It was eleven years ago today…
Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. I started blogging eleven years ago yesterday. It wasn’t every day (at first), but quickly – over time – the pace picked up. It was less about driving traffic, building audience and studying analytics, and much more about disbelief. That’s right, disbelief. I could not believe that I didn’t need a magazine editor, a newspaper editor or anyone else to give me permission to communicate with an audience. I was – without question – that dog in the yard that was suddenly cut free from being chained to a tree. As a journalist during the late-eighties (and a newbie/teenager to boot), the amount of rejection and frustration that came with pitching story ideas (and the deafening silence of long waits… if you heard back at all from these people… was a lesson in humility, frustration and more). When blogging first became something (it later become "a thing," but it just started out as something), I could feel the cloud parts and the fresh air enter my lungs. My own place to publish. Wow. No distance between me and an audience. Yes! An ability to get feedback on the content. Bring it on. The chance to actually get to know the readers by building a direct relationship with them. Is this even possible?
It’s still amazing… it’s still the things that we take most for granted.
As a marketing professional, I used blogging as a gateway to share my ideas. To let the world know how Twist Image likes to think differently about what marketing is… and what it can be. Still, I get asked – more often than you might think – what the future holds for social media? I’ll often refer to myself as a Presentist over a Futurist, and that’s mostly because we’re quick to move on to something else, without paying true reverence to what we have. I still believe, to this day, that we take blogging for granted. Some take it for granted, in terms of publishing little more than marketing pap that clogs our feeds and provides no value to the reader. The bigger issue is that we take this amazing publishing capacity for granted. Anyone (you, me, a brand, whatever) now have the tools to publish our ideas (in text, images, audio, video and more) for free to the entire world. I don’t take that opportunity lightly at all. I fear and respect the publish button. I think deeply before my fingers touch the keyboard. I often worry about the quality of the work and struggle with whether or not I am adding anything new to what has become a veritable publishing tsunami of discourse. Blogging has become the gateway drug for not just breaking news, but everyone’s opinion on it.
Social media is still all about blogging.
The future of social media is deeply rooted in blogging. The future is still going to be about how we publish and how it connects to an audience. It’s still going to be about connecting instantly through content. The challenge, of course, is in doing it in a way that builds value over time and grows an audience that is interested in whatever it is that you have to say (and how you say it). Blogging only feels tired, because we know that the vast majority of people are flicking (very quickly) through their newsfeeds. What’s going to capture their attention will not be a one thousand words piece on marketing (like this), but a funny and cute picture (or video) that they can quickly share. I agree with this. The real "winners" of social media today are the Instagram and Snapchat plays: quick, fast, mobile, images with small commentary. Still, there must be room for the other stuff too.
I’m not giving up.
Eleven years, close to four thousand blog posts, hundreds of articles (in places like Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, Strategy Magazine and more), two bestselling business books (Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete), countless media appearances (like being a weekly contributor to CHOM FM as their technology and media correspondent) and, of course, it all laddering up to the success that is Twist Image. Yes, there are days when the words fail me. There are days when the quality of the piece isn’t turning my crank. There are days when the blank screen is as ominous as a dark alley in the bad part of town. I try to be relentless. I’m like this, because my passion is writing creative non-fiction. My passion is about sharing the many amazing things that I am blessed to be able to see in my life.
What I’m looking for.
I keep blogging – with this tireless and frenetic pace – because I feel like I have something inside that needs to get outside. I’m sure you’re not here – everyday – waiting on my every word. I’m more than ok with that. I just love the art, craft, science and patience of reading, seeing, observing, formulating an opinion and finding the words to express it. I hope you find this kind of joy in your life as well.
Over the years, I often fail to acknowledge, thank and respond to all of the kind commentary (and discourse) that this blog gets. Don’t think for a second that I don’t read it all, think about it and use it as fuel for something else to write. Maybe it’s the introvert in me? Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t seek out public recognition for myself, that makes me think that others don’t want it. I could be wrong. So, before I say thank you for sticking with me over the years, I also want to apologize if you didn’t receive some kind of public acknowledgement from me because you did share, retweet, comment or simply whisper my name to someone else. I do appreciate it and I thank you. Deeply and from the bottom of my heart.
Let’s keep exploring this world together. Let’s keep pushing the boundaries of marketing. Let’s keep being excited about the future. Let’s keep sharing our opinions.
Let’s keep blogging (and yes, it was – and continues to be – totally worth it).
Before we go: if my work has inspired or helped you at all, please consider giving a donation (no amount is too small) to my upcoming Light The Night walk in support of my best friend’s daughter: Light The Night Walk to sponsor Mitch Joel.