Four lessons learned from 12 years of blogging


It is 12 years since I started this Trends in the Living Networks blog to accompany the launch of my book Living Networks. It is interesting to look at my posts from October 2002, in which I reflected on some of the earlier signs of the networks coming to life.

The original blog was on the book website, but a couple of years later I moved it to this domain, At the time I put quite a lot of consideration into whether that was a good name, given that ‘blog’ was a neologism that might fade or be replaced.

The concept of a blog is now firmly mainstream, with not just tens of millions of people and many companies blogging, but a significant chunk of mainstream media having shifted to blog-like formats.

I still spot many articles about how to get attention to your new blog, and many people still seem to be setting up blogs (though of course many are also abandoning them after having tried for a while).

So what are some of the things I have learned from 12 years of blogging?

It is massively worthwhile (for me).
There is no question that my blog has been central to my visibility and in turn the success of my work over the years. Many client engagements come from people who read or discover my blog, and a significant proportion of the people who know of my work know of it through my blog.

Blogging refines knowledge and expertise.
The process of putting into words your views about industry developments, technology, the future, or anything else requires you to structure your thoughts. If you are going to share your ideasin public, you want to make sure you have your facts right, forcing you to research and find the relevant references and examples. Good blogging is often about engaging in online discussions with well-informed people who can hone your perspectives. If you have an opinions about something, write a blog post about it, and you will definitely know more and have better structured thoughts about it after you’ve written it.

Blogging is best complemented by other channels.
My first tweet, on June 21, 2008, read: “ok I know I’m the last one on the planet to dive in, but I’m now in twitterland – hi all!” As it turned I wasn’t the last person on the planet to join Twitter, but in my blog post about my arrival on Twitter I reported how I thought Twitter would take away from the limited time I was able to carve out for bloggging, which was my top priority. I have long spent more time on Twitter than I do blogging, however they are marvellous complements. Twitter information exposure leads to blog posts, and blog posts can be shared on Twitter. However the development of what I call “mini-blogging” – formats such as Tumblr and Google+ that are between blogs and micro-blogs – are also a vital part of the mix of discovering what is interesting, and contributing to the global brain.

Blogging is a commitment.
The real value of blogging comes from (reasonably) consistent effort over an extended period. If you stop for a while you lose momentum and it is harder to pick up again. However it is very hard to find time to blog; there is always something more urgent and important to do, and over the last couple of years in particular I have had extremely intense work periods when I have had to concentrate on client priorities. Yet I am committed to blogging, because the value far exceeds the effort. It is part of my life. While the word ‘blog’ may eventually be superseded, I expect to blog in some form or another for the rest of my life.

This is my 1,689th blog post (compared to 19,365 tweets so far). Here’s to many more.