Why do you need a blog in 2021?
People have asked me a few times if they needed a blog in 2021.
No, I am lying.
No one ever asks me that.
But I wish someone would ask me because I’m dying to start a conversation about why you needed a blog in 2021.
You must know people who write they’ve been “asked about” rarely have been.
It is easy to start writing about something and validate its need.
Do I need a blog in 2021?
It would be best if you had a blog in 2021.
The world has never been more online, and words make things happen.
Yes, the video is huge.
And yes, you’d be crazy not to make a few videos.
Lucky for you, we have left the age of T.V. and are now in the age of everyone being a content maker, yes, even you with that phone you stare at all day.
Even with video, a blog on your website is a must, and you can do both simultaneously as we do here on Coworking I.D.E.A. Project.
Sorry Bernie, why was blogging more critical than ever in 2021?
In 2020 everyone went home and went online.
Even the people who don’t do ‘online’ went online.
And those who had words on our websites and could send email newsletters kept going.
Many of us grew because people could read what we do and keep in touch even if we did not meet in person.
Read more about this in Professor Scott Galloway’s Book Post Corna.
Even before COVID and lockdown, 80% or more of the ‘buyer journey’ was done online, I don’t have a stat here, but I know it is higher all the time.
I have known hundreds of examples of a sale happening after people reading a website had enough information and trust to put in their card details and hit the buy button.
A solid digital footprint
For the last decade, my main topic area has been coworking and shared workspaces, which is now in a gold rush.
The people who run coworking spaces and have been blogging, emailing and sharing for years are doing great.
Their strong digital footprint means they get found in search engines, and they don’t have to spend ages explaining what they do when people visit them.
The best way to build trust and a sales funnel is:
- Regularly write good-quality words on your website.
- These words will supercharge your ability to be found in search engines AKA SEO.
- Have people join an email list or newsletter on your website.
- Send them more words that are helpful and not shit.
- Get a new customer, member or whatever your ‘conversion metric is.
- Listen to your email list.
When did blogging die?
Around 2015 I started to feel blogging was dying; people I respect started to be adamant that you needed to have articles on your website, not a blog.
A ‘blog’ is not a professional term, and who knows what that word means?
Is a blog like a log you find in a bog?
The ban on blogging meant we were writing articles, not blogs; I was ok with this.
After all, ‘blog’ is an old stool term that means ‘web log’ where we share our thoughts or progression about something online.
But it is 2021, and COVID has accelerated the future of work and digital literacy by ten years.
In 2021 we were way past people scratching their heads about Twitter and a blog.
London Bloggers Meet Up
Even in London Bloggers Meet Up, we had an identity crisis in 2017.
Andy and I started to do Meet Up’s on ‘Content’ and ‘Video’ — a vlog is like a blog but on video, right?
It is worth considering if you’d read what people say in videos if they typed it on a web page.
At one point, it was tempting to rename London Bloggers Meet-Up “London Content Meet-Up.”
Content is a vast topic. How could we ever run out of things to talk about in our London Bloggers Meet Up?
I could have gone for “London Content Creators Meet-Up” I can identify with this.
For over a decade, I’ve posted a blog, podcast or video online every week, not to mention all my email newsletters and social media posts.
Being a ‘content creator’ is what I constantly aspire to be.
Why I create words and podcasts
Right now, I’m in a cafe near my home, hacking this blog post out on my laptop while our son is with his maths tutor.
I am in a rush, but I am happy.
I always have a blast creating content.
And being able to write my own words and put them on my website is a privilege.
And I write even if no one reads it — more on this later.
My main reason for blogging is to be able to listen to people when I meet them.
Once upon a time, I was pro at mansplaining, and it had to stop.
I started to write what I wanted to share, which meant people could click the link if interested.
When I am nervous, I talk non-stop and don’t stop to breathe and end up being oblivious to where I’ve gone in the conversation.
I’d leave you nodding at me politely while I go off on one about everything from Bowie to what app to use for writing.
I have huge lists of things to share:
- Movies about the people who wrote the songs
- Books about the people who wrote the songs
- Books about productivity
- Books about education
- Books about story and writing
- Places to visit
- Online courses you need to take
- Coffee shops in London you HAVE to visit.
- People you should meet
- Blogs to read
And there is every danger I’ll shout these at you with my wild enthusiasm, and then you’ll leave without knowing where to find them.
Worst than that, my boundless enthusiasm means I’ll forget to ask you about you.
I am writing to find out what I think.
The other big one is that I write to find out what I think.
When I put down in writing an opinion that I intend to publish, I always consider the following:
“Would I say this out loud in a room full of my peers?”
A big part of my writing is reading and researching books, research papers, Feedly and Pocket, Social Animal, podcast interviews and events.
I love the research and go way too far on it, to the point where I know more than I’ll ever be able to use and share.
Then my head falls off.
Blogging vs articles
But I am here to declare blogging is back.
I am even up for declaring that it never went away.
We did call blogging by other terms, not because we are dumb but because the web and what we do evolves.
But there is a fine line between ‘cool for being cool sake’ and natural evolution.
When I was a bartender at University, I worked in events and found out if I called myself a ‘mixologist,’ I could get another £20 an hour when working at events.
I identified with the type of bartenders Brian and Tom in the movie Cocktail.
Brian and Tom are tough, work hard and know how to make good drinks.
Let’s be clear, I knew how to make good drinks and work hard, but even now, the tough bit is a work in progress.
Being a Mixologist was a jumped-up term that made things sound better than they were.
But I went with Mixologist and got paid more.
More than once, I was working with someone older and more experienced than me who had been employed as a ‘bartender’ while I was a higher-paid ‘Mixologist’ — in marketing, we call this an aspirational identity.
And when people read an ‘article,’ they feel like they are reading a higher-level piece of information than a blog, so they think it is worth more.
Blogging is back again.
I’ve been wildly nostalgic over the last month as we’ve rebooted London Bloggers Meet Up back to its’ former glory.
I talked with Phil Szomszor and Andy Bargery about what blogging meant and where London Bloggers Meet Up could go next.
The whole ‘naming’ issue played at the back of my head, and I allowed myself to procrastinate on it.
Then I recalled the places I’d learnt from, back when no one knew what Instagram or an iPad were, yes, that long ago.
I picked up my blogging D.N.A. from ProBlogger and CopyBlogger, and when I thought hard, my rose-tinted view of these two places got me into this.
I liked that there was a site called ‘pro’ blogger back when
I found it in 2008.
I was screaming to be a ‘pro’ at anything, and writing my own words on my website was up to me.
Write what you need to read.
I’ve heard the writer and researcher Brene Brown say, ‘write what you need to read,’ and that is what I am doing here.
In the same place, I heard Brene Brown say it takes her around an hour and a half to get into writing mode.
I needed to hear this because I pace around for ages before committing to pressing the keys to write.
Commit to writing to hit publish.
And right now, I need to hear about how to overcome putting words on a website every week, to develop a writing and publishing habit.
But I do have a rock-solid writing habit.
I’ve been writing 750 Words every morning for years; inside that website are over two million words I’ve written.
But writing and hitting publish?
Fuck me that is hard.
And the hard part is not what to write about; it is what not to write about!
And for the next few weeks, inconveniently, right in the middle of this fucking 90-Day Content Challenge I keep signing up for, I’m going to write what I need to read.
The purpose of my website changed in 2021
For years, I’ve been kicking my website into shape.
Like every website, it has gone through seasons of prospering and neglect.
The primary purpose of my website was to get me hired as a freelancer, and as 98% of my work came via direct referral, I never got to the stage of ‘bleeding’ to make my website work.
It was a state of mind you’ll find somewhere between complacency and confusion.
In 2020, our European Coworking Assembly family started Cowork.tools with a European Fin-tech called Velvet Platform.
The collaboration grew fast and became full-time jobs for a group of us, so I gave up my freelancer stripes!
It has taken me six months of a website identity crisis, not to mention the most overwhelming dose of impostor syndrome I’ve ever had to work out where to go.
I’m aiming for something like Joel Spolsky in the early days.
Even before he started Trello and Stack Overflow, Joel blogged about his company; the tech industry connected people and ideas.
Joel’s is the kind of website I’ve always wanted for me.
All the other good shit about traffic, sales and leads get deployed over at Velvet Platform, Cowork. tools and our new investment website.
I’d blog even if nobody read it.
One of the first podcasts I ever did was with Seth Godin when he published Linchpin in 2012.
In it, we riffed on David Bowie, acting in an in-person sales call and blogging.
What I was interested in was the blogging part.
Seth said, ’I’d blog even if nobody read it and went on to detail how much you learn about yourself and the world by reading and writing.
And I have found that the more curious I am, the better I connect with people, and the better I am at that, the more connections I can make between ideas and people.
One more thing
I am incredibly interested in revenue.
If you dig deep here on my blog, you’ll find stories about when I was deeply depressed.
Back then, I could not make it out of the house without having a panic attack.
(Note to self – sort out that internal linking!)
An empty bank account was one of the most mentally crushing things for my sense of self-worth.
Then the bank charges come with having an empty bank account and the following spiral of debt.
Are you reading this and thinking blogging does not drive revenue?
You are missing one of the most simple things you can do to have yourself and your business thrive.
It takes time, and I know people who have gone from zero to millions of revenue in the space of a decade.
They showed up every week on their blog and answered customer questions.
But I know even more people from the last ten years who never reached their potential.
These people jumped on new fads or looked for the SEO shortcut rather than building a blogging habit.
A solid personal and economic reward is available by blogging on your website once a week.