QR Code contains TinyURL of this article.Why Do I Blog?

fountain pen and writing paper
Journal EntryCredit: . License: CC BY-SA 2.0

It started innocently enough. A colleague asked me if I’d had a good weekend and if I’d done anything special. I replied that I’d stayed home most of the weekend, working on my blog.

“Ha, blog,” he taunted, “who runs a blog these days? Why do you do it?”

That stumped me momentarily, I had no good answer. “Er,” I mumbled, “you know, it’s just a hobby,” was the best I could come up with, hoping that would be the end of the discussion.

My heckler wasn’t going to let it go. “So, how many readers have you got?”

Me: “I have no idea.”

Heckler: “Well, don’t you look at your Google Analytics?”

Me: “I don’t use it.”

Heckler: “What? So you could be spending all that time working on a blog that nobody might actually read?”

Me: “Yes, that’s right. But like I said, it’s just a hobby.1  I don’t take it too seriously.”

Then he dismissed me with a throwaway, “you need to get a life man!”

I smiled, “yeah, I know.”

During the course of the day, this brief conversation kept coming back to mind. It irked me that I hadn’t been able to quickly summarise why I blog, or what I get out of it.

Why do I do it?

It’s not the money: this website has earned me exactly zero pounds since I launched it back in 2012. In fact, it costs me money to indulge in it: there are hosting and CDN fees; domain name renewals and the cost of the TLS certificate.

It’s not the fame: I’m an unknown blogger. I don’t get stopped in the street for my autograph. I don’t get asked for interviews by the major sites. I don’t get invited to speak at conferences (thank [insert deity of your choice]).

It’s not to incite stimulating discussion with my learned peers: I don’t have a comment system on this website, or a forum or any of the other tools of discourse.

It’s not exposure: apart from a brief moment of Hacker News glory I’ve never seen the Perpetual βeta linked from anywhere.

It’s not to be cool: the “beautiful people” engage in podcasting these days, or run their own YouTube channels, or have tens of thousands of followers on Instagram or Twitter… I don’t.

So, again, why do I do it?

Because I enjoy it. I like writing. I take pleasure in composing text, experimenting with the layout and typography and in discovering new words within my dictionary and thesaurus that will improve my essays (and my vocabulary).

I also enjoy the process of blogging. It’s fun researching for supporting material for an article. It’s rewarding finding or producing imagery to complement an article and manipulating it, when necessary, in an image editor so that it meets my requirements.

Then there is the technical aspect. The thrill of chasing down and fixing a bug in my tool-chain. The “punch-the-air” moment when I manage to increase the performance of the website. The “damn, that’s cool” excitement when I discover a new tool or process that I can slip into my workflow.

I get a real kick out of it all.

And here’s the thing, not being an “A-list” blogger means there is no pressure to write, or on what I write. If I have nothing to write about for six months that’s fine. If I want to write about a new topic — outside of the Perpetual βeta’s usual subject matter — that’s fine too. There is no level of expectation that I have to satisfy. No quotas. No obligation to third parties. I have total editorial freedom. Thus I write to satisfy myself, not sponsors, nor investors, nor employers.

As a result, I’ve written some posts that are kind of “meh” and I’ve written some of which I am inexplicably proud. I’ve published pages that I’ve thrown together in minutes and others over which I have laboured for days.

I have no idea if anyone actually reads this weblog. If they do, I hope that every now or then they find something here that is worthwhile to them. For myself, I will continue to write here. Because I enjoy it and there really doesn’t need to be any other reason than that.

  1. In the Colophon, I describe the Perpetual βeta as my plaything. That really is the perfect label for it. ↩︎