I started to work with computers since I was a kid and as soon as Internet was available in my zone, and to my wallet, I was there connecting with a modem. But I had to wait until 2000 to decide to start some sort of personal presence online. I was a heavy email user before that time but I didn’t have a site, a domain. Social Media was a concept too far away in the future. It wasn’t until 2004 that I started a real personal website. I created some websites previously for clients but I didn’t think seriously to have my own. So in 2004 I started something like a blog that I created in PHP using text files. I had no time and not so much content to use a PHPNuke or some other sort of CMS. It was just an experiment. Later I stared using WordPress, and since that moment, I’m still a happy user of it.
Until that time, the idea of I-need-to-have-a-site wasn’t in my mind, like many of my colleges. It was more a sort of a geek-hobby than a real need, and the idea to build a profile and to have my personal history recorded in search engines was too far away… If I look at the past, I can see many mistakes and many good ideas. I hope this can help someone trying to start doing a personal site.
Let’s start with the mistakes.
I didn’t have a clear target. A clear idea of what I wanted to do with a site. I didn’t even have the idea of building a profile as it is clear today. I just have the strong need to have a site, to have a domain that will be identified with myself so I can find new friends, make contacts and share ideas.
I cared too much about the design instead of the content. The enthusiasm of building a new page led me to think about colors, logo and background while the site was untouched for months. Content matters more than design.
Trying to follow strictly other bloggers recommendations. What works for some people doesn’t mean that will work for me. This was one of the more frustrating mistakes. Trying to follow exactly every recommendation was such a waste of time and resources. Just take other people recommendations as an advice, not as a rule to be followed. At the end I wasn’t satisfied with the results just because I was following the suggestions of someone that had a totally different personality and target than me. Don’t choose any guru, just listen, read a lot, and do what better fits with your needs.
Trying to write for everybody. That’s impossible. Everybody is different, I can’t write something that will like to every reader. Every blog has a public and I had to realize that I cannot make it attractive for everybody. This mistake led me to adapt, change and reorganize the content many times. Dropping posts, adding new ones that I was not really interested to write and so forth. It was a waste of time.
Waste to much time on statistics. I should made to myself these questions. Do I plan to earn money with my personal blog? Do I think that getting more and more visitors will really change my life in some way? Living from this blog was never my intention so why the hell I spent so much time checking the statistics? If you are not planning to live from your blog, just don’t waste your time checking how many people visit your site. Let it be…
About social networking…
Don’t try to get more followers. Social media is like physical interaction. Don’t try to be friend of everybody, it’s impossible. It’s a matter of time to get a real good number of followers/friends. If you try to “force” the process, maybe you will get soon a lot of followers and as soon as you get them, you will loose them. At the beginning people will start following you, and later, if they are not interested about what you say, they will eventually unfollow you. The same for friend based communities, like facebook. They won’t maybe delete you but they will ignore your posts, which is the same. The important is not the number but the quality, and a good quality follower is the one that really reads what you write and that really interact with you. If your blog becomes popular and the number of followers/friends increase dramatically that is a good sign, so don’t waste your time trying to increase numbers.
A good avatar matters. It matters as far as the avatar doesn’t consume too much of your time and resources. Choose something that match your personality. It doesn’t have to be your picture. I chose to put a clear picture of mine because It’s quite probable that I meet many of the people that I follow or follow me, so I want them to recognize me just in case we meet. But it’s not so important.
What I did right
Be yourself. Now I don’t care about the content, I don’t care if this fits with the main topic of this blog or not. This is a personal blog, not a specialized one. I just don’t care anymore. If you are going to write a blog of a specific topic, (I’m doing it for photography) of course you have to stick with it but for a personal site, where the main topic is what is happening around you, just be yourself. If you do that, you will attract people compatible with you who will like what you say. That’s the most valuable public for a personal site. Not the numbers but the quality.
Give more info about yourself. I realized that people was interested about the author of the blog, therefore they wanted to get more information about me. So putting a clear picture, a short and a log bio and some kind of resume is just refreshing for the reader. Just think about the fact that a reader of a personal blog is interested in the author and what’s going around him/her. Usually when I read somebody’s personal site I focus on his/her vision of the world and opinions, I want to know more about the author’s life and experiences. It’s like you are having a conversation with somebody you like.
After this time I just realized that it was quite easy to forget what was the real reason to start a personal blog: “share!” In case you want to do the same, I hope this helps you.
Today I just bought an Apple Magic Mouse because my previous mouse was almost death.
I went to Bic Camera (Big electronic department store in Tokyo) and what I found was this nice box:
This is the box used to transport the mouse and not actually the one to present to the customers! This is just common sense. I wonder who could get motivated to buy a just brown box?
The natural evolution…
Following the rule “instead of email it to some friends or put some poor twits let’s write a blog post.”
How much time do I spend using twitter?
How much time do I spend reading blog posts?
How much time do I spend searching for information in the web?
How much time do I spend producing something after I assimilate all these information?
Actually the time I spent in Google finding information got drastically reduced due the huge amount of feeds and the use of twitter. I spend my time reading the updates in the blogs I follow and following the links of people I follow on twitter. I end up just jumping from one link to another reading everything I can. At the end of the day I’m tired; all my brain energies had been spent assimilating information but producing none. So I had to look for a good equilibrium between input and output.
What am I looking for? Information. Yes but what kind of information? Something related to my niche, something that I’m just interested in or something in a new field or just some news to see what’s going on in the world.
The point is that I have to read all these stuff but I also need time to assimilate it and time to be productive. Of course that information will be really useful, not only to keep me updated, but to bring me the opportunity to generate content of better quality.
So I divided it by time and no-time dependent content.
News for example are time dependent content. The end of Second World War II was the hot news in September 1945 but not today. So first let’s think about the sources and organize each of them.
I count with three mayor information sources: Feeds, Twitter and Google.
Separate them by topics and each of them by time and no-time dependent ones. For example in photography I want to know ASAP when a new camera model comes out, it’s price and availability. This information is time dependent. I don’t want to twit about the new Nikon D5000!! many months after it’s launched.
For me actually the time dependent approach is one of the most important ones and I try to read it in the morning and stop reading it until the next day. Usually news information is easy to assimilate in few minutes; just a superficial reading is enough to identify what is really important and what is not. But don’t keep the whole day reading news, it’s worthless.
Keep checking during the day some of the top blogs you consider the most valuable sources of information, specially the ones that not only are important for you but that generate more than one post per day. Be careful and don’t select many of them, at the end you’ll spend all your time just reading.
Actually lists help a lot. I created a list based on topics and one “personal” one where I added the people that I know personally and that are living in the same zone. I don’t want to loose a new tweetup or the info of an event near my zone.
Personally I’m not a channel follower. Too much information, I got overloaded and again because of that, I have no time to do other stuff.
Try to take a rest from twitter, time to time. I stopped to update the status every second to see what happened. It could become compulsive and obsessive. Just let the time pass, one hour is a reasonable time. If you are involved in a conversation of course, you have to keep checking it, but if not, just checking the time line every hour should be a good approach.
Except the specific search in a specific moment, I do periodic searches about what I cannot find in feeds, twitter and topics related to my niche of interest. In that way I found many useful blogs. I do this around three times per week.
The key is organization and self control to avoid spending too much time doing only one thing. The no-time related content can stay in the cabinet for long time. The most important thing is that you don’t loose it, so keep it apart and little by little you’ll be able to read it all. Anyway I didn’t find any platform or tool that could help me arrange and manage properly the information in the web. I would like a tool that could login to the platforms I joined and do some search on them, bookmark links, program some alerts based on some keywords, time or events, and so forth. Actually I’m using many tools to accomplish only one task: organization.
What do you use to organize yourself with the never ending stream of information?
Do you read everything you find in the web? Don’t you feel loosing productivity and sometimes feeling that after you read so much it’s like you didn’t read anything?
Yesterday night I went to the Tokyo CGM Night Episode 5. As always it was a lot of fun, there were a lot of people to talk with and to exchange contacts with. The aim of Tokyo CGM is to put in contact people that generate content and people that at the same time are users of those contents. Actually everybody could be a broadcaster of information, using any kind of medium, music, photographs, video, text. Technology makes it easy and events like this make it possible to achieve the only thing that technology still cannot achieve: The Human Interaction.
Some pictures of the event. In a later post I will talk about the blogs and people that I met that night: