5 years of blogging

5th birthdayToday marks the 5th anniversary of this blog, launched on January 14, 2006 with a posting on English sports fans written after reading an article in the Financial Times.

I’d actually installed the WordPress blog software on my site the previous November. I then suffered through two months of writers block before I felt comfortable enough with the idea of blogging to actually write something.

Since then, finding topics for my blog has not been a problem. I’ve posted 597 articles and gathered 4,139 comments. It goes in cycles. Some weeks I post multiple times. At other times, such as over the past month, things are quieter.

I think my initial writers block was because I was unsure of the “tone” my blog should have. Was I in danger of being too personal? Too abstract and remote? Too English? Too American? Too political, spiritual, profane, radical or middle-of-the-road? Would I, heaven forbid, offend people?

Happily, I think I’ve managed to be all of those things. (Heck, I even had my blog censored when I worked for a major Silicon Valley computer company and my disclaimer that it was “my blog” carried no weight with my managers.)

I still find writing in response to an article in the FT, or a book I’ve finished, or a movie I’ve seen, to be one of the easiest forms of blogging.

Five years on, my thoughts on blogging are:

  • It’s been a worthwhile investment of my time. As a writer it allows me a safe, yet public, space to post. It feels like I have my own newspaper column.
  • While the blog has not brought me dozens of clients for my freelance speechwriting business, it has brought me to the attention of a couple of clients and paying work resulted. Of course, I have no way knowing if countless potential clients might have looked at stuff I’ve posted and never called because they did not like my opinions, or found the quality of my writing inadequate.
  • A primary benefit has been to promote my interests and area of expertise to a wide audience. This has paid off in terms of my professional reputation.
  • It’s been important to have a few regular sources of inspiration that challenge me to post to my blog. For example, my many friends and colleagues in the National Speakers Association. NSA conferences, meetings and the annual Pro-Track class have been a reliable source of content.
  • I’ve also re-posted articles I’ve written for ragan.com and made it a habit to write full-length reviews of important books in the field of executive communications.
  • Guest postings generate a awful lot of traffic.
  • I’ve enjoyed podcasting and creating videos for the blog. It’s a lot easier to record a quick interview with conference attendees than post the lengthy reports at the end of a meeting.
  • Posting short updates and “gee-wizz” items on Twitter has supplemented blogging, especially over the past couple of years. I’ve posted over 1,100 tweets since I joined in November 2007.
  • I’ve made blogging the hub of my social media presence, linking my posts to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
  • I’ve found the blog a useful place to archive information I need to share with others. A great example has been the Podcasting 101 article, which I refer people to quite regularly. I’ve used the Comments section to add additional references.
  • I’ve seen the value of blogging as a way of curating information, as with the listing of Top Tweets I created for different events, even some I didn’t attend in person.

I spend a lot less time than I used to looking at my site statistics. But here’s some stats (from Google Analytics) for one month last year:

Stats for October 2010

  • 11 articles posted
  • 4,205 unique visitors
  • Peak of 236 visitors on Oct 21, 2010 when I published 227 Top Tweets from #prsa_ic
  • 6,882 pageviews. The most popular page was Obama: The Lion in Winter from January 2009 where people spent an average 5:20 reading.
  • The three most common search phrases:
    executive communications, magcloud review and rhetorical analysis of obamas inaugural speech

Blog on!

3 Comments so far
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Just wanted to drop a comment letting you know your efforts are very much appreciated. I’m only seven months into my blogging and I’ve been a reader of yours since before then. As a freelance speechwriter myself, I’ve really gained a lot of benefit from your articles, and I find your style easy to absorb and easy to relate to.
Thanks again!

Hey Justin!

Thanks for the kind words. Great to meet another Speechwriter/Public Speaker. Good luck with your blog. I loved the range of services you offer and that you are also into poetry and fiction.

I’ve added you to my Blogroll.

Best wishes



Also a thank you for this blog. Over the past 3-4 years, I have passed quite a bit of your content and suggestions on presentation skills and social media to an Oracle user group I volunteer for (www.ODTUG.com). They have actually implemented many suggestions (like setting twitter tags for an event in advance and doing live polls during keynotes) and provided links to your postings with advice for presenters.

BTW – I found you on a recommended blog list when I worked at HP a few years ago and took their internal class on blogging etiquette.

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