Should You Blog From Federal Prison?

I received a call from a white collar defendant who told me, “I’ll blog in prison, if I can make money with it, like you did.”

To begin, I never had any intentions to make money from my blog, nor have I monetized my blog. Second, making money the priority negates the purpose of a blog to begin with. Third, because his motives are off base he won’t have the discipline to sustain a writing schedule when things get tough.

“If you don’t make money on your blog, what is the point of it?” he asked me.

I told him that I wrote in prison to help find meaning and purpose. I had lost any sense of significance or self worth as a result of my bad decisions. In sum, I wrote to feel significant again ( and I would’ve been totally happy if that significance was only in my own mind). We are what we think, after all.

When I was a stockbroker, I was fixated on a quantitative goal: how much money did I bring in this month, and how much did I produce?

Look, I’d be lying if didn’t admit that growing my business was a priority. But it’s balanced with qualitative goals: are my clients finding value in our work?; Am I sympathetic to their circumstances; are they creating a better future by setting goals and advancing, step by step, every day, towards those goals?

In any business, if we measure our outcomes simply by money, we will be disappointed. I derive a great deal of satisfaction when someone calls to tell me how much value they find in my blog or videos. It provides as much value to me as them.

Receiving those phone calls, emails or texts, validates the work I begin to put in so many years ago while writing from the inside of the quiet room at Taft Federal Prison Camp. Those messages make me feel significant, as if I’m providing real value to the community who is involved in the struggle that I know so well.

The goal of any prison term should be to create a win-win. Without finding that win-win resentment will develop, and progress will be stalled.

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Reputation Management: Should You Blog From Federal Prison?

Writing from prison, and now, creates a win-win. Admittedly, the writing can be incredibly selfish. Writing helps me collect my thoughts, put them in order, and articulate them in a way that makes me feel like I’m making my impact on the world, even if no one reads it. The win for my reader comes from the knowledge I share, the strategies I write about, that if implemented, will help them emerge from the system more successfully.

The great irony, of course, is that by documenting my journey it did more than I ever could’ve imagined to restore my reputation. Through my blog, I articulated the mistakes I made, and described how I would be working daily to make amends. And while at times I find some criticism, and occasionally receive some negative comments from people who don’t appreciate my approach to preparing people for prison, it would be hard for anyone not to authenticate what I’ve done since surrendering to prison.

If blogging is not for you, then find something else. But your motives must be sound. To say I just “want to make money” is a losing strategy. It is shortsighted and lacks intrinsic motivation to work–I mean really work.

Justin Paperny

P.S. We have four spots remaining in our group coaching program. Click here to learn more. Next class starts July 1. Class is limited to 8 participants.

P.S.S. I also filmed a YouTube video about blogging from prison. Click here to watch!

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