But hoping and dreaming for things isn’t nearly enough to make them happen, so I hunkered down to start laying the groundwork for the future I saw ahead.
Hammering away blindly looking to stumble upon a result isn’t good enough, though—you can only work so hard. There are only so many hours in the day. You run out of steam, life distracts you, and if you’re not creating with an ongoing distribution strategy in mind, it means you’re shooting content off into the internet, never to see it again.
And when you’ve spent the better part of a decade putting well over a thousand posts out into the digital ether, let me tell you—that’s a lot of wasted potential.
But sometimes even the oldest dogs can learn new tricks, and that’s what squirrelled away this last little bit.
That said, though we have a myriad of tools in 2020 to do fantastic work, do we have what it takes to use them?
It’s the end of a decade, and I can’t help but reflect on where I am now versus where I was back in December 2009.
This entire decade, pretty much, has been the balancing act between the blog, the family, and the day-to-day work as a public servant for Ontario.
Back then, I’d just started my first job out of the Ontario Internship Program, putting my time and energy into that and the time I spent with Sarah. I didn’t even really use Facebook at the time, much less everything I’d get up to on Twitter just a year later—the world I spend all this time on now as a Canadian Dad was utterly inconceivable to me back then, because so much less was on the line. Nor was I married. Or had any kids. So many of the things that make me a better man and keep me coming back to do the best that I can for all that are things I wouldn’t appreciate until I had them.
But a decade later, my friend Ramy put it to me best—the more you do something, the more your capacity grows to take on even more, and that’s the mentality I’m keeping with me as I get ready for 2020. Work smarter. Plan better. Make better decisions. I’ve come this far this last decade while doing whatever I wanted and getting better at it along the way. But you eventually hit a point where that just doesn’t cut it anymore, and in 2020, I think I’ll finally learn what I’m made of.
LESSON ONE: Success is More Than Just a Number on a Screen
One thing I can tell you that separates the me today from the person I was a decade ago is that I think differently.
When I started this blogger journey, I treated success like it was a quantifiable measure. That I was the sum of the followers I had. Or that I should measure my happiness by the number of comments I got on my work. I would chase after engagement rates, post frequencies and Domain Authority scores, thinking that they were the keys to my success, but what I understand now is that they’re all just indicative of something much larger at play.
It goes back to what I’ve been saying all along—the medium doesn’t matter if you’ve got an amazing story to tell.
When I took a break from creating as intensely as I usually did in the last few months of the decade, it made me understand that it was what I probably should’ve been doing all along—taking the time to make my work great instead of just good. You get used to trying so hard to be first or trying to be on trend that you forget that great work usually doesn’t just pop out of thin air. If you don’t spend the time and nurture it, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.
What that sweat equity looks like for me is bleeding pens dry. Blazing through as many notebooks as I can. I’m trying to spin gold from a dining room table full of straw every night, and as much as it pains some right now to see me work as hard as I do, I keep doing it because I know there are higher heights I can reach if I try.
If you told me about the wild roller coaster ride ahead back when I was tweeting about my lunch in ’08. There’s no way I ever could’ve seen it. The blog’s given me so much—it’s let me travel across the continent. Play with all sorts of toys. I’ve made countless friendships and opened my eyes to a bigger world than I’d ever imagined… but it’s time I start striving for whatever comes next.
The writing’s been on the wall since forever as the opportunities dried up and the world’s attention moved elsewhere.
It means that the average blogger can’t make money from their work as quickly as they did before. The world continually asks more from the content it consumes, and despite tens of thousands of years of history, the written word can’t keep up anymore.
But for me, that’s okay. I mean… I never really meant to become a blogger anyway.
Why Me Blog?
Back in the day, all I ever wanted to do was draw.
As a kid, I’d read Nintendo Power and sketch out the levels for video game sequels I dreamt up in my head. Year by year, I kept drawing up ideas, so much so that I believed it’s what I’d do for the rest of my life.
Today I’m thirty-six. I’m thirty-six, and I blog in a world that doesn’t read blogs anymore.
And who can blame it? The written word only does so well at telling a story, with podcasts, videos and photos doing a far better job of filling the details between the lines than we could’ve ever imagined. The world’s changed aplenty from what it was when I started this a decade ago, and the one thing it continually asks me to do is something I still struggle with no matter how many times I work to figure out my ideas—
It’s time to re-think how I deliver my content.
The Biggish Blogger Problem.
I had coffee with a good friend from TELUS the other day, and he gave me some proper perspective on the current lay of the land.
The blog is dead. It’s long past the point of accepting the fact—though long-form content still does remarkably well on Google, we should be rethinking the way that content works in 2019 instead of looking to game the system with the stuff we’ve already got.
We’re in an age where smart assistants are popping up in homes across the country, with preference given to short answers that get to the point rather than meander about like the thousand-word treatises we’ve grown so used to. Stellar video’s not limited to big studios; music’s made at kitchen tables. There’s so much content out there, and the bar’s so high that everyone’s looking for stuff that’ll blow their minds… and that’s what I need to work on next.
As I hustle to consolidate my ideas in one place, I can’t help but look back on the year so far and how much I’ve accomplished in the process. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to slow things down and take some time to let things simmer, but it hasn’t been that kind of year—I’m finally getting my act together, and I know it won’t happen overnight.
The Quest to Make EXCELLENT Content.
I’m convinced I’m on to something, trying to mine the very best content from the hundreds of ideas I have scattered about, but I need to be patient with it all because amazing content can’t be rushed.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Our standards have plummeted in the hunt for quick content, too many creators looking for ways to game the system instead of actually innovate. We try hard to mimic others’ successes rather than look to forge our own paths, confused when it doesn’t work for us as well as it did for the last guy. And that’s a damn shame in a world craving better content than ever.
So sure—I’m a bit behind with my posts. But it’s because I want to create something the calibre of which the world rarely sees—I’m consistently inconsistent, but when I put work out, I want it to be amazing.
That in mind, let’s not dawdle any longer. You came here to see where I’m at with my second monthly update, and I’m more than happy to oblige. Without further ado, I present The State of the #BloggerLife, March 2019—”Consistently Inconsistent”.
I hope you enjoy it!
The 2019 200 Monthly Update — February
Zach put it best—with any to-do list, it’s only human to do the easy stuff first for that rush of accomplishment and leave the harder stuff for later. And that’s precisely what happened with The 2019 200, getting so much done in January that I was on track to finish the list by September.
But reality eventually catches up to you, and as you struggle to make everything fit, you soon understand what’s actually possible with the time you have and what’s just wishful thinking.
So for February, amidst Live from the 3.5 and everything I got up to for Black History Month, here’s what I managed to accomplish amidst all the chaos….