At a first glance, talking to strangers on the internet for free is a pretty stupid way to spend your time. Very few people who you know in real life will respect you for it, it’s very hard to make money with paid ads, and if there are any legions of blogger groupies out there, I haven’t yet come across them. In exchange for these non-payoffs, blogging will cost you many, many hours, and no small amount of stress and frustration.
And yet here I am, cruelly suggesting you masochistically cannonball into the weird world of internet writing. Is it just because I’m a bad person? Hardly. Here are five reasons why you should open a word document and start drafting your first blog posts today:
Writing forces you to organize your thoughts
If you think you really understand something, if you think you really get it, try writing a 1000 word blog post explaining it to an audience. I get about ten ideas per day for blog posts that feel fully-formed in my head, just waiting to be spat out in a 90-wpm blur. But I don’t update 10x per day.
Writing Freedom Twenty-Five has forced me to confront the reality that I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did. Writing about something exposes gaps in your knowledge. More importantly, it forces you to address those gaps before you write something that makes you look like an idiot.
Writing forces you to live consciously
Writing a blog forces you to try interesting things, read new books, and think about the world in new ways. Otherwise, what the hell are you going to write about?
And you have to do more than just write to reap this benefit – you have to actually submit your work to forums of smart, critical readers, who will tear you a new one if you try to pass some bullshit onto them. If no one but your mom reads your blog, you’ll wind up like one among the jillions of 20-something-bloggers, yammering on about pets and recipes, with zero readers to tell you what a self-absorbed twit you are.
Writing keeps you accountable to yourself
Whatever content your blog usually features, if you have a personal goal that you’re working on, put it out there for your audience. It would be much easier for me to give up on optimizing my life and settle into comfortable high-mediocrity, if doing so didn’t entail losing face in the eyes of the world.
You can get rich, bitch
Monetizing a blog is difficult and improbable. Succeeding in old-school journalism or publishing will soon be impossible, as both industries die painful, well-deserved deaths. If you dream of writing for a living, putting 95% your content online for free and selling the rest is the most viable business model out there.
You might do some good in the world
The 20th century is dying, and the great lies of our age are going down with it. Will our present culture and constitution be replaced by honesty, stability and justice? Or tyranny?
Fuck me if I know.
But the human race will always be better off with truth than lies. Our present information sources – Academia, Hollywood, the Mainstream Media – are corrupt. If we allow ourselves to be shepherded into the next era by them, we will be as lemmings hurtling towards a cliff.
The world needs an alternative to their mendacity. So far, it doesn’t have one.
The loose collection of websites that currently constitutes the Alternative Blogosphere is not yet a viable competitor to the New York Times. But every time another smart young punk decides to spend 10 hours/week researching and drafting blog posts instead of being hungover and playing video games, the cathedral gets that much weaker.
(This was originally posted at In Mala Fide to coincide with the launch of a new multi-author web magazine. If you’re looking to unleash your inner iconoclast, there’s no better time and place than right now, as an In Mala Fide contributor)