The Return of Blogging

I’ve noticed something being talked about by some very successful writers and artists: blogging. Does that sound weird? As if I’m predicting the return of the pager and fax machine. Today I want to talk about how deep, long-term projects like blogs are being talked about as the solution to social media burnout that many people I know are experiencing.

Artist Jake Parker has put a renewed focused on his blog. He explains why:

“It was incredible to revisit old artwork and be reminded of my thought process back then. I may have gotten a little nostalgic, but more so I was reminded of what an engaging medium blogging is to to tackle subjects and share process.”

“I began to wonder why I ever abandoned my blog.”

“Then it hit me, I stopped blogging around the time I started using Instagram.”

“I exchanged the ease and glitz of social media for my lame-o blog that didn’t even show how many followers I had, and couldn’t tell me if people liked my post or not.”

“Social media has been great, and there’s a bah-jillion artists on there to follow. But I’ve been feeling this urge to engage in deeper ways with people online that I’m not getting that with tweets, grams, and status updates.”

When I do research for my podcast interviews, it is amazing to see the depth of material in blogs. For instance, artist Rebecca Green continues to blog, which she began years ago.

On her Instagram, it is easy to be distracted by the numbers: her 230,000+ followers and thousands of likes on each post. But on her blog, you see the complexity of her creative process, and the nuances of her creative vision.

Elise Blaha Cripe has cataloged her creative process on her blog for more than 12 years. This adds up to more than 3,000 posts. You can track, week by week her journey from college to running her own successful small business. In the process, you join her in every creative project. It’s astounding.

Gretchen Rubin wrote recently, “My blog changed my life,” as she celebrated 12 years of blogging. She too has published more than 3,000 posts.

I’ve had my own blog since August 2006, and have posted to it at least once a week since then. That is a 12 year repository of my writing, my thoughts, that I have collected, and is public for others to see. It is truly a body of work.

Why do I see more successful writers and artists talking about blogging again? Perhaps because:

  • You gain a deeper understanding of your craft by documenting it. In doing so, you now have a repository of ideas that you can look back on and be inspired by.
  • Publishing your work — even your work in progress — helps you become better at your craft. Comedians can’t work out material in a room alone in front of a mirror for very long. They have to test material in front of an audience. For a writer or audience who doesn’t want to “play to the crowd,” I will clarify that this is not about pandering to the crowd. Sharing your process forces you to look at it more clearly, and consider how your writing or art is only complete when it moves someone.
  • Blogging is an incredible tool by which to show your own creative growth. In my Creative Shift Mastermind, we focus a lot on assessing progress because too often, people overlook growth. They miss major milestones because they are too busy worrying about something. But when you look back on a blog archive, on the history of your own work, you are forced to confront your own growth.
  • Likewise, I think there is a wonderful reason to allow others to experience this growth. For the creators I mentioned above, I understood them and their work better because I could go back 10+ years to experience it. This made our interview enormously richer.
  • You should own the connection to your audience, instead of relying entirely on a social network. This week I published my interview with artist and designer Kelli Anderson, and a fascinating quote is this: “If Instagram disappears, we are all in trouble. There are so many people I know who have Instagram-based careers.” What she means is that is their entire portfolio, online presence, and connection point to an audience is mostly through Instagram.

But let’s not forget another primary reason that blogging is being talked about more and more:
social media overwhelm. Many writers and artists feel a sense of frustration that other companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, control who sees their status updates. The creator is reliant on algorithms and business practices that they can’t control. By nature, these networks tend to reward popular posts, not deep content.

But to create something of value, it requires you to go deep.

How are you creating ways for others to experience your craft with the depth that it deserves? Is it a blog? A podcast? Something else? Let me know.