November 19, 2011

Is Starting a Blog Right For You?

I originally posted this article a little over a year ago. At that point I had been writing Satisfying Retirement for just a few months. Readership was low and it was the rare post that generated many comments. This is one that did.  Since I have lots of new readers since then (bless you!), I thought I'd rerun it to see if fresh comments would add something new to the discussion.

Plus, blogging is one of the activities that retired folks often consider. In addition to social media, like Twitter or Facebook, blogging ranks very high in a new activity. Maybe my motivations will help you decide is this is a good fit for you.



Should you consider blogging? That is a good question. I saw some statistics recently that would scare off a saner person:
  • Up to 80% of Blogs are abandoned within the first month
  • 20% of bloggers update their blog every single day
  • There are over 130 million blogs on the Internet
  • There are over 187 million domain names registered
(since I first wrote this the numbers are even more staggering..now over 400 million blogs exist, though many are inactive or have been abandoned)


So what is the attraction of getting involved in something that has an 80% failure rate, requires lots of time, puts me in competition with a huge number of people, and produces no income? Couldn't I find something else to do with my time? At least as of today, my answer is "No." Maybe you will see a reason that prompts you to enter this fascinating world.


I have a desire to write and blogging satisfies that need. My favorite courses in high school and college were those involving creative writing. It took me nearly seven years but I finished and self-published an Arizona travel book for family and friends. For awhile last year I took part in a writing group that met twice a month. I didn't stick with the group, but it re-lit my passion to write. All I lacked was a direction and an outlet I would enjoy. I found it in blogging.



Blogging can occur on a flexible schedule. Blogging can take a lot of time. Like any new hobby or pursuit there is a learning period that gobbles up the hours. Writing doesn't flow from my keyboard. Sometimes it is a real struggle to fill a page with something I am willing to put in front of others. But, I can decide when I want to sit down and churn out an article. Some days I tackle writing first thing in the morning. Some times I'll be ready to write after after dinner. This post is being written at 9 PM because I had other stuff on my schedule today.

It encourages interacting with other people. There is a lot of people blogging. Many are willing to share ideas or help newcomers avoid proven pitfalls. I have found virtually everyone I have come in contact on the Internet is friendly and anxious to develop a relationship with other bloggers. They may be virtual friends, but friends they are.


There is a rush when something I have written generates comments from readers. The feedback from this type of writing is virtually instantaneous. I can post something on this blog and often within an hour someone has left a comment. Something I have written has meant enough to someone else to take the time to leave their thoughts. That feels good.

Of course, the flip side also occurs. I have written some posts I thought were pretty good only to have virtually no reaction and very few readers That is frustrating and disappointing. But, I quickly remind myself that no one owes me anything. I am blogging because it satisfies a need in me. The poor response prompts me to take a critical look at the article and the subject matter to see what I can improve the next time.

There is the thrill of learning something new. Six months ago I had no idea what a blog was or how one was created. I didn't understand the language or the process. I had heard of Twitter but I thought it was for teenagers. I had no idea how powerful it can be to promote something like a blog. Successful bloggers have learned certain tricks of the trade that were totally alien to me.


Learning how to participate in this world and at least hold my own has been exciting. I need the constant stimulation of a new challenge. Learning how to build this blog has been the challenge I was seeking. I am learning something new almost every day which makes each day exciting and a joy.


Blogging can help others. Before starting I spent several weeks trying to decide what my blog's niche should be. Eventually it became clear that the only topic that I could really share anything of value was something to do with retirement. After almost a decade of figuring out what works and what to avoid, I thought I might have enough to offer others. 


There are literally thousands of blogs about retirement, and at least 80% of them deal with money and financial planning. I decided to pick an area that seemed undeserved: how to build a retirement lifestyle that is productive and satisfying. Feedback and comments seem to validate that choice. There is a real hunger for information and tips to make this phase of life a positive one. There seems to be an interest in hearing about my experiences in this journey. If what I pass along helps, the time and effort will be well worth it.


I don't know how long I will keep writing Satisfying Retirement. At some point maybe the thrill will be gone and I will move on to something else. But, at the moment that is the farthest thing from my mind. I am having a blast and have no intension of going anywhere.


If you are thinking maybe blogging would fill a need in you, by all means go for it. There is virtually no cost, except in time and taking an ego hit now and then. The blogging world remains wide open to someone with an itch to write and a story to share.




Note: Since I wrote this  in early November, 2010 nothing has really changed. I continue to enjoy the process and effort required to produce this blog. I encourage you to try your hand at blogging about a subject that is your passion or your area of expertise. Here is an open-ended offer: I'll be pleased to help you pick a topic and work through the steps involved in becoming one of many - a blogger.


If you are a blogger (and most of my readers are), add your two cents worth. What do you enjoy, and what do you dislike about producing a blog? If you had it to do over again, would you? What keeps you going?  Do you encourage others to give it a try?

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16 comments:

  1. Always a good read Bob, fun and informative….80% of small businesses fail within something like three years so blogging is much like that; they also generate little money for a time….i have thought about starting a blog but my on line skills are marginal…..I do write a column for two local papers (17 years now)and have told the wife there are similarities there…once again thanks for a good read and you are correct…nothing like getting feedback on something you write…my columns do that for me….ronaldj

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  2. Ronaldj,

    I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but blogging is like a small business with a similarly high failure rate.

    If you already write columns then you already have the material for a blog. Just use the columns so a world-wide audience can be exposed to your thoughts and writings.

    The computer skills are minimal. If you can find this blog and leave a comment, then you are good to go!

    I like the feedback, but someone strangely, a negative comment or one that disagrees with a point I have made is great, too. It means someone is taking the time to express an opinion important to him.

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  3. I love to blog, it is a way for me to "journal" what is going on in my life and allows me to have a public forum to air ideas and find out that I am not all that different than many others, in other words that I am not alone in the way that I am thinking.

    The one thing I would have done differently is not started what seems like 20 other blogs or trying the next new blog host and kept my original one. I keep having these killer ideas and believe that I can monetize that idea, but in the end they just don't work out. Finally, I am settling down, realizing that I am not going to make money from blogging and that my blog is for me more than anyone else.

    I am not being selfish or a one the so-called narcissistic bloggers, but I believe that blogging is a very personal thing that is done publicly (if that makes any sense?)

    I plan to keep blogging for a long time and it is fun to see my present blog evolve from a educationally focused blog to something else, what - we haven't got there yet, but are getting closer, but it is much more personal than it was.

    Harold

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  4. Penelope Trunk had a great post on her blog this week about blogging as a way to network when you are job hunting. I do agree that the ability to connect with people from all over the world is something we really could never do before. Oh sure we all had pen pals once, but this is very different. I use my blog to connect with people and share my jewelry making skills. If you have knowledge to impart, there are people out there thirsty for the knowledge. I feel honored when someone reads my blog. And when they are from another country.........well that just makes my day!

    I don't blog to make money. If you are doing it for that reason then most likely you will fail. Unless of course you are "The Pioneer Woman". I do however have a link to my online store and have made some sales that way.

    Blogging is fun as long as you have something to say. Oh and photos help.

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  5. You're right there are many many blogs out there. But, it takes work to weed through the silly or poorly written ones to find the gems...like Satisfying Retirement. Not that anyone should be discouraged by trying tho. While I "love" to read and drop an opinion now and then I know my limitations...not a good writer. I admire those of you who come back again and again with fresh ideas and viewpoints. I have a learned a lot from blogs and the best ones are ones that have a general theme or topic like "retirement" or frugal living, etc...that makes it easier to find you in a search. Another thing I find valuable on a good blog are the blogrolls .... I probably found you on one of those. These turn out to be the better than what you find on a random search. So anyway....thank you for writing....please, please continue for a long time. Readers need and appreciate you and other good writers.

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  6. Roberta,

    I am occasionally paid to write an article for another web site and have a link on this blog that pays enough for three Starbucks a month. But, the blogging is really a hobby for me.

    I used to be heavily involved in ham radio as a way to talk with folks all around the world, but blogging has pretty much replaced that as my way to communicate.

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  7. JaneO,

    Thanks for the support. I plan on writing until I run out of words...and that could take a while. I'm always on the lookout for topics that would fit my niche and that requires lots of reading.

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  8. Anonymous,

    I hadn't thought of a blog like a small business, but the parallel is quite valid in terms of the number of failures.

    If you write columns for a paper you already have a great start for a blog And, if you can leave a comment on this blog you have enough on line skills to do just fine.

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  9. Harold,

    A few bloggers I know maintain multiple blogs which is amazing. Writing for one blog is a full time job for me!

    I agree with you in terms of personalization. The posts that generate the most comments and views contain the most from my life. But, it is a balance to know how much the blog becomes "me" and how much information is relayed.

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  10. I agree, you get a little charge when people respond to something you've written. It's fun. The hard part? While blogs do tend to be personal, I don't want to regress into navel gazing and complete self-absorption. In other words, I don't want to look stupid!

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  11. Sightings,

    Keeping a blog engaging seems to be the trick of maintaining a fine balance between telling enough, but not too much, about you.

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  12. Bob, I agree it sometimes is hard to keep my blog engaging and come up with new ideas. I've been on both ends of blogging too. I've had 2 of my blogs for 3-4 years and post 1-2 times a week but I've also started and abandoned blogs too over that time. My newest blog is a healthy grains recipe blog with my own creations on it, which I'm really doing just for fun.

    To me writing and blogging are a way of life and I created a schedule around it. When my husband retires next year, my schedule will change, I imagine but I'm also planning an RV travel blog for our travel experiences.

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  13. Joan,

    Sometimes my wife will ask why I spend as much time as I do in the world of blogging. The answer is always the same: I believe there are some people who depend on me to give them ideas or insights for them to consider, and I enjoy the whole process from idea generation to execution.

    But, yes, there are times when the well runs a little dry and I struggle to come up with topics that fire me up. Then, it is more like a commitment I have made to continue and so I force myself to produce something I am happy with.

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  14. Love this post. I started my blog in January of 2010 because retirement was coming up and I was scared. I'm no longer scared but continue to read and write because I have found a community. That's the best part.

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  15. Linda,

    Some day maybe bloggers will start to interact with each other via video. It is easy and free with services like Skype. We are a community that could benefit from cementing friendships. After all, what life couldn't benefit from more good and caring friends?

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    Plz answer back as I'm looking to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. many thanks
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