You may have noticed a different layout on the blog. Late last week, I began changing everything around, creating a fresh look for OnlineMarketerBlog. (And of course, feel free to let me know what you think of the re-design!)
But this process got me thinking about why I blog. I started this re-design almost 10 months to the day since I started blogging and I wanted to figure out why I blog and if it's worth it. There's a substantial investment in time, energy, and money. The URL cost $15, a year's hosting about $100, plus all early mornings, late nights, and weekend hours when I could be sleeping or hanging out with BG and the dogs. So why do it?
In this blog post, I will outline the reasons I blog and give some reasons why I think the medium will be around for a long, long time. It will be from a personal perspective - I hope this post helps those of you already blogging or thinking about starting a blog.
What Has Blogging Done For Me Lately?
Here are some quick reasons why blogging has been beneficial to me. If you'd like to hear more about any particular topic listed below, just let me know.
- Developed my writing skills - Writing for at least two hours per day must have helped my chops.
- Made connections to other bloggers - I've connected with amazing bloggers, authors, thinkers, and doers through this blog. (This may be the most surprising and rewarding result of blogging.)
- Discipline of thought and action - Forcing myself to get up earlier, think about complex matters, and produce content on a regular basis has forged great discipline that has crossed over into other aspects of my life as well.
- Developed personal/professional brand - Like Chris Brogan and others have said, a personal and professional brand is a new essential.
- Helped other folks - I really get a kick out of it when people tell me a particular blog post really helped them. 'Nuff said.
Of course, these are just a few of the ways that blogging has helped me. These benefits are possible for anyone thinking about blogging, if they're willing to work for it. So is blogging hurting anything? Maybe journalism?
How Could Anyone Complain About This?
In a particularly inane newspaper column, Christie Blatchford of Canada's Globe and Mail bemoans the current state of journalism due to all the blogger types hovering around at the Olympics. In a sense, there are too many kids in the pool and the crotchety Ms. Blatchford can't do her laps.
The always-on-point Mitch Joel responds on his blog and in his podcast, Six Pixels of Separation. His argument is cogent and spot-on (why aren't you subscribed, anyway?). He lays out his six reasons why blogs are unstoppable (listen to the podcast for details on each):
- Power of the individuals
- Speed to publish
- Cost to publish
- People want to share their stories
- There’s an audience for it
- It’s different from other media
I would like to go a little further, if I may be so bold. This re-design and reflection time got me thinking about three other reasons why blogging is unstoppable. I hope Mitch doesn't mind if I add my personal reasons:
- Blogging is not a zero-sum game. You aren't going to "use up" your life's blog posts. Unlike the Ms. Blatchfords of the world, I believe that writers become better writers by...writing (crazy, right?). I know that I've become a stronger writer by pumping out a couple thousands words every week. It is illogical to think bloggers might somehow write less due to the output required by their blogs.
- Blogging allows me to practice no-fear. We live in a world of constant change unlike anything seen before. Newspapers are folding after centuries of dominance. White towers of journalism are falling to citizen reporting. News is constant, but the sources are ever-changing. I know why people like Ms. Blatchford fear this change. It takes her out of the driver's seat. Heck, every time I sit down to write a post, it is terrifying to know that my good name is attached to whatever I produce. But nothing good ever came from a system of fear. Blogging strikes against fear and that is an aspect that will allow it to thrive.
- Blogging is a meritocracy. Everyday, my blog is being judged by the content on it. If I don't post, less people come. If I attack someone needlessly, they will likely come calling. If I write a bad post, I deserve negative comments. Unlike many things, blogging is a meritocracy. The good rise and the bad fall. I understand Ms. Blatchford's trepidation with this system (salaries and tenure sometimes do that) but that's no reason to strike out at bloggers as though they have nothing to say. If your audience is leaving, you have only yourself to blame.
Ms. Blatchford begins her screed with this: "The unofficial end to journalism as I know it may have come earlier this week..." Well, if exclusivity, mediocrity, and bourgeoisie-ity is her idea of journalism, then by golly I hope she's correct.
People like to thumb their noses at bloggers and that's fine. Let 'em. But if you see blogging, writing, thinking, reporting, and connecting as a means to an end (rather than an end in itself), you cannot go wrong. Even if your blog fails, the skills you developed and the rewards that come through being a blogger (like the five I mentioned at the beginning of this post), will always be with you.
But for now, are you bloggers learning more, developing your skills, and leading by example? Why else do you blog? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below, even (or especially) if you think I'm totally off base.
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