Being Silent….

I read an interesting blog today, about how being a silent reader constrains the ability to gain traction in the blogosphere. It got me thinking, why am I so silent on here? I post frequent enough, I read enough and always give likes to posts that I enjoy, but very very very rarely do I ever stop and take the time to leave a comment, and thus have put myself into the category of silent reader, but as the writer of this other post asserts, did I unintentionally constrain myself by not becoming talkative on other blogs?

The answer to this is simply, yes, I did. Just maybe not for the same reasons that are pointed out by this other blogger. Working as a social media specialist for several companies (yay freelance work!) I write anywhere from 7-10 blogs a day for companies while at the same time responding to messages and comments and likes on those blogs. At the end of the day, I get to my own blog and find myself not only slightly unmotivated to write, but also completely overwhelmed by the amount of engagement I dealt with throughout the day and instead of engaging my readers as well as my fellow readers of blogs I follow, I casually scroll through reading posts that, though I find interesting, I am out of energy and commitment to blogging to write comments.

This of course does very unintentionally put huge constrains on myself as a blogger (at least, for my personal blog, my clients are set for life on engagement). The blogger of this post also pointed out that he (along with countless others) were very late to the blogging party and have thus found themselves in a sort of limbo, or in his terms, the cool kid tables and the not so cool kid tables have already been established. Where do you and I fit into this then? The people who enjoy reading blogs but decide writing comments is just not for them or do not have the time, or maybe you just don’t have anything to say really on the subject even though you did enjoy the post.

Limbo, that is where it puts us until we unequivocally make a change in our mindset to not allow ourselves to be labeled. I do not see myself as in limbo as to what table I will sit at, I see myself sitting down and starting my own table, of those who just recreationally enjoy writing blogs, reading blogs but not having to pressure ourselves into engaging other bloggers if we do not feel the need to. Of course, this does put us at a huge disadvantage when it comes to gaining followers and likes, because what better what to get noticed then to post comments to attract that blogger to you, and anyone else who reads and enjoys the comments may come along as well.

Do I need to break the mold to be a great blogger? No, not really. Does what I write need to be the most originaly in the world? Not at all. Do I need to comment on every single blog I read to start more of a follow? Possibly. Maybe not every blog I read, but I think it is time that I get up the energy to not only engage readers on my clients blogs, but on my blog as well. To do this, I’ve decided to not put off my own blogging until the end of the day anymore, from now on, my blog will be the first thing I do every morning. Whether this means writing a new post and engaging in comments on the blogs I follow or just the later of the two, I do plan to engage a little more for my own personal blog.

This does not mean that I will be commenting on every blog I read. That is WAY too many comments even for someone who blogs for companies professionally and responds to every comment (even if it is just a generic Thank you for commenting). It does mean that a few comments on blogs that I find really interesting is needed though. No one should feel forced to comment, no one should ever feel forced to do anything really, but if you like the post, leave a quick comment not just a generic like. If you enjoy the post give that person a follow also, I know I always follow back when I gain a new follower and I usually find that their blog extremely enjoyable for me.

Well, time to switch into professional blogger mode, hope you all read this and take the steps needed to stop being the silent reader and make your own voice heard and seen a bit more.

 

~SKG

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Being a Storyteller Could Be Your Greatest Asset

By my previous posts, it is easy to see that I enjoy writing. Though I have mentioned it in passing, I have not fully explored my love of digital media marketing or how my two passions combine. Blogging is a part of what I do for a living, and no, this is not about to turn into a “how to be a better blogger” post. This post is to fully explore the connection between my job, my love of writing, my success in academics with my writing and my ability to keep an audience compelled during a speech. You see, it all comes down to one thing, my ability to tell a story. With my degrees in Communication Studies Rhetoric, I have basically been trained to be a polished speaker and writer, I even taught Public Speaking at the University level while in my Graduate program. I heard speech after speech after speech and though my students and peers were very good at following the templates that they were taught and could easily follow to pass the class. Problem with these template driven speeches? Even as the instructor it took every once of self discipline I had not to lose focus during all 75 of my students speeches. Mind you, I love listening to speeches that are done by famous politicians, writers etc… I rarely remember what the speaker says (besides maybe one or two key phrases that the speech is designed around) but I always remember that distinct feeling I have when I walk away from listening to a speech. Why is this? Why do I never fully remember what was said, but I remember how I felt and the feeling that I needed to take some kind of action. It is a very simple trick used by well practiced speakers, writers and even marketing professionals today. It is the simple art of storytelling.

Storytelling seems easy on the surface, you have a beginning a middle and an end. Simple right? Not so much when you realize that it is not just a simple story anymore. The princess can not just meet prince charming and run off into the sunset anymore. There needs to be drama and intrigue and mystery and action. There also needs to be imagery, metaphors and hyperboles. Without these things and much, much more a story is just a sequence of events that occurs. The dull transmission of information from one person to another is not very valuable anymore.

The ability to tell a story has taken me very far. In academics I was able to turn dull 25+ page papers into compelling, intriguing rhetorical analyses without even batting an eye. I passed through my speech classes, debate classes and argumentation classes on sheer ability to make my audience remember me with my story telling abilities. As this ability carried me through undergraduate and graduate school, I was also secretly working on my novel. My novel has become my hobby and passion now that I am out of school. It is probably the one thing that keeps me sane after I work a fourteen hour work day I always know I can go home and escape into the fantasy land of my story. As frustrating as it is that my story is still only about three-fifths of the way done, it keeps me going during a hard day knowing I have something enjoyable to go home to work on.

My blog has spent a great deal of time focusing on my writing endeavors and not much discussing my actual work. Marketing, specifically digital media marketing. Though I can do traditional public relations and communications work, I so much prefer the realm of digital media and especially content marketing. Content creation is the simply the act of writing copy for a multitude of mediums. I have done everything from running Facebook and Twitter accounts to creating, designing and creating the content for entire websites. I even blog for a lot of my clients. What does all this have in common with my novel, my academic writing and speeches? Simple, storytelling is again key in content marketing. Just like in academic and creative writings my content creating needs to tell a story. Whether it is about the brand I am writing for, a product or service they are selling or about one of the employees for that brand, it is essential for me to evoke my talent as a story teller to make sure anyone who reads what I write for that brand goes away with a definite (and hopefully positive) feeling about that brand. A feeling that will drive them to do business with that brand as well. If I simply convey information about the brand to its audience, it is does not have that great of an impact. I need to make the person reading my content feel a desperate need for the product or service of the brand it was written for/about.

I think my entire life has been leading up to being a digital media public relations professional. My speech background, my writing experience and my overall passion for storytelling have set me up for success in my chosen field. Being a storyteller expands beyond just books and speaking. It encompasses almost every aspect of every day life. Movies, music, TV shoes, commercials, advertisements, tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, newspapers and much more are all examples of how storytelling is used to entertain us on a daily basis and make us feel certain ways about the world around us. Stories are meant to have us sympathize or empathize with certain people, places and things. If you can master the art of story telling, you can really master the world.

Balancing act

I remember my parents always telling me that life was a balancing act. I never really understood it until the past few months. I guess I was spoiled by the fact that I never really had to work that hard other than in school. My parents were cool enough to always support me when I needed to focus on school and could not work. Do not take this as I never worked, trust me I worked as much as I could, but when you are going to school for two different majors, two minors and then go into graduate school where you end up teaching at the university (for a small amount of pay each semester), a full time job just sometimes is not an option. 

Upon leaving graduate school, I thought it would be easier with school out of the picture. I was done, I was out and I no longer had to worry about if I read the 100 pages my professor assigned for that week, or if I had a test or paper due that week. How hard could work be with the headache of school out of the picture? Yeah, I was definitely wrong about that. 

I wasn’t even out of graduate school when I met Jesse, the boy of my dreams. We dated for 1 month and 1 week and he asked me to marry him, a year later I am in the midst of planning a wedding, working fourteen hour days, writing my first novel, cooking dinner most nights for him and trying to find time to play with our two adorable dogs. I can’t remember the last time I worked a normal 40hr, 5 day work week.

I probably put in a good 80-90 hours of work each week between my jobs. Freelance is NOT easy. It is so up and down that it can be impossible to keep up with my half of the bills and pay for a wedding. Solution to this problem? Take on a supposed easy job that would allow me plenty of time to do my other work while earning a steady paycheck. Enter, nannying. How terrible could that be? I have to say, the kids are sweet and I adore them, even love them. The parents are a headache, demanding and just do not pay attention to half the things I say most of the time. If the mother had her way, I would literally live at their house and would not have my own family to attend to. I do have a high respect for anyone who does do live-in nannying. Doing live-out takes a huge chunk of my day away that I wish I could be spending with my family. Live-in nannies I feel are literally giving up their own lives to do their job. 

My novel is making progress, which is good, but at the same time, if I could I would spend the whole day laying in the most comfortable place in my house or by the pool writing. Maybe I will get to that point where I am literally paid to write books. That is a dream come true, but let us face it, the odds of me being the next J.K. Rowling is pretty slim. Do I want to publish my book? Absolutely! It would be a dream come true! I’ve wanted to be an author since I was little, but I know it is a long shot. 

My freelance work is tedious at times. I do Digital Media PR. Basically I control company social media pages. I run ads, write posts, write blogs, maintain websites and interact with fans on behalf of the company. Which also means my computer is constantly dinging at me and I constantly have people who want questions answered, responses to comments and retweets. That is not even going into the meetings, proposal writing and the best part about any sales driven job, the rejection. I do not even react much anymore when a potential clients decides to pass me by for a giant corporation. 

Then there is my family. I have an amazing fiance who understands that I am only doing this all until I am really established in the digital media PR world. Does that mean he doesn’t miss me when I do three overnights in a row at my nanny job because the parents are both in Europe for work? No, he misses me terribly, but he allows me to do my job and earn my paycheck. I am not sure my dogs are as understanding. I have an amazing three year old Husky/Chow mix that is my entire world. I have had that dog since he was just three weeks old and to him, I am god. My other dog is a two year old pomeranian mix that my fiance and I adopted a year ago. Rescue dogs are hard, they don’t fully trust you all the time and when I go missing for days you can bet my dogs know it. 

Somehow in all the chaos I find time for me. The ten minutes I spend writing blogs, or doing my morning yoga is pretty much what I live for. My fiance and I have taken to sitting on the balcony off our master bedroom and drinking our morning coffee out there before I go to work and he rests up for work (he works nights). It is a crazy life, and I would in no way say I have it all balanced out all the time, but that is how life is I guess. No matter how hard you try one part of your life will always push everything else out of balance, and once you get that figured out another aspect of life is pushing you over the edge. There are always those small moments, nanoseconds really, when everything balances and comes together and you find yourself in pure bliss. I call these moments, bed time. 

 

~~SKG