Blogging is such an opportunity. I’m sad to see people abandoning the chance to express, to connect, to build relationships. For me, the love of blogging (and what it means to me) is why I’ve been in the game so long. It’s how I’ve met most of my current friends. It’s how I’ve stayed sane when I was an employee, and how I center myself today as a creator.
So today, I wanted to write about my love for blogging, and hopefully, you’ll pull from this some ideas or affirmations for what you’re doing.
I go way back, but the tech is new
I’ve blogged in one form or another since 1998. I haven’t owned my own domain for that long, and my early blogs were on WYSIWYG technology (Trellix, invented by Dan Bricklin, actually), and yes, I had a Geocities account (Area 51, baby) ,and a Tripod account, and all that old stuff before I finally got a blogspot blog, then some other tech I can’t remember, and then finally WordPress. I use WordPress because it’s got a strong developer community, because it has a lot of plugins that are useful, and because I liked the themes I could get for it. I use the Thesis theme (affiliate link) and sell it because I love it so much.
My home on the web
Blogging is like my house, or in most modern times, it’s my showplace. It’s not as messy as my mental house. I keep my blog focused on helping others do human business. If I want to write about my kids, I can do that at Dad-o-Matic. If I want to complain about air travel, I have Twitter. I keep my Facebook account as a personal-ish account.
So blogging, as it were, becomes my showplace, my storefront, my “here’s where to get the best of me” site.
I love the relationships I have with the people who comment on my blog. It took me 8 years to get my first 100 readers. I cherished every one of them. I even take the occasional screenshot of how many RSS subscribers I have because I’m humble and proud each time I hit a new milestone.
And the number in and of itself isn’t interesting. What’s interesting is that so many of you are wonderful contributors to my community, to my education, and to the great pursuits that we all share.
I went from a blog that only 100 folks read to being a blog in the Top 5 of Advertising Age’s Power150. It was a total lark that I joined. I forget who was kind enough to tell me there was a list. Well, the few times I’ve spent time at number 1 were fun, but to be honest, that’s only a little bit of social proof. Here’s how I get business leads from my blog.
I write about the way I see things, bits about how I might implement it, and ideas that companies can see themselves considering. Companies then reach out to me to either speak or bring New Marketing Labs in and do work for them. The blog got me the book deals for Trust Agents and Social Media 101. So, it’s really paid off well, my time in blogging mixed with my ideas on new ways to do business.
Homebases and Outposts
My blog is my home base. It’s where I want you to go when you find me on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/wherever. Because it’s the biggest part of understanding who I am and what I know how to do. I give you a “Best Of” page so you can find some of the meat of what I believe in an easy-instead-of-chronological way.
My outposts are things like Twitter, Google Wave, Facebook. Those are places where I connect and do something, but it’s not to replace the homebase. I think all these posterous and tumblr side projects can be cool, but rest assured that they detract from the value of growing a solid community. Outposts are where you meet people in the commons. The homebase is where you derive most value.
The Blogging Practice
I write all the time. Blogging helps me with this. I wrote about the writing practice not to long ago, and I write about writing often. It’s not that blogging is hard. It’s that blogging is a lot like going to the gym and it requires a constant practice, like playing the horn, like drawing, like dating. Meaning, it’s a verb. The more you do it, the better it can get.
Blogging as a Storefront
I sell things via this blog sometimes. For instance (and much of this is affiliate links):
Thesis WordPress theme
Third Tribe Marketing (our members-only marketing forum).
Beyond Blogging, an ebook I participated in.
Trust Agents, my book with Julien.
Social Media 101, my own book.
Countless books on Amazon.com, as I read and review quite often.
You don’t have to sell on your blog. It’s just an option that’s there if you want. Those projects above have helped me go to events that I otherwise couldn’t attend, and they’re helping me save for a new home for my family. Blogging gave me that, too.
My Own Magazine/Show/Media Empire
Growing up, none of us had the opportunity to “really” make our own media. We could do magazines by photocopying stuff. We could waste all the ink in our deskjet printers and pretend we were doing desktop publishing. We could record wav files and email them to our friends if we had a week.
But these days, you can be a podcaster, a videoblogger, a blogger, and you can make your own media. You maybe didn’t think of it this way, but the Huffington Post is what “feels” like a mainstream newspaper put together with blogging technology. It’s grown to be bigger than lots of newspapers, a top blog for years running, and yet, it’s just what we’re doing, done bigger.
Meaning, you can be whatever you want. You win on a huge mix of things, but you CAN do it. Distribution is free. Opportunity is nearly free. It just takes a powerful plan and a lot of execution and refinement.
I Love Blogging
And I hope you continue to do what you’re doing. We don’t need fewer blogs. We need more passionate blogs. We need more blogs that educate and inform and instruct and give us what we want. We need more Copyblogger and more Jon Swanson and more The Oatmeal.
And we need you.