Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Why I blog and why you should too

The toughest part of blogging is keeping up the urge to blog seven days a week. This post, inspired by Orwell, started out  as my quest to find out why I  blog, but it kinda evolved into an outline on why you should too.

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Trust me on this one: blogging’s tough to keep up with, there’s no clear end game but it’s totally worth it!

So blogging newbies, if you’re expecting a quick return on investment with your new hobby I’d say, don’t even start. You are likely to shed your blogging interest much like a New Year’s resolution:

“Avocational” bloggers are likely to drop off simply because it’s hard work to keep up the pace. Writing an insightful 700 word article several times a week, for no or little money, is far more taxing than snapping a photo or sending a 140 character tweet. That’s part of the reason a 2010 Pew study showed that the rate of blogging was declining among teens and young adults, who were instead spending their time on social networks.

But if you’re willing to stick with it, read on. Here’s why blogging matters to every single one of us (yes, every one reading this post):

1. Blogging gives you a voice

Blogs traffic in ideas and as a professional if you’ve ideas other than what your boss demands of you in a daily job, than a blog is the best way to share it widely. Quora or LinkedIn or Twitter sure help, but you’re playing in somebody else’s playground. I say build a blog yourself and it’s all you. You own your words, your ideas.

Get creative. You’re gonna feel the urge to do that someday soon. @dorieclark summed it best:

Writing is still the clearest and most definitive medium for demonstrating expertise on the web. But as thought leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk have shown with video blogging and fellow HBR blogger Mitch Joel with podcasting (i.e., audio blogging), as long as your content is rich and thoughtful, you can still build up a massive following and reputation regardless of your channel. In an information-hungry world, there will always be a need for expert content. And there will always be more readers and “retweeters” than there will be creators.

2. Use that voice with purpose

If you want to have an impact, you might as well be the one setting the agenda by leading with your ideas to influence the world. Reminded me (yes, I think of most things in life as a Steve Jobs quote) of something Steve Jobs said:

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is to live your life inside this world; try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life.

Life can be much broader. Once you discover one simple fact and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.

You can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

This thinking echoes one of Orwell’s motives for writing:

Political purpose: Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.

And, I think any good blog or book has a serious purpose. The rest of them blogs are boring as hell; kinda like some of the older posts I wrote in Act II of writing this blog. A mistake I don’t plan on making again.

3. Blogging sharpens your mind 

Nothing clarifies the mind better than the concerted effort to write a blog post. I learned this from @adamnash who, besides being a prolific blogger himself, also used to be a strong advocate of product managers on his team writing posts for the company blog as an exercise in thinking through product features from a user’s perspective.

What’s true for product managers is true for any professional across the board. Much like the iPhone’s limited mobile real estate forces designers to surface the most important features efficiently, a blank page on a blog forces you to channel your ideas on topics that mean something to your career.

Open an empty word document and try writing down the first thing that comes to mind about your “job” today.

Try it, it’s a liberating act.

4. Blogging helps you connect the dots

Facebook may connect you with people you already know, but knowledge networks like Twitter or Quora connect you with people you gotta know. A blog is the epitome of this dynamic.

I’m still good friends with the first group of bloggers I stumbled upon when I started this blog. Folks like Ann Handley, Jeremiah Owyang or Mack Collier among others. As time progresses, your thinking evolves, you focus on areas your mind leads you to (in my case – social networking) and you find other equally insightful bloggers to friend.

Fact is: blogging expands your circle of professional connections but more importantly guides you towards people who are more in line with your professional thinking.

So have I made a persuasive case for blogging? Frankly, this post is more a personal rallying cry to help me sustain my blogging, but rest assured blogging changed my life once and I’m betting on it doing the same again.

As Steve Jobs said:

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. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.

So blog. Do it if you really love what you do. Heck, do it if you don’t love what you currently do.

And the dots will eventually connect.

Filed under: Best-of, Thoughts, Writing,

10 Responses

  1. simonhamer says:

    Reblogged this on Simon Hamer and commented:
    I must say, I’m having fun blogging and after the recent announcement from LinkedIn that they’re “retiring” Answers on LinkedIn, I’ll have more time to do it. It just goes to show you, even the social media sites are getting less social. Many LinkedIn users used Answers to get “help” on LinkedIn (sometimes they just received abuse from those that the forum was for their self promotion) and they typically got a response inside 20 minutes. Now they have to hunt down the “Help center”, I say hunt because it is hidden under “More” as was “answers”. The “Learning centre” has been placed under “Help” too. Since answers was hidden the numbers have dropped from around 250 a day to anywhere between 135 and 175 despite a growing user base. Did LinkedIn make the right decision? Time will tell, but I’m not hanging around, our site will be up and running by the end of the month for social media answers.

    Like

    • Mario Sundar says:

      @Simon

      There are many sites like Answers, Quora, or even Twitter, but frankly answering questions posed by other users is different from your editorial.

      A blog is a blank page for a reason, which helps you bring out your ideas and if they’re good, you’ll find an audience.

      Hope to see you blog more frequently.

      Like

  2. Karen says:

    I’ve been running an experiment on my blog of posting every day for a bit over a week now. I’m starting to wonder if it makes sense to post at this rabid (for me) of a rate as some good content is missed by my readers just because it scrolls off the front page. I think regular readers look at the most recent post, and almost never go back through archives, so I’m undecided as to whether this posting daily schedule works for me or my readers.

    Like

    • Mario Sundar says:

      “as some good content is missed by my readers just because it scrolls off the front page”

      I say only blog “good content.” The key is blogging good content on a regular basis.

      As you can see with my return to blogging it took me a week to get three posts but the more often I write (and I rate my posts myself) I find it’s getting easier to write “good content” on a regular basis.

      My goal is to get 1 post a day with content that I’d read myself.

      Please email and let me know how your blogging experiment unfolds.

      Like

    • Karen says:

      Of course it’s all good content! ;) I meant that some posts are missed, because folks only look at the most recent.

      I will let you know how it unfolds.

      Like

    • Mario Sundar says:

      Frankly, keeping up the quality on every post takes effort. I’ve the scar tissue to prove it. :)

      But I feel like I now have the hang of it. Look forward to hearing about your experience.

      Like

  3. Can’t agree more with you. This year, I will have written for 17 years on the Internet and the satisfaction and business advantage I derive from this exercise outweighs 100 times the burden of having to write every day or so (in 2 languages as far as I am concerned). Probably my best investment ever!

    Like

  4. muskie says:

    A few years back I wrote this, trying to articulate why I kept blogging.

    http://blog.muschamp.ca/2010/12/20/blogging-philosophy/

    Like

    • Mario Sundar says:

      That’s a damned good post. I agree with the first half: definitely, reminded me of Orwell’s motives for writing.

      As for tips from blog gurus, I’m gonna pass on them. As you said early in your post: our motives may vary but at the end of the day it’s about finding our community.

      And there are no rules for that.

      Like

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