Three years ago today I began my first blog, Goodbye Houston. I had a colleague from the library get me started. I used a program to get the blog entries uploaded called Ecto or something. It is no longer supported, I believe, and now I just write right into the WordPress box. I’m careful to save drafts frequently.
I had to choose which blogging platform to use and whether to privatize it. I had to have a focus and a name. I’m happy with WordPress and also use it for our research website.
So, why should you also blog? Aren’t there enough bloggers? Does anyone read these things anyway? Can’t I just tweet my messages in 140 characters?
I joked when I started Goodbye Houston that it was better than therapy as I processed leaving the city I called home for more than 30 years. I love the city. I love the university in the city. But I was leaving. (Probably you can figure out why if you dig back through some of these blogs.) But that joke was only partly a joke. It was helpful to think about what I wanted to tell the world about Houston. What would I miss? What would I not miss? What could be replaced? What could never be replaced? How often would I visit?
But I digress. You should blog because it will help you write. You should blog because we are interested in your particular perspective on life. It will help you understand better how to share your research and your mentoring if you are an academic. If you are not, you can share your corner of the world. We can read about it in small pieces, dipping in or not. I read a number of natural history blogs, for example. But I would be interested in some other kinds too. What is it like to begin a business? What should I really know about advertizing?
Ultimately, blogging is quite personal. When I had my students blog about birds, tying science to personal experience, some lovely writing resulted in Slow Birding.
If you don’t like personal writing, I have one other recommendation. Write for Wikipedia. We need so much more information on this platform for the world. Edit the entries on your favorite theories or organisms. Edit your hobbies. Help the Wikipedia community improve the people’s encyclopedia.
Just remember that when you write you should be telling a cohesive story, with a hook at the beginning and a compelling narrative. The more you write, the easier it gets! And people will read what you have to say. In the three years I’ve been blogging, I’ve had 213,578 people click on my stuff, not even counting our lab web page. I hope they had a laugh, or learned something.