I was reading a post the other day written by a marketer who felt that marketing professionals with blogs that are rarely updated shouldn’t be hired as marketers. Of course, he failed to differentiate between personal and business blogs, and he felt that if a marketer isn’t adhering to the right blogging format, then they have no place coaching clients on how to do marketing. Naturally, I disagreed with him. In my eyes, there’s a massive difference between a marketer’s personal life and their professional life. A marketer can do whatever they want with their personal spaces online. And, in a way, they should, because nothing’s more boring than a marketing professional who only lives and breathes marketing. What inspires their ideas if they’ve got nothing else going on in their life?
Back in the 90’s, the Internet was a much wilder place. We created websites as experiments. We said whatever we wanted in forums. We tried new things all the time. Many of us had websites that served no business purpose at all, other than to put our thoughts down, share our art and see who could create the flashiest banners and the coolest music to greet new visitors. We grew up with big hair, Saturday morning cartoons, Atari, breakdancing and Conan the Barbarian. We viewed the web as a new playground. And in the hands of curious and playful individuals, anything was possible. We nerded out with HTML until 3 in the morning. Sleepovers weren’t to watch movies. They were to create new things together, online.
Fast forward to 2020 and everything has changed. Your boss is spying on your online activity, your insurance company is making sure you don’t have a side gig, and blogs are used for monetization. Heck, the word “blog” didn’t even exist back in the 90’s. We just called it “writing shit down”. And “content”? Didn’t exist either. Content was still called art, photographs, code, pictures, music and backgrounds. We didn’t use industry terms because we were rebels, and we were ahead of the curve. Big industry didn’t start meddling in the web until much later. For a while, it was ours.
I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go back to the way things were. That time has passed. Everything is corporate-owned, surveillance is in place, censorship runs rampant, your data isn’t yours, etc. It’s not ours anymore, as a whole. (I suppose it never was, but it felt like it.) Thing is, there’s one thing you can still do: create your own website and make it your very own space online. We have to get rid of this idea that everything has to be practical these days. Not every blog needs to be optimized and not every website has to be a business idea.
You CAN write just for fun. Heck, you can create a website and put ANYTHING on it. You can make it autoplay banjo tunes or post rhinoceros pictures every day. You can write three-word sentences on every page and create a million pages. (Actually, that might not work, but heck, try it!). A website can still be a place online for you to share and explore, just for the sake of sharing and exploring. You can use it as your own playground to try out new ideas. There are billions of websites out there and maybe nobody will see it, but who cares? It’s YOURS.
There’s so much pressure these days to create something and monetize it that we’ve lost the art of being playful in the digital landscape just for the sake of being playful. I write this blog just ’cause I feel like it. It serves no other purpose. It’s not optimized. I’m not a marketer here. I’m Julie. A person who writes and shares ideas whenever she feels like it without really caring if anyone reads it. I have other projects and a business website for sharing other ideas. But this place right here? This is my little treehouse that I built with my own hands and I can paint it whatever colour I want.
It doesn’t matter what the industry thinks you should do what your time. In the end, you’re always free to do your own thing. And in a way, it feels good to write without the pressure of having to make a buck off of it. Write for fun and write to be honest. Create a space that’s yours… because you can.