This week marks my 10th Blogiversary! Say what!? Crazy!!

I have officially been blogging week in and week out for 10 straight years. I've posted over 1,770 blog posts in that time, which averages out to 3.5 posts per week. Which also means I'm beat! haha!

The world has changed a lot in 10 years, and so has the role of a blog. I remember the first time I heard about blogging at WPPI in 2006. My initial hesitations about it were two-fold:

I don't have anything to say.
Who has time for this?

haha! SO many photographers I meet today struggle with the same fears and concerns when it comes to blogging.

Here is a screen shot of my very first blog post on a free Blogger site I created right after returning home from WPPI that year:
What a blast from the past! I've totally dated myself with those sloppy borders! And clearly, I had no idea what I was doing. But I throw that out there to show that we all have to start somewhere.

Since then I've come to realize that I have a few things to say AND that the time I spend on blogging does more for my business than that same time spent any other way.

In honor of my 10th anniversary of blogging, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share 5 things I've learned about blogging:

1 -- Blogging is powerful.
Blogging builds brand trust and a tribe like nothing else can. Because building trust is the number one hurdle we need to overcome in order to book clients, blogging, when done well, can almost single-handedly drive sales for a small business. I've found that by blogging and forming a connection with my readers, I don't have to be as much of a direct salesperson. My blog, and what I share there, does the work for me by building a genuine relationship and fostering trust.

2 -- It's A LOT of work.
It’s not easy to come up with great content week in and week out. But like anything, the more you do it, the easier and more second nature it becomes.

The best thing I did for myself when I first started blogging was to commit to blogging EVERY DAY for a full month. This helped me overcome my need to say something earth-shattering in every post and helped me to realize that the most important thing was to connect with my audience on topics we all relate to and deal with every day.

Although blogging has proven to take a lot of time, the pay-off is well worth it for the time spent. There’s nothing else I could invest the same amount of time in that would allow me to personally interact on a deep level with hundreds of people on a daily basis.

I will share one key to making blogging more manageable: Planning. Plan out your blog topics 2 months in advance on a calendar. I use a specific color on my iCal for this purpose. Also, try creating recurring topics and subject matter to make content creation more streamlined and automatic.

3 -- It is the absolute best use of my marketing time and dollars.
Blogging is largely free marketing. It takes your valuable time, but the cumulative effect of blogging over time trumps any other marketing efforts. While money spent on advertising can lead people to your site, it will not build brand trust and relationship like a blog will. And nothing does more for your organic SEO than blogging. I've never paid a cent for search engine optimization in the life of my business, yet the efforts I have made in blogging have put my businesses on the first page of Google for most of our key search terms. That's the cumulative power of blogging. And nothing else I could spend time or money on would come close to giving me the same results.

4 -- The role of the blog has shifted.
Back when I started, blogs were the first thing people visited each day over their morning coffee. But with the proliferation of social media platforms, the role of the blog has shifted. It's important to note, however, that social media has not replaced the need for a blog.

The best metaphor I've heard to describe the relationship of social media to blogs is the home base and outpost model. Think of your blog as a home base. It's the only platform that you have complete control over and that you own. Social media is where people are hanging out. Each social media platform is an outpost. Those outposts must be connected to your blog to push people from the outposts to your home base, where you can connect on a deeper level and where they can more fully experience and interact with your brand.
If you choose to forego a blog and try to connect only on social media, you may have some short-term success, but you risk all of your efforts going down the drain when your social media platform of choice changes or, worse yet, goes the way of Myspace. You don't have control over social media channels, and your content there doesn't aggregate in the same way to give you the cumulative relationship and search engine results that content on your blog will. So even in the world of social media dominance, blogs are still essential.

Because of the shift in the role of blogging to this home base model, you MUST drive traffic to your blog from other sources. You can't just post and expect people to find you. Because there is much more marketing noise than there used to be, if you don't actively drive traffic to your blog from your outposts, your blog will stagnate. In addition to linking to a newly published blog post from each of my social media platforms, I've also found driving traffic from a number of other "outposts" helpful. These include an email broadcast to those on my list who would be interested in the content, a monthly email newsletter, and actively posting in various relevant and active Facebook groups.

It's important to remember that social media WILL CHANGE. So don't put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Think of your blog as your main channel of content distribution and use social media to point people to it.

5 -- Success hinges on two key things.
The two most important keys to successful blogging are:

Share yourself & Be consistent.

If you do nothing else but these two things, you will find success with blogging. Connect with your readers on a human level. Be the face of your business, but do so in a genuine, relatable way. And be consistent. Post regularly so that you build trust and a tribe -- and so that you can eventually benefit from the cumulative effects of blogging as it relates to SEO.

Amidst all of the changes I've seen in the world of blogging, these two lessons have stood the test of time.

Thank you to so many of you who have been a part of my tribe for many years. I love hearing from you in comments and interacting with you on various social media platforms! It's amazing how many real-life relationships I've developed as a result of my blog. It's mind-blowing really, and something I often take for granted. I'm thankful to all of you for joining me over the years on this crazy journey and am excited to see where the next 10 years takes us in the world of blogging!

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5 things I've learned in 10 years of blogging and how the role of a blog has changed in that time
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