BECOMING A BETTER BLOGGER: Square Peg, Round Hole

There was a time where I realized that creating anything that was worth it would need a WHOLE lot of work. I mustn’t forget this.

Blogging is a hustle. It requires you mind, heart and soul to produce content and have it truly reflect who you are. With so many bloggers out there, you’re unlikely to see any returns from your writing without a lot of effort and a lot of time. Building a blog is a labour of love, and you need to mould it into something outstanding. But if you’re a blogger putting content out and relying on consistent frequency and not consistent quality, I’m sorry, but you’re doing blogging wrong.

Is Consistency King?

These past few years of immersion in social media haven’t been passive for me. On top of all the events, the tweets and the new relationships I’ve developed over that time, I’ve attended many webinars and conferences; read ebooks and blogs; and spoken with many “thought leaders” about social media and being successful with it.

Much of it points to the same thing — be consistent with your content. Let your audience know when to expect the next instalment so they’re subconsciously ready for it. Expectation is key.

And I agree — I’d love to move to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday format, putting content out at 9 every morning, ready for all the people who want some content to consume before they start their busy days. But that’s not going to happen.

Not yet, anyway.

Thirst vs. Truth

I’m a mix of a few things when it comes to my blog — a realist, impatient, and an ambitious perfectionist.

My realist side knows that there’s only so many hours in a day, and that blogging isn’t my top priority. My marriage; my relationship with family and friends; and maintaining enough income to support my lifestyle (among others) far outrank it, so I must be realistic about how much time I can put toward my blog.

My impatient side, however, wants to see this change. It wants importance now. It wants to make blogging a higher priority and for all of it to amount to something today — to call his own shots and be seen as some authority in some industry somewhere. He has no plan (he hates planning) and wants everything to happen immediately, without fully realizing how much work it takes for anyone to get anywhere.

Especially in social media.

But it’s the ambitious perfectionist side of me that’s really running the show. He refuses to release content until he’s added tags to the images; scanned the text to make sure it delivers as powerfully as possible; and feel like it’s the best possible effort that he could put out. Sure, he’d like to put content out regularly, but to him, blogging is an art form and he’s not about to compromise it by trying to force something mediocre out to try to hit an arbitrary schedule.

And that’s where I see the problem — too many bloggers are using an outdated rulebook and focusing on hitting that schedule without making sure that what they’re putting out is the very best that they can produce.

Quality Over Quantity — Every. Single. Time.

We can’t accomplish anything that’s worth it overnight — just ask the ridiculous amount of crosswords, Sudokus and other word and number puzzles I solved to try to hone my brain!

Blogs have been around for well over a decade, and it’s not like the market for people’s attention has shrunk since then. If you want to make an impact, you’ve got to give people a reason to want to pay attention to you. Engagement isn’t a natural by-product of creating content consistently — you have to earn it by making stuff that you stand behind. That you’re passionate about. That you believe in.

And you won’t get that if you half-ass your craft to hit a quota.

To those of you who’ve managed to balance quality and frequency, I applaud you. You invest the time, you don’t cut corners, but your time management skills are stupendous enough to keep it consistent. You are the type of bloggers we need to aspire to become if we ever want blogging to get the respect we so obviously crave.

To everyone else — it’s time to wake up; mediocrity isn’t going to cut it anymore. The Internet is flooded with content — most of it mediocre — and convincing an already-swamped audience that you’re the person to listen to will need info and content with the highest calibre of authority, entertainment and value available to them. It’s like I said before — stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, and guess what:

if you don’t step your game up, you’ll definitely be falling behind.

–case p.

Operation: Fix Yo Face

Though I’m known for being lucky, it’s important to remember that there are two kinds of luck. 2012 saw a lot of great luck — the spoils of which will carry over into 2013 — but I’m at a man of extremes, and the other shoes had to drop sometime.

I was planning to come out swinging in 2013 with blogs, new content and a fire that the world hadn’t seen before. 2012 had been ramping up to some serious moves, and I was excited to show what I was capable of!

But then I got sick.

You don’t need to be grievously ill to get thrown off your game; some illnesses, while not life-threatening, can deliver a real blow to your ego and confidence.

So enter — Bell’s Palsy.

Two-Face, or, My Battle With Bell’s

“We thought we could be decent men, in an indecent time.” — Two-Face, The Dark Knight, 2008

It came out of nowhere — one day I was fine, next thing you know, I’m losing hearing in one ear. Then it turns into an external infection, sharp headaches and on New Year’s Eve, suddenly I can’t move the entire left side of my face.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been on all sorts of meds trying to kick the sick, but nothing managedseems to stick. (See what I did there?)

Dealing with the bouts of pain and decreased abilities that come with Bell’s has definitely been a challenge, but I’m trying all sorts of methods to win this battle. Doctors, vitamins, facial massages, acupuncture — I don’t take something like this lightly, but we often need to show patience in the face of adversity and just see it through.

Me Sick? That’s UNPOSSIBLE!

Ciprodex, Cephalex, Valtrex, oh my!!!

Palmers are generally very resilient human beings. My little brother Adrian has survived through countless illnesses in his youth, while my baby brother Brian managed to get into all sorts of trouble and emerged unscathed. Me, I’m rarely sick, never broken any bones, needed surgery or had to go to a hospital outside of volunteer shifts and the odd illness.

So you can imagine how disconcerting it is, being sick with something that sleep and a few extra litres of water just won’t fix.

Being diagnosed with something potentially incurable is never any fun. The waiting. The “will it? won’t it?” thinking that you go through while you’re stuck with the symptoms. Thinking that if you can just get through this one, you’ll make sure it never happens again!

At first, I felt self-conscious about it and didn’t want to speak to anyone. I didn’t want anyone seeing me at anything less than 100%.

But these are the hurdles that we need to overcome in our lives day after day.

“I’m not smart enough.”

“I’m not cool enough.”

“I’m not handsome enough.”

Rock the Bell’s

In its own twisted way, I feel like this has been a lesson in getting over myself. A lesson in getting past my exterior and focusing on becoming better in general. While I’d love to regain full motor control of my face, if it takes weeks, months, or never even heals — I still have a blog to write. A job to do. A life to live with my family and friends.

A facial flaw is not the end of the world.

So while it slowed me down, it’s time for me to get back on my game and do what I came out to do in the first place — create awesome content in 2013!

I’m far from invincible, but Bell’s Palsy ain’t gonna break my stride. 2013’s all about the promise of the future — not dwelling on the troubles that plague us today.

How’s your 2013 looking so far?

–case p.

43.6638437-79.3893344

2013: The Journey So Far.

Casey at 14 still wore sweatshirts with Mickey Mouse on them and was working on pioneering the selfie. 1997, y’all. Please believe it.

To try to do 100 things in a year is an ambitious goal. Not the most novel idea ever, but ambitious! And not the not only is it more things than weeks in the year, as was pointed out to me…

…but it’s one thing every 3 1/2 days. In fact, with me posting this on January 6th, you could argue that I’m already behindDoomed to failure with goals far loftier than my schedule will allow!

Let’s slow down a sec, though — this mission isn’t as impossible as you might think!

2012 vs. 2013

A joint picture between #TeamTrolling, #TOCrew, and whoever else we were partying with that night!

I’d love 2013 to be a game-changing year. I started sharing some of the ideas I have for the next year with friends, and they often ask: “What makes a game-changing year?” Is having a kid? Changing jobs? Blogging more? Blogging less to plan more? Planning less and doing more?

Trying to limit what will or won’t make a game-changing gear to a specific definition is dangerous business! If we judge whether a year is a good one by whether we make a certain amount of money, or attend a certain party or even carry out a specific goal… we eliminate the possibility for so many other things that we can add to our lives!

2012 was an insanely busy year for me. I pushed myself to fit more into my schedule and be involved in things I’m interested in more than I’d ever done before. But it was one of my best years, too!

But I didn’t enter 2012 with a plan. When I finished 2011, I was worn out from trying to run a daily blog — ready to take a break from writing and blend into the background. On top of that, I got married, travelled, spent a lot of time at tweetups, commuted between my current house and my parents’ home in Mississauga constantly, changed jobs twice — all this may have been a little over-ambitious.

But 2012 brought unexpected wins. Unforeseen opportunities. Reasons to post often. Stronger friendships. Insane adventures.

It also brought daily Man Lessons. More photography sessions. Tighter scheduling. Sarah and I needing to get a little smarter about how we spend our money, effort and time.

So this time, I made a list to keep track of the things I’d like to do, so that I wouldn’t let another year breeze by while blindly trying to figure out what I’m doing!

6 Days Down, 98 Goals to Go.

So back to my point — intentionally or not, I’m right on schedule! In fact, I can say that I’ve already gotten a couple of the items on the list done!

#14 — Update my résumé

There’re goals that’re intentional — the ones you need to plan and set some time aside to do — and some that just happen due to forces outside of your control!

For those not in the know, I’ve been in my current day job temporarily — and the time is up. But when word gets out that you’re becoming a free agent, it can really grab others’ attention!

So with updated résumés making the rounds and my LinkedIn up to date, I consider #14 done and done!

#43 — Turn My Negatives and Slides Into Digital Images

This one was much easier than I anticipated! I thought I’d need to go to the Toronto Reference Library or hire someone to do it, but turns out that with a little update, my scanner become quite the beast!

Let’s call this one done for now — I got all the negatives I’d liberated from my parents’ over the holidays scanned in; the only things to do now are grab my parents’ and parents-in-law’s negatives; see if I left any more at my parents’ next time I’m there.

But for now? Case closed.

Other Updates

#53 — Eat breakfast more often

Don’t know if it’ll be a habit for life, but I’ve been making sure to eat breakfast every day since the start of 2013, and don’t intend to stop anytime soon! If I could pair this up with #9 — cook at least one meal, I’d be well on my way to not snacking on ridiculous food anymore!

#91 — Transfer all my external storage to an SSD Drobo system

Now that I know that Drobos run on a proprietary software system (which can lock you out from your files if the Drobo starts failing), I’m going to look for at some other solutions for backing my data up.

T0 2013… and Beyond!

So what will 2013 bring?

What I do know is this 2012 taught me that if I really want to pursue the things that I passionately believe in, I need to reshape my life and find the time to work on them. The real question is — what am I willing to do to make that happen?

Good luck to everyone trying to make something happen in 2013 I don’t know about you, but I’ll definitely need it!

–case p.

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The Power of “We” — Finding Better Ways to Get to Our Goals

We wouldn’t have reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and back without our team of porters!

I find life funny — many of us have very similar goals to one another, but the world is a finite place. There’s only so much time, so much money — in short, there’s not enough resources out there for everyone to have as much a they’d like. The way we’re going now, some people will  come out empty-handed!

So why aren’t we pooling our resources and working toward collective goals?

Lesson 1: The Needs of the Many

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

–Captain Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1982

One of the huge flaws with our current society is its strong focus on the individual. We’re told when we’re young that we can be the best. We can be on top. We can be better, faster and stronger than anyone else around us. And while I’m sure we can, the better question is whether we need to be the best, or can we be just as amazing as a handful of people who we work with?

Lesson 2: “Help” is Not a Taboo Word

Somehow, many of us have convinced ourselves that asking for help is somehow a sign of weakness.

Which is probably one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever heard.

No one person can possibly be the best at everything. My ability to run fast makes me well-suited for sports like dodgeball and ultimate frisbee, but utterly hopeless at volleyball. I can figure out the most fiendishly complex puzzle games you offer me, but will be the first person to be picked off in a first-person shooter. We are all good at different things.

So — why the heck wouldn’t we ask people for help in areas where we know we’re not that good? Much like I alluded to in my last post, there’s definitely a fear element involved that both holds us back from asking for help and makes us reticent to provide it. And because of this, we all wind up clinging to isolated paths where the odds are against us and we can only succeed so much.

If you don’t believe me, it’s purely logical at the basic level — 2 people can do in 12 hour what 1 can do in a day. 4 in 6 what 2 can in 12 and so on. By pooling like resources, not only do we improve our chances of reaching our goals, but we also afford ourselves a quicker turnaround if/when we fail, since it won’t take as long to carry out the changes necessary to make something successful.

If you have a group of people genuinely dedicated to helping each other, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved!

If.

Lesson 3: Good Help is SO Hard to Find

And therein the problem lies. Theoretically, this is all good and fine, but finding people who commonly believe in the same goal and are willing to put time aside to work at achieving it is not easy. Everyone has different priorities. Everyone has different levels of effort that they can contribute. Finding the right people to align yourself with isn’t easy but here’re some places to start your hunt:

  • Twitter: People are constantly talking about their passions on Twitter! Find out how to do an advanced Twitter search and look up keywords that’re specific to your field. Chances are that you’ll find people in your neck of the woods trying to do some of the same things that you are!
  • Networking Events: Even when they’re focused around certain areas of interest, it’s rare for people to have one interest alone. Find a solid networking event and discuss your ideas until you’re blue in the face. But remember — I said discuss; a discussion requires active contribution and listening in order to work. If you’re nothing more than a loudspeaker, people will eventually tune you out.
  • Facebook Pages and Other Forums: Finally, there are Facebook Pages and Internet forums on pretty much any topic inconceivable. Find some that align to what you want to do and make some connections!

The world’s a very big place, but we’re a very big population with some very big ideas. There’s room enough for all of us, but only if we choose to work together and stop trying to carve out small pieces for each and every one of us. It isn’t sustainable. If isn’t smart. It doesn’t even align with our best interests as a society!

The power of “we” will always be greater than the Power of “Me”. We need to spend less time being ourselves for the sake of ourselves and more to keep our communities strong. No one is an island — so why do we try so hard to convince ourselves otherwise?

–case p.

[This post was written as part of Blog Action Day 2012, focused on the topic of “The Power of We”]

The 2010 20K: Day 7 – Still Schemin’

Just finished reading Chris Ballard's The Butterfly Hunter: Adventures of People Who Found Their True Calling Way Off the Beaten Path last night.

Today's haul was a decent haul – another $16 from some winning Cash for Life scratch cards (yes, from Sarah – it's been indicated that she's been having quite the active role in this blog – but if she's reaping benefits from it, then why not?) and $1 donated from Sakshi (thanks, Sakshi!) – tomorrow I see myself cashing in some lottery tickets as well 🙂 Gotta get it where you can, right?

Some more ideas:

Casey's scanning service – I have an 8" x 14" scanner that converts film into digital images, so I'd do that for a nominal fee

Casey's portable mini recording studio – I have a Shure SM 58 with a Shure X2U to connect it directly to a computer, so if someone needs to record quality audio, I've gotcha covered

Casey's organization service – files all over the place on your computer? Can't remember where you put that doohickey? Casey Palmer to the rescue! I can run mindmaps to organize your notes, Excel spreadsheets to get your finances sorted out, or even build new scripts to help make what you do on your computer far easier

Been more of a lackadasical day – hope to have an active weekend of 20K action – writing, drawing and websiting needs to be done!

Also, if anyone wants to share any Settlers of Catan war stories, I'm all ears. I think I'm on my sixth near-win (as opposed to an outright loss) in a row.

The 2010 20K Running Total: $40.10

Thanks for reading!

–case p.