This is the blog where I lay it all out there. I put you inside my (balding) head and give you all my secrets.
I have now been doing this blog experiment for a full month and have 10 blog posts under my belt. I can comfortably say that I am a blogger, and feel like I can write:
a blog about blogging
I know what you're thinking..."if this is what he is writing about, he has clearly run out of material." And to that I say "How dare you!"
I'll have you know that I have a long list of ideas and posts in the queue.
But the real excuse for this post is to answer a lot of the questions I have been getting recently. My goal with the blog is to stay current and cover what's happening in my day-to-day architectural world. And the act of starting a blog website has become a big part of my new day-to-day world, and observing people's reactions has been very interesting.
People naturally have many questions such as:
"What made you start to do this? "
"Where do you get your ideas?"
"How long does it take?"
"Is anyone actually reading?"
"Will you take suggestions for posts?"
I also get lots of compliments:
"Love the blog"
"Great post today"
"I love your new beard"
"You are so handsome, etc."
OK. So some of those compliments may have been fabricated and there are certainly more questions than compliments.
Probably the most common response is "How do you have time for this?!!" Which is usually followed up with the threat of:
"Just wait till you have kids!!"
And then comes the response from my mom. I know I have been goofing on her quite a bit lately, but she by far had the best response. And she also gave me permission to use this exchange for the blog.
One week into this adventure I said, "Mom, so what do you think about the blog?" She hesitated for a few seconds and seemed a little confused. She said, "Well.....I've never read a blog before".......long pause........"Did you like have a bunch of free time or something?"
Hmmmmm....Not quite the response I was hoping for.
But she was right. What is wrong with me? This blog thing clearly takes some serious time and for what?
My mom was not alone. Some people seemed genuinely concerned. Who would spend their free time on what appears to be just more work?
These answers and more on next week's BUILDINGS ARE COOL.
JK. So here it is:
Where did I get this wacky blogging Idea?
This past year I became very fascinated with social media for architects and I am definitely way late to the party. I discovered that there was a ton of great information being shared by other architects in various forms on the web. A wide range of issues and topics were being discussed: issues about design, the history of architecture, architecture in the news, the business side of architecture. And the list goes on.
My two favorite sources for online architecture are a podcast called The Business of Architecture by Enoch Sears, and the website Life of an Architect by Bob Borson. What I like about these forms of information are that they are current, they are discussed by real people, and most important, they are easy to digest and sometimes very funny.
Professional development and continuing education is very important to architects and these podcasts and websites are an easy way to get it. I listen to The Business of Architecture and other podcasts while walking the dog and going to the gym. And peruse Life of an Architect and other sites here and there when I get free time. It is very casual and it is great information.
The real catalyst occurred on a recent road trip driving home from Maryland after Christmas. We were listening to an episode of The Business of Architecture that was titled 'Social Media for Architects.' Yes, I make my wife listen to this in the car. But she sleeps through it. Apparently it is very soothing.
In the middle of this episode I said to Danielle, "I should start a blog." Danielle said, "You should" or "Do it." I can't remember which one. I said, "But I don't wanna!" Just kidding...I said, "Ok."
So blogging it was.
The list of reasons why I am doing this has grown since I started. My initial reasons:
- I wanted a new experiment. Every year I give myself something new to pursue outside of work. It's called the X-factor. Last year it was teaching. The previous year buying and renovating a house. Before that, improv comedy classes. It is important to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and to try new things. You never know what types of positive side effects these experiences will grant you.
- I wanted to Improve my writing. I've never been 100% confident in my writing skills. And at my last employee review, my supervisor was very commendable about my overall performance, but said my writing needed work. Effective communication is an extremely important trait for an architect. You may have the greatest design thoughts since Michelangelo, but if you are speaking in Italian to your clients then it won't matter.
- Demystify the architect. People kinda know what an architect does, but not really. For example, I spend about 25% of my work week designing and drawing buildings. So what do I do with my other time? Sharing what an architect really does is a big goal for my website.
- Be a design advocate. I am very passionate about design, and I hope to share my design thoughts and interests. And hope to learn something along the way also!
So those were my initial reasons for starting to blog. Here are some new reasons that I have discovered:
- I am already doing it. In the beginning I was very nervous that I would run out of ideas. Now I realize I have too many ideas and prioritizing them and finding the time to blog is the real challenge. All of the content I am adding is stuff that I am already doing. It's not like I am a reporter who has to follow the scoop. My work is the scoop. So I am merely documenting my (architecture) life. And it's going to be amazing that I will have this record to look back on. It is like a journal.
- It makes me look. I guess I was always looking, but now I feel like I have a much better prescription. Since I have obligated myself to 2 posts per week, finding good content is always on my mind. When I walk my dog I am on the look out for interesting buildings and images. When I work on a design at work I am thinking about how I can use it as a way to talk about design. And then there is all of the work we are doing on our house.
- It is fun. I don't think this needs an explanation but I will give you a quick example. On multiple occasions I have gotten up at 5 a.m. to finish a post before I start my real work day. And I love it. My mind is clear in the morning and I am the most productive. I also get giddy when I hit that save and publish button. As if my world is about to change once the blog post goes live.
- Helps foster new connections. I have already developed many new connections and some interesting opportunities have presented themselves after only one month of blogging. You never know who may discover your work and reach out to you. Apparently this interweb is a huge place!
- Great marketing. This is a great way to share the work that we are doing at LS3P. Many times projects get shelved or when they finally do get published on a website, there is very little explanation from the designer. This website is a great avenue to share that work that would have otherwise gone in an archive. A good example is all of the work that I shared for the Catholic Diocese Chapel.
How long does it take?
On average, each post takes about 4-6 hours. That includes writing and editing the text, and formatting pictures. All of the photos are taken and filtered on my iPhone before they are uploaded to my iMac. They are then resized in photoshop before they are uploaded to the website for viewing by your iEyes.
Is anyone actually reading?
I use Square Space for my website and they have some very handy built in metrics that measures the site traffic. There are lots of cool charts and graphs that look like this:
Website traffic spikes on the days that I make a post, which is Mondays and Thursdays. Spike is probably a bit dramatic. The last 3 posts have been steady at approximately 50 people on a post day, with about 100 page views. Then it drops to 10-20 people on in-between days.
The most successful post was on February 27th. That was the Modern Details post in which I showed my friend Scott's house. I think it was a great post, but the real secret is that Scott and Jessica shared the post a ton. It got bounced around a lot, which really helped get people to the website.
One of my focuses next month is to broaden the website audience. Currently, I have just focused on developing good content and have relied on sharing it with my friends and family through Facebook and LinkedIn. And I just became active on Facebook so I have some catching up to do there.
So that's it for today's post. This will likely be the least popular post since there are no pictures and it is all about me. We shall see!