in Life Optimization

Benefits From One Year of Blogging

image from Scott Beale

Last week I had a three hour long conversation with a fascinating friend of mine. He’s both thoughtful and knowledgable, which means that he knows what he’s talking about enough to be educational, while coloring it with his opinion to make old stuff interesting. Our conversation was filled with me taking notes with which to research the subject matter further, and I left with enough content to fill multiple blog posts.

Yet when you google this guy, nothing comes up beyond a neglected twitter and Linkedin account. I know that he’s full of more interesting opinions and ideas worth spreading because I’ve met him in person, but the world at large will never be enlightened because most will never meet him. He couldn’t care less about meeting strangers, but I’m not thinking of him – I’m thinking of the potential audience who would benefit from hearing his take, and the various ways in which it would benefit him.

He’s not the only public-shy friend of mine with a mind full of enough content to fill books. I can think of several other acquaintance ins my life who are willing to wax poetic for hours about their well-informed views over lunch or at parties. But when I tell them to blog and put these views in public where more people can find them, they demure. They say they can’t write, that they don’t have the time, or that they don’t think their ideas are worth sharing.

Anybody who can think can write, we make time for what is important to us, and you don’t know which of your ideas will reverberate. The argument is invalid. The only defense left is ‘blogging is not important to me’ and I can’t argue with that. Your life priorities are up to you, but with Weekly Review #52 around the corner, is one year old. With 365 days of experience behind me, I can definitively say that putting yourself online is a good idea.

Here’s why:

It connects you to like-minded individuals

If somebody thinks you are intelligent, then there’s probably others out there who agree with them. But with billions of people on the earth and limited time, you’re not going to find others by networking and meeting in person. Luckily, there’s the internet, which makes it pitifully easy to broadcast to anyone in the world.

This leads to new friendships, strengthens old ones, and creates job opportunities. I’ve had all three – Bud Hennekes reached out to me after loving my blog and now we’re best friends, several people I’ve fallen out of touch with have rekindled our friendships through offering thoughtful feedback on my posts, and I got a paid writing stint for Matador Network after they stumbled upon my old travel blog.

Putting yourself online makes you luckier. As Jason Shen relates: the serendipity  in your life is directly proportional to the degree in which you are passionate about something combined with the number of people you communicate it to. Blogging is the easiest way to convey your passion to a large number of people. It increases your luck surface area and facilitates encounters you’d never have otherwise.

It’s an easy way to build your reputation

Any consistent author ends up with a sizable body of work in no time, which is a powerful measure of credibility. James Altucher calls it the new business card – a book or blog is a far superior introduction than a meaningless name on a card. When I walk into a room and say that I wrote the book on group games, I immediately am treated with respect and authority, even outside of the realm of games. All we did was take our knowledge of games and package them in a digestible format for others – anybody can do this today at minimal cost, with all the free web tools available.

Putting your work in public garners feedback from others, which refines your thoughts and lets you look at them more objectively. At worst, nobody reads your stuff, or some internet trolls make you feel bad. But the best that could happen is that make a living off of your blog. (The internet is full of examples) The potential upside is so much stronger than the potential downside.

Plus, what’s the first thing anybody does to you these days, professionally or otherwise? You google them, and if nothing shows up, then they may as well not exist. If someone’s work is significant and nothing is online for people to google, does it make a difference? Not really. Charlie Hoehn teaches new grads how to exploit this in his ebook the Recession Proof Graduate, but the principle holds for anybody.

You may argue that the richest and most powerful out there don’t need to advertise themselves, because they’ve already built networks and know the right people to pull strings and cash checks. True, but chances are you aren’t part of that elite cadre, and you’re unlikely to get there without anybody knowing you exist outside of those you see face to face.

It provides a personal mirror

Yes, it’s easy, yes, it could make you a profit, and yes, it makes you look good. But most importantly, it’s a valuable exercise for you the author. I can look back at this year and see what I was thinking and consuming at any given week, which will become all the more valuable as I age and change my views. Writing is so cathartic that I now become grumpy when I don’t do it, and even the blog drafts that don’t end up in public help me think through my problems and opinions such that my personal understanding becomes clearer.

It holds me accountable, as my friends bring up my thoughts in our conversations and challenge my logic, or direct me to further relevant resources. All I’ve ever done is put my thoughts down on a deadline, and even that forces me to think better. Everything else is a happy side effect.

And I’m only getting started. Who knows what next year will bring for me, or for you if you put yourself online?