There are times when I ask myself why I write a weekly column, as I have for six years. It’s a lot of work, after all, to add on top of running a company.

Well, I do it for the same reason I pursue entrepreneurship:

  1. I do it to create meaning in my own life and in the world.
  2. I do it to limn for myself what I really think.
  3. I do it for personal therapy.
  4. I do it to connect to the greater world.
  5. I do it to be less alone.
  6. I do it to rail against wrongness and injustice.
  7. I do it for vanity.
  8. I do it for pure love of words.
  9. I do it to try to be a curator for things that really matter.

George Orwell, who famously wrote Animal Farm and 1984, put it better. He wrote a fine essay in 1946 titled Why I Write. He says writers write for four reasons:

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood.
(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right rearrangement.
(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
(iv) Political purpose. Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.”

Orwell sums up business blogging pretty well for me personally. I do it for the same selfish reasons I meditate and exercise—to make myself humanly clear, for spiritual and physical health, and, not least, to genuinely seek to share useful insights, beliefs, experience, and ideas, as a contribution to the universe.

But having a blog or a regular newsletter or a media outlet can also be helpful to business development.

We live in a paranoid, distrustful world where there are fewer and fewer anchoring principles. People no longer respond to traditional marketing and advertising. They respond to what they know and trust personally. A consistent, impassioned blog is one way to become a trust agent. (Along with actually being trustworthy each day, of course.)

There are several reasons business owners I know don’t do serious blogging.

  1. Time. This is a real concern. I spend about four hours/week on my weekly essays. I’m S-L-O-O-O-W. Most business owners could use at least 48 hours in their 24 hour day. We are bloody busy. Writing a blog becomes simply a choice of where to put your time. What is it worth when balanced with every other responsibility, personal and professional?
  2. Consistency. It is a commitment to do regular, meaningful business writing. Most of us get an inspiration we would like to share occasionally. But to do it once a week or more? Not so much.
  3. Vulnerability. Many executives and owners don’t like the vulnerability of blogging. They fear seeming self-aggrandizing and self-important in creating public content. They fear being judged for their stupidity or hubris. I say get over it. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  4. Technology. Mastering blogging technology is indeed another damn thing to learn. But if a dinosaur like me can do it, anyone can.
  5. Long-Term Gratification. Building a reputation as a trust agent takes time and builds slowly.

If you have the fortitude (and people choose to read you), blogging is a marvelous way to self-brand. It’s a way of becoming a business beacon in a noisy universe. You can become an effective curator of content for things that matter. Again, if you are trustworthy.

Most of all, a blog should only be etched with a sense of mission and generosity. If it serves to bring positive attention to your company, wonderful. But, if that happens, it should only be viewed as a penultimate product of genuinely having authentic and useful things to say.

Novelist Pat Conroy wrote in his book My Reading Life (Random House, 2010), “Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.” Me too, Pat.