At six feet tall, I’m just tall enough to bump my head on things. Sometimes.
And when I say “sometimes,” I mean relatively rarely. Maybe once a month.
I’ll hit a pipe in a parking garage. I’ll knock my head on the ceiling while going down a flight of steps. Sometimes I forget to duck and hit my head on the chinning bar that lives in the doorway in-between our family room and side office.
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It doesn’t happen a lot, and that’s the problem.
You see if I were five-and-a-half feet tall, there would be nothing to hit and I wouldn’t have to pay attention at all.
On the other hand, if I were six-and-a-half feet tall, I’d be so habitually vigilant that I imagine I’d rarely bump my head on anything either.
It’s only because I live on the cusp between “tallish” and “really tall” that every once in a while, my lack of attention intersects with a low obstacle and I get bumped.
When it comes to writing in general and e-mail newsletters in particular, I find the same situation at play.
Here’s what I mean…
Never writing is easy. You don’t do it, and so while that may be a bad decision in terms of maintaining your status as a Likeable Expert (it is), it doesn’t cause you any pain. It’s not even on your radar.
Writing frequently is easy too. Like exercising (or yelling at children), if you do it all the time, it isn’t all that hard to maintain. It’s a well developed, familiar muscle whose use causes no pain.
Unfortunately, most professionals choose to live in the head-bumping, inbetween world of sometimes. If they publish on any type of schedule at all, it’s still relatively haphazard.
And that’s hard…
… It’s hard because you’re always worrying about when to write again.
… It’s hard because when you do write, it’s an unfamiliar chore.
… It’s hard because your writing never gets very good.
Think about it. If you had to write a newsletter every single day, you’d sure be fast and you’d sure become good.
And you wouldn’t spend even a minute negotiating with yourself about when you had to do the next one. Or agonizing over whether today’s was absolutely perfect.
You’d wake up, write something while drinking your morning coffee, click click and out the door it goes.
So here’s my advice for you relative to anything that involves writing, whether that’s your newsletter, your blog, your LinkedIn updates, your diary, whatever.
- You need a schedule. If you don’t have one, get one. Then treat it like a real deadline. You know, like lunch – that thing you never seem to miss no matter how much “important client work” you have in front of you.
- Write more often. I used to tell people (in 2002) that publishing once a month was “more than enough” when it comes to maintaining visibility.
Today, I consider once a month the outer limit of what’s even worth doing. With all the noise and competition for the attention of other humans, showing up in the world with something worth reading less than twelve times a year is like showing up never.
Here’s the bottom line. Either commit to showing up frequently and regularly, or don’t show up at all. Life inbetween is where all the painful head bumps live.
As for me, I’ll see you back here next Friday. Or Tuesday. Or I don’t know, whenever I get around to it.
Wow! I haven’t thought of writing in that way before today. For me, it’s always a battle between using proper writing techniques with complete sentences and my preferred way of writing. Which is using broken,slangy, casual conversation sentences like this one without a subject. Thanks Michael!
For better or worse, the world has moved to broken and casual! This kind of “spoken voice writing” is easier for most people to create and it feels more personal and authentic (two good things in marketing!).
Michael – absolutely correct on the effort and I like the analogy of being tall. At 6’4″ it’s a couple of inches too tall for traditional airline seats, theater seats etc. And I go out of my way to plan for this. I should be taking the same time efforts for the client newsletters and scheduling that time is the change I’m not making.
And on the 12 time a year frequency – couldn’t agree more. 52 might be too much, 24 might not be the right one either, but with some clients every 21 days (three weeks) is turning out to be a great frequency. I avoid Mondays and Fridays and publish every third Tuesday or every third Wednesday.
Keep up the great work on behalf of us Penguins!
I’ve always liked the every three weeks too Bill. A bit hard for people to schedule (unlike monthly which is easy) but that little bit of added frequency seems to get noticed.
And I hear you on the height. My youngest hopes he’ll be very tall but I’m always saying 6’3″ is the point above which it all seems to become inconvenient!
A very good article. Since I’m 5′ 7″, my head is usually saved. But to increase visibility, I found writing a very good medium.
I do crazy things with writing. Recently I challenged myself to writing an exactly 100-word paragraph every morning as a kind of warming up. First week was tough. Then it became easy.
One day I had nothing to write about. So after spending half an hour for some thought to come up, and when nothing did, I wrote out what was coming to my mind about not being able to write. It is crazy. My friends liked it.
Now I have challenged myself to write an eBook!
That’s what love for writing gets you into!
I like your newsletter. Keep it up.
I love your 100 word challenge. I find that adding constraints actually increases creativity and the game aspect helps remove many of the normal writing fears. I’ll have to try that one!
I write a blog post once per week, with rare exceptions. My newsletter is my best marketing and I need some content — that’s my blog post. I read that newsletters are most opened on Tuesday mornings, so I just set that up as a schedule. By Monday, I need my blog post written so my newsletter can go out on Tuesday.
Large writing projects like e-books are harder, but I do eventually get them done.
Michael, I love the inbetween height analogy — you’re a good writer!
Hi Ellen! Sounds like you’ve got a nice rhythm going with your writing. You’re an example for us all!
Thanks, Michael. I just wish I didn’t so often feel that I needed to work on Sunday to get the posts out on Monday to get the newsletters out on Tuesday! But I do consider the blog posts the central part of my business.
I came to Internet Marketing as a writer — I’ve written lots of books — so it’s pretty easy for me, although I don’t have your flair. Writing isn’t easy for everyone. Some people are better at speaking than writing, for example. I remember working with a professor on a website and she was struggling with writing content. I said, “Can you say it to me?” She said, “Sure, I speak about this in class all the time.” So she spoke it out and I typed. Then we edited it and it was done. So you have to find a method that goes with your strengths.
I’m a little late reading this…I was out having a hip replaced last Wednesday….but I couldn’t agree more. I started out publishing every other month. I thought bumping up to once a month was plenty, but as you said, it’s so easy to get lost in the crowd these days. I tried going to once a week, but I really thing that was too frequent for my audience. I backed it down to every other week, which seems to be just right…for now. Great topic. Enjoyed it!
Yes, definitely a trial and error process in many ways. Sounds like you’ve found the right balance. All the best on the new hip too!
Hey Michael Katz, really appreciated the read.
I am looking at developing an eNewsletter, and if I am any good, I may look for a client or three. Initially, I think I am going to do an eNewsletter to promote ME (my desire to write), and a marketing business I am associated with. Should be a good promotional sample.
I have heard great things about your writing, and you lived up to everything, and this article exceed my expectations. I love analogies, so appreciated the parallels used.
Glad it hit the spot, Dale! Good luck with your newsletter work.