My blog, Matt Benson’s Musings, recently passed its one year anniversary (April 17). Hooray!
This made me think that it would be a good time to reflect: Why do I blog? How has my blog developed over the last year? In this post I address these questions.
I wrote most of this post around the time of the anniversary of my blog (and a bit more, which I’ve subsequently cropped and which might be part of a future post) – a discussion during a dinner party last night prompted me to finish this post and ‘publish’ it.
Why do I blog?
There are several reasons, the main ones being:
- My blog allows me to write down, develop and share thoughts – doing so means that I can later build on/develop those thoughts later on, discuss them with friends, receive comments/feedback from others. For me, writing down my thoughts helps me to develop them. A blog is a bit like a public journal (especially if you include your Twitterstream, as I do). People I know sometimes talk to me about my blog, or a blog post (or the blog itself) can become the basis of a dinner party discussion, or I might refer to a post that I have written on a topic when talking with someone.
- It gives me the chance to ‘meet’ and interact with interesting people who I would likely not have other wise met. Through my blog I have engaged with people in emerging markets (India, China, etc.), other MBA students and prospective MBA students (via my Duke/Fuqua and Goethe/Frankfurt connections), and more generally a variety of people with different backgrounds. Of course, everyone knows that the internet can also lead to unsavory introductions for people who are susceptible to abuse (eg, minors) or those who are careless, but this shows there is also a large opportunity.
- It allows me to participate in the online generation and blogging community – I like to be aware of what is happening in the newest consumer technology and to know what younger generations (for example, Generation Y and Generation Z) are growing up with and taking for granted – hence also my being active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gowalla, Foursquare, etc. I grew up owning a home computer, in the first generation (Generation X) where this was possible (BBC Micro Model B) – I suspect my enthusiasm for blogging was derived from my early interest in home computing. I’ve also been very impressed by the communication, interaction and sharing of ideas and knowledge that happens through blogging and micro-blogging (eg, Twitter), and so am keen to be part of that.
- Blogging is fun and enlightening. It is quite satisfying to develop a blog – I don’t consider myself to be a web developer or an artist, and so the look and feel of my blog are so far limited to available ‘themes’ that I can use, pictures from iStockphoto, etc. but seeing your blog on the internet gives one a sense of accomplishment. Monitoring blog statistics can also be fun, and enlightening (it’s like a combination of monitoring Baseball batting averages and Eurovision song contest scoring!) – blogging can also teach you a little how other people think and how people use the internet (for example, the WordPress dashboard shows you what search terms people used, for people who happened to find your blog via a search engine).
While not so much a primary goal for me, blogging also allows one to develop an ‘online brand‘, and point to principles or values, or research topics, or areas of interest or expertise that one might want to highlight. Despite this not being a key focus of mine (partly because my blog only focuses on certain elements of my interests), one cannot deny that one’s online presence already builds such a brand. In any case, I am comfortable with the brand that my online presence conveys.
How has my blog developed over the last year?
I posted 54 blog posts in the first year. In the same time I drafted a further 65 draft posts which I have not ‘published’ (these draft posts, in varying levels of completion, sit in my WordPress Dashboard, and every so often I go back and update one, or publish one). At that time I had also drafted a further two blog posts that I hadn’t yet copied into my WordPress dashboard (these were drafted in Microsoft Word and as draft emails when I didn’t have an internet connection, eg when on a flight).
I also have numerous slips of paper where I have scribbled blog ideas (many of these thought up in bed, before sleeping, or in some cases in the middle of the night – if I wake up with an idea, I have to write it down before I can sleep again!). Sometimes when I read these scribbles in the morning I have a fleeting vision goes through my head of “A beautiful mind“!
I rarely write a blog post in one sitting and publish it immediately – most blog posts are 80% drafted in one sitting, finalized soon after, and then published, within a few days of initiating the post; some take longer, either because I have less spare time, my creative juices aren’t running, I’m unsure how to finish the blog, can’t find a good picture/photo to include in the post, or I’m unsure whether I want to actually post the article or not.
Having draft blog posts allows me to develop my thoughts, to come back later and fine tune the post to fit what I intended or to draw it to an end quickly. It also allows me to sometimes publish blog posts when I am otherwise very busy, and have little time to write a blog post. This post is an example of that, having been started weeks before I published it today.
Some of my draft posts remain quite unstructured, like personal diary/journal scribbles, the remnants or beginnings of random thoughts. I particularly like Elizabeth Gilbert’s reference, in her TED talk (on ‘nurturing creativity‘), to Ruth Stone‘s description of thoughts and ideas, or poems in her case (watch the TED talk for the complete, more beautiful and colorful description):
like trains that suddenly rush up on one, and one needs to race to find a pencil to quickly write them down before they pass on by and disappear from one’s head
Sometimes my ideas and draft blog posts are nearly fully completed, but I can’t quite get comfortable about the post. For me, developing the thought to that stage, without ‘publishing’ it online can be fulfilling in itself.
In a separate post I will later comment on some of my favorite posts, as well as the most read posts (these are not necessarily always the same posts!).
Perhaps one of the things that has limited the potential of my blog is the lack of a clear theme. Over the year I’ve blogged about a variety of different topics:
- ‘MBA‘ experiences (mostly at the beginning),
- ‘Blogging & Social Media‘ (blogging about my blog experiences),
- ‘Global economic environment‘ (broad themes, mostly from reading cultural affairs news stories),
- ‘Leadership and personal development‘ (from my personal experiences),
- ‘Language translation‘ (particularly relevant to my expat lifestyle), which in a way is a subset of the topic that I have mostly blogged about:
- ‘Internet and technology‘ (partly geek tendencies, partly a desire to be up-to-speed with latest developments)
Variety, as they say, is the spice of life, and this is where I am robust about this being my blog, for my personal desire. I am not chasing readers, and therefore I do not have any plans at the current time to develop the focus of my blog for that purpose – I will continue to blog about whichever topics are interesting to me at the time, even if that means restricting my potential ‘tribe’ (as Seth Godin would put it).
I will be interested to see, in another year’s time, if my thoughts on blogging have changed.
Filed under: Blogging & Social Media | Tagged: a beautiful mind, blog, Blogging, generation x, generation y, generation z, Ideas, Matt Benson's Musings, networking, online brand, thoughts, tribes, why blog? |