One of my least favorite things to read is an apology for not blogging more. This is not that.
But instead, some thoughts about why we, and specifically I, blog at all.
If it becomes boring feel free to click off onto recent work embedded throughout this post. Its probably more entertaining than my words.
On November 26, 2011, I wrote an entry on this blog titled “To Staff or Freelance, that is the question.” The blog post marked the end of a 1.5-year-long contract with China Daily, a shorter contract in Algeria and three years as a staff member at the Tahoe Daily Tribune. After the 5+ year stint as a staff member at newspapers, I wrote:
Although its a little scary jumping into the freelance network in a city of 20 million people, my independence from China Daily allows me to work with a greater range of clients from all over the world. Working on my own terms will also allow me to travel more and pursue some longer term projects that require extended periods of time and geographic mobility.
When I first graduated college I spent some time as a freelancer, scrapping for work wherever I could. Years later, it feels funny going back. Although I have work already rolling in, in some way it takes a little bit of getting used to being – self employed and not unemployed.
Its now been 30 months since I wrote this post. 30-months into the freelance experiment and it feels like a decade ago.
When I first jumped into the freelance world, I did so with great energy. I had a very active social media campaign, that I both wrote about and talked about publicly. For years, I thought it was necessary to be constantly promoting myself and trying to make my name appear in an ocean of competitors.
I wrote multiple blogs posts a week, had a separate photoblog, wrote guest blogs, had twitter feeds that were quasi-automated throughout the day to gain a presence in different time zones around the world and would do anything I could do raise awareness that … I was for hire.
For me, this was just part of the job. Updating my sites, blogging, engaging and creating an audience. And I liked it.
But 30-months later I find myself at a different type of cross roads with work, social media and life.
While a relatively quick transformation occurred during this period, where my primary medium switched from photography to video journalism and cinematography, today I very rarely pitch stories. I’m almost exclusively doing commissioned work. And as time has progressed, personal time has diminished to the point where I can look months down the line and not see days off until the seasons have changed. Its a good thing work is fun, otherwise this would not be a good statement.
On one hand this shows the growing demand for video content over photography, but in another light, perhaps it shows the product of endless hours of work in the social mediasphere.
I didn’t know exactly what the product or return would be when I was doing it, but I felt confident it was working. Throughout this period, I was getting jobs from strangers who found me online constantly. Google, Facebook and Twitter brought me work. Even web sites I used to make fun of, like Linkedin, were bringing me work.
I analyzed analytics, watched SEO terms within my writing and looked at social media dissemination as a key element in my business equation.
As this experiment has progressed, my time has become a much more valuable thing to the point where I have begun to question why I do it at all.
After working 14-hours a day, 7-days a week, for two weeks straight on a project (or multitasking on many) would you want to spend what remaining time you have writing to promote yourself, or would you rather have dinner with your girlfriend? Would you want to bring a computer to the living room with you to schedule tweets or bring a beer with you instead?
If work is coming in, the decision becomes clear.
However, this assumes you engage in social media to promote yourself, or use it as a work tool. As my blogging activity has come to a full stop in recent months (beyond a cell phone photo stream and light Twitter activity), I’ve actually missed it. I like to write, think and engage with people about industry related topics. But in the grand scheme of attempting to balance work and life, blogging has become less important.
30-months later, I reflect upon this social media experiment as having been successful. Now the question is, if I stop — will work also stop (or diminish)? Or in today’s saturated media environment, can one embed themselves in a freelance market using these tools, find a customer base, and then back off and ride the work out?
So why do I blog? At least for now, when I find time and when I want to. Not because I think I should.