Ten Years Blogging

I published my very first post to The CAD Geek in January 2006. It’s now February 2016, and my humble corner of the Internet has appeared in web browsers around the world for an entire decade! If I were to choose just one quote to embody the last ten years of The CAD Geek, it would have to be from Steve Jobs’ commencement speech:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

Starting The CAD Geek

During my junior year of high school, I was able to co-op out of my drafting class at Hermitage Technical Center, and go to work as a CAD Technician. I learned more than I could ever capture in a single blog post at that job, but I’ll never forget the empty binder my boss handed me on my first day of work. My boss suggested I use the binder to collect interesting articles, tips & tricks, and other industry related things I stumbled across.

I kept that binder for many years, taking it from job-to-job, adding to it along the way. Complete with food-stained lunch & learn printouts, Lynn Allen Tips & Tricks booklets, and more – the binder became a survival guide of sorts for me. That was until the binder contained so much information that I struggled to quickly find the information I needed within it. Had I met the same challenge today, there’s a good chance I would have chosen a tool like Evernote or OneNote instead of the blog known today as The CAD Geek.

With few options for keeping a digital notebook in 2006, I matched my curiosity of WordPress with my need to digitally capture information. That combination served as the foundation for this humble corner of the internet that has subsequently connected many dots for me over the last decade.

Connecting the Dots

Adding up web hosting, domain registration, and other associated costs; running The CAD Geek for ten years has easily cost me thousands of dollars. As I connect the dots over the last ten years, it begs to question whether the investment was worth it?

If you simply consider the revenue earned from things like Google Ads, the short answer is absolutely not. This site has easily cost more to run than it has ever directly earned back in revenue. But that’s not to say The CAD Geek hasn’t been a worthwhile venture. I have absolutely profited from The CAD Geek in many less tangible ways. From the people I’ve meet, the doors those people helped me open, to the opportunities that emerged as I walked through those doors – The CAD Geek has been a rich experience.

Among my first “CAD Geek” stepping-stones was writing in AUGIWorld magazine, and speaking at Autodesk University. Speaking at Autodesk University and being published in a magazine were two dreams I believed were so far-fetched, so unattainable, that it would be foolish of me to define either as a personal goal. It wasn’t long after that I was asked to write my book AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required. As both an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor Member in the Order of the Arrow (Scouting’s National Honor Society), the Boy Scouts taught me public speaking skills, but writing had never been a strength of mine. Writing a book was so far fetched to me that the first time I thought about writing a book was when an acquisitions editor at Wiley approached me at Autodesk University.

It’s been a little more than five years that so many of the people I met as a result of The CAD Geek helped me open the door at one of the top Autodesk Partners – CADD Microsystems. In September 2015 I celebrated five years with CADD Microsystems as their Technical Product and Online Manager. So much of what I do in that job today comes from lessons I first learned from The CAD Geek. The dots have absolutely connected in unimaginable ways for me.

My Advice to Other Bloggers

Nearly every blogger I’ve spoken with began blogging for a different reason. Whatever that reason, my biggest advice to new bloggers is to be yourself, be truthful, and to make mistakes. You’ll make plenty of mistakes early on (I sure did), and that’s okay. It typically takes years to build a significant blog following, so make mistakes early, and use the time to find your voice (not a copycat voice of other bloggers, or the voice you think will draw more visitors). Don’t get caught up in analytics when your blog is still new, and instead invest that energy into content. If your content is good, Google will find it, and the traffic will come.

Put simply, there are no shortcuts to building a blog. It takes consistently writing content, observing what works, changing what doesn’t, and continuously learning along the way.

What’s Next

Interestingly, one of my biggest challenges as a blogger have been the very opportunities The CAD Geek helped me develop. Projects like my book AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required has been an incredible experience, but writing a 1,000+ page book has certainly impacted The CAD Geek during what I call book season. Looking ahead to what I hope will be another 10 years of blogging, I’m excited by the innovation in the industry, and can’t wait to share my experiences here at The CAD Geek.

Thanks for making the first decade of The CAD Geek so incredible!

Donnie