If you're an entrepreneur—or an aspiring one—you may think blogging is the last thing you've got time for. And you might be right. After all, there's no immediate business value to be drawn from writing regularly, and it takes away the time you might spend developing your product or speaking to investors. But only by running your own business do you learn that it's precisely those long-term investments—which don't always show immediate payoffs—that make all the difference. Blogging is one of them. Even though its value is so hard to quantify, many of the most successful entrepreneurs are dedicated to the practice and see it as something crucial to their roles. Here are five reasons why blogging is so important for entrepreneurs.
Writing doesn't just communicate ideas; it generates them.
Blogging daily forces you to be on the lookout for new ways of thinking—to react to others' ideas and sort through your own. It helps you develop a state of mind that makes you more observant and contemplative. After all, writing every day requires you to develop new (and hopefully interesting) concepts and points of view on a regular basis. Blogging will help you acquire that skill, which you can then apply to other creative areas in your life and business.
When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking.
When they first pop into our heads, most of our ideas are fragile and vague. Blogging about them requires you to think more deeply, fleshing out your ideas and understanding them better. Not does that help you clarify your thinking, it helps you communicate your ideas to others. You can't succeed without a clear, concise vision. Can you imagine an entrepreneur without an elevator pitch? It's that vision that guides you towards making the right product decisions, finding creative ways to get users on board, attracting talented staff, and getting investors to believe in your mission. Blogging is one of the best ways to distill this vision.
We're trying to build an audience through our writings; we're not just trying to have customers.
—David Heinemeier Hansson
Kevin Kelly's 1,000 true fans is one of the most influential blogs in the startup world. All you need for a sustainable business, as Kelly makes clear at the outset, is a small audience of true fans. What better way to attract them than by sharing ideas that compel them to follow you? Basecamp, Product Hunt, Treehouse, Mattermark, and Groupon—just to name a few—were all started in recent years by founders who had built up an audience long before they ever had a product. In fact, it was those very audiences that helped develop and distribute those products, turning the ventures into successful businesses.
When I hit publish, I get a rush. Every time. Just like the first time. It is incredibly powerful.
Well-written, relevant posts will help you position yourself as an industry expert and get your name out there among people in your field. The more you know about the things you're writing about, the more likely potential users and partners will trust you to offer them a great product or service. In fact, educating your readers is actually a great form of marketing all by itself. Kathy Sierra, cocreator of Head First, aptly described it many years ago: "The most important skill for marketers today is . . . teaching. While in the past, those who outspent (on ads and big promotions) would often win, that's becoming less and less true today for a lot of things."
Writing is more a medium of self-discipline than a way to communicate information.
—Andy Grove, Intel
While blogs are generally considered external communication platforms, the actual practice of blogging is much more introspective. It can teach you to focus on small gains, value simplicity, take consistent, deliberate actions—all useful habits for entrepreneurs. There are less obvious connections between writing and business activities, too. Acquiring readers, for instance, isn't all that different from acquiring customers. But require making connections and building relationships over time.
Perhaps the best thing about blogging is that it’s accessible to everyone. You don’t need a publisher, you don’t need a degree, you don’t need a product. Hell, you don’t even need to be all that good a writer. What you do need is something to say. And entrepreneurs, pretty much by default, all have plenty of that.