Why Starting a Blog is a No-Brainer
Blogging? A no-brainer? These days nearly everyone has access to a computer and has the capability of starting a blog. Granted, you may need a few pounds/dollars per month to pay for web hosting, but there are blogging platforms that do it for free. But that certainly is not why people start blogs, that’s simply a supply and demand consequence. I hope by the end of this piece you will be fully convinced that it is indeed a no-brainer and ready to join me on your creative journey. To tell you why people start blogs, first, let’s start with why we don’t. The short answer is that not many of us know what the benefits are. Fear is the long answer and here are some of the fears I have had to overcome to get started.
My first fear was caused by the attitude of comparing myself to famous bloggers/vloggers and framing it as a barrier to entry. Many people see successful travel bloggers and think “I’m never going to get to that level, so why bother?”. It’s easy to rationalise our negative thoughts with “just being realistic”. This is deeply problematic. If we had this attitude towards everything no-one would ever start anything. There is nothing wrong with not being hyper-successful. Let’s take it off the table completely. This mentality implies that if we think we can not realistically achieve the level of success, fame and freedom they desire, that they see these other bloggers get, it’s not worth it. This world view is a killer of dreams, it’s a form of self-sabotage. It prevents people from investing time and effort into it because they are not guaranteed the reward, which is fundamentally how all success is achieved. It’s not the journey they are looking for, they are simply looking for a means to an end. There is no such thing as guaranteed success.
Lesson #1 – remove the expectation
You are not competing with famous bloggers. This is all about building something of your own. Once we change this perception and realise that money is not the goal for most bloggers, it’s rewarding in other ways. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. Bloggers who write simply for the pure pleasure of writing enjoy blogging far more than people who now rely on it as a primary source of income. It’s imperative to manage expectations, blogs should not be seen as a way of making money or pandering to an audience. Blogs should be seen as a platform for solidifying your thoughts, learning to write better and sharing your interests, anything else is a bonus. If you go into the experience with the mindset that you WILL make money, you are very likely to be disappointed.
My single biggest fear of getting started was thinking you will be made fun of by your friends. In most cases, this is usually the biggest hurdle to overcome for people starting their own thing. If you have always wanted to start a blog, YouTube channel, business, book or podcast and you are scared that your friends will not support you or will make fun of you, you have the wrong friends. Easy to say though isn’t it. When you surround yourself with people that not only do not make fun of you but actively support, help and believe in you then you have a completely different outlook on life. I understand what it’s like to be ridiculed and feel like you have an identity that has been shaped for you. It is scary to show others a side of you that they do not know about. They do not like change and they already have a fixed perception of you. One solution is to just not tell them. Start your blog and after two years you may have got lucky and hit it big. All these wonderful things may just keep happening to you and your friends suddenly ask how then you can tell them. That’s one option or you can just move somewhere, meet new people and introduce yourself as a writer and blogger. It’s so much easier to introduce yourself as someone new than to reshape other’s perceptions of you. If you have no choice but to tell them or they find out it is just easier to accept their criticism or ridicule, persist anyway and ride the wave. Seek the forgiveness not the permission. They may not like it at first but they will get used to it. This would be a great time to discuss all of the great benefits of building up some mental resilience and attaining the courage to be disliked but I am going to save that for another blog post. However, If you are lucky enough to already have or have found friends that believe in you, you are already halfway there. You can always do it together.
Lesson #2 – know who your friends are
Maybe you have noticed this but it’s often people we don’t like (or as much) who’s opinions live in our head rent-free. It is these people who we pander to that drain our mental energy because we feel the need to censor ourselves. These people usually have larger personalities and get great sub-conscious or, worse, conscious pleasure from holding us back. Our quirks and interests may not appeal to these types of people but being unapologetically confident in our beliefs ironically will gain us more respect.
The last fear that was a genuine concern for me and a lot of bloggers getting started. Hasn’t that topic been overdone? Isn’t there too much of that subject online already? This can be crippling to our motivation, stimulate overthinking and makes us question starting. You can not let this get in the way. It may be about tech, sports, investing or travelling, what you must know is that a lot of people watch tech reviews, for example, to gain an insight into how the people they follow use their tech. It’s not always about the tech itself, it’s about the person. One of my favourite YouTubers called Ali Abdaal likes to use the phrase “there are no unique messages, only unique messengers”. A lot of his content is about encouraging people to start a blog/vlog/business and he uses this quote a lot to help people feel better about creating content in a, widely considered, saturated market. Different people have the ability to make something resonate with certain people better than others. If your content is good and can offer value to people, there will be an audience out there for you. A helpful trick is to imagine that your younger self as the target audience.
Lesson #3 – it’s about you, not your audience
One of the best parts about blogging is that you can use it to explore your personality, writing about all the niche interests you have and fully expressing who you are. Society likes to pigeon hole us into having one interest or one career but what makes us so special, and what differentiates us, are our range of interests from sports to coding. These are the things that make us special and I feel blogging is about expressing those, even if it is just to reaffirm it to ourselves. It’s important to have our roots in a specialism/topic that separate us, to begin with and then, like a great oak tree, branches off into a smaller, more complex, plethora of niches. The concept of creating a personal monopoly is the idea that we should keep narrowing down our specialism until we are the only one out there who does what we do. When no one does what we do, not only is there no competition, it reinforces our identity. Strive to be inspirational in your own right, I agree with what Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself; everybody else is already taken.”
Let’s move on to why we should start a blog. This is my first ever blog post and if you have got this far you may be able to notice, from my writing style or grammar, that I am a horrible writer. I have never been very good and my mum will happily back me up on that. She always enjoys telling me how bad I am at writing. So this is precisely one of the reasons why I am starting, to improve. Writing is a skill and one that is important in the modern-day as the skill is making a comeback. With all the blogs, copywriters and the digitisation of everything writing has been making a comeback in the workplace. The ability to more eloquently communicate your ideas is helpful for all sorts of endeavours; business and social alike. Not only could it help your marketing campaigns, CV writing or website, but it could also help you conjure up the right string of words that impresses people in your next interview. Being a better writer will also make you a better and faster thinker because when these conversations arise you are likely to have written about all the topics before. When you have already explored certain thoughts before, and also reinforced them by writing, it comes back to you far quicker than if you were talking off the cuff.
Writing is also one of the skills that can transcend your other skills. Writing gives you the ability to scale your thoughts. If you ever want to write a book on a subject that you love, a film script or a stage production you may be held back by your writing ability, the same way a singer may be held back by not playing an instrument.
Expressing your thoughts
Writing is therapeutic, writing can alleviate stress by dumping your overwhelming thoughts and letting go of thoughts you work so hard to keep top of mind. It helps close those mental tabs. Allowing these thoughts out and having them living somewhere else is a great way to reset your mind and move on. It also helps to decompress the thoughts you have by putting them into words and understanding your feelings. Having this habit may well change your life as you can start to move on from the thoughts that may have kept you stuck. It may well be the push required to get the momentum you need to act on your dreams. When you realise what is possible with the actions you take you will not want to stop. Writing is also a flow activity, meaning it can stimulate us enough creatively to enter the flow state which research has shown leads to fulfilment and happiness. I will be writing about flow in articles to come.
Luck – putting yourself out there
Blogging is also just a way of putting yourself out there. You never know what could happen, one day Richard Branson may read one of your articles and be convinced that you have an idea that could change the world. That does seem rather unlikely but it illustrates the point. It improves the chances of having a serendipitous encounter. The more we put ourselves out there, the more likely we are to get lucky. Arnold Palmer, a very famous golfer, once said: “the more I practice, the luckier I get”. This is true for everything, the more we do something the more we notice our luck improve. Blogs and Vlogs are a serendipity vehicle, they enhance our reach. It’s like going fishing with a lobster box, we can just leave it there throughout the day knowing that sometime if you are patient, you are going to catch one. They scale our ability to reach others and connect to people across the world, without actively attempting to communicate. You don’t need to be in the same room or even the same country. At the very least it will connect you with a community of people that share the same interests as you, this is where Twitter and blogging can go hand in hand. These communities can often lead to building some great online friendships from all over the world and occasionally build some real ones. Putting yourself out there can be a big problem for people, the fear of exposure, judgement and vulnerability can overwhelm people and prevent them from starting. To them I say just take a leap of faith, the possibility of upside is far greater than downside. Just imagine yourself two years from now with a semi-successful blog/vlog, that person is not afraid anymore. Taking action and gaining experience will physically change your brain chemistry and outlooks on life. The moment you hit publish on that first article, you are no longer afraid, you are proud. The moment we realise there’s nothing to fear we will look back on our time spent in anxiety with regret and learn to fight that feeling going forward.
Money (had to be included)
Staying consistent is the hardest part of adopting any new habits. Starting a blog is not going to be easy but if the reasons here haven’t persuaded you perhaps consider the potential monetary and career benefits. Having a very successful blog can not only pay the bills if successful, but it can also make you a lot of money indeed. If you are making money from it, you can always blog on the go from anywhere in the world. The way to make money is by leveraging your audience and monetising it with your own products, sponsorships or personal brand. All of the articles and knowledge you share can help in developing your personal brand in the professional world. You may be known for all sorts of expertise; consult on them, teach others and start businesses with the reputation you have built. Not only that but you would be doing it all just by writing about the things you want to talk about.
I hope this has convinced you that it is indeed a no-brainer. A blog will not take-off and be successful overnight, some say it will take 2 years of consistent posting and some will say it takes 5 years. No matter how you look at it, it must be about expressing something you enjoy, cultivating your interests and something to do despite the possibility of failure. If you go in with these expectations and know that there are benefits regardless of how it turns out, I’m sure you will enjoy this next chapter of your life. I will end with one of my favourite quotes from Elon Musk, “If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure”.