So a few weeks ago I wrote about my/our ‘why’ (check out the full post here). This week I want to talk about your why. Well, not your why specifically, but to encourage you to think about your why as I have. So let’s go ahead and answer the question ‘why do you blog’ together.
If you’re reading this you’re either running your own blog, or working for a company and writing for their blog. Maybe you’re not, but that’s our target audience so chances that includes you (shame on me if it doesn’t). The point being, that you are someone who takes pride well done in a job that is getting more and more impossible. Let’s face it, growing a blog organically is hard. Not only that, but the reward is often far off from the start, and benefits can be few and far between.
So why do you do blog?
Why, not What
What you do is write 300-500-word blog posts about a specific topic. Good for you, there are 700 million and counting people who do that. This may be harsh, but it’s a hard truth: what you do is not special or unique. When I ran Monstah Mash we initially positioned ourselves as a ‘revolutionary sports community’ — now guess how many other Red Sox sites envisioned themselves the same way.
The answer is: a lot.
We were not different from the other blogs based on what we did, we were different because of why we did it. I started Monstah Mash because we were tired of national broadcast giving an emotionless account of our favorite team. We were tired of the Sox being separated from Boston in the eyes of the media, and wanted to create a site and write stories from the perspective of someone who loved the team and our city. We built a cult following, as people loved our unique style which emanated and pointed back to our ‘why’. Every post, tweet, or comment tied back to our mission. It wasn’t what we were doing that was special, it was why we did it.
Take a look at your blog, are you more focused on the day to day what you do as opposed to the reason behind it? If so, then keep on reading.
Where to start
It’s all well and good to talk about ‘why’ versus ‘what’ but what does it really mean. And more importantly, what can we do about it. You may hate this answer, as it’s something you have to find on your own.
That’s not a copout, it’s the truth. I cannot give you your ‘why’, only you can. I can give you a few questions that I found helpful in answering mine though. Ask yourself these questions and give brutally honest answers. You may find that you need to change the direction of your blog, stop blogging all together, or maybe you’ve got it all figured out (unlikely)–wherever you end up though trust me, you’ll be better for it.
If you weren’t blogging what else would you be doing? Why?
What is your favorite thing about blogging? What is your least favorite?
Where do you want your blog to go in the next six months? Year? Five years?
How do you measure success with your blog? Do you feel good about your success?
Of all the blogs in your industry what really separates you from the rest? On the flip-side, how are you similar/exactly the same?
Why did you pick your blog’s current topic?
If you could blog about any other topic what would it be?
This list is not all encompassing, you may add questions or hate the ones I included. As long as it gets you thinking and providing honest answers to yourself, that’s what matters. Whether you take 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days take some time away from your busy life with a notebook and pen and jot your thoughts down. Or use a computer, I’m not picky.
So I’m not just putting you in the spotlight, here are my answers for our Blog Trackr blog (so as to not pick on Monstah Mash) so much. We’ve been working on the app for a year, and we’ve just got our ‘why’ down pat. Well, down at least a bit. It took time, searching, a grand quest of sorts (from my living room to my kitchen and back). But after answering the tough questions honestly I came to a better understanding of what we’re actually doing here and what my motivations are.
My favorite thing about blogging is the ability to reach people anywhere in the world and at any time, whether it’s sports news or marketing and blogging advice that I can provide information from my living room to someone in Maine, California, or even Australia is incredible. I measure success by involvement with our readers and the content we push out, we can have thousands or millions of visits but our goal is to provoke and instruct, not just load on a screen. We are different from other blogs in our industry because we believe that blogging truly is the next movement in communication and not properly understood. We’re a group of bloggers who have a passion for taking blogging to the next level and sharing our past success with others because sharing our stories is a lot better than keeping our secrets.
Now was that really so hard?
As they say in Star Wars, search your feelings and you will know it to be true. You may have an epiphany or an existential crisis… or you may not. If you walk away with this being a bit more mindful at the least then I’ve done my job.
Blogging is easy, but growing a blog is difficult. When you’re competing with thousands of others just like you, it’s time to make ‘you’ a bit more unique. Competing with 700M blogs is impossible, but competing with yourself is an easy mountain to climb. So find your ‘secret sauce’ and steer in that direction, it may be rough at first but a year or even six months down the line you’ll see the difference.
Why do you blog? Answer that question and there’s no stopping you.