Today is a special day for um, well, for me. Today is my official one-year anniversary of my blog, and while I don’t know the exact date that I started using Twitter, I can tell you that I started my personal account sometime after February 10th last year. So, let’s call it a year for me doing Social Media stuff professionally.
Only Future-Margie will be able to confirm this for sure (and maybe you can if you’ve seen a year come and go), but I think making it through your first year is probably the toughest thing to do in Social Media. Everything is new. Everything is a surprise. You are starting from nothing. You’ll never REALLY have to start from nothing ever again in the online world. That’s pretty darned comforting.
Over the last year, I’ve had my blog situated on Blogger, WordPress.com, and self-hosted. I’ve changed the name of my blog I *think* three times. I’ve had three different Twitter usernames. I very nearly stopped all of this craziness on three different occasions. I’ve also had more than my fair share of completely joyous and exciting moments.
If I had to do it over again, what would I recommend to myself? What am I recommending to you now so that you can make it through your first year?
1. Have a plan. I think my ride would have been a lot more smooth if I had followed half of the advice I was spouting. When I started blogging and tweeting, I didn’t have objectives, I didn’t have an editorial calendar, I didn’t have a magic number I wanted to hit.
2. Or be willing to flail around a bit. I am a master at self-deprecating humor, so I can laugh at my Social Media Multiple Personality Disorder. If you don’t make a plan, make sure that making mistakes or getting tripped up won’t totally stress you out.
3. Develop your moral compass. Who are you going to follow back? What are you going to do about accounts that you don’t like following you? What are you going to do about comments? Figure this stuff out on the early side. Then stick with your answers. Or don’t, but have good reasons for changing your mind.
4. Attend #blogchat. Sunday nights, 9 PM EST. Especially if you are building your blog and your Twitter presence at the same time. I did not see the value or the point in Twitter until I participated in my first #blogchat. Thoughts were racing back and forth, I finally got my 100th follower, and I learned a ton all because of this one hour I dedicated to chatting. Beatable? I think not.
5. Make friends. Pretty early in my efforts I met people like Fadra Nally, Stan Smith, Lisa Alexander, Dawn Westerberg, Cheryl Fenton, Danny Garcia, and many others. These folks taught me a great deal of what I know now, plus they were darned nice about it. You can’t play the Social Media game alone, especially when you’re just getting started.
6. Set goals, and celebrate achieving them. Even though I’m not a big worrier about how many followers I have, I still like celebrating various landmarks. Getting 1,000 followers was a huge achievement, it felt like. Getting 100 followers felt like something big. Now I’m shooting for 100 blog subscribers. It’s exciting.
7. Don’t beat yourself or other people up. You are not perfect. Most people aren’t. You have to be okay with that if you want to make it a year in just about anything, Social Media included.
8. Figure out your content and then create it. What is your voice? What kind of reader do you want? Figuring this out took me most of my first year. I suspect it is the same with most people. It makes the time go by faster!
9. Have fun! Yes, Social Media can be very serious. It can be your livelihood, in fact. But goodness are there some crazy things in the online world! Remember, Social Media is not everything, it’s just a thing. Life will go on, your work will go on, even if things aren’t going too well in blog-land or Tweet-ville. Don’t take it all too incredibly seriously.
For those of you who have lasted a year already, what would be your number 10?
To close, I’d like to list some other super special folks in addition to the ones I mentioned above.
Ellen Cagnassola (aka @SweetSoaps), Jay Baer, and Ann Handley were some of the very first people to reply to me on Twitter.
Suzanne Vara and Maya Paveza have come to my rescue more times than I can count.
And I’ve been fortunate to have countless mentors, including Chris Brogan, Lisa Petrilli, Allen Mireles, Marsha Collier, Carol Roth, Mark Schaefer, Danny Brown, Geoff Livingston, Beth Harte, Mack Collier, Estrella Rosenberg, and Joe Sorge. You all are very special people.
My #tweetdiner, #blogchat, #leadershipchat, #custserv, and #imcchat friends – you’re all wonderful. And ThirdTribe friends – you aren’t too shabby either 🙂
And this first year celebration – it really wouldn’t be happening without you. That’s right. You.
For those of you who have stuck with me while I’ve learned this stuff, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Here we go with year two! 🙂