Having just completed my 7th year of blogging, I have learned quite a lot. What started for me as simply a way to both help people and provide insights on a variety of topics, now has become part of my life and my persona. As my website has matured, I have uncovered nuances and patterns along the way, but I always seem to circle back to a few key words or phrases that drive my passion and my content: be helpful, be insightful, be humorous and be consistent. Some of these things I do better than others, but I do believe that it is important to adhere to goals and guidelines to drive your success personally or professionally.
But there is also another critical word that drives my writing passion and that propels me to move my website beyond being “just a blog” to being a business and a lifestyle: continuity. And there are two sides to this one word. There is the side that I’m directly in control of and responsible for and there is the side that is fairly dependent on external forces.
As a parent of 3 girls, I have learned that the 4 phrases I mentioned earlier (helpful, insightful, humorous and consistency) govern much of my parenting. As parents, one of our primary goals is to ensure that our children are prepared to tackle a (hopefully) wonderful world of opportunities in front of them. We do this through education, activities and love. One of the most critical things that my father outlined to me long ago as I embarked on being a parent, was to be consistent. There is nothing harder to understand as a child (or even and adult) than someone or something that is inconsistent. This is very different than change. Change is good when the timing is appropriate and when the opportunity is right. Consistency, however, directly affects confidence and inner strength and you want to adhere to providing your children a leveled playing field when they are developing.
When it comes to writing a blog or producing content in general, consistency plays right along with developing your theme or passion or niche. If you are passionate about writing articles about knitting sweaters for cats, do your best to consistently write about that. Sure, it’s fine to deviate occasionally or expand your subject mater. But remember your audience as well as they are like your children. Don’t throw curve balls unless you are willing to weave it all back into your general content strategy (if you actually have one).
I write regularly. If I don’t produce at least one article a week, I feel that I’m letting both my audience and myself down. My topics typically cover 4 categories: product reviews, parenting tips (especially around social media), how-to & fix-it articles and commentaries on technology or life. Occasionally I’m inspired to write something a bit different but for the most part, I stick to those. My overarching theme is understanding and explaining how technology fits into the family lifestyle.
So where does continuity come into play for creators of content, blogs or even businesses? It cannot be confused with consistency. Being consistent means that I will write at least one article a week. Continuity means that I will write about those 4 categories on a regular basis. According to Merriam-Webster definitions:
Note that in the definition of “consistent” is the word “continuity”. The key differentiator here is that with continuity, there is a “union” or “connection” – essentially a linkage of themes (if you are going to apply it to blogging).
Obviously, the creation of continuity of content on your website is something that you have direct control over. This is something that hundreds of thousands of bloggers are doing and are good at. But there is another side of the equation that I mentioned earlier…those external forces that could provide you with ideas and inspiration for that which you DO have control over. Unfortunately, as is the case in life, these external forces are inconsistent and often overlook the importance of continuity. Let me explain with some personal examples.
I have been lucky to have been able to work with several major international brands on a variety of programs (my About page lists some of the fantastic opportunities I have participated in). In many of these programs I was compensated for my participation either in the form of products, payments or experiences. Each and every campaign or program that I have worked on has provided me with insights on the personalities of the brands and if and how the people making the brands what they are understand the idea of continuity. Honestly, there is nothing worse than engaging with a brand, pouring your ideas, energy and passion into creating compelling content, only to have these brands completely drop off the radar and go silent once the “program” is completed. I believe that in order for continuity to succeed, you need to develop long-term and on-going relationships.
As I outlined in an article back in April 2012, it is critical for both bloggers and brands to develop these living relationships. It’s important to remember that behind both a brand and a blog, there are people with feelings, ideas and passions. But obviously it depends on what your goals are as a blogger or brand. If you are looking for those quick hits, you probably won’t get that relationship or that continuity, and you probably won’t get the passion behind it either (I keep circling back to “passion” – part of my inspiration to write this stems from reading the first chapter – How to be a Passion Hit – of CC Chapman’s new book “Amazing Things Will Happen” – I recommend picking up a copy! Note: link is Amazon Affiliate link). But if you are looking for continuity and developing relationships and diving deeper into creating more compelling content, then you need to work harder to engage.
Part of my reason for writing this article is to reach across the wires of the Internet and through the computer screens and mobile devices and shake some people to tell them to wake up. If you are a brand, please try hard to develop continuity with those writers and content creators out there. If you are a content producer, think about how you can develop a relationship with those influential brands that you are passionate about and how both of you can be successful in the process.
While I love the opportunity to do single articles (e.g., my reviews) about single topics, getting and feeling involved with a brand drives me to do more for that brand. (I love the concept of the “Brand Ambassador”, for example.) While I cannot speak for all bloggers, content creators or writers out there, when there is a 2-ways street where both sides are investing in the continuity and the relationship, there is much more satisfaction. Quick relationships may be great for the moment, but once they are gone, you are left feeling a bit empty (and even used) inside. These one-hit-wonders may achieve a short term goal, but they are definitely not consistent nor follow any type of continuity program.
So I will leave you with this. Work hard on those passions. Do your best to develop relationships. Drive what you can control forward. Be consistent. And, most obviously, endeavor to build continuity.
HTD says: How are you building continuity in your life?