In 2004, technology writer Chris Anderson wrote an article titled "The Long Tail" in WIRED magazine. Two years later, an expanded version of his post was released as a book with the same title. This book went on to become a New York Times best seller. Chris went on to accomplish the same feat again in 2012 with his blog post "Atoms Are the New Bits" and subsequent book Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.
A little web design company out of Chicago, known as 37 Signals, began writing a company blog called Signal vs. Noise. A few years later, they put their best ideas into an ebook titled Getting Real. Downloads exploded, and in 2010 they published their first "real" book titled REWORK. They are now working on their second book REMOTE, due out on this fall.
All because of a few blog posts.
These are two success stories that started in the same place - the blank page of a blog editor. These blog posts were, in reality, a rough draft for what was to come.
Have you started your rough draft? Have you even thought about your blog in this way?
From Blog To Big
Most blog posts have the shelf life of a carton of milk. Here today, spoiled tomorrow. Blogging software naturally burries the old in favor of the new. Your posts may continue to get love from the SEO ether, but we usually see them as products with a fast-coming expiration date.
This may be the reality of our software, but many bloggers like Chris Anderson and 37 Signals have learned that their blog wasn't a place for their content to die a slow death - it was a place to create their first draft.
For some, a blog is simply a place for them to get warmed up.
Take Sherry and John Petersik as an example. They spent years building an audience on their blog Young House Love, they story of a newly married couple fixing up their first home. Their first book, released five years later, is now an Amazon.com bestseller. The book, naturally titled Young House Love, contains more that 200 hundred home renovation tips they collected over their five years of renovating and blogging, ideas that were first documented on the pages of a WordPress blog installation.
Do you see the common theme yet? Yes, some bloggers eventually get book deals, but that isn't the theme that I am driving at. The big idea is to see that our blog is only the introduction to what we have coming next.
Our blog is our rough draft.
Your Magnum Opus
Author Ayn Rand achieved fame with her novel The Fountainhead. Its success lead her to write her infamous novel Atlas Shrugged, a novel that is widely considered her magnum opus - the largest, and perhaps the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned achievement of a writer, artist, composer, or craftsman.*
We all have one. Are you preparing for your magnum opus?
Every time you pick up your pen, place your fingers on the keyboard, or a scribble an idea in your blogging journal, you are contributing to your next best thing. You are building your rough draft for what's to come. As bloggers, seeing our post as a part of a whole rather than a one-off creation is essential for our success. What is the big picture that your writing is creating?
For many of us, the big picture will never be a book deal, at least not a real one, but that shouldn't stop us in the least. You just never know, right? But, for all of us, our blog should be a place where we write something that can last as a future ebook, a new training course, or a keynote presentation. It doesn't matter what our blog becomes, as long as it becomes something.
They say that most blogs fail in the first three months. There are many reasons for this, of course, but one of the major reasons is a lack of purpose. When we don't understand why we are doing something it can be hard to see the what. If we truly believed in the power of blogging to change the face of what we do, wouldn't we be far more likely to keep it up?
Is your blog a rough draft for your magnum opus?
The Rough Draft Challenge
Next time you sit down to blog, take a minute to think about the whole. What are you really saying when you put it all together? What would the title of your book be if every blog post was a chapter? If you don't like the book that results from this exercise, you may need to change your topic, or how you're writing.
There is an even more practical way to handle this. Start today by writing a new book or ebook one chapter at time, one blog post at a time. In a few weeks, compile those posts together as a PDF and start giving it away. Let your blog be the rough draft.
[Source Wikipedia: Magnum Opus]