blogging case study rules

The Streak is Dead Already

the streak is deadI'm no good at this. I used to be good at this stuff, but I've lost my touch. This is because I kept the streak alive for two days. Two. Whole. Days, and already it's dead. The daily word quota is dead too, as I only wrote 1,667 (qualified) words for one of the two days. It's all dead and I need to start all over again. What happened to me?

I've Done This Before

The breaking of the blogging streak? Yeah, I've done that before with the blogging case study and with the coffee blog and with numerous other ventures. We don't need to detail how I've lost interest in things, or ran out of money to do things, or had something happened that broke the flow of the streak.

By doing this before, I meant that I've previously started streaks that I've kept alive. One of them is Amnesty International. I've been with Amnesty International for almost 10 years now, starting with my freshman year in college (which was way back in 2006) and finishing with the present day. We have a meeting this coming Wednesday, and I will attend. In this time span, I've only missed a handful of meetings because I was sick or I had work to do. When I miss because I had work to do, I always felt like I made a bad decision and that I really didn't have anything better to do than to go to Amnesty. So, unless I'm sick, I go to Amnesty. I don't regret it, even if I have plenty of other work to do. The point is that Amnesty International is a streak that's still alive. It's something that I've started and kept doing. I didn't lose interest, or forget, or run out of time, or have other things get in the way.

Another example is Forward Saint Louis, which is an aggregator of left-of-center news & analysis. It started as a website and is now just a Facebook page. The site was started when the Tea Party was at its peak, and was started as a way to channel the voices, news, and opinions that ran counter to the Tea Party. Although, Forward STL wasn't intended to be a Coffee Party or anything like that.

Anyway, I came on in the summer or fall of 2012 to help aggregate news for them. By then, Forward STL has switched to the Facebook page. There was a group of us aggregating news, and by around September 2013, I was the only one still maintaining my weekly commitment to aggregate news. Everyone else had lost interest, or forgot, or ran out of time, or had other things get in the way. It's been about 18 months since I started, and I'm the only one still going. I can tell because all the posts from the past several months, with exception of one or two, are mine. I'm currently wondering if there's a way to turn Forward STL into something bigger or something more, especially since I'm the last one left. Aggregating news on a Facebook page is great, but it doesn't seem that awesome when that's all the brand does.

So, I CAN Keep Streak Alive

It's taken a while for me, but I don't think the problem is discipline. I've been very disciplined in other pursuits. Besides the two activism, political ventures I mentioned, I did a very good job with my business blog when that was still going. Over the course of 18 months (is that my streak average), I wrote over 200 blog posts about business blogging, content marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing, and other similar topics. Those posts were excellent at bringing in traffic to the website, although I had a tough time converting that traffic into leads.

Many of my clients have been long-term clients, meaning they've been with me for years. The average for them is two years, and for most of them I did blogging work. Granted, I get paid to do the work for them, which adds incentive to get the work done. But, it also means that I was doing a good enough job to keep going. If they didn't like my work, then they would have gotten rid of me a long time ago. The fact that I stayed for so long isn't just a testament to me sticking with something. It's also a testament of my talents as a writer.

I Am a Great Writer!

I am awesome! Perhaps I can start again?

The Streak Begins Now

Watched an AMAZING video last night on "How to Become a Writing god", and it's a fantastic video. It shows you how to become a great and prolific writer, but what makes this HubSpot presentation really awesome is that the overall message can apply to anything.

The overall message is to do it (whatever you IT is) everyday. Write blog posts every day. It doesn't matter if they are crap as long as you write every day. Change your definition of a blog post so that you can write one every single day. Once you get started, the goal is to keep the streak alive. Do it every day for as long as you can.

Writing two in one day doesn't mean you're off the hook for the next day. You have to write one for the next day anyway.

The point is that if you write every day (or run, or design a coat, or sing a song, or whatever it is), even if it's crap, then you will get better. You will not simply get better at writing crap. You will get better, period. And it will no longer be crap.

I Begin the Streak Today

I will begin my own streak, my own path to writing greatness, or immortality, or religious doctrine, or whatever "god" means. I am restarting my blogging challenge from over a year ago. I will write one blog post per day, even if it is crap, but I will write one blog post per day. What better day to embark on a fool's errand the day after April Fool's Day? This way, all the jokes and pranks are out of the way first.

One major difference this time around is that there will be no time limit. I will not end the streak in a year and evaluate my blogging, which was the plan for the previous blogging challenge. Keep the streak alive! The streak will continue as long as I am willing and able to continue it.

Changes to the Blogging Challenge Rules

Okay, there will be several changes and differences to this blogging challenge. The rule changes and differences are outlined below:

  1. There is no limit or minimum to the word count of an individual blog post. Part of this journey and project is to enable myself to write one blog post every day here on this blog, which means altering the definition of a blog post to make that happen. After all, Seth Godin blogs every day, and some days he might not even write more than 100 words. But, he write every day and each of his posts are very poignant and worthwhile.
  2. There will be a daily word quota, which is set at 1,667 words per day. This daily quota ensures that I write 50,000 words per month. Why do I want to write 50,000 words per month? Because 50,000 words is enough for one novel, and it would be cool to write the equivalent of one novel each month. I also want to do this because I can.
  3. The 1,667-word count is not exclusive to the words on this blog, meaning that I can meet the quota by writing for other sites (including LinkedIn with their new publishing tool), by doing client work, or by other writing other materials that will be posted online (eBooks, white papers, email newsletters etc). My quota cannot include social media updates, updates written for, journal entries for my business coaching, journal entries in my journal, or any handwritten work that has no intention of being published online or in-print.
  4. All words and blog posts must be original. No republished work will be counted toward the daily word count or toward the daily blog post. No previously unpublished works, which weren't written on that day, can count toward the quota.
  5. All other rules that were outlined for the old blogging challenge still apply.

The streak has officially started! Where will this streak take me?

The Rules and Goals of the Blogging Case Study, Part 2

blogging case studyI know I've already outlined the rules and goals of the blogging case study, but I've come up with a few more since writing that post that I'd like to add to the list. Don't want to leave anything out, or risk being called out for something that others might consider a blogging best practice, or something that wasn't mentioned. Here are a few more rules to the study:

A Great Blog Post Headline

Every blog post needs to have a great headline, one that is clear and concise and not vague. The point of a headline is to draw people into reading the article, since it is often times the one and only thing people will read. Of course, we will still abide by the rule of not focusing on SEO. A great blog post headline doesn't need to have a keyword in it or be search engine friendly. It's also kind of hard to do this when you don't have any specific keywords that you are trying to rank for in the first place.

Writing Posts in Advance

This is okay, and something that I will probably do this weekend and will probably do every weekend from here on out. Why not? I do it for the business blogs that I manage. Besides, there will always be a few days where I might have four great ideas for blog posts, so why not write about all four and then publish them on days like yesterday when I need something badly and I am out of ideas.

Content Amplification

Something that I haven't mentioned at all is content amplification i.e sharing my content on social media. I do have social sharing buttons on each of my posts, but besides that, I don't have much in the way of a content amplification strategy. I hoped to see what can be accomplished organically this year, but its hard to discount content amplification as organic growth. This is something I need to think about, since I don't think this blog yet merits its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I should look into making it easier for people to subscribe or at least doing a bit of shameless promotion.

Absolutely No Ads

One this I will not do is sign up for any sort of advertising program, such as selling ad space, or incorporating Amazon affiliate links or anything like that. The point of this case study isn't to try and to monetize the blog. It's to prove what consistent, daily, awesome blogging can accomplish. Perhaps after the one year, depending on the results of the case study, I will consider turning the blog into a business or find a good way to monetize it. But not anytime during 2013.

Topics that are Off Limits

I don't know if I addressed this in the first post, since I did explain somewhat some topics that could be found on the blog. But in case I didn't, here's a quick list of topics that I won't ever address in this case study:

  • Sex
  • Alcohol and Drug Use
  • Violence and Weapons Use
  • Libel i.e. I am not going to accuse people of child molestation or do spotty investigation work if I do get wrapped up in tracking down wrongdoing (you never know!)
  • Profanity, as it is not my style and not a blogging best practice in my opinion
  • The only exception to the above is if it's a discussion of public policy regarding the drug war or the second amendment or the pornography industry and other current events. No, I will not discuss how to make drinks or to use a gun or to perform a certain position.

Essentially, this is a PG blog. You may have noticed that gambling didn't make the list. This is because I play poker online regularly, which is technically gambling, and I may discuss that from time to time. Speaking of which, I have a tournament in an hour, and I still need to eat lunch.

What are Blogging Best Practices?

blogging best practicesAccording to the rules of this blogging case study, every single post must follow blogging best practices. What does that mean? Why are these considered best practices, versus other outdated or incorrect ideas? well, here are those blogging best practices, and the answers to the above questions.

600-800 Word Posts

Yes, every single post (including the first two) will be between 600-800 words. This is one of the blogging best practices that have always been up for debate, as some would say that 400-600 word posts a better target. Others would say that there's nothing wrong with 200-300 word posts. I prefer the 600-800 word mark, as that allows for more room to develop arguments and to write something of value. I believe that is harder to do in 400 word, and definitely tough to do in 250 or 300.

At Least One Photo (complete with ALT Tags)

This is one of the easiest blogging best practices to follow, but it's something a lot of hobby blogs and corporate blogs fail to do. Every blog post will have at least one photo, probably a stock photo since I have an account with Dreamstime and they have good photos. Each photo will also have an ALT tag, so it can be read by the search engines. There's nothing wrong with stock photos, although choosing the wrong one for your post can be a bit disastrous.

Hint: When you include a photo in a blog post, it should either be centered or on the right. The reason is that folks read from left to right, so including your photo on the left ruins the flow of reading the text.


One thing that I will not do is write paragraph after paragraph after paragraph without any way to break up all that text. Not only is such writing daunting to the reader, but it can be a strain to read after a short period of time. This is why each and every post will have some sort of formatting, such as subheadings, bullet points, or numbered lists. Breaking down the information this way also makes it easier for a casual reader to scan the content for relevant information.

Categories and Tags

Each blog post will be categorized and tagged, which is important for several reasons. First, it adds organization to blog, which gives the appearance that it's cared for. No one wants to read a blog that's in shambles. Second, categories and tags make it easier for readers to find relevant posts, or to find posts on a certain topic. Third, every time you create a new category or tag, you add another page to the blog, which is great for SEO purposes. I wrote a great article a while back on what should be tagged in a blog post. I will use it for reference when I wrote posts.

SEO a Second-Class Priority

This doesn't mean that we won't think about search engine optimization ever, or that keywords are irrelevant. I'm simply saying that I'm not going to be creating content and writing blog posts for the sake of SEO, or around a keyword or phrase so I can rank for it. Sure, I'll try to optimize my post as best I can if I find a great keyword that fits with the topic that I can use naturally (as in the case of this post and "blogging best practices") and employ techniques that help with SEO. But, I'm also not worrying about keyword density or other techniques just so I can please the Google. I'm not doing this blogging case study to please the Google, so I'm not going to write content that does that.

Build and Engage with the Community

Once I have one and start getting comments and what not, I will certainly do this. However, I do not yet have an audience. If anyone is out there, by chance, please comment. Thanks!

The Rules and Goals of the One Year Blogging Case Study

goals blogging case studyAs promised, I am going to outline the parameters of this one year blogging case study. It's not much of a case study if it doesn't have any rules or goals, as without those this is just blogging for fun. Although, I do hope this case study is going to be fun. This is so I can hold myself accountable this year, and others can do the same in case I miss something. These rules and goals also give us something to measure, so we know whether or not this thing is successful, and successful in the right ways.


  • One blog post per day, every day. No more than one per day.
  • Blog topics, although not dictated in any way, must be suitable for all audiences
  • At no point during the year can someone else write a post
  • At no point during the year can I copy and paste a press release or another piece of content that has previously been published online (essentially, all content must be original content)
  • At least once a quarter, time must be spent to evaluate the progress of the case study i.e. write a post about the data gathered up to that point
  • Amplification (emailing posts, sharing them on social media etc.) of the blog isn't required, but highly recommended
  • Each post needs to follow current blogging best practices (which shall be outlined in tomorrow's post, but some of which can already be guessed by the form and tone of this post and yesterday's post)


  • To demonstrate what can be accomplished with one full year of quality, consistent blogging
  • To illustrate that best practices are a big part of blogging achievement
  • To show that a blog can be started from scratch and turned into something great
  • To disprove the notions that blogging is a waste of time, that blogs are oversaturated in anyway, and that blogs have oversaturated the Internet
  • To set a standard of what good blogging means, from both a personal and a professional perspective
  • To save the world (or make progress toward that achievement)

Can This Case Study be Accomplished?

I think it's doable. It's certainly not going to be easy, as at the very least I have to come with at least one thing per day to write about, without devolving into opinion or nonsense or other babble that no one cares about. This case study can be accomplished, and it must, or else it sets the example that blogging consistently for one year is impossible. Even if the results after one full year were dismal, it still must be done. However, if the results were dismal, then I might have to revise my business strategy and the content marketing strategies my business offers.

What Will It Take to Do This?

A lot of things, because the obvious dedication, willpower, belief, and creativity needed to produce any other great blog. Although those qualities are necessary, they are not enough. Here's a list of what else is needed to see this blogging case study to the end:

  • An Editorial Calendar - This is so blog post ideas can be planned out ahead of time. It lessens the strain of having to write something everyday.
  • Google Analytics - We have this installed so that we can track those things mentioned yesterday. The Wordpress numbers only track so much, and the reporting isn't nearly as robust.
  • My Action Planner - This is necessary so that I don't forget to write my blog post for the day. I use the planner to add the posts to my task list as well to schedule it for each day.