The Best and the Worst: A Recap of Deep Dive Careers’ First Year (Part 2)

In Part 1, we analyzed the 3 biggest failures in the first year of writing this blog. 

In Part 2, we will:

→ Find out which 3 posts performed the best.

→ Find out which lessons I have learned after committing to maintaining this bi-weekly blog while working full time.

One of the reasons I started this blog exactly 364 days ago was the lack of thoughtful advice available to the average job-seeker. Before signing up to provide career advice to a diverse array of non-traditional students from across the United States, I marveled at how difficult it was to find something as simple as an adequate cover letter writing guide.

Actionable career advice is desperately needed by people all over the world but it can be challenging to scale delivery of this information as a business. In the past year, I have experienced a few successes and learned some lessons that I would like to share.

The Top 3 Posts:

The below were ranked using the same criteria as the worst posts, from part 1.

3. Your Responsibility to Self-Educate 

“Everyone has an agenda: What is Yours?”

This post was an effort to convey the importance of reaching the next layer of depth of thought beyond the petty discourse that plagues many important political and social issues. It earns the number 3 spot because it gained traction among those who read it. Although receiving about one-third the views of the other two posts on this list, the likes kept on rolling in.

As of this writing, this post has received 9 likes, which is nearly twice as many as the next most-liked post. 

2. Is an Obsession with ‘Sexy Jobs’ Holding Your Back?

“Be What You Can Be”

A desire for sexy jobs seems to be deeply entrenched across multiple generations of job-seekers. Some may say that younger generations are lost and don’t know what they want to do but I have conversed with enough Baby-Boomers and members of Generation X to know that this is more of an American phenomenon than one that is segmented to any specific demographic group1.

This post received 4 likes but it was not promoted much. Despite this, it received the 4th most views. It also has the best ‘like to view’ ratio of the top 5 most viewed posts.

1. Livin’ in a Spreadsheet Paradise

“If life is a series of puzzles, the spreadsheet is the right tool to solve them.”

Yes. This is a reference to Stevie Wonder’s song “Livin’ in a Pastime Paradise.” 

Yes. I live in a “spreadsheet paradise.” 

Yes. It can transform life as you know it.

Livin' in a spreadsheet paradise.

The article breaks down practical ways to use spreadsheets to achieve a multitude of goals. Many mobile apps exist to do much of what is outlined, but as the post points out, it’s all about finding your groove and flow. Whether you use a spreadsheet or a fancy platform, using data to inform your progress toward goals is fun!

I have long suspected that there is an underground niche of spreadsheet connoisseurs lurking on the internet just waiting to come together. The relative success of this article validates this suspicion. It received the most views and 3 likes in the first year without much promotion.

Lessons Learned

Lesson 1: Quality is Everything

The top 3 worst posts have boring titles that sound cliché and uninteresting. Conversely, the top 3 best posts have much more catchy titles so clearly quality titles lead to clicks. Also, likes and comments can be indicators of the quality of various articles because they indicate that a reader is enjoying the content.

The title must inspire a click, but without quality, no one will pay attention.

Lesson 2: People Do Not Read Blogs

Many people start blogging in hopes they will become famous. Thankfully, I had no illusions here. However, I can confirm that people basically do not take the time to read blogs. Think about it, do you?

When I started, no one knew who I was and despite some measurable success, after 1 year of blogging I can confirm that this is basically still the case. 

Lesson 3: Monetizing Blogs is Difficult (without name recognition)

When I started, I was not planning on monetizing the blog and as of this writing, I still do not plan to. This may change over time but in order to monetize blogs, a substantial audience must be inspired to engage with your ideas.

It takes years for this to happen, even for the most renowned thought leaders.

Lesson 4: Expectations are Everything

Before going ‘all-in’ on an idea, it is best to test a few things out first – just as I did before committing to this project. For about 6 months prior to starting, I wrote consistently in a Google Doc before determining that I did have enough material to move forward with a blog.

The purpose of this blog will likely remain the same for a while – to collect and organize information and to connect with like-minded people by sharing.

Lesson 5: Sticking to a Theme is Overrated

When it comes to writing, taking chances is often rewarded. This is the fun part of writing and it’s especially true when a blog like this is in its early stages of development. All bloggers would be wise to experiment a bit in the early stages to learn what resonates with people most.

If you’re doing it for the money or to be famous, you are likely doing it wrong.

Lesson 6: Commitment Matters

Whether you are writing a blog, starting a business, or a new job. It is important to make a commitment to do your best, to constantly learn, and to adapt to change. A previous manager of mine provided exceptional advice when he suggested reviewing the status of your career annually.

He suggested that every year we should all ask of ourselves:

  • Did I learn?
  • Did I earn?

After one year of Deep Dive Careers, it is time for this reflection. I suggest you do the same.

1 Here is a deeper look into the classification of recent generational characteristics.

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