One of the questions I was asked in a recent interview (on BlogAdda – part 1 and part 2) was, ‘What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?’.

I started the answer with ‘Don’t’. But then, it sounded very demotivating, so went with the reasonably politically correct, ‘Unless you have a point of view on everything or at least a few specific areas, or can be interesting while holding a conversation on a topic â?? donâ??t’.

The point is this – stop looking at this ‘blog’ thing like writing a book. It is not.

Let me explain. With this pyramid.

If that doesn’t explain much, here’s more.

We have access to information all around us – in written form, spoken form, audio/video form and even subtle forms (body language?). What do we do with them?

We select those that interest us and go on to engage with pieces of information.

For instance, at the simplest form, we read the newspaper and go through the steps, from top to bottom, depending on how educated and intelligent we think we are.

Most people – and I am indeed generalizing here – are perhaps at the realization stage. So, you read about something happening in your city (newspaper example continued) and depending on how much that subject interests you, you think, ‘Hmmm, need to go for that one this weekend’.

Let us evolve a bit more, shall we?

Instead of a generic piece of something happening in your city, you read a crime committed by, say, a government servant, in your city. Simple enough – routine stuff, these days.

But, you do have an opinion. Could simply be, ‘Damn it, that is so not right!’. This is the realization stage.

In the expression stage, your brain would perhaps make it sound better and go a step further. Example: ‘If the people who we elected behave like this, what will happen to this nation, I wonder!’

Most bloggers start with this stage. A blog is merely an articulation of your opinion on some information you consume, as a piece of news. Or, in some cases, it could be a creation by you, inspired by something you saw/noticed. In other words, it is nothing but an articulate, written form of the opinion you usually share with your friend, for instance.

The surprising fact is that most people realize having an opinion, express it inside their brain to themselves, and even articulate it in spoken form with  friends/colleagues/family!

But, they do not go the next step – share it with the larger world.

Does everyone need to do that? Of course not!

There is indeed a difference between sharing it with people who you know, at a personal level…and sharing it on a one-to-many platform like a blog, with the entire world.

But, think about the benefits. An opinion shared on a blog (or as a status update on a social/professional networking platform) is your calling card with the rest of the world. You may never ever get a chance to speak to so many people at the same time.

Every update you make on Facebook…or LinkedIn…or even on Twitter…tells others what kind of person you are. A single update will not, of course, but over time, readers make up their own image of you based on what you share.

Now, you may opt for the easier way of using status updates which also restrict the number of words/characters and hence, your expression. Or, you may opt for a blog, where you can explain your context by articulating your reasons beautifully well. This has double benefits – you not only express your opinion, but also showcase your mastery over your expression – the opinion is step one, while the way you articulate it is step two.

These offer real, tangible advantages when you are interacting with people in the real world, socially or professionally.

My blog posts…my tweets…my status updates are most definitely my calling card every time I meet anyone! People recognize me and feel they know me based on what I share online.

Imagine…I have the power to seed an opinion about me, in others’ minds, even before I meet them! In the pre-web days, this was not possible at all. Or, was possible by the laborious process of meeting people individually or in a group and speaking to them at length in some context!

Now, why wouldn’t anyone want this power?

PS: Needless to add, the last step in the pyramid is sharing and promoting your opinion. On a network like Facebook or LinkedIn, the sharing and promotion is taken care of, primarily with the people connected to you. On Twitter, it goes a bit beyond, to people who follow you. But, in a blog, it takes effort to promote each post within its context. But, that’s a very different and vast topic in itself.

Comments

comments

5 thoughts on “My advice to someone who wants to start a blog?

  1. Instead of thinking of blogging as an interaction, why not think of it as an expression.

    Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime. But he didn't think why should I paint. Or should I paint something thats popular or something thats more likely to be sold

    Lets blog for the same reason, one sings in the bathroom. If someone has a problem with it, they are welcome to ignore it.

    In this world, all too often we have to squash our opinions if its not popular and doesn't conform to majority opinion. Instead of keeping it bottled within, why not blog and express your true self.

    Identity is not what others think you are, but who you believe you are. So why not blog for the sake of retaining one's identity.

    Of course it would be a pleasure when someone agrees with you or disappointment when no one sees your point of view. But the bottomline remains, I expressed myself.

    1. It can…as you say…be about expression alone, but I've seen that it doesn't last. Unless you know that there is an audience for it, however small, finding motivation to continue doing it is a HUGE and practical problem! Reason for so many blogs dying a quick, short-term death. In theory, it is great – but a personal diary, a blog ain't! A diary is read only by you and by nature, when you take it online, you're expecting others to read it. Else, you'd continue to write it in a diary 🙂

      1. Well it has lasted 5 years for me. And the audience has varied with time. And I rarely write about myself, unless its a tag I can't absolutely avoid.

        Sure it has caused problems, and pains, but in the end it has always been worth it.

        Many are forced to do what will earn them the most.
        While some get to do what they are good at.
        But rarely do we think of spending energy on something which we just Want to do, because its bursting from within.

        Instead of having expectations from blogging, why not just enjoy the journey instead of focusing on the destination?

        There are were many who started blogging for the sake of it, and gave up because they were not getting what they wanted out of it. But those kind of people are probably joining Twitter now.
        But even if it was short, they did something they wanted to do. And its always better to try out than regret not trying it out, right:)

        PS : unrelated to the post
        on the usage of n instead of & in twitter, its not easy to use shift key when i type with one hand. (for eg when i am feeding my kid)
        Though I prefer finger acrobatics and try to use the shift key, i can understand why some use n. (just wanted to share the other point of view).

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