As a blogger, the last three years have been interesting ones, to say the least.
2005 was the year blogs came of age. For a lot of people around me at the time, the key moment was when Businessweek’s now-legendary article, “Blogging Will Change Your Business” made the front cover. Suddenly we no longer felt like we were mere hobbyists and unemployed consultants typing away in our pyjamas, trying to prove how smart we were to a cold, indifferent world. Suddenly what we were doing mattered. Suddenly the Big Media was an ally in our personal path to glory, not a hindrance.
2006 was the year of “Web 2.0”. Suddenly we saw sites like MySpace, Digg and YouTube get more and more attention. For the first time in ages you could utter the term, “User-Generated Content” without all the girls laughing at you.
2007 has been all about :”Social Networks”. With Facebook leading the charge, suddenly who you know seems far more interesting to the journalists than what you know. Screw the nodes, it’s now all about the network, People. All about “The Social Graph”, People. We no longer worry about what we have to say, we worry about who’s controlling our data. We no longer talk about folk we know, like and admire, and what they’re up to, we talk about hot-shot startups and how many billions Microsoft is going to pay for them.
Of course, you realize this is all crap.
If you have something to say, then a blog offers a cheap, easy global medium in which to express yourself. This is as true now as it was three years ago, regardless of what the groovy cats in Silicon Valley may be up to.
Whether you have the time and the talent for it, “i.e. the skill and the will”, is another matter altogether. Also, whether other people will want to read it, is something one has little control over. But in both cases, the same is true for all other media.
So whether the now-famous Mark Zuckerberg sells Facebook for $15billion or $5billion [or something much less, fancy that], the fact remains, we all have our own lives to get on with, our own bills to pay. And that means interacting in the adult world of commerce somehow. Everyone has to get paid.
And it’s much easier to do the latter if one is good at building one’s own personal brand, independent of one’s job title.
Me? I prefer my brand to be a “global microbrand”. It’s easy and it’s flexible. It’s not tied down to one geographical locale, which I’ve always found to be financially unreliable. So business is a bit slow around here in England. No matter. I’ll head over to Redmond, Washington, and do a gig for Microsoft if I have to. New York? Sure. Houston? If they pay me enough.
So that’s why I have a blog, I suppose. I like the control. I write something, I post it, it gets read, hopefully good things happen as a result, somewhere on this small blue planet of ours. Unlike a book or a movie or a TV commercial, there’s no waiting around for somebody else to greenlight it. The only light is the greenlight.
Sure, I hear you saying, “But the scale is so small.” I don’t know about that. At last count [and this was a couple of years ago] the “How To Be Creative” page had been downloaded a quarter of a million times. And Lord knows how many copies of the “ChangeThis” PDF version were printed out and circulated. Most hardbacks are lucky if they sell three thousand copies. Granted, movies get seen by a lot of people, but only for a week or two.Then they leave the cinema and are mostly consigned to a lonely life on the DVD rack. And they’re expensive and take years to make. They have a lot, I mean A LOT of downtime. Whereas a blog is constantly working, constantly growing. I like that.
I guess my point is, if you’re one of these people considering giving up on blogging in exchange for paying more attention to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace, or whatever they throw at us mere mortals, bear in mind you are giving up on something rather unique and wonderful. But I would say that.