What five years of blogging has taught me

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What five years of blogging has taught me

This month marks five years since I created my blog, so today I thought I’d look back and share what I’ve learnt along the way and answer some of the questions I get asked the most.

Why do I blog?

All things IC Is blogging worth it? For me, yes, absolutely, it’s worth every minute I spend researching, writing, editing and sourcing content.

But most importantly, feedback from you, my lovely readers, shows it’s working for you too.

I love hearing how something people have read on my blog has built up their confidence to start working in internal communication, to apply for a bigger or better role, to answer a challenge from their stakeholders, study the topic or to connect with new people.

I never tire of hearing how valuable people find my blog, because it inspires me to continue doing what I’m doing, so thank you for letting me know.

It has become the shop window for my consultancy, All Things IC, as through it my clients, contacts and future clients get a sense of how I work, what’s important to me, how I think and what you can expect from working with me.

The majority of my work comes from people getting in touch after reading my articles or something I’ve written in books, hearing me speak or from recommendations.

My blog plays an important role in how my business operates, so I will always find the time to continue sharing my thoughts through it.

I am an avid reader of blogs too and enjoy discovering the thoughts of other communicators.

I blog because I enjoy it. Simple as that.

As an ex-journalist, I’ve always enjoyed writing and expressing myself in this way, and blogging is an extension of my diary. It’s gone through many iterations, designs and a couple of names over the years, and I’ve published nearly 500 articles.

I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met in person who, on the first time of meeting, say: “I feel like I know you because I read your blog – you’re exactly like I thought you would be.” I’m sure you can see how useful that could be in your organisation if your leaders blog authentically.

Blogging tips

  • Plan an editorial calendar of content. But do feel able to write when the feeling strikes you.
  • Decide how frequently you want to blog. Stick to it.
  • Constantly look for ways to improve what you do.
  • Experiment with writing style, images and content until you feel comfortable
  • There’s no such thing as a bad blog post, just a poorly planned one. Take time to think first.
  • It’s ok to have lots of half-written posts saved in your drafts for when inspiration strikes.
  • Capture thoughts in a way that suits you. I use a secret Pinterest board for visual prompts to inspire future posts.
  • Always respond to comments.
  • Read other blogs.
  • Thank people for sharing your content.
  • Make smart choices about who you allow to guest blog – by publishing you are endorsing them.
  • If you have a blog, consider a New Here page to welcome new readers.
  • Blogging shouldn’t be a chore. If it feels like it, stop. You can always start again.
  • Track your traffic and know what suits your readers.
  • Enjoy it!

Why did I start my blog?

Casting my mind back to 21 March 2009, I was working in-house as a Senior Internal Communications Manager in the railway (for Tube Lines, which is now part of Transport for London), full time and was also studying the Internal Communication Management post-graduate diploma at Kingston University, London.

lifethrough20lensI had just started to research the use of social media for internal communication, because I had a feeling it was about to be an important area for communicators to understand, so decided to write my final assignment on the topic.

I was struggling to find information that was detailed enough to use and academically sound enough to reference (wouldn’t have that problem today with the plethora of case studies and papers for internal social media around!), and people who were exploring this area too.

So, I decided to create a blog to share the content I found, give my views and appeal for other communicators around the globe to point me towards information that would help me learn.

That essentially remains the purpose behind my blog today.

Having given myself a quick lesson in WordPress, I launched Life through a 2.0 lens on 21 March 2009. You can see what it looked like thanks to the image on this page (hat-tip to Andrew Grill @andrewgrill who highlighted Waybackmachine recently, allowing you to see old pages).

The name

In late 2009 I was asked by Melcrum to document my first month in a new job and how I was setting up a comms function.

They published it as a series on their blog and called it Diary of an internal communicator. I then changed my blog’s name to reflect that as I was contacted by many communicators asking me to continue writing in that way. So Diary of an internal communicator remained as my blog’s name until last year, when I rebranded to All Things IC.

As a professional communicator, blogging has allowed me to experiment with style, format and content and connect and collaborate with like-minded people.

It has played an important role in furthering my understanding, and providing a way to crowdsource ideas, connect people and discover new ways of working and communicating.

Blogging nuts and bolts

Platform: I use WordPress and as it has constantly improved over the past five years, I’ve learnt more as I’ve gone along. My husband is also an IT whizz and often translates thoughts in my head to reality on my site (thanks Jon!). I use Tagxedo to create word clouds – like the one in this article.

Topics: I write about internal communication, change, social media and much more. As an internal communicator myself, I write about topics that interest me. That’s key to successful blogging – my advice is to write about what interests you.

If you are forcing yourself to write about something that isn’t a topic you’re interested in, it will show in your writing. I have more ideas than I have time to write down, so am strict about what makes the cut.

Style: I refer to the Guardian’s editorial style guide if I get stuck. You can also find them on Twitter @guardianstyle.

I know that visitors from my blog come from around the world, however, as I’m based in the UK, I choose to stick to spellings that are comfortable to me e.g. organisation, recognise.

Why do I publish guest articles and how do I choose?

CommunicationprofessionalsMy blog is not only my home on the web that I enjoy sharing with visitors who stop by, but I’ve opened the door to others too. I’ve featured nearly 100 guest writers to date, which has enabled people with and without their own platforms to benefit from mine, and for me to learn from them.

You can see some of them in the image on this page. My thanks to everyone who has written guest articles for my blog.

I have guest article guidelines and am strict about who and what I choose to publish.

Every day people contact me with products and ideas that they want me to promote via my blog. In reality, 99% of the time I say no because they are either not relevant, not appropriate or it is clear the person has never read my blog.

Tip: Sending me an email with “Dear blogger, I really like your site” does not do the trick!

Examples include new collaboration software providers who want me to write about their products. If I have never used it or if they don’t have examples of customers who have used it, I say no because my blog does not exist to market their products and I reserve the right to choose what to publish.

I have never accepted payment to blog. Occasionally I accept free copies of books to review, or tickets to comms events, but if that is the case, I always declare it and write honestly. In other words, even if it was free, I will still write as if I paid for the product/event, including any negative views I have, and state this is the case.

Transparency is important to me, particularly as a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and I have my own code of conduct for how I blog. Other people may do something differently, but this method works for me.

I have recently introduced a jobs section on my website and for now am charging a nominal introductory amount of £10 per vacancy per week, which I use to cover my domain name and hosting fees.

Who else blogs on internal communication?

One of the first pages I published was a blogroll and I have kept it updated constantly, adding and removing blogs as they fade or new ones come along. If you have a suggestion for a site I should include or spot a broken link, do please let me know.

Should your organisation blog?
I’m contacted every week by people who are looking for advice on blogging, either for themselves or for their organisations. I’ve advised some of my clients on leadership blogs and how to make smart choices when it comes to employees blogging.

There’s no right or wrong answer, it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve and knowing where the people are that you’re trying to connect with. Blogging inside your organisation has the potential to enhance your internal communication in many ways, not least when thinking through employee voice and leadership visibility.

Recognition 

Over the years, I’ve been honoured to pick up some awards and titles for my blogging including:

I’ve also been shortlisted as a Finalist in the UK National Blog Awards 2014 PR, Marketing, Media and Comms individual category. Thank you again to everyone who voted for All Things IC. I’ll find out in April what the judges’ final decision is, and am proud to represent our industry in the awards.

Update: I was delighted to discover All Things IC was Highly Commended in the UK National Blog Awards.

Blogging for me is a constantly evolving process and a thoroughly enjoyable one.

My resources page is packed full of advice to point you towards some excellent books, courses, people and things to read, plus you’ll also find an internal communication glossary on the site.

I will continue to share free, useful, content via my blog. However, should you need additional help in your teams and organisations, that is available through my consultancy. If you’re new to my blog, welcome, please see my New Here page.

Thank you for being a reader, and if you want to ensure you catch all posts as they are published, do add your email to the sign up box.

I hope the tips and things to consider when thinking about blogging, that I’ve learnt since starting my blogging journey, are useful. What works for you? You’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC,

Rachel.

Further reading:

The business of blogging
What being on Twitter for five years has taught me

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4  responses on What five years of blogging has taught me

Congratulations Rachel on 5 years. It’s a great effort. Have you ever thought about writing a book?

Hi Andrew, thank you. I keep being asked that, it’s something I’m mulling over. Hope you’re keeping well, Rachel

Congratulations! Yours is such a great blog and as a relative newcomer to the world of internal comms, this blog and your Twitter feed has been an invaluable resource for me. Keep doing what you do 🙂

Thank you for your lovely comment Gemma, I will indeed 🙂 It was good to chat at the Inside awards the other month, I enjoyed our conversation, Rachel

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