Why Blog? On Frugal Guidance 2

This post is the beginning of a new series, a newish topic, several new personas, and a new style of telling stories for me. Wish me a little bit of luck and I hope you like it. — Andy

Why You Should Blog. Or Not

First Day of Class for Blogging 101

Good morning, class. Welcome to Blogging 101. My name is Andy Brandt and I’ve been blogging and designing websites for a number of years and also have a background in writing, editing, proofreading, music, labor relations, unionism, fine arts administration, nonprofits, and I was a professional bassoonist back in the day.

First, to set up the basic question and to get to know each other, let me ask you the question, “Why do you want to blog?” Since we’re all new, please share your name along with the answer.

OK. Your hand went up quickly. Why blog?

I’m Marie Alpert. I’m going to be a writer. Actually, I’m a writer already, but I need to be a better one. I want to be published. So I want to start a blog.

Excellent, Marie. Blogging is a good way to learn the craft and art of writing. It’ll also teach you a lot of technical info about writing for the web and creating content. More importantly, blogging allows you to be your own publisher.

Before WordPress, you needed to know HTML to create a webpage, and before that you needed a publisher with an actual, expensive metal printing press to spread your writing to a large audience. Today, anybody with a computer or even just a phone can publish.

Ooh, I’m into historical fiction, sir. Maybe you can tell me more about printing presses later. Have you actually ever run one?

Er, well, no. But I can explain what a typewriter and a mimeograph machine were, maybe, after class. OK. And you in the blazer?

Monopoly card: Build a blog, Collect $200

I’m Stephen A. Montcalm. I want to learn blogging and website design to make money! I’m majoring in business and I read that blogging is a way to get rich.

QuotationMarks2 brownBefore WordPress, you needed to know HTML to create a webpage, and before that you needed a publisher with an actual, expensive metal printing press to spread your writing to a large audience. Today, anybody with a computer or even just a phone can publish.

Well, not to discourage you, but not a lot of bloggers make lots of money just from their blogs. But a blog can be an important means of individual branding and promotion.

Business blogging is a growing, well, business, and can be an important part of marketing and developing business leads. Web sites and blogs are a standard part of business these days.

But, even if you’re not a corporate blogger, some people, like Dan Reich recently on Forbes.com, believe that a blog is the new résumé. Even if you don’t want a career in sales, once you enter the job market you ARE in sales, selling yourself to potential employers. Blogging is one way to help find that job.

And, you?

Well, I’m Pete, and I’m in International Studies, and I’m thinking of starting a blog to bring people from different cultures together.

Excellent. Blogging is a worldwide phenomenon. Blogging enables you to help a company, a country, a nonprofit, a community or a people. Blogging is communication and we certainly need good communication in the world.

Excuse, me, sir, (I’m Gary and I’m in journalism). Blogging isn’t all that innocent. What about those jihadist websites trying to recruit bombers. Aren’t they bloggers, too?

Blogging is a technology. Technology can be used for both good and evil. And who is to decide what is good or evil?

Well, if I blog, I get to decide, don’t I? And I think some of these blogs just spew evil…

Let me break in, here, please.

True, when you blog you get to promote your own viewpoint, whether your intentions are good or questionable. As Pete suggests, technology is agnostic and can be used by just about anybody.

If I didn’t believe most bloggers were, by and large, good people, I wouldn’t be here. Most people don’t agree with Adolf Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, but they don’t reject the publishing industry because of it.

But, we have a couple of older members of our class who haven’t said anything yet. So, why blog?

I’m Edith and I’m studying pottery now to start a second career. Although I want to market my pottery on a website, I also think the real reason people blog is because of mortality. Whether you fear or embrace mortality, it is comforting to know that your words (and your pottery) will survive after you die.

If you’ll let me interrupt, my name’s Joe, and I’m just a bit older than Edith. I just want to learn about the web and how it works without the B.S. I’m hoping that writing and learning will keep my brain active and healthy, too. A one-two punch of sorts.

Yes, Marie? Your hand’s up again?

So, perfessor, you’ve been asking us why WE blog. Why do YOU blog?

Well, «ahem», I guess I have to participate, too. There are a variety of reasons that pushed me into blogging.

First, I enjoy teaching even though it’s often been outside the classroom (until now). I often use blogging to teach.

Should I blog? - Frugal Guidance 2

Second, I started blogging after I ended a career as an orchestral musician and began experimenting with other career paths, including nonprofit fund-raising and management. Even when I was still playing music, I also turned to writing for creative expression.

QuotationMarks2 brownJust like musicians need audiences, and athletes need fans and leaders need followers, writers need readers. Blogging shouldn’t be for everybody, but it should be available to those who want to do it.

Blogging was a way, also, to learn the nuts and bolts of the web, just like Joe said. When I began blogging I had no idea how to use an HTML editor. Now I’m writing my own HTML for my posts and using Cascading Style Sheets to customize them. I’m also building websites, including a small bilingual one (with some translation help) just with code, no WordPress, no nuthin’.

I have two regular blogs: one a general blog with a variety of topics, and another very narrowly focused blog and website on the world of woodwind quintets (a topic bolstered by 35 years of research).

I’m still looking for a new career or freelance opportunities, too. Blogging and websites will probably be a part of that.

Yes. Your hand went up?

My name is Manuel. I’m hearing a lot here about business and publishing and technology here, but I just want to write in English and Spanish. What’s wrong with that?

Nothing, actually. A lot of bloggers are simply homesteading on the web, basically waving their hand and saying, “I’m here.” Blogging is a great way to learn the craft of writing and experimenting with language (whichever language you write in).

Where these other factors come in is when you are ready to build readership and build a career or a business, or just make your site look different from others.

So, basically, you are saying everybody should have a blog and a website?

Well, no, Gary. Not exactly.

Not everybody should blog. First, it’s scary putting your thoughts out there for potential public criticism. Some people aren’t ready for that.

Second, writing isn’t for everybody. I have friends who are excellent artists, musicians, dancers and the like, but ask them to write something and they run away. Writing isn’t the medium of expression for every person.

Third, blogging takes time and a commitment to producing articles on a regular basis, whether it’s daily or monthly.

Also, if everybody was busy writing their blog, there wouldn’t be anybody to blog for. Just like musicians need audiences, and athletes need fans and leaders need followers, writers need readers. Blogging shouldn’t be for everybody, but it should be available to those who want to do it.

Finally, if the idea of writing for an audience gives you the heebie-jeebies, blogging is probably not for you.

Heebie-jeebies, sir?

You know, the willies. The jitters. Butterflies in your stomach. When the hair rises on the back of your neck, the sweat starts on your brow, the breathing gets short.

Ah! Comprendo.

Well, I hope those of your in the back of the room with your cell phones are writing for your future blogs. A bit rude, that.

OK. Next class we talk about where to blog and the different types of blogging platforms.

Why blog? Add to the discussion below in the comments.

Why blog? On Frugal Guidance 2

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Photo Credits

All photos and artwork by the author, Andrew Brandt, edited with Photoshop and Topaz Labs plugins.

Frugal Guidance 2 - http://andybrandt531.com