I began blogging in April 2004. (I actually began writing articles and posting them on my Web site in 1998, but that was before we used the term “blogging.”) Since that time, I have posted 344 entries. At an average of 800 words per post (which, for me, is conservative), that is 275,200 words—almost four 256-page books.
During this time, I have learned a good deal about blogging. I’m sure I still have a long way to go, but I thought I would summarize what I have learned so far:
- Blogging helps me clarify my own thinking. This is probably the primary benefit of blogging for me. Sometimes I am not sure what I think about a topic until I have written on it. Writing helps me untangle my thoughts.
- Blogging has given me first-hand experience with emerging technologies. I have listened to many CEOs pontificate on this or that technology. But they are not speaking from personal experience—and it shows. When you actually use a technology, your learning and insights go to a higher level.
- Blogging has provided me with a mechanism for instant feedback. I love the fact that people can comment on what I have written. Whether the comments are good or bad, they help sharpen my thinking. As James Surowiecki said in The Wisdom of Crowds, the “many are smarter than the few.”
- Blogging has given others a “peek behind the curtain.” The publishing process is a mystery to most people. So is the life of most CEOs. Blogging pulls back the curtain and gives people a behind-the-scenes peek. Based on the emails I receive, this is consistently what most readers like about my blog.
- Blogging has given me a way to engage my employees. This is really the reason I started blogging. I wanted a way to transmit what I was learning to my colleagues. At first, I was going to do this on an internal blog. Then I decided to open it to the public. Regardless, when I am writing, I have my employees in mind first.
- Blogging has helped me bypass traditional media when necessary. I didn’t really understand this at the outset, but it has proven very helpful. When the media fail to get the story right, I can quickly address it and provide my side of the story. This has been particularly helpful when we make big decisions that cause people to speculate. A blog post can stop a rumor dead in its tracks.
- Blogging has made our company more visible. I currently have more than 25,000 readers a week. I have received scores of emails from people who had never heard of Thomas Nelson before stumbling onto my blog. Also, my blog has given me a way to “put a face on the company” and, I think, make it more personal.