Friday, November 28, 2008

Why a Blog, why now?

I'd been aware of blogs for quite some time. At first, it was a diary-like thing that old friends were using to stay in touch, or a way my father was chronicling his adventures on a sailboat.

Then I became aware of other blogs: knitting blogs, fitness blogs, legal blogs, political blogs (which were really big this election year!), and professional blogs.

Yes, that's right, professional blogs. People who, apparently, blog full-time and directly or indirectly make a living from their blogs. Some have gotten book deals, some use it as a type of advertising for their business, some use it to communicate about product development to customers, or to open conversations. I think the trend for book deals may be dying off, but I certainly see it as another tool in the arsenal for marketing, creating business and creating excitement about a business, a tool for the budding entrepreneur.

Preparing to start a blog, I started reading career- and business-oriented blogs, like Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist. I found her initially through a local publication that reprints some of her articles.

The first one I remember reading pissed me off. How dare she? She called herself The Brazen Careerist, and she certainly was brash. Some of her advice was MORE than counter-intuitive, it was down-right impractical and insane! But then, sometimes, she'd post about how Gen Y will change the workplace or how she uses the blog, or how to brand yourself, and some of those posts are brilliant.

Then, she posts links, lots of links, to other people's blogs, like her business partners, Ryan & Ryan, links to a kid who started a successful business at age 14, links everywhere to everyone - she's very connected. She pushes the envelope talking about her personal life and her professional life interchangably. I mean, you don't go to a career advice blog to read about someone's first day of marriage counseling, do you? But that's the most popular of all her posts, and got her on the front page of the NY Times! I realized that I always had a strong reaction to her, hated her or loved her, it was always a strong reaction, which means she's a good writer.

Two years ago, she wrote this post about starting a Blog. I've read in her column, and in others over the last year, that if you want to become an expert in a topic, Blog about it. In that post, she also says to write something right now. And keep writing. So, even though I don't have the next post I've planned done yet, I'm posting something right now.

Reading about how she spun off the name Brazen Careerist to a business and learning about her partners, linking to other blogs, reading other career-blogs was very exciting.

One piece of advice that seemed to be consistent from all these blogs was, "if you want to e an expert on something, blog about it.

I love tutoring and teaching. Nothing is as exciting to me as watching the light come on in my students's heads. I've encountered a huge speed bump on my path to becoming a teacher, but I can still tutor and I can still learn about teaching techniques on my own, and share what I learn with others, through this medium.

I started reading other math and education blogs to give me ideas. Soon, I will start commenting on other blogs' posts. Maybe that will let other people find me, beyond those few I've invited.

In trying to find some feedback on my blog, I discovered that a lot of people my age and older just weren't that aware of blogs or what kind of tools they could be for a business. I mentioned that I thought my first post was a bit rambly to someone, and he said, "tighten it up!"

I was a little surprised, well, shocked, actually. My head was screaming, "that's not the POINT of a blog!!" More from Ms. Trunk: "blogging is an homage to the curious, " which I think is a lovely concept. You start out thinking you're going to write about something, and end up somewhere you didn't expect.

It is possible to edit blog posts, but why would I? I'm still finding my voice. That first rambling post is like an old-fashioned snap-shot: a picture of a moment in time. In months or years to come, as my voice as a writer, educator and small, service-oriented business owner changes, I will be able to go back and read my first post and see how much I've changed and grown. I imagine it will be like looking at a baby picture of my now-teenage daughter, comparing the "then" and the "now," noticing what's the same (her lips) and what's different (her hair is lighter, her face thinner, etc); seeing the baby in the young woman she's becoming.

I'm not saying that I don't need an editor by I can't afford to pay one, like Penelope does, and I don't want to try my friends' patience by asking them to edit my posts (especially since many of them are intimidated by math). If I try to self-edit, I will end up paralyzed and never publish anything. So, even if my posts ramble a bit, other than fixing blatant typos or incorrect pronouns (your/you're, its/it's, etc), I won't be editing after I've published a post.

Once again, I invite anyone to post comments here. I also invite the parents of my current or past students to email me success stories and the like, and I will post them, naming you (by first name and last initial, unless you specify otherwise) as a "guest blogger."

I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving holiday!

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