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Monday, November 28, 2016

9 Lessons Learned Through Nine Years of Blogging

Today marks the ninth birthday for this little blog that I started on a Wednesday evening in 2007. Read that first post and you'll see that I didn't have much in the way of goals or expectations for this blog. It was just something I was doing to help other teachers. Back then I didn't have any idea that I would publish nearly 12,000 blog posts about educational technology. Along the way to publishing I've learned a lot about education, blogging, and business. Here's a short summary of the highlights of the last nine years.

1. Publish early, publish often.
This is a tip that I learned early on from Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable. Not only does this help for SEO purposes it helps me maintain the habit of writing everyday.

2. Ad revenue is a terrible business model for a blog.
Ad revenue relies on pageviews, pageviews rely on constantly publishing new content. Constantly publishing new content can be a challenge when you feel like you've written everything that you can think of. You need a team of writers to produce the quantity of content needed to survive on ad revenue alone. I don't want to manage a team of writers.

3. People are generally good and nice. 
This lesson has been reinforced to me many times over the years, but there are two times that stand-out from the rest. First, in 2009 when a Twitter follower, Beth Still, organized the NECC Newbie Project to crowd-source the funds to get me to the NECC (now ISTE) conference. Second, when my beloved dog, Morrison, passed away in September last year I received hundreds of emails people expressing their condolences. Larry Kelly's email moved me to tears and still does when I think about it.

4. A few rotten comments can stick with you for a long time.
Fortunately, I can only remember of handful of these.

5. Read, read, read!
Read blogs, read books, read magazines, read the flyers in a doctor's office waiting room. You never know when something you read will inspire a blog post. There have been many times when I was reading a book completely unrelated to educational technology when something I read sparks an idea for a blog post here.

6. Cite your sources and fight plagiarism. 
When someone else inspires a blog post that you write, acknowledge that person even. I forgot to do this once and I was thoroughly embarrassed.

If someone is copying and pasting your blog posts verbatim, call him/ her out on it. Don't let them get away with, "I was just trying to share it with my teachers." Tell them to direct people back to you. A lot of plagiarism in the ed tech world seems to originate from the idea that it's okay to copy and paste if you're doing it to share with other teachers. Educate others on proper ways to share blog posts.

7. Give the people what they want.
When someone makes a reasonable request for help, answer them. Turn those answers into blog posts. I learned this lesson from the late Allen Stern who ran Center Networks. I miss that guy.

8. Everything changes.
When I started this blog MySpace was still more popular than Facebook. iPads and Android tablets weren't a thing. Chromebooks didn't exist although we did have netbooks running Windows XP (I used one throughout 2009). What I wrote about in 2007 and 2008 seems like ancient history. Some of the things I reviewed back then is still relevant, but a lot of it isn't. Adapt or die...

9. It's the readers that matter.
This blog wouldn't still be going today without all of you who follow this blog and share it with your friends and colleagues. Thank you!