10 reasons to keep on blogging
Do we still need to blog? We have Twitter and Facebook where we can publish, connect, engage and debate with an update and a like button. Foursquare and Plancast let us inform the world of our whereabouts and our gonna be’s. Posterous and Tumblr give us the option to lifestream in a freestyle way. All of these alternatives are easier and less time consuming than posting on a regular basis.
But over the last couple of years I’ve found the advantages of blogging in a structured manner far outweigh the commitment of time and energy. Here’s why I’m doing it. If you stop by here frequently regularly, I’d love to hear your reactions. And if you’re a blogger as well, I’m curious what drives you to continue.
Focus your thinking
Interestingly the best reason to write doesn’t have to do with reaching an audience. Blogging helps you think more clearly, explore a subject, develop a point of view and reach conclusions. We carry an inordinate number of disparate thoughts around in our brains. Sometimes writing them down, editing them and challenging your own thinking is invaluable.
Find your tribe
Ben Malbon once told me he wants to work with the smartest people in the world and they obviously can’t all work for his company. So he has to find them somewhere else. Blogging by nature connects you to those who think about the same stuff you think about. You write a piece; someone posts it on Twitter; someone else sees the link, reads it and comments — possibly referencing another writer you’d find interesting — and your tribe has just grown.
Discover better sources of content
In an age of sharing, participation and conversation, you quickly realize that a blog is not a discrete property, rather it’s part of a larger eco-system, connected via readers, other bloggers who explore the same topics, and comment streams that start in one place and move across the web. All of which provide you with links to additional content that makes you smarter.
Learn from your readers
This is perhaps my favorite aspect of blogging. Rarely do I write something that doesn’t get modified, added to, or questioned by someone. Could be a regular reader who’s comfortable calling me out, or a first time visitor who’s inspired to share something I don’t know about. You might be lucky enough to find someone like Ben Kunz to show up and challenge your every premise.
Understand inbound marketing
This is an added benefit. But in an age when outbound advertising is getting less and less effective, blogging is an opportunity to learn all about SEO, inbound links, search results and analytics. You know when a post works, whether it gets attention, and how long someone has spent with it. Spend just a small amount of time on learning this stuff and you have a new language and set of skills that increases your value to clients.
If you’re someone who has to speak or present frequently, blogging gives you a head start on any material you have to create. Inevitably your past posts become the foundation and themes for presentations, talks and panels. They also become an opportunity to crowdsource ideas, answers, suggestions and get your readers to actually help you out.
Build your business
This is not a for-profit enterprise, but it’s helped prospective clients discover both me and Mullen and it’s also been a marketing tool for the agency’s new business efforts. You can’t very well claim to have much expertise in the digital space or in social media if you’re not using it yourself. A blog that gets read and referred to helps to convince clients you know what you’re talking about.
Experiment and fail
You can try things with a blog that you can’t necessarily put into practice in real life. Post something crazy, rant a little, proffer a hypothesis and see what kind of reaction it gets. It’s also a chance to say things that turn out to be stupid and wrong. What the hell? It’s just a blog.
Preserve your stream
This is a topic worthy of numerous posts. We still don’t own our own streams. Sure you have your status updates and online photos. But if you really want a stream of your entire life you’d need not only your status but your health, expenses, music, travel and thoughts aggregated in one easily accessible place. Not gonna happen for a while. A blog at least gives you a historic reference that you own and control. A great way to look back at what you were thinking and when.
Helps you avoid watching television
If you’ve read Clay Shirky’s new book, you know this basic premise: for the last 60 years, watching television has occupied the majority of our free time. Amazing to think that after generations of really working that all most of us did with the post war boom’s gift of free time was watch TV. Anyway, one of the best things about all things social is that it turns us into creators instead of passive spectators. May save us from getting Alzheimers. Blogging may take time, but there’s plenty of time available if you turn off the tube. You won’t be missing much.
There’s actually an 11th reason. Blogging is a chance to give something back: knowledge, advice, experience, or just your sense of humor. Somewhere along the line plenty of people must have helped you out. Why not do a little digital mentoring from your keyboard as a way of paying it forward?
What about you? Worth the time, energy and effort?
Great Post! though it's great to stimulate bloggers to keep on writing, hopefully this piece also encourages "passive" internet users to read more blogs. Less than 9% of the online community generates 90% of the content. It's time for the remaining 91% to do something!! Read and enjoy blogs!!
Great post and very good points. "Focus your thinking" is by far the biggest advantage that I find. I've actually refined some of my methodologies by putting them down on paper so to speak. It was when writing a post that I realized that a few of my thoughts didn't make much sense and it forced me to more closely examine my process and then refine it to be more effective.
I thought I was doing it to find a tribe, gain an outlet for my writing, and throw thoughts into the cloud for consumption. What I've found surprising is the cathartic benefits of focused blog thinking.
Blogs are very relevant today more than ever. Facebook doesn't allow you to create 'me' online. Same with Twitter. Blogs allow you to create who you are and discuss things at length.
I have a pretty dry, contrarian marketing blog that gets almost zero readers. But it allows me to craft my views on subjects and then I have used posts to explain my positions to people down the road without having to start from scratch. It also allows me to see how my views have evolved.
One of my early blog posts slammed Twitter for not being an Advertising Platform due to lack of scale (after 4 weeks of research). Yet over time I found it to be an incredible networking and discovery platform that has uses beyond push advertising. And seeing my posts evolve over time has been great for being retrospective. Without Twitter I would not know Edward Boches or your blog. My professional life would be poorer then.
Also I have seen a lot of people with blogs become mini-brands unto themselves in niche areas from Foodies to Crafts to Travel. Having 5000 readers won't make you rich, but it does give you credibility in your area of expertise.
Great post Edward and I hate when bloggers I enjoy reading go on vacation and blog less! =P
Quick note: When I researched Twitter it was because of the hype and I wanted to see if brands could truly advertise. I didn't slam the Twitter technology just the Industry hype.
I know. It's not just vacation, sometimes you just run out of ideas. I have to admit I'm a little bit in summer mode, but as an advocate of all of this stuff and experimenting non-stop in hopes that it might yield something useful, I started this cycling blog. More vacation oriented. http://capecodcycling.posterous.com/ I'll swing by your blog today.
Its great to be loved Edward! You have such interesting things to say and generate a lot of thought provoking stuff. Plus you like to teach, share, engage.
In fact been very interested in your bike riding. Enjoy your time off!
Thank you for this post. It came at a good time for me, because I confess, I sometimes wonder why I bother to blog. Partly it's my good old faulty genes rearing their ugly depression driven heads, other times it's just the nagging feeling that blogging feels self-indulgent (it's not, but sometimes, well, that's just how I feel).
All ten of your points are great, but for me the ones I most relate to are 1, 3, 4 and 7.
1, because there is no better way to focus your thinking than to try to write down your thoughts.
3, because it has simply been so true for me.
4, because every reader who has ever commented has taught me something valuable and that is invaluable.
7, because I would certainly like to sell a few albums, can't deny that! Speaking of, I finally have one out! Check it at http://deepsalvage.bandcamp.com/
Thanks again for a great post. Happy 4th.
As a lapsed blogger but current lifestreamer I identify most with your #10 "Preserve Your Stream". All my blog is right now is a capture of my various social media activity. I realized I spent an hour a day reading blogs, posting comments, status updates, etc and I wanted a record of that activity.
Good points. My Journal of a High-Tech Cat is where I rant, write the result of some experiment with media (audio & video) or just dump a thought onto 'paper'. I am listening to Shirky's book (audible.com and priced right) as I type - interesting.
I do like your #11 - "Blogging is a chance to give something back: knowledge, advice, experience, or just your sense of humor." I try to do some of that.
The blog is waiting for me to write something about an experiment with HDTV/Blue-ray and homemade DVD while I read/comment here. In fact I have no clue what i'll write until the blog editor is in my face. Just like pen & paper, the words will be filed for the future. What is said here will be saved; I like to think that happens. My twitter notes will be lost in the bit stream.
Did I say nice essay? It is.
Great reasons. I particularly agree with numbers 1 and 4...
Writing, in this case blogging helps you to focus the sometimes messed up brain. Helps to give structure to your thoughts.
And it doesn't matter what you wrote, you will find on the reader's comment something that make your thoughts complete, they enrich your post.
greetings from mexico city
Love the last one, Edward. That's so true. My generation (Xers) grew up watching MTV and playing Nintendo. I'm fairly certain it fried my brain by age 17 ;)
My question to you: Do you think the current environment is producing a more creative generation than the last few? Is blogging and the ability to create your own content like never before really fostering creativity in younger people?
That is a great question and one I'm not really qualified to answer. Nicholas Carr would say no. Clay Shirky would say we are getting there. After we get done with the LOL Cat and move onto meaningful stuff, yes. I do think it makes creative platforms so much more accessible to people that it's likely we won't lose the next Picasso, or Spielberg or Jobs to lack of opportunity. But on the other hand, as we've seen for years, an Avid didn't make better film editors, Macs didn't make better art directors, less expensive laptops won't make better writers. Talent is still talent. What might happen, I hope, is that as all of this stuff permeates culture, schools and education will place more value on creativity and push for more participation from kids. Read Sir Ken Robinson or watch him on Ted.com if you haven't.
Thanks for the suggestion--I haven't seen Sir Ken Robinson, but will certainly be checking that out.
Completely agree with the fostering creativity more purposefully in the classroom. I try to bring that out in my kids every day. Give them outlets to be creative. Learn to let them try--and fail. I think as parents, we could all stand to give our kids more creative opportunities. Everyone has creative energy--it's just a matter of finding it, right?