What six years of blogging has taught me

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AllthingsIC

What six years of blogging has taught me

What were you doing on 21 March 2009? I was creating Life Through a 2.0 Lens, my first foray into writing a blog, which means today I’m celebrating the sixth birthday of my blog.

quote3To mark the occasion, I thought I’d answer the most popular questions I’m asked by people who are thinking of starting their own, looking for advice or would like to write a guest article.

Thank you for reading my blog. Whether you’ve been part of the journey which started 656 posts ago, or this is your first time, thank you for stopping by.

If you’re a new reader, welcome, please see my New Here page.

Blogging isn’t dead. It’s thriving, in the same way podcasting is, and I’m proud to be part of the community.

What have I learnt?
Writing a blog has played an important role in furthering my understanding of the world of internal comms, and provided a way to crowdsource ideas, connect people and discover new ways of working and communicating.

Over the years it has has won numerous awards including being named in Europe’s Best Blogs by Communication Director Magazine, being Highly Commended at the UK Blog Awards 2014, shortlisted for Best Business Blog at the UK Social Media Awards 2014 plus I was recognised by Econsultancy as one of the Top UK Female Bloggers. Having judges thoroughly analyse it has been useful to help me constantly improve.

Here are the most popular questions readers ask me. If you have any others, do comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC:

1) Why did you start blogging?

In 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. I was also studying the Internal Communication Management post-graduate diploma at Kingston University, London.

lifethrough20lensI’d 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 (wasn’t it just!), 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.

This blog was created to share interesting information I found with other communicators, give my views and provide a space to document what I was discovering. 

That remains its purpose today, although I’d add hearing back from readers and featuring their views to that list.

2) Why do you blog, and is it worth doing?

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 see blogging as an extension of my diary.

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.

3) How do you find the time to blog? How long does it take to write a post?

quote2I make time. My blog plays an important role in how my business operates (see below), so I will always find the time to continue sharing my thoughts through it. I am also an avid reader of blogs.

The length of time to write an article varies on the topic and how much research is required. I can typically write a 500 word article in under half an hour.

I have lots of half-written posts and ideas in my drafts folder, plus images pinned to a secret board on Pinterest, so have a constant source of inspiration in my swipe file.

4) How did you choose the name?

Life Through a 2.0 Lens reflected the main topics I was writing about six years ago. 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 2013, when I rebranded to All Things IC, which was – and still is – my Twitter handle @AllthingsIC.

5) How do you monetise your blog?

The short answer is I don’t. However, I launched a jobs page last year and people pay to advertise their vacancies. I’ve never accepted payment to write an article or put content behind a paywall, even though people contact me regularly suggesting both. See How I Blog for more info.

My blog has become the shop window for my consultancy, All Things IC, as through it clients, contacts and future clients discover how All Things IC works, what’s important to me, how I think and what you can expect from working together.

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.

6) What are the benefits of blogging?

Numerous! But for me it’s personal. 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.

I enjoy providing a platform for others to use. I particularly like encouraging internal communicators who are just starting out to guest blog.

7) What do you use?

My blog was created in WordPress. I bought myself some books with the learning bursary I was awarded by CIPR Inside last year after winning the Best Individual Contribution to Internal Communication award, so am planning to sharpen my WordPress skills during my ongoing maternity leave.

8) How do you choose what to write about?

quote1I write about internal communication, change, social media and much more. I write about topics that interest me and I think that’s the key to successful blogging.

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.

9) Should I/my organisation blog?

I’m asked this all the time. 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.

Blogging personally is a great way to enhance your personal brand, give an insight into how you think and demonstrate your skills and abilities.

10) How can I write for All Things IC?

CommunicationprofessionalsMy guest article guidelines page contains all the information you need to know. Plus look through the guest archive to see the types of articles I publish.

I’m always on the lookout for good stories to share from in-house communicators and regularly feature them. Thank you to the 100+ communication professionals who have written for All Things IC over the past six years (some are pictured).

I say no to 99 per cent of requests for guest articles from vendors, suppliers etc, mainly because it’s clear they have not read my guidelines, and my blog does not exist to publicise their products.

I regularly have 1000 visitors a day stopping by to read articles on All Things IC, and reserve the right to publish what I feel is appropriate.

Tip: Sending me an email with “Dear Blogger” does not inspire me to want to carry on reading your proposal!

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!

What can you find on the All Things IC blog?

The most popular articles and pages include:

How to write an internal communication strategy
How to write an internal comms strategy from scratch
How to conduct an internal comms audit
Welcome to internal comms: A guide if you’re just starting out
A guide to Twitter for IC pros
300 social media policies
Who’s using what for internal social media – 400 case studies
Glossary of internal communication
How to use Pinterest for internal communication
It’s Yammer Time – everything I’ve published about Yammer
What being on Twitter for five years has taught me
How to use Google for internal communication
Rachel’s Resources

I will continue to share free, useful, content via my blog. However, should you need additional help in your teams and organisations, that’s available through my consultancy.

What works for you when it comes to blogging? You’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC,

Thank you for being a reader, and if you want to ensure you see all posts as they are published, do add your email to the sign up box. There’s a new development coming to my blog very soon. Stay tuned as all will be revealed in the next few weeks.

Here’s to the next six years!

Rachel.

First published on All Things IC blog 21 March 2015.

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