Why you should start a blog and eat tiramisu gelato


(September 18, 2019)



Last year when I was amassing my first few clients as a copywriter, I came across a podcast of which Seth Godin was a guest. 

He said, “Start a blog.”

“Blog every day.”

“Do it.”

I think my toast was ready because I hit pause on the Podcast and didn’t hear his argument for WHY you and I should start a blog.

But, at the time, I didn’t really care for an explanation. I still had certain prejudices toward the blogger type.  I’d only heard of the wanderlust travel folk who wrote about tiramisu gelato in Southern Italy on a Wordpress site. And frankly, from the stories I read, these bloggers were about as entertaining as watching dried paint.

Bloggers seemed like the white belt of writers.

As a student of literature, I aimed for greater literary heights. I’d planned on writing a novel that would be picked up by a publishing giant. I’d sell millions, get recognition, adulation, and then I’d retire early in a cottage in the woods like Thorough.

That was the plan, anyway.

I definitely didn't want to bang-up short, skimmable sentences.

And one-line paragraphs.

Like those darn bloggers.

And besides, I wasn’t going to be so narcissistic to assume a group of people would have nothing better to do than read my weekly thoughts on whatever, given there’s a Canon out there with enough insightful words to keep a book-worm happy for life.

But, as you can see, life doesn’t always work out as planned. I see now how wrong I truly was. More on that in a bit. 

But first, I have to tell you about the death of the newspaper and how I failed to become the next James Joyce.

I’d just finished university and began freelancing for various newspapers and online publications as a cadet journalist.

The logic was I would earn a crust from journalism, continue to learn about the craft of writing and, in my spare time, work on fiction.

But here was the thing.

Getting a feature article published in a publication was as bloody hard as getting fiction published in a literary magazine.

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, you must be a crap journalist.” I don’t want to have to convince you, so you can decide for yourself by having a look here, here, here, or here.

The problem wasn’t quality—but budget.

The way media is shared has changed dramatically since the dot come machine came along—obviously. But even I, as a millennial, didn’t grasp the extent of it.

Godin often says the cultural gatekeepers of yesteryear are no longer guarding you against the success that lies on other side of the gates. But what does that mean?

Well, 40 years ago, if you wanted to publish a novel, record an album, become a host for a show, you needed to be chosen by a big dog who was the head of one of these publishers, record labels, radio shows. These gatekeepers had the resources to make your humble idea have global reach through savvy marketing.

And if you weren’t chosen, then you had to wait outside the gated walls with the rest of us and merely hope that one day—just one day—you’d get picked. But then the internet came along and busted down those walls.

Now, you can market yourself, self-publish on Amazon, record an album in a bedroom, create a podcast. You can even have a blog with a larger following than prestigious news publications.

Many individuals have already done so and created VERY handsome careers out of it.

And so these big traditional gatekeepers who are too big and slow to adapt to an incredibly fast-changing world are losing the battle. 

(I know I’m not saying anything new here. But…)

By the time I was pitching articles, news publications in my home town had begun handing out redundancy packages like Mentos. Some had reduced the staff by ⅔ or more. They didn’t even have enough in the bank to pay existing journalists, let alone a budding freelancer. And the death of the newspaper wasn’t just a provincial problem.

The circulation of daily newspapers is now less than what they were in 1940, despite the number of daily newspapers in circulation having tripled.

At the beginning of 2019, Vox reported that digital advertising like Facebook and Google was officially bigger than traditional advertising businesses like TV, radio and newspapers combined.

Studies forecasted that in the US advertisers will spend more than $129 billion on digital advertising this year — more than the $109 billion they plan to spend on “traditional” advertising. Craigslist alone has cost the newspaper industry $5.4 billion from 2000-2007.

And so my news articles remained in my Google Drives folder. Along with my fiction.

Some plan.

So I thought I may as well show some of those articles to the world—yes, in the form of a blog. When I say the world, by the way, I mean my mum. At least initially. But there was a problem with even uploading an article for her—an inner resistance.

If I began taking initiative and if I bypassed the gatekeepers, then I’d have no excuses, no safety blanket if I made a mistake or failed. I’d also be exposed to judgement. Maybe I’d find out certain beliefs around not being good enough were real.

No thanks.

The articles remained in the archives. 

For a while, I scraped by, working at a cafe, and getting a few copywriting clients here and there. I wrote sporadically and got published rarely.

But then I heard the interview with Godin. And his advice about starting a blog stuck—stuck like honey on cotton.

And so I brewed on it and finally, I thought, screw the darn gatekeepers. I began a blog. This blog. And as one article turned into two, and then 10 and 20, I learnt how wrong I was about blogging.

Blogging or any act that requires you to put something dear to you, something you’ve worked hard on, out into the world is a demonstration of bravery and generosity and discipline.

Bloggers like to champion the external benefits of blogging, of which there are plenty. You get more traffic to your website, you gain a following. Heck, you can even earn millions. But no one talks about the most valuable benefits—the intrinsic ones. Here’s what I mean:

One


By blogging, you learn to get past the fear of putting things out into the world, so you develop resilience, an ability to back yourself.

Two


You learn how to write often, so you develop a capacity to move past writer's block (a made-up malady that paralyses many creatives for life)  and you vastly improve your craft.

Three


You clarify your thoughts, beliefs, become a better communicator and, after enough posts, become an expert in whatever you’re writing about.

Four


You make mistakes, so you improve faster and develop an intuitive sense of how to market better.

You get the idea.

So even if your mum is the only person who ever reads your blog, as a business owner, entrepreneur, creative, or someone who’s passionate about something you should still write a blog. And as a bi-product, you WILL gain a following.

Because here’s the thing.

If you practice the discipline every week for 10 years, you can’t not get bloody good. And when you get good, a group of people will take heed. Though, there is a caveat.

You have to pick a niche.

You need to be very clear on the type of person you’re writing for—their interests, values, world views—as well as the value you’re attempting to bring them. Otherwise, your insights and contribution will become diluted and, therefore, lost in the miasma of crappy articles on the net.

Take me for example. I wanted a following for my creative essays. So I combined my experience as a barista to create a blog of weekly satirical stories from life behind the bench in the cafe. I have no passion for cafes alone. But I have a lot of fun writing about the ridiculous nature of the human condition.

Also, there’s plenty of restaurant reviews from the perspective of the customer. But no one talks about what life is like on the other side of the bench, save for frustrated hospitality employees.

So I knew there was an audience and I branded the blog accordingly. After 6 months, I’d amassed a monthly readership of over 1000 people, which isn’t bad considering I’m not writing about popular subjects like health and well-being and entrepreneurship. I’m merely offering a laugh or two.

And if you can’t pick a niche, yet, then you can do what I’m doing now for my new copywriting business, Brew Copy: start messy and write the first post anyway.

I don’t want to relay hackneyed platitudes at you like life is a journey, not a destination, but I have to because it’s true.

Perfection, after all, is a myth. And success (whatever that means to you) is a process.

At the moment of writing this post, I have 0 subscribers for Brew Copy. And I’m okay with that. I’m also okay that this post won’t be the most read or revolutionary. Because in a year, I will have a small community of followers and a few valuable articles. In 10 years, I’ll have a sizeable following, and I’ll be an expert and, most importantly, I will have learnt a lot going through the process.

And I hope you will join me in the great opportunity of our time. And that is to bypass the gatekeepers, to develop attention and trust with an audience who wants to hear from you, and grow as a person as you do it.

It’s pretty simple, really. 

There’s just one thing. You have to start today because every day you don’t is a lost opportunity.

Oh, and if really can’t write it yourself, give me a buzz.

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Brew Copy, a storytelling studio that helps you build your brand—with words. Contact me at jayden@brewcopy.com. Stay in touch on Instagram. Or on Linkedin.