Nick Westergaard

By Nick Westergaard on November 11, 2015

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10 Years of Blogging: Lessons Learned, Looking Ahead

blogging

“I’ve been blogging for … well, 10 years exactly.” I found myself saying this phrase during a client meeting and was taken a back. It’s true. I have been blogging for 10 years. Almost to the day. I published my first blog post (creatively titled Hello Blogosphere) on October 20, 2005. So what have I learned about blogging over the past 728 posts? And, more importantly, what about the future of blogging?

To be fair, 728 is the number of “published posts” that WordPress currently shows. I’ve written most of those and have personally edited every single guest post (AKA – the ones I didn’t write). Some posts are podcasts but even those have show notes that I spend time on. Caveats aside, that’s still a whole lotta bloggin’ goin’ on. While my content has ebbed and flowed through the years it’s certainly snowballed. Not only in quantity but in quality. It’s also helped grow our business, build our brand, and open new doors.

Blogging has changed and I’ve changed as well. Let’s start there.

A Long and Winding Road

What led me to start blogging in 2005? I was inspired by smart folks like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan who used this exciting, accessible media creation platform to chart the bold, new course of marketing and media. That was the mission I stated in that first post and it’s still pretty much true as the intersection of branding and digital technology remain at the heart of what I’m fascinated by and feel the need to write, speak, and teach about.

And “what I do” has changed along the way as well. I began with a Blogger (“blogspot”) blog as my writing was something I did after hours while I held down other marketing gigs. Eventually, I joined the family business and brought the blog inside where it became the heart of our online platform (we also shifted to WordPress, which is my best friend). Over time, the blog — by then known as “Brand Driven Digital” — became a better representation of our business which is why we took that name ourselves a couple years back.

My blogging led to speaking work, which in turn led to teaching work. All of this has helped shape my next big content move — my upcoming book (which I’ll tell you more about soon!).

Looking back, all of this could sound easy. That assumption would be far from true.

Lessons Learned

Take my total posts and divide them evenly by years and weeks and it could look like I’ve been churning out a post or more every week. This too would be a mistaken assumption. I went in bursts early on (a few posts a week, a few weeks off, one here, one there, etc.). Sometimes months went by without a post.

When I met Mack Collier at a MarketingProfs event in Chicago it was a turning point for my blog. I asked him a simple question — “How do I blog consistently?” Mack offered a simple answer. Set a deadline you can reach and hit it. Maybe it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly — whatever works best for you. Set it and don’t miss it. This helps you build blogging muscles and helps set audience expectations. This advice led me to a New Year’s resolution to get into a weekly routine. This resolution became two posts a week the next year.

Today we publish a blog post each week on Wednesday along with two podcasts — the On Brand podcast (Monday’s full-length interview) and a Social Sound Bite (Friday’s short recap from my local radio show). I also learned that I couldn’t do it alone, which is why other members of the Brand Driven community and team contribute posts regularly.

And, of course, the biggest lesson is that you have to stop fiddling. Taking 10% longer editing won’t make your post 10% better. You hit a point of diminishing returns. Just push publish. (You can always edit it after the fact.)

The Future of Blogging

My blogging has changed but so has the medium itself. When social media first emerged (shortly after I began blogging) many rushed to these new platforms thinking that blogging was passé. However, many like Brogan stressed that while these new networks were critical for engagement and growing your audience, you still needed a digital content hub — your home base — to drive the traffic from all of these outposts back to.

While this remains true, leading experts like Mark W. Schaefer stress that we are entering a period of “content shock” — where marketers are creating more content than there are readers to consume it. Do we quit blogging? Do we focus on off-site blogging platforms like Medium or LinkedIn’s popular publishing tool? Or do we simply blog less?

I’m inclined to think the latter. Or, if not less, we need to blog better. Content shock exists because of the proliferation of “me too” content. When, as reported by Google, we create as much information online every two days as we did from the beginning of time up to 2003, we have to consider that most basic topics have been covered already. But in a basic way. What’s missing? Your unique perspective. Your voice. That’s your brand and that should be your content. Ask yourself what holes you can fill in your industry. What questions can you — and you alone — answer. And how can you do this in a way that no one else is?

If that means you sacrifice quantity for quality, I’d say that’s a good trade-off. More isn’t always better. Sometimes more is just more. Ten years later blogging is still the juicy center of my own personal and professional content strategy but it may continue to evolve as I hone my focus further.

Who knows what blogging will look like 10 years from now …




Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, where he helps build better brands online. He also teaches at the University of Iowa and is host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.


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