I am creeping up on 1,000 blog posts —  I’ve probably blogged “a bible!”  So I’ve been reflecting on what I would have done differently if I had to start all over. Here are some mistakes I’ve made, and sadly, in some cases, continue to make …

1) Pre-occupation with numbers. It takes time, patience and hard work to find your voice and build a successful blog. I am not good at the patience part. I thought I was writing some good stuff and was frustrated that nobody was reading it.  I became pre-occupied with adding my blog to directories and other schemes to drive “traffic.” What a waste of time.  There are no shortcuts. If you really want to build community, you have to do it one reader at a time. Give people a good reason to be there and then love them for it.

2) Trying to copy success.  When I arrived on the blogging scene I looked around and found a few people “doing it right.” Basically, all paths lead to Chris Brogan, right?  So I tried to be Chris, who was posting like 3-4 times a day.  I nearly killed myself. trying to be somebody else. It was a rookie mistake. You have to find your own path, your own voice, your own wisdom and path. Trying to be somebody else is precisely the wrong way to be original!

3) Being a marketer instead of a blogger. I grew up in traditional big American companies. Marketing was about developing a “message” to the “target.” And that’s the way I started to blog.  I was trying to fashion a “message” for an “audience.” This bored me and  the blog was going nowhere. So I started to relax and write about things that interested me, to show a little more of my personality, and to take risks creatively and intellectually.  Something magical happened.  Instead of me finding my audience, my audience found me. And that’s a big difference.

4) The posts that don’t work. Here are the characteristics of posts that really work: short, direct, timely, useful, with an element of humor or entertainment. After much trial and error, the posts that don’t do as well are cerebral, long (over 1,500 words), and video posts. I’m not saying that I’m going to discontinue doing cerebral posts or video blogs, but they seem to fall flat compared to my usual blog posts.

5) Not being active on the blogging scene. I love blogs and bloggers.  I love the fun, exchange of ideas, debate, and friendships that form. And really, that is how I built my blog in the first place — by being active in this global blog community. Regrettably, I have been largely absent for the past nine months. The new book was an ambitious project because it covers an entirely new subject — social influence as a commodity — and it took a lot of research.

The result is, I have basically had two full-time jobs for the past year. One of the casualties has been my blog reader, which is now swollen with untapped wisdom. I know this has made a difference because many of the {grow} community regulars don’t come by my blog like they used to … because I don’t visit them.  These lively blog community debates are happening without me and I miss being part of it.

The other contributing factor is that my social media presence has just kind of gone whacko. Blog readership grew 400% between 2009 to 2010 and another 300% from 2010 to the end of 2011.  How do I give personal attention to all of these readers and their blogs?

The cruel irony is that the more successful you become on the social web, the less social you can be. All the best practices that bring success in the first place go out the window. I am fortunate to have you as a reader and I never take that for granted. I just can’t repay the favor like I used to. Arrrgh.

Any way, those are some of my lessons learned.  What mistakes have you made, or what would you have done differently? Please share your contribution to the discussion in the comment section!

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