* "Serializing" your thoughts. You (2013) can explain an idea that you (2014 onward) won't remember. I try to explain "gotcha" moments to myself, in language that works for me, so I won't have difficulties later on. This began in college, and developed into the blog I run today.
* Putting in your hours. I don't believe in 10k hours exactly, but practice helps. In the past decade I've written 100+ essays of 1-2k words that I wouldn't have otherwise. I can visibly see my writing improving. Take a look at the first Garfield strip: http://history.howstuffworks.com/american-history/garfield.h... or Calvin and Hobbes: http://calvinethobbes.free.fr/english/c_prem.html
* You're writing anyway. Most tech people are writing at least 1-2k words a week in email, forums, etc. anyway. You might was well capture some of that in an archived, searchable format that can benefit you with contacts and new opportunities.
I prefer to leave blog threads open since I don't know when people will find my sites and contribute. Except for posts really connected to a specific event, technical posts has a larger life.
I dislike closed comments though sometimes I have to remind people to look at the date of the post :-p
So, as a side effect of writing, I've actually generated quite a few new ideas, from ideas about marketing and branding, to product feature ideas, etc.
My nominal purpose in a lot of this writing has been to engage in some "content based marketing" and drive more traffic to our website, establish credibility, etc. But as nathanmarz points out, those things become (or almost become) just side benefits.
Now if I just had more time to write...
But when I launched, a surprising number of key industry folks read a significant amt. of the blog when they went to check out my site. Most didn't know me prior to my launch announcement, but after reading the blog they were convinced of my expertise in the area and a few have been working overtime to open doors for me. Likewise, a number of new users got to know me through the blog and came to champion the site after personally connecting w/ me & my background in the field through my writing.
It turned out to have been the best marketing / biz dev dollars I never spent.
I got advice many years ago from a VC that you should proclaim yourself the expert in whatever field you are entering. It turns out that the blog permitted me to do that successfully in a very low-key way.
Cutting a long story short, if it wasn't for tirelessly blogging in the early 2000s, I'd not have gotten a book deal which led to me creating a blog which became my main source of income and led to the e-mail newsletter network I now run. Nor would I have luckily became result #2 for a popular route planner and made $2-3k per month in Adsense over 2 years by accident. And.. a lot of things like that. And I barely had any readers, it's just that certain posts hit the spot with people Googling for very specific things.
The blog was just my personal blog. Being a technical person it had a technical edge but wasn't focused on that. I started a blog of sorts in 1999 (something called an "e/n" site which were the rage at the time - the infamous "StileProject" site came out of this era and genre) simply to share stupid photos, jokes, insights, and interact with people I knew online. Then I blogged constantly from then until Twitter took off (which somehow killed my personal blogging entirely :-().
I think I should start personal blogging again though exactly because of the happy accidents. You just don't get them as much through Twitter or Facebook because the content there is so ephemeral and not likely to come up in a Google search in a few years.
I do one post every friday, even if I have very little going on.
I still write blog posts throughout the week, but it's only when I want too.
My Friday post is a have-to commitment I've made. It makes it easier for my readers to know when to come to my site.
I do like the idea of Svbtle's 'kudos' system as a measure of leaving positive feedback or an indication of a post's popularity. I guess my main worry is that someone might actually enjoy a post but find it difficult to let me know, is an email link really enough in this instance? seems like a rather high barrier to entry
http://ocfinn.com [in case anyone was wondering]
However, you shouldn't write expecting people to comment. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.
As well, I strongly recommend deleting "bad" or impolite comments. People like to push the edges of acceptable behaviour. Being ruthless with moderation keeps the comments in line and stops your comment threads from degenerating into stupidity.
On the other hand, in my mind the best argument against comments is spam. You'll get a ton of spam, and it is a hassle to deal with. There's things you can do to mitigate this, though every anti-spam action will probably cut down on legitimate comments too. Best thing in my mind is probably close comments on posts older than a month or so.
I'd also add that writing publicly (blogging) forces you to evaluate and really consider your true convictions with regard to whatever it is you're writing. Because you're going on the record with something - for all to see. And there's bound to be people out there that disagree with you. If and when they come, will you still be proud of and confident in what you wrote? If not, reconsider your stands.
I have no idea who wrote/contributed to the vast majority of the many wikipedia links I reference in comments and emails.
It does bode well for resume-padding however - you can just link to your body of contributions and some stats (edited 1k articles, etc). As a hiring manager/customer, that'd definitely pique my interest.
I ran a blog that had low readership for about a year and a half, I would write everyday and then all of a sudden I started ranking for common keywords and the traffic started flowing. I then put up some CPA links for various things and made $2000 one month from those survey popups (done tastefully). I eventually shut the blog down because I wanted to do something else, but it proves that big things grow from the littlest of seeds.
To anyone who is doing a startup, blogging can be an interesting exercise in general communication. Blogging, in short words, will make you become a good storyteller. You will develop your communicative self so you describe anything in a pleasant manner and it will help outline greatly any part of your project.
I read many texts and business plans (in spanish) and they are pretty boring most of the time because the team has a big lack of writing.
Same applies to ideas you've had or article you've written really.
Things that I can't find on Google.
Content on the web is spread across so many terrible websites with a lot of poor descriptions, and a lot of the time you can't even find the answer you're looking for. I want to start answering those questions.
My journal, which confers opportunity to benefit from writing without the distractions of the screen, like my various blogs, has at least one reader. As a writer, I have an obligation to entertain and inform him, even though he is me.
Another good source of material are e-mails... take out all the personal stuff (or leave it in). This material is convincing since I am writing to another person. 3rd parties may have something in comment with the person you are writing to. that blog has not been created yet since my 1st blog is devoted to math.
for the data scientists: blog comments are often more revealing than the article itself, since they are (usually) unfiltered. They are also a bit harder to process -- since usually don't go in the direction you had in mind.
Forces you to write 750 words every day. It can be nonsense, it can be a story, or it can be like a diary. It's helped me structure my thoughts a lot.
Writing has become my catharsis.
It did a lot for me and I never regret the day I started to blog.
I started posting link, short news and now I just write rants. 10 min reading format is what I love to write.
In the former case, writing (more) often will help you improve your writing skills. The more often you do something, the better you get at it. However, you might want to keep these "exercises" private until your writing improves.
In the latter case, as long as you're being honest, thoughtful, and respectful (and not intentionally controversial or offensive) with the views you express in your writing, I'm not sure how it would come back to you in a truly (undeservedly) negative way. But, if you've lost your rose-colored glasses and are still concerned, write anonymously.