This post is about how I like to disappear into the mountains for days at a time and then reemerge with amazing ideas to help grow my blog and my business. It’s also about a particular handful of amazing ideas that I emerged from the Grand Canyon with last week.

But first, let me back up a bit and give you a bit of history of why I do this kind of thing.


[This section isn’t directly related to blogging or social media, so feel free to skip directly to the My New and Improved Social Media Strategy section below if you don’t care about this stuff.]

I’m an adventurous person, especially when it comes to outdoorsy adventures. It’s not uncommon for me to rock climb or hike a couple hundred days out of every year. And every year there are a few pretty big adventures that I look back on with particularly fondness and awe. In 2008 it was climbing Mt. Whitney — the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states — in something like 22 hours car-to-car. And when I say climbing, I mean an actual 1000′-long technical rock climb up the side of the mountain, not just hiking up the trail:

Mt. Whitney East Face

Me and the East Face of Mt. Whitney, California, in 2008

In 2009 it was a climb of Mt. Rainier in Washington…

Me looking serious in front of Mt. Rainier, 2009

Me looking serious in front of Mt. Rainier, Washington, 2009

…and an ascent (more rock climbing) of the tallest freestanding sandstone spire in the world near Moab…

The Titan, Fisher Towers, Moab, Utah

The Titan, Fisher Towers, Moab, Utah, 2009

Then last year, 2010, I ran my first (and last… I freaking hate running) marathon, and did so without training:

Me running the marathon, 2010

Me running the marathon, 2010

I also did my first 100-mile bike ride and then finished my 3-year quest to climb the biggest chunk of unclimbed rock in the mountain range where I live. The result was a 2000’ long rock climb that is the second longest of its kind (sport climb) in the country:

The mountain and cliffs that dominated my life for 3 years, finally ending in 2010.

The mountain and cliffs that dominated my life for 3 years, finally ending in 2010.

That one got me a little blurb in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of Climbing magazine (also fulfilling the bucket list goals of being in a climbing mag and getting a photo published in a magazine).

Fast forward to early April 2011 and I was sitting in my chair, thinking about how much I’d been blogging and how I didn’t have any really cool adventures to look forward to in the near future. My thoughts turned to the Grand Canyon, which is a half-day drive from where I live. I’d never been there, and I figured it was about time. Plus it would probably be snow-free, an especially nice prospect since it’s been snowing like crazy here. I did some research and found out that there was a 23.5-mile trail that went from the north rim down to the Colorado River (a descent of some 6000 vertical feet) then back up to the south rim (an ascent of about 4500 vertical feet). I thought it would be cool to do it in a day. I was a little out of shape (I always get fat over the winter) but figured it would be doable.

Anyway, to make a long story short (too late, right?), I drove the 6.5 hours to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and camped for a night. After a few hours of sleep, I woke up at 2 in the morning, started hiking, covered the 23.5 miles to the south rim in 8.5 hours (it was either raining or snowing for half that time), took a 6-hour shuttle bus back to the north rim where my car was, then drove the 6.5 hours back home. By the time I got home and went to sleep, I’d been awake and moving for 24.5 hours.

Here are some pics:

Me at the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Me at the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, about 15 miles into the hike.

Me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, about 15 miles into the hike.

In the rain/snow a few hundred feet from the end of the 23.5-mile hike.

In the rain/snow a few hundred feet from the end of the 23.5-mile hike at the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Not only was it a great physical and mental adventure in a beautiful place, but it was also a couple of the most productive days I’ve ever had in terms of coming up with new ideas for my blog and my business. I ended the trip with several pages of notes, blog post ideas, product ideas, blog ideas, and other great stuff.

[Side note: The American West has got to be one of the greatest places to live in the world if you’re into the outdoors! I highly recommend it!]

At some point in the future if you guys are interested, I can write about how to come up with and capture ideas while away traveling and having fun (btw, I might be in Portland in a couple weeks to climb Mt. Hood. Anyone have good suggestions of what to do or where to stay while in town?). But probably the single biggest takeaway I had from the trip was that I needed to revamp my social media strategy and habits here on Blogging Bookshelf.

My New and Improved Social Media Strategies

Ok, now let’s get serious here. Here are my disconnected thoughts and plans of things I’ve done differently recently and things that I will be doing differently in the very near future. All of these really hit me while I was hiking:

  • I just removed the Digg button from underneath every new post. In the past 8 months or whatever that this blog has been around, I’ve gotten a total of 42 visits from Digg. That’s pretty worthless in my opinion. In its place I put a LinkedIn (link to my LinkedIn profile) badge. I’m very much a LinkedIn n00b and have spent all of 15 minutes on the site in my life, but it’s worth trying out. I’ll also be updating my LinkedIn profile in the near future, as well as just being more active over there.
  • I quit Triberr for some of the reasons I mention in this post. It was just making me Twitter-lazy as my relationships with other bloggers were put on auto-pilot. I might not get as many retweets or as much traffic from Twitter for the next little while, but that will change eventually as I go back to being more social, more engaged, and less of a robot. This means that I’ll be spending more time on Twitter, but it also means that I’ll be more picky with what I tweet. Who knows, maybe I’ll rejoin Triberr in the future, but I want to see what life is like again without it.
  • While on the subject of Twitter, I’m going to be better about putting people into lists. I’ve failed to do that recently and it’s also been part of the reason I’ve kind of been neglecting Twitter. It’s been one big kerfuffle.
  • A few weeks ago I started to be more active on SERPd, which is an SEO-related social bookmarking site. And by being “more active” I mean just submitting posts and links other than mine. I submit about one a day. The results have been impressive. I’ve been getting substantially more traffic from the site and it takes me only a couple extra minutes every day. So based off of that success, I’ll start being more active on BlogEngage, BizSugar, and Blokube (all of which are smaller social bookmarking sites that I already see a steady stream of traffic from).
  • I’ve been updating the Blogging Bookshelf Facebook page more often with links to awesome articles that I read that will help you be a better blogger. And I’ll continue to do this more in the future. Probably about one a day. Now having said that, I am NOT a Facebook master, so I want to hear about what YOU think I should do on the BB Facebook page. Give me some pointers!
  • This technically isn’t “social media,” but I’ll be commenting on more blogs again. I’ve been commenting pretty infrequently for the last couple months, but I want to get back into it. I like the traffic, backlinks, and stronger relationships with other bloggers that commenting builds.
  • I’m continuing to have a ball with Pinterest. It’s a lot of fun, and you should go sign up if you’re not already a member. As I’ve said before, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had while being social online.
  • I’m going to be trying to include at least one original graphic (illustration, photo, infographic, etc.) per post. These graphics I will then in turn post to Flickr (link to the heretofore-very-rarely-updated Blogging Bookshelf Flickr page) and see if I can get more traffic that way.

Well that’s about it for now! There are plenty more changes coming down the pipeline in the near future, so you can expect to see those as well as see me write about them (and my rationale behind them).

  • What social media efforts have been working (or not been working!) for you recently?
  • What are some good ways for me to make use of the Blogging Bookshelf Facebook page? Remember, I’m not a Facebook expert, so I want some advice here.
  • Had any cool adventures or travels lately? Or any plans in the near future? Have these adventures/travels helped or hindered your blogging?