Yesterday I talked about why startups should blog, and was pretty negative. I stand by everything I wrote there – Brad's recent post about intrinsic motivation captures why I don't believe counting up the external benefits will be enough to get you blogging, as does Bukowski's poem So you want to be a writer?
I'm a strong believer in the power of counting my blessings though, so here's some of the things that blogging has given me:
Many work days they only person I'll talk to face-to-face is Liz, which is a big change from the my previous career spent sitting at a desk surrounded by my team. Blogging is a way for me to hold the sort of water-cooler conversations I miss, and build relationships with interesting people. I'm excited every time I see a comment, and amazed when I blog about an event or get-together and people actually show up. It's led to many off-line conversations that give me whole new perspectives on the problems I'm dealing with.
The best way to understand something completely is to explain it to someone else. Blogging forces me to think through my ideas in a disciplined way and expose them to criticism from some very smart people. Just the practice of spending an hour a day truly thinking hard and in depth about an issue has helped me immensely.
The communication skills
I spent a decade building my engineering chops, but at the end of it I was still constantly frustrated by my inability to explain my ideas and persuade people. Writing hundreds of blog posts has left me with a much stronger ability to get across my thoughts in a pithy and effective way, both in writing and general conversation. It helps that I can often cast my mind back to old posts for arguments and evidence, but the sheer mental workout of writing accurate articles quickly helps me think on my feet.
Having a thousand people willing to spend their time checking out what I'm up to is incredibly powerful. That's usually enough to get meaningful feedback about what's working and what's failing, and to start a viral spread if it's really a winner. I'm also hopeful you'll all be a good pool of potential customers once I roll out something that actually generates revenue!
It's not who you know, it's who knows you. Having someone in the room who's actually heard of your work changes the whole tenor of a meeting. I don't hear from the folks who read my blog and think I'm a clown of course, but some of my strongest and most rewarding business relationships have come about thanks to this blog.