3Ps of Blogging – Purpose, Polish and Publish

A purpose firmly established decides the impact on the kind of blogger that you are, the contents you provide, the update frequency and maintenance of the same. A synergy of these activities would drive you towards the established purpose of blogging.

Establish a clear purpose : Common mistakes any blogger do (atleast early on) is not to define a specific purpose. Decide at the earliest, purpose of your blogging and ensure that you build relevance and a good fit as you continue building over it, lest it become an odd brick in an otherwise Architectural Marvel

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Else what? A big woolly Mess. What Else 🙂 You have a messy place. To draw an analogy it would be a miner’s nightmare. They hunt for Gold (very expensive, just like contents in your blog) but a messy dredging is unpleasant.

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The Reverse Possibility: Blogging for a Purpose

Be honest to yourself when you answer this question. If it is for money, so be it. Be clear! In any case the blogs would reveal the purpose (a clutter of Adsense Keywords in your blog content is a big give-away). By the way, there is nothing to be ashamed if it is for money – it is your personal space and efforts, none can grudge you this purpose.

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Now that importance of purpose is realized, the task is easy if you started the blog with a purpose – say, for promoting a business, or a person, or for critiquing – Here the goal of blogging is predetermined, the contents and update frequencies get defined by the purpose itself – for e.g if it is promoting business, it is pretty sure that it may not do anything with the blog itself but to do draw attention of target audience and channelizing that interest. This is where SEO pressures rules the roost and define the contents too. Similar is the case with any blogging that has a clearly defined purpose.

We have yet another purpose for blogging, which predominantly is where AOL bloggers can be classified. Blogging for hobby. It is generally assumed that it can be “free for all”, “no-hold barred”, “stress-free” blogging and has no purpose. Let’s get this clear. If there is no purpose for putting your thoughts on paper (or on a blogsite) it has no business to exist in the first place. Determine and brand even a hobby blogging – Humour, Current Affairs, Health or alternately I can suggest an easiest branding – Art of Living or His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. For one, you have so much that you can write about. Added to it, it can get you a lot of traffic (AOL is a world by itself).

This brings a new dimension and purpose to your blog. From Blogging as hobby, it now gets positioned as Blogging for Others/Someone (I will call it AOL, hereafter). Again, writing something on Gurudev or AOL doesn’t ensure success, it has to be formatted, designed and executed for Success.

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The Goals, Objectives and Values that represents AOL has to be factored before we Publish the blog.
The next few steps are specifically in respect of Hobby Bloggers writing about AOL/Gurudev. http://justconnect.artofliving.org does this for approved bloggers and the underlying philosophy can be adopted and applicable to your individual blogs too
Having established the purpose of a blog, it now needs to be reached out to the world viz Marketing. It involves two components

1) Identifying target audience
2) What is Written

This is a double whammy. Audience is automatically decided by “What” is written or you have to specifically write keeping in mind your target audience.

As any marketing person would know : Reaching out in any manner including Advertising is an aerial attack, but the war is won only on the ground. You don’t win readers or traffic to your blog from aerial attacks. You have to win them on the ground.

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Even in the age of internet, products (your blogs) are bought and sold online only if the customer (reader) has some advance knowledge about it. To explain better, in any modern war the Air Force is used to hit key targets, destroy capabilities and soften the enemy’s forces. But the war is won only when soldiers on the ground move in and capture lands, kingdoms, enemies or whatever their target was. No matter how superior an air force a battle is never won from the air. Marketing a blog (or for that matter Social Media itself) is similar to an air force, an aerial attack. No war can ever be won through just Marketing. It may soften the adversary, score a few major points or victories, win a few battles, but it will never win the war unless there is action and stuff on the ground. Therefore, Having Exciting Stuff to aspire for on the ground is the first step and a good start.

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About what is Written, or having a good stuff now calls for a dream or a vision for your blog itself. This also brands your blog and also entails being able to see the “finish line”. Blog on a whole has to have a vision and mission to be accomplished by each individual article/post needs to be aligned to this vision. In other words, all members in a group can share a “mission” but all may not have the same “vision”. It helps if the your blog can outline the vision and the finish line and ensure each post on it subscribes and aligns with it. (Extend this logic to a group blogging site, like http://www.artoflivingsblog.com or http://www.artoflivingsecrets.com) In order to achieve this, we need to have a STRATEGY.

Strategy is a much abused term. In cricket you will hear the commentator frequently talk about strategies, that is pure rubbish. The strategy in cricket is simple: Bat, ball, wicket, 11 players, bowling batting, boundary lines, pitch and higher run scorer wins. Simple! These don’t change every over or after every four or six as commentators keep asking. What can be changed is “Tactics” based on a particular situation of advantage or disadvantage that forces us to publish a post on the blog. However to start the game we need to adopt the best tactics that will suit our strategy once we have decided on the “WHAT I WRITE”. Once those tactics mature and keep producing good results they can be hammered to advantage. As marketing guru Al Ries says: Tactic is the nail, strategy is the hammer.

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Let me demonstrate the difference using the example of India Against Corruption in its earlier avatar. Arvind Kejriwal’s overall strategy was change in fighting corruption through Lokpal bill. Tactic was hunger strikes, gheraos and building local chapters of IACs in many metros. But when the tactics failed he decided he will go political. His strategy Lokpal failed. With a new political strategy, he has now made strange un-measureable and unrealistic “whats” like Direct people rule, laws to be made after direct consultation with people, prices to be decided by people, no unpopular laws blah blah etc. It’s destined to fail. Do his tactics back up his strategy? No. His current tactic is to expose corruption of individuals, allegations against top names and politicians. There is no match between his strategy and tactics. Those are, of course, his stated strategies. If there are certain hidden strategies, we don’t know. While he may manage to expose some individuals, his political strategy is destined to fail. It’s like George Bush saying: “We are not doing well in Afghanistan, let’s go bomb Iraq” – Our blog should not be like Aghanistan/Iraq bombing cited above.

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Now that the Strategy and Tactics are executed and first finish line is reached a newer finish line will get defined. It’s an on-going journey, an on-going process. It then becomes easier to define how, when and where our blogging journey leads or any course correction is needed.

This Blog of mine : Originally Published on http://justconnect.artofliving.org/blogging-tips-3ps-purpose-polish-publish/

Selfless Service – Best Antidepressant

Why do we have the mood swings – against which was the very reason why we took up such practice in the first place. This question was posed  by an ardent devotee to the Master, His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar – (you can follow HIM on twitter here @SriSri or through the official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/HHSriSriRaviShankar)  Many of us get into suspicion mode as to why despite so much of sadhana (spiritual practices like yoga, classical music etc) we are not elevated.

HE went about explaining the phenomenon saying, sadhana raises energy levels to such high levels that unless it is channelised productively, there could be some restlessness and uneasiness. The most productive channel is to be of service to others (Seva). Seva thus  is the panacea for these kinds of ills. But then to sustain Seva levels regular Sadhana is a must – therefore both of them go hand in hand. While on the subject, here is a nice story on selfless seva and its benefits to the sevak later on. (The original story is in German and here is the best translation that I could manage – all Credits to the original author for this wonderful story)

The Clouds

One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown, dry, and desolate, from drouth. The little Cloud could see the poor people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a care.

“Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!” she thought. “If I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!”

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they were praying, and saying, “Ah, if you could help us!”

“I will help you; I will!” said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,–thinking. But at last she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, “Men of earth, I will help you, come what may!”

The thought made her suddenly marvelously big and strong and powerful. Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them well.

“Yes, I will help you,” cried the Cloud once more. “Take me to yourselves; I will give my life for you!”

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud’s great deed; it was her death, too; but it was also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven made its colors; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.

As seen, the fruits of seva continued to linger in form of blessing of the people and animal long after our existence – in case of the clouds the blessings ensured continuing supply of clouds to the mankind. How many songs or verses are written everyday in praise of Clouds to this day.

While we involve and indulge in seva and sadhana, it definitely raises our spirits (the extent of seva should be so high that we should’t have time to worry about our silly problems). We also find that our problems which were insurmountable (in our minds, of course) compares pitiably to the problems many other face much more bravely than us.

Seva is not a duty – it is an Opportunity! I am blessed with loads of opportunity that keeps coming my way, almost every moment. It has indeed enriched and enlivened my life. I am sure it does that to everyone.

To summarize, It pays to serve…It pays to do sadhana

PS: The photograph clicked from a flight in Chennai Skies on return flight from Colombo

Behind a mask – Is Anonymity a boon or curse?

Was wondering why people tend to impersonate or assume different personalities even in places where it is uncalled for. I am a regular blogger on many websites where I find that there are many who impersonate only to make some irresponsible statements (sadly responsible statements sometimes too). Got my grey cells oxygenated and thinking alound why the hell would anyone want to hide behind a veil of secrecy. Especially because I want the whole world to know me and my opinion as mine. Jotted down a few reasons why these people do what they do.

Ego – the worry as to what happens if someone differs with an opinion and differ so strongly that I am unable to defend my statements. It fails my understanding as to how it really satisfies this need. They forget for a moment that they are anonymous only to the outsider world, not to themselves. So despite assuming another identity it still pinches you when someone makes caustic comments. I have seen one of the user blowing his cover trying to defend this non-existent person, making this creating and nurturing a false identity a total waste.

Lack of self confidence: When you are not sure of what you want to say, and indulge in some vaintalk just for the heck of it. But then you are stupid whatever you call yourselves, arent you? What is a name? A rose smells as sweet whatever you call it. An ass is an ass whatever color it paints itself with.

Cowardice: Most of them whose cover was blown, fall under this category. They do not want to be accountable for their own actions and comments. When you have the conviction, you can boldly stand up and make sure your opinion be counted as your opinion. They want to please everyone or maintain some Halo around themselves and at the same time do not agree with some opinion, what better way than to use another identity to express their true feelings. For me, it is not worth doing anything for which I can’t be held accountable. Primarily it just indicates an invertebrate character – spinelessness. Many excuses are shelled out depending on the situation – personal safety(these people keep dying every moment they live), saving marriage (is it worth saving when you can’t freely express?), I guess perhaps one shouldn’t be expressing views if they are so afraid of doing it.

A note of appreciation though, it is indeed a Herculean task to create, assume, nurture and maintain a false identity especially when you want multiple identities – someone who wants a false identity definitely wont be satisfied with One. You can safely bet that such people have many identities, which makes balancing characteristics of each identity a big challenge and proof of skill too (skilful atleast till the cover is blown).

As much as these worms worry about the brickbats that they could receive if they use their own identities, what they fail to realize is when a credit is due, it goes to this pseudonym or nonexistent entity – a wasted applause! and Wasted Life. This is the reason for that statement in the braces in the opening paragraph of this blog (Sadly responsible statements sometimes too – this went waste)

Now, why I prefer to tom-tom my identity behind my writings: My answer to a friend Ramesh Babu was as under.

I insist on identifying myself proudly so that my comments sounds more credible instead of being dismissed as opinion of some nameless, faceless entity. I want the readers of my comments to know that I said it, so that he/she can weigh the value of those facts themselves. Facts openly known, I think, are the most reliable facts. Most importantly, I feel willingness to express one’s opinion should always be accompanied by the ability and courage to stand by them. Anonymity is a blanket under which cowards hide. It serves as a convenient means to shun responsibilities of being answerable to their opinions and actions. Simply put, identifying myself is a statement of My INTEGRITY.

I value this a lot for this than any other bodily or mental risks. Matter Rested

PS: The photograph is Vishnu in one of his assumed identity hiding behind his mask (to tell you the truth, we could not identify him amongst lot of such clowns while on stage, had to take this photograph after he came running to us after the show)