This October marks five years of writing Tactical Philanthropy. During most of that time I’ve written a blog post almost every day. If you include my Daily Digest posts, I’ve averaged 1.8 post per weekday for a total of 2,093 posts since October 2006.
I’m often asked how I write so frequently. The key for me was that at the very beginning I made a commitment to myself to post each day, even when I didn’t feel like it and I wrote my posts first thing in the morning before my day got too busy.
But a lot has changed in the last five years. The amount of online information about philanthropy has gone from a trickle (a trickle that was largely ignored by most people in philanthropy) to a fire hose of information about all things social sector related.
In early 2009, I reluctantly starting using Twitter and then embraced it when I realized its potential to act as an effective information filter so that I could weed out the noise and focus on the signal. Once upon a time, the most informed people where the ones with access to the most information. But in a world of information overload rather than information scarcity, the most informed people are the ones who are best at filtering out the noise to get at the signal.
A few months ago I started experimenting with filtering myself. Rather than writing every day, I started writing longer, more robust posts twice a week and featuring a weekly, carefully selected and edited guest column.
A few interesting things happened:
- Readership stayed constant and then started increasing over the last month even though we’re in the slow, “dog days” of summer when my emails to nonprofit and foundation employees return far more “out of office replies” than normal.
- “Engagement”, as measured by reader comments and the number of Twitter references of my posts increased sharply.
- My ability to stay on schedule dropped off as the urgency of my daily routine faded and my ability prioritize my posts fell due to the more flexible schedule and the increased effort I’m putting into each post.
There is a certain safety in blogging every day. Like brushing your teeth, it becomes a part of your routine and requires almost no self-discipline to stick with once you’ve made it a habit. But blogging less regularly is tough. It is tough to stare at a blank screen not sure what to write about and hear a voice telling you that you can put it off until tomorrow when maybe, hopefully, you’ll have something halfway intelligent to say.
I write all of this by way of explaining that much as I use Twitter, Google Reader and other tools to try to filter the huge amount of information available about philanthropy in order to seek out the real knowledge laying hidden in the cloud of noise, I plan to continue working to filter myself. To reduce the flow of blog posts, while hopefully increasing the value of the posts I do publish.
So far I’m finding this new course difficult to execute, but worthwhile when I’m able to follow through. My goal is to publish original blog posts every Wednesday and Friday, feature a carefully selected guest post every Monday and continue using the Daily Digest post to share with you those interesting bits from around the web that make it through my philanthropy filters and deserve, in my opinion, to be more widely read.
Tactical Philanthropy continues to be a grand experiment for me. I’m not sure how this new approach is going to work. Frankly, I worry that if I’m not here each and every day, readers might themselves lose their habit of reading and the Tactical Philanthropy community might disperse. But hopefully, reducing the noise and increasing the signal will increase the value for those who care.
Let me know what you think. Are there other ways I could make Tactical Philanthropy more valuable for you? Is my strategy of filtering myself the right approach? Or does it simple represent a break in my self-discipline of daily blogging that runs the risk of reducing the relevance of Tactical Philanthropy?
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