In late February, I made a commitment to write 50 posts by the 4th of July. I have come to realize a few things during that journey that others just starting out might find helpful. My main goals in starting a blog were:

1. Practice and improve my writing

2. Create a window into interesting things

3. Affect others in a positive way that is consistent with my own personal mission

I will give you my top three lessons in a moment. If you asked what surprised me most, it would be how the web allows you to have an impact on individuals all over the world. For example, here are just three things I didn’t anticipate happening:

1. Individuals in over 50 countries have read the blog

2. One blog post prompted a Fortune 50 company to request the opportunity to film me telling the story in person

3. Most impactful to me was a dear friend wanting the blog to be mentioned as recommended reading to mourners at his funeral

With that said, here at my top three lessons learned:

Top Three Lessons:

People love to read about people, not ideas: I happen to love both, but people win out over ideas when it comes to story-telling. A great story about an individual trumps a post about an interesting idea. When all else fails, write about someone who has impacted your life. For example, the post that got the most hits of all 50 was this one about an employee at Delta Airlines, Anna Castano, who helped me.

Lesson in Customer Service: Delta Airlines

Take risks: If you are a bit nervous as you are about to hit the publish button, you probably have a great post on your hands. When I had some concern such as “Is it too personal?”, “Did I represent the other individual fully?”, or “Did I take a too much of a risk with my writing style?” it usually meant that the traffic to the blog would be higher than when I felt completely comfortable hitting the publish button. For example, this post on my friend Don Barnowski was a very difficult piece for me but I knew Don would want his story and thoughts expressed.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Great Reminder

Get clear about who you are writing for: My posts seemed to be stronger when I had a very clear idea of who I was writing for. Sometimes the audience would be a single individual; other times it would be a specific group. For example, this post on developing an organization’s core values was targeted for my employees at United Way. I wanted to get the story captured so they could better understand the roots of the formation of our values.

Building a Strong Nonprofit: Core Values

I had no sense of whether I would get much traffic to the blog, but I did find nobody really comes unless you post. To give you a sense of my traffic since February and how my 4,810 views broke down:

February: 4 posts with 66 views

March: 16 posts with 1,108 views

April: 15 posts with 1,383 views

May: 3 posts with 764 views

June: 11 posts with 731 views

July: 1 post with 760 views

I don’t fully understand the science of search engine optimization (SEO) and when in the week or day one should post. There has been much written by others that can cover that landscape. However, just because you think it is a good post doesn’t mean it will get the traffic. Here are the three posts that I was particularly excited about that just didn’t get traction.


The World’s Fastest 77 Year Old: Meet Kawasaki Bill

Steve Jobs, 1,000 Songs in Your Pocket, and Being in the Arena of Life

Wisdoms of My Father the Father: Take a Leap

I love to write about things I care about and have the chance to share them with others. The fact that there are others who have found some enjoyment from reading these words encourages me to be better. Here are my goals for the next 50 posts:

1. Take more risks with my writing

2. Work on my rewrites of each blog more

3. Complete the next 50 by the end of the year

With that in mind, I am on to my next 50 blog posts!

3 thoughts

  1. Mike, I’ve really enjoyed reading your first 50! I actually went back and re-read your entry about Don when I had heard of his passing because I remembered how inspiring your blog was and how inspiring Don will always be. Thank you and I look forward to your next 50!

  2. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for the commitment. I look forward to the next 50 and what we all learn from them.

  3. Reblogged this on Moments of Clarity and commented:
    Since we are relatively new to the blogosphere, we value the input and perspective of others. Mike Brennan, one of our favorite new bloggers, does a great job of outlining his lessons learned after writing his first 50 blog posts. Good practical perspective for any blogger.
    In the coming weeks, look for Clarity Group to heed his advice as we “take more risks” and let you “read about people, not just ideas.” This should be fun…

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