Agony Aunt Claire Rayner passed away yesterday marking the end of an era. I met Claire several times and worked with her on a number of occasions. I remember her warmth, her sense of fun and the encouragement and support she gave to young writers. I asked her once what the secret of her success was and I always remember her reply: “Oh my dear,” she said, “you simply just have to write something every single day”. It was a simple, yet powerful message and one which is often said by successful writers like her. Ask any truly successful author and they’ll tell you the same thing: there is only one secret- just keep on writing.
Yet in spite of the constant reminders that successful writers do just that – write – it appears to have fallen on deaf ears amongst business bloggers. The vast majority of business blogs are dormant. They are started full of gusto and enthusiasm, but fall by the wayside as people gradually get bored or fed up. Often, people give up blogging just at that “tipping point” before they are about to succeed.
The problem for many business bloggers is they cannot see a return on their investment in their time spent blogging. Part of that difficulty is because these bloggers do not think the Claire Rayner way – they don’t write something every day. That means the blog itself only grows sporadically which means it is a jumpy kind of experience for the readership – never knowing if or when something will appear.
Another problem is for the blogger themselves. With “every-now-and-then” blogging it never has a chance to become automatic. The result is that blogging ends up being another chore which “has to be done”. In the end, business bloggers give up because it feels like a task which doesn’t lead to anything. A bit like sweeping the garden – so what…?
New research confirms that Claire Rayner was right. Researchers from University College London have investigated how habits form. They have debunked all early theories – all of which were largely guesswork anyway. This new study demonstrates that for something to become routine, for you to do it without really having to think about it, you need to do it every day for at least 66 days. In other words, if you start a blog you HAVE TO blog EVERY day for more than two months before blogging becomes “normal” to you.
Few business bloggers put in this effort, which is why most business blogs fail. If you want your blog to succeed, take a tip from Claire Rayner – do it every day. After two months it will be so routine, you will not even notice you are doing it. And that means you won’t need any kind of Agony Aunt as there will be no problem to solve.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+