr. You will have the occasional error sneak through. My readers will often shoot me a heads up when I pull a Billy Buckner. I appreciate this. It takes a village to raise a grammatically proper post.

close up of hand over white background

 

#14  Start a draft whenever you get an idea.  Inspiration for posts can come from anywhere. When inspiration strikes, write the basic idea into a quick draft on your phone or computer. I currently have 195 unpublished drafts. In fact, my blog is so drafty it needs weather-stripping. Your ideas are likely to disappear if you don’t write them down. Having several drafts started gives you plenty of options to work with on days when you are less inspired to write something new.

 

#15  Posts are a great way to recognize others.  I have written many posts about the people who have inspired, impressed and supported me. The posts offer a great way to say thanks, or show your appreciation or respect for others. In fact, my most popular post to date is my tribute to my friend Steven Schreibman. I have written about friends, family, clients, coaches, rappers and a strange woman I encountered at the Piggly Wiggly. They have all been popular posts. Granted, some of them had nothing to do with advertising or entrepreneurship. But it’s my blog, I can write what I want to.

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#16  Posting brings good things.  Every time I publish a post something good happens. I get an opportunity or an introduction. I hear from a friend or family member. Or I get a kind, thankful or supportive comment from a reader. Or I get asked to emcee a charitable luncheon by my friend Stacy Sollenberger, where I meet a future employee who helps bring great new opportunities to The Weaponry. Or my friend Tim McKercher forwards a post to Vanilla Ice, who tweets the post out to the world.

 

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#17  Don’t get caught up in readership numbers.  I would prefer to have one person read a post and really take something away from it than have a million people read it and forget it. Write for the one person who needs to hear your message that day. Not for the massholes who don’t care. Write good posts that offer value. That is all you should ever care about. Well, that and human rights.

Key Takeaway

The Perfect Agency Project has been the perfect writing project for me. It allows me to write a bit everyday. It forces me to think more about my life, my career and my observations. Nothing I have ever written feels truer to my style of thinking, writing and self-expression.

You have something to share too. We all do. I hope you consider sharing your thoughts, feelings, observations and learnings in your own blog. You never know who you might help along the way. Or who may help you. Life is funny that way. I hope to keep writing about this funny life adventure we are on for another 2000 posts.

**If you read this far (you are 1612 words in) you probably would enjoy subscribing to this blog. Please consider signing up to get each post emailed to you.

What happened to me in June.

Sometimes life gets in the way of my writing. Sorry. I try to spend an hour each day, five or six days per week collecting and sharing my thoughts here. My publishing goal is to share two posts per week. Which for the math-challenged is roughly 8-10 posts per month. But June came up significantly short. Like Emanuel Lewis. Or a Smurf.

The Numbers

I performed some June-y data analytics. By that I mean I counted some things. I only shared 5 posts. Or about 1 post per week. Then I tallied my travel over the past month. I was away from home for 17 days in June. Which means over half of my June was spent on the road. So while there wasn’t a lot of Doogie Howser-Style thought typing (comment if you understand this reference), there was a lot of travel.

In June I saw:

  • Columbus, Ohio
  • The COSI Museum
  • The place where the Kent Sate May, 4 Shootings happened.
  • The Statue of Liberty
  • Ellis Island
  • The 9/11 Museum
  • The top of the Empire State Building
  • The Natural History Museum in NYC
  • Gettysburg, PA
  • The Maryland Mountains (yes this is a thing)
  • Morgantown, WV
  • Wheeling, WV
  • Lafayette, IN (#FathersDayVisit)
  • Atlanta (twice)
  • Athens, GA (twice)
  • Columbus, GA
  • Albany, GA

My friend Audrey Lowder took me and my family to the top of the Empire State Building. My kids re-enacted some Sleepless in Seattle scenes. She had a major birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Audrey!
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My family visited this top-secret location in New York City, that I can not disclose.

People, People, People

I saw a lot of people in June. I visited clients. I saw my parents. I saw my cousin Tim in a random grocery store parking lot outside of Philadelphia. I saw former co-workers I hadn’t seen in 7 years. I saw the private equity studs that used to own Engauge, the adverting agency I worked at for 7 years. I got together with a whole gillooly of friends from my neighborhood in Atlanta. I even got to hear one of my doctor friends tell the story of how he learned to do pelvic exams.

I spent time with Dr. Demond Means in Athens Georgia, sharing new logos, tagline, manifestos and gumbo.
I got together with my neighborhood friends in Atlanta, who taught me how to scare off home intruders, who are actually your friends stopping by to walk your dog (like you asked them to do).
I grabbed a fancy beverage with my friend Nicola Smith, who has started her own business called Rebel and Reason. Billy Idol wrote her theme song in 1983.
I saw my cousin Tim in a grocery store parking lot and we were more excited than popcorn popping.

 


Key Takeaway

When I set out to launch my perfect adverting agency, I wanted to build something that would 1. Create enough demand to keep me busy. 2. Provide enough income to be able to take family vacations. 3. Offer enough scale that I could step away from the machine for a few days and the machine would keep running.

Today, The Weaponry is delivering on all three points. But I need to stay focused on getting better, to make sure that doesn’t change. So while I may not have been able to share as often as I would like in June, I can share that what I’m working on is working.

We participated in our annual Dublin Cannonballer Outing in Dublin, Ohio.

I can’t believe everything you read!

Do you have any idea how many books there are in the world? I do. Because I got curious and looked it up. According to The Google, there are 130,000,000 published books. There are also 7300 magazines, and another 1300 daily newspapers in the United States alone. Which means there is no shortage of material for even the world’s hungriest bookworm to digest.

Thank You!

That’s why I am so thankful for everyone who takes a moment of their valuable time to read my blog posts. This includes you. Because it would be impossible for you to read this blog post without reading this blog post. But more importantly, I know there are a lot of other interesting things you could be reading right now.

Why This Matters Today.

Today is my birthday. I have several birthday traditions. One is eating a full can of black olives in one sitting. Seriously. Another is taking time to reflect on my life. Or as the kids would say, ‘Evaluating my current sitch.’ As I reflect on all that I am thankful for today, beyond surviving another year, I am extremely grateful that you have taken the time to read my silly little blog.

TPAP

I started The Perfect Agency Project in 2015, as I began planning to launch my own advertising agency. I began sharing my ideas, experiences, and random thoughts on advertising, entrepreneurship and self-improvement. And people around the world keep reading up what I am writing down.

So thank you. The time you take out of your own schedule to read my writings is a tremendous gift to me. Not only because you have so many other reading options. But because, whether or not you realize it, your time is your most valuable commodity.

Conclusion

Thank you to everyone who reads, shares, likes and comments on my posts. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to the Perfect Agency Project. Thank you for investing your time and attention. It is a wonderful gift to me. And I get to enjoy it year round here at The Perfect Agency Project.

My Birthday Request

If you have read this far, please consider leaving a mark (like/hate/thumb-any-direction/comment) in the comment section, so I know who to thank today. I hope you all have a very happy My Birthday, and a fun Memorial Day weekend.

*Looking for more thoughts on birthdays? (Of course you weren’t. That was a random, self-centered question.) Check out these posts about the Freakishly Unique Story of The Birthdays In My Family, and The 12 Most Popular Birthday Wishes on Facebook.