Ever notice that the moment you describe a problem to an engineer, they stop listening to you? Before you’ve finished describing the problem, they’ve started working on a solution for you. True, some of the very best engineers have the ability to remain focused on you until you’ve fully described the problem. As my wife will attest, I’m not one of those special few.
About a month ago when someone asked me how to start a blog, I immediately started planning a series of posts describing the mechanics of starting and maintaining a blog. It seemed like the perfect solution, I would solve my friend’s problem and have enough material for several weeks on my website. I think they were still talking while I was planning my series of posts but this was something I knew how to do. I had the first post complete before I started questioning my approach.
Maybe I should start at an earlier point. Like, why would you want to write a blog? Believe it or not, it’s a lot of work and it’s way too easy to get discouraged. Before we discuss how to create a blog, let’s discuss some of the benefits to having a blog.
Money: Let’s get this one out of the way first. I sincerely hope making money is not one of your motives. That’s not to say you can’t make money but it’s unlikely you will, especially in your early days.
Fame: You might not get famous but you will enjoy seeing people reading what you write. On any day I might see visitors from several different countries. It’s hard to tell if people like what you write but when they take the time to read several posts, they probably are enjoying your blog. When they take the time to leave a comment, you know you made an impression on them. When they subscribe to your blog, you know you’ve made a friend.
A voice in the wilderness: Yeah, I really meant to say that. Sometimes you get so tired with the direction the world is taking, you just have to say something. I’ve spoken against poor customer service, the reluctance to ship to PO boxes, Microsoft Windows 8, and of course our Congress. I’m not so egotistical that I believe any of my posts changed anyone’s opinion but like voting, you certainly won’t be heard if you don’t speak out.
An opportunity for whimsy: I don’t know about you but I often feel depressed after reading CNN headlines or watching the local news. In a world of zero tolerance schools, crashing stock markets and rampant dogged political correctness, the opportunity to inject a little levity into people’s lives is a fantastic reward. Seeing someone link one of my engineer posts in Facebook to share with their friends is almost as uplifting as the greeting Sundae gives me when I return home from work, almost…
Payback: Not the revenge type of payback but the opportunity to payback for all the help other people have given you over the years. Whether it’s an obsession with beans or a love of all things computer, having a blog allows you to share the knowledge and experience you’ve gathered over the years. I could write for years and still feel in debt to all the people who have given me so much by writing about their own experiences and observations.
Improving and boasting about your hobby: Hobbies tend to reflect the people who take part in them. New views, new personalities and a sharing of knowledge, all help to make a hobby vibrant and growing. Having a blog helps share the love you have for your hobby, boast about your accomplishments to people who can now understand why you deserve to boast and help create the direction your hobby will take. It also helps you acquire new friends all over the world to share your hobby.
I deliberately left Politics off my list. Your blog can cover politics and be very influential in the world of politics but before people will read what you wrote, they have to find you and when it comes to views on politics, you’re one of ten million voices. Try picking that out of a crowd. I believe there are ways to be heard in that arena but I’m too apathetic to do that much work. It’s far better to write directly to local Congressman, local paper or leave comments on a popular political blog. This is one category where you have to set the foundation first.
You’ll notice I didn’t include any of the reasons I gave in my first post on why I started blogging, improving my writing and opening up my personality. I feel I’ve succeeded in both but having those goals did sometimes make blogging feel like a chore rather than an adventure.
Having read this, you’re now going to tell me all the reasons you can’t do a blog, too expensive, you don’t have enough time, you have no computer skills, nobody wants to read what you would write. I agree that every one of those reasons is a valid concern. Fortunately for you, my next few posts will tell you how make those concerns go away. I can’t make your blog a success, that’s up to you, but I can help put you on an even footing with the rest of us.
Ready to get started?
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