People blog for all manner of reasons. Some have something important to say and what they say is useful to others. Others have nothing important to say. And what they say is useful to nobody. The web is full of writing, good, bad and indifferent. If you own a blog or are looking to start one, finding a worthwhile reason to write consistently, with a goal in mind, however broad or narrow it may be, should be at the epicentre of it all. This post isn’t so much about the technical advantages of blogging that have been reiterated many times over, but more the theory behind some of the reasons people choose to do it.
This is my first blog. I’m already struggling to come to terms with the idea of giving stuff away for free. The stuff being knowledge and/or experience gained from 3 years or so gathering little bits and pieces of useful information that collectively help me to do my job better. I’m not a blogger. I never have been. And at this point I have no idea whether I will ever be a consistently good blogger. Why then have I chosen to start a blog?
Writing is theraputic
Writing provides an emotional release. To turn something that used to be intangible and liable to forgetfulness into something you can see, read and refer to can be a very refreshing feeling. Sometimes it can feel like what’s in your head doesn’t exist or isn’t true until it’s written down in front of you.
It can provide a much needed break from your daily routine. Especially if that routine involves trawling through code without a clue as to what it’s trying to do or attempting to fix CSS bugs in Internet Explorer. You get to take yourself out of that constricted environment and plonk yourself in front of an empty screen, with all the potential in the world at your fingertips.
Sometimes there are things you just have to say, you have to get them out. It’s not feasible to run around telling everybody you meet the same thing over and over. What you need is a broadcast tool. Blogging has become well known for its ability to turn nobodies into mini celebs over night through the process of a well targeted rant. It’s even been known to affect force governmental decisions.
For a lot of people, it’s how they feel most comfortable expressing themselves. Not everybody enjoys face to face communication. Even telephone conversations can be intimidating to some. When you write, there are no awkward pauses. No expectations. No social protocols. Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t any protocols at all. Just no immediate ones.
Writing helps you organise your mind
When your head is a mess with thoughts, ideas and opinions, it helps to write it all down. Working a full time job and freelancing in every spare hour leaves me with little free headspace that isn’t wholly consumed by over-ambitious ideas, cashflow stresses and a recent niggling ache to blog about something worthwhile. List-making is the only answer. I have lists on paper, lists in Excel, lists in iPhone apps, lists in Textpad files, lists on my whiteboard. Lists everywhere. I need a list of lists. That may sound (probably is) going slightly overboard, but the alternative is to let everything that goes through my head enjoy its few seconds of intense focus before fizzling out days, hours or minutes later when the short term memory finally takes charge.
The humble list is all-powerful. Simple yet refined. Easy to compile, but so heavily relied upon. Make use of him.
Good writing will bring you fame and possible fortune
Although my intention for writing this blog is for neither of these, there are, I’m certain, many people who are chasing them. It is a fact that good, consistent blogging will get you noticed. These days it seems even consistent writing alone will get you an adequately sized following. Though it is unlikely to bring you much fortune. Manipulating your thoughts and converting them into beautiful prose is what separates the good writers from the bad. For those of you that are talented and skilled literary conductors, there are plenty of options at your disposal through which to earn your lunch money. About.com is perfect example. Their entire community is built around freelance writers who write about their hobbies and passions. The site gets over 70 million visits a month. That’s a lot of opportunity to sell your content.
A chance to give something back
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve spent a lot of time collecting and collating useful info, tips and techniques and a truckload of inspiration posts from various sites around the web. From traversing forums and knowledge bases, to directly contacting people in the know. One way or another I’ve managed to get past each and every problem encountered. I’ve had precious few real life mentors (cue tiny violin). Not a lot of people are willing to give up their time to help out those that are new to the industry. The ones that do so should be commended and kept close at hand.
My motivation for this blog, like many for theirs, is built from an amalgamation of reasons. I want to have my say. I want to give something back. I want to help others. I want to simplify the web for the casual surfer. I want to contribute to the progressive enhancement of my industry. But more than all of that – I want to write. If I can work all of these things into what I write about, I’ll be happy.
There are a hundred and one reasons people choose to blog. The open nature of the web makes doing so a completely free and unrestrained activity. Sometimes it can feel daunting when you look at other blogs and realise how prolific they are in hitting the right subjects at the right time. But this is no reason to be put off if you genuinely have something to offer. Passion for what you do is the strongest tool at your disposal. If you have it, you’ll hit the right subjects at the right time. Who knows what benefits you’ll uncover if you give it a go. This is my go. And my head already feels a little less cluttered :)