When I began blogging in 2006, I became connected with a number of other teachers who were also using blogs. We would visit each other’s website and read each other’s posts and leave comments. This was an form of social media. We were doing that well before Facebook and Twitter hit the scene.
When I started my blog, I had the mindset that I would write reflections of what I was working on in the classroom and not really worry if anyone would read it or not. I figured the chances of someone being interested in what I had to say were slim. If someone read what I wrote, that was just extra gravy. Mostly I was writing for my own benefit.
I have been re-reading a book called Writing to Learn. William Zinnser, the books author, talks about how the writing process is our ticket to learning in just about any endeavor. He holds that writing is one of the best ways to reflect on whatever the problems are that you’re trying to solve and or whatever it is you’re trying to learn.
When I was working on my doctorate, I fell away from keeping a regular blog or even participating on social media. I realize now that it was a big mistake to do that. I even realized it at the time, wanting to blog about what I was thinking and learning, but the emotions that went along with that kind of work were too raw and too strong for me to make public. That is precisely why I should have overcome my fears and done it anyway.
In the book, “Growth Hacker Marketing” by Ryan Holiday, he talks about how growth hackers are bypassing traditional marketing channels with social media. He says the traditional approach to writing is to go away in isolation (exactly what I did) and return after the work is finished hoping to promote the it to readers, and gambling that the entire endeavor will pay off.
Holiday argues that with the growth hacker approach, the author blogs about the work as it is in progress, and interacts with interested readers along the way, using their feedback to hone and tweak the work into something that has PMF or Product Market Fit. In other words, the writer gets a critique along the way and is able to hone the final product into something that will be well refined into something highly desirable by its intended audience.
I wonder how much the motion picture industry would be improved by taking this approach? Wouldn’t movie fans everywhere love to be able to view the dailies as they come in! A daring film production team should try this, and let people see behind the scenes as the film is being made, every step of the way. After all, that is exactly how Andy Weir wrote The Martian, before it became a finished blockbuster novel and movie. He let his audience follow his progress and provide crowd sourced feedback making The Martian have perfectly optimized PMF. If the original story was crafted this way, why not have the film follow a similar process?
Now that my dissertation is completed, I’ve returned to my old stomping grounds of social media and blogging only to find that things have changed. No one is really reading a lot of small name blogs anymore. Everything has shifted to social media and it’s short bursts of information and visual memes. Social media has almost completely replaced the blog as a communications media. Sure, there are still successful blogs out there, but I’m not feeling the sense of community in the blogosphere that once was there; maybe I’m missing it.
However, I’ve gotten a lot of benefit from going back and reading my old blog posts from a decade ago. I think I will continue to benefit as I return and reflect on things I write. So I think I will return to my original mindset about blogging. I will write for myself, and if someone else benefits that’s even better! Who knows? Maybe something I’m working on and writing about will resonate and people who share my interests will reconnect with me because of this effort.