Here are three good new-ish reasons why you should have your own WordPress site. Even though I encourage a ritual unplugging at least a few times per week:
1. For Self-Marketing
Since 2008 and the economic crash, there has been a major shift in the way that organizations think about their workforce. This has been caused by the realization that business was not operating within a safe fiscal environment where stocks continue to rise upwards and businesses continue to grow irrespective of the real world. In fact, we found out the opposite was true: the very foundations of our economies are extremely shaky and the people we entrust to deal with our money (bankers and investors) are too busy playing a game of cat and mouse, trying to deregulate and complicate the layman’s understanding of markets at any opportunity, and are in it for financial gain. Perhaps indirectly what finally hit home was the truth that infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible (a wonderful point made by the environmentalist David Suzuki in a discussion of how we measure progress in society, i.e. GDP is a crazy way to do it).
In the large part, this awakening has created a culture of fear when it comes to hiring and maintaining long-term employees (at least where I live in Vancouver & BC). A minority of companies have moved in the right direction to really focus on keeping a highly valued and talented team together, since when times are tough, you’ve really got to stick it out and build on the positives. These companies such as Telus in Canada have really improved their company cultures to encourage a stronger work-life balance and to empower employees to work when it suits them, to take full responsibility over their performance and results, and to collaborate effectively irrespective of location or time zone.
The majority of companies, however, have taken a backwards step in that they see the competitive job market as a way to take advantage over staff. This is where I finally get to my point about self-marketing and why you should have your own WordPress site. At the end of the day, if most contracts available are short-term and the competition for jobs is intense, you really have to be the master of your own destiny in terms of self-marketing.
2. To Control the Content
Rather than relying on 3rd party sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to represent you, you have to create your own ecosystem online that represents who you are and what you are passionate about. I heard Jay Baer recently use the phrase ‘you shouldn’t build a house on rented land’ in relation to Facebook marketing and how they keep making changes to Edgerank, the algorithm that determines who gets to see your posts in their newsfeed. In terms of the benefits of having your own website that you operate, this hits the nail directly on the head. You can’t rely on other sites that might change their terms and conditions or may even ban you completely. You shouldn’t abandon them completely (in fact, I still argue that social media marketing and optimization throughout your website is vital) but be fully aware of where the balance of power lies.
WordPress provides the ideal CMS (content management system) for building websites. You can operate a blog and write about all manner of topics that you have an opinion on. As well as this, you can build very flexible, highly visual and engaging websites that have a great deal of functionality. With the number of developers committed to the platform, WordPress is like a giant cruise ship that has incredible momentum as it moves across the ocean. You can find plugins for anything you can imagine. The trick is finding the ones compatible with your version of WordPress.
3. For Self-Improvement
My final reason concerns the idea of self-improvement. If you have an online presence that you are proud of and maintain, this will surely have an effect in your offline world. To paraphrase a great Gandhi quote, to be truly happy is when what you think, say and do are all in unison. This means that while you are building up your WordPress site to represent the very best of you, and if your aim is to be happy, you’ll be forced into committing to become the best version of yourself you can be.
Another way of looking at this is through Freud’s tripartite structure of the mind made up of the id, the ego and the super-ego. A rough explanation of this is that the id brings through the innate subconscious characteristics of your mind that you need to survive, such as bodily instincts and desires (think sex and hunger). The ego is the part of the mind that tries to harness the id while keeping balance for the long term. The super-ego, on the other hand, projects the perfect version of yourself from your own thinking on you. If you buy into Freud’s ideas, when the super-ego is too strong, people always feel disappointed with themselves when they don’t achieve what they set out to do. You will always under-perform if you are chasing an unattainable perfect version of yourself.
Having a WordPress site allows you to work out what that super-ego version of yourself is really like, while at the same time keeping it in check and realizing that we exist within a world that has many uncontrollable parameters. Oftentimes, the goals and ambitions we have are unrealistic based on our situation. You need this realization before you attempt anything.
The final point I’d like to make is that having a blog allows you time to sit down and think through your opinions on a whole variety of subjects. This creative writing process enables an outlet for all the thoughts and ideas that get stuck in or pass through your brain on your daily commute, workout at the gym or daydreaming in the office. It brings a certain kind of catharsis.
And if your first post is a waffly mess, like mine… Don’t worry… Practice makes perfect!
References / Further Reading & Media