I just read “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. In this sometimes preachy, sometimes insightful book, she digs into habits I’ve always referred to as “discipline” and repurposes them under the label of “enthusiasm” (page 153). I’ve been thinking about that distinction for about 10 days now, and I’m just not sure I can go there with her.
To clarify, she calls enthusiasm “a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us.” Her take on discipline is that it’s rooted in self-admiration, “functioning out of will, with a booster of pride to back it up.”
So, is this one of those to-mA-to/to-mAH-to semantics issues? Or is there a meaningful insight that one needs to embrace to maintain the routine required for consistent (dare I suggest “disciplined”?) blogging?
Here’s how I’ve resolved the enthusiasm/discipline distinction for myself. I know I have 3 to 4 blog posts to write every week (between CynsArtQuilts.com and CYNWORKS.com). Truthfully, I’m not super hyped about sitting down and typing the text and prepping the images when I have a million other things on my to do list. It requires a certain amount of steely discipline to make myself focus, craft, and publish.
In the enthusiasm column, I do get great benefits from my blogging practice.
- I learn every time I write. Focusing in on the exact ideas, terminology, and images to illustrate my concepts — whether art or PR-focused — helps clarify exactly what my point of view is.
- The practice of writing thoughts into short sentences creates talking points that I use when presenting in person.
- I love being able to say, “Oh, yes, would you like to know more about that? Be sure to read my blog post.”
- A blog is free publicity distributed via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. And with WordPress.com, you know just how many times a blog is read and where those readers are coming from.
- Blogging builds meaningful content for my websites.
- My clients feel they know me because they get a taste of my personality… sometimes intense, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes funny, and always passionate.
So, how do I work with my clients to go from non-blogger to enthusiastic blogger? We start at the very beginning. Understand why you are blogging…
I get asked, “How do I get people to read my blog?” Yet that question is better posed as, “Why do you want people to read your blog?”
Sometimes the answers are important, yet slightly abstract:
- Build my brand
- Increase sales
- Create stronger relationships with my client base
- Show people who buy my work more about the process
- Develop more opportunities to show my work
- Get more opportunities to collaborate with other specialists in my field
Sometimes the answers are very specific:
- Get 100 more people to look at my portfolio on my website
- Get 30 more people per month to buy products from my website
- Get 20 people to sign up for a class that is happening in 10 days
- Sell 4 cases of product I already have in inventory
- Get 200 more people to sign up for my email newsletter/webinar/survey
I like when we get to the specific answers, yet I recognize that the abstract concepts need to be conquered first. My clients must be readers of blogs. Some of my clients are real connoisseurs of the form and send me links to blogs that are mind-boggling. Others, when we get started, don’t even know if they’ve ever read a blog. For those clients, we start at square one.
They are assigned a one-week homework project that includes finding 5 blogs they’d be interested in reading regularly, setting up the RSS feeds to those blogs in a reader, and then commenting on each of those blogs during the next week.
Then the real discipline begins. We start a blogging practice that includes:
1. Writing against the business plan or marketing and promotion calendar
2. Building a library of images that illustrate concepts or promote brand
3. Keeping a blogging journal handy and writing notes – much like a “real writer”
4. Reading and critiquing other blogs, websites, and journals
5. Talking every couple posts to explore new ideas and ways of sharing information
6. Brainstorming ways to draw more readers to the blog
So, if you’ve got the enthusiasm/discipline for sharing ideas, do you have the technology skills? For more on the techy side of blogging, tune in next week for part 3 of the series!