In the music industry there's the well recognised syndrome referred to as "The Difficult 3rd Album" of a band or a group. I'm here to tell you that this syndrome is not only restricted to the music business; oh no.
How many of you have started a blog with the best intentions in the world? And who amongst us has not managed to sustain the writing activity beyond an initial flurry? Come on now, don't be shy. My hand's raised - guilty as charged. The difficult 3rd album syndrome also relates to blogs and social media.
Ask most people what their first post on Facebook or Twitter was and they'll probably tell you it went something like "Woot woot, I'm tweeting! Now what do I do?" - I know mine did. The challenge with social media and blogs is continually coming up with material that people want to read, enjoy reading and will continue coming back to read. The Web is littered with well meaning blogs that reached "the difficult 3rd post" and ran out of steam, either because the writer ran out of interesting things to say or became disillusioned when their initial handful of blog postings didn't deliver the number one Google rank that the bloke down the pub said it would :o)
So, it briefly happened to me - "the difficult 3rd post" - blogger's block (it's OK though it's not as bad as jogger's nipple). After their first two posts, a bit like the band after their first two albums, the blogger may have vented their spleen and communicated what they set out to say. So what do they do next?
The 3rd album is where it can and very often does all go wrong - the concept album is a classic case in point. i) The Concept Album happens where the artist's ego exceeds their talent and you end up with a real naval-gazer of an album that might sell but no-one really gets. ii) The Sellout Album is created when the artist/label tries too hard to recreate their body of work without any of the fire or hunger that were central to the first two albums. iii) The Indulgent Album is born when the artist/label forgets what their audience actually wants and concentrates solely on a style of music that the artist likes. Whether the album is concept, sellout or indulgent the net result is the same; the band loses their audience.
Now that you know that, whilst this post was being written, I experienced my own version of "the difficult 3rd album" I hope you'll remember it and take heart when you come to write your own 3rd post/album - staring at a blank Word .doc desperate for inspiration. I came up with a strategy to avoid "the difficult 3rd album syndrome" and that was to go down the route of "The Biographical Album/Post" by which I mean documenting that it's OK to struggle to find the new words, we all go through it, just don't give up. The Biographical Album documents the highs and lows of the past two albums and let's the album buying audience know that they're still true to their roots, still true to the things that mattered on day one and haven't disappeared up their own arsehole.
Writers/artists/bloggers (delete as applicable) all need inspiration and I'm pleased to say that, for me, there's plenty of inspiration out there to use as fuel for blog writing. Mostly it's stuff that gets on my tits a little bit but there are some fab things to be found in life that are worth documenting. So I shall. There will be a fourth album, it won't be a greatest hits album the only purpose of which will be to fulfill a contractual obligation, it won't be a sellout because the older I get, the more I am enjoying evolving into Victor Meldrew. Believe.
Whether you use a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla or LinkedIn you've so many opportunities to let the world know what you're doing - just try and make it personal and try and make it interesting. Please don't give the Daily Mail any more ammunition by only tweeting what you ate for breakfast. Like it says at the foot of the page: "Treat a blog as a long-term two-way communication channel and you might just learn something about the thoughts, feelings and opinions of people that really matter."
As I finish this post one of my clients, Janine King of The Bucklersbury Clinic, is about to launch her own website and blog/journal using Web Diffusion (our own system that I use to build this website). The first article looks fab, I'm keen to see how it evolves over time and how she'll be able to use it to document one of her areas of specialism: shiatsu massage for pain relief in arthritis. Good luck Janine, may you never encounter difficulties with a third album!