I’ve been thinking about writing a blog for a while but have had difficulty valuing the benefit. Usually when people talk about writing a blog, the benefits I often hear are (1) to connect with others and (2) to build a following. Both of these points may have value but the payoff is uncertain and not completely in my control. When I tried to figure out if it was worth it, every argument I came up with was a huge stretch.

To warrant writing a blog, I needed to find other benefits which were in my control and likely to happen. With this in mind, I found a few payoffs that satisfy these criteria.

Writing to learn

Active recall is the most effective way to persist information into your memory. Writing forces you to actively recall information to write it down. My past experience corroborates this. A few years ago I wrote this technical blog post for work. I spent a lot of time getting the details right. This forced me to read into my team’s infrastructure and actively recall that information.

Learning to write

As your career progresses, the skills you need to deliver the most impact will change. Early in your career, you will likely need to complete work by your own hand while you build the fundamentals. In most cases, doing things yourself can only go so far. One way to have more impact is to develop the ability to influence others to ship what matters. With less time you’ll be able to get more done and have more impact. Writing is a scalable way of influencing others.

Writing to articulate your thoughts

In Thinking Fast and Slow, Dr Kahneman shows through his Nobel prize winning research that most decisions people make come from your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind is prone to making mistakes in judgement due to logical fallacies and cognitive biases. Writing forces you to articulate your thoughts and bring them into your conscious mind’s focus. Doing this will improve your judgement by avoiding the mistakes of your subconscious mind.

These three payoffs are all in my control and provide guaranteed benefits. As long as the topics align with my goals then writing is an impactful use of time. Given the above, I am going to start blogging this year.

Besides, connecting with others and building a readership are both still possible. After I do it for a while I should have a better read on what the uncertain benefits ended up being for me. If there is any interest I’ll do a follow up on what resulted from my blogging later.

Why not?

If the above benefits are true, should everyone be writing a blog? Not quite. Even with all the above benefits, I still wouldn’t say blogging is for everyone. It depends where writing fits among your priorities. Learning to write and writing to learn may not be valuable for everyone depending on what your goals are.

For me, it fits because my goals require me to learn and influence through writing. Even then, it ranks lower on my priority list. This is because the benefits are all complimentary instead of direct contributions to my goals. It’s high enough to warrant some time though. Stay tuned for more posts in the future.