Believe it or not, this blog is a year old this month. And it was my birthday yesterday. As you read this, I’m easing back for a few days, basking in my gratitude for this last amazing year.
Join me in a slice of virtual birthday cake and indulge me as I share with you some of the highlights.
I started blogging because, simplistically, I thought it would bring together two passions of mine: my love for writing, and my thing about the role work plays in creating meaning in people’s lives.
In tandem I was ready to build more of a practice of clients who came privately to me, as opposed to having been referred and paid for by corporations, with all of the strings that tended to be attached. That meant building brand new networks.
In the beginning I had only an intuitive sense of what I could do with the blog. But the energy and enthusiasm I unleashed in myself just by starting it was reason enough to keep going.
I was a novice to the technical side of things. Still, I hungrily taught myself the basics of WordPress, as challenging in the beginning as that was. I also threw myself into learning about the wider social media world. As someone who’d done business in a traditional way for years, I felt like I’d stepped off my safe planet onto some fourth dimension, of immense potential.
Suddenly social media was opening doors I could never have imagined. If only, to begin with, in my own head.
Search for meaning
Offline it used to be pretty easy. My networks knew that I was the “go to” coach for the kind of stuff I do. Offline you don’t have to be so sharp: people know what you do and your experience speaks for itself.
But how on earth do you articulate that online to people who don’t know you from Adam?
Attempting to get clarity, I searched around in my niche and found a few terrific blogs and bloggers. Pam Slim’s Escape From Cubicle Nation is great for those wanting to set out in a entrepreneurial direction. Scot Herrick’s Cube Rules has terrific advice for people dedicated to sticking with their office jobs. In the beginning I put out some thought pieces, both for those who were thinking of quitting their jobs, and those in employment alike. I knew I wasn’t really hitting the nail on the head or being totally, authentically myself. But I had to search for my own voice and my own angle post by post.
Meantime, I was so convinced that social media was going to take my work in a new direction – and one that would allow me to work more from home – that my other half and I decided to move out of London. He doesn’t need to be in town, and I was concerned that having The City on my doorstep would tempt me to default of more of the same. So in October we took our courage in both hands and took up home in a 300-year old converted cottage in the Chilterns. Big change, but ultimately such a joy.
Moving house really did mean that I had to up the ante on the blog. By Christmas, I understood the whole blogging and social media thing so much better and so could begin to set targets for my business based on using it.
By then too, I was able to articulate for myself that my offering is about coaching and inspiring professional people to work and live on their own terms. I was starting to really get that my difference was in supporting people’s own process, rather than telling people what to do. Correction, I was starting to be brave enough to say that.
Additionally, I could see that there was a wave of people at work who tended to be more my kind of client than any other. They were those who were consciously directing their own lives and questioning the role of work within it. And in February, I put some of these thoughts out in my post on The Silent Rise of The New Work Pioneer.
I also started to get braver about putting my personality across, and wrote a real piss-taker in my How To Make Sure You Never Get Aheadpost. Now that was fun!
The clearer and more focused I got, and the more confident about putting it out, the more the comments and retweets came. More than that, the better I got to know and connect with people in and around social media, the stronger these networks and connections have become.
Whilst in the beginning an intuition drove me, I’m now motivated by the clarity of my vision and sense of direction.
So, things are now at a point where coaching prospects and clients are starting to come through the blog, both directly and indirectly. In addition, I’ve just run my first workshop, was very happy with the outcome, and am ready to start adding that as a product, which I’ll be running from September.
Of course, there’s more development to come yet. The New Work Pioneer Manifesto needs PDFing and sending out. There’s a book to be written from some of the material for The Worklife Makeover. There’s another, longer workshop in development, and next year I plan to add an Interactive Learning Environment to the site.
It’ll all get done. But the point is that I could not be building these things, and seeing them generate results without the foundation work that’s been done.
An interesting, but unexpected, twist has come this week when in just one day I had several requests for consultancy support for social media for coaching businesses. My own personal development coach has been telling me for months that I need to package an offering. I didn’t see myself adding this to my business portfolio. If I can help people light up their businesses in the way I have, and enrich their experience of work in a similar way, why wouldn’t I?
Well, I’m off to eat more cake and drink more champagne now, but as I chomp and slurp, I want to thank you guys for being around these last weeks and months. It’s been fabulous and I’m only looking forward to more.