Recently at dinner with a client, two people scolded me for not writing very often. Apparently my tough-love approach to business and search marketing helps them get some of their initiatives moving. I tried to explain why I don’t write more but wanted to make it more public.
Reason #1 – It is hard for me to write due to the way my brain works
It is not a problem with the language or writing skills it is the thought process. As I write even the simplest of articles, my brain is creating a taxonomy of all the divergent and supporting topics that relate to it. I actually see a topic mind map for the article and as I think about it the legs expand into the sub topics, root causes and how to correct it. For example, yesterday while just trying to capture my frustration of having to, yet again, explain why we needed to make a simple change to a site to maintain organic traffic resulted in five different articles. The original article let to one on “Why Don’t Executives Appreciate SEO” then came “How to build a business case for SEO changes” followed by “Why your SEO Specification Sucks.” In the end, nothing was published but I have 2 to 5 paragraphs of multiple articles that will join the other 500+ that are partially written.
I have had this problem my whole life and was especially a problem in the Marine Corps. While sometimes an asset since I could quickly “see” the various outcomes most of the time those above me did not and that frustrated them. Writing Search Engine Marketing Inc this was somewhat helpful as Mike just turned me loose on a topic and let me write thousands of words that he was able to beat into submission to form the chapter sections. For articles, I have tried fixed outlines but that does not work so the only option seems to be to just let it roll and let the 300 words become 3000 then parse out the part I need to post. This leads me to my second reason, taking the time for other things.
Reason #2 – Work Life Balance
This is a rather new one for me. For as long as I can remember I put in 16 to 20 hour days. I have cut back the number of clients to a smaller set but these projects are a bit more complex taking more time to develop the strategy and recommendations. On top of the client work I have the tool set that like and idiot I tried to commercialize. The best reason of all for the change is my wife has pushed me to take a bit more time for us to travel and just relax. These changes have reduced the amount of billable time I have making the “work hours” all about work and not leaving much time to write.
It is simple math, the hour or two to write and article can either be billed to someone or quality time doing something as simple as readying to relaxing with my wife. Where is the better investment – will this article improve either? Most of what I have been writing lately have related to the tools and how to get more out of them.
Reason #3 – Anticipating the Haters
I really don’t care what people say about the things I write but it is frustrating to have to defend it and worst yet to know you have to anticipate it. A recent article on keyword intent had someone ping me in less than 10 minutes saying that I had highjacked another persons topic. Sure I could ignore it but I could not let it go. This resulted in adding to the articles and finding the references across the past 18 years that proved I was not co-opting someones topic. The majority of the time I delete the comments and just let it go.
This anticipation of the need to defend statements and examples forces me to think about each of the examples and references I use. For example, an article I am writing about the traits of successful Enterprise SEO’s I have references to Bill Clinton and Madelyn Albright. I immediately assumed that people would post negative comments about using them as examples and I am trying to see if I can use other people as examples for these traits.
The same with examples, I recently had a screen shot of a site I encountered and few people added comments that I should not out a small business for doing stupid things. I should have contacted them to give them a chance to fix it. I deleted both comments as helping them directly would be free consulting and not help the other sites that do the same stupid things. In the end, haters gonna hate and I try to not think about it and just write on my blog and if people don’t like it they don’t need to read it.
I have had other case where I did an interview before a conference for Bruce Clay’s blog and talked about a search I had done that had horrible paid search results and. The comments of people trying to give excuses for it and that I was not living in the real world. I had people come up to me at the next few conferences and call me to on this post that I had made paid search look bad and that I should be a bit more flexible in what are relevant results.
That is it – those are the only excuses I can give other than being too lazy to write. I will try to write more as I have been complaining a lot about the quality of the articles about Search and growing your agency. If there are other topics you want me to write about let me know I will see what I have already and try to get it posted.