Blogging: Business, Pleasure, Death Sentence?

Business blogging - too stressful?

It started earlier this week with a piece in the New York Times titled In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop. Highlights:

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, “another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Gulp. I turned 60 in January. And I’ve done more than 450 posts in the last year, on this blog and several others. Am I brave, foolish, or both? Maybe I should do something safer, like firefighting or sky jumping.

I think I’m (sort of) copying that response from John Jantsch. He posted “I’m just dying to blog about this” on Duct Tape Marketing, noting:

“I started the story and I found myself looking around for the punchline, but I’m afraid they – the New York Times and Matt Richtel – were serious. Each paragraph was more bizarre than the next. I felt as though I had to have stumbled onto an edition of the Onion.”

One of the comments on John’s piece is “Sounds like a late April’s Fool. Good thing normal managers never are overworked or have heart attacks.”  To which John adds, “should have been.” I’m with John on this. It should have been a joke. And I’m with him as well as he adds, on a more serious note:

“Look, I’m not usually so negative on this blog, but I’ve grown very tired of the media’s characterization of blogging. There is no question that you can find people who have become so obsessed with something they get paid for that they do it death (See gamers, lawyers, miners, athletes, prostitutes.)

In this case they found a handful of people with no life who are now being paid to have no life. So where’s the story in that?”

Confession: I worked way too much during the formative years of Palo Alto Software. Try going into a third mortgage and $65,000 of credit card debt while not missing payroll. Blogging, in comparison, is a piece of cake.

One of the more meaningful responses to the piece (in my opinion) is Business or Pleasure, posted by Alan Johnston in Copyblogger. He was writing about writing, but I changed “writing” to “work” because it applies just as well:

“A lot of people make the mistake of starting out by picking a niche they are not exactly passionate about simply because it pays well.

In other words, they are just in it for the money and somehow consider this a sound business model. It’s easy to show up day after day if the pay is good, right?

Sorry to burst your bubble there, but you couldn’t be more wrong. If you don’t like what you’re doing, your writing work will reflect that, no matter how hard you try.”

Well said. Somewhere down in the heart of business, or maybe that’s entrepreneurship, is figuring out how to do what you like to do. Because you’re going to do a lot of it.

Image credit: Planning, Startups, Stories blog by the author

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Tim Berry Tim Berry is Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software, Founder of Bplans, Co-Founder of Borland International, Stanford MBA, and co-founder of Have Presence. He is the author of several books and thousands of articles on business planning, small business, social media and startup business.

17 Reactions
  1. Tim: Jinx! My latest post is a comment on the article in the New York Times. Please click on my name and continue the discussion. Take care and pluck the day!

  2. Maybe you should take up video blogging. Look in the camera and roll it off your tongue and then upload. Send it off to be transcribed and post the text into the blog later for both versions. after reading this you got me scared about starting my blogging career.

    eternal ink Blots


  3. That whole “do what you love and the money comes later” thing sounds trite, but it is true.

  4. Martin: it’s only fair, I was going to post on Scott’s excellent illusions book in the near future.
    Peter: naaah, don’t worry, not blogging is even more stressful. Take it on your blog, not your liver.


  5. Martin Lindeskog

    Tim: Yeah, it is only fair game! Keep on blogging! I want to discuss your latest post (“Does Investment Make the Venture?”)on your blog later on.

  6. I saw that NYT article and thought “meh.” My positions in the corporate world were 20 times more stressful than anything I do now. Not to mention all the time I used to waste in commuting (2 hours a day) plus writing reports (1 hour a day) plus meetings that were just people jockeying for position vis a vis one another (1 hour). That was the equivalent to half a work day right there — before I even got anything accomplished! THAT was stress, not what I do now.

  7. Cool post Tim. I’d hate to think we’re all putting our lives at risk doing this. I think we need to get the AMA to do a study on the health risks associated with the affects of powerblogging. Maybe have congress hold congressional hearings and call some of the leading bloggers to testify. I might even suggest the next president create a new cabinet post – The Blog Czar or possibly the Blogger General – to look out for us.

    Who would make a good Blog Czar? Up for the job Tim? 🙂

  8. Very interesting. I agree with Anita that a traditional workplace job is a lot more stressful than working from home. It’s good food for thought though.

  9. Brent, Blog Czar??? Ha ha ha. I love it! 🙂

  10. Flattered Brent but politely declining. Anita’s credentials are way better and besides we’ve got too many old white guys running things already. Should be a woman or minority (hmmm… why does that ring a bell?) … Blogger General sounds better, but maybe Blogger Laureate would be better still, because the tradition of Poet Laureate means nobody would expect her to do anything; just reap the praise.

    And seriously, I’m seeing some important comments in this thread, along the lines of something other than the work itself causing the stress. Working on the wrong thing, or the wrong way, or for the wrong reasons, maybe?

  11. I, too, have to agree with Anita in that the workplace is much more stressful in my opinion. The dynamics that take place in that environment coupled with competitive personalities (and dare I even say – at times what amounts to sabotage) and a hectic workload and commute – NO THANKS. It’s like walking through a landmine in my opinion.

  12. I think it is not the blogging per se that is killing people or choice of highly competitive niche or something they do not enjoy doing.

    Majority of people who are not full time blogger are in some job they do not like.

    So even if the niche was bady chosen, it does not seem to be a major risk factor.

    I feel it is more related to sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercising habits.

    Yes! Stress could be a factor but the system must be already corroded for stress to make effect.

    Stay happy, exercise and blog if you don’t want to be found dropped on your keyboard.

  13. Martin Lindeskog

    For your information, the hysterical report has come to Sweden. Metro, the free daily newspaper, has an article with the following headline: “De bloggar sig till döds” (“They are blogging themselves to death”)

  14. I literally laughed out loud at this article! If this NY Times article doesn’t scream “sensationalism to sell papers” or “holy moly bloggers are taking over our readership” I don’t know what does. Blogging to share information and support business owners is a relief of the stress in my brain. I’m sure many other bloggers would say the same thing!