Sure, the world is saturated with blogs. Attention is hard to come by and there’s many hours involved in starting and keeping up a blog. But I’m doing it this year, and here’s why you should too.
As for whether or not it’s a totally sane thing to do, it all kind of depends on why you’re doing it. If you’re looking for fame and fortune from your blogging efforts, then I’m afraid that ship has sailed. There will be the increasingly rare unicorn, but we have to accept that it’s no longer 2003. According to the calendar, even 2015 was a long time ago.
I am starting a blog today, on 1 January 2019. Yes, it’s a holiday break project but no, I didn’t just think of this under the fireworks last night. The initial motivation for me was to help grow my personal reputation and by extension, the reputation of my design studio Univers. A blog can do this when you share your expertise in the things you know about, which for me is design for screens, print, built environments and brands; and design strategy for brands, websites and ecommerce.
If a shortcut to reputation is your goal though, there might be better ways to go about it. Blogging is highly competitive when it comes to Google search results. I’m hopeful, but not at all expectant, that this blog will reach some people through Google searches. I’ve done the basics to try to help that along, but terms I’m interested in -- web design, brand strategy, ecommerce and few others -- are already keenly targeted by other well-established blogs and professional sites. So while I’m unlikely to build my reach there through keywords, I figure that if I just write posts I would want to read myself, or which I know will be helpful to real people, I will build up a good store of content for Google, but more importantly, the odd person who may find me through search will find the blog engaging.
With reputation only half the picture, why else blog now of all times?
Explain the things you know a lot about
Most people don't realise how much specialist stuff they know that the average person (or client) only has the most vague grasp on. In my work, I find myself explaining the same concepts many times to different people. Though this can help people take up those concepts well, a blog post could be a thorough, logical and complete explanation, for introducing concepts or for future reference.
Writing out the explanation helps you be more clear on what you think and know about a topic. Next time you need to explain in-person, hopefully some of that will have stuck, helping you to be a better explainer. If you have written a post which you feel communicates a concept particularly well, you can refer clients and colleagues there for the best source of that info.
Writing blog posts using the knowledge you’ve acquired is a bit like giving away a mini consultation. That could genuinely help or inspire someone who’s stuck with a particular problem. I personally benefit from helpful blog posts virtually every day: writing what I know is good karma. You never know who you might be helping or how much it means to them.
Make new things and learn something good
This appeals to me especially, but perhaps you can relate? Thinking up a blog concept, name and topics; designing and building the blog itself; and now writing posts is a lot of work, for sure. But I’m making something new. I find every design tweak, every improvement and every post written is really rewarding. I do it all my way, with no client other than the audience I imagine, as opposed to my everyday work which is completely (and rightfully) about real clients with real business objectives.
The benefits you already thought were important
When you maintain an active blog with posts and longer articles which demonstrate your expertise, it’s a testament to how much stuff you know within your professional field. If anyone at all, from a potential client or employer to a potential employee or even a casual visitor, likes the way you write and the things you write about, their appreciation of you stands a good chance of being enhanced significantly.
2019: the best year ever to blog, yeah!
Starting and running a blog is fun and, unlike social media posts, you own a the blog so you can present and change it in any way you like. There’s little chance you’ll be read widely, but you’ll be building an asset to disseminate and demonstrate your expert knowledge.