My dear SharePoint Maven followers and fans, I never thought I would be writing this post. I never envisioned in 2013 that my blog would last 10 years, nor that it would turn into my own consulting business. It all happened somewhat quickly, informally, and almost by accident. But yet, here we are, in November 2023, and yes, the SharePoint Maven website has been around for 10 years now! My first blog post, “Stay away from folders in SharePoint!” was published exactly 10 years ago, on November 2, 2013.
So, I thought today I would give you a brief snapshot/timeline of the last 10 years of my blog and consulting business. But before I do that, here is a quick cartoon that summarizes the last 10 years in 1 minute. 🙂
How it all started
I talked previously on my blog and my podcast about how it all got started. It was November 2013. I was unemployed, looking for a job, and going for interviews without luck. Since I had some free time, I decided to start a blog and document my ideas on SharePoint, since I was a huge fan of the application. Back then, SharePoint was predominantly available on-premises and only with larger companies who could afford expensive servers, licensing, and armies of IT people to support them.
Then, I worked in the field of business analysis and project management. I happened to work for some large banks and medical device companies, leading various IT projects for them. All those big companies happened to use SharePoint for collaboration — and most used SharePoint 2007 or 2010 versions. So, most of my experience with SharePoint came through being a regular end user, just like most of my audience now.
Getting lucky with Office 365
In my early days of blogging about SharePoint, one huge development occurred, which strongly boosted my blog and consulting business. Microsoft released a cloud-only Office 365 suite of products. Essentially, they took their products (SharePoint, Outlook, Office apps) and made them all available in the cloud, based on a subscription model. So, overnight, SharePoint turned from a luxury (available only to large organizations with armies of IT people and unlimited budgets) to an excellent collaboration tool available to small businesses and mom-and-pop shops.
What that meant for me was that the audience for my blog expanded rapidly. Many small businesses began purchasing Office 365 Suite, which meant they had to get familiar with SharePoint for the first time.
Seeing the opportunity
When I started my blog, most of the blog posts on the web about SharePoint were very technical in nature. The reason for that was that most organizations still relied on SharePoint on-premises, so most blogs were devoted not to the end-user experience, but rather the back-end administration, installation, and maintenance.
However, I was never a developer or a technical guy. I was always an end user, configuring sites, libraries, and metadata. So that is what I started blogging about – my thoughts about the various features available in the SharePoint application. And since other companies started moving to Office 365 and SharePoint Online, my posts became a perfect fit for their Google searches since I, myself, was an end user/power user for many years, just like my blog readers.
My first client
After about six months of blogging, I got my first client. They reached out to me on LinkedIn after seeing this article about Metadata. They wanted to transfer from folders to metadata, and I helped them with the transition and training. I remember creating a document library with various content types and views. That was a cool little project.
Focusing on Out of the Box
As I continued blogging about various end-user topics, I noticed a pattern that started to appear. You see, I was never a developer or a true IT guy; I used SharePoint as an end user. And this appealed to many of my readers as well. Many SharePoint blogs at that time were focused on the technical and server side of things. With SharePoint Online, the technical part was not necessary – the application is hosted and maintained for you by Microsoft. Many users just needed to know how to use the application properly; how to properly configure sites, set security, etc. And that is where my blog came in. All the posts in my blog are based on the actual questions I get from clients and loyal followers. My philosophy is that if someone has a question, someone else probably has the same exact question/issue as well. So I just document what I know, document my responses to my clients.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you probably know about my out-of-the-box philosophy. This is at the core of my business model – everything I do for clients is built using out-of-the-box capabilities. Not a single line of code or third-party tools/add-ons are involved.
Evolution of SharePoint
My blog also benefited from the fact that Microsoft completely revamped (modernized) SharePoint in 2017. Many concepts developed before 2017 became almost obsolete, and I had to learn and get familiar with new features and capabilities, just like my blog readers.
Podcast and YouTube
In 2020, as the world dealt with the pandemic and we were all stuck at home, I decided to add a Podcast and focus on a YouTube channel as another means to deliver the message and knowledge to my loyal followers.
I always joke that my podcast is the only podcast where you can learn SharePoint while you do the dishes. 😊
SharePoint Maven today
For the most part, SharePoint Maven today is the same as it was 10 years ago. Not much has changed in terms of my business model or philosophy:
- I still focus on SharePoint out of the box
- I still work by myself and do not have a team or outsource any part of my work to 3rd parties
- I still maintain my blog diligently on a regular basis, making sure fresh content is always there and available to my audience
My services also have not changed much since the early days. Here are my core services and offerings to my clients:
What’s next for SharePoint Maven
I have no idea, I am not Nostradamus 😊. I plan to stick around for as long as SharePoint or myself are alive. As SharePoint and other applications within Microsoft 365 evolve, I will also do my best to evolve with my content and expertise. And I sure hope you, my loyal blog, YouTube, and podcast followers, will be with me for the ride.
From the bottom of my heart, Thank You!
Gregory Zelfond, SharePoint Maven