This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
At six feet tall, I’m just tall enough to bump my head on things. Sometimes.
And when I say “sometimes,” I mean relatively rarely. Maybe once a month.
I’ll hit a pipe in a parking garage. I’ll knock my head on the ceiling while going down a flight of steps. Sometimes I forget to duck and hit my head on the chinning bar that lives in the doorway in-between our family room and side office.
It doesn’t happen a lot, and that’s the problem.
You see if I were five-and-a-half feet tall, there would be nothing to hit and I wouldn’t have to pay attention at all.
On the other hand, if I were six-and-a-half feet tall, I’d be so habitually vigilant that I imagine I’d rarely bump my head on anything either.
It’s only because I live on the cusp between “tallish” and “really tall” that every once in a while, my lack of attention intersects with a low obstacle and I get bumped.
When it comes to writing in general and e-mail newsletters in particular, I find the same situation at play.
Here’s what I mean…
Never writing is easy. You don’t do it, and so while that may be a bad decision in terms of maintaining your status as a Likeable Expert (it is), it doesn’t cause you any pain. It’s not even on your radar.
Writing frequently is easy too. Like exercising (or yelling at children), if you do it all the time, it isn’t all that hard to maintain. It’s a well-developed, familiar muscle whose use causes no pain.
Unfortunately, most professionals choose to live in the head-bumping, in-between world of sometimes. If they publish on any type of schedule at all, it’s still relatively haphazard.
And that’s hard…
… It’s hard because you’re always worrying about when to write again.
… It’s hard because when you do write, it’s an unfamiliar chore.
… It’s hard because your writing never gets very good.
Join #FreelanceNation (it's free!)
Think about it. If you had to write a newsletter every single day, you’d sure be fast and you’d sure become good.
And you wouldn’t spend even a minute negotiating with yourself about when you had to do the next one. Or agonizing over whether today’s was absolutely perfect.
You’d wake up, write something while drinking your morning coffee, click click and out the door it goes.
So here’s my advice for you relative to anything that involves writing, whether that’s your newsletter, your blog, your LinkedIn updates, your diary, whatever.
- You need a schedule.If you don’t have one, get one. Then treat it like a real deadline. You know, like lunch – that thing you never seem to miss no matter how much “important client work” you have in front of you.
- Write more often. I used to tell people (in 2002) that publishing once a month was “more than enough” when it comes to maintaining visibility. Today, I consider once a month the outer limit of what’s even worth doing. With all the noise and competition for the attention of other humans, showing up in the world with something worth reading less than twelve times a year is like showing up never.
Here’s the bottom line. Either commit to showing up frequently and regularly, or don’t show up at all. Life in-between is where all the painful head bumps live.
Michael Katz is a Boston-based marketing consultant and founder of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in developing email newsletters for professional service firms. Download a free copy of his latest book, "It Sure Beats Working: 29 Quirky Stories and Practical Business Lessons for the First-Time, Mid-Life, Solo Professional," when you subscribe to his free, twice-monthly newsletter here.