I’ve been pondering the value of blogging and podcasting lately, mainly because of my lack of time for such things. I know that in general they have value for readers and listeners (my own offering perhaps notwithstanding), but what I’ve realised lately is the value they have for me.
A friend was commenting on Facebook about wanting to “do something” with his writing, though he wasn’t sure quite what. I suggested he start a blog and in the suggesting I realised that I was sharing what I value most about the medium.
Blogging is, first and foremost, a means of personal expression, one we control. By publishing it openly online, anyone who cares to can have a look, maybe even offer a comment (though probably not). But through the process of blogging, I think we become better writers. I know I have and many other bloggers will say the same thing. It’s all about practice, and the fact that a personal blog offers a place to experiment in a virtually no-risk environment.
Through blogging, I’ve met some wonderful people. And by “met” I mostly mean interacted with, since there are very few people I’ve met online that I’ve later met in real life. But that interaction has be so valuable to me: Sometimes it’s feedback, sometimes its discussion, sometimes its criticism, but, perhaps most valuable to me as a blogger, it’s also sometimes been inspiration, as I try things other bloggers have done, or maybe adopt some of their techniques.
So, blogging has helped me be a better writer, and the interaction has led to many interesting and fulfilling discussions. For me, at least.
Podcasting has been very similar. I’m much better at audio presentation than I was when I started, though I’m quite rusty at the moment. By listening to other podcasters, I learned ways of modulating my voice, changing stresses and emphasis to suit the material. Sometimes my experiments worked, sometimes they didn’t, just like with blogging.
Also as with blogging, I’ve “met” some really wonderful people, other podcasters and podcast listeners. It’s had a huge impact on my life.
Today Nigel and I met with a well-known podcaster who uses the “nom du Podcast” of Auntie Vera Charles. He was here with his “angel husband Gooch”, as well as a friend of theirs, and also two guys I know of through other podcasters (I hesitate to mention any of the others’ names because they’re not podcasters or bloggers and, as I’ve said many times, I tend to be overprotective of people who don’t have such online personas). They were all about to head to their homes, so we met up at Auckland International Airport for some laughs and good times.
This reminded me of how much the personal side of podcasting has meant to me, especially when I realised that six out of the ten visiting Americans I’ve met up with in New Zealand are connected to podcasting in some way (the other four were people I knew in real life, but even two of them later had podcasting connections, too!). Nigel and I also met up with an Australian podcaster, Little Aussie Battler, as he headed to the USA. (On my last trip to the USA, I also met US podcaster Tom, the Ramble Redhead).
The point is, I’ve met some wonderful people through podcasting (and I haven't even touched on the listeners I’ve met!).
The same is true for blogging, even though I’ve met far fewer people through it. Giving advice to my friend reminded me of that importance.
But time has been short over the past few years, and that’s meant cuts to blogging and, especially (!), podcasting. The reality is that to this day, the reach of the content I’ve created through my podcast greatly exceeds that of this blog. You’d think I’d put more energy into it the podcast, wouldn't you? But I needed to claw back time somewhere, and that was an easy place to get it. I’ve cut back on blogging, too, though, and it’s entirely likely—maybe even probable—that this will be the first year since I started in 2006 that I don’t achieve my goal of an average of one post per day.
I wish I’d have been better at managing my time so that I could have produced more blog and podcast content. But I wasn’t (and I take for granted it was a personal failing, rather than anything else). Can’t change that now.
But, through it all, the ups and downs of both blogging and podcasting and what I perceive to be my inadequacies in doing either, I still have those human connections that I’ve made through them. I treasure those connections because they make everything worth it.
What I’ve had emphasised for me once again through all this is that humans matter most—more than what I think I “should” have done, and more than what I certainly could have done. People matter. And they alone make it all worthwhile.
So go ahead an leave a comment or something—that’s the sort of way all those connections started!