3 life lessons I learned after a year of blogging
I have never complete a book, I write only to complete assignments, yet on 25th April 2013, I started a blog called OKJ Discoveries and what a journey it has been.
1. Chances – Learning how to take them
“Take Chances!” that’s an advice that has been used way too often by people who do not really know what it means and tried by those who do not know how to understand it.
I was one such person, always suggesting others to take chances, because I knew that it was certainly better than doing nothing. That isn’t always true, and through trial and error over the past year, I not only learned how to take chances but also understand it.
When deciding on whether to take chances, 1 question always come to mind before making my decision - "What are the pros and cons?"
Decisions will always have a rippling effect on your life. With such significance, this rippling effect must always be considered in the decision-making process. I used to emphasize cons over pros, because I am not a risk-taker by nature. But this hindered my view, restricting the gains I could have made.
The opposite is also true, if I were to emphasize pros over cons, huge losses could have been made in sometimes unexpected manners. Thus, if one does not learn how to take chances, then doing nothing is better than doing something.
The trick is to be able to see the situation with two eyes open, one on pros and the other on cons, allow both to paint a clear picture of the situation at hand and the potential outcomes of your decisions before making your final judgment.
But what is the meaning behind all this, is it really necessary to take chances at all? The short answer is yes.
We all take chances, even when we don’t acknowledge it. The schools we decided to go, the friends we decided to make, even the meals we decided to eat, these are all examples of taking chances.
The path that made us who we all are today was constructed by the chances that we took yesterday and the many days before.
The path of making OKJ Discoveries into what it is today is the same. I started without any prior knowledge on blogging. I was never interested in the blogsphere and had yet to complete read a single storybook from front to back.
All I had was my talkative nature that could be translated into written text and the confidence deriving from the stacks of papers I had written as part of school projects and work.
But I knew that if I had to succeed, then it was time to take chances, to explore beyond what I thought I knew so that I can know where I stand in the blogsphere and how I can climb up.
I experienced more failures than successes, but be that as it may, I benefited all the same. I learned from the failures I made, and my losses of time and effort were exchanged for something much more valuable – experience and knowledge.
The more chances I took, the more failures I made, yet ironically, given my increased experience and knowledge, the end result is more successes. And through all this, it just makes me more excited to do it again – to take chances.
So it was never really about learning how to take chances. It was about acknowledging the fact that life is all about taking chances and embracing it.
2. Planning – Connecting dots
There is a reason behind using dots. During the many re-writes of this article, I stumbled upon using the simple child activity of connecting dots on a paper as the analogy of this point.
Anyone who has ever executed a plan knows that it will never go exactly the way it was planned. Deviations are bound to happen, be it small or large.
I believed in the philosophy that plans should have a concrete start and a never wavering end point for it to be successful, everything else in between is subject to change.
Through a whole year with OKJ Discoveries, I tested this philosophy and refined it as I went along. Now I add to it that mid points are also necessary.
This is where the connecting dots analogy comes in handy. Let’s put 2 big dots on the left and right side of a paper, this symbolizes the beginning and the end.
In normal circumstances, I would use a ruler and pencil to neatly draw a line across the paper to connect the 2 dots. After all, that is the most efficient and effective way to get there. But life doesn’t believe in rulers, at least when wielded by me.
Sure, I could continue to draw a straight line, removing obstacles that would otherwise ruin the perfect line that I had painstakingly planned to draw. Once again, I would find life and all her mischief would ultimately prevent this from happened. So just thinking of the “best” way to reach my plan’s objective isn’t going to work.
But then a spark of enlightenment hit me! No one ever said that a straight line needed to be drawn. I just did it because I did it before and had always done so. Follow the path strictly and overcome obstacles to reach your goal, most people said.
But I have embraced taking chances, so now I drew all sort of lines on route to my objective, I curved here and there, daring to try new things! It was exciting, eye-opening, and soon, I found myself running in circles.
This is where midpoints come in. Midpoints are short-term goals created to ensure that I stay on track while embracing exploration and daring steps. I love this style of planning, one that from this moment on, I shall coin as the “Connecting Dots Style of Planning” – a plan where the start and the end will remain the same, but the path between them can be anything but.
3. Recognition – An ironic balance of wait and seek
Gaining recognition on the Internet is akin to the trick question, “If a tree falls down but there is no one in the forest to hear it, does it make a sound?”
The answer is yes and no. Yes because logically a tree that falls to the down will make a thunderous sound and no because no one can actually verify that fact unless they really hear it.
Recognition on the Internet plays much more to the latter part. Yes, I know that by posting an article on the Internet, I have spoken and should be heard. But millions of people have published a slew of content on the Internet at the same time I did.
That buffers the voice of any one normal individual, thus publishing something is not enough.
So the natural thing for me to do when a nobody like me published articles on OKJ Discoveries was to be as LOUD as possible. Shouting it out on social media, ensuring that search engines like Google and Bing knows that my blog and its article actually exists, and telling people on forums to read my blog and so on.
It is a point worth doing, but certainly one that not worth overdoing. Most people find that publicizing too much turns them off, and the tools of the Internet empower them to block it completely.
Overdoing publicity may inefficiently get the attention one desires early, but the message that is sent and the audience that is attracted is usually wrong.
I understood this about 3 months into working on OKJ Discoveries, when I desperately tried to gain attention for my blog. I was never a big user of social media such as twitter and instagram, but I did it knowing that it was necessary to make OKJ Discoveries known.
During this time, views inconsistently increased and there was no data that supported the time and effort used in this aspect of the blog. It was then I stopped my frantic chase after recognition and focused on content – just improving my craft and hopefully then, slowly but surely, more and more people will find my articles worthy of reading.
Luckily, I was on the right track. A few months after walking down this much quieter path to recognition, my friend recommended me to read goinswriter.com, a blog by Jeff Goins, whose advices had inspired and helped millions of writers, myself included.
A particular advice that relates to this point is building a tribe. For a blog to succeed, it must first build a tribe – a community of individuals that appreciate the contents of the blog, and more importantly, anticipate it.
The strength of this tribe will be what pushes the blog forward and upwards. I am still building the tribe of OKJ Discoveries. It is small, but one that I really appreciate and respect. I welcome you to join the tribe as well!
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