On Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 1:56 pm Central US Time, I published my very first blog post here at The Hot Iron. If you didn’t click on the link to read it, it would have taken longer to read this sentence than to read that post. Now ten years and 822 posts later, I am entering my second decade of blogging.
Where every year on my “blogversary” I have written a post to acknowledge it (some more robust than others), rather than simply patting myself on the back again, I’d like to share some of the lessons I have learned over the years of writing.
1. You never know who is reading – Despite knowing the Internet is Earth-wide, I still get amazed as to the reach of what I have written. Whether it’s companies inviting me to dinner or to travel the world, to the one time when someone quoted to me something I wrote myself, the true exposure is something I need to remind myself before I click the publish button each time.
2. Answer a question with a blog post – As the genesis of this blog was out of my former Web consulting firm, I found it useful to use The Hot Iron as not only a means of promoting my business but to create “reusable” content. Whenever someone asked me a question that I believed someone else may ask me, I would create a blog post on it and send them the link in response to their query. It not only answered their question, but made me look smarter as I wrote something on it, and made answering the question the next time all the easier. I still do that to this day.
3. Blogging can help you be a better writer – Before I started blogging, most of my writing was emails and technical specifications and documentation. Over time, I not only honed my writing but found myself greatly enjoying it. Many people have told me that they find it hard to get into a groove on writing, and if you look at my first few posts to those I write today, you will see quite a progression. More on the writing process later.
4. Simply placing ads on your blog won’t make you rich – Some of you may be surprised by this statement, and others of you are surely smirking at it, as you learned this the hard way yourself. From banner ads, Amazon product links to payment services like the former CentUp or soon-to-be former Google Contribute, ads may bring in a little loose change, but it takes a concentrated effort and plan to make real income from your blog.
5. Allow people to subscribe by RSS or email – Many of my most faithful readers are ones who receive my blog posts in their inbox or in their RSS feed reader. Even though Google killed off its Reader product years ago, people still aggregate content by RSS feeds in their Web browser or other services such as Fever. Making it easy for people to read what you write will keep readers reading.
6. Control your blog platform – Over years I have seen people post loyally on a variety of public platforms, from Geocities to Posterous, only to see those services shut down and their content vanish, especially as they never had a backup of their own writing! I am in the business of helping people get their message out on the Web, and I sill profess the best way is to do so is to have control of your Web publishing platform. Your own domain name coupled with any one of the number of content management systems (CMS) out there will give you the ability to manage your message as well as move it if necessary.
7. Blog posts don’t write themselves – Doing the math, I have written and published about 1.5 posts a week. On the surface this looks good, but looking back on early posts – especially those before the social media boom which would have probably been tweets rather than blog posts – there was irregularity and long periods where posts were published and where they were not. It takes a commitment to writing – focusing on actually finishing writing, editing and publishing something. I also like to add original photos to posts, which will take me on a hunt to find the right shot (like the one above at a liquor store – there are worst places to go) and more time. But as I do enjoy writing, it’s also a hunt to find time when I am caffeinated and have thoughts pouring out of my head, as I am as I write this.
Deconstructing Ten Years of Blogging
There are very few things in our lives that we can measure in terms of decades, and I can now count this blog as one of them. For as much work that goes into writing what I share here at The Hot Iron, it is truly something I enjoy doing. This makes the time I have devoted to this labor of love all the more worth it. Feedback from readers rounds out the overall experience, and for that I am also grateful. Now on to post 823.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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