Blogging success one year on – a job done

Blogging success one year on – a job done

While doing a little housekeeping on my blog recently I realised that its first anniversary had just passed. Reflecting on the past year I was surprised at how much of an impact it has had on my life. It finally allowed me to set up shop here in the US, establishing another office overseas for my business Condor Digital Marketing Consultancy Limited. That may sound implausible but I can honestly say its not an understatement.

I originally considered setting up a blog while Business Development Director for Ptarmigan Media, a very traditional London based media buying agency. I had read around how successful blogs were at helping companies demonstrate expertise in crowded marketplaces. As a point of differentiation I wanted the agency to be able to firmly go on record about industry developments and more importantly teaching best practice in the area of financial services digital marketing.

I had realised during my previous incarnation as Head of Internet for Investec Asset Management how much guidance and help I and other digital marketers needed in navigating the digital minefield. The simple issue for me as a financial services digital marketer  was that there weren’t enough hours in the day trying to stay up to date with the fast moving digital environment. At least it was impossible to do this while also  holding down my normal day job.

This ‘lack of hours in the day’ despite working from 7am to 7pm and often weekends too, led me to move to the dark and murky ‘Agency’ world – I wanted to have more time to work directly with publishers and companies such as Google. In parallel to try and combat some of these issues around digital best practice I started producing a range of whitepapers for Ptarmigan Media, either drawing on my own experience or researching the topics from scratch where necessary. The initial response from within the Agency surprised me. They were sceptical that the whitepapers would be of any value, indeed some considered them a waste of time.

This attitude was soon to change. Not only did clients resoundingly love the insight they offered around topics such as ‘Email marketing to financial advisers’  but the whitepapers were acting as strong points of differentiation between Ptarmigan Media and their peers in the industry. They soon became leave behinds during pitches or discussion points at meetings. Indeed, the ultimate accolade came when one of the largest UK asset managers approached Ptarmigan Media to write their digital strategy document as a result of its ‘expertise’ in this area.

While I was happy that the whitepapers were going down so well, I was frustated that such ‘high’ value content was effectively locked up within the agency and was reliant on email and hard copy distribution to a relatively limited audience. I decided that the answer resided online in the form of a blog. Why distribute the content to the Agency’s clients alone when a far broader ‘global’ audience could be tapped into – by their very nature, if configured correctly, blogs are highly Search Engine friendly allowing for content to be easily found, indexed and made available to anyone and everyone within a matter of a few clicks.

The benefits to Ptarmigan Media of an inhouse agency blog would be considerable. Ptarmigan would be able to demonstrate its thought leadership online, add to the digital debate and even lead it in some areas such as B2B financial services marketing through the UK and Europe. I was shocked therefore when my approaches to establish an agency blog were firmly rebuffed. Undaunted, I decided to set up my own blog writing about financial services digital marketing. The timing could not have been better.

After 8 months in the role of Business Development Director for Ptarmigan Media I could already see that while I appreciated aspects of the agency world greatly, the access to publishers and new techologies, the money and conditions were less than appealing. I had already decided to ‘take the hit’ in those areas for the sake of my long-term career, but I hadn’t factored in the ‘dubious’ managerial aspects of the job and the intense internal politics of the firm. The time was ripe to do something!

With hindsight the results were comical. Within 3 weeks of my going live I was approached by Ptarmigan and asked whether or not my blog could be brought in-house. I considered this but rejected it out of hand. I wanted independent editorial control and anyway, Ptarmigan had been given the opportunity to be on board from day 1 – that boat had already sailed!

Within 2 months of going live I had been quoted in the Financial Times and other publications and received sufficient interest to be able to set up my own business and part ways with Ptarmigan amicably.

The best bit of all, my only financial outlay was less than $100 for hosting – the rest was simply a question of time. Researching and finding content to write about, I was more than happy to do. While regular readers may have noticed that I write less now than I used to, this is I’m afraid a pure reflection of the success of my blog – the work and clients that it has brought me now keep my small but thriving business well occupied!

If you are looking at setting up your own WordPress blog, I wrote an earlier post detailing how I went about doing this here.

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