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Why I’m a Tortoise in a World of Blogging Hares



You can’t blame the NYT for its weekend piece entitled "In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop." The article isolates a couple of unfortunate deaths in the blogging community, then selects a handful of juiced-up bloggers to prove it’s theory that blogging can lead to bad health, or even death.

Why can’t you blame the NYT? The newspaper is a mainstay of traditional media and everyday it "wakes-up" to find another hot new blog–with attention grabbing headlines–chipping away at its readership. It’s not that the Times wants to take pot shots at bloggers, it’s just that it thinks that, by writing controversial articles, it can get a pass to the bloggers’ lounge.

Paul Chaney offered his thoughts on the NYT piece and asked me, via Twitter: "I’d like to talk to you about the rigor required of your bloggers relative to this post if u don’t mind."

My response was probably not what he expected: "I can’t relate. I nor my bloggers, stress out over blogging. I don’t blog 12+ hours a day, although I do blog at night, if needed."

Of course, I want Marketing Pilgrim to be successful and considered the top internet marketing news site. But, at the expense of my or my writers’ health? No way!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll "chase the scoop" if the little blighter jumps in front of me and sticks its tongue out. But will I camp out all night in the hopes that I’ll get a glimpse of a scoop? Not when there are 300 thread-count sheets with my name on them (not literally).

Instead, I try to keep my blogging in perspective and under control. OK, so last night I blogged about Yahoo’s AMP development, but that took my less than 20 minutes and I had the TV on in the background. This morning, I woke up around 9am, fixed coffee and breakfast (ok, Mrs Beal did the fixing) and then responded to email. When I finally got to my RSS feeds (and subsequent blog posts) I was relaxed and excited about my writing.

How will the rest of the day pan out? Who knows? I’ll certainly keep my eyes open for breaking news, but I’ll focus on bringing value to the conversation, rather than the desperation that comes from being first.

If you want to be an A-list blogger, you can certainly try the path of 20-hour days, juiced up on caffeine and Red Bull, but that’s not the only path. Instead, figure out how to integrate blogging so that it’s a fun activity in your day. Blog when you have energy and passion, not when embargos lift. And remember, being fast and furious, doesn’t mean you’ll win the race. ;-)

  • http://www.conversationalmediamarketing.com Paul Chaney

    Thanks, Andy, for responding to my question in the way that a blog should, via a post. :-)

  • http://wordsforhire.blogspot.com Karen Swim

    Andy, I love this approach to blogging! I am a marathon runner so I appreciate endurance over speed. Being an endurance runner gives me what I need when it’s time to activate the fast twitch muscles when I need to sprint but from day to day I’m focused on going long and going strong for a lifetime. I blog because I enjoy it and want to add value in my little corner of the world. Three cheers for the tortoise!

    Karen

  • http://goofyasians.com Giun Sun

    Great post Andy, I lie somewhere in between you and the juiced up blogger. I think you bring up a good point that you don’t have to do 20-hour days in order to be an A-list blogger. In fact, the alternative you describe sounds much nicer. :D

  • http://www.govisithawaii.com Sheila

    Ahem…um we sleep on nothing less than 400 thread count. Sheesh…get your facts right. ;-)

    Seriously though, you really are great at managing your time with the blog. Something I need to take a queue from.

    I have noticed that when I go more with the tortoise approach, I have more inspiration and better quality posts.

  • http://www.bruise-control.com Nicolette Beard

    I’m forwarding this post to my husband. We just discussed this NYT article and he took it to mean “blogging will kill me, therefore I’ll pass.” I’ve been blogging for 3 years and experience first hand the value it adds to any online marketing effort, whether for profit or not.

    To me, blogging is a creative expression that combines my love of marketing and making a difference.

    Whenever I feel the pressure to post, I take a step back and ask, Why blog, why now? If my writing isn’t entertaining, informative, inspiring or (when the stars are aligned)all three, then I postpone my post.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Paul, Karen, Giun & Sheila – thanks for the feedback. Slow and steady is the way to go!

    @Nicolette – glad to help out!

  • http://beyondbeautybasics.com Paul Baranda

    My blog is about passion and fun. I’ve been blogging for over a year now and just like in any event… if you burn yourself out early, you won’t stand a chance to stay in the game. Most people start blogs and end them before they even get good because they frontloaded their energy in the beginning. You will hear more veteran bloggers say that if you blog about what you love… you’ll be around for awhile…

    Paul

  • http://www.amodon.com morgan

    I think Nicolette hit the nail on the head! If your writing isn’t, ” entertaining, informative, inspiring or all three” then we should all definitely postpone our posts. That’s the thing about blogging, it’s a very, come as you are medium. You don’t need to worry about the kinds of deadlines that are associated with television, newspapers or even magazines…you blog when you have something to say, not because you have to say something! :)

  • http://seologia.com.ar Seologia

    I think it healthier to blog than to smoke (for instance) which most of the readers of the newspaper surely do. It’s all a matter of perspective.

  • http://holdekunst.com Bonnie Gibbons

    Andy,

    I applaud you and feel vindicated for my own similar conclusions. What’s the point of going into business for yourself otherwise?

    I am naturally a night person, especially when trying to fit stuff in around an FT job, but I really think that setting the priority of getting enough sleep, period, is making a difference in my health and productivity.

    For me, the biggest challenge is finding the discipline to forgo that before-bed trip online, because it’s easy to get that second wind and keep at it till 2:00 AM. My “rule” is, everyone has my cellphone if they need it, and I try to limit my nighttime check-in to checking my calendar to see if it impacts my departure time in the morning.

    As you may recall because we have interacted in the business realm, I work FT, in-house. A few years ago I did a nearly three-year stint as a freelancer and contractor, alternating between independent jobs and agency work (for the health insurance, of course). Once it became clear to the me that phone WOULD ring often enough not to lose the house, I found I could truly benefit from the periodic down time when I was not on an agency job. I did not spend 20 hours lining up the next job. I made a good breakfast and lunch. I took a daily walk with my husband (who as a teacher works a shifted schedule). I was able to drop him off while shopping at non-rush hours, avoiding crowds and giving him the gift of some time shaved off his commute. I gardened, painted and cleaned, a little bit every day. I learned opera singing. I put in 3-6 hours of intensive effort at my computer. I did not work at night, and it was easy not to.

    When I came in-house, the dynamic changed in predictable ways and it took a long time, and some health issues, to reprioritize. I simply decided that insufficient sleep was likely to derail all other lifestyle efforts.

    “Unfortunately” I do like to blog, and I like to blog well. I have experimented with several subjects for myself and gotten my husband blogging on the subject he teaches (classical music) — only to get sucked into that blog myself, too.

    My solutions to the blogging-time-suck problem are:

    1. Every post need not be worthy of our graduate credentials, etc. Easy posts are OK — things that don’t take research or writing but readers might enjoy anyway. For example, letting readers know they can vote on Chicago Opera Theater’s next production. This leaves more bandwidth for an in-depth discussion next time.

    2. For my personal blogs I’m moving away from hot, timely topics to stuff that can wait. I have enjoyed political blogging, but have sworn off it because of the pressure to stay on top of the news. Classical music, on the other hand, doesn’t “change” very often by comparison. Occasionally, something huge happens, like the Soviet Union collapses, new records are made available, and everyone must rethink Shostakovich. But you aren’t going to miss something by going off line for a few days.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Bonnie – thanks for sharing a glimpse of your daily routine. Opera singing, huh? Maybe I should try that next. ;-)

  • http://holdekunst.com Bonnie Gibbons

    Opera singing… it IS good for the “core” — or working on your core is good for IT.

    It may seem like I am on the opposite side of Nicolette in thinking easy posts are OK. But by easy I mean simply easy for me to produce, according to how I define easy. It still needs to be useful content for the audience!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com Brick Marketing

    I agree with many of these issues. In order for you to stay in the game you truly have to blog about something you are passionate about. If you blog for simply driving traffic and creating revenue you could run out of creative fuel much quicker than if you were writing with your heart.

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  • http://www.bloggingbattleplan.com Edward Lomax

    I think it is important to come up with a blogging schedule that keeps you sane. Writing about EVERYTHING that happens in your niche, or constantly striving to come up with top quality content can be a real chore.

    I prefer to use a variety of posts, Feature, Utility and Pre-sell to keep my blog going with content, but without driving myself crazy. After all, I wanted to work on the Internet to get away from the daily grind… not create another nightmare.

    Slow and steady is definitely the way to go.

    Edward Lomax’s last blog post..Blog Mastermind Is Live… Become A High Paid Blogger