As Summer 2018 comes to a close, I came back with a renewed energy to write more things on my own. I took a look at some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past and came up with some new rules for myself.
Here are some secrets I learned for myself about personal online publishing:
Be deliberate on the publishing platform you choose
One mistake I made in the past was downplaying the importance of the platform. For example, I was running Drupal behind willkelly.com and got hacked which cascaded some other platform issues for me. That incident led me to flee from Drupal to SquareSpace.
A similar incident happened when the host for my old WordPress blog choked on a plug-in I added to my site. The net result was my blog went off the air. Fortunately, I had exported many of my posts to a wordpress.com blog that I secured under a password.
My plans for the fall include a return to Drupal and WordPress both. To get there, I’m already setting up the platforms and testing them thoroughly before I move my content over. That work is happening now.
On the subject of LinkedIn Publishing, I’m not sold on a numbers perspective after publishing one hundred posts on the platform. LinkedIn has mostly ignored their publishing tools. The algorithms seem to take a Ph.D, in SEO to tame. They are missing out on an opportunity to really democratize personal publishing, and thought leadership in particular, for preserving their handpicked influencers or so it may seem.
Medium, on the other hand, has been a lot better for me. It will undoubtedly garner more of my writing attention this fall. Linking to Medium from my LinkedIn Profile drives better numbers and engagement anyway.
Revise and update old posts is therapeutic
When I relaunched my blog, I took the opportunity to update and revise some of the more evergreen posts I wrote in the final years of my previous blog. For one thing, my writing style had changed dramatically since I wrote some of the posts. Some of the work was so bad, it no longer reflected me as a writer anyway.
The exercise helped me reassess some of my positions on topics and made me feel like I had grown as a writer over the last 5-10 years.
Use checklists to manage progress, writing, editing, and publishing
When I took my old blog off the air, I saw that I didn’t manage the posts like I would an article I would submit to a publication. That was my fault, and my fault only. I adapted one of the editorial checklists I use for paid article writing for my personal writing.
You might think such formality would suck the fun out of my personal writing. It ends up the exact opposite is true. My personal writing suffers from many stops and starts because of work deadlines and billable freelance work.
Front load your writing
I was able to build up some publishing momentum on my run to 100 LinkedIn articles by doing a lot of preliminary writing beforehand and stashed the content in Dropbox Paper. The secret is I wrote drafts of some of those articles weeks even sometimes a month or two before they made it online.
Writing the first drafts of personal posts in spurts, and then finalizing them like I would any other article I write before I publish them online has been key to making the best use of the writing time I have left for personal projects.
Publishing is personal
While I’m in a bit of a lull article writing wise right now, I’m taking advantage of the time to write first drafts of posts that will appear throughout September. Drifting away from personal online publishing as I did was a mistake. My hope is to use these secrets (lessons learned) to keep publishing full-steam until at least the end of the year.
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