Writing is a deeply personal art. It's exacting and painful, but I find it rewarding in a selfish way that is hard to explain. The closest analogy that I can think of to the euphoria of writing a line of prose which is particularly tickling to a reader is winning a sprint in the middle of a cycling race. While a great distance might remain in the overall event, the maneuvering, politicking, and burst of energy to win an interim race is motivation enough to keep going.
Few authors have captured the challenges of writing better than George Orwell. In "Why I Write" Orwell notes that, "All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."
I would never pretend that writing a blog is akin to writing a book. But it does demand a constant attention bordering on obsession. And a blogger must focus on a single, highly defined subject. For some, this might prove limiting -- and perhaps overwhelming. But if one is passionate about an area, blogging is an ideal medium to communicate strongly held beliefs and knowledge to an audience thirsty for knowledge. And I can’t deny that I find it entertaining at cocktail parties to refer to myself as a blogger when asked about my line of work (I only later mention my day job once I've captured interest of my victim).
But to be serious, I chose to start Spend Matters not just because I wanted to write a blog. I also saw a void in the analysis of the Spend Management sector -- a market that I was passionate about. For one, there was limited coverage of the sector from a true economic perspective by existing media outlets. Journalists were not practitioners, and practitioners were not journalists. And no one was stepping back to look at the economics of why Spend Management was happening At the same time, I won't deny that making a buck played a role as well -- after all, there’s a large opportunity cost to taking the time week-in and week-out to write a blog. Generating revenue from sponsors (and potentially other sources in the future) would partially defray my investment to create Spend Matters and keep the content current.
On a different level, I had a literary interest in starting a blog as well. Spend Matters would let me write about a sector I cared for in an informal, first-person style which serving as a part-time journalist or analyst would not allow. Back in college, I had studied the art of the non-fiction essay under some of the best writers and humorists that were teaching at the time. It was a form of writing -- informal, personal, influential and at times humorous -- that I enjoyed and quickly found that I had a knack for. I thought that a blog would give me the opportunity to apply my interest and talent in writing first-person essays in a focused manner.
There were other motives I had in starting Spend Matters as well. For one, there were no checks and balances in the industry analyst market. Having served both as an analyst and in analyst relations roles in the past, I thought that creating a neutral voice that generated enthusiasm for analyst research while also offering a fair critique of their coverage would go a long way to creating legitimacy and interest in Spend Management. In many ways, I think this prediction has proved accurate, as Spend Matters ushered in unprecedented analyst enthusiasm for the sector which did not exist before -- even during the B2B boom.
Later in his essay "Why I Write", Orwell remarks, "What I have most wanted to do ... is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice." In the case of Spend Management, my "injustice" is apathy. When starting Spend Matters, my hope was that the blog would play a role in helping draw more attention to a movement that historically had not been afforded the respect it deserved. The good news is that I think the experiment is working. And while it will take far more than my little blog to elevate Spend Management in every board room, each convert counts.