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Oct 9
What Difference Does Your Blog Make?

Does your blog make a difference?
Does your blog matter?
How can you change the way you and others perceive your blog?

This post is about making a difference through your blog.  My purpose here is not to tell you what to do.  Rather, I am about to ask you
more than 60 serious questions and offer thoughts to help you decide how to make a difference through your blog.  I hope it will be worth reading and pondering multiple times.  Next week I will discuss specific ways to apply what you may learn here.

Please help me make a difference through this post by considering it thoughtfully and sharing it with others.

Being Different Versus Making A Difference

There are more than six billion humans inhaling oxygen on this planet right now.  Each of us breathes and moves and looks and thinks and feels differently.  We couldn't be exactly the same even if we tried.  We are already different.  Yet we tend to try to be different from each other.  Wouldn't it better if we tried instead to simply make a difference for good in the lives of others?  To help them breathe easier?

Do you believe that to be successful as possible, you only need to be as different as possible?
Or do you believe that to be successful as possible, you need to make as much of a difference as possible?

For two years I've closely followed dozens of the most popular blogs in the world.  During that time I've studied hundreds of other blogs.

There are many reasons people and businesses use blogs, but the best reasons all involve making a difference to somebody.

There is a difference between being different and making a difference.

The best blogs are not always the most different.  But they always make a difference.

Why Should Your Blog Make A Difference?

Q: Why should I care? - Quill Shiell
A: Before asking why you *should* care, perhaps it would be worth thinking about the fact that you *do* care. Human beings are emotional and moral beings - we simply aren't capable of observing other people's behaviour without reacting emotionally and morally (though not always rightly!) to it. Because we are good at thinking, we can learn to override our initial emotional reactions and behave as detached, scientific observers in certain circumstances. But this requires an effort, even if we don't recognise it as such.We care about other people because we can't help it. When we cease to care altogether, we cease to function as humans. The important question, then, is how we live with caring about other people, given how painful and demanding that is. - Eleanor Toye

Does it matter whether your blog matters?
Does it make a difference whether your blog makes a difference?
Why should corporate blogs do more than offer a bland blend of idle chit-chat and quasi-press releases?
Why should solo entrepreneur business blogs do more than offer occasional book excerpts, haphazard speculation or rehashed news?
Why should professional blogging imply the pursuit of gripping content when scannable or cannable appear to suffice?
Why spend time and energy and money to strive for meaningful communication, conversation and connection when cookie-cutter commercialism manages to pay the bills?

In other words, why bother?

Sigh.

Because selflessness yields far superior results - particularly in the long run - than selfishness.

We speak so much of self-improvement nowadays that it is easy to forget the improvement of others - an even greater quest, of which self-improvement is but one by-product.

If you have a personal blog, it should matter to you.
If you have a professional blog, it should matter to you and to your target audience.

Who Has Made A Difference In Your Blogging?

Who helped you start your blog?
Who left the first meaningful comment?
Who was the first to link to your blog thoughtfully and appreciatively?
Who has given you helpful advice on how to blog?
Who has helped you use your blog to communicate with others more effectively?
Who has made you excited to publish content to your blog?
Who has been an example to you on how to treat blog visitors?
Who has answered your most difficult questions about blogging?
Who has changed the way you view the potential of your own blog?
Who has made the biggest difference in your blogging?

Levers, Fulcrums, Opportunities And Vision

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. - Archimedes

Your vision is that lever.  Your blog is that fulcrum.

There is no such thing as a lack of opportunities.  There is only a lack of vision.

Opportunities!  Opportunities!

Strive to see opportunities all around you.  Wherever you cannot see opportunities, create them.  To create is to organize existing materials into something new.  All around you are people you can communicate with and tools you can combine to create unprecedented opportunities.

The Shoe Salesman

Once upon a time there was a shoe salesman sent to a lonely village to set up a new shop for his company.  He was shocked upon arrival to find that nobody in that village wore shoes.  In fact, they had never heard of shoes before.  When the salesman asked them to try wearing shoes, the answer came: "What good could come from strapping a chunk of leather to our feet?"
It was at that moment that everything depended on his vision.

You are that shoe salesman.  You have knowledge that others do not.  You have tools that others do not.  You have even had experiences that others have not.  You have a tremendous opportunity to use your knowledge, tools and experiences to improve the lives of others.  And through the miracle of the modern Web, your circle of influence is not limited by village walls.  Rather, your power can reach around the entire world.

It is at this moment that everything depends on your vision.

What is your vision of what you can lead others to accomplish through your blog?
What group projects or initiatives for good can you instigate?
What grand ideas can you form?
What hubs can you create?
What individuals can you touch?
How can you take an ordinary content management system and convert it into a juggernaut of positive change?

Let no amount of ignorance or stubbornness stop you from offering, right now and forever, something of far greater value than shoes.

How Has Your Blog Made A Difference - And To Whom?

We will never know in this life how many lives we have blessed or how many people we have caused to rejoice through our faithful and loving service. - Anonymous

This principle applies to everything in life - including business, blogging and online interaction.  We have a limitless potential to make a difference to other people.  Blogs have a limitless potential to increase our ability to do so as professionals, mentors and friends.

Does your blog scare anybody?
Does your blog make anybody think?
Does it stop anybody dead in their tracks?
Does it make anybody's day?
Does it make anybody change their mind?

If you left your blog alone, how quickly would it gather dust?
How quickly would people forget your blog?
Who would remember you?
Who would wonder if you were still around?
Who would have learned?
Who would have been touched?
Who would have been helped?
Who would care?

Has your blog merely become a way to make money?
Has your blog merely become a crusade to gain personal fame?
Have you merely been publishing to your blog rather than trying to make a difference through your blog?

What have you accomplished through your blog so far?
What valuable lessons have you taught or learned through your blog?
What valuable relationships have you forged through your blog?
What valuable legacies have you left the world through your blog?
What is the most valuable thing you have or know that you can give others through your blog?
10 years from now, what do you want to say you accomplished through your blog?
50 years from now, what do you want others to say you accomplished through your blog?

Stop worrying about just making your blog "better" and start thinking about how to make your blog better for someone.
Stop worrying about what to do at your blog and start thinking about what to do through your blog to benefit and inspire others.
Stop worrying about how to make your blog different and start thinking about how YOU can make a difference through your blog.

How Should You Spend Your Blogging Time and Energy?

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. - Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever killed time blogging?  Have you felt like your blog is killing you?

Have you spent time and energy trying to be the smartest instead of trying to make others smarter?

Have you spent time and energy trying to be the most popular instead of trying to help others befriend each other?

Have you spent time and energy tweaking your blog's outward appearance instead of fortifying its nutritional value?

Have you spent time and energy viewing other bloggers as competitors instead of converting them into collaborators?

Have you spent time and energy searching for a slice instead of leading others to the whole pie?

Have you spent time and energy trying to be different instead of trying to make a difference?

Have you spent time and energy blogging instead of making a difference through your blog?

I know I have.

No more.  Now is the moment to change our vision of what we can do and become.  Now is the time to direct our blogging time and energy toward making a much greater difference.

Not tomorrow.  Not later today.  RIGHT NOW.

Begin Now To Make A Much Greater Difference Through Your Blog

I want to make a difference.  That sentence is a paragraph in and of itself [...] It speaks volumes about a central yearning of the heart.  Is it selfish to want to make a difference?  I am not saying that I want to become rich, or famous, or busy.  I am just a 28-year-old guy with cystic fibrosis, a wife, a very nice apartment in a very nice development, with a wonderful family and a supportive church family who wants to make a difference.  Is it hopeless to think that I possess something that other people would want? [...] What is my idea or what knowledge do I have or need to get in order to make a difference?  Is there a roadmap to finding your influence, or does it smack you in the face one day?  Is it just a Holy Grail, never to be found?  When I find it, will it make a difference in me? - Jesse Petersen

Now is the time to resolve to make every post on your blog far more valuable than the brief time it may hold each reader's attention.

Now is the time to resolve to make your blog have the greatest, farthest-reaching, deepest, most urgent effect possible.

You can make a much greater difference through your blog in the lives of those who view its content and participate in its conversations.

You can make a much greater difference through your blog in the lives of those who pattern their blogs after yours.
You can make a much greater difference through your blog in your own life.
And as you change and improve yourself, you will have a ripple effect on countless others.

This is not a rant.  This is a call.  I am tired of watching so much time and energy go to oblivious waste.  Customers deserve better.  Businesses deserve better.  Visitors to your blog deserve better.  Subscribers to your feed deserve better.  Your family and friends deserve better.  The world deserves better.  YOU deserve better.  We all deserve better.

Of course a blog is not everything.  Much can and must be done for business and personal purposes that cannot be done through a blog alone.  A blog cannot hug, for example.  And a blog cannot shake hands.
Here is an challenge that you must accept in order to maximize the impact your blog can have.

Will you strive from this moment on to make your blog the greatest possible tool for good it can be?

If you accept this challenge, you will begin to embrace a vision that transcends petty cares and affixes itself to human destiny.

You have the potential to use a little tool like a blog to make someone ten thousand miles away pause in reflection, gasp in awe, or even break down uncontrollably.

You have the potential to use a content management system called a blog to turn a scattered, intermittent flow of casual reaction into a laser-focused fire hose of intense action.

You have the potential to take raw ones and zeros and collaborate with customers and listeners to create infinity.

So What Are You Going To Do Now?

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where –" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"– so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

So what are you going to do differently through your blog from now on?

If your answer is nothing, then perhaps my words have been in vain.

If your answer is that you're not sure, we're getting somewhere.  I know what that feels like.  It's frustrating.  It hurts.  You want to say "Arrgh!"  Maybe you want to punch a toy.  That's okay.  It means you want to do something about it.

Please don't rest until you answer my question.  Above all, answer it for yourself and for those you will affect through your blog.  We'd all appreciate it if you shared a piece of your answer here as well.

What do you want to say about what I have said?

What would you like to share with others at this moment and place?

And most importantly, what do you intend to do about it?

All From Pebbles


You threw your pebble in my pond
Long and round the arcs did flow
I plucked a pebble from my pile
And into yours I let it go.

Ripples flew and ricocheted.
Friendships forged and changes made.
Can you count the treasures paid?
All from pebbles, flung along.

We never know until much later
How much we might affect this place;
The folks we meet and greet and help
Are etched in memory's craggy face.

So stop your pebble-hording now
And fling 'em far and wide today;
Don't wait to touch your neighbor's life
While ripples still appear by day.

Please Share Your Thoughts

The soapbox, confessional, pedestal and pulpit are now yours.

 


10 Comments/Trackbacks




Wow! Easton,
I hear you. you're right. We deserve more. What a beautiful job. Thank you for caring enough to say so.

Awesome post Easton. The question that got me thinking the most was: "If you left your blog alone, how quickly would it gather dust?
How quickly would people forget your blog?"

I've never thought about it in those terms. What have I created on my blog that has staying power? I guess you could think of it as a legacy. What am I leaving behind, and will anybody care? Will what I leave behind be of value to anyone after I'm gone.

It's not often that someone can open our perspective to the bigger picture and the bigger value that we have to offer.

This post gives meaning and inspiration to my post last week on How To Be a Positive Force in the Blogosphere and Beyond.

Thanks for pushing us to think bigger about our role as bloggers!

Liz and Ed, thank you for your comments. Ed, thanks for that link. I'm glad that my words and questions were helpful.

We live in a fast-paced world. It's easy to lose sight of where our fast paces should actually be taking us and others.

That's quite a post there, Easton. I'm honored to be a part of your world - you are a great blogger and a great friend. :D Keep on rocking the world!

Thanks Wendy. I'm honored to be your friend as well. I hope to apply what I've discussed here as the months pass and demonstrate an example of blogging with vision and altruism to others.

That's quite an article, Easton! I love your insight and the breadth of coverage on this lone topic. I appreciate your move to... well... move us with this piece.

Thanks Jesse. I hope to sit by you again at next year's SOBCon!

For others venturing down here to the bottom of this thread, I want to encourage you all to share any ideas you may have on how to retain the vision of using your blog to make a really BIG difference.

The important thing, I think, is to remember that our blog is not all about us. It's all about the people reading what we write.

Before I post, I try to ask myself: is this something that the readers will be able to use?

What a lovely post. This could really transform some readers, i.e. make a difference.

Yehuda

Laura: Exactly! It's not about you; it never was. It's about them first, and then the connection between you and them.

Yehuda: Thank you, truly - thank you.

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