What I’ve learned in my 333 weeks of blogging.
I started this thing in Feb 2009, that’s:
- 201,398,400 seconds
- 3,356,640 minutes
- 55,944 hours
- 2331 days
- 333 weeks ago. WOW.
In that time I’ve published (including this article) 802 posts which works out to be around 2.4 per week – which is about what the experts say you need to post to keep your audience engaged. That brings me to the first thing I’ve learned through this blogging business so let’s get down to business:
1) Consistency of posting does matter.
In the early days you will need to show your commitment to the blog and consistency of posting does help with that. Without it, especially in the early days you do start to hear the sound of tumbleweed rolling across your viewless pages. For me, keeping a regular schedule of posts has become somewhat less important as time has gone on as being a chemistry focused blog people don’t tend to come here for ‘news’ rather they come for views, technical insight, ingredient information and goodness only knows what else! That said I had to prove I was worthy of following and I did that by being committed and consistent.
2) If you have to force it it will probably be rubbish.
There have been a few times in the last 333 weeks where my brain has drawn a blank and I can think of NOTHING interesting to say here. Like I’ve either said it all before or that it is boring or that I don’t know enough. They call it writers block and I guess it happens to everyone. I’ve learned that during those times I just won’t write. I also learned that during these time it is best not to stalk my own blog, checking viewing figures, of worry if I am about to fall into obscurity. OK so I realise that this goes against point one but I’ve learned that over time it all evens out and if you have a bank of good content behind you the lows won’t be so low and the writing brain will soon snap back into things.
3) My blog has helped me learn.
I have no trouble admitting that I probably did slip into the ‘I know so much and I just have to share it’ trap in the early days. I would write blog posts quite quickly and spend very little time ‘researching’ – in fact I don’t remember paying to access research papers for quite some time….. Over time though and especially because of my other work in teaching and running a technical help desk I’ve grown a much deeper appreciation for my subject and its little quirks. Now I spend almost five times more time researching than I do writing and as a consequence I feel I blog better (and I enjoy it more which is the real prize).
4) My blog has helped me teach.
I don’t think you can ever be a teacher without learning as each class, each student brings something new to the table – even if it is just another new paranoia! The process of thinking, researching, planning, writing then connecting with others through that has dramatically improved my teaching. I have a much deeper understanding of the thought processes of others approaching the cosmetic world and a more logical and thorough way of explaining myself and (hopefully) bringing others along with me – teaching.
5) I’m more empathetic than I was at first.
Another admission is that in the beginning I did think that people who worried about things like Fluoride in the water and parabens in their moisturiser were over-reacting a bit and while I didn’t feel they had nothing to worry about (an action always has an equal and opposite reaction) I didn’t share their level of concern and had a tendency to try to blind them with science! That changed a few years ago now for me. My blog and consequent consulting has taught me that bashing someone over the head with anything is bad, even if it does seem to be rational, well grounded science. It is far better to listen without judgement, take the time to confirm and understand people’s concerns then work through them with that person step by step, bringing them with you as you go. Empathy has allowed me to put my own feelings aside and dig far deeper in my writing than I would have naturally dug. I’ve really enjoyed it and have, on occasions been surprised at what I’ve found (although I have to say that I’m still not avoiding chemicals as such in my daily life).
6) My blog is not therapy but writing is therapeutic for me.
While I have already mentioned about times when my brain has tended to seize up, it is much more common for me to have too many ideas going around my head and that can be equally difficult to manage. In these times I’ve found the process of writing quite therapeutic as it allows me to give my ideas form and purpose which my workaholic side loves too! This point more than any other confirms to me that I blog for myself first and beyond that I blog to make me a better chemist and a better consultant.
7) My blogging independence really matters.
From time to time during the last 333 weeks I’ve looked at all this blog content and wondered how I could use it to make more money as while money isn’t everything it can buy pretty much everything including time to just sit and think – which I do like doing – and the freedom to do it without having to go without your dinner. However, time and time again I’ve come back to the reality that I don’t want to have this space interfered with. It is more fine art than commercial, a body of work rather than pop-culture comment. I am still convinced that there is a way to have my cake and eat it (so many puns) but my lack of motivation to pursue them tells me that yes, my independence does matter. I like it like this.
8) People will stalk, copy and steal stuff – be it ideas, full on content or identity.
I’ve listened to quite a few of my customers talk about their upset at being stalked by others who then go on to copy or worst still attempt to stamp on them on their way up. I’ve learned that this happens in blogging too and while it sucks and I have little respect for those who regularly harvest content or ideas from others without giving them any credit the reality is there is little that can be done to stop it and as such one just has to be bigger, better, faster and stronger. It helps keep me hustling!
9) It is more important to encourage people to think than to tell them what to think.
I guess I’ve always taken this approach in life mostly because while I’m fine with being a leader I’d be one with a ‘follow at your own risk’ sticker on their back. Let’s just say that I’m not much of a nurturer – ask my children 🙂 Blogging has allowed me to develop my encouraging voice, to practice sharing ideas without preaching, to open up possibilities rather than force conclusions.
10) Cosmetic Chemistry is much more fascinating than even I gave it credit for.
I’ve loved cosmetic chemistry since the first day I found out it existed back in 1998 when I got my first job in the industry but it’s only through writing this blog and doing the behind the scenes work that feeds this that I’ve discovered just how beautiful it all is. I guess that’s why I get so cranky when people dismiss it so easily. To me the beauty is in the detail and the relationships that form between ingredients. I love that and find it intensely fascinating and thank the blog for allowing me to share that passion with you.
So there we have it.
And if you love reading the blog even 1/10th as much as I love writing it we are onto a winner.
Here’s to the next 333 weeks.
Which will take us to 666 weeks.