You’ve probably noticed that about 80% of your blog’s success comes from “ass in chair” time.
That’s the time you spend writing posts, editing posts, finding images, pitching guest posts, answering comments, shaping up your SEO, and all the other tasks we teach you about here on Copyblogger.
You’ve got to get that stuff right. But great blogs are not built by “ass in chair” time alone.
There’s actually a significant element to your success that you may be neglecting with all that work and focus.
Every once in awhile, you might consider getting out of the chair and physically setting eyes on a fellow human being. I realize this is a bizarre, arcane practice, but bear with me.
Social networking 1.0
Have you ever noticed that you don’t really know what a post is going to be about until you start writing? You throw something out there, and next thing you know, it’s gone in whatever direction naturally follows.
Believe it or not, you can actually replicate this phenomenon by physically locating yourself in close proximity to another person, with each of you taking turns speaking. This is called a conversation.
I know, you know all about conversation already. It’s answering blog comments, writing on your ex-girlfriend’s Facebook wall, and tweeting how cranky you are in line at the Genius Bar.
But here’s something you might not know — “conversations” actually predate the internet.
Spend enough time in these “real world” conversations, and you actually trigger the growth of new neural connections. You come up with new ideas. You challenge your existing ideas and take them in new directions. You learn.
This phenomenon is improved by another old-school technique, called listening. It’s like lurking, except the other person can see you standing there, so at some point you should probably say something.
Conversation and listening can, if you let them, become awe-inspiring weapons in your blogging arsenal. They’ll give you a virtually endless supply of post ideas, angles for content, and insights into human psychology.
And they’ll improve the quality of your thinking, getting you out of the same stale perceptions and approaches to your writing.
Do enough of this and you will make friends. These are similar to Facebook friends, except a) you actually like them, and b) if they poke you, you get to smack them in the head and tell them to quit being a jackass.
Once you’ve mastered these fundamental tools, you may be ready to move forward to a more advanced practice.
You can practice conversing and listening with more than one person at once.
One place you can try this is an entrepreneur’s group in your local community. Generally the way it works is that you show up, pay something, they serve you a really bad lunch, and the real estate guy hits you up for business within the first 2 minutes.
Once you’ve detached yourself from the real estate guy, these can be quite fun. You can engage in listening and conversations with other people who are facing the same issues you are. Some stuff you’ll know a lot about, and you can teach them. Some stuff they’re going to be a lot smarter about than you are, which is when you want to shut up and take a few notes.
You can also go to parties. These are gatherings of people in one place for multiple real-time instances of conversing, listening, and friending, often accompanied by beer, tequila, and possibly pretzels.
These “parties” often include music, dancing, and laughter. Things may even liven up thanks to the noisy presence of one or more highly intoxicated people, who provide entertainment and a comforting sense of moral superiority.
What do I know?
I’m writing this post based on a dim memory of these old-school practices, since I haven’t done them for
I’ve developed quite an impressive blogger’s tan. In other words, I’m about the same color as the surface of the moon. I’ve developed it by holing up in my basement office recording Q&A sessions, writing content, editing posts, and other 80% activities.
So I thought I’d try something radical. I’m going to work on my 20% and fly out to Austin next week to hang out with Brian and lots of other friends for a few days at the South by Southwest Interactive conference.
If you’ll be there too, we should make sure to bump into each other. Maybe even at the official Copyblogger party.
Is it true Copyblogger is having a party?
Yes, it’s true! The Copyblogger team is throwing another SxSW party this year. This time, our own Brian Clark will be spinning awesome ’80s music for the duration of the open bar happy hour. Of course I’ll be there wearing something inappropriate, and I’m even going to try to drag our lovable recluse Robert Bruce.
Held at Stubb’s newest venue, The Rattle Inn, the Computer Blue party will feature several floors of great people, music, and of course, cocktails. The Southern Star brewery tells us they’ll be sending over a couple of cases of their Bombshell Blonde, for those of us who enjoy such things.
Doors open at 8pm, and a FREE open bar will be held from 8:30 – 9:30pm. Last year’s event had lines around the block, so get there early. This event is free, although you must RSVP here in order to attend. Looking forward to seeing you you there!
About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media and conducts 90% of her social life on twitter. Poor little thing.
Note: This post originally ran before SXSW 2010. Little has changed, although my blogger’s tan is much more impressive now. If you’re in Austin this year, come catch a glimpse in person! See you at the party …