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….
I know many bloggers who make their reputation in a specific genre based more on their interaction with people via Twitter and at parties than by actually writing blog posts.
A friend who doesn’t fit this scenario at all has a saying… ‘I’m not a blogger I just talk a lot’. What’s strange about that saying is that he best describes the so-called ‘famous bloggers’ more than he describes himself. The dude actually has good content and close to 700 blog posts over nearly five years!
…[Casey] lives the dream family- and job-wise but still finds time to fork out nearly a blog a week. I’m pretty sure he’s Clark Kent by day and the Superman of the blogs by night. But as his quote goes, he obviously feels that the words aren’t enough.”
It’s been half a decade since my buddy Eric wrote these words about me, but they’ve only grown truer over time. The fam’s grown bigger. The job more complex. I’m still churning content on the daily.
But though the hustle’s still real, a lot changes over time—let me tell you a bit about what my #BloggerLife’s like today.
DESTROY | Blogging Ain’t Like It Used To Be.
It’s been a long time since what I do was “just blogging”. I’ve obsessively raised the bar time and time again since the turn of the decade, seeing the brand evolve into something unrecognisable from its beginnings. I swapped consistency out for quality and socialising out for scribing. I needed to see how high I could reach before I closed this chapter of my life.
But this gig ain’t easy.
DESTROY | You Can’t Do the Same Thing Forever and Expect the Same Results.
“Breaking my plateaus felt like rebuilding myself from scratch… [t]here were cracks in my foundation, gaps in my understanding, and a lot of things that needed refining. I had to reinvent the way I played. In order to go higher I had to break it down and rebuild it up again.”
When you stop feeling like you’re growing, it’s time for some serious self-evaluation, and figure out whether you’re doing the things you should be doing.
And Anthony’s right—there are so many of us who’ve been at this since forever, but we haven’t made it big because we haven’t tapped into what makes each of us unique and stand out from the crowd.
We’re a week into 2019, and I’m here drawing up battle plans for the year of content ahead.
The Life and Times of Casey Palmer—A Bustling Era Ahead
With any luck, you’ve had yourselves a very happy new year so far, full of new opportunities and experiences as you reach for everything 2019 has to offer. In my case, I just got The 2019 200 up and running (so I can stop agonising over every aspect of the 3700-word treatise to resolutions every night—you should really check it out), so, with that out of the way, it’s finally time to work on some time-sensitive things that could probably use my attention.
Hasta la Vista, 2018.
The first is to say goodbye to 2018. Officially.
The problem with my world is that there’s rarely enough time to keep the past in the past.
In my quest to do everything—saying “yes” to plenty of things I probably shouldn’t—I somehow forget that one can’t juggle parenting, work and a world of content without sacrificing something in the process.
But I keep trying anyway despite reality, leaving me with some 2018 content left to deal with and a 2019 that’s not sitting around to wait.
Hey everyone, I hope you’re having a stellar weekend! It’s a busy one over here, but when are they not, right?
So hey—I try to avoid asking y’all for things because my personal mission is to entertain and engage with as many different kinds of content as possible, but I need your help.
I’ve applied to an influencer mentorship program called the Fohr Freshman Class 2018, where they’ll fly a number of creators to NYC for a few days of learning, guidance and support from people who are completely crushing it in the game. I spent days carefully putting my application together, and I think it’s strong enough to warrant a careful look from the panel of judges.
But I need more than just an application—I need testimonials. They want to know they’re dealing with creators who actually mean something and wouldn’t squander an opportunity like this, so they’re reaching out to their audiences to see what makes them so worthwhile.
Any content creator lamenting for the “good ol’ days” is one who’s just not ready for change.
The digital landscape isn’t one that’s ever still. We’ve come a long way from blogging’s humble beginnings, where we had these stand-alone sites that held all the content. I’m sure the bloggers back then couldn’t have seen any of this coming—in a world where you got your video from sketchy Russian sites instead of the juggernaut that’s YouTube in 2018, you just had to have a very different view of how everything worked.
But change was afoot, and soon social media would alter the way things worked forever. While we’d still have a handful of creators who stood out from the rest, now we had access to them like never before—everyone had a voice.
Bloggers simply weren’t ready for all that came next.
The hardest part of creating great content is figuring out where all the pieces go.
The job of a great storyteller is creating a compelling narrative from beginning to end. No fluff to lose your audience’s attention. No ambiguity so they miss the point. A great storyteller uses every tool at their disposal to tell tales that stay with people long after they hear them.
And it’s rare—with blogging, most creators only think a post at a time. They pat themselves on the back for a job well done when they knock a story out of the park.
But there’s a much bigger story at hand—that massive overarching story that started when you shared your very first piece of content with the world and that you’re still developing even as you hustle today.
Maybe it was when you first became a parent and started jotting all your thoughts as your whole world changed around you. For others, it’s that proud moment they finally start a business and begin changing their destinies.
But for me, it goes back earlier still—to my first days as a writer in the ’90s when I wrote short stories and novels as a teenager. I didn’t know then what I know now—that it was the start of a story more than twenty years in the making. One that’d show me where I need to go next.