5 Surprises From Blogging For the Last Two Months

I am approximately 2 months into blogging and I thought I’d share some surprises that I have learned along the way. Below are the top five surprises I’ve learned in the past couple of months.  In short I am sold on the value of blogging.

Surprise #1: The Best Blog Posts are the Easiest to Write

While few of us are the CEOs of large companies or the thought leader in our niche, we all have subjects that we investigate deeply from time to time. I am learning that:

  1. I am able to produce my best blog posts on the subjects which I have recently researched, learned or discussed.
  2. When a topic is fresh, blog posts discussing that topic are actually the easiest ones to produce. If a blog post is too hard to write, I probably don’t have anything personally interesting to share.
  3. Writing the posts allows me to solidify my own understanding of the topic.

Surprise #2: Nobody Likes Criticism In Blog Posts

The Internet has provided everyone with a megaphone. Two months ago, I didn’t really understand that even constructive criticism, when given online, comes across as somebody shouting at you in the loudest possible way.

I learned this lesson through a post discussing some suggestions for improving Start-up Weekend. I typed it after attending a Start-Up weekend and leaving the weekend exhausted and confused about the experience. Blogging on some suggestions was both a nice way for me to vent and to solidify my thoughts on the subject, while providing some suggestions to the weekend organizers.

Boy was I wrong. Unfortunately, the suggestions came off as public criticism and it wasn’t greatly appreciated by the start-up weekend team, who I hold in high regard. If I really wanted to help, I should have just sent them an email. I think it would have been much more positively received. Sorry guys!

Surprise #3: Controversy Breeds Traffic

I published a post called Hey Entrepreneur - Please Don’t Get an MBA on October 11th. While I knew it was controversial, I also thought that it was honest. The subject clearly resonated with some people as it reached #3 on the Hacker News homepage and became #1 on the entrepreneur sub-reddit. It also sparked a whole slew of comments all over the web and a rebuttal blog post by Mike Gozzo, which got picked up by Venturebeat. Needless to say, the post caused a huge spike in traffic.

People were very passionate about the subject and they clearly sit on either side of the fence. It’s fascinating to me that while my blog post was filled with comments telling that I’m wrong, the rebuttal post is also filled with comments telling him he’s wrong.

It seems that if you should expect some amount of criticism for saying anything controversial online. Further, controversy is very tempting since it has the potential to drive so much traffic.

Surprise #4: Posts Which Discuss Your Start-up Convert The Best

I’ve found that posts which mention concepts around which Art Sumo are based or things that I’ve learned from Art Sumo produce the number of conversions. Specifically, the two posts which directly mentioned Art Sumo drew many more signups than the MBA  article, even though the drew significantly less traffic.

While the MBA post drove quite a bit of traffic to my personal blog, almost none of it resulted in signups on Art Sumo. While signups on Art Sumo were not my goal in blogging, they sure are nice.

Recent Traffic

This is how blog traffic has looked over the past 2 months. The spikes correspond to posts.

Signups on Art Sumo

This is a graph of signups on Art Sumo,  Note the largest spikes correspond to posts which mentioned Art Sumo

Surprise #5: You Will Be Ripped Off!

I spent a good while writing a blog post discussing The Rise of Curation. It probably took me approximately 10 hours to produce. It was validating to see it reach the top spot on the Entrepreneur subreddit.

I was surprised to wake up the next day to see that the post had been translated into Mandarin and posted to five different Chinese blogs. What’s incredible is that they actually changed some of the images and switched out the video and inserted their own.  I slowly starting seeing that Art Sumo was getting signups from China!  While they removed most mentions to naysawn.com, they left in the links to Art Sumo, since those links were crucial to the content.

I have since learned that any popular internet blog is scraped, translated and re-published. It seems many people have realized that a good business strategy is just to localize content which other people are producing. There’s really very little you can do about it. Perhaps it is a sign of progress, if you’re being ripped off, at least people think your content is good enough to be posted somewhere else!

What has surprised you about your blogging efforts?  I would great appreciate learning anything you have found interesting along the way. 

Thanks Sean for the cover photo.