What I Learned Starting a Blog
It was the year 2011.
The three of us were huddled together in the glow of a computer screen, putting the finishing touches on Zerothreetwo.com.
Little did I know, five years later I would still be chugging along on this little blogging project.
Here’s a secret.
When we started this site, we didn’t consider it blogging. We purposely tried to distance ourselves from the word. We wanted our site to be more “highbrow” more “magazine like.” Who were we kidding? It was a blog and we had no idea what we were doing.
We were making it up as we went along and it showed. The first few posts were five sentences of filler. My favorite post to highlight this was our feature of Corner Bakery. In this post, I wrote 72 words and it probably took me hours to write.
The early days were filled with exploration, learning, and many mistakes. Despite the shenanigans, blogging has given so much to me.
First a quick description of what exactly is blogging.
A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”). — Wikipedia
That’s the official description. I like to think of a blog as a place on the internet where you can share a piece of yourself to the world. Which means the medium can be anything, it can be the written word, it can be audio, it can be video, it can be photographs. These can all be a form of blogging.
Now on to the benefits.
We all have ideas. The challenge is articulating them in ways other people can easily understand. A blog forces us to sit down and think about how those ideas are shared. Since a blog is public, it encourages you to do a good job sharing your work. Before you hit publish, you will examine and reexamine, adjust and readjust, read and reread. You might even have a friend look at it before you press publish.
Blogging adds stakes to the game. Putting it out there forces you to get better. Even if your blog is anonymous, the mere fact that other people might see it will force you to articulate as best as you can. This will in turn help you think clearer and get to the point better.
Committing to anything is difficult. There’s a difference between the casual weekend jogger and the runner who wakes up at 4am every day. Guess who finishes first?
Blogging is a commitment. It’s a promise to stick to a schedule and to always create.
The challenge is in the grind. Like anything worth doing, the grind is long and difficult. There will be days when all you want to do is lay in bed and watch Independence Day (again!). Blogging helps keep you accountable. Just the thought of someone looking at your outdated site will help keep you going.
Consistency is about showing up every day. Committing to a practice is about showing up every day. Facing the grind is about showing up every day. Blogging is a grind. Blogging takes commitment. Blogging teaches consistency.
There’s so much noise in the world. Every day there are thousands of blogs popping up in the inner alleys of the internet. Many don’t provide any value whatsoever. Sometimes these blogs are simply regurgitating what is already out there. Others lazily copy paste press releases. There are even sites with the intent of misleading readers.
A blog is an opportunity to add value to the world. Whether it’s the gift of laughter or quiet introspection, you have the opportunity to add value.
It’s difficult to properly describe the word value in this case. One person’s trash is another person’s pot of gold. But I like to think of value as making a genuine connection. If you happen to have had the opportunity to connect to millions of people, more power to you. But you don’t need to do that. If you can create a connection with even just one person, you’ve added value to the world.
Blogging happens to be one of the best ways to learn about a topic.
If it’s a personal journal, you will learn a thing or two about yourself or about other people. If it’s a hobby, before you know it, you’ll become an expert at your craft. If it’s a showcase for your art, maintaining a blog will force you to make more art, which in turn means you get better and better.
The paradox of ideas is that the more you give them away the more you will have.
Build an audience
A byproduct of maintaining a public blog is the growth of an audience. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but basically the longer you maintain a blog, the more people see it. Admittedly an over simplification, but in essence, that’s the idea.
Building an audience has many benefits in itself, which could warrant its own blog post, but here’s a quick rundown:
- It will widen your network.
- It will give you the opportunity to help other people.
- It will strengthen your credibility.
- It will give you the opportunity to make a living.
An audience is a powerful, but fickle thing. What can take years to build can easily be shattered by a few wrong moves. Treat your audience with respect and dignity. In return, they will treat you well.
BONUS — Reasons NOT to start a blog
- Get famous — People won’t care. Trust me. No one cares about you, about me, about themselves. They’ve got too much going on to give a shit.
- Get free stuff — Readers generally have good bullshit detectors. If all you do is pimp the free stuff you are getting, there’s no value in that.
- Make buttloads of money — Uhm… no. Don’t get me wrong. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. Those who do make money didn’t start their blog with that in mind. Money came as a result of focusing on adding value.
It’s time to start that blog. Where do you start? A few months ago, we wrote the official Zerothreetwo Blogging Guide. You can download by clicking here.