Two things in this post:
1) Quick reflection on a birthday.
2) My perspective on the benefits from blogging.
Hopefully you'll have as much fun reading this as I did writing the post.
Occam's Razor (the web analytics blog, not the principle!) is exactly two years old today. First post: Traditional Web Analytics is Dead.
I can't believe it has been two years, at the same time I am absolutely ecstatic about the journey so far. It seems like I have lived three different lives during that time. Crazy. Cool.
At the end of the first few weeks my wonderful wife was worried that I would run out of content, and wisely counseled me to slow down my posting (twice a week). I was worried too. Now looking back I can't believe it has been two years! [161 Posts, 283,496 Words in posts, approximately 900 images!]
Perhaps the biggest thrill is your participation, your engagement, your support and all you encouragement. This is no way that I would put in almost 24 hours a week into this were it not for that gift of your time. [3,306 Comments by you (plus 359 comments by me), 232,057 Words in comments (plus 79,657 by me), 20 Comments on avg per post!!] Thank you. I am deeply appreciative.
This being a web analytics blog what would a anniversary post be without a KPI. There are many ways to measure success of a blog , Visitors and Comments and Technorati and ROI and so much more.
If I had to pick one metric (Critical Few!) this would be it:
The reason I like Feed Subscribers is because it is "permission marketing" at its best. This is a social medium and it is a extra (perhaps slightly painful) step to sign up. By signing up you also give me permit the blog to be pushed to you, in the world of "marketing 2.0" I can't think of a better asset to have.
I have to admit that I am tickled pink that the blog has just under 10,000 subscribers. When I started writing my expectation that the upper limit was 500, after all how many people in this world could possibly care about something as esoteric as web analytics.
Every week the Subs go up and I look at with a child like bewilderment, I thank you for that.
[Let me hasten to add that like everything in web analytics the absolute number matters less, its the trend over time that is important.]
I had no idea about what benefits I would get from blogging.
It all started for me at a conference in Phoenix Andy Beal strongly suggested I start a blog, and he also provided all the initial guidance. But even after I started the blog I had no expectations of any "return on investment". I just wanted to share my lessons and perspectives, just give something back.
Reflecting back now I have am impressed in small and big ways in which the blog has benefited me in the last two years.
Here are some ways in which your blog might benefit you (in no apparent order). . . .
#1: Maybe Book
#2: More Friends
#3: Eliminate Resume
#4: Personal Brand
#6: Make Money
#7: Be A "Big Deal"
#8: Bonus – See Below
Let's dive in and look at them in a bit more detail, and have some fun.
You might end up writing a book.
Ok I admit that this might happen less than always, but I know of six other books in the last few months that were all sourced from blogs. One on cartoons, one on presentations, one about reputation and more. So while it might seem to be a stretch, I think it is not. Atleast not as much as you might imagine.
I never set out to be an author. The call from Wiley surprised me. It took a couple months before we agreed. It was painful to have a full time job and all the other stuff and write a book. But the result is fantastic.
I am very proud of Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, it has sold beyond my wildest dreams (and is still on the top 1,000 books sold on Amazon almost every day, 11 months later!).
One of our earliest decisions, even before we signed a contract, was to donate all our proceeds to charity. Jennie and I wrote a chq for each our two charities for $9,000 each after four months of sale. I can't wait for our next chq (at the end of May '08).
So you should blog because you might become an Author plus you could end up helping so many other people (from your knowledge, and perhaps financially). And that's a good thing.
You'll have friends / "groupies" around the world!
Last month there were a little over 40,000 unique visitors to this blog. Way more friends that I could ever have imagined. Ok, not all of them are friends! I kid, I kid.
People walk up to me all the time now and just start talking. They are always sweet, they say nice things about the blog and its value to them. They almost always say: "Oh I feel like I have known you for years!". They refer to specific posts or emails I might have replied. It is amazing and it is nice to have this network develop.
You'll also end up making some pen-pals, and some of them will spread your message. You'll have your own small troop of evangelists!
And you can't forget the connections you'll end up making through this most social of environments. I know so many more people know, big and small and giant. People I would otherwise have never known, the six degrees of separation truly become six pixels of separation on the blog world.
With 50% non-US traffic from this blog I have friends now pretty much in all corners of the world. People who engage in a conversation, one to one or one to many, each week. And that's a good thing (and quite surprising for a introvert!).
You'll never need a resume again.
I hated updating my resume. It is such a brilliantly inefficient medium to communicate your value proposition.
[Sidebar: Oh and it would take me hours and hours to tell you horror stories about people how looked like God's gift to humanity (ok, our company) from their resume and who were absolute dud's five seconds after they opened their mouths in interviews.]
Now when situations of resumes arise, I send the url for the blog. The longer it exists the more valuable it becomes as a alternative resume.
On blogs you can't fake it (atleast not for a very long time) and it so perfectly reflects your intelligence, your character, your values, your smarts (or lack there of) and so on and so forth. You can "fake" the piece of paper, you can't fake a blog.
Of course the flip side is also true. If you have a great blog you might not have to go look for a job. They'll come find you. I am sure all the bloggers in our space get atleast two job offers a week. :)
And here is perhaps the nicest benefit of having your own blog (and making sure your potential new employer has it and has sent it to the interview committee): They won't ask you silly questions.
They have a good idea of who you actually are and smart interviewers just get to the point. And that is a good thing.
You can establish your personal brand (/microbrand).
When I started writing the blog I had bunch things I was not going to do. No self promotion. No simply responding to other blogs. No being mean. Nothing that distracts from the focus areas I had chosen. No non value added stuff. And so on and so forth.
In hindsight it ended up creating a unique "brand", and now the blog in many ways reflects brand "Avinash". A set of values, something different from others, something me. The brand has its own set of attributes, expectations and promises.
That in of itself is would have been impressive. What was a wonderful surprise was how much that brand can stand on its own. I am still a small blogger. But through the "power" of this blog I have a brand that can stand apart and on its own, even after it was associated with something as astonishingly huge as Google.
Here is the last brand value argument: I control it.
Through my posts, the images, the ideas presented, my comments and emails and everything else I get to set what brand "Avinash" represents. So people can still try to take a weed whacker to it, but through your platform you maintain the brand.
Having that platform is the biggest gift you'll get from your blog. And that is a good thing.
[Bonus Link: The Brand Called You - by Tom Peters. I read this 1997 article a long time ago and it has shaped a lot of my thinking about "brand you", I highly recommend it.]
You could become an "influencer".
A email Stephane wrote to me made me realize how fantastic blogs are at creating "influencers". He described how at the eMetrics Insights Day he was invited to present industry insights on a panel along with Jupiter and Nielsen.
Pause and think about it for a second.
Two big established companies with budgets of millions and years in the "business". And one, like me, "small" blogger. And he has the power and the authority as a result of his blog (and WASP ).
Now to be honest Stephane is brilliant and get's invited to do this all the time. But even someone like me gets invited all the time to "analyst briefings" (sadly I decline most of them) and meeting with CEO's and yes even gets sent nice gifts. :) Trimmings that in the past were reserved for the elite few.
For the longest time the loud voices belonged to the "experts" and "analysts". Forrester and Jupiter and Gartner and others had a hold on the "influencing" market. They continue to have a voice, but it is no longer the voice.
Through your blog you have the power to be a "influence powerhouse", provide an authentic voice of someone who actually knows, and provide a valuable service to the world.
The ability to influence others is now a lot more democratic. Next up on stage, Stephane, Nielsen, Forrester and You!
And that is a good thing.
You could end up creating a business.
Many people start a blog for this reason, to create a presence for their company or themselves. Perhaps sell some things or just flog their brilliance or get leads / clients. All perfectly legitimate and it could work for you as well.
I think the only condition is that you give something remarkable and of value to your readers.
If your blog meets those two conditions then I think you are kosher and the blog can be a great asset for your business.
For me personally the blog has not been a business. In total I have received two speaking engagements in two years sourced directly to the blog, and zero consulting engagements etc.
But that is not a surprise because I have deliberately not advertised my services, asked people to hire me and only once asked people to buy my book.
Part an attribute of what I want the blog to stand for, part the "Avinash brand" and part karma.
This is something I love doing and I am thrilled that I don't have to do things to monetize the blog. But of course each blogger is in a different position and I know many bloggers who make a nice living off their blog. And that's a good thing.
You can tell your spouse: "Honey, I am kind of a big deal!"
Like all couples we'll sometimes end up having a mild tiff about something. Jennie normally wins these, mostly because she is usually right (and I like thinking that I am not wrong, just less right :)).
Sometimes when I have exhausted all my other arguments / points I'll pause and tell her my latest feed subscriber (or UV number) and say: I have ten thousand feed subscribers. You know, I am kind of a big deal!
Yes grasping at straws, but it does feel good to put that on the table. And as you can imagine, it rarely works!
It does result in her pausing for a few seconds. Helps me think of something else to bolster my weak case. Getting that time to think as a result of your blog, its a good thing!
[The image above is dedicated to my dear friends in the C&A team, especially CHild!]
Bonus: You'll have a "legacy".
I am a sap. I think of stuff like this.
I write because I love writing but a nice side effect is that I have this body of work that some day my kids will read and perhaps get to know a different side of their dad. I wish it were something a lot more exciting and interesting, but nonetheless it is something I am very proud of and maybe they will be too some day.
We don't leave anything except the impacts of our actions behind. For me these words are another way of leaving a trail. I cherish that tremendously.
Convinced about the value of having a blog (personal or business)? Ready to start and build something wonderful of your own? It takes hard work but, as you can see above, it is well worth it.
Ok now its your turn.
How long have you been reading Occam's Razor? How did you find it? What is the one thing of value that you get from it? Do you have a particularly favorite post? Or perhaps a favorite Occam's Razor story? If you blog, what benefit do you get from your blog?
I would love to get your stories and feedback, what better way to celebrate two years! Thanks.
Couple other related posts you might find interesting: