Lessons From a Failed Blog

WordPress helpfully reminded me today that I registered a blog with them eight years ago. Astute and consistent readers may note that as of this writing, The Opportunity Machine has been cranking out hits for just a little over a year, so what gives?

Well, this isn’t my first attempt at a blog. I absolutely love what this blog has become for me, but it wasn’t a “hole in one” – I swung and missed before. That blog gained no traction and quite honestly wasn’t very good. I want to talk a little about why.

  1. It wasn’t daily. Yes, I think that’s one of the most important components. I’m a strong advocate for the philosophy that you aren’t serious about something unless it has a daily presence in your life. My posting schedule for that old blog was “whenever I have a truly fantastic idea for a post,” and you can guess how often that was. Which brings me to:
  2. I edited myself WAY too much. I felt like posts had to be grand works of literature and philosophical insight in order to be worthy of my signature. Ha! The best work I’ve ever done, in any sphere, came because I just made myself work no matter what, not because I waited for lightning to strike me and then expected that expertise would naturally follow.
  3. I tried to stick to too narrow of a topic. I wrote about political philosophy, and since I’m an armchair enthusiast at best on that subject, actual insights from me were few and far between. Sometimes really interesting stories would happen to me (I will say this for my life, it’s virtually never boring), but because I was trying to maintain “purity of theme” I didn’t write them down. If you only ever stay in a single lane, you don’t get many chances for adventure.

Put the work first. I really do believe that you should start gathering wood and nails and tools before you even have a blueprint. You can plan yourself to death and never swing a hammer once, but starting to work forces you to make a plan as you go.

When I started this blog, I literally had only one criteria: I would write in it every day. I had no plan beyond that. And because of that, it’s worked.

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