Last month marked the one year anniversary of Architect This City. This means that I’ve been blogging every day for over a year. It’s been an incredible journey and I often tell people that they should give it a try if they have any inclination.
So today, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned over the past year. I actually started this post at the end of last month, but I needed some time to collect my thoughts. Now that they’re collected, here are 10 things I learned from blogging every day for a year:
1. Starting from zero sucks
Lots of people have grand ambitions of blogging their way to prosperity. But then they start and they realize it sucks. It’s incredibly difficult to write content on a regular basis when all you get back is crickets. All you’re doing is giving without getting anything in return. But that’s why starting anything from nothing is always difficult.
2. Passion actually means tenacity
When people say that you should follow your passion (you know that cliche), what they’re really getting at is that anything worth doing is going to be a complete and utter slog at times. And the only way to make it through those periods is to actually enjoy the journey enough so that you keep doing it when it’s not so fun.
3. Accomplishment has a lot to do with momentum
As much as starting sucks, once you get going you develop momentum. People start telling you that they read your stuff every day and you get addicted. You realize that you can’t stop. Somebody is actually reading what I’m writing! You also notice that things are starting to snowball. For example, it took me about 11 months to get 250 followers on Tumblr. It then took me another 3 days to break through 2,000. There’s a snowball effect.
4. It gets easier
I follow wine guy and internet marketer Gary Vaynerchuk. I love his energy. And one of the things he’s said about his father’s wine business, that he famously helped grow, is that even though he took it from $3 million in sales to $45 million in sales, he recognizes that the truly hard part was actually going from zero to 3. Starting from nothing is hard.
5. Good things come from putting yourself out there
Often I’ve found that my most popular posts have been the ones that I felt a little uncomfortable posting or that I quickly wrote without seconding guessing myself. Social media and internet marketing today, at least in my view, is all about being authentic, genuine, and as transparent as you or your business can afford to be. Because that’s what engages people.
6. Constraints can be great for creativity
I can be a bit of a perfectionist. It’s the designer in me. In architecture school, my favorite line was: Perfection or nothing. I got it from the German engineering and design firm, Werner Sobek. But perfectionism can be a debilitating. Sometimes it becomes a form of procrastination, which is why I decided to write every day. Because then you don’t always have the time to be a perfectionist. You just have to post. And that can be a great thing. As Steve Jobs used to say, real artists ship.
7. The internet democratizes
When you write a blog and put yourself out there publicly, people all of a sudden consider you an authority. They want to know your opinion and they begin to consider you as an expert in the topic you write about. Now, I’m not suggesting that I’m an expert on cities, but I think it’s incredibly powerful that people now associate me with cities, real estate, design, and all the other things that I’m passionate about.
8. Everybody is their own media company
This ties into the last point. What shows up first when you Google your name? Do you use social media? Do you own and manage your firstnamelastname.com? (i.e. brandondonnelly.com) In other words, what is your personal brand? It used to be hard to put yourself out there. The media channels were simply too expensive for individuals to start building their own brands. But today, anybody can create a free account on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, and all the other social channels that people are now using to market. And that means that each and every one of us is basically their own little media company.
9. The benefits of blogging are indirect
All that said, the benefits of blogging for me, so far at least, have all been indirect. I’ve probably only made a total of $300 in revenue directly attributed to this blog. But I didn’t start blogging to make money. I started writing because I knew that it was going to be beneficial to get my thoughts down on paper every day (it’s my public journal). I knew that I was going to learn a lot from others and the process. And I knew that it was going to be a great networking tool.
10. Lots of people care about cities
Given the mission of Architect This City, this is probably the most important takeaway from the past year: Lots of people care deeply about cities and the built environment. I initially thought that it was just going to be city geeks like myself that would enjoy what I was writing. But it turns out that city dwellers and urbanists all over the world recognize the importance of building great cities. We know that the majority of the world’s population now lives in a city, and so it makes sense for us to address something that impacts so many people’s lives.
On that note, thanks for reading Architect This City. I’m incredibly grateful. Here’s to another year!
Image: Pinterest (I like blogging with my morning coffee)