Reflections on meeting new tribes in a virtual world
I fell in love with reading the day I mastered the ABC. A little over five decades later, while researching publishing options, I stumbled upon the bloggers’ world. This happened at the end of May of 2015. It was a through-the-wardrobe-into-the-land-of-Narnia moment. Before then, I’ve never thought of myself as ignorant. I discovered a virtual world of writers and entrepreneurs, I had heard of, but had never seen.
And I thought my life had been moderately eventful. I grew up close to the Congo border, in Zambia. Watching the hyenas frisk in the moonlight from the bedroom window was not uncommon. Exposed to multitudes of African cultures and languages, I grew up bilingual, with German as a third language at school.
After completing Medicine in South Africa, Anesthesia training followed, plus 900 days of compulsory military service thrown in between. Postings in Namibia and Angola taught me how to dig my own tight-fitting foxhole, listening to the occasional 500 pounder explode.
Since immigrating to Canada during the late 1990s, I learned to cross country ski at minus 38 Celsius (and enjoy it!) and to Adventure motorcycle. A trip through the Mohave desert followed, and the next year I attended the Sturgis rally as a rider in a ballistic nylon suit. (I could just as well have worn pink leather.)
Discovering the possibilities of blogging, made me feel like Lucy when she stepped through the wardrobe and met Mr. Tumnus. Initially only intrigued, I soon became fascinated and started learning, researching and following everything blogging. Jeff Goins arranged a Tribe Conference in Nashville, August 29 & 30, 2015. I made sure I attended. That was the turning point.
I was introduced to tribes of bloggers and writers. I had attended a writers’ conference in New York, but this was different. Christine Niles challenged the attendees to commit to a 90-day goal. Mine was to take down my existing website and launch a new blogging website. It was closer to 125 days, when I officially went live with: “Yes, you can!”
15 Lessons I have learned the past eight months from blogging and bloggers:
- Never decline an opportunity to learn a new skill. (Mastery will follow if you persevere.) It’s often scary. Every third day I ask myself, “what possessed you?” Don’t shy back. If you fail, stand back up. Make a new plan. I find solace in Carol S. Dweck’s words.
- Be willing to learn from the most unlikely people. Remain receptive. You don’t need a PhD to be an “expert,” in your field or niche. Many of the online entrepreneurs are in their early twenties! Forget about age. (Your own as well.)
- Be selective. You need filters. There are more than 110 million blogs on the internet. It is easy to get sidetracked. It can suck you in like an astronomical black hole. Pick a number of blogs, study them, follow them and become part of the conversation and communities, adding value.
- Blogging gives you a voice. You no longer need to be silent and hide. The challenge is to be authentic: as a blogger and as a writer. Be honest. Be yourself. You have a unique voice. Learn to hone it and develop it. (Remember, every person on earth has a “voice.”)
- You don’t need permission. (Ties in with #4) It gives you freedom—but with great freedom comes great responsibility. Do your research. Verify your facts. Be truthful. Be genuine. Be relentlessly helpful and add value to your readers’ (followers’/tribe’s) lives. Think before you click: publish.
- There are pretty amazing and brave people out there. Ordinary people, like you and me. People with “beautiful souls.” They chose not to give up, but to try harder. Some I have met in person, others online:
- Wheels of Grace (I met Sergio in his wheelchair—a man filled with peace.)
- An Empowered Spirit (MS survivor who inspire others)
- enablingthefuture.org (Volunteers using 3-D printers to create mechanical hands for amputees. The e-Nable community.)
- But, do your homework. Do your research. Learn to build a platform, how to harness social media to connect with your audience. Learn from Michael Hyatt how to build your online platform.
I have come across hundreds of blogging sites. Several of those I am still reading and following. Many are brilliant and of great value. But the reality is: time is finite. Be picky. Chose your niches.
Here are some sites and bloggers I recommend, from different niches:
Visit them and become inspired. Become involved. Give your opinion. Comment. Learn.
And, perhaps start your own blog?
Blogs on personal development, productivity and leadership:
Blogs on how to blog and monetize your site:
On Blogging and writing better:
- Jeff Goins: Goins Writer
- Joe Bunting: The Write Practice
- Allison Fallon: I think you’re remarkable and I want you to think that, too.
- K. M. Weiland: helping writers become authors
- Tim Grahl: The ultimate author website and book marketing
Medical blogs worth following:
- Kevin Pho: KevinMD
- Pamela Wible: Ideal medical care and physician suicide prevention
- Linda Girgis: DrLinda
- Sanjay Gupta: CNN medical correspondent
- C Michael Gibson: Founder of wikidoc.org
Boomer and Positive Aging blogs to follow:
- Alex Rotas: Photographer of master athletes
- Marc Miller: Career Pivot: For Baby Boomers who feel trapped in their career
- Jo-Anne Lema: After 50 Living
- Robert Fowler: The Boomer Places
- Lynne M. Spreen: Any shining thing: life after 50
- Jo Moseley: Happy Healthy 50
- Elena Peters: Living with Batman: making midlife matter
Fitness and health blogs to follow:
Blog on publishing, marketing and launching your book:
Tim Grahl: He will show you how to build author platforms and launch bestsellers. Under his clients count: Daniel H. Pink, Hugh Howey, Pamela Slim and Charles Duhigg.
I have just signed on to his training course: Launch a bestseller.
Perhaps it is time to sit down and write that book. All of us have cropped up stories inside that need to get out.
Perhaps your 9-to-5 job has lost its joy. There is no challenge left. Learn to blog and work from a virtual office. Find a niche. Challenge yourself. Find yourself again. You can support yourself and a family blogging, and more. Forget about your age—it is irrelevant.
Or, follow some blogs and become a faithful reader and commentor.
Get your voice into the world. Impact people. Make a difference.
Your opinion matters.
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