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A Blog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas – British Library Talk

Thanks to Create KX for inviting me to speak at the British Library‘s Business & IP Centre last night, about blogging for creative businesses. And thanks to everyone who came along to make it a really enjoyable evening. It was also a pleasure to meet fellow speaker Paul Caplan and hear his enthusiastic take on the live web.

As promised, here are the slides from the talk, some technical explanations of blogging tools and RSS, plus links to all the blogs I mentioned in the talk. Enjoy!


If you…

If you were at the talk the links below will take you to all the tools and sites I mentioned last night. You can also get all my future posts about creativity, coaching and the people factor in creative business, via RSS or e-mail.

If you weren’t at the talk, I hope the slides and links give you some food for thought.

If you run a creative business in the King’s Cross area of London, you should get in touch with Sian James and the team at Create KX, they’re working very hard to help people like you.

If you run a creative business within striking distance of the British Library, you should check out the Business & IP Centre, it’s a fantastic resource for entrepreneurs – lots of business books, journals, reports, research etc. And you can get a British Library reader’s ticket for free, and access the entire library.

OK I think that covers everyone, on with the links…

Slides from the presentation

Here are the slides from my presentation – you can also download them as a pdf from Slideshare.

Blogging tools

Here’s my introductory page about Blogging for Creative Professionals, outlining the main concepts and tools you need to create a blog. One tool I haven’t added yet is Ecto, a superb blog editor that makes it much easier and quicker to write blog posts.

Here’s my explanation of RSS. And this video from Common Craft gives you a probably clearer and slightly more Sesame-Street-esque explanation. (Found via Business and Blogging.)

If you haven’t got time for RSS today, bookmark this page and have a look at the e-mail subscription page for Wishful Thinking – many of your readers won’t understand RSS and offering an e-mail option means you won’t miss out on potential subscribers.


Seth Godin’s free e-book on blogging – the book that infected me with the blogging bug.

As I said in my presentation, Dave Taylor’s book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Growing Your Business with Google is the most useful book I’ve ever bought on marketing – it covers a lot more than blogging, and explains how to make yourself ‘findable’ via Google and other search engines. At the very least you should make sure your web developer reads the chapter on building a Google-friendly website.

“The Corporate Blogging Book” (Debbie Weil) Don’t be put off by the ‘C’ word – this is a useful guide to blogging for business, which looks at the pros and cons and gives plenty of case examples. Relevant for small as well as large businesses.


Legal Issues

An article by two lawyers about the legal pitfalls for unwary bloggers – read carefully…

Blogs I mentioned in the presentation

I’ve tried to give a good cross-section of different types of creative business blog, and show how a blog can perform different functions for creative artists and entrepreneurs – e.g. marketing, networking, teaching, showcasing work – as well as two of the best blogs about blogging.

The success of this blog is proof of Hugh McLeod’s claim that “blogs are a great way to make things happen indirectly”. The engine of the blog is his wickedly funny cartoons. His readers love the cartoons, and keep coming back for more. And because Hugh gives them away for free, they spread – people post them on their own blogs and link back to his. On the back of the resultant popularity, Hugh has used this blog and others he’s involved with to sell Savile Row suits, Thingamy software, Stormhoek wine, the Hallam Foe feature film, and most recently, Microsoft.


English Cut
Thomas Mahon is a bespoke Savile Row tailor, persuaded to write a blog by Hugh McLeod. Thomas lifts the lid on the mysteries of Savile Row, explaining his craft in posts such as how to draft a pattern and worsteds & super numbers, and breaking all the rules of old-style internet marketing by linking to his competitors. Apparently the blog has brought in so much business he’s no longer taking on new customers.

English Cut blog

Russell Davies
A great example of blogging as a conversation, for trying out ideas and connecting with people with intersecting interests. It’s hard to sum up his eclectic interests – he works in the field of branding and marketing, but in typically restless fashion has decided not to blog about brands any more and pursue other interests. Have a look at the conversations in the comments, and look at the top left of the blog for the date of the next coffee morning, where you can meet Russell and some of the commenters in ‘real life’.

Russell Davies

Business of Design Online
An excellent resource for graphic designers running their own studio, with plenty of material that’s relevant to any creative business. A good example of a blog written by multiple authors, benefitting from their a range of expertise and also lightening the writing load.

Business of Design Online

Wieden + Kennedy blog
Blog of the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy (who do the Honda ads) giving you a window on life at the agency and giving them some great PR and (one suspects) a lot of fun.

Wieden + Kennedy blog

Noisy Decent Graphics
“Written by a Graphic Designer in London. This blog is primarily about graphic design followed by design in general and then some related stuff about communication, ideas and inevitably brands.” Not an official agency blog, but the popularity of a post like The Design Disease show how a very personal take on creative work can strike a chord with readers.

Noisy Decent Graphics

Presentation Zen
Superb educational blog. Should be required reading for anyone giving a presentation – except that it would be more of a pleasure than a joy. Which is how presentations should be, isn’t it? By giving away so much knowledge and expertise, with the enthusiasm of a genuine teacher, Garr Reynolds has significantly raised his personal profile.

Presentation Zen

A beautiful example of an artist using a blog as an online gallery. Nela Dunato lives in Croatia and as far as I can tell she doesn’t exhibit outside her homeland. So if she hadn’t created this blog you’d never have heard of her. You have now.


My poetry blog
This one has been a big neglected by comparison with the Wishful Thinking blog, but the basic idea is that it serves as a place where I highlight my poems and articles published in magazines, as well as share my thoughts about poetry I’m reading and connect with other poets. It will never make me rich, but I have a lot of fun writing it – when I can find the time…

Mark McGuinness | poetry

Darren Rowse has built this site into a virtual encyclopedia of blogging – I devoured the archives when I started blogging and it’s still one of the first blogs I read every day. The key to its success is Darren’s energy and generosity in making it as helpful as possible to anyone seriously interested in blogging. A lot of the content is oriented towards bloggers writing for a ‘consumer audience’ rather than business-to-business (e.g. there are a lot of posts about advertising and affiliate networks) but there’s still plenty of material of interest to business bloggers. Start with his Blogging for Beginners Series.


Another standout in the crowd of blogs about blogging. Brian Clarke really knows his copywriting and practises what he preaches in post after post of solid advice on adapting traditional copywriting techniques to the modern web. As a writer myself, it’s a pleasure to see someone demonstrating the value of well-crafted writing on the web.


Well that’s all folks, I hope it was helpful. If anyone has been inspired to start a blog as a result of the talk, please let me know.


  1. Excellent choice of blogs to mention.

    Thanks for piecing this post together Mark.


  2. Great post Mark – similar minds at work here as I’m going to be making a not dissimilar presentation to Irish arts and cultural organisations here in the next few weeks – I’ll draw on some of your resources as well as the ones I have come across myself…thanks for posting this!

  3. On another note Mark – I hear a lot from writers in particular that they’re reluctant to publish their work “free” on a blog..how do you reconcile that for yourself (the poet part of you!)..

  4. Thanks for the mention!

  5. Sounds like a great presentation Mark – thanks for the kind mention 🙂

  6. Invlauable, claer and comprehansive as ever Mark. Sorry I couldn’t be there. Like the shirt too…

  7. Mark, thanks for an excellent, and very pragmatic, view of the value of blogging. I came to the event to hear Paul speaking (as I’d heard him before and wanted to have a chance to touch base). Paul was his excellent, enthusiastic Paulness but I was also struck by your tempered enthusiasm with a good recognition of the risks and drawbacks.

    On top of my day job I have been working on a view of how government can engage with social media – current practise, its role, permission to engage etc – your talk was inspirational. Thanks very much.

  8. David, Deb – glad you liked it!

    Ben, Darren – thanks, great to hear from such esteemed bloggers.

    Annette – it’s funny, I was thinking about that in relation to poetry this week. Fortunately we poets have no illusions about earning money from our writing! But I don’t publish many poems online because I’d rather have them published in magazines – it’s much more valuable to me to have a poem placed in a respected magazine than it would be to put it on my poetry blog. With this blog it’s the opposite – the more my ideas spread, the better off I am (as long as I’m acknowledged as the source!) so I’m happy to publish lots of stuff for free.

    Jeremy – thanks, I’m glad you appreciated the pragmatism! I loved Paul’s enthusiasm and share it myself, I just think it’s wise to temper it with a consideration of the pitfalls. Thankfully there’s a lot more good news than bad as far as blogging’s concerned!

  9. That’s such an interesting perspective Mark and I hear this from professional writers of all disciplines (reluctance to blog for free).. I wonder if it’s about the quality of the experience – do I need a poet to read to me to enjoy his/her work? whereas I know I need a coach or consultant to work with me to get the benefit of their work .. lots to think about!


  1. […] Last night gave a talk for CreatveKX to a group of artists and creative professionals who are peeping round the corner of the Live Web and thinking: “this might be useful”. Followed on from the excellent Mike who’s frighteningly efficient at following up his talk with goodies available here. He even includes a picture of himself. (He took one of me but I’ll spare ya!). Here at C2BD you’ll have to make do with the podcast (17MB) and the inevitable (cue joke) PowerPoint. […]

  2. […] Mark has posted up a whole page of resources on his blog – slides from his presentation, must read books, on blogging, links to good examples of blogging, link to an article about the legal implications of blogging, and a good explanation of what RSS is all about. Well worth a read if you want to get some background info to all this stuff. […]