We’re in the middle of a post that was, originally, going to “very quickly” teach you everything I know about social media, all of which I learned from Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess. This all started when I asked myself, “Is blogging over? Should blogs now be books?” and then, “But how does anyone find the time to write either?” Then my post about the Bloggess kind of got away from me, especially after I got started on how hard Jenny works on her strange and wonderful charity projects.
So just pretend this is me talking very quickly:
Write way more than you publish, and edit a lot
That’s almost a direct quote from Jenny, and although I already knew about what she was saying when she said, it’s been enormously important for me to remember in this new medium.
It’s so easy to take the freedom of the blogosphere for granted. This is all of us out here on our zillions of blogs: “La la la la la la belch la!” That’s called the first draft.
Even if you have only one reader, polish your work to its most powerful shine for that one person. And if you don’t have any readers at all, polish it for yourself.
It’s worth it.
Know a little something about SEO
It’s not complicated, but it does help readers who want to be somewhere get there. Jenny is so casual about it you really have to pay attention to what she’s doing to realize she’s been doing it all along.
She’s actually much more reliable about it than most bloggers I know. She does a number of things I know about but never get around to. And I promised myself I’d be better about that this year.
Work your butt off
Even more than practicing good SEO, though, Jenny works. And not as a marketer for herself—as a social service for others (for others!).
That’s social media.
In just the past year, she has operated three distinctly different major charities through her blog (some of them stranger than others):
The traveling red dress is a fancy custom-made dress she bought for herself that others longed for with such passion she sent it on a journey around the world, loaning to one follower after another, until the poor dress wore out and she had to ask for donation dresses to continue the journey—which people gave.
In December 2010 she announced that she was giving gift certificates to the first twenty needy commenters who couldn’t afford gifts for their kids. She got twenty needy commenters almost immediately and then, unexpectedly, a commenter who said, “I’ll take the twenty-first.” Jenny worked for days—eventually exhausted and sick—to handle the succeeding flood of requests and offers, pairing up the needy with the generous, until she’d funneled through her blog over $40,000 to give strangers’ children a happy holiday. (This past December she handed it off to an official charity, but it still happened again.)
And just recently her endless search for celebrities who will send her photos of themselves sporting random household objects spontaneously combusted to include not only Jeri Ryan with a spatula, but Matthew Broderick with a spoon. She turned the ensuing explosion of followers sending photos of themselves with natty cutlery into another fundraiser, raising over $1200 to send care packages of blankets, stuffed animals, and books to homeless children. And then Brian Boitano got in a bidding war with Matthew Broderick over the strangest kitchen implements they could pose with, and I do not think it is ever going to end.
Do you work that hard in social media? I don’t work that hard in social media.
Jenny’s astounding success has not exactly been an accident.
Don’t get your panties in a twist when it turns out other bloggers will always have more followers, more commenters, more awards, more stats, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera
I like to compare my stats to Jenny’s because she’s something like exponentially to the power of 100 ahead of me, so I’m never in danger of falling into the dreadful bog of competition—“Oooh, I’m sneaking up on her! Now we’ll find out who’s got the best unicorn.”
Even Jenny is not the most visible blogger out there. (Hard to believe, I know.) Celebrities drag followings of millions on Twitter, more people have seen the photo Demi Moore took of herself in her bathroom than I’ve ever met in my life, and most of the bloggers who win the Bloggies in the humor category don’t even make me laugh.
But for Jenny, you know, what she’s got going is just right.
And when I look around, there’s that epiphany I keep coming back for:
“The freshest and
most relevant advice