The latest spasm careening through the blogosphere tangentially referred to a minor rev share offer from Seeking Alpha, one of the major blog aggregators.  We saw the usual hand wringing discussions of “blogonomics,” as well as an article discussing the challenges of blogging (its hard).

Pretty much, most missed the point (though props to Abnormal Returns for getting the philosophy right: Blogging: a means not an end).

I can think of many reasons why someone might start and maintain a blog:

Blogs? Yeah We Got That

1. You have something to say

2. You enjoy the craft of writing

3. You want to figure out what you think, and do so in public

4. You want to be part of a larger community of like minded individuals

5. You have a hobby or interest that you are really, really into

6. You want to maintain a presence on the Intertubes

7. You have an expertise and you want to share it

8. You have an eye for content (text, graphics and video) and you enjoy leading other people to them

9. You want to create a permament online record of what you are reading, looking at or thinking about

10. You like engaging in debate with total strangers

That’s off the top of my head.

Note that each of these bullet points begins with YOU. Blogs are about what YOU want to produce, regardless of how many readers shows up. The Big Picture would more or less be the same content with 100 or a 100,000 daily readers.

People are often surprised to learn that I write for me, not for the readers. That keeps it honest (as opposed to the SEO-driven content-farm material). It also helps to quiet the voices in my head.

Notice what I specifically did not list as reasons to blog:

1. building a business;

2. developing a brand;

3. monetizing content;

4. getting media exposure;

5. Getting a book deal;

6. Getting bought by a larger company.

While all of these things may come about through a blog, they are not, and should not be, the purpose of writing a blog. Instead, if you happen to produce outstanding content and have great insight, then these things might occur (emphasis on might).

If you want to pour your thoughts out on a daily basis because you find the process helpful and gratifying, then by all means, have at it. If you seek fame or fortune through blogging, be aware of the long odds you face: Very, very, very few people manage that.

I find the process very worthwhile. I’ve been doing it — first on (the now defunct) Geocities, then Typepad, and now WordPress — for about a decade.

If any of those first 10 factors apply to you, than give it a whirl. No pressure, you never know what might happen.

If your motivations are in those half dozen reasons not to blog, well then good luck — you are going to need it . . .

Category: Philosophy, Weblogs

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

33 Responses to “Why Blog?”

  1. xatta says:

    I don’t read any blogs that I don’t know about. I imagine there are 100 of them for every TBP out there.

  2. Lariat1 says:

    I’ve been tinkering with the idea of my own blog for awhile. Not finance of course. That’s why I come hear: to learn. But I’m in that mixed up parenting role. The older Mom with the teenager. The Mom from the generation of lots of fun and substance experimentation. I have no regrets from those years. But I have to play the straight lace to my child, because that’s the responsible way to be. There has got to others like me out there, that see this situation as very ironic. It would be different to share this parenting role with others with a HUGE dose of humor. There are times I want to tell him , he doesn’t have a clue about me. Maybe some day reasons # 1,2,4, and 10 will win me over to that blogosphere.” In the mean time, thank you for your passion to do this day in and out.

  3. [...] Today's must-read: Barry asks Why Blog? (TBP) [...]

  4. Greg0658 says:

    Yesterdays post in heading:Weekend .. I knew it was an ocean out there – but wow
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/01/by-the-numbers-internet-2010/

    I get some of the best laughs here @TBP in a weeks time .. and points to places like TheDailyShow (don’t know why its not must see live)(timeslot maybe)(surfer style maybe)

    above is a good list of whys .. I am surprised at the relatively condensed # of posters here @TBP .. it helps to know the barflys abit – I like that in here .. a week ago I was searchin the archives – and 1 thing that hit was the bloggers come&gone (or in hiding) that made an impression (just sorta-I’m still me-mad at this industry)

    Dec31st I performed my 1st deletions of content that I’m responsible for installing and have control over the delete .. I feel guilty sorta – there now may be dead links in the www – and ditching an opinion/comment weighs on me too .. guilty of the massive pile building is also in my briefcase .. space is money I heard in business classes (time is money too)

    words on a page are small compaired to the stuff I drop in – so just a few bytes to give you all something worth the cable internet bill per month .. I’ve toured many higher facilities this world has produced – a Google Server like station is not 1 of them – that must be something to see

    I think my 1st blog was a new video edit station back when we were pioneering that industry on the desktop .. I do believe that the baby births that you can now see on tv is because of me .. I transfered an 8mm movie fill-im of a live birth – the young man in the spot / now(then)* a doctor / I was stunned that as a man of the world (like 38yo) I’d never seen before on tv and blogged “why”

    *coda – don’t know if conditions of the world has him in a new trade like a couple prominent Docs I can think of in the headlines – such an honorable trade turned in for __ … (sorry – had to make a raw funny on the wayout)

  5. NBTrades says:

    The best, most thoughtful, & intuitive are spawned out of the hobby alone, mixed with inhibition. In terms of the half dozen above its usually ends like anything else: you try too hard for it and there is a good chance it will get screwed up, anyway. Raising my glass to the pure enthusiast bloggers.

  6. krice2001 says:

    Well, Barry you are certainly the blog I read most and by reading your site (since late 2006) I’ve learned a lot – and saved some potential losses by believing your concerns. On the other hand, I’ve also benefited from the equity upturn in March 2009 by believing you again, in contrast to my inner fears.

    That being said, you have provided the reasons you blog and part of what proabably makes your blog so good. But, there are others who have different intentions and goals who are no doubt justified and honorable in their pursuits. On the other hand, I rarely read to many of these other financial blogs.

  7. curbyourrisk says:

    If I had time to blog……one of my reasons…and I am not afraid to admit it….would be to increase my network of contacts so I may obtain a better career path.

    Instead, I end up remarkng on the blogs of others…… how sad.

  8. anonymous says:

    I write for me, not for the readers

    you mean we really are a bunch of nobodies? And here I thought it was all about us. . .

  9. ToNYC says:

    No. 11 or No. 17 , your choice:
    Creating a fanspace to get interesting stuff flying over the transom into TBPspace.

    please accept this comment with Gratitude almost thick enough you can rub it on your chest.

  10. rdhall3637 says:

    Great post! I agree with almost everything you said. Let me add two more… one of the reasons we started a blog and website recently was to learn how to build a website. It is amazing how it takes very little technical or coding knowledge to build a functional eCommerce site. Now that we have a site, we have the ability to build other sites. Another great reason to build a blog is to then try to promote it organically and learn about how social media can be leveraged to share information. The only way to stay on the cutting edge of technology is to use it everyday. It doesn’t matter how many articles you read, if you are not using it, you won’t really learn it.

  11. Apple’s blow-out quarter: The bloggers called it, the Street blew it

    In the quarterly battle between outsiders and the insiders, it’s the amateurs by a mile

    This one wasn’t even close.

    In our ranking of the best and worst Apple (AAPL) analysts for Q1 2011, which lists them based on how accurately they predicted seven key numbers — revenue, earnings, gross margins and unit sales — the unaffiliated analysts (blue in the chart at right) took 9 out of the 10 top spots.

    The bottom 20 spots were all held by professionals working for the banks and brokerage houses. Taken as a whole, the numbers they sent their paying clients were off by a margin (9.04%) more than twice as big as those generated by the guys who do it for free (3.94%).

    They included some spectacular misses:

    * Needham’s Charlie Wolf, who underestimated Apple’s revenues by $3.73 billion and its iPad sales by more than 2 million units
    * Sterne Agee’s Vijay Rakesh, who predicted that Apple would sell 7.95 million fewer iPods than they did.
    * Morgan Keegan’s Travis McCourt, who missed Apple’s earnings by $1.79 a share and its iPhone sales by 2.24 million units.

    On the blogger side, special mention goes to:

    * Financial Alchemist’s Turley Muller, who missed Apple’s EPS by just one penny.
    * Traderhood’s Nicholas Mihalache, whose estimate for Apple’s revenue number was off by only 0.27% and who missed its iPad unit sales number by 0.76%
    * Apple Gold’s Dennis Hildebrand, who nailed Apple’s gross margin.
    * Apple Finance Board’s Alexis Cabot, whose iPod estimate was off by only 60,000 units.
    * And finally to Patrick Smellie, also of AFB, who didn’t nail any individual number, but who was close enough on all of them to take the No. 1 spot overall.

  12. constantnormal says:

    Well-written, BR. And Thank You.

  13. DeDude says:

    For their model with 4000 bloggers and 70 employees to “serve” the site it makes sense. Most of those 4000 are low volume, and some are high volume stars. When a star gets a large following (s)he is likely going to begin thinking about the fact that the site is getting a lot of revenue from the traffic that (s)he is working hard to produce. Some might start thinking “hey I spend all this time, and I want some of that revenue”. So the best bloggers are likely to eventually leave and start their own site. “Seeking Alpha” is creating an incentive for the most followed bloggers to stay with them – good business decision.

  14. I started blogging last year, once I got enough time away from helping my son battle leukemia. I do it for reason 1, 2, 3, 9 & 10. I consider it a hobby, and since I had closed my law office to be his caregiver, I’ve got a fair amount of time to do it, usually. (The wife’s job carries the health insurance).

    To Lariat1: I won’t deign to offer you parenting advice, but I will say that I have always been honest w/ my kids about who I was and what I did when I was their age. Kids have a very keen bullshit meter. Why not try being the one adult in their life that’s not trying to fill them with it? I was no angel when I was younger, but neither was I pure evil. Sort of like I am today.

    The son’s battle w/ leukemia has helped w/ the honesty I suppose. There’s no point sugar-coating or lying to a teenager about life and death matters. They get it. I’ve been mildly encouraging him to seek out one of his buddies that experiments w/ marijuana and give it try–it really does have some benefits to chemo/cancer patients (appetite, blood flow, pain management, etc.) that official government policy mostly refuses to acknowledge. Of course, I smoked it a bit when I was younger, and maybe that experience will help ease his mind that what the government says is bad and what is bad aren’t always the same.

  15. Liminal Hack says:

    “Instead, I end up remarkng on the blogs of others…… how sad.”

    That’s why I started mine. I reckon once you are posting regularly enough on other peoples places, probably best if you get your own room, so to speak.

  16. Transor Z says:

    I started a blog and ran it for the better part of a year, but I blogged anonymously under “Transor Z.” I wouldn’t do it anonymously again; I’d blog under my real name.

    I generated a decent amount of one-off traffic around a couple of legal posts I did about the Henry Louis Gates disturbing the peace/”beer summit” incident. But unexpectedly I felt oddly constrained by anonymity, and also it’s hard to get DMCA take-down notices against all of the stupid sploggers under a pseudonym.

  17. Lariat1 says:

    @ Curmudgeon: I find myself being honest about that stuff but I lead him to think I was older than I was. Alcoholism runs in my family so we are very open about that.Pot isn’t the problem to me, I just think I would feel very uncomfortable discussing my acid trips when I was 14. But that was 1969/1970. We would drop and go bowling for God’s sake! Not the message I want to send him. Has he tripped or done mushrooms? Who knows. But he hangs with kids going to art school, so probably. But they discuss alot of stuff that is pretty deep for teens. More then I know my friends and I did. Interesting the other day he mentioned that if you have a passion about something and a real focus on it, then you wouldn’t party as much. You party when there is nothing else to do. He just might get it.

    As far as pot goes, my kid has trigeminal neuralgia ( very rare in kids) ( it is called the suicide disease). He was on tegretol for 4 years and he was weaned off this past summer. I wonder at times if pot is helping to relax that nerve and keep it calm. His grades in school are good, so sometimes you just have to back off. To have a child with a terrible illness is a great leveler. It puts everything in perspective. I wish you continuing strength in helping your son and it sure can’t hurt for him to try to relieve those symptoms w/ marijuana. I wish you both well.

  18. Readers find what they want — there appears to be a desire for unvarnished straight shit, so it works out.

    And I know its glib for me to say “I write for me” that with 70M page views. I fI am being truly honest, if no one showed up, perhaps the site might look different.

  19. I was blogging even before it was called blogging.

    Back then it was more a community of posters but this was the format before there were blogs. I found it to be terribly exhausting and it didn’t produce revenue for me which was what I needed to look for. Back then I was still learning the ropes of trading so I had lots of good stuff to pass on. Now, not so much.

    I was going into a burnout cycle back then just as blogs were on the rise so I never transitioned over. I’ve always had the inkling but it has never been much more than that and I don’t produce much original content.

    If your 1st income stream enables you to produce original content like Barry’s does then I’d encourage you to get into blogging. The content I was producing was pretty much what you could find anywhere on the web. I was basically an aggregator for my own world view so that would mean I also needed to market the blog to compete with the 1000′s of others doing the exact thing I was. That probably put me ahead of 95% of the people out there who thought all you needed to do was start a blog and the world would come looking for you. I knew viral and SEO were tool for success instinctually but never put them into practice and watched as others discovered the process

    That was another thing that got me away from it. I started to explore the world of internet marketing and I saw that I didn’t need to produce content in order to produce revenue. That turned into a nice enough hobby that occupies just enough of the empty space between trading and watching movies(which I would prefer not to waste my time on). The best part is that I can walk away from it when work or trading (#1 and #2 income priorities) becomes so encompassing that I can’t really focus on anything else (think the peak of the crisis as an example of busy time). You can’t really walk away from a blog unless you are a community effort. Then someone can step up their production like a hockey team. Blogging is more like golfing. You don’t play, you lose your audience. The hounds must be fed!

    I’m still able to push my worldview on blogs like this. I just need to be polite. :)

    That is maybe another point you need up there Barry. If you are too angry to be polite, then you probably have the energy, and should start, your own blog. It will take you in two directions. It will either get you thrown in jail or it with be cathartic. I found it to be cathartic.

    Blogging is to discourse what owning your own business is to income. Most people shouldn’t and will probably fail within the first few years but it is not going to stop them from trying

  20. [...] Why blog?  (Big Picture) [...]

  21. zero cool says:

    I write for me, not for the readers…

    Did anyone else have the mental image of BR raising his hands at the computer screen in defiance like Drago in Rocky IV?

    No, eh? Carry on then.

  22. BaliTom says:

    Hi Barry– hey I have sites that I write for because I have a passion for the subject matter, but I also have niche sites that bring in enough income for me to live comfortably in Bali, Indonesia. It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes. I’m unclear on why you contend that I shouldn’t monetize my content, on my ‘money’ sites. I think it’s good content.
    Blogging has democratized and decentralized the dissemination of info and opinion, and it’s opened up possibilities for a new kind of entrepreneur (the fact that some are unscrupulous affects my motives/approach not one bit).

    Here’s a ‘money’ site, on stock options explained for neophyte investors, and in good faith I made the link no-follow.

    Here’s a recent post from one of my ‘passion’ sites about the best things about being a Bali expat.

    Anyway all the best Barry; I always enjoy visiting your site. If you find yourself on a SE Asian holiday and need tips, fire away.

  23. [...] Continue reading ‘Why Blog?’… You might want to read these too… [...]

  24. @Lariat1…thanks for the encouraging words. Indeed, these sort of things are great levelers.

    And good luck w/ your son. It sounds like he’s got a good head on his shoulders. If he’d like to know how a famous junkie dealt w/ an addiction interfering with his passion for his art, have him read Keith Richard’s autobiography, “Life”. Richards said that heroin was aptly named–”She’s a seductive bitch”. Which is why he had to get clean. It’s a great read, and not just for understanding what life as a junkie is like.

  25. Lariat1 says:

    Read it, I called it “my mornings w/ Keith”. It’s his turn at it now.

  26. subscriptionblocker says:

    (shrugging) 500yrs ago, “The Big Picture” would be a bar or a coffeehouse……

    And the owner would be far too adventurous for the boring – he’d stick the thing on a well traveled trade route.

    Some things never change.

  27. subscriptionblocker,

    is this what you were looking for?

    http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=Lloyd%27s+of+London+coffeehouse+how+it+started

    ~~~

    BR,

    w/ “…there appears to be a desire for unvarnished straight shit…”

    that’s one way of putting, but, yes, I’d think so..

  28. DonF says:

    As a long time reader and occasional poster, I really found this post interesting. One of the reasons I love this blog is that Barry writes for himself–which means it is honest, and often when Barry is quieting the voice in his head, he is usually confirming that I am not crazy. I’d get a hell of a lot less sleep without this blog. Thank you, Barry.

  29. David Merkel says:

    Spot on, Barry. That is why I blog. There is an antinomy here, that those who blog to share wisdom do well, and those that blog for money don’t.

  30. daredevil23 says:

    BR,

    You’re giving Letterman a run for his money with your *Top 10*…. keep up the excellent and much
    appreciated work

  31. Asymptosis says:

    Funny. Your #s 1, 2, and 3 perfectly encapsulate why I do it. Especially #3.

    Why “in public”? I just wouldn’t do it if nobody was reading it. And I want to do it.

  32. [...] Ritholltz wrote down what he thinks are good reasons to blog. All ten of those good reasons resonate with me– so here’s to blogs, mine and [...]