A couple of days ago my friend Geoff Livingston threw the blogosphere – at least the PR/SM one – for a bit of a tizzy when he announced he would no longer be writing regularly for the extremely popular Buzz Bin.
This, Geoff said, is why:
“Why, you ask? I have run out of things to say (image: Elyse Patten, Creative Commons). I found last summer when I wrote the “for me, social media is dead” posts that I had run out of things to say. As we moved on to a group blog format again, Mondays were still a struggle to add something new to the conversation.
“Two years ago, I ended the Now Is Gone blog for similar reasons. I feel like I am repeating myself. For example, while you may think FourSquare is a great new thing, I already blogged about it eight months ago! Yes, there’s room for continuing coverage, but… You get my point.”
Several months ago, the Buzz Bin saw a change when it became a CRT/tanaka (Geoff’s former employer which acquired Livingston Communications) property. And then he told us that come 2010, he’d be starting anew; we now know that new venture as Zoetica Media.
Having had the pleasure of getting to know Geoff a little over the course of the last several months, I can tell you one thing: the man does not run out of things to say.
Moreover, what he does say, he puts across in a unique fashion.
I’m not going to argue with Geoff – after all, if he thinks he’s run out of things to say, who am I to question him?! – but I think we can all take classes from him on how to say things when we blog, regardless of whether those are our personal or professional blogs. Here are three (and there are many more) that have particularly touched me:
Nothing strikes a chord like brutal honesty.
Check out Geoff’s post from 2008 on his five worst professional mistakes. He goes into quite a bit of detail on his career progression, examining not his highs, but his lows, sharing what must have been agonizing moments from his past. For example:
We’ve all made mistakes, and they’re never fun to remember. When we’ve made particularly bad mistakes, the most we can hope for is that the sting of memory recedes with time. And Geoff not only goes into them, but shares his lessons learned, with equally brutal honesty.
Takeaway: When you share pieces of your life with others – and if you have the courage to do so frankly – it makes you more approachable and personable… and it helps to engage your readers. Look at the number of comments Geoff got on this post. If blogging is about two-way conversation, Geoff nails it.
Use multimedia to a fault.
I thought what Geoff did to raise money for cancer research – getting himself tattooed at SxSW – was a great approach to personal fund-raising (I think the queen of it has to be Beth Kanter, who’s inspired several people, Geoff and myself included, to generate support from their communities for causes they care about).
What Geoff does really well, though, is incorporate different media into his posts. He’s an avid photographer, plays with just about every tech tool you can think of and uses them, and even brings you video of himself in what must have been, at the very least, an uncomfortable situation.
Takeaway: the more ways you give people to understand what you’re trying to say, the greater the chance of them actually getting it. By now everyone should have gotten over their fear of creating visual content, what with Flickr, Flipcams, et al. This stuff is easy to do. Do it.
Be generous to a fault.
A hallmark of Geoff’s writing is that he links liberally to other posts and online references. Look at this post of his on sponsored media.
There are eight (count ’em) links to other posts, including an image credit, as well as a screenshot of comments he got on Facebook when he posited the question there.
This isn’t rocket science, but we often forget to do this – or don’t take the time to do it.
Guess what? When you link that liberally, people appreciate it. Which increases the chances of them linking back to you and engaging with you. And if you use images you’ve sourced online to add some zest to your post, always, always make sure to give the photographer his/her due, after making sure the image is licensed in a way that allows you to use it.
Takeaway: People are generous by nature. Being generous to a fault when you’re blogging is one of the greatest virtues you can have. And if you haven’t as yet figured out Creative Commons, now’s the time to do it.
As far as not having anything to say goes… Geoff will still be talking. He’s just going to do it his way, in a different place. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier that you can’t shut him up.
I could go on for a while, but those are three of the greatest gifts Geoff has given us. What would you add? Which other master bloggers have inspired you, and why? I’d love to know.
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This post was mentioned on Twitter by lyf108: We could all learn from @shonali post on @geoffliving: How You Say It Matters Too – Lessons on Blogging http://bit.ly/9d6fjn #blogging #pr…
Thank you for writing this, Shonali. It’s very humbling.
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