Every year I run a small, free neighborhood haunted house out of my garage. It’s a mammoth undertaking every year involving countless hours of work, a staff of about four or five helping during crunch times and months of planning. All for about 12 combined hours of “open” time in late October.
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However, like every large undertaking I’ve tried, it’s come with its share of life lessons, at least a few of which apply to blogging. So, with that in mind, here are five lessons that running a haunted house, or any similar project can teach you about blogging or running a site.
1. Much of the Work Isn’t Fun
For every hour of scaring visitors, there is probably 12 hours or more of building walls, painting and other mundane, laborious tasks that almost no one enjoys.
Blogging is much the same way. Though every blogger has tasks they love, whether its designing, writing or answering comments, there are many elements that are just no fun at all, filtering spam comments out, fixing site errors, dealing with flame wars and keeping track of your content to name a few.
Though everyone should love what they do, loving your site doesn’t mean enjoying every single task you do for it. It just means that the good outweighs the bad.
2. You Can Look Professional Cheaply
Since our haunt is free, we have to do it on a very tight budget, a few hundred dollars per year tops. We build many of our own props, design many of our scares and find low-tech solutions that other haunts use computers and pneumatics for. We are able to solve our problems cheaply and, at the same time, produce a pretty good haunt.
Blogging is much the same way. WordPress is free and there are tons of great themes for it freely available. Combine that with good content and a great domain, you can have a professional-looking blog for almost no money.
What you do need is skill, time and dedication. If you don’t have the money to buy a professional theme, you need to create or or tweak an existing one. Can’t pay writers? You have to write good content. Money can be a shortcut to a professional appearance, but an investment of time and talent can create the same results and, I would argue, give those results more heart and meaning.
3. Cross-Promoting is Critical
I would be easy for me to consider other haunted attractions in the area as competition and try to “beat” them somehow. However, it’s been much easier for all of us to work together and cross-promote. I even donate a few off nights to volunteer at haunts technically compete with.
The reason is that people don’t usually visit just one haunted house nor do they visit just one blog. Giving a “competitor” traffic is not the same as taking visitors away from you. Networking and working with others in your field is critical not just to drive traffic, but to build your brand and build awareness about your site.
No site is an island so it is best to promote accordingly.
4. Constantly Troubleshoot
The first thing we do after every night of haunting is sit around and go over what happened. The atmosphere is always light-hearted and we’re reliving our favorite scares, but it’s also somewhat serious as we’re going over the things that did not work and planning to retool for the next night or the next year.
Blogging is no different, every so often you should look at your traffic and your site’s use patterns and see what you can do to improve it. What features can you add? Is your navigation confusing? What might help search engines crawl your site better?
A blogger should be constantly looking at their site, determining what works and losing what doesn’t.
5. Be Unique
Being high quality isn’t good enough by itself, you have to do something that’s unique. With our haunt, we try to focus on more realistic scenarios and avoid all horror movie icons. This helps people remember us and gives our haunt a very unique feel.
If you can’t describe what makes your site unique in less than 20 words, you probably need to change your focus to give it something a bit more original. Otherwise, you’ll always just an “also” ran in an overcrowded field.
If you provide something unique, people will remember you and they will return.
All major projects, whether online or off, have a great deal to teach us about running our sites. The Internet does not change the basics of what makes good work and by looking at what it takes to do a good job elsewhere, you can apply the lessons online.
So what are some of the lessons you’ve learned from your offline projects and how did you make them apply to your site? I’d be interested to hear what others have to say.
Why Does Blogging Seem Hard?
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The question of blogging questions.
Why does blogging seem hard?
Blogging in and of itself is not hard. Blogging is a concept. A blog is an inanimate object. It is neutral. It is not hard, tough or easy.
Human beings label their feelings with emotions. THIS is why blogging seems hard.
Doing the neutral activity of blogging feels scary, meaning you unearth and either resist or feel fears. Feeling the fears feels highly unpleasant. Especially if said fears feel deep, strong, and terrifying, depressing or anger-inducing.
But if you resist these deep fears, and refuse to feel them, and blog mainly from a dominant vibe of fear, you fully experience the feeling of blogging being super hard. Blogging is actually neutral but you refuse to feel deep fears that blogging has unearthed. You resisting fear leads to prolonged blogging failure, aka, not seeing much money and traffic, aka, blogging being really hard.
Real World Example
A few moments ago, I scanned one of my daily blogging income streams. I made a little less than I had been making for 1 of a billion reasons. 1 such reason may have been the internet crashing here last night. We experienced a few big, powerful thunderstorms.
Anyway, I noted the dollar amount being lower and felt fear arise in my body. Rather than resist the fear, I felt the anxiety, and my mind hurriedly racing ahead to next month’s paycheck, and then, after breathing deeply for a few moments and fully embracing the fear, I released it. I did not resist it. I felt it. The fear disappeared. I then blog from an abundant, relaxed, detached, generous energy, which helps me become more and more successful.
But the old me – and most bloggers – see a lesser dollar amount for daily earnings, feel an intense fear arise, panic, bury the fear versus feeling it, and run around like mad men and mad women with that DEEP FEAR DRIVING THEM, desperate and greedy, resisting the fear, being driven by fear, and of course, they do stupid stuff with a dominant fear energy guaranteeing their blogging failure. Then, these humans who refuse to face, embrace and feel fears, proclaim blogging to be hard. This is a lie. Blogging is neutral. But you refuse to face, embrace and release your fears, so blogging *feels* hard.
Feel fears when fears arise. Cry it out. Shout it out. Feel depressed or deflated. Do not resist fear. Then, after feeling fears, you will feel good, detached, relaxed and trusting. Feeling these dominant abundant energies, you will create, connect, trust, persist and blog from a relaxed, chill energy. Blogging from this calm, trusting, generous energy makes blogging easier and easier and easier. Money flows in easy. Traffic flows in easy.
Blogging went from hard to easy because you faced fears, felt fears, and progressively blogged from an abundant, generous, calm, detached vibe.
Tip for Feeling Fear
Engage in some energy management ritual that expands your awareness. I do deep yin yoga and power walk daily. Prayer and/or meditation may help. Breathing deeply helps. Do anything that expands your awareness so you can observe and feel fear versus resisting this destructive energy.
Some humans bury fear with busy-ness and jobs they hate. Other people turn to drugs or alcohol to bury fears. All of these folks are unhappy and depressed because you cannot feel good, abundant, relaxed and successful with oodles of fear buried deep inside of you.
Be with your fears. Be gentle with yourself. The blogger who feels and releases fear soon learns blogging gets easier and easier.
Do You Need to Respond to ALL Comments?
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One mistake holds back many bloggers who fail to scale. These folks obsess over responding to every single comment, every email, every message. Why? Pride. Obsession. Attachment to people. Fear of missing out on an opportunity. Fear of missing out on friendships.
Unfortunately, if you spend 14 hours daily responding to every single social request and chat and email and blog comment and message – even if it feels fun – you lose opportunities to scale through blog posts, guest posts, podcasts and doing interviews.
Please; if responding to virtually everything feels fun, do it. But 99% of bloggers BS themselves on this because they respond to EVERYONE from an energy of fear, pain, lack, resistance, force and hustle. Bad idea guys. Force negates. But, power attracts. Meaning if you are willing to use power, and love, and fun, to inject into your work, you quickly see: the cornerstone of massive scaling and persistent growth and freeing blogging success is writing, publishing and placing blog posts and guest posts.
Today, how do I have most fun growing my business, reaching more people, helping more people, and leveraging my blogging presence? Do I achieve these feats by spending 3 hours responding individually to every retweet, Like, blog comment, and so on, and so on? Nope. I spend those 3 hours effectively and efficiently by writing and publishing 3-6 blog posts and guest posts. Blog posts and guest posts scale. Blog posts and guest posts help me reach hundreds to thousands of targeted folks through each blog post and guest post.
Blog posts and guest posts never seem to be written by people who complain about having no time to blog post, and, guest post. Meanwhile, a hefty chunk of these humans spend 1, 2 or 3 hours responding to every Like on Facebook, from a strained, forced energy, fearing they miss out on traffic and bonds, not having fun doing it. But the wise move would be spending 10 minutes responding to comments on Facebook and maybe a few Likes, then, devoting 2-3 hours to writing and publishing blog posts and guest posts.
Think Scale Not Small Time
WAY too many bloggers play small, giving most of their attention and energy to building 1 to 1 bonds. Making friends is important but meeting new friends is even more important.
One lesson I learned from millionaire bloggers: scaling through blog posts and guest posts is the quickest way to reach more people, make more money and increase your blog traffic. Building 1 to 1 bonds by engaging commentors plays a role in succeeding online, but the top bloggers on earth are not running around, spending endless hours responding to Likes on Facebook.
Titans also build one to one bonds through engagement, but if you are not getting 1000 page views a day, something is wrong in the scaling department. Namely, you are playing it small, not thinking about scaling. Scale. Guest post. Post to your blog. Make this the focus of your day. Then, feel free to engage folks 1 to 1 in a limited time frame.
You need to let go responding to every single person all day long to genuinely scale, to reach an increasing number of folks and to do what matters most to your business.
People will buy your stuff without you engaging them. Guaranteed. Folks will find your blog, love your content and buy your course or eBooks. This is a simple, organic process that you muck up every time you believe you need to respond to and engage every single person who reaches out via all online channels.
Should You Aim for Blog Post Quality or Quantity?
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The human mind is silly. It thinks one or the other. It thinks you cannot have it all. You can have blog post quality and quantity but you need to make a clear decision on what you define to be a quality blog post.
Quality posts do not mean 2000 to 4000 word, pillar style masterpieces. A quality blog post answers the question you asked via title or delivers on the promise you made on the title.
I do understand how Google ranks 2000 word or longer, SEO-optimized posts requiring hours of work for even skilled bloggers to write, package and publish. But Google also ranks 600 words posts. 600 word posts are quality posts. Guess what? For the 30,000 bloggers out there asking the title question, I just wrote a quality blog post because they get a clear, concise, dead on answer.
Avoid Scarcity Thinking
Any time you FEAR posts are not quality because word length is 600 words, you think scarcity, or, not enough, or, not quality. But fear is not true. Fear is illusion. I can write 10, 600 word, quality posts today to make a massive impact and to help people IF I think abundance. But if I only believe I write quality, helpful posts in the 2000 word range, I stopped thinking abundance and began thinking scarcity. I chose fear over love and abundance. Naturally, all bloggers who think scarcity either struggle, fail and quit or work like beasts just to make end’s meet. Not good.
Go for quantity and quality. Some posts may span 800 or 1000 words but you can answer most questions and solve most problems in 600 words if you have immense clarity. Seth Godin answers most questions in 100 to 300 words. You have so much more to work with. So…work with it!
Think abundance. Blog abundance.
I have referenced Gary Vee many times recently and his 2000 video interviews on YouTube. Before he landed world famous speaking gig he had a pure abundance mindset, doing videos left and right, offering quality insights on a high quantity of channels. Blogging fools would try desperately to land an interview on a TV show, pitching, fearing, worrying, striving, and wasting months of time, thinking scarcity. Gary thought abundance, seized every opportunity through interview requests from some entrepreneurs who registered zero views per video, gained massive exposure organically, and, the dude became famous through his abundance mindset.
He thought quality and quantity. He did not hold back.
I am beginning to gain massive exposure through the 5-10 guest posts and blog posts published under my name daily. I do not turn down a microphone. I also know the easiest way to become well known is to focus heavily on quantity and quality, to share the wealth.
Many bloggers would obsess over a quality post being 2000 words, SEO-optimized and all that jazz, spending 4 hours to write said post on blogging tips. Meanwhile, I just wrote and published 8 quality, 600 word posts during those hours. I am being seen helping people in 8 spots. While you are on the sidelines. Even if that SEO’ed out, 2000 word post gains massive traffic over the long term, via Google, I am gaining even more massive traffic, being in 8-10 places daily via my posts and guest posts.
Think exponential increase. Imagine my 10 guest posts building up over 365 days. That is 3,650 guest posts, 3,650 spots where I am spotted online. That is a lotta spots!
See why it pays to think quality and quantity?
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