Five golden lessons from writing 2,000 blog posts (and counting)

mark schaefer blog posts

Blogging at SXSW, circa 2012

By Mark Schaefer

Some time ago, I zoomed past 2,000 blog posts on {grow}. I wasn’t really paying attention to the numbers too much but there you have it … a milestone of sorts.

Next year will be my tenth anniversary as a blogger so this might be a good time to pause and reflect on the lessons from writing a few millions words for you.

1. Everything comes from the blog.

Every now and then I wonder what I’m doing. I put so much effort into this blog and I make no money from it (directly). Look around. No ads. No sponsors. I’m not shilling anything.

But when I step back and look at my world, I realize that everything comes from the blog.

  • The blog led to books, the books led to speeches, the speeches led to customers.
  • My blog clarifies the ideas that show up in my classes and workshops.
  • I am hired because I am known. I am known because of my blog.
  • Almost every meaningful business contact, collaborator, and partner has come from my blog community.

My blog has driven my business, my blog has changed my life.

2. People are kind.

One profound lesson from writing all this time is how supportive people are. I think that in general when people see that you’re trying your best, they appreciate the effort.

I’ve had more than 60,000 comments on my blog. Most of them are mine because I try to answer everyone. If you give me that gift of your precious time and attention, how can I not reciprocate?

Of those 60,000 non-spam comments, I have deleted a grand total of 11. Occasionally people will be over the top or unprofessional. But not that much. Sure, I’ve had my trolls and detractors, but overall web people have been incredibly kind and appreciative of the work I do.

Even the people who disagree have been pretty darn nice about it. The best part of blogging (by far) is meeting people from the blog community in real life!

3. SEO sucks.

There is a place for SEO. Absolutely. Most businesses can’t live without it.

But if you want to stand out as a thought leader through your content, you just can’t play by Google’s rules. By definition, “optimizing” for anything means you’re shooting for common terms  and averages.

If you want to cut through the noise, you need to blaze your own non-keyword path. You need to be uncommon.

I never stood out as a voice in the industry until I stopped being a slave to Google. Be original or be optimized. It’s hard to serve two masters.

4. The word “brilliant.”

I spent more than 20 years working for a Fortune 100 company. I had a great career. Won many awards and stock options. Made lots of friends, made lots of money.

But through all those years in that high-flying corporate world, I’m not sure I ever heard the word “brilliant” in a performance review.

Today I do.

blog posts

(Thanks for the performance review Jim!)

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying this to proclaim that blogging has led to an amazing journey of self-discovery. People have told me that I have changed their life. Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit! Change your life? I never heard that around the water cooler at work!

In my book The Content Code, I wrote that “we create content, but content also creates us.”

Through my content, I’ve exposed my inner workings and my vulnerabilities. I’ve been right, I’ve been wrong. But in any event, you give me feedback that is helping me become a better businessperson and leader.

My blog content has helped me discern a new view of myself. Feedback from readers is like a sculptor chipping away at a rock. What will be found inside the rock?  What am I becoming?

5. My legacy.

I did some pretty amazing things in my corporate career. I established one of the world’s first customer eCommerce portals. I engineered a $5 billion sales contract. I received seven patents.

Here’s the sobering thought. Nobody knows about that stuff. Nobody cares. Ten years removed from my corporate career, I doubt there is even anybody left at that company who remembers me or my achievements.

But a blog? Maybe somehow, somewhere that lives forever. Will my descendants be able to sift through my tweets? Discover my blog posts? Will something I wrote make somebody laugh … even one time … long after I am gone?

Nothing I did in the business world would elicit that. But maybe, just maybe, my blog posts will be part of a legacy. Something to think about.

Anyway, those are a few personal musings of how this blog has impacted me and my life. What lessons have you learned from the content that you create?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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