Blogging into the future

When I started this blog, way back in 2005, I began with a hypothesis. I wanted to write 999 articles exploring the collision of consumer culture and business – and my focus was on proving or disproving a topic at a time.

I began by writing anonymously – fearing that my personal explorations here might impact my professional work. Eventually, after prompting from Ann Handley, I changed this approach, started writing for MarketingProfs and began publishing under my own name.

As the world of blogging and social media started to take off, Drew McLellan and I ventured into the world of crowdsourced publishing with The Age of Conversation. We wanted to know whether there was some emergent value in blogging as a new form of consumer engagement – so we asked the people who were at the forefront of the journey – bloggers. We brought together 103 authors from 15 countries and published the first edition within three months of conception. It was amazing.

A couple of years later we published a second and a third edition. Across these three editions we published around 300 authors and sold thousands of copies that raised tens of thousands for charity. And at the same time, it generated a community of marketers that remain connected to this day.

But times have changed.

This article by Andreas Stegmann looks at the role of the personal blog in 2019. He shares his analysis and insight around many of the assumptions that held water a few years ago:

  • Own your home – do you need to write on your own blog or should you simply use LinkedIn or Medium as your publishing platform? My view is that it depends on what you are trying to achieve – but in general I remain convinced that there is power (and simplicity) in “sharing the message, owning the destination” – and that means post and update on social channels, but write and archive on your own site.
  • Content is king – up until recently, blogs were seen as the most important factor in driving digital and social media presence. But as Andreas points out, content is not king. It is table stakes.
  • Play to a niche – write on a single topic or subject area. Even a blog on marketing can spin off in hundreds of directions. Writing to a niche will take you so far – but may not reflect either the needs of your writing nor the needs of your audience.

So where to from here?

Writing a blog takes effort and attention. It’s not a simple thing to do. But writing requires you to think through and articulate concepts in a way that tweeting or sharing content via social media does not. And for those of us who work at the point where people and technology meet – and where the future of work and ways of working continue to evolve, I feel that writing and publishing (yes video and podcasting too) may be the best form of future thinking and future proofing that we can do.

2 thoughts on “Blogging into the future

  1. I agree, Gavin, that there is space for blogging. I’d even go as far as to say some of the social networks we have today will suffer some major setback, with a mass user departure (ironically, however, I only knew of your post because of Twitter). I also agree about playing to a niche, something I have not been capable of doing (since blogging is cathartic for me), but the blogs that have big audiences stick to one topic. I have a humour blog on Tumblr separate from my own, that only deals with one thing, and that has netted 27,000 followers; I doubt I have over 50 on my main blog, which is an “anything I fancy” destination.

    1. Thanks Jack. I’m with you on writing an “anything goes” blog. It’s interesting to see what can happen when you connect popularity with insight … I guess we’d all love a bit of both.

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