10/23/2013 09:34 am ET Updated Dec 23, 2013

Why I Blog: The Top 7 Reasons

Recently, someone asked me why I blog. After all, I don't get paid for it, and it's a lot of extra work added to an already crazy-busy life. I think I started posting blogs in early 2009 (although I don't remember what my first post was about), so that makes it about five years of blogging. I'm sure a lot of people think I'm a bit all over the place with my blog -- one day there's a recipe, the next day a tirade on some issue, with a little bit of music thrown in -- but looking back, it's still true to my original intent: "Cooking up trouble and dishing out advice," and basically covers all the things that people talk about in their kitchens. The good, the bad, the hard, and the funny -- the kitchen is always where the best stories are shared.

Here are my top 7 reasons for blogging:

1. To learn. That's really how it started. I learn best by doing, and in 2008, I was at a point where if I was really going to go all in and learn, I needed to just do it. Learning to me meant learning not just how to blog, but also how it all connects with social media and existing media. For those of us who were raised before the Internet, such things involve a certain kind of effort to learn. Blogging began as my effort. I've learned so much, including the importance of things like taxonomy, SEO, tagging and organizing information. That doesn't mean I've applied it all to my blog, since it's just a homemade thing, but I've certainly applied it to my business.

2. To document recipes. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to document my family recipes. Yes, I'm a CEO and intense businessperson, but I'm also a mom, a daughter, a granddaughter, and a foodie with a love of simple, family food. At the time I started blogging, it seemed like food information was either really gourmet and complicated or recipes made with stuff in cans and boxes. I wanted to show (myself and others) that simple, healthy, and delicious food can be easy, quick and worth the minimal effort. To this day, my daughters -- all excellent cooks (even the 7-year-old) -- are begging me to publish a cookbook. I think I need at least another 100 recipes first... But it makes me happy that some of my top blogs of all time are things like "How to Make Gravy from Scratch." These are things everyone should know!

3. To connect. This was the unexpected surprise of blogging that I've come to cherish. I didn't think I needed or wanted to connect with people in a deeper more personal way, but it turns out, that's been the most satisfying part of it all. Whether it's the regular followers, or someone leaving a one-time comment, or the people I meet in the grocery store (and even in public bathrooms!), I always love hearing that readers are enjoying my recipes or are thankful that I've shared something that made them think deeper or feel better. And all that makes me feel better. It makes me feel useful.

4. To express myself. In the olden days, if you wanted to express yourself, you could write a letter to someone or a newspaper and hope it got published, read, or responded to. It was rather random and lonely. Now, no offense to newspapers or anything, but the freedom in blogging is empowering and wonderful. I am my own publisher. My own journalist. My own editorial page. My own restaurant critic and book reviewer. It's never boring. Or if it is, I write a blog about being bored and get all sorts of fun suggestions.

5. To inform. Let's face it, there is a lot of misinformation out there. One thing I try to do is share what I believe to be the truth -- whether it's about food, gardening, organic issues, health, or the environment. I am not an expert in everything, but no one else is either, and if I do my best to inform others about things I've learned and know, then maybe I'm making a small difference in the world. I don't ever blog just to complain or criticize, nor do I say negative things just to annoy people. I try to find things to share that improve people's lives and the world around them, which is ultimately the mission of Rodale!

6. To help others. Sometimes people don't need to be "informed," they just need some encouragement and ideas. One of my most consistently popular blogs is "How to Talk with Your Daughter about Sex." Seriously, every month it ranks in the top 15 blogs, and I wrote it on a whim. Some of the comments are heartbreaking. And this is what I'm interested in: helping to change the world (or at least the day-to-day for some people) for the better, and making a positive difference, through the lens of my own life experiences. And sometimes that means talking about stuff that everyone else is afraid to touch. Or saying things out loud that others don't have the courage to say. While the feedback isn't always pretty, I've had lots of people tell me that I've truly helped them. And at the end of the day, when I'm home in my kitchen with my kids, making a yummy dinner and sitting around the table, that's what really matters. I've helped more people than I've annoyed. And some people just insist on being annoyed no matter what. Maybe they just need to eat something good and then they'll feel better!

7. To have fun. When all is said and done, I wouldn't blog if I didn't love to write and have fun doing it. If this were just going to be a boring business blog, I'd have quit a long time ago. I think what makes good business is looking at, learning, and exploring all facets of life, love, and people. I love the idea of pulling back the curtain on our humanity and our true selves. It all keeps me interested and entertained. Seriously, the most fun day ever in my blogging life was when I learned that -- the official Bruce Springsteen website -- had picked up my blog "Bruce Springsteen and the Church of Rock 'n' Roll" and put it on the site's homepage! I wanted to run down the halls and let everyone know, but instead I walked down the halls grinning from ear to ear. I might have let out a squeak or two. Go ahead and laugh; I'm laughing too. And I'm still having fun.

For more from Maria Rodale, visit