I’ve had my own website at www.simonwakeman.com since 2001. Until January 2006 it featured basic information about me (such as a CV), the odd bit of news and not a lot else. Over the past twelve months that’s definitely changed.
During the 2005 Christmas/New Year break I did some work on the site to set it up as a blog. At that stage I didn’t have much idea what a blog really was for or could do, but I wanted to be able to post more regularly and use the site more effectively as a marketing tool.
A year on it’s really interesting for me to look back and see how my blogging has developed over the year, and how blogging has really helped me professionally:
January and February 2006
Managed a single post during these two months, so I’d obviously not worked out that successful blogging needs a real and persistent commitment to writing new content.
More of the same really, with only a couple of posts on marketing and customer experience. Traffic to the blog remained a trickle, and I didn’t have any RSS subscriber statistics as I was still using the native WordPress RSS feeds.
In April I started to seek out new blogs to read, and began to explore how social media worked. I soon realised that to make a success of blogging I needed to think more about what I posted, post more frequently, and set up my blog so I could promote it effectively and monitor traffic.
I still managed only three posts, but made a number of tweaks to the blog (which was still running on Textpattern) and routed my RSS feed through Feedburner for the first time. This meant I could track the number of subscribers to my feed properly for the first time.
Started to post more often, with eight posts this month, ranging from continuing frustrations with the Textpattern blogging platform to several about social media. I realised the importance of tagging in raising the visibility of posts to Technorati, and this is where it began to dawn on me that Textpattern was holding back my blogging.
I also posted a very short review of Peter Fisk’s Little Book of Marketing Genius, which somehow ended up being quoted as a review on Amazon (they didn’t ask!).
June continued in the same vein as May, with seven more posts on topics including marketing, running events and my problems with a new digital camera.
Behind the scenes I was beavering away to relaunch the site using the WordPress platform, while also trying to ensure that by doing this I didn’t hurt the site’s search engine performance too much.
This was the month when things started to fall into place. All I’d learnt about social media seemed to rapidly click, and I began to understand how fundamentally the world of communications was changing. This excitement obviously inspired me to blog more often, with a record-breaking thirteen posts this month.
I began to blog more regularly and started to understand what I wanted my blog to be about. Before August the content areas had been quite varied, but I began to appreciate more about the audience that I wanted to reach with the blog.
I joined the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in August, and a post I wrote around that time was the most read so far and generated eight comments – a genuine discussion. My eyes were opened wider to conversations in social media, and the importance of timing blog posts.
Traffic to the site had started to build gradually over June and July, but I was still disappointed with the consistently low levels of RSS subscribers being reported through Feedburner.
More than twenty posts this month, spurred on by the ever-increasing RSS subscribers to the blog:
I don’t know exactly what happened in mid-September, but it seems to have been the tipping point from which traffic and subscriber numbers started to grow month on month – a trend that has continued.
While it’s not just about the absolute numbers, it’s heartening to know that people are reading your blog, especially those who actively choose to receive the RSS feed. I certainly found this a motivation to blog more in the last three months of the year.
Another busy month by my blogging standards, with twenty six posts, tending to focus on public relations and social media.
Another real proof point for me about the power of social media to form networks that wouldn’t have otherwise existed was connecting with Libby Ranzetta via the For Immediate Release podcast. I’m hoping to do some podcast work with Libby early in 2007.
A professional highlight of the month for me was attending the Delivering the New PR conference in London. It was great to meet a number of people who I’d got to know through social media, but had never met in person.
Managed twenty posts this month, which wasn’t too bad given I was on holiday for part of the month and had taken some well-needed offline time.
The month kicked off with the GREEN Communications Word of Mouth conference in London. As well as hearing some interesting speakers it was great to finally meet Simon Collister, Ian Delaney and Heather Yaxley, as well as catching up again with Andy and Nicky from Don’t Panic event management.
The highlight for me was finally launching the UK’s first local authority podcast – finally putting into practice some of the things I’ve learnt about social media in 2006. This month I also joined up with Feedburner’s PR network to try to broaden readership of the blog and link with other PR professionals globally.
I’m sure I’ve missed out much from this not-so-mini review of 2006 on my blog. Looking back it’s been really exciting, and blogging has really opened up many new horizons for me professionally. I’ve met many new and interesting people, and have learnt a massive amount.
It’s an exciting time to be working in marketing and public relations – I was just starting out in my career as the first internet wave hit. With the social media boom now here, 2007 looks like being a great time to be working as a communicator.