So we’re 3 and a bit months in to this whole big, crazy blogging experiment.
I’ve still not quite figured out what this all means to me. You know – what it actually means to me as a person. To my career, to my family and to what I’m trying to do. The truth is I don’t really know what I’m trying to do, something that I was worried about initially. Surely I need a purpose, a strategy, dare I say it even a mission statement? That shit is essential isn’t it?
A few weeks ago I attended the Tableau Google Hangout, where several key bloggers (@vizwizbi, @pgilks, @dataremixed, @jeweloree, @vizbizwiz, @vizcandy ) hosted a session where they all discussed what blogging means to them, their approaches and other stuff around that subject. The key sentiment seemed to be that most of them started their blog for themselves, either as a kind of diary or repository of how they’ve accomplished BI related tasks. It seemed that they all had a fairly freestyle approach, with enjoyment being the key motivation. I expected they’d all be super serious and regimented in their blogging approach, I mean how else can they generate that brilliant content? That certainly wasn’t the vibe though. You know what – they’re just like you and I. They want people to like their stuff, they get a bit upset at the trolls and nasty people, and they all took ages to get started and build the confidence to be able to express themselves in public. And they all get a thrill when the community shows them some love for their content.
All this made me feel that hey I can succeed, and I do have something to offer. Tableau is such a big subject it’s impossible to be an expert on all areas. Pick your niche and be an expert on that, but do branch out and explore new avenues. Give your opinion, and enjoy giving credit when someone else does something superb.
I’ll be honest. I was bricking it when I decided to start this blog. It took me weeks to publish my first post, and then I sat glued to the page stats, praying for those numbers to start increasing. No-one’s gonna read this I thought. And if they do they’ll hate it. Then people did start reading it. And then I got a few Twitter followers. And then a few direct messages. And then some quite nice comments. Then some shout-outs from Tableau Zen Masters…. Hold on… What’s happening here? Then more followers….
So I posted some more, feeding off the feedback and love, growing in confidence all the time. And the hits kept coming.. Then I started getting asked to speak at conferences, and then a couple of job offers. The job offers were interesting, no interview – it was “I’ve seen your blog and I love it, you wanna come and work for me?”.
And that all fuels the fire. The more love you get back, the more enjoyable it gets. And the more enjoyable it is, the more the quality of content improves with your growing confidence. It’s kind of a non-vicious circle. Before I knew it the ideas for content came flooding into my head. I think my list is now over 100 items for future posts.
I’ve recently managed to meet up with a number of the community that I’d only interacted with online. And it felt strange. In a good way. It felt like I was interacting with a community of friends rather than a group of work colleagues. I’m staggered at the togetherness of the BI & Tableau community. To the point that when we did have a minor trolling incident, it came as a real shock to the system, such is the infrequency of encountering such attitudes.
I’m stunned where I’ve managed to get to in 3 months. Ben Jones pinged me a message saying that if anyone had dropped out of the Google Hangout then I was in line to replace them. That was some compliment.
I’ve been wondering how to quantify just how much I’m having fun. I guess there are a couple of moments that give me that answer.
The first was a comment one evening from my wife, who remarked “I’ve not seen you this passionate about work in 10 years”. – “Quiet love, I’m about to publish a viz of the best pinball tables!” may have been my reply, but the comment was appreciated anyway.
And the second was the shoulder surgery that I had a few weeks ago. Now I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to, well when it comes to people slicing me open with a knife! – cos that’s what it is. So I was more than a little apprehensive about the procedure. But when it came to game time my only worry was that I wouldn’t be able to use Tableau for a few days! It really was. And to keep myself occupied in hospital I took along a copy of Dan Murray’s book. You can keep the man away from Tableau, but you can’t keep Tableau away from the man. Or something like that.
That told me I was onto something really special here and long may it continue.