Why I’m Starting the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Picture of Jonah Baer in Telluride, CO

I’m back (with slightly longer hair)!

Starting today, I’m beginning a self-imposed 30 Days of Blogging challenge.

For those who know me, you know I’ve been writing on and off for a long time. In elementary school, my sister Leah and I used to make up stories together and write them on our clunky mid-2000s Windows computer. During my awkward middle school years, I devoured all of Geoff Calkins’ articles about the Memphis Grizzlies during the playoff run in the 2010-2011 NBA season (fast forward to 2016 and I had the opportunity to shadow Calkins on his ESPN radio show, which I wrote about here). 

After writing for both my high school and college newspapers, I’m now working as a content marketer for a blockchain startup called Gilded, where I’m focused on writing articles, blogs, and content for the company. It’s been such an awesome learning opportunity in the crypto/blockchain industry and it’s also been an opportunity to improve my content marketing skills.

So what’s been my biggest problem with writing in my life? Sticking with it. 

Inspired by my good friend and former co-worker at Launch Pad – Alec D’Alelio, who is doing 100 Days of Coding (instead of blogging), I decided that it was time for me to get back into the writing game. I texted him and said that I’m thinking of doing the exact same thing but for blogging (and for 30 days instead of 100). We decided to start holding each other accountable for our respective goals in coding and writing. If it weren’t for this accountability, I’m not sure I’d be publishing this blog today so I owe Alec a huge amount of gratitude for agreeing to this.

Along with Alec, I’ve been inspired by friends like Adam Scilken who posts on Instagram a new graphic with a random word on it every single day. As of yesterday, he’s been doing this for 267 days now. Now that’s commitment.

I also saw that Jared Lindy posted his first video to his Sushi654 YouTube account in over 8 years. His most popular video “I’m Cool” is from 2008 and has over 900,000 views. Quarantine truly is the time to get back to your roots and do the things you’ve always loved to do (or have always wanted to learn how to do).

Why 30 Days of Blogging?

Developing the system, rather than the goal:

Photo Credit: James Clear

I’ve set writing goals in the past and they almost always fall through the cracks. Instead of setting goals, I want to develop the long-term systems that set you up for success. 

I formed this belief from Scott Adams, the founder of the newspaper comic Dilbert. While I do not agree with most of his political views, I couldn’t agree more with his life tips. In Adams’ interview on the Tim Ferriss Show (my favorite longform podcast, where Tim interviews high performers in many areas of life), Adams talks about the idea of systems versus goals and how it changed his life. Below is a real-world example from the interview and quoted from Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans (which I’ve devoured cover to cover):

“When I first started blogging, my future wife often asked about what my goal was. The blogging seemed to double my workload while promising a 5% income that didn’t make any real difference in my life. It seemed a silly use of time. I tried explaining that blogging was a system, not a goal. But I never did a good job of it. I’ll try again here.

“Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility)…

“When the Wall Street Journal took notice of my blog posts, they asked me to write some guest features. Thanks to all of my writing practice, and my knowledge of which topics get the best response, the guest articles were highly popular. Those articles weren’t big moneymakers either, but it all fit within my system of public practice.

“My writing for the WSJ, along with my public practice on the blog, attracted the attention of book publishers, and that attention turned into a book deal. And the book deal generated speaking requests that are embarrassingly lucrative. So the payday for blogging eventually arrived, but I didn’t know in advance what path it would take. My blogging has kicked up dozens of business opportunities over the past years, so it could have taken any direction.” 

Scott Adams

Just like Adams did with his blog, I want to put myself in a position of higher odds of success by writing publicly and regularly. While I’m sure that there will be plenty of days where I will not want to post or when I might not have time, this system forces me to do it daily – even if it’s only a few paragraphs. It’s going to be part of my daily routine.

As James Clear mentions in his book Atomic Habits, it’s best to get 1 percent better at something every day over a long period of time because of one simple principle: compounding. Just like going to the gym for 1 or 2 weeks, you won’t see improvement after 1 or 2 days of writing. You might not even see improvement after 1 or 2 months. But over time, I hope this daily habit compounds into many areas of improvement in my life.

Connect with interesting people:

One of those areas of improvement is my network of friends.

I want to attract people in my life who are interested in similar areas, can challenge my beliefs, and ultimately teach me something new about the world. Not that I have not already done this in the past but I could do a much better job of staying connected and one way to do that is through writing. This could be old friends or new friends. I might even start interviewing people for this blog to increase this likelihood of meeting these new people. 

Discover my writing voice:

“You should find your niche and something you are passionate about and start writing about it.”

I’ve seen this said on the internet a lot and I have found this is terrible advice for writers who have not found their niche yet or who might over analyze decisions like this.

For someone like me who might be reading daily business newsletters like The Hustle in the morning, listening to podcasts like How I Built This in the afternoon, and reading stoic philosophy like Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations at night, it’s really tough to narrow down that ONE thing that you should write about. 

Instead, I plan to write about a wide range of topics over the course of these 30 days. That might include topics on stoicism, psychology, sports, music, podcasts, meditation, or cryptocurrency/ blockchain. The goal is NOT to pick a niche and stick to it. The goal is to hopefully find out a combination of what I enjoy learning and writing about the most, what people most enjoy reading from me, and then doubling down on those topics. 

Most importantly, I fully expect to write posts that are complete garbage. But that’s part of the process and I’m embracing that. The more articles I write that are terrible, the better chance I have at writing something that sticks. 

Create a network of ideas and thoughts that I can always reference:

After 30 blogs, I will have 30 pieces of content that I can re-share, break apart into many different social media posts and reference people to in the future if they ever have questions or want to discuss something. I’ll have a database of connected ideas and writings that are evergreen.

Does anyone else consume a ton of content but forget everything the minute after you read, listen, or watch it? I know I do. It’s like I have short-term memory loss but in reality, I’m just human and cannot possibly retain all of this constant bombardment of information and attention that everyone is vying for. This blog is an effort to start intentionally taking more notes on this content and organizing it in a way that’s easy for both me and my readers to understand. 

If you’re interested in this idea of writing publicly and taking better notes, check out David Perell, founder of the online writing course Write of Passage, and Tiago Forte, founder of Building a Second Brain – an online course designed to teach you how to take better notes.

Learn new things and share them with my friends:

While some of my posts might be short, sweet, and filled with commentary, I want to publish some longer-form content on research and ideas that I’ve always wanted to learn more about or that I’ve already learned a ton about but have never pieced together or categorized.

For example, I’ve been teaching myself a lot about the world of cryptocurrency, blockchain, and DeFi (decentralized finance) since I started working at Gilded. I’ve consumed a ton of content relating to the industry but I haven’t codified this knowledge for me to be able to easily reference. Therefore, I might piece together what I’ve learned from different podcasts, articles, and books into a post in the future.

Along with this, I’d love to learn more about how to effectively create a WordPress blog, market it, and make it look pretty so that I could potentially do this for other people in the future.

Most important to me, if one person reads this blog and learns something new that inspires them or helps them in any sort of way, then that is a huge success in my eyes. 

What Next?

You’re going to start seeing a LOT more from me for the next 29 days (and maybe even longer!). If you’re not down for that, that’s fine. Just unfollow me or mute my account. I seriously will not care at all.

To be clear, this blog could completely change over the course of the next 29 days. In fact, I hope it does! This project is going to be constantly evolving and I’ll be sharing my journey and new findings with you.

Interested in joining me?

I did not want to do this alone – which is why I reached out to Alec to see if we can hold each other accountable. If you’ve been putting off a new goal or habit (or just need that extra push), then DM me and let me know and I’d love to start holding each other accountable.

It doesn’t have to be blogging. It could be painting, photography, running, coding, or anything in between. This is not about perfection; it’s the exact opposite. It’s about showing up and forming the habits you’ve always wanted to do. If enough people are interested, I might even form some sort of group on Facebook or Groupme and we can discuss our progress together. 

Writing is something that I’ve always loved to do, and I’m excited to be back in the saddle again (at least for the next 30 days). Please reach out to me if you have any feedback for my writing or any of my ideas – I’d love to talk!

Lastly, if you’ve made it this far in my article (big kudos to you), you might be interested in a newsletter that I’m cooking up as well. If you’re interested in receiving a daily or weekly email from me and want to be the first on the list to receive it when I do, then fill out this quick form with your email.

Cheers to the next 29 days of writing,

JB

Published by Jonah Baer

Florida State student | Memphis, TN native

5 thoughts on “Why I’m Starting the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

  1. AWESOME JONAH BAER! Life is all about connecting [connections] and we all have a story! Looking forward to learning about your connections hearing their stories. YOU GOT THIS! here’s a quote I want to share with you and I do so with much love and best wishes! “the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person, is to listen. Just listen. the most important thing we ever give each other, is our attention…” ~Rachel Naomi Remen

    Liked by 1 person

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