what winning an unaward has taught me

It's good to write. It's an excellent creative outlet and can provide a real spark to the thinking process. but there are, understandably, reasons why some people feel uncomfortable in publishing their work - if that's you, then this post aims to allay your fears.

by GUEST EDITOR Emma Rodgers

Recently, I was very honoured to be shortlisted in the comms2point0 UnAwards best guest blog post category. The post was shortlisted alongside four other posts which were all there because they were the most read on comms2point0 during 2015.

All five went forward to a public vote. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I had a hope in hell of winning but amazingly (against the odds in my opinion) win, I did. It made me very proud and extremely grateful to those people who voted for me (thanks if you did).

And it also got me thinking. Of late I haven’t been writing many blogs.

This was something I talked about with Chris Bolton (@whatsthepont on twitter) – another shortlistee for best guest blog post - who I finally met for the first time at the UnAwards. I felt a bit of a fraud as I mentioned to Chris that I don’t actually have my own blog. I felt even more fraud like when Chris mentioned that he'd been so committed to blogging that he even blogged anonymously for two years (work restraints) before he hosted his own blog publicly. If you aren’t yet a fan of Chris’ blog, do check it out especially his 'what's the pont' segways. The same can be said for the other shortlisted best guest blog post nominees. They all either have a blog of their own or in the case of Richard St Ruth, have published books. You can find out more on their good stuff below.* 

So I've made a commitment for 2016. I'm going to write more and this is my first of my monthly blogs this year. I thought it appropriate to put some of my ramblings about blogging down in a post.  

The good stuff about writing blog posts

For me there are so many positives from writing. Here's a few that I rate. 

1. They’re like therapy. The Room 101 post that won the UnAward was put together following a session at commscamp where a host of people got together and let it all out. You can use blogs to have a good old moan, rant or just to get the bad stuff out.

2. The best ones in my view are the truly genuine.  They can make you laugh, empathise, cry or find you arguing with a screen or mobile device. Whether you empathise or disagree, they evoke a reaction and that’s a truly good thing to do in the ‘white noise’ world that we live in. I’ve had all of these emotions when reading blog posts over the last years. Even if I’ve sobbed from hearing about a person’s experience (if you haven’t ever read Paul Coxon’s beautiful and heart wrenching post, then you really must do), it’s made me think and provoked my emotions. To me that’s a sign of a good blog post.

3. Having an opinion – whether people agree with you or not – is a good thing. If it prompts discussion or debate then you’ve made people think and you’ve probably taken people out of their comfort zones. I think that’s a good thing. Again though it should be genuine. Just doing it for the sake of it doesn’t really count.

4. Learning makes the world go round whether that’s on a personal or a professional level. If you can impart knowledge that you’ve gained or be prompted to try something new then it’s worthwhile.

5. You can look back at where you’ve been and set out your thoughts for the future – it’s a cathartic experience.

6. It connects people. Expanding your blogging horizons is likely to broaden your social and professional networks. Whether it's with people who disagree with you or not, it helps you get out of that echo chamber and understand what people think and I think that's a good thing. 

The excuses that stop you doing it

So if writing blog posts are that good, why have I had such a lack of blog posts in recent weeks?  There are several reasons for me and everyone will have their own I’m sure. I feel it’s important to be in the right head space for writing - work’s been tough, life has had its ups and downs and I’ve been lacking that spark of creative energy to get me going. Probably, as a communications professional, I’m also too used to writing for others or I’ve simply procrastinated that little bit too much. I also wanted to reclaim a bit of family time so that put blogs down the pecking order.

More common though is that perhaps I’ve not been really confident or clear enough about what I think I could share about my experiences. I’ve also been a bit reluctant to put myself out there for fear of knock back – it sometimes feels a little conceited to think that people should be interested in what I have to say. And in essence that’s probably it - it’s quite a thing to invite others inside your thoughts. But I think I’ve over analysed this. I’ve been too quick to think that others will be left feeling that’s 10 minutes of their life they’ll never get back again after reading blogs I’ve written. It seems it could be a red herring too. While there appears to be so many blogs around, when I’ve spoken to Darren at comms2point0 and others, it’s seems there is in reality a shortage of regular good content out there.

So winning best guest blog has ultimately changed all that for me. I know it shouldn’t have taken an award to change that but it has. I’ve decided I need to get off my behind and get writing. In my view you can’t win this award if you’re not willing to write more so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. My challenge for 2016 is to write at least one blog post a month and if I fail on that promise, I’m going to publicly fess up and double up the amount I give to charity. Either way, something good will have to come from it. And if it makes my skin a little thicker too then that’s a good thing. 

So that in short is what I’ve learnt from winning an UnAward. It’s given me the confidence and the permission to put myself out there and to set myself a target for the year ahead. A little self-indulgent but there you go – and if by doing this it goes a little way to encourage others to find or reconnect with their voice too, then I’ll be a very happy woman indeed. 

Emma Rodgers heads up the communications and marketing team at Stoke-on-Trent City Council. She is also Vice Chair of LGCommunications.

*The other shortlisted nominees were:

Dave Musson - @davemusson – http://davemusson.com

Chris Bolton - @whatsthepont – http://whatsthepont.com

Richard St Ruth @rsr108 – doesn’t have his own blog but publishes his own books and also edits buddhismnow.com

Ben Capper - @bencapper - http://bencapper.blogspot.co.uk/

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