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11 Important Things Every Startup Blogger Needs To Remember

11 Important Things Every Startup Blogger Needs To Remember

We live in an amazing time when anyone can publish their thoughts, ideas and projects online for the world to see. I assume that the Gutenbergs would be totally amazed! If you are a startup blogger there are a few best practices that you will want to remember to make sure you have the right foundation. Trust me, these will save you time and energy later.

Start Writing With Your Mission In Mind

Sure, you can begin publishing your thoughts online, like a private journal turned public, but most people aren’t going to want to read what about what you had for lunch, where you are going, or how crummy your day was. Instead, sit down and think about what your mission with your blog is and write from that place on every post. This will make it easier to decide when to scrap or publish a post.

Know Your Audience

You won’t know, at first, who is going to be reading your blog until you start publishing, but you can begin by thinking about who you would like to have read your blog. If you are really into design or fashion, you would gear articles towards that audience. If you are a happy vegetarian and are publishing recipes, you would write to other current vegetarians or would-be vegetarians. Think about writing each post with the reader in mind.

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Write In A Compelling Way

People want to learn something new, feel better about themselves, or get excited about a topic when they read a blog post. Your blog needs to be informative, inspiring or affirming with each post. Don’t worry, at first, if your blog posts are too long or too short, but remember the average attention span gets smaller. Consider bite-sized information in short paragraphs that tell a great story!

Collaborate, Don’t Compete

Blogging isn’t a competition. Everyone has value in the blog world and your voice is appreciated and needed. Get in the game and be friendly with other bloggers! It is a pretty welcoming community and if you want to guest post, share content on Twitter, or get to know other bloggers and introduce yourself. Even the bigger bloggers take time to help newer bloggers.

Promote Your Blog

It isn’t enough to just write and hope they will come! You have to promote your blog posts online and off. Join an online blogging community and share your posts, tweet about your new blog posts, pin your photos on Pinterest, have your blog printed on your business cards, go to blogging conferences and get involved in your local and regional blogging communities. A quick search online or on Facebook will help you find groups of people blogging about similar topics. By joining these groups you can promote one another and grow your audiences. People who write about gardening also read about it and you will have found your built-in audience!

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Be Aware Of Time-Sensitive Topics And Trends

Being current about a topic is always a good time to publish. Did a celebrity just say something really demeaning about his mom? Is there a new trend in your field? Are new colors coming out for the season? Having an opinion about those things will more than likely get your blog post read.

Know When To Publish

You can’t always react to trends and you don’t always want to be controversial on your blog because readers get tired of that and want to know your own ideas. Remember, your blog is open for the entire world to see and what you publish is available for anyone to read. Don’t get hotheaded some night and write a flaming open letter that you are going to regret someday. Exercise the “wait a day” rule when you are publishing something that might be sensitive or difficult!

Know What Is Your Story

Tell your own point of view on your blog, but remember you do not own other people’s stories. If you are writing about sensitive information about your family, local community, or even the world around you, be careful that you don’t assume you have permission to tell someone else’s story. This is particularly true of children. Think about how they will feel in 20 years when they see unflattering pictures of themselves online from when they were kids. Ask permission, don’t share real names, and be sensitive to how others will feel with their story broadcast worldwide.

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Lead An Interesting Life

You can’t just blog. You have to actually do interesting things in your real life to have topics and ideas to blog about! Step away from your computer and plan something fun and blog about that. Your blog will remain fresh and fun if you are balancing a real life with blogging.

Be A Real Person

You aren’t a huge publishing house. You are a person; please blog like one. It doesn’t matter if you are blogging for your business or writing a personal blog, write like a real person. What makes blogging so interesting is getting to know the real people behind the blog. Your story is what is most important; not how slick you can write an article.

Just Do It

Don’t let the idea that you aren’t a great writer, photographer, or have the perfect idea stop you from blogging. The more posts that you write the better your writing will get and the better your blog will be. If you wait until the perfect time you might just be waiting forever.

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Now is the perfect time to start a blog and the blogging world is waiting to hear your voice and your story. Get started and share what know with the world.

Featured photo credit: Blogger. Man holding chalkboard with word Blog written on. via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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