On August 18, 2011, I embarked on one of the greatest adventures of my life. I started blogging.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this moment would send ripples across all areas of my life, especially as an aspiring entrepreneur. It would spark a period of intense introspective thinking and ultimately change my life—in more ways that I could have ever imagined.
Really, Jordan? Blogging changed your life– I know that’s what you’re thinking—I’m crazy, or at least exaggerating. And while I know some people find it hard to believe, blogging really has opened up doors for me.
I’m incredibly grateful for where I am in life. I’m a 26-year-old entrepreneur, the CEO of an internet software company. I have built a personal network of incredibly passionate and successful people. Best of all, I love my work, the people I work with and that my office is pretty much anywhere in the world I want it to be. All of these things became possible because I decided to blog.
Is blogging that powerful? The short answer’s yes. Here’s why:
1. It branded me as an expert.
Like Jeff Bezos of Amazon says, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
Before I joined the entrepreneurial ranks, I worked for an online marketing company, and although the job wasn’t my ultimate passion, I was good at it and I liked the work. So I started looking for consulting gigs on the side. By publishing content on what I knew (online marketing, sales and networking), I began positioning myself as an expert in the field, someone other people would come to for advice, tips, insight. And because I established a professional profile and “portfolio,” I made myself visible and attracted positive attention.
2. It helped me network better.
When like-minded people read my posts, they organically network with me—through comments, retweets, my contact form. And I’ve connected and built relationships with so many incredible people over the years who originally found me through my blog.
3. It let me quit my corporate job.
As I built up my blog and reputation, I attracted enough attention to secure consulting clients. That income, combined with revenue from various affiliate partnerships and ad sales, allowed me to declare financial independence and quit my “day job.”
Business guru Tom Peters sums it up pretty well: “No single thing in the last 15 years has been more important to me professionally than blogging…. It’s changed my thinking, it’s changed my outlook, it’s the best damn marketing tool, and it’s free.”
4. It inspired me to start my own company.
A few years ago, I moved from the U. S. to Eastern Europe for a job. During this move, I noticed big problems that existed for people traveling and living abroad. A massive number of websites are geo-restricted outside the U.S., meaning people outside of America can’t access them—no YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, and definitely no Netflix. On top of the inconvenience, Internet connections around the world are unreliable and unsecure.
So I started searching for a way to solve these problems—and I blogged about the information I stumbled upon, starting conversations about various solutions with other people who were frustrated, too. That’s when I discovered what a Virtual Private Network (VPN) was. Soon after I dove into the topic, learning and sharing everything I could, I launched Buffered VPN.
What would I be doing now if I never started writing about what inspired me?
5. It gave me clarity and purpose.
Writing is the best road to self-discovery, an incredibly introspective process, and by typing out my thoughts and inspirations, I started to see patterns. My answers to questions like, Who am I? and What do I want? became more clear with each post I published.
Now, after several years of blogging, I have a much better idea of what I want out of life and career—and it’s not what I used to unconsciously rattle off when someone would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The clarity I get from writing about the things I’m passionate about has helped me learn a lot about myself.
Blogging isn’t easy. It’s a commitment, just like any other, and means you must be determined to keep a regular writing schedule, even when you think no one’s watching.
When I first started blogging in 2011, my entire readership consisted of a handful of friends and my mom, who was one of my first comments ever:
“Great job beginning your blog. I am going to forward it to family and friends who may want to keep in touch with you while you are so far away. I loved reading your commentary and blog intro. Keep blogging…. No doubt by doing so you will inspire and update others and hopefully grow from the experience! Love you, Mom”
Well, Mom, if you’re reading this, thanks! Because it’s hard to write when no one is reading—I know. The good news is that there are more than 7 billion people on this planet, so odds are someone else shares your passion, or is at least interested in reading about it, and there’s always the possibility that they’ll stumble upon your ideas.
But even if no one is reading your blog, do it for you, to push yourself to be better, to succeed.
Even Seth Godin says so: “What matters is the humility that comes from writing that forces you to describe why you did something. It doesn’t matter if anyone is reading your blog. You’re doing it for yourself.”