Construction blogging 2005 – 2016: Is there anything new under the sun?

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first blog
My first blog post -- from Oct. 17, 2016
My first blog post -- from Oct. 17, 2016
My first blog post — from Oct. 17, 2006

If you wish to experience a retro-trip, visit this blog’s earliest incarnations in 2006. You can go back on the original blog site, www.constructionmarketingideas.blogspot.com, and see this posting from Oct. 17 that year:

This new blog, and the reduced frequency my e-letter, results from a survey of the approximately 350 readers (as of last week) of the letter. The survey, conducted for free using the zoomerang.com site, resulted in 38 visits and 31 survey responses.

How close could you get in the results? Thirteen readers said “keep it weekly” and 14 replied that once a month is enough. Two of the remaining 5 ‘others’ said that the newsletter should be published once every two weeks, and one suggested the solution I am implementing — publish the e-letter every other week, with the blog updated at least weekly.

When I decided to survey the newsletter’s readers, I went through some hoops. Googling for survey software initially led me to expensive commercial products. Then I found some open-source software that looked like it could do the job, but had trouble loading it on the server. Afer seeking bids from software developers on the web, I decided to see if my New Delhi based data entry contractor could handle the job. He said “sure’ and the open source (free survey software is now loaded and ready to go for future use.)

But while all this was going on, I remembered Zoomerang, which markets its services effectively by offering a high quality free service augmented by various additional resources (which cost money). Zoomerang restricts the free access for 10 days from the start of the survey, and you can’t download the results on the free version. For a simple, non-commercial resource, however it is fine.

I can’t comment on the open source option, which I haven’t tested yet, but it appears to have all the essential functionality of the more expensive products.

Well, Zoomerang’s service is still around (though it is now absorbed into Survey Monkey) — and so is this blog — now one of uncountable many as it is considered good practice by marketing/online consultants for virtually every contractor, architect and engineer to have a blog of one kind or another.

However, this popularity, along with massive numbers, has taken some of the magic away from the blogging process. In part, this is because we are often overwhelmed by blogs and other social media content.  Like, oh, it’s another blog, so so.

Writer Tess Wittler explains the problem and hints at a solution in one of her own (much more recent) blog postings:

Last Thursday, there were over 2.7 MILLION blog posts written, 597 MILLION tweets sent and 2.9 BILLION Google searches that happened (world-wide) as of 4 pm MST.

With so much content out there, how do you stand out?

There are a lot of construction firms talking about the same thing in the same fashion. In order for your content to stand out, it must be different. For your content to matter, you need to approach it like a hole. Think about the hole that is not being filled by someone else, and fill it.

Truth is, when many construction professionals decide to start a blog, they do so because “everyone else is doing it, so we should, too.” But instead of being creative about what content they produce, they simply try to copy what has already been done. What kind of results can you really expect from that?

We don’t need more cruddy content on the Internet – plus Google (and Bing and Yahoo) are pretty smart. They aren’t in the business of ranking poor content high.

Plus, what’s the point of taking the time to write a blog article if it isn’t going to help you get traffic back to your website?

So don’t just blog.

Make it your goal to provide the most inspirational, impactful and engaging information your audience could ever ask for.

To truly stand out from the 2.7 million (and counting) blog posts that are published every-single-day, you need to create content that enriches your reader’s lives.

That’s how you stand out.

As it is, I’ll probably stand out on my longevity. A few months after that initial post, I decided to post a new entry every day. I belive I’ve missed no more than five days in the past nine years, and those days have probably been offset by the days when I posted twice or more.

The entries have had various levels of quality and effectiveness, and there have been long stretches when the blog seemed to provide no obvious value to the business other than consuming upwards of 30 to 45 minutes a day in preparing the content.

However, these frustrations have been offset by the wonderful moments when readers interacted, connected, shared, and sometimes purchased services or advertising in our print and online publications. So it is worthwhile continuing.

Stay tuned for the 2015/16 Best Construction Blog (and social media) competition. And come next October, we’re going to have some kind of 10th anniversary/party celebration. Save the date.

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