I was warned about having a thick skin if I chose to blog but I had no idea about the reality of that advice.
A couple of weeks ago one of my blogs was chosen to the top spot on Word Press. In a way I was honored and pleased but the amount of extra traffic it generated was daunting. The extremists came out of the woodwork.
I administer two blogs. This blog is for struggling insurance agents who need help with marketing. They tend to be trained is what to do and say when they get in front of someone but not how to get there. Hopefully, this blog provides some ideas to help them.
I also am a practicing insurance agent. I administer another blog for my friends and clients to help them keep track of the confusing world of health care and health insurance.
An article that was intended as a neutral explanation for my clients was turned into a politically charged piece. I appreciate the right for everyone to have an opinion, whether or not they share mine, on health care and health insurance.
For the record, I did not vote for Obama, Pelosi or Reid. I definitely did not vote for Sebelius. Unfortunately, they control health care and health insurance, right now. The polls in November may change things. Personally, I hope they do.
That being said, I did not learn a political lesson. I already know who for and how I will vote in November. I did learn a few lessons about blog marketing. I wanted to share a couple of them with other agents who are considering blogs of their own.
You will be misunderstood
My article was about why health insurance rates were increasing. At no time did I make any value judgments about Obamacare. In my opinion, there are many good things in the new law but it is an inescapable fact that someone has to pay the bills. Unless doctors, labs and hospitals are going to give their services away for free, either the insurance companies, tax payers or insurance owners are going to have to pay the extra charges.
I learned that regardless of how careful you are in your blog, if you address anything that is in the least controversial, your readers are going to accuse you of saying things you did not mean and read what they want to, regardless of what you say.
I started the day out by responding to every comment but by 2:00 I got tired of being insulted. I appreciate the passion people show for their opinions, whether or not I agree with them. I know that regardless of anything I say I will not change anyone’s mind.
If you elect to blog, my advice is the same that your mother taught you. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
The internet is not an excuse to be rude
As a kid there was no such thing as anonymity. Even when you told your best friend not to say anything, the school bully usually found out when you said something bad “behind his back.”
Blogging is a little different. By the very nature of the medium, what you say can be read and judged by anyone in the world. What you meant for your client base can be seen by anyone and there are plenty of people who are not shy about providing their input.
What I learned is that you are free to write anything you want but don’t be surprised if someone you do not even know says something “out of the blue.” If you do not like it, acknowledge their right to their opinion and move on.
There are people who live for nothing else but to stir up trouble. I know it is hard for me to; and I assume I am not the only one, ignore someone when they provoke me. After all, I don’t consider myself a wimp. I arrive at my conclusions based on my own study and don’t easily back down. Never-the-less, I learned that sometimes “discretion is the better part of valor.”
As I am neither a member of the legal profession, member of congress or President of the United States there is nothing that I can do about Obamacare other than vote in November. I need to limit my battles to the ones I can win.
Blogging can take your mind off getting the job done
As the extremists started commenting on my blog I felt compelled to answer each comment. Unfortunately, for a while, my email box was dinging before I had a chance to finish my answer to a previous comment.
The problem is that not one of the people who commented on my blog lives anywhere close to me. If I hold to the rules that a prospect is someone you can see on a favorable basis, none of the people who commented on my blog was a prospect. In my attempt to be courteous to total strangers, I forgot for a couple of hours that I need to focus my online efforts to people I can do business with.
I blog, along with other on line marketing efforts, not for political reasons but for business reasons. As a consultant I can work with any insurance agent in the nation but as an insurance agent, my clientele are limited to the states I am licensed in.
The large number or readers is flattering but if I cannot do business with them, it is an unproductive use of my time during work hours. Lest anyone get their panties in a bunch, I am not saying that anyone is worthless, I am just saying that during business hours I need to focus on business productivity and not my personal opinions.
I cannot get back the time I wasted this morning but hopefully, you can use it as a motivation to constantly be aware of what you are doing. When it is time to play, play hard. When it is time to work, work hard.