23 November 2011

6 lessons I learnt from my guest-post on Problogger

On 24th September 2011 my guest post was published on Problogger. The heading was "The Science of Blogging". This was my first serious step into the blogging world.

In this article I intend to discuss some of the lessons that I learnt from that guest post.

1) You may not realize that you are ready

When I first wrote the post and emailed it to Problogger, I was not at all sure that it will be accepted. I had extremely little web-writing experience until then which I had gained by creating a very poor physics based website through Weebly. I intended to create a nice blog one day and so I used to regularly read Problogger. I don't think that that guest post was the best that I could produce. In fact I had forgotten to add an image to the post.

Four (or maybe three) days passed but I received no response from Problogger. I was not upset because I was almost certainly expecting the rejection.

But then something happened. I received the following email (it's verbatim):

Hi Syed,
Thanks very much for your email and this great submission -- I really enjoyed it and will be happy to include it on the site.

I have a spot available on September 18, so I'll slot it into the
schedule to publish then. To publish the piece, I'll just need a bio
from you, which can include links to your sites if you wish.

Thanks again for this great contribution to the site. I look forward
to seeing how the readers respond to it.

Content manager

(Email reproduced here with the kind permission of Ms. Georgina Laidlaw.)

P.S. - The good Ms. Georgina Laidlaw shifted the date of publication from 18 to 24 upon my request.

So never hesitate to try. You maybe able to do it but it's just that you are not realizing it. At the most what will happen? You'll get one rejection. So what? In fact if rejected, you can publish the post on your own blog.

2) Try new things

I've said above how little knowledge and experience I had when I wrote the guest post. It still got more than 460 tweets! I was surprised.

You can't predict the future with 100% accuracy. Things which you think may not work may become very popular and even your best work may fail to please your readers.

For e.g. it happens quite often in the movie industry that big names fail to produce a hit while a novice may become popular overnight. It all depends upon the audience.

I think the reason why my post got a positive response is that I presented the subject of blogging in a new way. Two of the many comments that I received were: "This is the first uncommon blog-post I read after a long time!" and "Never thought of it like this before."

Every field has some of its formulas that almost always work and you can follow them. But in order to stand out from the crowd you must try something new. Something which no one has done before you. Think. You'll find something.

3) Be ready to receive visitors

This was a very crucial error I made. My blog was not properly updated to welcome guests. I lost a golden opportunity to convert visitors into subscribers!

Actually I had created that blog in a hurry. I thought I should make some profits from the visits that I'm going to get from Problogger and hence I decided to create a blog. It hardly had any content on it. Even the little matter that it had was very poorly designed. Fonts, colours, headings, sub-headings - everything needed proper formatting.

The result?

I got one extra Twitter follower and almost no one returned to check my blog again.  Ah!

Moral of the story - don't publish your blog until it's ready. Else you'll only make a fool of yourself and hit your brand name.

4) Never try to sell to new readers

I wrote a post on my blog telling people that I'm writing an e-book especially for Problogger readers and it will be available for sale on so and so date.

Not a single person returned to check on that date or even afterwards.

You must never try to sell anything to new readers. First give out plenty of useful information for free. Build trust with your readership and in fact first develop a strong readership. Only then try to sell things.

Will you want to buy a book that no one has recommended to you? Who's author's name you are hearing for the first time? A book that has won no awards?

5) It built my credibility

I keep applying for freelance writing jobs. Before the publication of my guest post, I was not getting any decent work proposals. In fact some people didn't even reply to my applications. 

Things changed after the guest post publication. I got work pretty easily as compared to before and now people started contacting me for work rather than the other way round.

6) I'm on the right track

Well this is the most important lesson I learned from the acceptance of my guest post - that I'm working in the right direction.

I had made some big decisions in my life which were quite different from the normal trend. 

Problogger's guest post proved to me that my decisions have not gone in vain. (Maybe I'm showing vanity.)

In fact the blog that you are reading right now was created mainly because of the confidence that I gained from that guest post.  

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