At this point, writing a blog is second nature to me. It’s like slipping on a pair of well-worn tennis shoes - I don’t even have to untie the laces anymore.
My feet just slide in and off I go.
But until we compiled toth shop’s 2023 impact report, it never occurred to me to count how many blogs I actually write in a given month. I knew it had to be a decent amount, but as I sat down with a pencil and paper and looked back through the year’s workload, I was amazed when the tally marks started to add up.
This will be blog #82 that I have written or zhushed this year for toth shop and our clients. The content of all these blogs have spanned industries - DEI consulting, education, technology, communications. Behind these pieces is countless interviews and hours of research. It’s adapting tone and voice to align with that brand. It’s running through a checklist to make sure each blog is ready to publish.
When something becomes ingrained into our daily lives, it’s easy to overlook the little details. It’s easy to forget how many miles those worn-in shoes have carried me - and all I’ve learned and encountered along the way.
So, I took a couple of days off from writing new blogs and looked at what I’ve already written this year and what lessons I might have taken for granted in the process.
everyone has a story to tell
Blogging easily gets tied into the SEO game - which I understand. There’s value in optimizing blogs with keywords to help your audience find you online. BUT, writing a blog solely for SEO purposes doesn’t spark anything in my soul.
And my guess? It doesn’t spark anything in your soul reading one of those either.
Looking back on the more than 80 pieces I wrote this year, people stand out to me more than any keywords. A story of a single mother who holds a leadership position in higher education. A man’s battle (and victory) over cancer. A father and son pursuing a graduate degree together. A woman who enlisted in the army at 18 and deployed four times.
I’ve gotten on calls with people from all walks of life this past year and had the privilege of just listening; I could peel back layers, tease out the story, and some of the time, carry their words and their experiences with me into my own life.
there’s always more to learn
As I mentioned, writing blogs that need to be built around keywords and SEO strategy do not give me that same warm feeling as pieces where I get to hear someone tell me, “You can’t have balance without being present” (which I wrote on a sticky note and stuck on my desk).
What these SEO-focused blogs have shown me this past year is that there is a wealth of untapped knowledge out there that I am more than capable of tapping into. For example, it was easy to say, “I don’t understand the whole fintech thing.”
But did I really try to understand it? No.
Then, I had to write numerous blogs on the topic. I can say now that I understand it - at least on a functional level. Fintech, project management methodologies, the basics of health informatics (which I didn’t even know existed eight months ago) are a few topics I’ve been able to increase my knowledge base of. I’ve always considered myself a life-long learner, and it turns out, blog writing nurtures that curiosity in me to simply know more.
start in the middle
For several years, I taught high school English and saw many students struggle with starting a writing piece. The first word, sentence, or paragraph became a hill that some would use as an excuse to not even try in the first place. I told them, “The writing process doesn’t have to be linear. Write the middle stuff first.”
To write 80+ blogs this year, I found that I needed to take my own advice.
Several times I sat spinning my wheels, trying to figure out how to start a blog. Writing, deleting, rewriting an introduction time after time.
What I learned to accept about myself is that catchy intros don’t come to me while staring at a blank page. But once the content starts to take shape and the flow of the story becomes evident, it’s much easier for me to craft an engaging introduction.
Some people need a beginning to direct the rest of their writing; I need a middle to know where to direct the beginning to in the first place.
It’s easy to overcomplicate things when it comes to writing. We get caught up in the fuss and the fluff of sounding ‘good” or ‘smart’ and forget that writing - most of the time, anyway - boils down to storytelling.
Blog writing this past year grounded me in that simple practice. It offered me 82 countless opportunities to tell 82 different stories – from a mom caring for her twin girls in the NICU to ways health informatics is improving our healthcare system and everything in between.