Last week, two separate friends asked me whether I thought blogging would be worth their time.
And even though blogging has been rewarding for me, I couldn't give them an immediate answer. I didn't want to suggest a path forward without thinking through the pros and cons.
After giving it some thought, I shared two lists with my two friends: thirteen reasons why they might want to blog, and five reasons why they might not want to do so.
Because my friends found these lists helpful and the reasons in each list are audience-agnostic, I decided to take my own advice and package these reasons into this very blog post.
I hope this guide serves you well!
13 reasons to publish a blog 👩💻
- To integrate your public and private persona
"Going public" isn't for everyone. But the processing of doing so forces you to at least to a certain extent synchronize and integrate your public and private persona. It's unsustainable to maintain too many inconsistencies between these two selves.
- To improve the quality of your writing
Publishing sharpens your writing because it encourages you to dedicate an unusual amount of energy to crafting your language. I never share my journal entries with friends to get their editorial feedback, but I always recruit multiple reviewers on drafts of my public-facing writing. This process of getting feedback teaches me something new every time.
- To cultivate your personal brand
Your close friends may know you well, but to the rest of the world, who are you? If you believe your personal brand matters (I argue that it does), and you don't want that brand to be limited to a LinkedIn profile or a stream of Instagram pictures, it might be worth getting your ideas out in the public.
- To control your personal narrative
In a time when people are more willing than ever to #cancel strangers for old tweets and rumors from the dark web, you want to be in control of how information about you coalesces into a narrative that does you justice. The best way to control your narrative is to get good at telling your own story. And the best way to learn that is to practice.
- To generate publicity for your projects
If people resonate with the writing on your personal blog, they will be curious to learn more about the projects you are working on. Numerous eventual customers discovered my businesses through writing unrelated to those businesses.
- To expand your network and "luck surface area"
Many people who interact with your writing will be worth connecting with. I've met many friends and business partners who found me through my blog posts. With regards to existing connections, publishing keeps you at the top of their minds. And those who are top of mind are brought into more business opportunities.
- To create self-accountability
Publishing advice creates healthy pressure to practice what you preach. The desire to not be seen as a hypocrite is a powerful force of motivation and accountability.
- To sharpen your thinking
The act of documenting your ideas helps crystallize them, and publishing those ideas forces you to figure out how to communicate them effectively. The feedback from your readers will also sharpen your thinking. They may criticize your reasoning. They may call your ideas half-baked. They're probably right. And you should enjoy the criticism because it will make you a better thinker.
- To help people
Publishing your writing can do a lot of good. Your advice may help people transform their lives. Your thoughts may help people feel less alone in their own. Your words may hit people at the exact time they need to read it. There are few things that feel better than being told that your writing helped someone get through something.
- To "scale" yourself
So many of the posts I publish are answers to questions people ask me anyway. If you build a catalog of reusable "knowledge artifacts" based on questions people ask or would ask if you hadn't created those artifacts, you save tons of time and, in effect, "scale" yourself. Helping people with questions you've already written answers for bears virtually zero marginal cost.
- To develop thicker skin
People can be brutal on the internet. But there is no escape this brutality if you want to be a public figure. It's better to develop thick skin sooner than later so you can handle life in the wild.
- To practice creative thinking
We live in a time of information overload. Audiences don't have time to waste consuming derivative content. Consistently producing content that resonates with people today pushes you to be a creative thinker. And in this age of automation, creativity is one of the most important capacities anyone can cultivate.
- To market test your ideas
It's hard to be a good judge of one's own ideas. Publishing even just a single tweet about an idea is a great way to test if the idea has legs.
5 reasons to NOT publish a blog 🙅♂️
- Your career path doesn't depend on your ability to publish your thinking
You should think twice about blogging if you are happy with the field(s) you inhabit, and your credibility or success within that field depends little on whether you can write or publish their thinking. For example, there is nothing that speaks louder in the world of trading than making a lot of money trading.
- Your blogging harms your business
If what you put forth onto the internet reflects poor thinking, you might lose more credibility than you gain. And if speaking your mind inflames your consumer base, or puts you in dicey territory with your employer, you might want to ask yourself if you're in the right business but at the very least think twice before your publish. Not every thought needs to go out on the internet. If you just need a place to reflect and express yourself in private, journaling works wonders.
- Your blogging keeps you from doing
Just as you don't want to be the entrepreneur so focused on networking at conferences that you neglect to build a partnership-worthy business, don't be a blogger who spends so much time promoting himself that he forgets to become someone worth connecting with or create something worth promoting in the first place.
- You want blogging to replace whatever your current job is
The tiniest percentage of bloggers make money from blogging. If most of the thirteen reasons to press publish do not resonate with you, and you're looking to blog to make money, tread carefully.
- You don't have a receptive audience
Fame is not a prerequisite for starting a blog. You deserve to be proud if you provide value to even one person. But if you don't even have a vague sense of who your audience might be, why they might find you credible enough to pay attention, and why your writing might create value for them, you probably want to figure that out before diving into the blogosphere.
Sign up below 👇 to get my newsletter of observations, stories, advice, and ideas that I'm not sharing anywhere else on the internet.