The big 100. It has been achieved. But achievements are worth so much more when you have actually learned something from them. And being the young grasshopper that I am, I have learned. This article is about what I have learned from having 100 articles on this blog, this article being nr. 100 itself!
I have learned that I can in fact build and maintain a website
There is nothing that gives me a confidence boost than figuring something out, especially something I have no clue about. Issue is, because failure always seems so imminent when you leave your comfort-zone, I tend not to entertain it much. So I procrastinated on creating this blog, like I have never procrastinated before.
Now it probably could not have been easier with all these site-builders being around, but to me, it still seemed as if I had to write the entire code for it myself, by hand, without Google. It was daunting. I had written about 5 articles just to feel productive as I kept delaying the actual site-building part of the process. But once I got some Dutch courage (no alcohol involved, I just needed to talk to my dad, we are very Dutch), I just went for it. And it took multiple days before I was happy with the font, the images, the positioning, the colour- scheme etc. And yes I had to Google a lot of things and even called a friend (thanks Eti!!!), but those were days well spent! So I was online and kicking. And I felt damn proud of myself.
I have learned how to deal with criticism better It has been said that you cannot even release a fart into this world without someone commenting on it (it's very likely that I am the only person who ever said this). And this holds true. If you start a blog (or do anything really), and actively promote it on your social media, there will be a response of some sort. Initial responses were great, but then when content became more regular some responses were not so nice. I have been told via twitter that I am too young and inexperienced to write about the topics I do. It did sting a bit, makes you question whether you are too inexperienced and you are just kidding yourself but you'll just have to get over those moments and push on. Listen to criticism when it is constructive, test it out, see if it works. If it is criticism that does not come from a good place, it won't lead anywhere good either. So leave it alone and move on. After indignantly telling your friends about it over wine, while they tell you all your haters are trash and you are the best thing that has ever happened to the blog-sphere (we all have our process okay?)!
I have learned that I know sweet FA about self-promotion
Having mentioned social media already, that is where I do the majority of my self-promo. I can imagine that if you have me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you must be damn tired of me. I do apologise, but if you can tell me a better way of selling and promoting the blog, please do! I have to admit that when it comes to this, I'm still rather wet behind the ears. This is also why I am going to make the following request: if you are reading this article, chances are you have read others as well. If you enjoyed reading them, share them, retweet them, like them etc. It hardly costs you any time (reading the article takes longer...) but it makes such a difference to poor, old me! So be pro-social about it!
I have learned that, although more creative, this can turn into just another numbers game If you have been here since the very beginning, and have a great eye for detail, you might have noticed that sometimes you can see how many people have read an article before you, and sometimes you cannot. This is me experimenting with whether I want it to be publicly known that some articles have done great, average, or not that great at all. I have currently decided that it became slightly too much of an obsession for me, so I switched it off. It began to feel a lot like when I was a young teenager and I needed all my Facebook pictures to have a certain number of likes to feel good about myself. I am no longer about that life. I have control over this, so I will use it to my benefit. If you'd like to know about some article stats. specifically, feel free to hit me up!
I have (re-)learned the difference between Motivation and Discipline So I switched off the view counter on the articles. This was mainly for sanity reasons, but also for motivation reasons. Because it isn't nice to have worked on something for hours and hours, to then have it be ignored or not get the feedback you had hoped for. This is probably a very "snowflake" thinking pattern: "I have done something, so you should pay attention." Whether it sounds pathetic or not, this is what goes on in my head, if you don't like it, I am not too sure what made you come here... Anyway, this section is about motivation. And motivation is what made me start the blog, but it is not what made me continue it. If I fully relied on motivation, every negative piece of feedback would have made me write less and less. Motivation deteriorates. There are issues with relying on motivation: it isn't constant. If your output fully relies on motivation, you will produce very different quantities and quality-levels of output. I don't wish to do that. I am obsessed with consistency, so I focus more on discipline. I pride myself on it to be quite honest with you. So when I decided that there would be two blog posts a week, there was no deviating from it. Why two? Because I know that I can manage that in a good week for sure, and I can manage it in a bad week if I kick my own ass to my desk. That is discipline. If you plan on doing anything, don't rely on motivation alone, it won't get you there, it is too unstable. Having written 100 articles has showed me at least that.
I have learned to love writing even more
I'm pretty sure I have a mug from Primark that says: "Love what you Do, Do what you Love." I will begrudgingly admit that it does help if you at least enjoy what you have committed yourself to. I love writing, and I will continue to love writing. It seems that this shows. I have managed to write for others, which I think is great. I have published several articles with ING's eZonomics, which I am very proud of. I have also been approached by a start-up who wanted to give financial advice (in an informal blog style) on top of their financial services. Negotiations there unfortunately fell through, but to be approached felt awesome!
If you love writing too, and have an interest in any topic vaguely related to psychology, economics, behavioural science, neuroscience or academia in general, please just contact me. I have always had great fun working with others to write interesting articles. Don't be shy, be a writer.
I have learned that I am rather clueless about what my audience wants
And last, but not least! Let's talk about you. When I started the blog, I just wanted to write. I was fed-up with the incredibly slow process of PhD-life and wanted a vent. The blog became just that. I chose the topic to help out people who want, but find it outside of their power, to learn about behavioural economics. That was the audience I aimed for. I don't think that is at all the audience I'm currently reaching. Given that promo is via social media, most of the people targeted will be my friends (Facebook), already into or already very well-versed in BE (LinkedIn) or just a very random collection of academics and organisations (Twitter). So I am almost embarrassed to say that I don't think I know my audience terribly well, even though I have my trackers on, so I can at least where you are from etc. That is the one thing I dislike about the blog. I feel like I am pushing content out, but that is the whole process. There is very little feedback, and the discussion I was hoping for has not risen yet. Maybe that is because blogs aren't the right platform anymore. Maybe it is time to start a podcast, or even a YouTube channel. Question than becomes: is that something YOU would part-take in? Would YOU enjoy that?
I think that this is all from me. Reflecting on the first 100 has definitely given me food for thought. Please also let me know what you think. Where should we be going? What should the next 100 be?