I've hit an interesting personal milestone with this whole blogging thing.
This is my 1,000th external blog post. Yes, really.
And I thought I'd indulge myself with not only a few reflections on the experience, but hopefully inspire a few more people to take the plunge and invest in themselves much as I did.
1000 Posts? Really?
Yep. A whopping 833 posts on this, my primary blog. 55 posts on a less-frequently updated blog aimed at service providers. And 112 posts that I created when I was leading a social media proficiency effort here at EMC some years ago.
All of this has resulted in over 4,000 comments (excluding spam!), and several million page views over a period of about five years.
If you follow me, you'll know I'm not a fan of short posts. Personally, I enjoy the opportunity to stretch out and discuss things in some length. Every so often, I have to dispel the persistent rumor that I have a staff of writers doing this for me.
I don't. Each and every blog post is 100% a personal effort. I get moral support from EMC, but that's about it :) Thankfully, my role here at EMC gives me more than enough to write about.
There's Been An Evolution
Anything you focus on doing something over time, you get better at it. If you don't get better, you ought to think of something else to go do.
As I go dig out some of my older material, I often wince "gee, was I really that bad?" Yes, I was. And the internet never forgets. Sigh.
No surprise, the evolving blog content reflects much of my own personal journey -- tackling bigger concepts and issues. I write about things that interest me -- as should any blogger.
Yep, there's still plenty of tech-talk here, but one thing I've lost all interest in writing about is other IT competitors. I remember some real hand-grenades I used to lob in their general direction -- sometimes very effectively.
None of that really interests me much anymore.
Why? Because it's not really about us vendors these days, it's about our customers and partners -- that's where the *real* action is. I have plenty of personal observations of how well all the different vendors are playing their hands -- strengths, weaknesses, strategies, results, etc. -- because it's part of my job here at EMC.
I just don't think it makes interesting blog content, though. Correct me if I"m wrong, I'll be glad to oblige :)
There's also been an evolution in commenting behavior -- people have gotten much more polite. That's good. I vividly remember many comments that made me question whether the online world had turned into a mean and stupid place, and then realized -- that was their problem, and not mine.
The comments I do get these days are quite wonderful: thoughtful, personal reflections from people who either agree, disagree or build on my thoughts. Those sorts of interactions can be a real joy.
The Big Surprises For Me
1. Don't underestimate the impact you can have by blogging.
Keep at it, focus on bringing your best game, give it time -- and you can move mountains. Blog well, and your giving something to people for essentially "free". They usually respond well -- and in kind.
2. Google Search is your best friend.
I never played the SEO (search engine optimization) game, I've always thought that if I write interesting stuff, the rest of it would sort of take care of itself. When Google changed their page rank algorithms a while back, I came out as a big winner.
With 1000 posts out there, there's always a good chance that some searcher will pick up interesting fragments from my word salad, and click the link. Indeed, that's over half my visible traffic these days.
3. Measurement really doesn't matter.
I have lost all ability to accurately track page views, feedburner RSS distributions, quotes, links, et. al. I horrify the marketing professionals I meet when I tell them -- quite frankly -- I've never really invested in measuring things as so many people do.
Again, I've always thought -- if you write interesting stuff -- the rest should eventually take care of itself. Conversely, great analytics are meaningless unless people are following you.
4. You're probably smarter about this than most "experts".
I can't tell you how much "advice" with regards to blogging I've completely ignored over the years. It's my blog, I'll run it the way I want to. I do value constructive feedback; though I do ignore uninformed opinions.
I figured I'd get good at blogging by simply doing it -- just like anything else.
5. You might be surprised at just who is reading your stuff.
Blogging is mostly an asymmetrical activity: you write, they read, and -- once in a while -- people will comment, either online or in the real world. Most of your readers will never reveal themselves, or interact with you in any way. It's sort of a weird feeling, like all of your emails are in the public domain.
6. It's much more fun than, say, going to a budget review meeting.
Done well, blogging is fun. At least for me, I had no idea just how much fun this could be :) Now that corporate blogging is seen as an important activity at EMC and elsewhere, I have one more pre-fabricated excuse for having to skip the occasional internal meeting.
7. You can influence, inspire and motivate people in ways that you may never fully appreciate.
I can't tell you how many times I'll be talking with someone, and they'll tell me "well, I read this thing you wrote, and it inspired me to ..." Maybe I wasn't the direct cause of their action, but I was an indirect enabler or trigger for something they wanted to do anyway -- maybe I just helped them surface the thought or motivation.
That's more than enough for me.
The Real Motivation
Sometimes people wonder what motivated me to do this whole blog thing. Officially, it has very little to do with my day-to-day roles at EMC, but -- unofficially -- it's become one of the things I'm known for. If I were to stop for some reason, a lot of people might wonder what happened. Or not.
Do you get paid to write it? No. Is it part of some grand marketing plan at EMC? No, not really. Are you told to do so by others? Hasn't happened yet.
I blog for one reason and one reason alone: because I want to. It's entirely and utterly selfish in that regard.
If you're an occasional reader, thank you for following me. Your feedback -- direct and indirect -- is a strong motivator to me to continue.
And I hope I've been able to add some small measure of value to your world.