On Friday I had a Google Hangout session with one of my favorite bloggers, Sacha Chua, who writes the blog “Living an Awesome Life.” This was a new experience for me in reaching out and networking with a fellow writer who I have been following (and admiring) from a distance. Despite my nervousness prior to the Hangout, it was an awesome experience (pun intended).
A few weeks ago, I made a concious effort to engage more on the places that I have an online presence and so far I have found the experience to be quite rewarding. Part of that experiment is to actively comment on blogs where the author is covering a topic that I care about and feel that I can contribute to the conversation.
In Sacha’s case, she blogged about some questions she was asking herself about the direction of her blog and I felt that a lot of the issues she was reflecting on were in line with the Platform theme I have this year. So I wrote a long comment in response to the post and was quite surprised when she offered to do a Skype call or Google Hangout to discuss the topic further.
I did not know what to expect when I joined the Hangout on Friday but she immediately put me at ease with her calm and humble nature. We covered a wide range of topics at the beginning of the call – from some of the challenges of communicating with family that lives overseas, to how much we both love learning new things.
When we moved into the meat of our conversation, there were three key areas that we covered:
One: How can Sacha reach more people while staying true to her ‘brand’?
A consistent theme that emerged while talking with Sacha (and something that I share with her) was her desire to remain authentic to her ‘true self’ through the process of building out her platform. For her, building her platform is not about fame or increased profits. She genuinely loves sharing with people about things she learns and helping those people ‘live an awesome life’ in whatever way that means for them. She has a good income from her offlilne consulting work and doesn’t feel the need to focus on monetizing.
Although she is already very active on the main social networks and has a pretty good following that she shares her thoughts, ideas and help with, I recommended Michael Hyatt’s book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World as good reading for thinking about all of the aspects involved in building out a platform. The book has a lot of focus on building a platform to mass and monetizing it – two things that I know are not focuses for Sacha right now – but I thought the framework he provides would be a good template to use.
Two: What type of things make sense for Sacha to ‘package’ from the topics she covers in her blog posts?
In addition to the book suggestion, my personal recommendation for Sacha on how to reach more people was that she looks for ways to ‘package’ some of her content into ‘bite size pieces’ that people who are not blog readers could consume and still get the ‘essense of Sacha’. Some of the work she does with Sketchnoting is an excellent example of this and she has already had a very positive reaction to one of the topics she has started packaging in that way.
In addition to sketchnotes, I suggested she consider creating free ebooks on some of the other areas she consistently covers on her blog like ‘The Quantified Self‘ and her ‘5 Year Experiment‘.
Three: How can Sacha help people who are starting out or trying to be more consistent writers / bloggers?
The last topic we spent a lot of time on was sort of a ‘therapy session’ for me. Sacha asked how she can help people like myself who are either starting out with blogging or desire to become more consistent in their writing. My honest answer was that I didn’t know what would help since I was still trying to work it out for myself.
We spent a long time talking about what we both agreed was the root cause of a lot of the main struggles in becoming more consistent (The Resistance) and something Sacha said stuck with me and I think will help me going forward. I asked her how she keeps to such a prolific posting schedule and whether she ever feels a pressure that she is going to let her readers down if she doesn’t post.
Her answer was that she would be letting herself down.
In addition to a forum for sharing, Sacha really sees her blog as a holding place for her thoughts because she doesn’t ‘trust her memory’ and because she sees the blog that way, regardless of whether or not somebody reads a post she puts up, she continues to write because it helps her work through her thoughts and organize them. This perspective on the process of blogging is very freeing because it helps me to avoid some of the second-guessing and perfectionism that makes me inconsistent.
As a practical follow-up to our discussion, Sacha is going to pilot a Google Hangout session in mid-June and I agreed to participate as one of her ‘guinea pigs’. I am looking forward to that session and using it as motivation to get back on a consistent schedule so that I have some good questions for her during that talk.