Online course creators don’t love course junkies. Most course creators and coaches want their students to use what they learn, and reap the rewards. Course junkies, by definition, don’t have time to apply what they learn, because they’re too busy jumping into the next course, the one after that, and the one after that.
Attempting to drink from the fire hydrant of information that is the internet drowns you, leaving you no clearer on your next best step.
Whether you’re buying too many online courses, watching endless YouTube ‘How tos’ or buying all the low-priced offers on Instagram (possibly at 2am, because you’re overstimulated and can’t sleep), too much information erodes your ability to learn and to think well.
I remember my hyperactive and disjointed mind, circa 2011-2012, when I had lots of social media work. My need to constantly scan the internet for useful, valuable, relevant information with which to update this or that clients’ socials, coupled with two small children and broken sleep, damaged my ability to focus.
But there’s one fantastic technique that I’ve put to good use over the years which ensures my internet consumption is actually productive, while also attracting new clients. It helps you learn better, focus more deeply, develop your expertise, position yourself, get found on Google, and win new clients. Want to reinvent yourself, launch into a new industry, or attract a new ideal client group? It’s good for that, too.
I’m talking about business blogging.
The number one thing people get wrong about consuming
While brain plasticity is maximal as children, thankfully you can teach old dogs new tricks. According to cognitive neuroscientist and author of How we learn, Stanislas Dehaene, we can all “learn to learn” better by taking advantage of the four pillars of the brain’s learning algorithm: attention, active engagement, error feedback and consolidation.
Central to this is balancing our consumption of information with creating new information – or business blogs.
Attention – referring to the brain’s mechanisms of selecting information, amplifying and channeling it, and deepens its processing – reduces our common problem of information saturation while honing our focus to our area of expertise.
For the constant information browser, who lacks discrimination, learning may not happen if attention is misdirected.
On the contrary, conscious attention discharges sensory and conceptual neurons, and their messages propagate into the prefrontal cortex, where whole populations of neurons extensively ignite and fire. This strong surge of neural firing strengthen sour synapses – what neuroscientists call “long-term potentiation.”
Further, when we blog on the topic that we’ve just been learning, we’re not only narrowing the focus of our attention, we’re also actively engaging with information and consolidating our consumption into succinct, useful, valuable and relevant information.
Engaging in the regular discipline of consolidating what you’ve learnt into weekly, fortnightly or monthly blogs, videos, podcasts or newsletters, doesn’t just aid your marketing, but your own learning and expertise.
By looking through the content marketing lens of “is this useful? Is this valuable? Is this relevant? (for my ideal clients), we’re further honing our focus. It’s focus, not more information, that’s needed to learn.
Blogging helps us develop expertise through teaching
To learn by teaching others is highly effective, according to numerous studies, because the teacher needs to retrieve what they’ve previously studied. This is another version of the “testing effect” – where recalling what you’ve previously studied leads to deeper and longer-lasting learning.
Business blogging is the perfect vehicle to do this. Don’t think you know enough? Your business blog is also a great reason to widen your network, introduce yourself to experts and leaders, and do them a favour through publishing them on your blog.
Your business blogs are like study notes on all the information you’ve been consuming. Whatever you’re currently finding fascinating, that relates to what you do, is a topic ripe for exploration through your blog.
You develop expertise through practising expertise – and writing is pivotal to this.
You can, of course, just read and think, listen and think, watch and think. But teaching will help you learn and develop like no other method.
How to decide on your next blog topic
In my Blogging for Business course, we spend time strategising our key topics and brainstorming specific blog ideas, but the quickest and easiest way to decide what to blog about right now is the topic that’s keeping you awake at night.
Whatever feels most urgent to you is likely something highly topical and relevant, personally important, and perhaps controversial. These factors likely make it a fascinating blog topic, and being able to craft an intelligent argument will help position you as someone with credibility and authority.
Writing helps you think
Consuming information is different from thinking; it uses different parts of the brain and has different outcomes. In this information age, thinking is something we need to make time for. In my Blogging for Business course, we talk about daydreaming, creative dates, and the particular pockets of time in our days when our imagination comes to life.
Thinking time – away from devices – is essential to develop your thought leadership. Instead of regurgitating popular opinions, you develop original ideas on something, having given your brain time to ripen concepts and arguments.
Writing your business blog encapsulates your thinking at a moment in time. It’s not intended to be the definitive word on the topic. It’s simply you thinking out loud, keeping excellent study notes, and bringing readers into your world.
And here may lie the most valuable of blogging’s many disciplines, particularly for older people or those with an introspective bent. Many of us have been socialised to never speak up unless we’re 100 per cent certain that we’re correct. This leads to self-censorship and lack of power, as our noisier, more confident mates step up to the limelight.
Sharing your thinking on your business blog is hugely useful for dismantling unhelpful social conditioning. The new world of business moves fast. It’s inherently social, collaborative, and highly interconnected, and requires a new approach to creating out loud.
Creating is an innately human drive. Whether we’re creating cakes, buildings, blogs or babies, the act of creating is life-affirming. Balance your consumption with creating. To only consume is to rob ourselves of the joy of being human, to share what we’ve learnt, and to leave our mark on the world.
Ready to balance your consumption with creating? Join my Blogging for Business course.