What have I learnt in nine years? Hard to say, but here's nine observations that may or may not be of interest.
1. I will give up blogging one day, but only when it becomes much more of a hindrance than fun or I'm too old to travel on the Tube often enough to blog.
2. I've met some AWESOME people who've become good friends through blogging and value their friendship more than I can say.
3. I still get a big kick out of seeing my blogging mates' achievements, whether that's winning Observer Food Monthly's Best Food Blogger (well done Niamh), producing their second album (well done Laura), getting their blog made into a Channel 4 TV Series (well done Brian/Tom), getting books published or about to be published (well done Zoe, Malcolm, Julia, Tom, Londonist guys, Collin & Mark & I'm sure I've left out others), seeing them on TV (L J Rich - you're brill), hearing them present radio shows (Jamillah, Zoe and Chris - always thought provoking, professional & quirky), seeing their writing get made into TV pilots or on stage (well done Mike), seeing them pick up OBEs with their families (Gia - still slightly freaked out by seeing Brian's face on cover of Wired last month) or the many, many, other achievements that would be enough for most people to dine out on for months.
4. I know that I upset a lot of people and I've finally got to the stage where I don't care that much any more. I don't mean that in an arrogant sense, but in the sense that I don't lose sleep over it any more. I used to. I wondered what I'd done to piss off someone so much that they parodied my blog. I used to lose sleep about the comments I got on controversial blog posts. I don't think I'm a fundamentally evil person. I know I can be annoying. Sometimes I can be too honest for my own good. I don't suffer fools gladly. I can get impatient, but generally I try to listen to what people have to say. In conference or seminar situations (unless I'm the speaker) I try to follow the premise of "You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that order". Thanks @sleepydog for being the first person I heard saying that.
5. I know that blogging will be around for a long time and may possibly outlive Twitter and will certainly outlive a lot of other social networks.
7. I don't like numbers when it comes to blogging. Numbers don't really mean much by themselves. Traffic, numbers of followers, numbers of Facebook Fans, number of blog posts a week, word counts. It's all pretty irrelevant unless you have some passion behind it. Don't settle on being average, no one is average, everyone has something unique about themselves, find your uniqueness & enjoy it. This presentation I did in 2008 still has some thoughts on blogging that you might find helpful today.
9. It is possible to carve out a niche for yourself through blogging. It is possible to get The Mayor to read your blog posts. It is possible to get journalists to read your blog posts & Tweets on a daily basis and look to you as a "news source". It is possible to get TfL and the British Transport Police to keep an eye on your blog. It is possible to be more influential that you possibly realise, and that realisation is always a shock. Because in your heart you know it's just you, a computer and a lot of other people who've trusted you for many years.
To those who have trusted me & the blog and those who will, I'd honestly like to thank you all. I know I'll never meet the vast majority of you in person, but you've changed my life. I owe you a pint.