A celebration of ten years of blogging, a celebration of you

ten years of blogging

By Mark Schaefer

Ten years ago, I wrote my first blog post. I thought I would riff a little today on a decade of writing for you here on {grow}.

Blogging at the time was a grand experiment for me. More or less, my entire career has been driven by experiments. This one … worked.

After a long career in the corporate world, I started my own company in 2008 — an exciting time when social media was moving beyond the niches into a mainstream part of our lives. I knew that I needed to understand it, and to understand it, I had to be part of it, starting with a blog.

About that time, Wal-Mart had changed their tagline to “Always,” implying “always lowest prices.” I marveled how they could capture the company’s essence in a single word and I challenged myself to do the same. I came up with GROW. Let’s grow our companies, our profits, ourselves. Yup, that fit.

At first blogging was an afterthought. It was something I did if I had the time. But then, about six months into it, everything changed.

mark schaefer blog

This was the first header on my blog in 2008.

The blog gets big

When I started writing on this site, I was still operating under a traditional corporate communications mindset — my heritage. I published what I thought were ideal business lessons for my “target audience.”

But then, two things happened.

First, nothing happened. Nobody was really reading or sharing my blog. Crickets.

Second, I became bored. So I took a chance and had more fun with the blog. Those early days were pretty nutty, including silly poems, songs, and cartoons — whatever felt fun and creative.

I also took a risk with my opinions. As a new blogger — but with nearly 30 years of business experience — I was unique. So I started leveraging that experience in my writing and the response was profound. I had found an audience, or, more accurately, my audience had found me. And the bolder I was, the more the audience grew. I was rewarded for just being me, an important lesson for us all today.

Five years ago, on the fifth anniversary of my blog, I remarked that my greatest achievement was that I had not published a blog post so bad or so wrong that I embarrassed myself. That still stands as something I am proud of at the 10-year marker!

Rewards

My successful blogging eventually attracted attention from publishers and a book deal. The books led to speaking opportunities. The speaking opportunities led to consulting customers.

In my book The Content Code, I wrote that “we create content, but content also creates us.” I am living proof of that. I have the most interesting and rewarding career imaginable. Somebody tells me at least once a week that I changed their life. Isn’t that amazing? It all started with the blog. My content … it created this life that I have now.

Blogging has provided much more than financial and emotional benefits.

In those first days of my blog, I was fighting back from the darkest period of my life. I don’t like to dwell on it, but I wrote about it one time and you can read it here. I was under so much stress that I had to monitor my blood pressure every hour. There was only one period of the day when my body became calm and my blood pressure was normal — when I was blogging.

I think blogging helped save my life.

For you

I thought about what I might do to mark this 10-year milestone. But I realize that it means little to anybody except me. I don’t expect a parade to break out any time today.

What I really want to do is thank you.

I changed my blog distribution system in 2012 so I can’t tell who has subscribed to the blog the longest, but there are more than 1,000 readers who have had me coming into their inbox every week since at least that point, which is remarkable. So let’s start with the thousand of you have been reading my blog for at least seven years. Thanks!

Steve Dodd has subscribed to {grow} since the first month and has been the top commenter on my blog. Thank you Steve!

I’ll never forget the feeling of awe I had when I received my first blog comment. I could not believe people were taking the time to offer their thoughts on my writing. What a precious gift!

I still have that same feeling today. I never, ever take my readers, or their time, for granted. My promise to you is that my blog will always be worth your time. I will never let you down.

Thank you SO MUCH for being here, whether you’ve been here for 10 years or 10 days. I appreciate you.

What’s next?

Although I’m creating other significant content streams through a successful podcast, seven popular books, and posts on sites like LinkedIn and Instagram (mostly for fun), my heart is still with the blog. If I could figure out a way to make a living only by blogging, I would probably devote my life to it.

It’s an incredibly fun challenge to develop ideas that are relevant, interesting, timely, and entertaining every week. I have more than 250 drafts of ideas I haven’t developed, so I still have a pretty deep pipeline!

I think my posts have never been better. But I’m also looking at some new ideas. For a long time, I’ve had a fantasy about re-inventing what a blog can be. I’ve looked at a bunch of technologies and ideas and I’ve come close but for either technical or financial reasons my ideas are still out of reach. But … I’ll get there. I have to keep evolving.

It’s your turn

I would like to end my tenth anniversary blog post with a few words of encouragement for you.

There’s a ton of criticism today about the corrupt and silly things represented by “social media influencers.” Sure, there is some bad stuff out there. But more of it is good.

A social media influencer is simply somebody who creates content that moves through an audience (there is no power or value if the content is not seen and shared). It takes a lot of work and courage to create blogs, videos, and podcasts good enough to be seen and shared, so I admire anybody trying to make a dent in the world with their talent and heart.

We live in the most amazing time. The power has shifted from Wall Street to Main Street. The voices on social media have the power now. We can change opinions, we can make great products sell, we can call out the corrupt and make change in this world simply by publishing our content.

I regard this opportunity to publish as important as the freedom to start a business, run for office, or cast a vote. We can be heard because for the first time in history we have the free digital tools to share and spread our story.

It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like, who you love, how much money you make, or what darkness has pursued you until now. You can publish. You can be heard.

I want to encourage you to join in and start publishing your own content. I can’t promise that it will save your life, create a new revenue stream, or end in a book deal, but it will change your life in some small way.

And maybe … you’ll fall in love with a blog like I did, ten years ago today.

PS … It would be really fun for me if you left a comment with your favorite post or idea you’ve received from my blog.

Note: After I published this post, indeed a parade DID break out, much to my delight and surprise …

ten years of blogging

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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