A Consistent Body of Work

The beauty of a personal blog is just that; it’s personal. I posted recently about personal branding. This isn’t some cockamamie idea that I derived delusionally, while in the throes of dehydration at the end of some training brick, either. It’s supported by a host of thought leaders with the cred to back it up.

I started blogging back in 2003. So did Seth Godin. At the time, I’d never heard of Godin, but in many ways, I was starting down a similar path, taking risks, stumbling, but each time I lost my footing and landed on my hands, I picked myself up and continued on down the road. Seth’s obviously much bigger, and in truth, it would be another 5-6 years before I “discovered” him, and another couple to appreciate his genius, but this parallel isn’t lost on me.

I know that I cite Godin often. Why the heck not? If you find someone with an idea that’s genius, and you can marshall your own skills and talents to model what they’re doing successfully, over time (“bit by bit, step by step, little by little…”), you are bound to begin building momentum and achieving established goals.

Wednesday’s bolt of Godin’s wisdom shot across the transom just prior to leaving my hotel room in Presque Isle to set-up for a major event. I was about to come face-to-face with whether months of planning would yield success, or colossal failure (things are rarely in-between in matters like these); I’m happy to report the former.

Wednesday was Seth Godin’s  5,000th blog post since 2003. He shared a few thoughts, and was pithy and to the point like he usually is. I detected a hint of pride and accomplishment in his post. Godin’s earned that right, not merely because of his success, but as a writer, he’s stayed true and consistent. He hasn’t varied from what he set out to do, although I know he’s made adjustments along the way.

The sheer number and consistency really impressed me. I loved one paragraph in particular, which may have been the most impressive point in the post, reflecting about blogging in general;

My biggest surprise? That more people aren’t doing this. Not just every college professor (particularly those in the humanities and business), but everyone hoping to shape opinions or spread ideas. Entrepreneurs. Senior VPs. People who work in non-profits. Frustrated poets and unknown musicians… Don’t do it because it’s your job, do it because you can.

I am always amazed that more people don’t have a personal blog, or a blog related to the things that matter to them in their lives. Having your own blog gives you a platform, and a forum, and over time, if you stay at it, credibility for nothing else than just staying true to a vision and for remaining consistent. It’s easy to start something and then pull the plug when it gets hard, or you begin struggling for content.

I’ll list five examples of blogs that are connected personally with a blogger that I like and read regularly. What I like about all of them is that each one is different, yet their personal brand is clear to me and I get a sense of who they are and what they are trying to convey. That’s not easy, just ask anyone that’s done it.

  • The Cynical Girl-Irreverent, forceful, and consistent beyond belief. Laurie Ruettimann is an HR rock star and blogging sensation. She also really likes cats.
  • Ryan Estis-Ryan’s blog is a favorite for a couple of reasons; 1) Ryan got me thinking about my own personal brand and there wouldn’t be the JBE without him; 2) Ryan walks his talk, and I also got to meet him and see him as a great benchmark for what I’m trying to do.
  • Julie-Ann Baumer-My sister, aka, “Aunt Tomato.” Julie-Ann has taken her passion for local agriculture and growing her own food, along with considerable skills as a writer, and cranks out consistently great content that’s readable and informational. She also works a demanding full-time job.
  • Robin’s Outdoors-I still can’t remember how I stumbled upon Robin’s blog, but I’m so happy that I did. Another blogger that takes a personal passion and creates great content. Robin Follette is a fine writer, always helps me learn about the outdoors and hunting, fishing, birds, women who hunt, etc., a world I’m not as familiar with. I keep coming back because she’s a terrific writer, and her genuineness and passion is evident in every post. She’s also a blogger for the Bangor Daily News.
  • The Lobster Gal-Ok; hard for me to be objective about a woman that has more passion for lobster rolls than Miss Mary and I combined. Sally Lerman does, and better than that, she’s got lobster shacks and other eateries specializing in my favorite summer food I’ve never been to, and many I’ve never heard of. She’s also unique in her blogging, is a great resource, and her reviews and very clearly-defined criteria are evident the first time you read one of her posts.

While my numbers aren’t yet Godin-esque, I think they stack up well for anyone I know in the 2nd tier below the rock star level.

I’ve maintained an assortment of blogs going back to 2003, and here are the numbers.

  1. 2003-2004            Greymatter                    250 posts (now dormant and offline)
  2. 2004-2010            Words Matter                836 posts
  3. 2006-2010            Write in Maine              101 posts
  4. 2008-2010            Working in ME              199 posts
  5. 2010-2012            Digital Doorway             150 posts (the site is now dormant and I’ve only been able to archive a handful of posts here)
  6. 2012-present        The JBE                           165 posts and still counting!

That’s a total of 1,701 posts over the past decade. Factoring in that most posts of mine average 750 to 1,000 words, especially anything I posted prior to 2012, then we’re talking  somewhere close to 1.5 million words. Add to that articles I’ve written, three books, assorted essays in the can and in progress, plus a host of other content for the work I’ve done the past 6-7 years, and I’m easily over 2 million words of content.

I’m not Seth Godin in popularity and stature, but I’m also not some fly-by-night hack, either.

Three books, one with a national publisher, as well as a national award from an independent trade association that tracks indie publishing provide me with some writing/publishing credentials.

With a track record that demonstrates the ability and capacity to create content, and obvious consistency, would it not be normal and human to become irritated when people that may have generated little or nothing that I’m aware of, pick apart my work at every opportunity? Perhaps I’m missing their stash of content and their own personal body of work? I’d be happy to visit, so I can compare, and then decide if they’re worthy to critique my work and craft, something I’ve stayed at for 10+ years, and well over 10,000 hours. Please direct me to your blog, website, or a bookstore where I can view your books? Oh, you don’t have any.

Thanks! You just made my point.

4 thoughts on “A Consistent Body of Work

  1. It can be very hard, sometimes uncomfortable, other times downright painful to put yourself out there in the public for all the world to see. I’ve been doing this for about 10 years and have shed some tears. You grow a thicker skin in the process.

    Thank you for your very kind, generous words. I think we met on Twitter. Twitter – it’s where the cool bloggers hang out.

    • Was it Twitter? Yes, us cool kids are all over the Twitter.

      I’m ok with someone with some cred saying, “your writing sucks.” Just not people that have written all of 10 words for public consumption.

      Glad we connected via the blogosphere, Robin; need to find a way to meet up at some point over coffee or a beer.

  2. Jim,

    Wow! Thanks for including me with such a notable and seasoned group of bloggers. I don’t think I’ve got quite the credibility of the others you’ve mentioned.

    Writing is an odd talent to own. I don’t understand my relationship to words and until I began consistently writing them for the rest of the world to see, they kept rattling around in my head. Frustrated…yes, that was me. Now I’m not so frustrated and once in a while I get a little happiness from sharing my words with someone else. Thank you for encouraging me to start and then to keep going. It has meant a lot to me.

    Peace and words!

    • Blogging is such an odd, yet empowering undertaking. I’m always amazed, like Seth Godin is that more people don’t take advantage of the opportunity.

      I agree about writing being “an odd talent to own.” As I’ve written and even had a blog championing the tagline, “words matter.” I think for writers, words matter supremely. And yet, when they’re rattling around in our heads, they lack something, whether it’s organization, or proper attention, I’m not sure what it is. Putting them out into the air, and then seeing what happens is always magical. I also believe it helps to define our writing and staying at it over time via blogging, is a terrific way to hone one’s craft.

      You are one consistent content-generator and I always enjoy reading what you come up with.

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