5 Reasons to Blog that Have Nothing to Do with Money or Free Stuff

June 9, 2016

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

I recently started editing some of the super old posts on my blog — posts from seven years ago, back when I had no idea there were these things called “blogging rules.”

One of the so-called “blogging rules” is “Don’t write a 3,000-word post with exactly 3 grainy photos in it.”

Not surprisingly, all my posts were 3,000 words long with exactly 3 grainy photos in them.

It is a special kind of torture to read the endless ramblings of your younger self — ramblings you once thought were quite coherent and clever. Or at least fit for the Internet.

But it’s also made me oddly proud of myself.

The truth is that I’ve been blogging longer than I’ve been doing anything else.

I haven’t lived in the same place for seven years or had the same job for seven years. Heck, I haven’t even worn the same size pants for that long.

I’m definitely not the most consistent blogger out there. And I’m certainly not the most popular. (Unless, “someone besides my mom actually reads this thing” counts as popular.)

But I’ve kept at it when I’ve seen countless other bloggers quit.

Now, I’m sure some of you are assuming the reason why I’ve been blogging for so long is because my blog helps me fund my lavish lifestyle of unlimited donuts and solo camping trips.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

Living like a solo camping ROCK STAR.

This is simply not the case. My few attempts at making money off this blog have failed miserably. Probably because I didn’t try all that hard. Because, well, LAZY.

I’ve occasionally accepted free stuff, like books and travel gear, in exchange for reviews. But I’ve stopped even doing that because I don’t like feeling like I have to write something. Because, well, LAZY.

I have no problem with bloggers who make money or get free stuff from their blogs. After all, this blogging thing takes time and effort and can cause you to really piss off your mom when you continually post photos of her in a chicken costume.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

Sorry, mom.

It totally makes sense that people would want to be compensated for that.

But, my reasons for blogging have nothing to do copious amounts of cash or free trips to Aruba. (Although, seriously, I will take either! Just don’t expect me to write about either, because, well, LAZY.)

Instead my reasons go something like this:

Reason #1: It will give you an excuse to do things you usually wouldn’t feel comfortable doing.

There is a reason why my blog is named what it is. I am not brave. I am also not particularly athletic or even all that coordinated. Plus, I suffer from a certain level of self-diagnosed social anxiety. (Regularly hating being surrounded by other humans counts as social anxiety, right?)

There really is nothing I love more than sitting at home by myself all day in my pajamas, binge-watching Netflix with my cat.

But there are only so many blog posts you can write about sitting at home in your pajamas binge-watching Netflix with my cat. Trust me. I’ve written pretty much ALL THE POSTS I can write about that.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

Me, my cat & my pajamas. In other words: MY EVERYTHING.

So, instead I end up doing a whole bunch of things that make me nervous/scared/uncomfortable just so that I have something to write about besides my pajamas.

I’ve weeded python-infested rice paddies and lived on a Malaysian sailboat. I ran a marathon in Japan and a 10K on top of The Great Wall. I’ve camped by myself and even went to a male strip show by myself. And I’ve thrown myself down an icy luge track at thirty miles per hour.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

That look on my face? TERROR. SHEER TERROR.

I don’t think I would have done any of these things if I didn’t have that little voice in my head telling me, “Gosh, that sounds horrible! But just think, you could write a blog post about it!”

Reason #2: It will also give you an excuse to get out of other things you don’t feel like doing.

Blogging regularly takes time out of your schedule. Even if your idea of “regularly” is two to three times a month. Which is exactly my definition of “regularly.”

This is time you could be doing other things that people want you to do, like, say, helping them paint their attic walls or going to their child’s birthday party dressed in a Clifford costume. (That was an actual request from a friend. Or, ahem, former friend.)

Luckily, you can always tell your friends that you’d really LOVE to help them out, but you’re simply too busy working on a big blogging project.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

Your kid’s party is next weekend? Oh man. Too bad! I’ll be too busy typing stuff for the Internet that weekend.

The added perk of this excuse is that nobody will ever ask you what “a big blogging project” means for fear that you’ll force them to actually read your blog.

Reason #3: Everyone needs a hobby. Unless you’re a weird robot person. You don’t want to be a weird robot person, do you?

I come from a long line of serious hobby-havers.

My mother’s father was a shorthand radio enthusiast, while my father’s father made stained glass lamps.

My mother’s mother was a painter, and my  father’s mother can complete a crossword puzzle like nobody’s business.

My parents are the same way. They’re not the type to relax on weekends — instead they’re always doing stuff.

My mom sews, raises chickens and plants flowers in old boots.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

My mom made this!

My dad breeds cows and hauls manure and fixes cars.

Given my family background, I’ve always felt it was important to have a hobby — something outside of my work and relationships to throw a great deal of my free time and a decent amount of my money into.

In fact, I don’t even understand people who don’t have hobbies. I mean, WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? That’s basically like telling me you don’t have a heart.

And as far as hobbies go, blogging is a pretty good one. It’s relatively cheap. It doesn’t require a whole lot of gear or technical know-how. It doesn’t usually lead to broken bones (unless you use it as an excuse to do stupid things like luging, like I do).

And it’s not nearly as annoying as other hobbies — like running or Crossfit — you know the kind of hobbies that require you to wear spandex pants and make other people feel really bad about the fact that they’ve spent an entire weekend watching Netflix in their pajamas with their cat.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

Not Crossfit.

Reason #4: You will get nice comments. When you most need nice comments.

Last week I was having A WEEK. I was an unmotivated garbage-person who could barely get out of bed.

And then I got one of the nicest comments I’ve ever gotten from someone telling me how much my writing had meant to them. And suddenly I didn’t feel like such a horrible garbage-person anymore.

Sure, you’ll get some pretty terrible comments from people, who will say pretty terrible things about your life choices or the way you like to use ALL THE CAPITAL LETTERS.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

But these cream puffs deserved ALL THE CAPS!

But the good thing about mean comments?

You can totally delete them.

And then promptly write a post that uses ALL THE CAPITAL LETTERS just to spite them.

Reason #5: You will meet some of the most amazing people who are doing some of the most amazing things.

I’ve met so many awesome people in real life that I first met through my blog.

It’s been kind of like Internet dating — except not horrible.

I’ve met bloggers and blog-readers in China and Chiang Mai and New York and Canada.

5 Reasons to Blog / Unbrave Girl

Karaoke-ing in Chiang Mai

Most recently I met a reader who was passing through Michigan. Over dinner she told me she was writing a memoir about her time spent as a child fugitive in Mexico. (I KNOW!)

If you’d told me seven years ago, that some of my best friends were going to be people I’d met on the Internet, I’m sure I wouldn’t have believed you.

But, then again, if you’d told me seven years ago there were such a thing as “blogging rules” I wouldn’t have believed you either.

So, what the heck did I know, anyway?


Do you have a blog? Why do you blog? 


I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On June 9, 2016 at 9:00 am Lisa said:

    Sally, I adore this post. I’m with you on the blogging thing–I’m not consistent and I’m not monetizing it. In fact, I have TWO blogs because I’m that self-torturous. (One for the birder readers and is very niche and one for everyone else on the planet and it really has no direction or niche at all, which I know breaks all the rules, but somehow people keep reading it. I think.) Keep it up! You have the best kitty ever (besides mine) and pajamas are the best. ALWAYS.

    • On June 12, 2016 at 1:57 pm Sally said:

      I’m totally all about breaking the niche rule. When I first started out I felt like I had to write only travel posts, but it got tiresome and sometimes I just want to write about what I’m reading or eating or whatever. So now I happily write about whatever, even if it confuses the heck out of the people who come to my blog looking for travel posts!

  2. On June 9, 2016 at 9:11 am Daina said:

    <3 I've gotten no free stuff while blogging, and not all that many (nice or otherwise) comments, but it's a great hobby, and it has definitely gotten me to do things I would have otherwise not done. (Though nothing quite as adventurous as you!)
    Daina recently posted..An Artsy Day in Grand Rapids

    • On June 12, 2016 at 1:56 pm Sally said:

      I’m not so sure I’d suggest doing all the adventurous things I’ve done just for the sake of a blog post. Especially luging. My hand is still a bit out of wack because of that!

  3. On June 9, 2016 at 9:29 am Alex said:

    Great post! I love blogging and do it mainly for family and friends, but also because I love scrap booking my life and reading it back 🙂 I also love reading other people’s stories! It’s a fun hobby to have, and for me it’s all I use it for 🙂

    • On June 12, 2016 at 1:54 pm Sally said:

      Yes, the scrapbooking is also a good reason, too. I have a crap memory. So whenever I’m wondering what I was doing a year or a few years ago at this time, I just check my blog!

  4. On June 9, 2016 at 11:04 am laura said:

    oh my gosh i totally dragged my butt up a mountain in the middle of the night last week because my inner monologue said “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BLOG???” every time i wanted to quit. blogging: useful for guilting(shaming?) you into not being a quitter.
    laura recently posted..Mt. Hood!!11!1!!

    • On June 12, 2016 at 1:53 pm Sally said:

      OMIGOD. I did the same thing in Japan when climbing Mt. Fuji. JUST THINK ABOUT THE BLOG POST, I told myself, while hanging on to chains attached to the mountain in the middle of the dark.

  5. On June 10, 2016 at 3:57 am zoe said:

    The “makes you get out and actually do things” thing is a bit TOO real – I’m even at the point where if I’m trying to get out of doing something my friends will be all, “just think of the blog post!” (They know a bit too well how to motivate me, I think.)
    zoe recently posted..That time a cheesecake made me swear off baking

  6. On June 10, 2016 at 4:55 am Matt said:

    I think we lead similar lives,… Except my mum doesn’t wear a chicken suit!
    Matt recently posted..Great Britain, great weather!

  7. On June 10, 2016 at 8:35 am Paula said:

    I agree! I don’t want to feel like I have to write something. That would take the fun out of blogging and make it seem like a job, not the hobby that I love!

    • On June 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm Sally said:

      I still have 2 books I accepted back before I decided to stop accepting them. I have yet to read them — even though they both look like great books. But it just feels way too much like homework to me!

  8. On June 10, 2016 at 10:00 pm Naomi said:

    “Blogging Rules” are just bullshit. That’s people who blog for profit defining what’s successful and generates income. I’ve stopped reading lots of people’s blogs when they start to follow “the rules” and the blogs lose their uniqueness and just become generic. I miss those long rambles you used to write..
    I also just blog for myself/friends/family. I’m yet to do anything for a blog post though I do push myself to do crazily strenuous things anyway. I don’t need to blog to be crazy it seems…

    • On June 12, 2016 at 1:47 pm Sally said:

      I do think some blogging rules have merit. Like the one about not writing 3,000-word posts. Personally, I would never read a 3,000-word post (no matter how amazing/witty/moving it was), so I’m not entirely sure why I expected any of my readers to do the same. Plus, as a blogger, it became really tiresome and often made me not want to blog. Every time I was going to write a post, I would think “Oh, god, this is going to take FOREVER.” Because it did. Now, I can pound out posts a LOT faster and not feel like I have to really say anything super huge/important/meaningful. I can just have fun!
      But, yeah, I agree with you about people following the rules a bit too much. I’ve seen people with really unique/personal/fun blogs change their blogs to make them more marketable… but they don’t always end up being more readable.

  9. On June 11, 2016 at 4:49 pm Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid said:

    This is just what I needed to read! I think it’s so easy to get bogged down in the money/free stuff trap but some of the best things about blogging like the people you meet and the experiences you’ll have, well you can’t put a price on those, can you? Because… Priceless!

  10. On June 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm Claudia said:

    Reason n. 6 to have a travel blog: Claudia wants you to!! I love reading your stuff, it makes me laugh and makes me feel a bit better about myself.

    BTW (in capital letters) when you wrote this: “There really is nothing I love more than sitting at home by myself all day in my pajamas” I totally thought you were talking about me.
    Claudia recently posted..My Favorite Secret Destinations in London

  11. On June 14, 2016 at 9:56 am choi kum fook said:

    Honestly speaking, I do not have such standard to write a blog. I can only read other people blog.With comparing other people, your blog is the best I Have read so far.I am always enjoy reading your every post, even though sometime I have no comment on it. I have learnt a lot things from the posts. Thank you very much, Miss Sally!

  12. On June 30, 2016 at 9:37 am Diminique King said:

    Now I wish I had a picture of my mom in a chicken costume! Well…that’s not gonna happen, so I guess I’ll just continue writing about cool places to go in the Midwest. My blog was the result of wanting to write some Midwest travel stories (stuff other than the stories about muffler shops, hair salons and the ladies who had a biz that consisted of stuffing a teddy bear with pet cremains–really! Can’t make this stuff up).

  13. On April 20, 2017 at 8:33 am Carmel said:

    HI Sally, I really enjoyed this post so thanks!

    In less than 18 months I will be heading off on 12 months paid leave, yay! I have started looking at whether I could possibly extend that in to a lifestyle. But, I think realistically, I’m too much like you – LAZY! hehe.

    Still, I think I will still start a blog, for the very reasons you listed.

    Also gotta say, I LOVE your mom’s chook costume! Made me immediately think of my mum, whom we call ‘The Old Chook’ and routinely give her chicken themed gifts – much to her disgust.


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