When I started co-writing Chicago Now's Job Stalker blog, I saw it as a way to build upon my personal blog. I wanted to establish "thought leadership", and after several months....well, I didn't want to be "the blogger who's always looking for a job". However, thanks to my then-recent work with Netsquared Chicago (the thrill of it all had ended due to work and other issues), I decided that having my own Chicago Now blog focusing on technology and social change would be wiser, smarter, and more strategic.
And for five years, this blog has seen several changes in its scope. Early on, it served as a mishmash of posts about social media (one based on a Sherlock Holmes-themed presentation; the other earned a Twitter harassment campaign from a PR firm who used a sock puppet for comments), book reviews (the most popular of which was this review of The Little Book of Big PR), and "Meet Your Neighbor" highlights of local organizations. As I integrated social enterprise and mission-driven businesses into the blogging mix, I had to admit that this blog took on an identity of its own. Yes, technology and social change in Chicago are still the primary focus....but it's not the only focus.
Sure, I wasn't writing about the Chicago Cubs or the Blackhawks, or even general life-in-Chicago posts. Admittedly, I was the geeky, obscure blog amongst the crowd of more crowd-pleasing, popular blogs that might get cut-and-pasted by the Huffington Post. (And I have no desire to ever write for the Huffington Post; I have a strong desire to get paid for my writing.) My posts tended to focus on my secret past in tobacco prevention or working as an election judge. In an open letter, I asked John Oliver for an interview (and John, I'm still waiting to hear from your people). I realized the frustration of knowing that I can have anything I want, I just can't have everything I want. Even when I'm writing about the thrill of it all in my professional career as a freelance marketing consultant/copywriter, or deciding to temporarily move in and care for my mother, there's still something about all that which "fits" this blog.
(It helps that a conversation with one of my closest friends helped me decide that this blog could also focus on the experiences of a former social service professional as a client. After all, living under Governor Bruce Rauner means that there are plenty of concerns about Illinois' economy. And let's not forget that we're also living in the Trump presidency....and it hurts me to have to type that. )
Yet I'm proud that five years of blogging has provided some personal high marks. For example, two posts in the past month - one focused on cybersecurity, the other on fundraising efforts towards Puerto Rico relief - have seen huge amounts of traffic. (And participating in Blogapalooz-Hour has allowed me to get away with writing posts like my desire to hang out with the Leverage crew, or how my sense of humor has saved my sanity. I've managed to carve out a small reputation as a New Pulp writer and have even added this blog to my LinkedIn profile. (In fact, some of my recent experiences as an author have sparked a desire to write more posts about digital piracy and how such crimes affect nonprofits...and thanks to this blog, I have the freedom to pursue that topic.)
Five years of blogging for Chicago Now (at least, with my own blog) has provided me with numerous rewards. Many of them have been tangible or professional, like review copies of books or complimentary passes to events like Cyber Security Chicago. But more have been emotional: the joy of sharing great community efforts to drive social change or the satisfaction of helping like-minded organizations get the word out. Even the challenge of writing a weekly post has its rewards...although that discipline took an extremely long time to cultivate.
The thrill of it all is apparent when I think of what this blog has accomplished: getting me to build a body of work as a writer. And although yes, I'm still seeking consistent freelance work, there is something to be said for being persistent in sharing my thoughts and perceptions.
And ironically, I'm looking forward to continuing for another five years.
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And as always, thanks for reading!