The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Writing

During my first 6 months of “serious” blogging I discovered a lot of things about blogging and about myself. In the first post of this series I’ll share what I learned about the blog writing process. This is a rather long post, more than 2500 words, so I suggest you set aside some time to read it comfortably. Keep in mind that this series is targeted towards people who embraced blogging more like a profession or a revenue oriented activity rather than people who blog for relaxation or fun. There’s quite a difference between journaling and blogging.

Posting Speed

During the first 6 months I wrote 106 articles on my blog. For the sake of statistics that accounts to 0,58 posts per day. Here’s the monthly breakdown:

October 2008 – 17 posts
November 2008 – 20 posts
December 2008 – 20 posts
January 2009 – 17 posts
February 2009 – 15 posts
March 2009 – 17 posts

The lowest month was February and the most productive months were November and December. During the first 3 months the enthusiasm level was pretty high and I found it easier to work. But after the first 100 days I had to rely more on self-discipline than on enthusiasm. The motivation was there all the time, but the drive to work is made of more than just enthusiasm. I had to really stick with it. I had to keep a constant flow of work, and here’s why.

Posting speed is one of the key metrics of blogging. Here are some of my thoughts about blog metrics, among other things, if you want to know more about this topic. Based on the posting speed you can actually predict some of your other blog metrics, like traffic and comments and pingbacks. In fact, posting speed was the main metric I wanted to control during the first 6 months.

When I decided to go full time blogging, this was my first and most important commitment: to write at least 15 posts per month, one post every other day, at least 1200 words for every post. That was my number one goal.

And I did this for a number of reasons:

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Practical Astrology: The Moon In Signs

As some of you may know, I use astrology for personal development. Among some other stuff, of course. And by that I mean I use it constantly as a symbolic model of reality. The position of the planets on the sky is having some kind of influence on our lives and I learned how to understand that. Today I’ll share a little experiment which lasted for more than a month. It’s about the Moon and its position on the sky during a complete cycle from New Moon to Full Moon. If you still think astrology is only a horoscope in the morning paper, with no value whatsoever, I recommend you to read more about understanding astrology. And if you still think this is just new age garbage, feel free to skip this post, it’s ok.

I guess you already know the Moon is having a complete cycle in around 28 days around the Earth. During this cycle the Moon is staying between 2 and 3 days in each astrological sign. The nature of the sign in which Moon is at some moment is affecting that part of our being which is ruled by Moon. There are many interpretations of what Moon “is” in our lives. For the sake of simplicity I chose to understand Moon as the ruler of our emotions. It has a number of other interpretations but staying only at the emotional level will just be enough for this experiement. Just remember that the Moon represent the things that can hurt us and the things which we need healing from. The Moon is the unconscious pulse of our emotional field. From joy to sorrow, from compassion to anger, everything that is in your emotional filed has something to do with the Moon and its position on the sky.

The Experiment

During a complete cycle of the Moon I monitored my emotions. I also monitored the position of the Moon on the sky and noted my impressions and reflections of what the Moon in the sky could be. I did this in a kind of geeky way by using, of course, an iPhone. There are two apps on the iPhone that I used during this, none of them directly related to astrology, but more on that later on after the experiment description.  For now, let’s just focus on what I felt during a complete cycle of the Moon on the zodiac, from Aries to Pisces.

Moon in Aries

My emotions were extremely intense, like powered with high energy. On the whole, I felt an intense drive to action. Anything I started was out of enthusiasm, was powered by my own choices, not by external circumstances. I also felt an interesting silence on the emotional level, not too much noise, everything seemed extremely pure. It seemed that Moon in Aries favors clean emotions focused on achieving immediate results. Moon in Aries is also accident prone, during this interval I had a small driving accident (no consequences, but the burst of energy was almost physical around me).

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Mind Mapping For iPhone: iBlueSky

After my last GTD software review, the article about OmniFocus for iPhone, I received a lot of positive feed-back. But among all the messages, there was a specific email which intrigued me. It was an email from a United Kingdom based software company called Tenero, in which the main developer announced the availability of a mind mapping software for iPhone. Are you kidding? A mind mapping application for an iPhone? That would be really something.

Minutes after I received the message from the developer, I checked AppStore, search for an application called iBlueSky, and installed it. And started to play with it. And continued to play with it. And played with it even more. And, if I wouldn’t have to write this post, I assure that I would play with it even now 🙂 .

How to mind map with your iPhone

The first thing you notice when you use iBlueSky is the extreme simplicity of the interface. You only have 3 buttons on the lower bar and this is actually all you need.

Adding child items is as easy as hitting the “+” icon in the lower bar. Before that, you have to select the item which will contain the child branch. If you want to delete an item, or even an entire branch, you hit the recycle bin icon. Easy as pie. And if you want to edit the content of an item, double click it:

And yes, this is actually an iPhone in landscape mode, and we all know that this is the best mode for text input, since the keyboard will spread over much more space. I personally think that the lack of a landscape mode in the Mail of iPhone is a serious drawback, by the way…

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Put Your Blog Into A Mind Map

There were several posts here at DragosRoua.com, related to mind mapping, over the last two years. In fact, there were so much posts about mind mapping that I had to create a separate category for them. From an introduction of how and why to blog with a mind map, up to a recap of my most downloaded mind maps, I wrote extensively about this. For the newcomer, mind mapping is a writing technique, which expand the linear thinking by letting you write in different “directions” or “nodes” of a mind map. This seems to be the brain’s most convenient way of representing reality, and it is often used as a creativity enhancement tool.

I found mind mapping very useful when it comes to speed up my management activities. Such as maintaining a blog. Like this one. You know, writing on your blog is a completely different beast than maintaining it. It requires a different set of skills, it takes a certain amount of time, and, like all other activities, can be optimized. If I can use mind mapping to streamline my blogging activity as a whole, why not do it?

My blogging process is the result of several different things: the software I use, the ideas that I want to write about, the posts, the categories, the plugins, the downloads, the revenue strategy… Quite a bit of stuff, right? And is not from the same league, as you already saw, it’s a mix of information, skill, activity and strategy. The challenge is to keep this in a manageable structure.

One very important management principle says: keep everything visible. If there are things on your business that are not visible to you, chances are that your customers won’t seem them either. Keep a broader perspective, try to always look at whole picture. And there is nothing more convenient for the “whole picture” than a mind map.

So, I put my entire blogging process on a mind map, and started to unfold it. Here’s the result:

As I already told you, blogging is a mix of different activities, information and tasks. Must be all visible in order to keep a consistent perspective, right? Must put together all items that create the blogging process and my whole blogging process look like this:

  1. headline
  2. categories
  3. posts
  4. revenue
  5. promotion
  6. plugins
  7. downloads

As you may see, there is no specific order in which I added them, and no consistency, some of them are information, like posts and categories, some of them are activities that I have to perform, like promotion and monetization, and some of them are pieces of software, like plugins. Not all blogs may have all the items listed above, but my specific setup does, and I’ll take a wild guess that the vast majority of blogs are pretty much like this.

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