Ugh. I hate blogging and a specific number of tips to get it done.

(this blog post is mostly for my fitness friends… but it may just apply to you as well)

Let me just get this out… If someone has asked you to blog, there are most likely more people interested in reading that blog than that one person. I have several times asked someone who has commented on a blog post of mine “where did you find me?” (I don’t do very good job at S EO work and I don’t advertise, so I’m always surprised when someone finds me! ) The answer is often “wow. I’ve been following you for years! Or I found you when you authored a tech blog 10 years ago. (that always really surprises me because I don’t think I’m very good at Tech!)

Anyway, let’s break it down…

Common reasons you’re not blogging.

1. You’re afraid that you will sound stupid.

2. You don’t have any ideas.

3. You’re not a good writer.

4. You can’t remember to blog. You know, you started at least one blog and “never kept it up.”

5. You don’t really believe people want to hear what you have to say. I mean, really, aren’t there much better people blogging already?

6. No time. “You have no idea how busy i am!”

7. Insert your lame, or not-so-lame excuse here.

Me blowing your excuses out of the water.

1. On sounding stupid: You probably will sound stupid. Sometimes. You may not know what you’re talking about, as much as someone else on that topic. But chances are you’ll sound really smart and get valuable information to your audience. And when you do get something wrong you’ll correct it and your audience will be that much smarter.

2. No ideas: Yes you do. Stop saying that. Every time you’re on the floor you see someone doing some exercise in a ridiculously stupid way. Talk about how to do that exercise well. Film you doing it well. Film your client doing it well.

3. Not a good writer: This is highly likely. Don’t worry about it. People still want to hear what you say, even if you’re not eloquent.

4. Tried and failed: Seriously? You’re going to use “past failure” as your excuse to not do something? Would you EVER let a client to pull that on you?

5. No one wants to hear from ME: I would say, “get over yourself.” If someone has said they want something, who are you to say that they don’t really want it? The truth is more likely YOU don’t want that. For all the aforementioned reasons.

6. Too busy:  I DO know how busy you are. Well, actually I don’t because I don’t even know most of you reading this… So let me just say I am VERY busy. (4 gyms, 3 blogs, 20 training clients, 14 classes/week, 2 social media clients, the occasional photography gig, 7 grandkids, 3 live with me….there’s more, but I get bored) I like being very busy. If you don’t like being busy, change something.

7. Other excuses: Your excuse is lame.

Me fixing your excuses. Solutions:

1. Tips for not sounding stupid:

  • Only say what you can actually verify. If you can’t verify it, make sure that you state that it’s your opinion. See? You already sound smarter!
  • Use short sentences. If you use a big professional specific term, include the Laymans term for it. Or link to Wikipedia or other relevant content.
  • Nearly everyone has a smart friend. Have them proofread your post before you set it out.
  • Be prepared to learn as you go.

2. Getting ideas or finding them…

  • Use your notes section of your phone to keep track of things that irritate you. Those make great blog posts. They irritate other people too!
  • Put a jar in your group fitness room. Ask your class members to write down one topic they’d like to hear from you on. I would include “preferably not sex” …unless of course you want to write on sex. But mostly because they will laugh at it!
  • Watch. When you’re training clients, or instructing classes watch for common mistakes. Right about how to fix those why they’re bad and why fixing them is good.
  • Pay attention when you read. Nine times out of 10, I read something and find it irritates me! Or it resonates with me… Right about that. Link back to their original content. If possible

3. Not a good writer:

  •  It’s my personal opinion that there aren’t many GOOD writers. But that doesn’t stop anyone else! Not even me! For the record I think I’m fair to middling… But, obviously, I’m too busy to fix that. I learned as I grow.
  • Here’s the deal, most people that like you attending your classes or our training with you already like the way you talk. Just right the way you talk. Your job is to relate to people not to dazzle them with your writing skills.
  • You can also revisit number one’s fix.

4. Past failures. Forgetting to blog:

  • If you can remember to show up for appointments. You can remember to blog. That should actually go in “other lame excuses”.
  • Set a calendar appointment that pings to your phone.
  • Right it on your paper calendar, if you’re one of THOSE people.
  • Have your best friend call you to remind you to blog.

5. Others are better then me at this:

  • Yes. There actually are better writers with more experience and intellect, writing on the same topics. But I promise you very few, maybe even no one, has the same experience and slant you have. They also don’t have your audience. And your audience is who is looking for you. (It is also possible that you are an amazingly brilliant writer with higher intellect and more experience than anyone else and your huge audience is just waiting to hear from you… What about that?!)

6. Making time :

  • Dictate your blog posts to your phone while you drive. Or while doing other mundane and tasks that don’t require much thought. I’m not saying driving doesn’t require much thought but we talk in the car all the time, don’t we?
  • Use small chunks of time to write down blog ideas or main points to specific blogs
  • Sunday evening. Or whenever your rest day maybe… Don’t tell me you’re in fitness and don’t have a designated rest day!? That may just spur a blog post from me!
  • I know you’ve heard this before… “You find time for the things that are important to you.” Revisit above if you don’t understand that this is important to you.

7. Past failures.

  • Oh yeah, right, I couldn’t used to do a push-up either. Maybe I should never ever try again.
  • The simplicity of how our body works is often a great analogy for how the rest of the world works. If you lift to failure, breaking down the muscles, they have to rebuild and are thereby stronger. Apply that to your brain. Work to failure. Learn something, repair, and start at it again.

8. Your other lame excuses. Just stop.

  • It could be that you actually don’t understand the importance of social media in the fitness industry. Let’s revisit oxytocin… Oxytocin is the feel-good or love hormone. It’s also been attributed to why you ‘fall in love with your instructor.’ “…you are working out, oxytocin kicks in, you look at your instructor, and voilà a match made in heaven!” At its most basic form, blogging is you capitalizing on what oxytocin started.  NO, not an affair with your class members, well at least not THAT kind.  It keeps your audience engaged with you when they already love you. They probably love you for other reasons as well, but I said at its most base form, it’s chemicals.
  • You know stuff other people don’t know. Your audience, your clients, already like the way you relate to them. They want more of that. Them staying engaged with you creates opportunities. Opportunities for them to share your content and for you to gain more clients. The opportunity for your clients to benefit more fully from the things that you’ve been telling them in person. Reinforcement.

    So, do it for money, do it for love, just do it!

Social Media Hitchhiking (don’t pick up strangers!)

When I started participating (personally and professionally) in social media circa 1999 I made myself a promise.  Authenticity would be my mainstay. Not rudeness or belligerent rants… but posts that are true of me (or my clients as I understand them). My bent would be positivity – or at least in the direction of growth and positive change for people who wanted it.  To that end, I am a purist. I get irritated by people who only spew out negativity – I am also sad that they are so filled with it, that’s all they have to give.

If social media focusses on the SOCIAL I think we are heading in a good direction.  But when it gets boiled down to math and automation without relationship…well, now I am pissed off.  Granted, it’s YOUR social media.  Do what you want with it, but PLEASE, for the love of humanity, leave me out of it.

This may even be a ‘break up letter’ to Twitter.  No Twitter, it’s not you. And it’s not me.  It’s THESE GUYS:

Screenshot 2015-04-27 10.48.11

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What’s going on here?  Well, @smashfit and I are best friends. No, not really.  But I like and respect her professionally and sometimes we tweet back and forth. (I think she likes me, too!) This is genuine conversation.  Having my tweet (and my twitter handle) RT’d all over MAY be good for my KLOUT score, it may be good for my ‘rankings’ but…if it’s empty, soulless math and automation, I do not want it.

Is BestSportQ so lacking in sports quotes that they have to resort to retweeting an @ conversation between me and smashfit… TWICE!?!?!  I mean there is zero context.  No value to their subscribers.  If they think we are awesome and should be followed, then perhaps using an itty-bitty bit of real life thought would look like this: “@bethkolar and @smashfit are awesome fitness twitter accounts.  Good info. Sometimes funny. #FF” or something more truthful.😉 Is that SO hard?  Or are we just highjacking other’s tweets so we can tweet a more popular name like @smashfit and gain access to their followership? Come on, guys.  We can SO do better than that.  Give me something real.  please.

Then there’s THIS:

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Ad nauseum.  What IS this?? Why does it exist??? GAH! (Screams and shakes fists at the Twitter gods in the sky, “WHY? WHY, do you allow this!?”)

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s super nice to thank people! Even in public! But when it’s only self-serving without ANY context… it’s air garbage.  It takes up my time and my feed.  Then…when it’s exactly the same as other accounts? Come on, guys…. what are you DOING?  Did you hire someone to do this for you? Get your money back. Wait, maybe you want to appear inauthentic and without the ability to create real content.  In that case… carry on. Job well done.

So, there it is.  These are MY rules.  You may think they are stupid and your methods may be getting you the results you want.  (I bet you have awesome spreadsheets to show your boss). But you do not have my respect.  You do not make it easy for me TO respect you and I really WANT to.  That is why I went to your account to SEE what’s going on.  To review your output.  Bleh.  So, now I gotta go see if I can block you or whatever, cause, yeah… we are breaking up.  AND we never even went out ONCE!

Is Facebook teaching us NOT to talk?

Short answer?  Maybe. But mostly I think not.

The driver for not to talking to or engaging people in real life is our own selfishness (desires for our selves).  And, as I have said before, Social Media is an amplifier. Whatever it is you are or think or want to tell people about you…social media makes it “louder” than if you simply stood in your living room and said it out loud.

If you don’t want to put forth effort in relationships, Facebook will make that pretty evident.  You won’t “like” or “comment” on other peoples’ posts, but merely read or skim them and move on.  A spectator.  I am not shaming you.  I think it’s fine for you to be a spectator, if you want. Did Facebook make you this way or teach you it was “OK”? I don’t think so.  It’s something you decided you wanted and no one has given you a compelling enough reason to change that. And, that may never happen.

I have self interests, too. But did Facebook teach me to engage people using private message or mutual friendships?  Did it teach me that a good way to keep up with some distant or infrequent relationships is to stay connected in a meaningful way via social media?  No.  I decided it was a good tool for that, for me. I purposefully start and maintain relationships on social media.

I am a little tired of people blaming inanimate objects for their own decisions or the decisions of others.  IF we have a decay in the moral fiber of society, it’s unlikely that it’s Facebook’s fault.  It’s the fault of our social norms (amplified by social media) and our personal convictions.  It’s the fault of us collectively deciding we don’t need to teach critical thinking skills or social engagement and responsibility to our children – that it’s the “schools” job, maybe.

You.  You get to decide how you are going to be.  And if you are on social media it will become apparent to the world around you who you are.

NOTE: We all see the world through the lens or our own beliefs, experiences and desires… so it’s entirely possible for you to be misunderstood on social media.  Stay vigilant about your message, about revealing who you are in a way that is appropriately vulnerable to you.  Correct mistakes, mis-speaks and when you have changed your mind.  Amplify.

Your employer may be afraid of you and your views

You’ve got ideas. Good ones, probably. And bad.  You’ve got opinions – all good, ’cause they are yours.  But your employer might not think so.  When a company hires you, they are hiring not only someone to perform tasks for them, they are also looking for a representative of sorts.

They may look at you and think, “SCORE!” They may think you hold the same opinions and values.  They may think your boundaries and theirs are the same.  You might, too.  Until the day you (or they) realize they aren’t. Now your representative status is important for a different reason. They don’t want to be associated with it.  

That’s all ok, though.  Right?  We all get our opinions and boundaries. And as long as we aren’t breaking laws or mutual agreements…it’s all good.  Mostly.

Here is where things get tricky.  I was recently reading an employee handbook and noticed a bit of vagueness in their standards for appearance. Why do I care? Because it was applied to ME.  Oh. Yeah. … Well, that’s another story for another day.  But during the course of making sure I wasn’t breaking any other rules I didn’t know about, I came across the their social media guidelines and was reminded how important it is to have that disclaimer: “Views expressed on this page are my own and may not be shared by my employers or clients.”

Not everywhere, but on your social media sites where they can be easily found.

Screenshot 2015-02-28 13.35.24 On my profile page I included my disclaimer in Favorite Quote.  It is my fae!

Screenshot 2015-02-28 13.31.59 On my business page I included it in the short description.

Next:  Be sure to not speak disparagingly about your employer, fellow workmates, etc.. That’s just good life practice though, right?  Read your handbook and pay attention to your employers expectations about YOUR social media presence.

REMEMBER:  NOTHING POSTED AS PRIVATE IS ACTUALLY PRIVATE.  Your friends can copy and paste whatever you post and share wherever they see fit.  This makes them bad friends, but that, too is a story for another day.

DOES it matter who said it?

I recently saw a quote attributed to Meryl Streep. I don’t know what prompted me to fact check. Maybe because it caused such a strong reaction in me. I wanted to stand up and say “Hell yes!”, because it supported my notion of ‘being true to self’ which I think is supremely spiritual and one of the best marketing moves an entrepreneur can make. (Granted you are likable enough to attract positive emotion and trust!)

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http://www.snopes.com/quotes/nopatience.asp

But, fact check I did (as I always advise you do…). I have less respect for the business that posted it – regardless of what I think of the sentiment. But when reading the COMMENTS on the page that posted it, a new question arised, “Does it matter that she DIDN’T say it?” several people posted that it didn’t.

I think that plagiarism is a big deal. I think that the person who actually DID say it should get the credit and recognition HE deserves. I think, if I were Ms Streep, it would irritate me that people seem comfortable with putting words in my mouth. (She may or may not be – I don’t know)

Content, context and honesty matter. Diligence is a respectable trait. How many times am I going to believe YOUR WORDS when I must doubt where you got them from, whether or not you have educated yourself as to their source or authenticity? Now try to tell me that the diet, workout, marketing idea, business plan you have is a.) yours b.) researched c.) backed by fact.

AND…. big, bad, hardline statements make us feel super powerful. We want to follow a “Braveheart” or {insert your hero here} into battle after a big speech! But listen again, read again. Do you really want to live in a world where we don’t love those who don’t love us and withhold our smiles from those who don’t smile?

Dicks Sporting Goods WIN!

Imagepo

I love to see people and businesses ‘get it right’. I like football. I wouldn’t say I am a big fan, but I enjoy it and was happy to watch a little tonight.  But the biggest surprise for me was this awesome DICKS commercial.  

At first I didn’t know what I was watching.  The camera seemed too close to the players to be anything but a commercial, and it seemed the play was taking an awful long time, and the players didn’t look professional. But it was so exciting and the tension kept building and for a moment, I wanted to be a football player.

I have never followed a Brand, just to follow a brand. I did today. I even tweeted them about their commercial (well I RT’d someone else who said it better than I would have) 

I always check out a person’s Twitter stream before I follow them.  I want to know they are real.  And interesting.  Who they say they are.  I was also pleased with how they handled their customer service via twitter. 

Well done @Dicks.  Well done.

Talk about it… now.

Playground - be WITH your kidsIF you know me, you know I am passionate about lots of stuff. One of those things is bringing awareness and funds to stop human trafficking. I was recently asked how I picked THIS cause over the many very important, serious, needy causes.

My answer is this. Whatever I talk about I get asked “what can I do?” from the listener. So many times the answer is “give money”. Not a bad answer. For sure…GIVE your money. (see a list of places that will do good with your dollars) But my heart beats for whole body/mind/spirit involvement.

There is something every family member to lessen the vulnerability of potential victims. Protect your kids, your neighborhood kids, your sister’s kids. Be a presence in their lives. Send the message with your physical presence that THIS kid is watched and loved. Talk about the creepy, icky stuff that happened to you. Don’t hide. Don’t let victimizers hide – especially not behind your shame.

As I shared this concept over lunch with a patron at my photo studio I wondered if it was too much.  Did I listen enough, were we on the same page?  You know?

Today she called me to tell me that she told her husband about our conversation and that he said that human trafficking was an issue that has always troubled him and that he wants to help in ANY WAY I might need.  Wow. (Again, if you know me, you know this man will be put to work!)

Lesson:

Talk about what is important to you. Face to face and via Social Media. You don’t really ever know the impact you could have. Wouldn’t it be cool to save a life… or many?

Links:

What does Google want with you? (My answer? ‘Everything’) RE: New Privacy Policy

If you are the paranoid sort, now may be the time to bail…. if you can.  For quite a while my friend and I have called Google “El Goog” (of course in true geek fashion, it’s Google backwards).  Paying homage to the great power Google has at its fingertips.

The Onion posted a video on how to “OPT OUT” from Google a couple years ago… seriously funny. But seriously…

Google announced yesterday that it is updating it’s Privacy Policy.  It’s going to be simpler, plainer and easier to understand.  Hooray. (and good luck!) What a huge undertaking!

The New York Times covers this story pretty well here, so I will just point out a few things regarding my thoughts on Social Media services like Google and Facebook and your data.

Here is an excerpt of the Google blog post:

 It (their old approach) is also at odds with our efforts to integrate our different products more closely so that we can create a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google.

That sounds awesome, doesn’t it? And honestly it’s what many of us want from our services.  Integration, intuitiveness – and to be able to be somewhat lazy and uninformed. I am just being honest here.  I don’t REALLY want to dig into each service I use in order to know or guess all the implications of using that service. And if I did want to… would I even understand it?

It goes on to say:

The main change is for users with Google Accounts. Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.

Some social media people were pretty upset when their Google + posts started showing up in Google search results, claiming it was against the current privacy policy.  Google is fixing that now.

To cut to the chase here are some thoughts that govern my own participation in Social Networking sites:

  1. We are conditioned to want convenience.  Google and Facebook provide that to us – and  to those who wish to market to us.
  2. Whether I am posting on my personal Facebook page or my business page I try to be the kind of me my Grandmother might tell me to be. “Be careful and kind with what you do and say in public, because people talk.  Don’t say, do, or post about things you don’t want some one to eventually know about”  Love, Grandma.
    Remember, digital data will most likely live forever.  Ouch. There really is no ‘forgive and forget’.
    I even hesitate at times to post in private groups.  I try to always think… what if this post were to accidentally become public??  (Have you ever publicly tweeted something meant as a DM, or texted the wrong person accidentally?)
  3. Assume that when you give someone something, they will do with it what they like.  If it’s a hand cross-stitched dishtowel you slaved over, they may clean up a grease spill in the garage with it.  If it’s your post about “whatever”, your birthday, your kids pictures… it may show up where you hadn’t originally intended it.  Yes, there are Terms of Service to establish fair usage of these types of electronic social network services… but those Terms of Service can change and retracting your ‘previous self’ is going to be pretty tough. (revisit video at beginning of post)

I don’t know the value or ease of removing oneself from the digital world.  I don’t know that I would even recommend it, per se.

I would say,

“Don’t be naive. Don’t think that you will actually be protected (from harm, your own uninformed ignorance, other’s malicious behavior…) by terms of service or your ‘understanding’ of how it should be.”

Basically, Google owns whatever you give it.  Facebook owns whatever you give it. Participate wisely.  Make the world better.

*if you would like to be a little more informed about Googly type stuff click this Google post:  Tech Tips that are Good to Know

Be real. Be likable. Promote others. Provide useful – entertaining information.

Existing and participating in the Social Media space can provide SEO validation for search engines, PR for your company, Customer care for your clients, as well as information delivery.  Building a good reputation in life takes consistent effort over time.  A Social Media reputation is the same.  People who use social media as their means of interacting with businesses are quite savvy and pay attention to what is said, by whom and the conversations around particular posts. They are offended if they sense they are being “sold” or “spammed” and will quickly shut off your posts, tweets and feeds. Authenticity is key.

Be real. Be likable. Promote others. Provide useful / entertaining information.

Google + Cheat sheet

Have you checked out Google Plus, yet? It may feel like the ‘wild west’ with fewer rules and restrictions to how people connect with you. Here is a little cheat sheet – See you there! (too)

 

(Also thanks to googlesimon for this image and we will overlook his request for a massage, k?)

Google plus Cheat Sheet

You can find me here. (Still working on a business page!)