Today’s post marks a bit of a milestone for me, as this post is the 1,000th one since I started this blog back in September 2008.
While I tend not to “celebrate” various milestones too much, with the exception of (occasional) annual birthday posts, the 1,000th one is a little bit different. It’s one of these weird numbers that “says” something, whatever that something is.
It’s funny to think of the number 1,000 – it truly only seems like yesterday when I started this blog. I’ve been blogging since way back in 1999, and had a few writing projects that have morphed into blogs since then – but this one is the one that’s truly stuck and, I guess, the one that defines my goals and outlook.
So today’s post is going to be a bit of an introspective (and thanks to everyone on Facebook who gave me some great ideas on what to write about) on what’s changed since that very first post. If this is something you’re not interested in, I hear you and feel free to come back on the next post when normal service will be resumed.
For those of you still hanging around, I thank you – and let’s dig in.
Everything is Fluid
When I first started here, it was a continuation of a public relations blog that I had, back in my early solo consultancy days. The goal was simple – to share thoughts and ideas on social media and where that fit in the business world.
For the first six months or so, I was probably way too myopic for my own good – everything was based around social media in the purest form. Don’t do this; be like that; it’s all about the conversation, blah blah blah.
And you know, perhaps at that time it was okay to write about things that way. But everything’s fluid – we need to keep moving. Staying in the same place leads to boredom and stunted knowledge.
Looking back, I probably listened to and read too many kumbaya social media blog posts and bought into the mantra. I come from a traditional marketing and communications background, where everything is set in stone and the relationship to the sale is a true and trusted path.
Yet this path doesn’t allow for too much veering off to try new things, so seeing the risks people were taking (or appearing to take) in social media was a bit liberating.
However, it soon became apparent that these risks weren’t truly born with any business acumen – it was more from a “I’m pretty popular with this stuff I’m saying and I’m just making shit up – maybe I’ll keep this up a while!”
Once that realization kicked in, the tone of this blog changed quite a bit and I was determined to make this part of the web one that’s always evolving, and letting its vision, voice, whatever you want to call it, be shaped by the readers and commenters as much as it was by me.
Thankfully, that’s worked so far.
Being Wrong is Okay
Most people hate to be wrong. Most people hate to admit they’re wrong even more. For many people, admitting you’re wrong is a sign of weakness. And if you’re a blogger and you admit you’re wrong, then why should the community you’ve built up hang around?
Yet it’s okay to be wrong. In fact, we need to be wrong more and celebrate that fact – because it’s the only way we grow.
I’ve written posts on here where I’ve been cocksure in my belief that the opinion stated in it is the right one. Heck, perhaps the only one. But, of course, that’s bullcrap.
[pullquote position="right"]None of us have all the answers. Hell, very few of us have a decent amount of answers when it comes to most things[/pullquote].
So why do we feel we should be right the majority of the time when it comes to our opinions?
The biggest learnings I’ve taken from this blog is when someone comments on a post and completely blows my point of view out the water, whether from their opinion or from backing it up with facts and statistics.
Does it make me look an idiot? Sometimes. But ignoring the better opinion or statement when it’s right there in front of you and everyone else that reads the post is more idiotic.
If we truly want to grow as people, whether personally or professionally, we need to be open to other points of view. If we’re putting our thoughts out for the world to see, we really need to be open to other points of view.
Otherwise, why even share in the first place?
The Fallacy of Numbers
We get so wrapped up in numbers at times.
At Christmas, we want more presents than we got the year before – same goes for birthdays.
In high school, we want to lose our virginity at a younger age than our friends (and then have more girlfriends/boyfriends than them). At work, we want to get bigger raises and more recognition than our colleagues.
And yet, numbers are so superficial.
Sure, they may make us feel better and enable us to have a better “life”, but that depends on your definition of what a better life is (for me, it’s being able to spend evening and weekend time with my wife and kids).
When I first started this blog, I was so wrapped up in checking the numbers that everyone says matters – new subscribers, new social shares, unsubscribers, comment count, etc.
And, sure, I still afford a little smile when a new subscriber joins, since that offers an opportunity to get to know them in the comments and see what makes them tick.
But this concentration on numbers hurts us. Just as chasing more presents at Christmas turns us into spoiled brats, so does chasing blog numbers turn us into the blogger we don’t want to be.
We start writing generic list posts, just to try and hit that viral social share gold. We stop being opinionated and lose the voice that attracted readers in the first place. We write linkbait and ass-kissing posts so the highlighted folks will come by, say we’re great, share and then maybe, just maybe, invite you to their next conference.
Do we really want to be that blogger? Is that why we started in the first place, and continue when others stop?
By all means, care about how your content is perceived – but don’t let the numbers rule you. Now when I get email alerts that tell me someone has unsubscribed and they offer the reason why, it simply tells me we’re not a good fit anymore and they’d be better catered to elsewhere.
And that’s okay, and the way it should be.
A Blog is Just a Blog
We hear so many people (and I’ve been guilty of this) telling us what we should do when it comes to our blog. “Build your list!”; “Cover it with ads!”; “Sell shit!”. And, yes, we can do all that.
But we don’t have to.
[pullquote position="right"]The great thing about a blog, and something I’m seeing more of, is that we control what it is and what it does for us[/pullquote].
As I mentioned earlier, this blog has taught me that being wrong is okay. It’s also (I believe – feel free to disagree!) made me a much better writer and thinker than I was four years ago. It’s enabled me some wonderful opportunities, for which I’m eternally grateful.
And it’s allowed me to meet some of the funniest, smartest, humblest, caring and downright awesome people, either in the comments, discussions around the web, or at speaking events I’ve been invited to because someone was kind enough to read something here and ask me to come out and speak.
But, at the end of the day, a blog is just a blog.
Because this one is primarily a business one, it makes sense that business things happen because of it. But, to be honest, if they didn’t, I wouldn’t care – it would just mean I’d have to do some more “hustling”, if you like, away from here.
And that’s something we can all do.
Don’t let anyone tell you your blog needs to be about this, or you need to do that, to make it a success. I know people who don’t give a crap if their blog is read or not – it’s an escape valve for their innermost thoughts and fears, and just getting it out of their system into something physical makes their lives easier.
A blog is what we wish it to be – and every choice is the right one, for us. It can be world-changing globally; it can be world-changing personally. And isn’t that all that really matters at the end of the day?
The Next Chapter
So I guess I’ve rambled a little bit here, and I apologize if you’re still here and bored out of your skin. I don’t often write posts this long, and it probably won’t happen again for a looooong time (if it does at all).
I’m also wary that this post may come across as a delusion of self-grandeur (to paraphrase Han Solo) – hopefully if it does, it’s not too much.
I sincerely thank you for being here at whatever part of the 1,000 posts you jumped in on and, whether you’re a regular or an occasional visitor, I hope you find at least some of the stuff here useful.
I don’t know what lies ahead in between now and the next 1,000 posts. I have an idea of some things that will happen (and more on that in the next post, probably), but then that’s the fun part – taking it as it comes.
Thanks for the first 1,000 memories – here’s to continued fun ahead. Slainte!