One Year at ActiveRain - What Have I Learned?
I was one of those people who set up a profile here on ActiveRain long before I started doing any blogging or commenting (about eight months before, to be exact). I was originally invited by a friend of mine in Myrtle Beach (Jan Chilton) who runs an SEO company. My first comment on ActiveRain was one year ago today, although I wrote a post the day before that. Either way, I have been here "actively" for one year now.
What have I learned so far?
I have learned that I enjoy writing far more than I had realized previously. I enjoy the specific give and take that comes from writing with an audience of regular readers who comment on my stuff. With about 530 posts under my belt so far, I haven't run out of things to talk about yet. My primary advice to newbies is to just write from your heart and write what you know. Also, I think it helps to write like you actually talk, as if you were having a conversation with the reader.
I have learned that online social networking is a great way to make "real world" friends. My first friend and contact on ActiveRain was Adam Waldman, and we have established a strong and trusting friendship over the past year, even though we have not yet met face-to-face. I also speak regularly with Paul Slaybaugh. Like Adam, Paul and I share similar priorities and a love of family that is deep and abiding. I won't delve into a long list of friends that I have made here so far, but I would estimate that I have spoken with about 100-125 AR members at one time or another, and I met with about 30 or so back in April at my first AR Gathering. Soon, I will be hosting my own gathering here in Austin.
I learned that blogging can actually lead to real paychecks. My first actual closing from AR came early on, back in November or thereabouts. Presently, I am working with two active clients who were referrals from AR - one is set to close in the next week or so. The clients that I have worked with so far have come from a myriad of different posts (some of which would likely surprise you). Suffice it to say that many of my clients have chosen to contact me because of a more "personal" post about my family, or just something funny that they enjoyed.
I learned that sharing of myself is the quickest way to really touch people through my blog. I have shared many very personal posts, including a good number of posts about my close friend David who passed away at age 49 in late March, posts for my wife and mother, a post about my late grandfather, along with writing about my upbringing in an abusive household and the resultant depression that I experienced.
I have learned not to be afraid to share my faith publicly. It is no secret that I am a follower of Jesus Christ since 1991. I used to shy away from public professions of faith, but my experiences with my friend's illness and subsequent death made me realize just how short life really is, and how important the eternal things are.
I have honed my writing skills to the best of my ability. I have never had any formal training in writing other than normal classes when I was in school, yet I consider myself a writer now. In fact, I would really like to begin working on a book soon, if I can just manage to narrow down the subject matter to something halfway marketable. I have noticed a dramatic difference in my latest posts when compared to the early ones that I composed here. Blogging is the most fun and inexpensive hobby that I have found, and it makes money, too? How great is that?
I have learned that points may not really be that important, but they are fun! I am currently #1 for points in my city, county, and state, which does provide some higher-quality links to my profile for SEO purposes. Of course, I realize how ridiculous this statement must sound, now that I am approaching 300,000 points. I will not pretend that I am not competitive.
I am now a "local expert", thanks to the research that I conducted for my blog. I have had a number of consumers and local residents contact me for information and/or advice because of the content that I have in place here now. This is a great feeling.
Happily, I have found a creative outlet that allows me to use parts of my brain that were probably not fully utilized before. In an effort to keep things interesting, I write about pretty much whatever I feel like writing, and it seems to be working for me, at least so far. Blogging has also made my client communications far more lucid and organized.
I thank you if you are one of my subscribers or associates (or both). Even though this next part may sound a little trite, I have grown as a person and as a real estate broker over the past year, and I have experienced a level of support and friendship that I never would have imagined possible when I began this journey. At first, I just thought it was another place to get some links. Instead, it opened up a new world of possibilities for me and my business, and it helped me to get through some tough times.
Thank you, ActiveRain.