Why I Blog

Darren Rowse recently wrote a piece called the 12 Traits of Successful Bloggers. I’m not successful, but I think it underscores a bit of why I blog, and more importantly, why you should consider it. Just try it. You might like it. Didn’t your parents used to say that to you while shoving a plate full of asparagus under your nose? Hey, just because they were wrong doesn’t mean I am. Besides, I like asparagus now, especially with salmon.

I won’t belabor the meaning of each of Darren’s points here (I encourage you to read his post first to get the semantics behind what he says). For those who don’t know him, Darren runs ProBlogger.Net, which is arguably the largest blog about blogging. Yeah, they have such things. It’s true.

These are just his opinions after seeing a bajillion bloggers rise and fall. From my perspective, he’s about dead on. So, if you’re one of those people who are always asking me, “So why do you bother to blog?”, or “What’s up with the blog thing?”, or “I wonder if I should start a blog?”, maybe this will help you understand a bit of what makes me tick and give you an idea of whether or not you’d do okay at it.

By the way, even though I’ve entitled this article “Why I Blog”, it is really more of an exposé of why I am good at blogging (and why you could be too), but that sounded a bit obnoxious. But if you’re interested, I’ve previously described my main three motivations of blogging.

12 Traits of Successful Bloggers and How they Apply to Me

1. Creative and Playful: Compared to my very creative wife, I don’t think of myself as a creative person. Playful, yes. Creative, not so much. But in reality, I enjoy writing and when I took a Creative Writing class a few years back, I found to my surprise that I got along really well with the “artsy crowd” and became intrigued by studying fiction genres and analyzing fellow students’ work. Well, except for the suicidal gothic girl’s angst stories. But let’s not go there. Plus, I have always played musical instruments (piano, saxophone) and used to sing in the church choir. So, I’m creative enough, at least for this. Just don’t ask me to paint you a mural. Maybe an interior wall with flat latex, but that’s about it for me.

2. Innovative: It scares me how innovative I am. In fact, it’s practically a fault because so many people hate that very thing about us innovators. I have so many great ideas in a day, that it’s like watching mold grow. It can’t be stopped. I’m reminded about a story about a visitor to Apple headquarters by then Pepsi VP John Sculley. While being escorted through the building by Steve Jobs (way back in them 80’s), he spied a man in a corner office who almost looked asleep. Sculley questioned Jobs about it, and received this reply: “Oh, him? We pay him to think.” My innovative mind also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” (George Bernard Shaw). It’s corollary, I believe, is from Dave Barry: “When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy.” Thus, you understand my silent suffering on this skill.

3. Connectors: I really don’t see myself like this. Maybe about 50 percent of the time at best. Why? I don’t know. I like introducing people to other people. Wait a minute. No, I don’t. I have such a huge wide variety of friends, that no three can get along. Then, I end up defending the one to the other a week later. “You really have to get to know him”, after the first friend insulted the other’s family, religion, choice of value meals at Taco Bell, etc…

4. Community Enablers: This is what I’d like to be. It’s tough, too. I’ve been asking, for instance, local web designers and developers in Brevard what they’d think about having a shindig and sort of getting to know each other. We could get a guest speaker from a big city, say, Orlando (try not to laugh) and have some snackaroos, hang for a few hours, and discuss the ins and outs of “the biz” (Wedding Singer joke there). Typical responses? “You are the enemy. Flee now before we release the hounds.”, or “That sounds gre-aaa-t (Office Space style). Just send us an e-vite and we’ll see if we can break away from our huge and important client projects”. Only one other person has shown any real enthusiasm for the idea. It could be that’s it’s just a bad idea. Or that I called it a shindig and talked about snackaroos. What, you don’t like? Or maybe it’s my presentation. Or maybe I should just do it and somehow get a cool speaker. Who knows? And there you see why I’m not so hot at this community enabling stuff.

5. Information Mavens: If you’ve read this blog for even 28 seconds, you know this is me. Totally me. I have to work hard not to be such an info hound. In my secret life, I’m also a high-tech researcher capable of unearthing buried treasure on the internet that would make you shiver in a very horror-movie kind of way. Suffice to say, there’s no weakness here.

6. Communicators: If there’s one thing you realize about Salbergs inevitably, it’s that we love to communicate. And by communicate, I mean blab. And by blab, I mean to constantly post the following verse on nearby surfaces so as to remember our place: “In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23). We have some issues, some of which has damaged friendships and relationships. Oddly, it doesn’t come from the Salberg side, but my mom’s side, so blame her if you must. The Salberg side donated Norwegian heritage which gave some meat and backbone to those chatty words of ours. Thus, the trouble. Seriously, we tend to communicate a lot, but not all of it is necessary or helpful. For me, the blog helps me to focus a bit and empty my head of certain things. By doing so, I can better focus on other things that are more productive, while having a handy reference to refer people to in the future, rather than spending time readdressing an issue. It’s also a lot easier to communicate via a blog, in a vague sort of article-like way, rather than a direct email or conversation in which the participant might be offended. Better they get offended at a post and wonder if it’s about them, than for me to directly address them and have them get irked.

7. Interest: To be interesting, you have to have interests. And I have no lack of those. There’s many reasons why, not all of which I’ll share here, but there are very few subjects of which I have no interest. I can typically mix with nearly any crowd and not be bored. I’ll even get involved and ask questions even though I may not fully understand the issue or subject matter yet. Yes, at times this can lead to some ruffling of feathers. Sometimes people just like knowing more than you and don’t really want to help you understand. If I had the time, I’d know about everything. Probably why there are typically 30 books on my nightstand at any given time, most all of them on different subjects.

8. Entrepreneurs: But, of course. Not only do I run my own business, I have about four other smaller businesses in the works. In fact, per a rather strong suggestion from my friend Alan at Affiliate Confession, I’m even starting some affiliate websites on the side, too, like this one to showcase commercial restaurant supplies. As if I have the time. Which I don’t. Some might even say my family alone is an entrepreneurial endeavor, and I’d have to agree. Raising six children, and homeschooling them all (plus other stuff I won’t go into here) is truly an adventure. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Who wants 1.6 children with a white picket fence, two cars, a mortgage, and a 9-5 job with two weeks paid vacation each year? I’d fall asleep before lunch.

9. Originality: I detest blogs and websites which merely regurgitate what others are saying. While we all love to quote occasionally, (love them blockquotes!), I generally say in my own words what I think about something. I’m rarely influenced by current thought on a specific subject. Instead, I’m usually guided by my upbringing, in-depth cultural views shaped by many books, and a moral worldview shaped largely by Western Christian thought. Gasp… the horrors! I know this sort of ignorant outlook is probably cause for 99.9% of all the world’s troubles. At least according to Al Gore. But, hey that’s just me. What I mean by this is that I will often offer an idea which hasn’t been heard before, because instead of just reading the various mainstream views and picking them apart, I’ll bring forth a different view based on history of similar issues, or a moral view that’s been left off the table, or just an efficiency or productivity view that’s being grossly overlooked. Of course, this sort of different thinking also led the Unibomber to write his manifesto, so you can see why it’s largely unappreciated. People don’t like originality - at least not in strong doses. It pushes them out of their comfort zones. Honestly, I’m a very likable guy, but some people just can’t see past the politics to the pearly whites.

10. Perseverance: This is something I’m building on each day. I do persevere on many things, but I’d like to be more thorough in that regard. I have a tendency to give up on fruitless endeavors, sometimes before they’ve been given their fair shake. I tend to do this with people, too. Not a lot, but enough that it’s noticeable if you get to know me. In my wife’s words, I don’t suffer fools lightly. But, at least I recognize it (now) and have been working earnestly on it the past few years. Still, I make mistakes. Two steps forward, one step back. I guess that’s a perseverance of sorts in and of itself, right?

11. Focus: Not sure I want to say to much here. I can hyper-focus at times, and yet at other times seem as scattered as the wind. This is not uncommon for entrepreneurial types, but it’s frustrating for us and loved ones. I take some supplements that help me deal with this, so that’s all I will say about that for now. But if you can focus for short creative bursts (1-2 hours), you can definitely get things done. And you might be a good blogger. I know some people who can’t spend more than ten minutes on any given project without feeling like it’s a “huge problem” that’s going to take days. If that’s you, you probably want to avoid a career like blogging/writing, software development, auto mechanic, etc. Maybe be a teacher where you can just hop from one thing to the next all day. Or perhaps a nurse.

12. Curiosity: To me, this goes hand-in-hand with interest and being an information maven. If you don’t have a wide variety of interests, your curiosity levels will probably be low. Likewise, if you don’t enjoy absorbing information, particularly information outside your normal spheres of life, you aren’t likely to be curious about much. While curiosity did kill the cat, there’s a difference between curiosity and nosiness. I’ll often ignore juicy gossip-filled conversations happening at the table right next to me because I’m busy trying to figure out how a certain PHP function works, even beyond my immediate use, but just because I’m curious. I worked at one place where the boss was always annoyed that I would read all the “fine print” on every matter that came down the pike. It wasted time, he figured, and it did just a little. But, each week when there was an issue to get solved, guess whose desk he threw the manual on and hollered, “Figure this out and tell me how we can crush these guys”. So, curiosity can be a good thing in bite-sized doses.

13. Transparency: This wasn’t one of Darren’s twelve traits, but one that I’ve mentioned in passing when discussing the requisite skills needed to run a successful business blog. So, as an added bonus, I might point you to a rather recent and riveting article from the blogger I hate to love to read (I think I said that right), Penelope Trunk. She’s kind of a nutty feminist so her ideas kind of grate me, and yet, she kind of “gets” so many other things outside of our respective politics that I murmur silent “hoorahs” while reading her sometimes. Sometimes. Yet, I consider deleting her from my feed reader on a weekly basis. Even when I like her point and agree with her, I hate the way she made it. Case in point? Her post this week about why blogging about nearly everyone and everything around you is neither a) unusual (in the grand scheme of history, esp. as it pertains to writing, and b) that doing so is destructive to others, at times, and relationships, but it largely can’t be helped.

I both disagree and agree with her, but I leave it to you to comment on her post if you can muster to do so. Is she perhaps taking transparency too far? Or is she just simply following the blogger creed? I’m baffled by her points, while admirably enjoying her post at the same time. At the least, it’s a certainly thought-provoking point. I’d be curious (oops, there’s that trait again!) to know, in particular, what a “Community Guy” like Jake McKee thinks about her points.

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