Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Five Year Post

2010 has started with a ****load of work, and so the usual set of predictions I'd write at the beginning of the year has had to wait. At the same time though, I noticed that the fifth anniversary of my blog has come up. I thought it was worth taking a few minutes to ponder what's happened in that time.

Personally, a lot has happened. The twins went from cute little one year olds to thriving, brilliant little kindergartners (and gamers!). We had a smaller auxiliary backup child. I moved from Intel to Microsoft and back to Intel again (which brought a move from PDX to SEA and back to PDX). I went from running an engineering team to doing business development to doing long-term business planning. Hard-core games to casual games and back again. I edited GPG5, and of course, wrote a 1301 of blog posts. 1302 if you count this one.

To quote JK Simmons in Burn After Reading, "So... what have we learned?"

I'm certainly posting a lot less, from almost 400 posts in my first year, down a bit in 2006, sharply dropping off 2007,2008, and levelling off in 2009 with almost 150 posts. Part of this is attributable to things like Facebook, where more trivial short subjects and links might get posted as a FB status update rather than a blog post. Mostly though, it's concentration of my effort on the blog toward matters that I think will provide interesting food for thought and spur conversation in the blogosphere. In contrast, I do less linking to other people's stuff (I really should get my del.icio.us links working in an automated fashion, as it would make doing that far easier)

I did a couple experiments in generating revenue. I never thought these would amount to much, but want to experiment a bit just to understand the mechanics of it:
  • I tried advertising with Google, later switching to TextLinkAds. the latter pays WAY more, generating a steady $30/40 month (google was much less). Hey, its beer money.
  • Amazon associates, for my level of traffic, is hardly worth the effort, generating maybe $10/year for me. The new relationship with Google should make the link building/posting easier, but otherwise its not worth the bother.
  • There was a period a couple years back when bloggers/social media frequented the news. A bunch of people sent me copies of products in hopes that getting blogs to write about them was the new path to success. That seems to have tapered off, which I believe indicates less indiscriminate shot-gunning of product.
It's no secret that traffic can spike depending who links to you and why. The most popular posts (as judged by linkage, comments, etc) fall into a couple categories:
In thinking about it though, the popularity of the blog (what little it has) is of little import. The entire effort has been highly positive, and the value has come mainly from two things:

First, the blog provides a place for me to post my thoughts, and this in turn requires me to organize them. When I post something on a technology or business models or whatever, I'm forced to structure my thoughts into an argument, look to the other side, etc. This leads to a better understanding on the topic.

Bigger than this though, is what the blog has done to start new friendships or reinforce existing ones. It's through the blog that I've become (or become better) friends like Mark, Robin, Alice, Darius, Raph, David, and many many others.

For these two reasons alone I would highly recommend blogging as an activity for building relations, structuring ideas, and getting feedback. From this respect its been a huge return for the time invested.

Lets hope it continues to be for the next five years!

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