Blogging, Health and Work-Life Balance

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Theres some really interesting research In May’s Scientific American about the possible health benefits of blogging.

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery.

This comes just a month after the New York Times published an article talking about the poor working conditions often enjoyed by bloggers and the stress that bloggers could be put under.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

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Two seemingly contradicting articles perhaps? To me, the two articles seem to describe different types of blogging. I believe the first article argues that blogging for yourself and for fun is beneficial. It’s therapeutic and you’re not worrying about the number of posts you need to make in a day or how many readers each post gets.

The second article argues that blogging for profit is very stressful and damaging to your lifestyle. I think it makes sense: as a technology blogger you’re essentially competiting with all the big tech websites such as Cnet and Gizmodo and worrying whether you’ll get your article to Digg before everyone else. And of course everything moves really quickly on the internet.

In the end, I think it all comes down to a work-life balance. If you want to blog for profit, there is a certain point where you must let go and employ somebody else to contribute to your blog: perhaps from a different part of the world or a different time zone. One blogger is never going to be able to match the large technology companies for size or speed. It’s not easy to earn money from blogging: otherwise everyone would be doing it.

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I’d personally hate to be a professional blogger. The whole idea of having to spend a lot of time submitting to Digg and having to spend excessive amounts of time on the internet just doesn’t appeal to me. The very nature of blogging means it tends to happen at home making it very hard to get that correct work-life balance.

Saying that, I’ve recently introduced Google AdSense onto my blog archives. As a cash strapped student, any additional money I earn and which can go towards tuition fees is very welcome and very needed. It’s certainly not a huge amount of money and I’d be lying if I said it took no work to achieve even that. The way I see it: I’ve been blogging for 3 years and my blog income is very unremarkable. I couldn’t even begin to wonder how much work it would take to earn a living from it.

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