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The Pros and Cons of Blogging

Among my friends, family, coworkers, and other social acquaintances, there are not many “bloggers.” In fact, there aren’t any. Two or three of my old friends have websites that are updated once or twice per year, but none are actively blogging and sharing their ideas with the online community. Many of my “non-blogging” peeps simply don’t “get it.” To them, the whole idea of consistently updating a website with new material seems like a big waste of time. In fact, on several occasions, I have been confronted with some serious questions and criticisms about the whole “blogging thing.” In this article, I take the time to respond to a few of these complaints and questions, which ultimately expose some of the pros and cons of blogging.

Criticism: Nobody reads your blog or cares about what you have to say.
Surely you have heard this one before — it is easily the most common criticism brought against the idea of blogging: “What’s the point? Nobody gives a flying rip about what you have to say!” or, “You are writing for nobody. The only person reading your blog is you. Get over it!” Of course, although an apathetic cliche, such arguments raise a valid point: what is the purpose of publishing content if nobody is going to read it?
Response: In the process of blogging, you find your true voice.
Even if nobody is paying attention, the process of blogging helps you find and develop your inner voice. Understanding and learning to use your true voice while writing is an important life skill that escapes far too many people. Blogging about your ideas, concerns, and experiences on a continual basis provides the practice required to develop your writing voice. Further, as you learn to express yourself in a genuine, authentic manner, readers will respond, and you will find yourself with an audience that has tuned in to your uniqueness.
Criticism: To be successful, you have to blog about popular topics.
The only way to become successful is to blog about the things that everybody want to read. I don’t to be just another echo in the chamber, regurgitating everything that everybody else is already talking about. If I don’t follow the crowd, I won’t be popular. To make money blogging, you have to have traffic, which requires popularity and success. It’s a vicious cycle in which I would rather not participate, thank you very much.
Response: Success is not about popularity: successful bloggers cover a multitude of topics.
First of all, popularity is not synonymous with success. Blogs that are popular have managed to appeal to the mainstream mentality, but are far from successful on many other levels. Originality, sincerity, authenticity, and truthfulness are just a handful of the different measures of a blog’s success. You don’t have to be like everyone else — dare to be different. If you are blogging to make money, then you have already missed the boat. True blogging is about expression, humanity, experience, and community. There is nothing worse than knock-off copycat-blogs echoing the latest trendy gossip just to earn a few dollars through advertising.
Criticism: Blog design and maintenance requires too much work.
As if blogging itself doesn’t require enough work, most bloggers are also responsible for the design, development, and maintenance of their site or blog. Site design is a never-ending process, continually requiring editing, tweaking, and adjusting. Blog designs tire quickly, forcing bloggers to redesign their blog on a continual basis. Further, responding to comments, fighting spam, making backups, resolving errors, and other tedious site maintenance issues require way too much time.
Response: With practice, you develop your design and maintenance skills.
When I first began blogging, the entire process was indeed overwhelming. Everything seemed so complicated and redundant, tedious and time-consuming. Learning how to design, code, and develop blogs requires a great deal of determination and motivation up front. However, as with most anything else, things get easier as you begin to understand them. Eventually, your blog design and maintenance skills will improve, enabling more efficient and productive ways of managing your site.
Criticism: Life moves too quickly to waste time blogging: What you blog about today will be irrelevant by tomorrow.
Why waste your time blogging when you could be enjoying life in the real world. Life moves so quickly that your blogging efforts are irrelevant after a couple of days. What’s the point in writing about things that hold no long-term usefulness?
Response: Yes, life moves quickly, and blogging is an excellent way to remember it all.
Nothing on earth lasts forever. Everything changes, has changed, or will change. The “why waste your time” criticism may be applied to any aspect of life, online or off. Nevertheless, blogging about current events, memories, or future expectations is a great way to develop your thoughts and record your ideas. Looking back on your blog ten years from now, you will have a great way to recall past events and remember the days that disappeared — zip! — in the blink of an eye. Such history may be very interesting to your children, grandchildren, and hopefully many others ;)
Criticism: Technology changes too quickly: the skills you learn today will be obsolete in three years.
Blogging requires knowledge of computers, servers, software, scripting languages, browsers, and lots of other technological information that will eventually be obsolete. I am not interested in technology, and don’t want to waste my time learning about all of these different things when they are eventually going to be replaced anyway. The time required to learn about such technology is better spent watching a movie or taking a nap.
Response: The ability to understand and manipulate technology is a fundamental skill that is universally applicable.
As you learn about the code, software, and technology involved in the practice of blogging, you begin to understand fundamental principles underlying it all. With time and practice, you begin to see the interconnectedness of various applications and implementations. Eventually, the specific details of various computer languages synergize into a more comprehensive understanding of the logical nature of technology itself. Such skill is highly coveted, and is applicable to the technology of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Criticism: Blogging makes you vulnerable to criticism and ridicule.
I don’t want to share my personal thoughts and ideas because readers might criticize or ridicule me. I don’t want people to argue with me and I definitely don’t want to hear opposing points of view. I just get too upset and can’t deal with it. I would rather just live alone in my isolated fantasy world where everybody agrees with everything I say and nobody has any critical or inflammatory responses. In other words, I am too insecure to deal with criticism. Just leave me alone!
Response: One of the best ways to grow as a person is to listen to alternate opinions and learn from others.
Hopefully, I made my point in the phrasing of the above criticism, but if not, please permit me to say that you really need to get over yourself and accept the fact that the world does not revolve around you. Whether you blog or not, hiding behind a wall of insecurity to prevent personal criticism is a great way to isolate yourself and eliminate personal growth. Blogging indeed exposes the blogger to potential criticism, especially if their ideas are unconventional or otherwise unpopular. Bloggers should see criticism as a reason to blog, not as an argument against it. Speak up — your blog may be exactly what the blogosphere so desperately needs.
Criticism: All of your hard work can disappear in an instant if the Internet ceases to exist.
Why spend all of your time working on something that exists only in the virtual realm of cyberspace? Pulling the plug on the Internet would completely destroy your entire online empire. Digital work is intangible and impractical because it only exists when electricity is available. As soon as electricity fails to surge through our power lines, the World Wide Web ceases to exist. You would be far better served to write via typewriter or by scrawling stick figures on cave walls.
Response: Everything is temporary and suddenly may disappear.
Everything is temporary. Using this argument as a reason not to blog implies that non-blogging activities are somehow less temporary, or more secure, than blogging. As if the things people do offline somehow will continue to exist regardless of world events. We all die anyway, right? So why bother doing anything at all? Might as well roll over and die. Unless, of course, you happen to involve yourself in more eternal activities such as television watching, book reading, or rock collecting. Sure, it’s all temporary, transient, and fleeting, but so are all things in this world. Any worldly thing that you put your time and effort into will eventually cease to exist, so please don’t use this as an argument against blogging.
Criticism: There is no practical, real-world benefit to blogging. You are living in fantasy land.
You fairy. Stop wasting your time in fantasy land. You spend all of your time on the computer and take nothing home with you. There are no real-world, practical benefits to blogging. You are throwing your life away on absolutely nothing at all. What a waste.
Response: Blogging gives you many pragmatic skills and tangible benefits.
We all live in fantasy land, to one degree or another. However, there are many practical, real-world benefits to establishing and maintaining a blog. It is arrogant to declare “no benefit” when you have no experience with blogging whatsoever. There are many practical benefits to blogging, including staying connected and current with relevant events, learning computer and software skills, promoting yourself or business, improving your design skills, developing your creativity, and improving your writing. The benefit of improved writing alone makes blogging a worthwhile endeavor. Enough cannot be said concerning the fluid ability to eloquently and concisely express yourself through the direct manipulation of the human language. ;)

Clearly, blogging isn’t for everyone. It requires determination, motivation, and persistence. Yet with a little inspiration, anyone can begin their very own blogging adventure, experience the pros and cons, and reap the many benefits associated with the practice of blogging.

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Designer. Developer. Producer. Writer. Editor. Etc.
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7 responses
  1. James Broad April 24, 2008 @ 11:52 am

    Hey, great site first and foremost!

    I myself have recently pulled my finger out and started blogging. Something i think was a big problem with getting up and blogging for me was the perfection factor holding me back.

    Eventually i bit the bullet and got up and running with a stock WordPress install and theme. That led to adding some content for my own benefit. From there things grew organically. I got in the habit of writing and so the adventure kicked off. I quickly knocked up my own theme and got it live, improving it in an iterative process, so as to avoid procrastination in getting things ‘live’, something faced on big releases.

    To summarise; the main con of (getting into) blogging, is the procrastination aspect of getting things done. Just write about things that interest you, when it comes into your mind, and sod everyone else! The same applies with the theme/design of your blog.

    Great post!

  2. An excellent rebuttal! The main reason I don’t blog any more is that I have a lot of commitments and barely enough time to fulfill them; otherwise, I would love to maintain a blog.

    There is one point against blogging which might hold weight for some individuals, however: their employers discourage or forbid blogging. This is certainly true of US soldiers while on duty, who must submit to stringent regulations which cover every blog post they make! Elsewhere, I have heard of people being fired for being too forthcoming about work, or even not hired because potential employers found their blog and took a dislike to it.

    It’s not a general argument against blogging, of course. For one thing, the most cited reason managers gave for not hiring candidates based on their blogs was poor spelling/grammar and an unprofessional attitude. If anything, it’s an argument against blogging badly!

  3. Jeff Starr

    Hi James! :)

    Great point about transcending the desire to be a “perfectionist”. Personally, I find this to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) obstacles to blogging and getting web-related things done in general. Your strategy of digging in, going with the flow, and growing things organically may seem futile at first, but eventually produces tremendous results. Nonetheless, just diving in and ripping it out isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Even after things pick up and get going, there is a constant battle between blogging for business (as measured by statistics, feedback, links, ad revenue, whatever) and blogging for pleasure (as measured by degree of satisfaction, desire to blog new content, motivation, enthusiasm, etc.). Bottom line: these days my strategy involves blogging about things that are important to me, providing as much help as possible to others, and always trying to improve my technique (site, theme, security, writing, etc.).

    Excellent comment — thank you! :)

  4. Jeff Starr

    Hi Jordan! :)

    Yes, those are some great examples of case-specific arguments against blogging. Although there is very little one can do to change government regulations (as in the military scenario), employment-related blogging can serve as an extremely powerful tool for both the business and the individual. As you say, however, sloppy writing and bad attitudes make for terrible allies when trying to obtain or retain employment. Thankfully, I realized and embraced this important principle long before beginning my blogs. Besides using an alias (my real name is Jeff Starr, not Perishable) for 99% of the content on this site (for example), I also go through great lengths to ensure that only high-quality content appears online. This includes everything from maintaining a relatively formal tone and utilizing proper English to writing about worthwhile/significant topics and keeping the overall signal-to-noise ratio as high as possible. As we know, there are far too many crappy/useless blogs out there already. I definitely don’t want to be included in the “bad blogging” camp! ;)

  5. When I read this I was rushing out the house very quickly, but I meant to mention: your blog certainly doesn’t fall in with the bad crowd. Speaking as a web developer I hold your knowledge and passion in high regard, both of which are evidenced strongly in what you write, so potential employers should be left with few reservations about hiring you.

  6. Jeff Starr

    Thank you, Jordan! That is by far one of the most encouraging comments I have ever received. Such acknowledgment fuels the fire and is greatly appreciated. :)

  7. Great site, fantastic post!

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