This is a post I couldn’t have imagined writing five years ago.
Five years ago this business wasn’t even called BlogMutt. It was on its second name, which was only slightly better than our first truly terrible name: “Turuly.” It had no customers, no investors, not even a cute doggy name.
It did have three things, however:
First, it had an idea, a simple idea that blogging was important for small business, but that those businesses really didn’t have the time to write their own posts, or the money to hire a full-time writer.
Second, it had me and Wade. The two of us had worked together on two previous start-ups, and we had a sense that if we teamed up on this one we could build something meaningful for writers and businesses, and have some fun along the way.
Third, we had a blog. We knew that blogging was important for small business, so we decided that we would lead by example. So even though we had essentially nothing else, we started a blog.
And five years ago today, that first blog post appeared. And because nothing on the internet ever really goes away, you can read it here.
Is it profound? Nope? Is it stellar writing? Ummm, not really.
Did it do the job? For that, the answer is yes.
And that leads me to the first of five things I’ve learned after five years of business blogging on a blog that’s all about business blogging.
Lesson One: Get It Done
Blogging really is the equivalent of eating right and exercising.
That first post I wrote five years ago hinted at that. It was like our first time going to the gym. The first time is important, but it’s not the first time that really matters, it’s going every day in the months and years that follow. The first time you have salad for lunch instead of a chicken-fried steak is great, but talk to me after a year of lunches.
Lesson Two: Fads Aren’t You
People that work in healthcare, I imagine, must be faced with a conundrum when there’s a new health fad. “Low carb” seems almost quaint now, but it was all the rage as “the” answer just a few years back. How did healthcare professionals react? I imagine they just smiled and nodded and then said something like: Just do try to eat plenty of vegetables, don’t overeat, avoid processed foods, drink water and get plenty of exercise.
Then when “gluten free” becomes a thing those same professionals just have to smile the same smile, nod again and say once again that it’s good to eat veggies, don’t overeat, drink water, etc.
In five years, we’ve seen all kinds of fads come and go. And just like “low carb,” some of those trends aren’t all bad — they just are not the silver bullet to solve the marketing needs of business.
For example, five years ago, it was a great idea to build up a huge Facebook presence because all of your followers saw all of your posts. Then Facebook changed what it shows to people, and you are lucky if two percent of your followers see your posts… unless you pay Facebook.
The latest fad that I’ve heard about is Pocket. Maybe it will be the next new thing and if it really takes off, you know where I’ll be writing about it? Here on this blog. The blog was a great tool for that five years ago, and it keeps getting better.
Lesson Three: Plant a Tree
In five years, we’ve served thousands of different business clients around the world. I’ve watched the process of people signing up for five years now. Sometimes people discover us and sign up the same day, and sometimes they discover us and think about it for weeks or even months.
We’ve never been high pressure in our sales efforts. For one, it’s not our style, but also it just doesn’t work. Those folks just need some time to get comfortable with the notion of someone else writing their posts. When they are really ready, they get started, and their posts get done.
If we looked at two identical companies, one that took two months to decide to start and one that started the day they found us, and compared them six months later, what’s the difference between the two of them? Only one thing, really: One of them will have six months worth of posts up, and one will have four months. From Google’s perspective, which one will be at the top of the search rankings, and which will be on page 2 of the search results?
I love the old expression that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. In the blog world you don’t need 20 years, but it’s true that every day you wait is a day that someone else is harvesting fruit.
Lesson Four: Blog Some More
When we first started this blog I did all the writing. I also did a lot of the writing for our clients as we built up enough writers.
Indeed, I got so busy with the company and posts for others that our own blog would sometimes go empty for a week or so.
Then my business partner, Wade, would say: “Why don’t you just have the BlogMutt writers do our posts?”
I would scoff, and say something about how I’m an award-winning writer, and I wasn’t going to let someone else write posts for me. (I would have recognized that this went against the very idea of BlogMutt, but my irony detector was in the shop at the time.)
In short, I was a classic BlogMutt prospective customer, getting in the way of my own success.
To this day, BlogMutt is not the oldest customer in the BlogMutt system. We have a handful of longstanding customers that have been getting posts successfully longer than us.
As soon as we did turn on the posts from writers, I was also like a BlogMutt customer in that I was just giddy every time I got a post. They were fresh, had great ideas, and all the words were spelled right. It was terrific.
Then we realized that blogs were helping our business, and more blogs helped more, so we increased to a post every business day.
Then we realized that longer, more in-depth posts helped even more so once we started selling those kinds of posts, we started buying those kinds of posts, and now our blog is just fantastic.
The only thing different about our business compared to that of all of our customers’ businesses is that we are in the blogging business, so the expectations are higher. The quality of the posts, however, is pretty much the same as for all of our clients because it’s the same writers doing the work.
Lesson Five: Cut the Jive
OK, the last lesson doesn’t really have anything to do with jive talkin’ or any other expressions from the 70’s.
I just wanted all five lessons to rhyme with the number, and I couldn’t think of a synonym for thankfulness that rhymed with five.
But that is my lesson, and it’s actually a lesson for writers and for those working on blogs: gratitude. You see, blogs only work if there’s a reader.
(Now it’s true that one of the important readers is the robots from the search engines, but those robots were created by people and they are getting better and better at detecting when a post was not written for a person. Ironically, computers may be able to tell better than people when text is written by and for computers and not for people in some bizarro-world marketing version of the Turing Test.)
When a writer sits down in front of a keyboard – as I’m doing now and hundreds of BlogMutt writers do every day – we are basically creating words that we have the gumption to think another human will want to read. That much presumption only works if it is coupled to a spirit of gratefulness to the person for taking that time.
So on behalf of all of BlogMutt for the last five years, today, and all the days and years ahead, I’d like to express my gratitude most of all for doing what you just did: reading this post.
Thank you very much.