I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now and most of the time I enjoy it. It’s become a great creative and professional outlet. Researching, writing, and interacting with the readers allows me to express myself and connect with others. I’ve grown tremendously, both personally and professionally, as a result.
On occasion I do struggle with a post (like this one, for example). Sometimes it’s the subject matter, or perhaps I’m just not on top of my game. When that happens I reach out to my network, usually through Twitter, for a helping hand. What’s interesting to see is the variety of people who respond to my call for assistance. People well removed from the Human Resource space I normally occupy have stepped up and offered their help to me, essentially a total stranger.
This outpouring of help has shown me a few things. First, is that the ease in which people can view and respond to others online highlights how critical it is to present yourself in the best possible light. It can be easy to forget that in the internet age you’re essentially onstage all of the time. If I was a jerk would I have received such quality help and made great new connections in the process? Not likely. Help with my blog posts shows how giving people can be. They will volunteer and take time from their busy lives, but only if they perceive you or the cause you represent to be worth that investment.
Second, another benefit of asking for help is that for the most part the quality of the feedback has been excellent. I’ve found that those outside of the Human Resources field are usually the most critical-from highlighting inconsistencies, providing insight on improving the format, and asking pertinent questions-in order to make the post stronger. That’s not to say that my HR colleagues are slackers. I believe much of it has to do with the fact that, since they already have a relationship to me and my work, they understand my thoughts behind the words better than a stranger would. It’s like being in a long-term relationship; after a while you develop a mental short-hand which allows you to communicate with each other using less words. Also, let’s face it, the people you’re close to tend to support you by being a cheerleader, not a criticizer. They’re just happy that you’re out there giving it your best shot.
Third, I learned that to improve-as a blogger, father, or in any other role-it’s important that I not settle for less than my best. I can easily do two things when faced with a difficult post. One, I can scrap it, denying myself the chance to stretch my limits. Two, I can publish it and water down the overall quality of my work, which is something I want to avoid. By sticking with it I’ve developed the mental and creative muscle needed to improve and better deliver quality work on a consistent basis.
Fourth, I learned that being better means remaining humble and open to feedback. As I mentioned before, I’ve gotten some very critical feedback of my work, both online and off. For blog posts, volunteers have essentially re-written my drafts (or strongly suggested that I do it myself) because they believed it would greatly improve the content, purpose, or flow of the piece. It would have been very easy to have my ego (“This is MY blog!”) prevent me from receiving good insight. If nothing else, being open to other thoughts and opinions has pushed me to be able to more clearly articulate my thoughts and opinions, as well as construct more effective posts. It’s also gained me new appreciation for those individuals and the intelligence and generosity they possess. People who care help you best by providing what you need, not necessarily what you want. Sometimes that means a swift kick in the pants. Understanding that pain in your ass for the gift that it is can go a long way toward preparing you for success.
So this post is my way of saying “Thank you!” to everyone (online and off) that’s helped me be better. You took your time, energy, humor, and intelligence, and shared it with me in hopes that I would do something useful with it. I hope I didn’t (and won’t ever) disappoint you.
So, I’m curious-what resources do you use to be a better blogger? Leave a comment and let me know?