This week, as I wrapped up two sets of taxes, interviewed a potential intern and made my way through emails that seemed to reappear faster than I could respond and file them away, blogging felt very far away. These weeks happen where little things pile up in quick succession and it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are â€” carving out the free time to blog becomes nonexistent.
And while I’ve been purposely blogging less this year to focus more time towards new business ventures and client projects, as the days slipped by, it still felt weird to be parked in front of my computer but unable to post fresh content.
This unplanned break turned into a blessing in disguise; it was the perfect opportunity to think about what blogging means to me and why I do it. Just yesterday, I found myself idly staring out my office window and in a flash, I had a moment of clarity:
Blogging is important to me because it literally changed my life. And perhaps blogging has changed yours, too.
Here’s the backstoryâ€¦.
In 2001, I was 20 years old and living at my dadâ€™s house in the suburbs outside of Portland. I didnâ€™t have the money for the art school I wanted to attend so I went to a community college down the street. I hadnâ€™t done much traveling so my social circle carried over from high school. Oh, and I had a lot of free time on my hands because I only worked during my summer breaks (damn, those were the days). When one of my friends told me about a free blogging platform called Live Journal, I figured why not?
Within the first year of blogging, I had a whole new social circle. I met people on the other side of the world â€” which at that time, felt very new and exciting when compared with my boring suburban existence. In quick succession, I met Star, Anna, Gala, Laurel, Bianca, Amy (and so many others who no longer have sites). Thanks to blogging, when I traveled to a new city, I already had a built-in network of friends. To this day, when I’m in New York, I sleep on Bianca’s couch. Star now develops websites for Branch. And Gala? We run a business together with our fellow blogging obsessed friend, Kat.
Besides friends, blogging opened doors to job opportunities I’d only dreamed about. During my interview for a design internship at Nemo, I told them about my blog. It just happened that Dave Allen (formerly of Gang Of Four) worked there and was just as obsessed with blogging as I was. Looking back, my design work was just okay but my blog is what helped seal the deal.
After switching from Live Journal to WordPress in 2007, I got even more consistent with sharing which included posting every good, bad and ugly design project. Within a year, companies like Forever 21 and Virgin Records were contacting me. For a 26 year old just breaking into the industry, this was completely life changing. It became immediately apparent that these huge companies only knew who I was because I blogged. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that this free marketing opportunity with a low barrier of entry was landing me freelance jobs at a few thousand dollars a piece while I was still in community college (design students, get thee a blog and online portfolio ASAP!)
In 2012, my dream job became a reality when I got hired on the spot to join the Cinco Design brand team. The calling card that got me an offer? My blog.
A little over a decade into blogging, I began to feel the itch — there had to be something more. I wasn’t ready to give it up but I WAS read for an evolution. And then, it fell into my lap during a Vegas vacation (because naturally, all the best things happen in Vegas). Five days in the desert turned my blogging for fun into a business opportunity. That August, The Blogcademy launched and by October, we were teaching a sold-out class in New York City. This strategy-based blogging course soon allowed me to quit outside work, travel the world and later, release an online version.
With a crazy travel schedule that made my former life at agencies impossible, I needed to carve out a way to produce design that fit in with this new normal. Branch was born. A day after our website launched, three clients had booked in. And, you guessed it! They found us through this blog.
Okay, this post is getting long and the point isn’t to just share my personal blogging anecdotes (though I could easily talk about blogging all damn day). My goal is to demonstrate that while blogging isn’t a one-size-fits-all, linear path, if you stick with it, great things can happen.
These days, too many people look at blogging as a way to gain quick fame and fortune and itâ€™s warped because when they donâ€™t get what they want in fast succession, they give up. If this is the only reason you’re starting a blog, walk away now. You have to feel truly passionate about what you’re postingâ€¦and if you don’t, there are at least 35 other things you can do instead.
I know what you’re still thinking so I’ll just say it now. Yes, there are a million other things you can now do with your time online. So, why blog? My quickie response:
Blogging forges meaningful connections, builds career opportunities and gives you a place to go as deep as youâ€™d like, whether you’re sharing new artwork or the gut-wrenching story of how you hit rock bottom. It’s all fair game.
So, what about you? Have you blogged in the past? Do you currently have one? How has it impacted you? If you have a blog, please leave a link in the comments so we can check it out!
Photos: Made U Look Photography.