Blogging is so passé, don’t you think?
In many ways, I agree. Blogging is a bit faux pas. There are no easy marketing wins anymore, regulations is forcing everyone to close cookie-warnings left and right, and social media has sucked the air out of many of the interesting discussions that used to take place at blogs.
And then you have the greasy abundance of formulaic SEO-type blog posts, written to capture your attention and your clicks, not your heart or your imagination.
To top it all off, running a decent platform will cost you now. Most “free” versions of open-source plugins are cleverly designed to be useless enough to get you into their premium versions. Decent hosting and DNS will cost you. A workable theme will cost you. Secure encryption will cost you. Image compression will cost you.
And … blogging isn’t not cool anymore. If cool is something that you’re into, that is.
Why on Earth would anyone run a small blog for years and years?
My reasons for blogging has nothing to do with marketing
Typically, most bloggers in the marketing- and media space would probably discuss the many benefits of content marketing right about here. And they wouldn’t be wrong — content marketing provides many brands with fantastic tools to reach and engage with their customers.
I’m an advocate of all the tactics listed above, I am.
But I never want these reasons to become reasons for blogging. To me, this the single distinction that makes all the difference.
Blogging, at least for me, have always meant something beyond personal branding, content marketing, and online revenue streams.
Your bottom line is your bias, not your platform for communication
There’s something at the core of communication that doesn’t get talked about very often — and that’s a bloody shame. We frequently discuss the intent of the consumer of online information, but we rarely discuss the intent of the producer of said information.
Most marketers and communicators seem to believe that the basic motivations of the information producer is not worthy of any special consideration. A business wants to grow. A political organisation wants power. A non-profit wants change. An influencer wants revenue. From there, they move onto figuring out how to achieve these goals using various forms of communication.
The above is true for me as well. While I don’t make any money blogging specifically, I do rely on clients to make a living.
Here’s where a majority of all academics and communicators go wrong. They see these types of inside-out motivations as “strategic starting points” for all of their communication activities. But your bottom line isn’t your communicative strength.
Your bottom line is your bias.
Unchecked bottom line biases are bad for good communication
We’re all subject to various biases.
“Bias is a disproportionate weight in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. People may develop biases for or against an individual, a group, or a belief. In science and engineering, a bias is a systematic error. Statistical bias results from an unfair sampling of a population, or from an estimation process that does not give accurate results on average.”Wikipedia
If you build your whole communication platform on the basis of a single bias, you corrupt all other types of communication downstream. Biases are meant to be observed and counteracted, not serve as strategic baselines.
All of us encounter these biased outcomes everyday:
There’s nothing more anti-capitalist than to communicate like a capitalist. There’s nothing more anti-democratic than to communicate like a politician. There’s nothing more anti-progressive than to communicate like a demagogue.
These communicative dichotomies are easy to spot, but much harder to figure out. If all you ever care about is your bottom line, fine. But just don’t expect people to connect with you on a human level.
We hate being talked to as if we were wallets-on-legs
Communication is different.
If I were blogging with the basic intent of somehow taking your money away from you, you would feel it instinctively. You would feel that my blog posts were sneakily disguised ads for whatever I’m selling. If such hiding-in-plain-sight-ads contained information that were somehow useful to you, you’d probably tolerate it, but that’s about it.
Put in another way: We all hate being talked to as wallet-on-legs. Or perhaps more fittingly today — wallets-with-keyboards.
Communication is bi-directional. Your intent matters as much as what you say, not because it has bearing on what you say, but because it has bearing on how what you say is perceived and how that perception, over time, becomes what you are. We cannot escape our biases, but we can be transparent and make conscious efforts to mitigate them.
When I discuss PR strategies with clients, I listen more for what’s intentionally true in their hearts rather than acknowledging just how important it is for them to hit their organisational objectives. That last part is already a given — and it’s a bias we need to deal with in all forms of communication.
PR is the art of teaching organisations to speak human
To communicate well, brands mustn’t just do marketing. They must sometimes acknowledge their imperfections and speak with the world — not just talk at it. To sometimes be real, to speak human.
So, I still blog because I think that PR is an exciting and fascinating profession, plain and simple. I blog because I think that my take on the subject deserves to be out in the open — even if that’s quite a pretentious thing to think. To me, a blog is still a great way of putting forward arguments and ideas without pushing them down someone’s throat.
Communicating out of passion, altruism, and ego often have positive side-effects for the business-side of things. This isn’t strange or weird in any way — it’s just how human-to-human communication works.
And I this is precisely what I thought before, during, and after blogging was cool.