This guest post is by Arsene Hodali of The Good Life? | dancePROOF.
Why should you blog? I can’t tell you. I don’t like telling people what to do, or why they should do something.
Instead, I want to show you a couple of things that, through my own experiences and research, I’ve deducted happen to the majority of people once they start to blog.
1. You become a better researcher
Trust me, I’m the last person I’d expect to find doing proper research. Yet for this post alone I spent an hour on ProBlogger purely researching. I researched past posts to see which did well, which didn’t, and why. I researched to see which topic I could bring a little more clarity to. I researched the comments and archives to see how people responded to each post. And I looked at at least 35+ posts on 20+ other blogs to narrow down the few unspoken benefits that each of them have gained over time.
Basically, I did my homework.
The current me is drastically different from the person I was a year ago. Back then, when I started blogging, I disliked research. In fact, dislike is too soft a word. It reminded me too much of college essays and citations.
But as I got more skilled at blogging, I noticed that in my quest to provide better content, I was spending less time writing than I was researching. And soon research became the back-bone of all my posts, the edge I had over others who were unwilling to put in the time. And in all unlikeliness, I became that which I once hated: a researcher.
2. You become less pushy and more helpful
I reached a point about six months ago where I stopped blogging completely. I stopped because I started getting more traffic and thus started connecting with more people on a personal level. And this scared me.
What gave me the right to tell someone what to do? Nothing. But, over time, I realized that my breakdown was actually a break-through. I realized that although I have no right to tell someone what to do, I do have an obligation to inform others of what I believe is the best solution available, and to let them take it from there. I have no right to tell you what to do. But I do have an obligation to share information that’s been instrumental to me bettering my life, in hopes that you’ll be able to use it to better yours.
The changes become noticeable once you learn that blogging is less the hand of the strict teacher, than of the helpful friend. The teacher force-feeds knowledge, expecting people to learn everything they teach (and quickly), while the helpful friend offers a guiding hand, one which shows the correct path without laying a hand on the peoples’ backs.
That’s why good bloggers learn how to improve the user experience of their sites, why they increase their site’s searchability and navigation, why they spend an inordinate amount of time coming up with the best headlines, why they learn SEO, and why they obsess about all the methods of content delivery. Because the teacher expects you to come to them to learn, while the helping friend seeks you out. Because the friend doesn’t necessarily want to teach, but help with information (there’s a subtle difference).
3. You become a better speaker
I’ve always been a sucker for skills that help us in more than one aspect of life.
Blogging has helped people understand the importance of good communication. It’s shown the ignorant that yes, content is key, but content without voice might as well be non-existent.
It’s shown the geniuses of the world that if they spoke as they thought (non-linear and chaotic), they’d forever be misunderstood. It’s shown them that taking out a piece of paper and jotting down the main points of a concept is not something the stupid and forgetful do, but an act reserved for the wise.
Blogging has shown the world that clarification and simple words matter most. That big words don’t necessarily impress; they confuse. And that taking pride in someone else’s confusion about your message is shameful.
It’s taught the world that a good, clear, strong voice is something to be desired and worked towards.
4. You get your ideas in order
Half the time I blog, I don’t blog for others, but for myself. I blog to find out what my beliefs and standings on a particular topic are.
To publish a decent blog post, you have to go through the research and clarification phases I mentioned above. Once that’s done, and you hit Publish, you get to see how people react to your ideas, whether they agree or not, and why.
Through research, I’m finding information that supports and goes against my ideas and notions, and I’m bettering my understanding of current topics even more. Through revision and proofreading I’m clarifying the ideas, making them less abstract and more concrete. Through blog comments I’m seeing how my ideas and notions vibe with others. And through my replies to those comments I’m seeing my own standing on an issue more clearly.
This is the main reason why I blog. I don’t see myself as truly grasping a concept until I’ve blogged about it.
5. You find yourself
It’s always fascinating to see how blogging and personal development are so strongly intertwined.
I think it’s because blogging forces you to take sides. It forces you to niche if you want to succeed. And thus you go through the journey of finding what your personal interests are, what you’re passionate about, and what makes you the person you are.
When I started blogging I wrote posts that angered or excited people—posts that made people take a side. I blogged with a strong and demanding voice. But in finding my niche, and thus myself, I turned my act around 180 degrees.
I realized that I’m more inclined towards the calm and personal approach. I found that I’m much more at peace talking with a gentler voice, showing people my ideas and why I think they’re whorthwile rather than forcing them upon others. And I found that I disliked separating my career from my personal life. I don’t separate them in real-life (one feeds the other), so why should I separate them on a blog?
Blogging makes you be specific, and take sides. And in doing so, it makes you learn about yourself.
6. You become your own motivator when you’re down
Face it: we all have those days (sometimes weeks) when we’re down. We stop trusting our own skills, our own judgments, and our own ideas. Guess what helps you keep the gloom at bay? Blogging.
Using myself as an example, whenever I feel I’m no good at writing, I open the browser, visit my blog, and read some of my past posts. You wouldn’t believe the power this simple act has on my mood. In reading my past blog posts I realize that I’m not in fact as horrible a blogger as I think I am.
Sometimes your best motivator is yourself, and your past actions. But you can’t start motivating yourself until you start recording your good work—until you start blogging.
7. You become a better writer
This is quite obvious, but so often overlooked. I think it’s because being a good writer in itself has so many titles.
A good writer could be a good conveyor of resourceful information, so that those seeking specific resources find them. A good writer could be someone who abbreviates large amounts of text into one tiny paragraph without losing any content, so that people who are too busy to read get the gist of it. A good writer could be someone who tells a story with emotion—one who connects with the audience on a emotional level. And a good writer can be someone who takes the reader on a journey up the valley of the rising plot, over the hill that is the climax, and finally to the destination that is the denouement.
Every writer has each of the above traits in different amounts. And thus being a good writer is different for everyone because what you believe makes a good writer could be entirely different from what I believe. All the points I’ve mentioned above are what I believe make a good writer, and a good blogger.
What good things have happened to you since you started blogging?
About the Author: Arsene Hodali examines life through whimsical thoughts, questions, and actions over at The Good Life? | dancePROOF. From surviving the Rwandan Genocide to living on two hours of sleep a day, he’s experienced some pretty wild things. To quote a certain hippy, “He’s seen things man.” Outside of whimsical ponderings, you can find him running “Quotes” Clothing. He asks you to ponder life’s mysteries with him.