Blogging is an act of taking notes or freezing moments and thoughts, in any form of content shareable through the internet (video, audio, text, image), in a periodic (potentially chronological) nature. It’s the modern-day of journaling, keeping a diary, or doing a scrapbook, but the true difference is you share it with the world almost instantly. The goal of this “notekeeping” isn’t merely inwards anymore, but outwards.
The best thing about blogging is that you can start immediately with any existing tools, fear no mistakes, shape your topic or theme along the way, and work as if there is no definite goal. More often, it’s personal. The stake is low, but the journey and end result can be tremendous and rewarding.
Just imagine it: you can just start writing this minute. No matter how long it is, how good it is, what the content is, where you post it—Wordpress, Youtube, your personal Kirby or Jekyll installation if you feel geeky, even your immediate social media that can support better length and variety of content like Instagram—you can start sharing and have an audience once you tap or click on “post”.
You don’t worry first about how your content would be perceived. Just create and be done with it. The only thing you need to do is to be consistent. You’ll get better over time, with each iteration. You’ll think through your format, your writing, your grammar, your tools and executions. You’ll even refine your stories. In the end, you might discover a topic that you didn’t know you had passion about, and probably focus on it. The end result can be totally different from the beginning.
Blogging, at the beginning, is a very forgiving way of creating. It allows you to make mistakes, experiment and learn along the way. The low risk involved makes you pave your way through without any hesitation. There are, of course, precautions, like the tone you choose, but that doesn’t come until certain time where you are really held accountable for your content.
As a designer, I can relate this process to design.
Borrowing Airbnb’s design guideline, a process (in this case, designing) should serve in ways that support:
Too few constraints
Software design has few physical constraints compared to many other design disciplines. This allows for a variety of solutions to any given challenge, but also opens it to disjointed user experiences. As product owners and designers, we have to create and follow our own constraints.
This is essentially the same as blogging. It has so few constraints that it has so many solutions and paths possible. The risk to that is that we are led astray to creating something that does not appeal to anyone. Good practice and consistent creation are keys to iterating our way through for a better content. You learn through baby steps.
Although content creators can go solo, their topic covers a lot of grounds. In this case, we learn how to focus on topics, themes and tones that appeal to specific and focused audiences.
Multitude of platforms
We need to ship our product on a multitude of platforms and devices. Keeping features and designs synchronized takes significant effort, often requiring the same work to be repeated across all of these platforms.
Ten years ago, blogging was only about writing text, links and posting images on the form of a website. Today, we’ve seen more audio and viusal aspect of it, and even though vlogging has been invented almost as the same time as blogging, it’s become increasingly popular because of content mediums that support rapid creations and rapid sharing, increasing the virality of the content. Even blogging on personal sites are starting to move to mediums like Medium, in which discoverability is better.
Blogging allows us to think about our mediums. We think through the constraints and the opportunities presented by those mediums.
Software as a continuum
Another unique thing about software is that, while it can be considered a product, it doesn’t really wear out and get replaced like traditional consumer products. Code and designs created years ago still exist in many places, even after the landscape of a company and its product have shifted significantly. This requires constant maintenance and upgrading.
This is exactly the same as blogging. It’s a continuum. There might never an end to it, because the content evolves, alongside with you. Content that we created ten years ago become immortal and can still be accessed today and enjoyed by many. A blog is never finished. The medium might change, but the content and the spirit live on.
Additionally, according to Airbnb, a design should also have these characteristics:
Unified: Each piece is part of a greater whole and should contribute positively to the system at scale. There should be no isolated features or outliers.
Each piece, although independent, is a contribution to a whole sum that is greater than the parts. Every single particle of content you create and post becomes your voice and brand. Unless you decide to delete
Universal: Airbnb is used around the world by a wide global community. Our products and visual language should be welcoming and accessible.
The content of a blog is universal in the sense that it projects everything you know about a topic and in the language that you want to express. It is “universally” available to the your intended audience, thus, the content should be inclusive to all of them.
Iconic: We’re focused when it comes to both design and functionality. Our work should speak boldly and clearly to this focus.
Your content should have the tone and voice that are truly unique to you, so that your audience can refer to you quickly. Establish a memorable brand, e.g., “a travel blog for street food enthusiasts,” or “a beautifully-written narration of a fashion designer’s life in Jakarta.” Use the most appropriate context.
Conversational: Our use of motion breathes life into our products, and allows us to communicate with users in easily understood ways.
The true soul of a blog is the soul of a person who writes it. If you strive on creating content that has no difference than the link-bait pieces online or a direct copy and paste from other famous bloggers, then you might find difficulty in finding your dedicated audience. The true blogger’s language that separates them from journalists is conversational language. Don’t worry about using “proper” language, unless you write political or financial blogs, or you are just inclined to scratch that itch. Just be good, warm and conversational.
Blogging is the epitome of creations. It doesn’t start with money, reputation or client pressure (unless specified so). I would say “casual blogging”. Don’t get me wrong, even with “casual” you can go up to “contextual” and a level of commitment that can earn you opportunities.
As with design, and I believe business and life in general, it should follow this spirit as well: serve the content first, money and reputation will follow later on. Prove your expertise first, recognition will come later. Those who win will ultimately those who do it consistently over and over again, not those with a big bang one time and be done with it.
So, next time you are starting something new, even if it’s for your business or day job, try to look at creating and serving through the “blogging” glass:
Nurture, evolve, and win.