Jul 6, 2009

Why Do You Blog?

I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now (since June 2005 in fact) and in that time I’ve been asked this question quite a few times, typically from people who I think like the idea of writing their own blog but get put off by what a lack of confidence and doubt.  Questions like “what would I say?” or downer statements such as “I don’t have anything interesting or original to say” are typically what I hear.

So, if you don’t mind indulging me for a few minutes, let me give you some of the reasons why I blog.  If these reasons help you consider your own blogging or lack thereof afresh then I’d be pleased, but that’s not really the point of this post as you’ll see.

By the way, in case you were wondering, there’s nothing radically new or earth shattering in this post.  Seriously.  It’s all been said before by other people with much more eloquence than I can put together.  In fact, if you want, go and read a few of those posts (just Google for reasons to blog or check Atwood’s or Hanselman’s blogs as they’ll probably have something prosaic and witty to say about it).  So you may ask why would I write this post at all then?  Let me give you the first of my reasons as an answer:

To Clarify My Thinking

Shock. Gasp. Awe. Yawn. Told you it wasn’t earth shatteringly original :-)  I sometimes write blog posts as a way of helping me get my view on things straight and clearing up my understanding.  The simple act of writing something down and trying to do so in a lucid, structured and clear manner instead of resorting to “grawk, nhhh, brrrp” explanations combined with hand movements and dance simply helps me get things straight in my head.  This particular post is to remind myself why I blog and why after a lengthy break (due to major household renovations) it’s worth getting back into.  When I write clarity posts I’ll normally publish them but sometimes I don’t, especially if I think it’s worthless drivel, but even so, the mere act of writing something down helps me understand where I’m at.  If I realise I’m still not clear on a subject it’ll usually just save it as a draft until clarity comes.

OK, With that out of the way here’s a few more reasons…

It Helps Me Improve

Yep.  Putting something on screen and posting it on the internet for any and everyone to see can be a bit scary at times, but that in itself is a challenge to help me improve not only my understanding of a subject but also my ability to explain concepts and techniques.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but regardless it helps me improve, little by little, and for someone who blathers on about continual improvement this is just one of many mechanisms for doing it.

I Enjoy Teaching and Helping

I actually enjoy helping people understand something they didn’t before.  Now this is where most people start in with the “nothing original” excuse.  My response?  “Yeah, so?”.  Big deal if someone has written about it before.  Who cares if it’s something ScottGu or DHH has blogged about.  If someone’s reading a blog post of yours then it’s probably because they’re either interested in you as a person and want to hear what you have to say or because they found it via a search engine.  If it’s the latter, then you’ve probably written something from a slightly different angle than others and that’s something that’s going to help them.  That’s a good thing.

For The Fame and the Money!

Of course!  Well, maybe not.  Yes I’ve got some ads on the blog and feed (please click them and help me feed my starving children!!) but the amount of cash they bring in is only enough to cover a coffee once a week (if that).  And if I was doing it for the fame then I’d be delusional.  I’m glad you’re reading this post, seriously I am, but with my visitors a month count being in the 3,000-4,000 range and with the regular readers who follow via the feeds being in the hundreds I’d be considered extremely lucky to rate a mention globally.  If I wanted to get lots of hits then I’d have to blog about trendy subjects and unless I have an interest in it myself, then why would I? A blog should be about you and what interests you.  Of course I could write a killer app and be famous the world over, but that flash of inspiration still hasn’t hit :-P

Before I move on, I’ll be honest with you, a well received blog post does help scratch the ego and I like to get positive feedback, but if that was the main reason for me doing it, it would be a pretty crappy reason.  I can get my ego scratched much better by just visiting http://ourstereo.com/compliment/ and clicking refresh a few times.  Or playing a game with my kids who adore me.  Or, heck, I could just go look in the mirror… LOL. Yeah, okay.  Reality check!  I can proceed.

It’s a Record of What I Learn

Yep. Boring.  Move along.  Actually, I should just say that I often hit my blog and search for things I’ve written about a while back and where I’ve either forgotten the details or don’t have them handy.  Being able to quickly look up some info from the blog has helped me many, many times.

Finally, It’s A Way To Connect

This one is probably the least thought about, but to me it’s still something that’s quite important.  Blogging helps me connect with people, just like twitter and IM can, but instead of it being a social connection with people typically know me personally or are one or two connections removed, it’s more a connection around common interests and whatever my blog posts have been about.  Through some of my posts I’ve made connections with people I admire from around the globe that I would never have met in person, and who would never have encountered me via social networking alone.  Even though the connections are typically loose and short lived I think they’re still invaluable, and who knows, some of those connections have a tendency to stick and can become people you connect with over the long term.  How good it that!


So that’s enough reasons for me.  What about you?


  1. I agree with your reasons and just wanted to add one more - it's communication practice. It takes me a long time to communicate my ideas via writing - I'm just not very adept at it. Blogging helps me develop this important skill. Maybe one day I will actually have something original to say, and gosh darn I want to be ready for it! :P

  2. I recall a blog post (but not the author) that noted that we all at times write emails explaining something. With just a bit of additional effort, that info could instead be put into a blog post. Instead of helping a couple co-workers, you put it out there for the larger development community. Just one aspect of the "teaching and helping" category you mentioned.

  3. @PedroG Good point. I've done that quite a few times myself where I've taken an email I've written, gone "Hey self! That's almost a post!" and just tweaked it a little before publishing it.

  4. Here are my reasons for blogging (pretty similar to some of yours):

    1. It helps me learn. I learn best by explaining, even if it's only to an imaginary blog audience. :)
    2. I can look stuff up I've done before (similar to 1). I use my own blog as a reference embarrassingly frequently.
    3. Potentially help out someone else. I've learned lots of stuff from a range of bloggers, and if I can help out someone in return then I'm carrying on the proud tradition :)
    4. I actually really enjoy writing (as anyone who reads my long, rambling posts will know).