Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 5, 2012 8:02 AM

Watching Me Blog

Blogs are one of the most valuable marketing tools ever created.

I believe that. I don't just say it. I mean it by walking the talk. I started blogging in September 2003, and since then I have written almost three thousand posts. I'm proud of this blog mostly because it serves two personal Gods for me: my love of writing and my love of sharing. I had the pleasure of speaking in Oslo, Norway last week at the re:think conference. Also on that bill was Chris Brogan (Trust Agents, Social Media 101, Google + For Business). Chris and I have been friends since we first met at PodCamp Boston back in 2006, so any chance to hang out when we're in the same city, we take advantage of. The morning of the conference, we had breakfast and our conversation sparked a blog post (this one: Where Do Ideas Come From?). It was one of those posts that just had to come out, so I started writing it as soon as we got to the venue. To my surprise, Chris blogged about me blogging (how meta!) with his post: Watching Mitch Joel Blog. In the comments section, Peter Petrovski said: "Would love to read more about how you draft, write and publish posts." Here's the deal, Peter...

My blogging philosophy:

  • It's me. Only me. I write, edit, post, moderate, etc... everything. I have an amazing team at Twist Image that did all design and infrastructure, but the content is all me (including the updating of the Blogroll).
  • It's visceral. I write (almost) everyday. I post when I am done writing. There are moments when I write more than one blog post at a time and - in those rare cases - I will schedule them to the next day.
  • I commit to consistency. I attempt to have six unique blog posts every week and one audio podcast (on Sunday). So, while I may not post daily, you will receive seven pieces of content from me each and every week.
  • It's one shot. I don't ruminate and hold blog posts as drafts. I have an idea, I write it.
  • I do not mention brands. As often as possible, I try not to call out brands - especially ones that have screwed up. My philosophy is that the learning from the mistake is more important than who made the mistake. Also, as an agency owner, you never know where your next client will come from.
  • Easy on the self-promotion. I do my best to provide value to you with the intention that if it's valuable, I'll become an option should your company require digital marketing services. I try to keep the self-promotion to a dull roar... as much as possible. That being said, I'm proud of what we're accomplishing here, so it does creep in. The core ideology is that the content should be of value to you first and foremost.

Pre-show (what happens before I blog):

  • I'm an infovore. No doubt about it. From e-newsletters and magazine to business books and RSS feeds, I'm constantly consuming reading, watching and listening to content. My attitude is that I would rather be inundated with emails and feeds than be left surprised when news breaks. I much prefer the delete button over not being in the loop.
  • When something turns into a blog idea, there are two repositories for it:
    • I keep an email folder titled "Blog", where links to articles that inspire are put.
    • I write it down in my trusted. Moleskine notebook.
  • I've tried keeping notes on my iPhone using Evernote and the like, but it just doesn't work for me. I'm better off emailing the idea to myself and placing in the Blog folder.

Writing the blog post:

  • The physical space doesn't matter. I don't need to be in a specific room, desk or chair to be inspired. My attitude is very military-like: just write.
  • I prefer to write in silence (music: even classical and jazz) takes my focus off of the words.
  • I use a MacBook Air 13 inch laptop to write.
  • My blogging software is Windows Live Writer. Because this is a PC only program, I run vmware on my MacBook Air just for that one program. I wish someone would write a Mac software as awesome as Windows Live Writer (I blogged about all of this right here: My Blog Writing Dilemma).
  • The blogging platform is MovableType. I'm sure we would be on WordPress had it existed when I started blogging, but it wasn't as robust back then. It's just too much work to switch that all now.
  • I believe in tags. As you can see from this post (and any other post), I love adding lots and lots of tags. It makes it much easier to find content later on.
  • A typical blog post takes me twenty to forty minutes from cradle to grave. Yes, I write fast. On average, I can write about 1000 words of original content in about an hour.

After the post:

  • Once it's posted and live, I tend to let people on Twitter and Facebook know by asking a question. For example, with this blog post I might tweet: "What's your blogging philosophy? Here's mine..." I find that asking a question generates comments and sharing.
  • I try to respond to comments, but I'm admittedly not great at it. Some weeks, I respond to every comment and then there are weeks when I don't respond at all. It's not you... it's me. It's nothing personal. I read each and every one and I am always honored that people take the time to comment, it's just that life often catches up to me and my philosophy is that I'd rather spend what limited time I do have writing more original content than responding to comments. It's probably not the most "social" way to be, but that's how I am wired.

While the idea of tagging a blog post as a way to start a meme has all but died, I'd love to see people like Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Amber Naslund, Jeff Jarvis, Mark W. Schaefer, Avinash Kaushik, Jason Falls, Gini Dietrich, Tom Peters, Jay Baer, Darren Rowse and David Meerman Scott follow this template and write a post about how they Blog. Feel free to ping them and let them know that I've called them out!

Christopher S. Penn over at Awaken Your Superhero is playing along: How I Blog.

Mark W. Schaefer over at Grow is playing along too: An inside view of the blogging process.

By Mitch Joel