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Back in November, IBM’s InfoBoom contacted me about writing for them.  Normally I turn down those kinds of requests because I’ve already got a platform for my voice (my blog), and I’m a freak about controlling ownership of my content.  InfoBoom made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I stepped back and took another look.

InfoBoom’s slogan is, “Validate, network, and share with a community of respected midsize business leaders and experts just like you.”  That’s very different from how things operate here at BrentOzar.com, and the more I read the content, the more I realized I had to write differently.  I decided to approach it as an experiment: what if I tried to write more like someone who gets paid to write?  What if I was John Dvorak or Robert X. Cringely back before they jumped the shark?  What if I purposely tried to write things to get people engaged?

Over the last two months, I’ve written articles like:

Now it’s time to take a breather and think about what I learned from my experiment.

Writing is hard work. My peak writing hours are 7AM to 10AM, and when I’m in the zone with nothing else going on, I can bang out two good posts.  The problem is that other things are going on – especially these days when I’m doing consulting.  I’m booked 2-3 months in advance right now, and I get new requests from existing clients all the time.  “Can you just remote in and look at this one thing?”  Every day, I have to choose between consulting and blogging, so blogging quite literally costs me money.

I can’t succeed without scheduling blog posts. Since I don’t get as much blogging time as I’d like, I usually schedule my stuff to publish in advance.  I’ve got 2-3 weeks of blog posts scheduled at BrentOzar.com ahead of time, but InfoBoom’s blog platform didn’t have a scheduler.  I ended up writing posts ahead of time in my own WordPress, but saving them as drafts, and then publishing them on InfoBoom manually.  (I have this same issue over at SQLskills, which is why you don’t see me writing as often as I should over there either.)

I enjoy writing in a different voice. Looking at the collection, I’m really proud of what I wrote in the last two months at InfoBoom.  It’s good stuff.  Even though I like it, I wouldn’t have written those same posts here at BrentOzar.com.  Writing for a different site with a different audience encouraged me to take a different look at topics.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about these posts that wouldn’t have worked at BrentOzar.com, but if I was writing for this site, I wouldn’t have ended up with those posts.

Other people are crafting their messages too. After writing a couple of InfoBoom posts, I started paying more attention to what other bloggers there were saying, and I started questioning why they wrote what they wrote.  For example, when a tech journalist writes a post titled “The Social Media Hangover is Upon Us,” what’s his real motivation there?  What’s going on behind the scenes that makes him want to write that, and what does he stand to gain by writing it?  Because writing is such hard work, there has to be a gain involved in writing at sites like this, so what is it?  I enjoy that mental exercise – not just reading their work, but parsing their personality.

There’s nothing wrong with using a different voice here. Working with InfoBoom encouraged me to step outside of my usual comfort zone and bring a different kind of post to BrentOzar.com – my Consulting Lines series.  I figured that even though most of you aren’t consultants, you could benefit from hearing me talk like a consultant and kinda coach you into thinking like a consultant.  I got my start on that more than a decade ago working as an internal consultant for a hotel company; they billed my time out to various hotels and departments, so I had to think about providing value for that billed amount.  Ever since then, I’ve focused on providing value to my managers and coworkers.  That sounds so sleazy, and I’ve never wanted to write anything sleazy here, but the reality is that focusing on value really works.  It got me to where I am in my career, and me sharing it can help you too, so I just gotta find a non-sleazy way of doing it.

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  1. Here’s the thing: if you are one of those rare writers who can meld the technical with the anecdotal with the journalistic (which you are)–then you have to write. Well, you don’t have to, of course, but you should, because right now, technology and humanities are so compartmentalized, and without writers who understand how to write about technology in language that appeals to the layman, n’ere the twain shall meet. So I say, please keep writing for as many different channels as your schedule allows. Yes, it’ll cost you financially (at least short-term), but what it will do do the tech community should be worth it!

  2. Your comment that “Every day, I have to choose between consulting and blogging, so blogging quite literally costs me money” got me thinking.

    Recently Jeremiah sent me this link to how Frank Chimero manages his finances: http://blog.frankchimero.com/post/2764593863/whiteboard-accounting

    I like his “long perspective” on income. The question, I think, is whether you enjoy the writing or not.

    • Hahaha, wow, the whiteboard thing is awesome.

      I’m lucky in that I really do enjoy the writing, and I’ve turned down gigs in order to spend time writing. Next week is wide open, for example, because I gotta write & rehearse stuff for SQLCruise. I just feel guilty whenever I do that – it’s really hard to say, “Sorry, client, I can’t take your money because I have to blog.” But if I don’t keep blogging, I won’t get more clients down the road.

  3. Writing is hard work. My peak writing hours are 7AM to 10AM

    Yeah, and I know you twaddle away some of that time reading useless crap on other people’s blogs, or just gazing out the window.

    ;-)

  4. I can’t succeed without scheduling blog posts.

    Hey! Hire a ghost writer! No one ever need find out. ;-)

  5. Wow! You are the gift that keeps on giving.

    We are beginning a VMWare/SQL Server POC to figure out how big a SQL Server load we can put on a VM.

    I see multiple posts here I have to look at that are relevant.

    Thank you!

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