February 14, 2012


Five made by handI just reached a milestone: five years of blogging. That's over 500 posts and 250,000 words. This feels like a big accomplishment.

Here’s the official tally
That’s 517 posts. Let’s look back to the days before the iPhone was launched.
Q: Why did you start blogging?
Blogging gave us a free, easy-to-use publishing platform with worldwide reach. I started in February 2007 as an experiment. I had things I wanted to say but never had an outlet before. No censorship. No delays. No excuses.

We just needed the courage to say something worthwhile. Over and over.

If blogging worked (as I thought it would over time), I wanted to inspire my clients to start too. In those days, my job was to help insurance advisors make more money. Blogging looked an ideal way for them to gain business by showing their chemistry (personality), credentials (expertise) and generosity (sharing information).
Q: What did you learn from blogging?
I learned that blogging is easy to start, easy to quit and very rewarding if you continue.

Anyone can start blogging within minutes. There are no external barriers. All limitations are self-imposed. We are fully responsible. That's scary and empowering.

Blogging is easy to quit. There are always other pressing demands on our time. We're busy. We might not feel well or be in the mood. We might be traveling. We have oodles of excuses. Overcoming obstacles on a regular basis builds confidence. You reach a point where you know you will ship because that becomes easier than letting the excuses win. Our intentions to exercise and diet face the same obstacles.

Blogging is very rewarding over time. There's power in helping others --- even strangers --- with our words. There's power in continuing while others quit (assuming they even started). The results are powerful too. You stand out from your competitors as you find your voice and your audience. You make a stronger impression on new visitors and a lasting one on regular readers.
Q: What frightened you about blogging?
I didn't know if I could write or if anyone would be interested in reading my thoughts. I worried about running out of ideas. I thought I might quit and feared showing my failure in public. I was especially worried about criticism. I worked for a large insurer and feared that a complaint might lead to trouble.

There was no corporate policy on blogging and I didn’t feel a need to ask for permission. Instead, I checked with two lawyers. Both said that what I did in my personal time was for me to decide but I could not imply the company sanctioned what I wrote.
Q: When did you know what blogging was right for you?
I had a hunch that blogging was an untapped wonder. I got external confirmation in 2007, when I
What would you have done differently if you could go back to February 2007?
Two blogs is a lot to manage. Looking back, I should have had one blog with two posts per week, rather than two blogs with one post per week. However, I had two different interests. I struggled with that decision then and I still do. In the meantime, I keep writing.
Q: What did you know about marketing?
Nothing much. I'm puzzled at my audacity to write about marketing. I have no background. No courses. No multi-day seminars. No designations. I learned primarily by listening to audiobooks, reading blogs and thinking.

I found that marketing books generally:
  • dealt with products (not services)
  • focused on large companies (not small)
  • predated social media (and the impact of the Internet)
I saw that I could adapt the principles to services and entrepreneurs via social media. Since there was no "right" path, I was free to experiment.

I found current thinking in blogs, especially from Seth Godin and Mitch Joel. We operate at different scales but have similar thinking. I have had the opportunity to speak to both of them. I find they are genuine. They continue to inspire me.
Q: What surprised you most?
I wasn't sure that anyone would care about my amateur marketing ideas. To my surprise, I found that I was more credible than the experts because I had no marketing services to sell. Also, I was exploring new ways of marketing before the pros.

In 2008, I started getting invited to speak to groups about marketing. Entrepreneurs sought out my advice to understand WHY before hiring experts for the HOW.

I also saw there was pent-up demand for my core area of expertise: taming financial risk with life and health insurance. In 2009, I started my own business built on the trust I earned via consistent persistent generosity. Giving ongoing, unconditional gifts to strangers made me a better person and this attracted clients to me. Blogging opened doors and still does.

I now describe myself in three inter-related words: actuary | blogger | advocate.
Q: Did you really write 250,000 words?
I haven’t counted. My typical post is 500 words or more. The numerous comments I’ve left on other blogs should more than make up any shortfall. In case you’re counting, this post is 986 words.


PS It’s not too late for you to start blogging too …