What the Blog?

Consider a feeling every blogger knows: an idea appears; something important, meaningful and complicated enough that you can’t quite write it yet. So you think, instead of writing. And just as it gels in your head, you read what you wanted to write on another blog.

That other blog belongs to Andy Budd: founder of Clearleft, smart & funny guy, interview victim and totally slack blogger. I’ve been pretty slack myself of late, which is why Andy’s “My blog is dying, long live my blog” took the words right out of my mouth. His situation’s changed (lots of work and new colleagues to discuss ideas with), and a combination of too much input from too many sources, and new modes of expression like Twitter, has killed his urge to blog.

Slack Like Andy

This blog’s suffered some slack moments lately too. When Blogger’s Guilt has raised its ugly head, I’ve been telling it, “I just moved to the other side of the world. Give me a break.” Buying furniture, adjusting to working freelance, getting to know new friends, falling back in love, lying on beautiful beaches and exploring an exciting new city have been in focus – I’ve just had too many compelling reasons to spend time away from the keyboard. But now that I’ve started to settle into a routine here in Sydney, other reasons have been fueling my Blogger’s Block.


Like most edglings, my online presence is pretty widely distributed: on this blog, my Tumblelog, Twitter, Facebook, delicious, Flickr, and quite a few more sites. It often takes a moment before I’m sure where to post what. I’ve been feeling dispersed rather than distributed. I’m rethinking how, why and where I present what, and such thinking tends to clog the content production arteries for a while.

Personal? Professional? Both?

For the last 12 years, I’ve worked for The Man – my online activities were solely personal and off the clock. As a freelancer, I now am The Man and I’m on the clock 24/7. “Matt Balara” is not only my person, it’s also my brand and my business. What I write, shoot, tweet and collect online are all me, but are also marketing and a potential client’s first impression. I’m becoming more conscious of what I’m doing online, and thinking through how combined or divided my activities should be, and what it might mean for my business. Also artery clogging.

Write About…

Part of leaving the clearly structured agency world and diving into the freelance pool is redefining what you do, or who you are professionally. Since arriving in Sydney, I’ve been lucky enough to have plenty of “whatever pays the bills” work, but haven’t had much time to think about those questions. Now that I have a little breathing room, that redefinition is rolling around in my head, but until it’s a bit further along it’s also hard to answer the “what should I write about?” question.

What Next?

My summary’s similar to Andy’s: I’ve got some questions I still haven’t answered. I’m leaning towards a single cohesive presentation on this site, whether it be life-streaming or clearly divided sections (blog, portfolio, photos, etc.), with all the other sources relegated to a clear data storage role. But the big questions above are the more important and difficult ones, and until I’ve got some answers there the changes will wait.

Considering the distributed (or dispersed) nature of our digital lives, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been going through these thoughts. What’s your feeling about personal vs. professional presentation? How has your online persona, content and personal brand evolved in the last few years? How separate or cohesive are you in the web? Do tell.


  1. Thomas says:

    I’d like to not directly answer, but add another aspect to your question. I have also observed that people separate personal presentation and personal life more or less. Some people private life seems to exist mostly in web communities, or at least cannot be separated from offline life, while others do a strict separation, for instance because their online friends are mostly co-workers, and they are disjunct from their offline friends.

    For me, it actually is quite separate, to a certain degree, of course. Nearly none of my friends even knows web communities, some know Xing at least.

    So from my point of view, the question is how we separate personal life from personal online presentation from online persona. Sorry to make things more complicated, but, well, being robot, this seems to be my job.

    Be merry in your new home, Matt. Cheers. 🙂

  2. I found your blog via Lazyfeed Matt, and I’m glad I did. I’ve been having similar thoughts. Right now I have four sites for different purposes and frankly it stretches me a little thin. I have a personal and professional blog, a lifestream and a photo blog. Yikes.

    Add social networks to the mix and it can get out of control. In the end I think we are all going to realize our blogs should be our home base. There was a Web Worker Daily article to that effect recently, and I thought it was good.

    I’ll be interested to see/hear what you do.

    Fairbanks, Alaska