Bringing Blogging Back (yeah)
Is it me or did it just get real 2010 in here?
Before launching this website I remember being awake in the middle of the night thinking about the blog. As a content machine, this would would play on my strengths to drive traffic to my new site. I got out of bed and created a spreadsheet on the couch, doing all the things that I was supposed to do.
I thought through the different types of posts I would do, what purpose they would serve and what action they would drive. There were tabs with ideas for people to profile and topics to cover; tips to deliver with pithy prose and helpful examples. My calendar for posts had me publishing twice a week, sharing on Facebook and LinkedIn, and identifying local influencers to help share my message.
One type of post was going to be called Network Expert, featuring people who inspired me with how they used their networks to build community. This was the natural continuation of my days as a high school journalist writing profiles for the Features section. It gave me a context to to explore their lives that wasn’t just “let’s catch up,” but “let’s understand what is working for you, why it works, and what it could mean to other people.” I started booking interviews with people and in the meantime got a few posts up just to launch my site. Then I really got started being a business woman.
The interviews were so fun, but then weeks went by as recordings sat in my phone, too long to transcribe myself. I got a Rev account (I recommend, BTW) and got long transcripts of my interesting conversations. To keep the blog from sitting static too long I wrote unsatisfying fluff about communication that never met my standard for publishing. I felt my momentum drift away. My last shot was recruiting a volunteer editor to help get things moving. She had experience with editing and got together a draft of one interview that I never finished reading because I knew my heart wasn’t in it.
Finally, I accepted that Caldwell Connect wasn’t going to have a blog. Instead of sending amazing profiles to share with their networks, I sent interviewees a final thank you, a brief explanation about the state of my blog, and the transcript of our conversations.It was a big let down, and I worked really hard not to let it drag down my confidence and worth as a business woman.
Out of all the ideas for Caldwell Connect that haven’t stuck, this is the only thing that has felt like a failure. I got excited, overestimated what I would have the time and motivation to do, and ended up setting expectations that I couldn’t meet. And worse, I let the feeling of failure put the relationships I had rekindled back into hibernation, telling myself I had already proven to be a disappointment.
You’re reading this on my blog, so you know this isn’t the end of the story. And I’m going to take a minute to venture off, but I promise I am coming back. Like the mother of so many young girls, I have now seen Frozen II. Compared to the first, I believe it has a far superior story (as in, one that makes sense) and less compelling music.
BUT, Anna’s song to get herself moving despite her despair really speaks to the recovering perfectionist in me: Just do the next right thing. When overwhelmed, you don’t have to have a complete plan, just take a step in the right direction.
In the case of Caldwell Connect, this was an email. I sent the first one out on my birthday as a way to celebrate the milestone, share some funny thoughts, and promote my upcoming events. I’m not sure that the promotion did much for ticket sales, but the act of getting out an email - then looking at the analytics to see exactly who opened it - was definitely a next right thing for me.
That email turned into a newsletter every two weeks that opened with a short piece intended to educate and amuse. I started looking forward to writing those opening sections of the newsletter, cataloguing ideas for the right timing in the year and Caldwell Connect activity. And eventually I found myself wanting to reference these pieces in conversations with people but had no link to send as a follow up.
So there it was: time to restart the blog. Not because I had the perfect plan, but because the felt priority of engaging people in my work called for it.
My purpose in sharing this journey is a little bit to share that Caldwell Connect has a blog again. But more than that it is to share my process of letting go of a great plan that wasn’t the right fit, taking the time to build up my voice and capacity, then coming back with an approach that works. I invite you to not only catch up on my blog, but to give yourself permission to let go of every smart, strategic plan that prevents you from doing what actually serves your purpose. Afterall, an imperfect collection of meaningful content is better than the nothing produced by a plan you don’t have the resources or motivation to follow.