Taking A Break From Blogging: An Observation

You may be in the practice of receiving or choosing to read my job advice themed blog on a regular basis. Then again, you may have only recently stumbled across it and are just getting to get a feel for the topic. Suffice to say, I’ve been writing this blog since February of 2012, striving to write it Monday to Friday with the exception of holidays.

I feel that if you are trying to recruit a following, you have to write on a regular basis; where your audience comes to look forward to your posts, and in so doing you maintain connections. So with my recent 3 week vacation, I wondered whether or not I should also take a vacation from the blogging or not. What would happen if I did or didn’t?

And so, I took a well-considered break not only from my daily job for three weeks as an Employment Counsellor, but also the same length of break as a blogger. I want to share what I’ve observed and the impact of that decision across a couple of platforms. You could learn from this.

While off, I still continued to check the daily stats on my blog site. What I noticed is that while past blogs were still being read anew, the overall number of people reading on a daily basis dropped significantly; a drop in 50% of my regular numbers in fact. At the same time, the volume of comments dropped to almost zero, with only a slightly higher number of spam comments being received over legitimate comments.

While these numbers were clear on my WordPress site, a curious thing also happened over on my LinkedIn profile. I noticed that the number of people visiting my profile to check me out personally dipped, and the number of people endorsing my skills dropped as well. And doesn’t this make sense, even though the two are separate entities on the web?

So it appears that readers are reading the blog first in some cases, and then checking out my LinkedIn profile to find out who I, the blog author, really am and what I’m all about. While visiting the LinkedIn profile, the same readers are sometimes endorsing my skills as they relate to what they may have just read and the help they may have received or anticipate others receive.

What is clear is that as I write on a regular basis (weekdays), my on-line presence and visibility rise. As I break from that pattern, my online presence dips and my relevance quickly diminishes.

Now if you are just reading this and thinking that I’m only talking about myself here, you’d be missing the next logical leap and that would be a shame. If my experience; my little experiment, is not an anomaly, then the same pattern of increasing or decreasing readership and visibility applies to you.

So now it’s personal for you. Suppose you have a business and as part of your marketing campaign and you’ve blogged to communicate with your audience. You write about your new products, instructions on how and when to use your services to maximize benefits to consumers, and in so doing, your writing keeps your audience thinking about you so when they do need to buy, you’re first and foremost in their thoughts. If my results were what you experienced, you’d potentially lose a large number of clients or customers who were used to receiving a daily dose of your content.

Now you may not write a daily blog as I’ve done, and if you are writing once or twice a week, your results may not be as dramatic, because the break in the receiving of the blog for your audience would only be two or three intervals, not the 15 consecutive days mine involved. The other variable here is also that if your audience is only local to your business, then they too may have been on vacation at the same time as you, and your online absence could go completely undetected. But if with the internet your audience is world-wide, the vacation factor has less impact as readers around the world are always to some degree on vacation while others are not.

My advice is to write consistently. Readers can choose to read your articles daily or not – as is their right. But if you cease to write on a regular basis, your relevance diminishes, and people may or may not follow you on a regular basis. This would be true no matter the topic. So whether it’s a self-employment business, or just your thoughts on a specific subject near and dear to your heart, consistency should be strived for.

So I’m back and the experiment is over. When it comes to dispensing advice on the subject of finding and keeping employment, I want to continue to share my thoughts and advice, hoping as I do, that my readers benefit, or pass along my words to others who might benefit in turn.

Connecting with readers certainly is welcomed, as are comments in return. If you like what you read, I appreciate that, and if you are inclined to visit my LinkedIn profile to find out about my own career path that’s great. It can offer you a glimpse into where I’m coming from and I’m open to answering any and all questions too.

Read at your leisure, and if I’m fortunate enough to educate and entertain along the way, fantastic.


Strike Over; Back To Work

On June 19 the union I am a part of voted to begin a work stoppage and today July 11 is the first day back to work now that the strike has concluded. As I write this, I have yet to leave home for work, and there are many thoughts running through my head.

First and foremost is gratitude for returning to work, and being able to once again serve the clients I do who are among the most vulnerable in society, receiving social assistance. I imagine some of them have in that 3 week interim, lost housing and are now homeless, have ceased to apply for jobs because they lack the means to access the internet, may have lost employment because they couldn’t reach someone for advice and help dealing with some issue and some may even be in jail or worse. Those who don’t work in the profession may scoff and think I’m attributing too much credit to the role I and my colleagues play, but it’s the truth.

Secondly of course, I’m glad to be back because of the income. It’s not that I’ve lost a house or had a car repossessed, but no matter who you are, the money from employment is counted on to live a certain way, and in my case, my wife and I live modest lives. We’d just negotiated new terms for our mortgage and changed amounts we pay on various financial commitments prior to the strike, so getting that income back is important to us.

What is difficult I imagine is going to work and working with those who lined up on the opposite side of whatever position one took in the strike. Even within a union which screams solidarity, there are divisions and differences of opinion. Some like myself, think the strike should never have happened in the first place, and others thought differently and voted to be out there striking still. Working together may take longer for some than others.

One thing I did like in the agreement we voted to accept was language that talked about repercussions for those who intimidate, bully or coerce others in the workplace. And the organization itself takes a negative view of bullying in the workplace at any time. I hope no one ends up being disciplined, but for some who wear their emotions on their sleeves, it may be harder.

I don’t think it appropriate to share what the details of the strike were about here, even though the employer gave a synopsis on their website for the general public who visited it. Suffice to say, for the majority of the members, in settling, an extra year has been added to the contract making it a 4 year deal. What was proposed prior to the strike and rejected was accepted 3 weeks later. For a minority in the union, there are some changes that affect them from the original proposal. As 81% of us opted to return to work, let’s get on with it and move forward.

Oh my goodness it feels good to be going back to work! You see, one of my 3 weeks off was a prearranged vacation and I’m fortunate to therefore be paid for that week. While that’s good, I can tell you that my wife and I did not enjoy that week as we had planned. No camping trip, no ‘stress-free’ relaxation. No it was checking employer and union websites for daily updates, and conserving money because it could have dragged on and on; hardly relaxing.

The strike has caused us to opt to cancel a 3 week driving vacation to Newfoundland – a distance of several thousand kilometers. Quite frankly, there’s enough money in the bank to go, but we’re not comfortable taking a financial hit due to the strike and incurring the cost of that vacation in the same year. So we’ll stay home and make other plans. What’s important is to be together after all, and it’s that, not what we do that’s important to the two of us.

One of the most upsetting things about this strike is how the employer – my employer – was portrayed. I didn’t like the use of words like, ‘bully’ or ‘fight’ when we were assembled and being talked to by my own union. This is the best employer I’ve ever worked for. I don’t want to pick a fight with the employer, and I’ve never seen the employer act as a bully in any way. My employer has leadership circles, strives to have us all understand and reinforce corporate values which I endorse. When words like this are spoken, it’s not always easy to flick a switch and then just forget all those nasty words and tactics.

Ah, but it is good to get back. Today being Friday, I imagine we’ll have to get our security back, get IT to reinstate our passwords and email access, retrieve keys to the building in my case, and start getting caught up. Maybe some of us will be asked to do different jobs to help out others. Who knows? It’s all good.

In the coming months, some of us will be on vacations, and all of us will be immersed in learning a whole new software program which is being launched in November of this year. That means lots of training and re-training which will need rescheduling. We’ll all get there eventually (I hope), it just takes time.

So it’s back to work, and back to blogging!

My Blog Gets A Makeover!

Not for the first time, I received feedback pointing out that the blog I write is difficult to read with a black background. So when one person tells me something I think about it, when two people tell me the same suggestion, I figure it’s time to act.

And twice now, a valued connection of mine has made the same request to change the background colour. And so if you visit my blog, myjobadvice@wordpress.com you find that I’ve given it a fresh new makeover.

Keep the people happy and hopefully they keep coming! If you found things difficult to read, please check it out and let me know what you think now. Let’s hope that now you get both content and easy-to-read visuals that make the experience enjoyable.

Personally I liked the darker background, and the abstract banner that accompanied it. It was called, “Chaotic Soul” by whoever designed it. If that was you and you have somehow been notified that one of your users packed in your design, it wasn’t without some regret. That blog design was used in the first blogs I wrote – in excess of 390.

390 blogs with the same design and banner. Now that’s consistent branding.
The new look comes with a zoomed-in chess board. Why did I go for this look you might ask as a banner? Well, I was thinking that after reading the advice in my job search blog that I offer up daily, “IT’S YOUR MOVE”. That will be my little secret…oh wait…I’ve just shared it with you all. Okay so it’s not such a secret.

So for Stephen and for Bonnie, and everyone else who wished I’d change the look but didn’t voice that opinion to me, here you go. I do aim to please.


My Boomerang Won’t Come Back

In 1961 a British comedian by the name of Charlie Drake hit the airwaves with a catchy song called, “My boomerang won’t come back”. A novelty song, it was about the son of a Bushman in Australia who couldn’t get his boomerang to come back and I’m not sure by today’s standards it’s all that politically correct. Even back then it was controversial for some but it did hit # 1 on both sides of the pond.

In 2013, I wonder if you’ve had the same experience when you throw out a thought on the internet via a blog, leading a discussion or issuing a general plea for help and no one and nothing comes back to you? Knowing there are millions on the internet, surely SOMEBODY would respond?

But that’s the Catch-22 of the internet and the digital age we are in. There are so many electronic gadgets out there and social media platforms; so many interesting websites and an equal or greater number of entertaining time-wasters, that I suspect there are many more people posting than choosing to respond. I’m guilty of this myself. I read far more than I respond to, only because in my case once I respond, I more often than not feel I should respond with something thought through instead of a couple of words only. However, I can appreciate that whoever took the time to compose some thoughtful engaging piece would probably like to have other people add to the process. That’s what I’m hoping others do when I pass on making a reply myself.

Last week I read an appeal to the general public for help with getting a foot in the door in a line of work that I myself have no expertise or connections in. My ability to help in that respect was nil and much better left to someone else. Still I read the appeal and any help I would have been able to pass on would have been very generalized. So what did I do? I realized I had no contact to help them, so without being able to refer them forward or add anything meaningful myself I clicked the ‘x’ at the top of the screen and closed the window. Sometimes it’s best to leave the replies to those in a better position to help. No return boomerang here with my name on it. Glad it wasn’t a personal appeal.

On the other hand, a woman in Australia couldn’t find a job and made a short video which a member in the group passed along, plus the newspaper story on her plight as an example of a young person out of work. There I chimed in with a thought or two, and that single post was the focus for many other members in one of my discussion groups on Linkedin. If she checks to see whose been viewing her Linkedin profile, she’d find many have and might be contacted to read all the advice and suggestions from her Linkedin associates. The ‘boomerang’ she threw out to the world has apparently resulted in advice, exposure, at least one job offer (which I recall she turned down), and lots of feedback.

Now the thing about the wonderful world of the internet is that you can either send out requests for help in a broadcast format or you can do a little homework and narrow your call for help to a smaller but perhaps more focused group that can better address your specific needs. This is true of those job searching, seeking medical opinions, looking for children’s activities, or recipes that will use up that pork loin in the fridge. When you roll the dice on the internet, who knows what you’ll get.

And not knowing what you’ll get when you ask help or advice from a general appeal is one way to get a variety of ideas, opinions and suggestions. By default, some of that feedback will be aligned with your own way of doing things and looking at the world, while others might provide you with pause to think or outright reject. Be careful to consider the source of the information and the credibility of those providing it. Just because you read it in a newspaper or on the internet doesn’t make it right, good, tested or true.

One day when I’m ailing or gone, maybe (and it’s a big maybe) my descendants will follow the breadcrumb trail I’ve left with this blog I do weekdays. “What was on Grand dad’s mind when he wrote that?” they might say. Now that’s a boomerang I’d be slinging far into the future and it certainly won’t be coming back to me personally, but the words might bring a memory or glimpse of me back to those alive and reading it. Isn’t this true too of classic novelists we read in 2013 whose words echo back to us from hundreds of years ago?

Don’t get discouraged if you’re putting out your thoughts and ideas and not getting all the feedback you’d like to validate the process. Do you write to write, as therapy, an exercise, for the glamour and fame, for money, to help, to seek help, to aid to inspire? What’s the point behind your words just before and after you hit that, ‘send’ button on the keyboard?

Oh and that lick by Charlie Drake can be found on YouTube like most things in this world. Type, “My boomerang won’t come back” into your browser of choice.