I’m doing a little experiment this month. I’m going to write a moderately substantive post on this blog every single day. Some of these posts will be technical in nature, similar to my post about adding a setup fee to a new Stripe subscription, but most will cover things that require less upfront effort and discovery based on the myriad experiences I’ve had running my business.
This is a public commitment on my part. If you read this post and see me skip a day, please contact me via Twitter or Skype and tell me to get it done.
Why Am I Doing This?
Primarily, I want to be a better writer. I want to develop my ability to express my ideas concretely and concisely while making the text as compelling as possible. I figure the only way to do this is to practice it – that’s the reason for the emphasis I’m putting on production during the next 30 days. There’s other reasons as well, of course.
Developing a Public Voice
I write copiously as part of my business efforts: statements of work, technical documentation, delivery notes, and testing instructions are just some of the things I write. Add the actual code and you’re looking at a large number of words every single day.
There’s a difference between those things and what I’m trying to do here. All of the above pieces are distributed privately and aimed, almost without fail, at a single person or small group. The language I use in those documents is exceedingly explicit due to their very nature.
I feel that writing for public consumption is very different from the type of writing I usually do. Good public writing is interesting to read and does one of two things. It either teaches how to do something specific or expresses an editorialized opinion on some topic. Both of these things require a writing “voice” with some authority and style.
I Love to Teach
The feeling I get from helping someone with a problem they’re having is amazing. If I know something that can help another individual, I want to share that knowledge. I figure this blog is a great place to do that.
I was at Starbucks with my wife the other day and I noticed someone with a Macbook open and a sketch in front of them on notebook paper. It looked like they were building a website, so I decided to strike up a conversation with them. At first, I was looking to see if they were available to take on overflow work.
It turns out that the person was struggling with some schoolwork that involved building a website based on a Photoshop file. When I told him that I was a web developer, he asked if I would be willing to help him understand how to do what he needed to.
I was so happy to help this individual. We talked about how you break down the structure of a website logically, how to float things into place in order to achieve the desired layout, and what kind of elements made sense based on the content available. He was so grateful that I took a few minutes out of my day and I felt amazing afterwards because I made a real difference in someone’s life.
I want to experience that feeling more often. By posting tips about business and software development publicly, I’ll be able helping many more people than just one guy at Starbucks. That’s awesome!
I’ve come to realize I need to work on my public profile because I essentially don’t have one. Privately, I work with small, medium, and large clients on a variety of interesting projects and have very rarely worried about there not being enough work to do. An extensive referral base combined with existing clients keeps me more than busy enough.
Publicly, though, I might as well be a non-entity. No one has any idea who I am and that’s definitely not good for someone running a business based on personal relationships. If my connections dried up and my current clients ran out of things to do, I’d be pretty stuck.
Being perceived as an expert on the topics I know a lot about will help remedy this problem. I’ve heard there’s no better way to get people to think of you as an expert than to write about the topic you want them to think you’re an expert in, so that’s what I’m going to do.
How Am I Going to Do This?
I didn’t want to go into this process blind, so I’ve developed a very general plan to make sure I actually follow through.
First, I’ll be writing every day before I do anything else. I will spend up to one and a half hours working on content to publish.
Second, I’ll be brainstorming at least 20 topics every Sunday night for the upcoming week. I figure that I can probably get seven good posts of varying lengths out of 20 topics.
Finally, I’m making a commitment to hit the publish button. In the past, I always felt that something had to be perfect before I put it out there. With each passing day, I realize how untrue that is. I can always update or correct something later. For now, I just need to focus on getting things written and published.
Do you want to write more? If you do, please join me in this little experiment. I’m sure we can all learn a lot from each other. If you’ve got other comments, please drop me a line below!