Photo by Zachstern*
People who rate themselves as intelligent have a 47 percent higher need for change in their professional world. They regularly see possibilities and opportunities around them. (1)
Change is great, we should always be trying to make little improvements in not just our blogs, but everything in our lives. As always though too much of a good thing can be a very bad thing, especially in the case when changes are made just for the sake of change. Often times these types of changes are made purely out of boredom and not exactly with the purpose of making it better.
Change made just for the purpose of making a change in order to make things more interesting is not always a bad idea either. You might come across something that really works that you never would had normally tried. Nether less in order to make your changes count it is important to keep a few things in mind when making them.
Make sure the change will actually do what you want
It sounds silly to even bring it up, after all why would you even bother in the first place with a change unless you actually thought it would do what you want? The problem is that sometimes when we are making changes, we are actually only tinkering around in the shadow of a much bigger problem that we cannot see because we are so focused on little problems. This phenomenon is often referred to as tunnel vision.
For blogs, it is like working on making changes on your sidebar to improve your RSS subscribers count, when the bigger problem is how you are marketing your blog. You could have the most awesome sidebar ever, usability - check, design - check, content - check, but no visitors besides a few people who got lost looking for something else.
Ask yourself, if the change you are going to make really going to solve the underlying problem? If it isn’t, then don’t do it. Make changes that count and prioritize them. There are always more things to do in our lives than we have time to do.
Measure where you currently are
The reason it is important to measure where you currently are is in order to have a starting point that you can measure against after you have made the change in order to see if the change is effective. If you make a change, but have no way of keeping track of if the change actually did anything, then you really have no idea if the change was for better or worse.
For blogs, the equivalent could be measuring your current RSS subscribers, average page views, or even the number of times visitors click on a certain link. That link could be your services page or something else that is vital for the success of your blog.
Whatever change you are making, pick a measurement that is meaningful for you or at the very least a measurement that will indicate whether or not you are actually progressing. Measuring how many hits you get doesn’t really help you that much if all that is important to you is how many people actually contact you. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a helpful measurement, but focus on that numbers that really matter for you. Ask yourself, what has to happen for the change to be considered a success for you?
Measure your progress weekly
You could measure everyday, but that is just going to drive you insane no matter what you are doing. Depending on the changes you are making, it might even be better to measure bi-weekly or even monthly. Daily measurements will just have you riding on an emotional roller coaster no matter what changes you are trying to make.
When I was trying to lose weight, I use to drive myself nuts weighing myself everyday. I would feel happy if it went down, but if it went up or didn’t change I would be grumpy for the rest of the day. It was very unnecessary considering that it is normal to fluctuate up to four pounds in one day. Now, I measure weekly, but I take it with a grain of salt as I find biweekly measurements to paint a better overall picture as to what is happening.
In blogs, you have the same situation where the number of RSS subscribers will fluctuate everyday. Just because that change in your layout or that new article on X topic didn’t give you immediate results doesn’t mean it isn’t working. Stick with the change you made and keep track of your progress.
Reassess the change that you made
After you have got enough measurements it is a simple matter of deciding whether or not the change that you made was effective in solving your particular problem. If it worked out well, keep working in that direction.
If it didn’t work as well as you thought it would, figure out what went wrong. Ask yourself as many questions as it takes to figure it out. Did you make the wrong change? Was it successful but it solved the wrong problem? Did you use the wrong measurement? Or perhaps did you not give it enough time to actually see a change? Or did you not have enough information to make the change?
In the end, the whole process of change is really an experiment that you conduct in order to see if what you changed actually is for the better or worse. Experiment, make changes that count, and prioritize them. There are always more things to do in our lives than we have time to do.
Also remember to write down what works and what doesn’t. There is an odd phenomenon where people sometimes stop doing what works and keep doing what doesn’t work. It is more common than you think.
1. Whatley, A. 1998. “Gifted Women and Teaching: A Compatible Choice?” Roper Review 21:117-24
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