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Happy birthday to my first post from May 7, 2002.

BrentOzar.com circa 2001

1,782 posts and over 12,000 comments later, I feel like I’m still winging it, but it’s time to stop and think about the lessons I’ve learned over the last decade.  This web site has turned into a consulting company that supports three of us, and tomorrow we add our first full-time employee, Jes Schultz Borland.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Blogging is either your passion, your hobby, your job, or your chore. Guess which blogs will succeed and which will fail. I’ll be the first to tell you that it doesn’t feel like blogging is my passion – it’s just a hobby. I know folks who are truly passionate about blogging – they spend hours a day working on their blog, SEO, analytics, promotion, you name it. I think that’s awesome, but you don’t have to be that passionate for your blog to succeed and turn into a company. It just takes longer when it’s a hobby, and it ain’t gonna happen if you see your blog as a job or a chore. That’s okay – just find a different route to success that doesn’t involve blogging.

There are periods in my life where it’s a chore.  There have been months where you’ll be simply overwhelmed with work and unable to blog, and that’s okay.  Just know that you’re going to lose momentum in the form of stockpiled posts and eager readers.

BrentOzar.com circa 2004

Use your most comfortable writing voice.  When you sit down at the keyboard, you want the words to just come pouring out.  When you first get started, just start typing.  Don’t try to mimic someone else’s writing style.

Readers want to get to know you, not just the topic.  If you want to write personality-free content, don’t bother blogging – contribute to Wikipedia.  It’s a wild, thriving community that appreciates quality contributors.

As your interests shift over time, so will your blog.  I started out shoe-gazing, then wrote about turtles, then focused on computers when I got a column in HAL-PC Magazine.  (Funny glimpses into history – in 2003, I predicted Windows Tablet would be a failure, was already writing about virtualization, and enjoyed bathroom humor.)  In my How to Start a Blog guide, I emphasize how important it is not to tie your personal site to a product or topic: don’t brand yourself as SQLWhatever.  Five years from now, when your focus changes, you’ll thank me.

The look matters, but not as much as the content.  Nobody ever forwarded a post to a friend and said, “You’ve gotta read this!  Their WordPress theme looks amazing!”  People don’t return for beauty – they return for content (although your content can be beauty, too.)  On the other hand, readers definitely do say, “I can’t read this – the theme is driving me crazy.”

BrentOzar.com circa 2006

The Underpants Gnomes were right.  Here’s how blogging works: Step 1: Collect Followers. Step 2: ? Step 3: Profit!  Step 2 isn’t impossible – it’s just unpredictable.  Check out how a few popular bloggers turned their hobbies into a living:

  • Jeff Atwood wrote CodingHorror, a killer blog for programmers, and turned his following into a fast user base for StackOverflow.com, a killer QA site for programmers.
  • Jenny Lawson wrote The Bloggess, a hilariously offensive blog, and made money off endorsements for Chipotle turned her following into a book deal.
  • Justin Halpern just tweeted – TWEETED, mind you – hilarious stuff as @ShitMyDadSays, and within 60 days he’d been mentioned on every talk show around.  He then turned his following into multiple book deals and a TV show.
  • Just in the SQL Server world alone, Aaron Bertrand, Brad McGehee, Grant Fritchey, Steve Jones, Tom LaRock, and most recently, Robert Davis have all turned their online followings into evangelist-type jobs where they’re not on call.
  • Little old me started a blog, and now we get so many requests for consulting services that it keeps three of us busy full time.

If sharing your knowledge online is a hobby (or a passion) for you, the profit will come sooner or later.

I’m even happier having partners.  Turning this blog into a company and partnering up with Jeremiah and Kendra has been incredibly fulfilling.  We all push each other to up our game by offering feedback on our work.  I know I do a better job of blogging knowing that Jeremiah and Kendra also have their skin in the game here, and I don’t want to let them down.  I love making them proud.

You, the reader, make everything worthwhile.  Sure, I get lots of comments that say “Please send me how to be a DBA fast” or “You’re stupid” but those pale in comparison to the thank-you emails I get.  I love hearing about someone who solved their problems or got a better job through what they read here.

Here’s to another ten years.

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  1. Just wanted to be the first one to congratulate. Your blog post – http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2010/04/rock-stars-normal-people-and-you/ will always stay inspiration to many for longer than you think.

    • Thanks, sir! I love that post too – it’s one of my favorites. Every now and then, I talk to someone who was inspired by that post and decided to start a blog or present at a user group, and ended up getting a better job. That’s the best thing I can ever hear.

      • Señor Brent, you can place me in that category. My personal favorite post was the one about becoming the rock star candidate, I’m still working on roadie. You have been a major inspiration for my starting a blog. Of course, it took me four tries to get to my current lame version, but these things take time. Then I presented at user groups and SQL Saturdays, and yes, I got a better job. I can’t say that all those things got me the job directly, but they made me a better DBA and a better person and happily, I have a better career to go along with it.

        My one complaint about this post is I couldn’t read your old posts in their entirety. I really wanted to read the remainder of the circa 2006 one… :-)

        • Thanks, guys! I’m glad I could help.

          Steven – one of these days I wanna publish a best-of ebook with some of my favorite old posts. Been meaning to get around to that…

  2. Congratulations *Greg*. There’s a story there I’m sure.

    ~Blogger hobbyist, Michael J. Swart

    • Thanks, sir! Yeah, my dad goes by Greg, and I wanted nothing more than to be like him, so I went by Greg through high school. In college, profs would call me Brent during roll call, and I just rolled with it. Figured I’d be a new me in a new town.

  3. Congrats, sir. Oh, when I was Ten, I got some Transformers for my birthday. It was freakin’ awesome. perhaps your blog would like some Transformers? Just a thought.

  4. Congrats dude – I always appreciate your helpful posts and tweets (although they remind me how unsuccessful I am in your reflected glory) {-:

    Keep it up!

    • Andy – thanks, sir! We’re all unsuccessful in our own ways, heh. I look at real career-oriented bloggers, people who write for a full time living, and I’m just humbled by the quality of their writing and their sites.

  5. Hmmm… when I went to learn about what underpants gnomes were, I was presented with
    this.

    (Blame Canada)

  6. Congratulations! Your blog has been very helpful to many of us. Thank you for your contribution to the SQL community.

  7. Big congratulations, Brent! You are an inspiration.

    Eric Gray

  8. Congratulations! And thank you! I know I’ve become a much better DBA from your informative posts on this blog. I’ve grown leaps and bounds, and realized there was SO MUCH MORE to SQL Server and its surrounding architecture than I had ever considered. Now I have the tools to solve problems. This blog, among other things, renewed my love for all things IT! What a great (free) gift! Looking forward to more, more, more! :)

  9. Congrats Brent,Your blog has helped me a lot and made me a better person at work and life(Be cool attitude).You and your blog are awesome !!!

  10. I stumbled upon your site couple of years ago as I was searching for some answer to a SQL question. Ever since, I have been almost a daily visitor. I check your blog as some people check morning newspaper.

    The thing that attracted me initially was your sense of humor in presenting things and also I had a feeling like you knew what you were talking about.

    Thanks for all the good posts and all the best for the next ten years!

    Mirza

  11. Congrats! I have enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to more!

  12. Congrats Brent. Wish you Success. You have inspired many people..and I am one among them.

  13. I can’t wait to see more from you Brent. Keep going mate! U R always an inspiration!

  14. Congratulations Brent. I love your posts and thanks for all the positive engergy. I’ll look forward to meet you sometime soon.

    Cheers – DV

  15. Congratulations Brent.

  16. You got that special something that makes me subscribe to your feeds and come back every week!

    Congrats and thank you for your contributions to the community!

  17. Brent, congratulations on this, yet another, milestone in your career. I can’t thank you enough for all I have learned and laughed trough your posts and webcasts. They have certainly enriched my career and provided some insights in areas I wouldn’t normally have dug in.
    Here’s to another successful 10 years!

  18. Congrats Brent, Count me among your many readers. I love all the great knowledge sharing I have learned lots and it has given me a renewed vigor for DBA work. I also look for you when I sign up for conferences, thanks again for a great SQL connections this year in Vegas. Keep up the good work. Still waiting that blog post for Why a SAN is like a pinyata. I am on pins and needles. Take care Brent, Love your work.

  19. Congratulations Brent!!! keep rocking.

  20. Thanks Brent for all the good things you’re doing for me – yes, for me. I consider you as a “mentor”. You may not be aware of it but you’re – or your blog, twitter, online presence – helping me keep my passion for SQL Server alive! I know this is also true to many of your followers.

    I will become a SQL Server DBA some day, and you will be the first person that I’ll say “thank you” to.

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