Under the heading of “practice what you preach” I struggled yesterday to implement a tactic covered in “Better Blogging for Your business.” The struggle came down to just putting great content out there that was quick and dirty.
One of the most talented and knowledgeable engineers at our company is not a fan of writing prose. He is actually very good at it but prefers not to do it. The problem is that he has a lot of great knowledge that can be turned into useful content on our blog.
The book has a whole section devoted to understanding and motivating people to produce content, and what to do if they can’t or won’t. One solution offered is to grab a PowerPoint slide deck from them and just publish that. This tactic works really well with several of our engineers, including the one discussed above.
It was straight out of the book. His PowerPoint was simple, concise, easy to follow, and most importantly, useful to users of the software we resell and support. He emailed it to me. I quickly reviewed it and only made a change to the background on the slides, and it was ready to go.
This is a perfect example of publishing useful content often:
- Save as a PDF
- Open up WordPress
- Add new Post
- Add the PDF as media
- Write a quick introduction
- Insert the PDF
- Stick in some keywords
- Grab an image form a slide and make it the featured image
- Set author to the engineer who created the slide deck
- Click Publish.
Except I couldn’t click. I froze. It had taken me less than five minutes to do exactly what I recommend in the book, and I hesitated. I ran into the fear that this content was too quick and dirty.
The slides were great. That was not the problem. I knew that if I wanted to accomplish the task covered by the slides it would be a great resource. Better than a standard blog post because the slide deck fits the format of step by step instructions better.
Time for a walk to the break room for some coffee… maybe there are some snacks out too. As I took this little break I tried to figure out what my problem was. And it came to me.
Some part of my brain was saying that the post was not fancy enough. I was feeling the desire to show off rather than just get useful information to our customers. The option existed to take the PowerPoint and rewrite the content as a post, formatted and lengthy. Part of me feared that if I didn’t do that, something bad would happen.
It was a quick trip, as I got back to my desk I realized how stupid I was being. Reformatting the information would take me an hour or more and it would actually be less useful to readers. The urge was still there. It was fear of not doing enough and it was overshadowing common sense and experience. Not smart.
So I put my cup down, picked up the mouse and clicked publish. You would think I was cliff diving or something truly difficult. Fear is a silly thing sometimes.
Guess what? The post was immediately popular and the PDF has been viewed or downloaded over a dozen times the first day it was out there.
Lesson learned: don’t let fear hold you back. Just do it. It’s only a blog.
Second lesson: a walk to the break room can instill common sense and courage.