In just a few weeks I’ll be coming up to the 10 year anniversary of my current business. This anniversary compels me to reflect on a number of factors, including why I do what I do. Among those reflections, I’m thinking about blogs and blogging.
I hear from people “blogging is dead” and “who blogs anymore?” which is funny because I think it demonstrates a naive view of the internet. There are so many sites that use what we might call a blog structure (date-sorted content with the most recent post at the top) — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, news websites… these are all blogs in a way. And easily 50% to 75% of my work each month is blogging. Some might think that blogs are dead but I’m writing more blogs now than every before.
WHY I BLOG
I started blogging a decade ago when I started my current business. (I restarted my business after a few year hiatus — my first business started in 1999). Over the past decade, my thinking and practice about blogging has changed. Here are the four iterations:
Iteration #1: Ten years ago, blogging was an easy way to showcase the work I do without a lot of effort and expense. I blogged on Google’s Blogger platform to rapidly start my business and position myself as a freelance writer.
That worked well for a while but after a couple of years I struggled a bit with Blogger. I loved it (and still love it) but my site developed some weird coding issues and although I learned a lot about html and css in the process, I wasn’t able to fix the problem so I shut the blog down and started up a website (not a blog) here at AaronHoos.com.
Iteration #2: The website was okay for a while but I started to miss blogging. I liked the effort of writing a regular blog so in May 2009 I turned my site into a WordPress blog. And in this second iteration of blogging, as my business grew, my thinking about blogging changed. Although I continued to use my blog as a way to showcase some of my work, I did so much less but instead started blogging as a way to share my thinking about different things I was working on — from business strategy to marketing and advertising. It’s fascinating for me to go back and see how I’ve evolved over the years.
Iteration #3: Then, as traffic grew on my site, I started writing for my audience. I created content that I thought my audience would value. Some of it was high quality and high value; some of it wasn’t and admittedly had more SEO purpose than anything else. I was still blogging a bit to showcase my work, and a bit to share my thinking on business and marketing, but I spend a few years writing content that I thought my audience would find helpful or search engines would want to link to.
Iteration #4: A big shift occurred a couple of years ago, prompted by two things. The first prompting was that I realized I only ever blogged about “businessy stuff” and that I worked so hard to keep my business life and my personal life separate… and I realized that was folly, especially as Twitter and Facebook gained prominence. The second prompting was when I started up another website that became the primary place where I earn my income. This site still gets traffic and I still sometimes get hired by someone from this site but this site really became about me and my life and thinking, online. So this fourth iteration has been about expanding what I share about with the recognition that I’m writing my own thoughts and explorations for myself. Regular readers will notice that transition lately as I share stuff from my life, review financial fiction books, blog day-by-day through personal challenges that stretch me, and more.
It’s interesting to look back over these four iterations to see how I’ve evolved. I would say my blogging quality and quantity has increased while the blog topics have expanded.
What prompted me to even realize these four iterations and then to write this blog post about them was a podcast I heard between Tim Ferriss and Maria Popova (of Brain Pickings) in which they talked about blogging purposes — how Maria writes about what she thinks about and how she writes for an audience of one. I appreciate her authenticity as she puts her thoughts out there and it compelled me to think about why I blog, and that’s when I started to realize the four iterations of my blog.
A lot of my blog is what I’m thinking about. Admittedly, I haven’t always written what I think about; rather, I often wrote for some other purpose (to get clients, to attract an audience) and although there was some benefit to that I feel like this fourth iteration is perhaps the most real version of this blog as an expression of what’s in my brain.
This blog is my brain. It’s where I live. It’s me, online. This blog — for better or worse — is the tree rings of my life. That’s why I blog.
Why do you blog?