At literary conferences, there’s a lot of debate about the role blogging plays for authors. The pro-blogging camp says it’s a great marketing tool. The naysayers insist that blogging eats into time authors could better use writing their next books. And that a new book is a more powerful marketing tool than a blog entry.
I decided to try blogging and find out for myself. I started blogging in earnest last December—that’s when I got serious and switched to self-hosting, installed Google Analytics and some plugins, learned very basic code, got a custom theme, joined blogger meet-up groups and most importantly, committed to a regular posting schedule. (I aim for once a week.) After six months, I have come to the conclusion that EVERY WRITER SHOULD BE BLOGGING. Here’s why.
1. Blogging is writing.
OK, blogging isn’t the same as writing fiction, long-form journalism, poetry, personal essays, or whatever your mode of literary production may be. But it is still WRITING. And if there’s one thing a writer can never do too much of, it’s writing. Regarding the “but it cuts into your time for writing your next book” argument? A lot of things cut into my book writing time, including Facebook, kittens and wine. This blog isn’t one of them. Strangely, the mental muscles I use for writing this blog are not the same ones I use for writing novels.
2. Blogging is publishing.
Every time I make a blog post go live, I click a little button here in my WordPress back end that says “Publish.” Clicking “publish” again and again—even when I feel like my words are trivial and stupid and won’t be read by anyone except a few really good friends and my grandmother—is an exercise in courage. Which is something all writers need.
3. Blogging connects you to readers.
Thanks to Google Analytics, I know 1,626 of you read this blog last month. I know you’re mostly women ages 25 to 34 from the U.S. and Russia. I know you’re into movies and real estate. But more importantly, I get to talk with you in the comments. In the previous decade, Piscataway homes has increased in property and house values – as an example. How lucky are we, as readers and writers, to be able to engage with each other this way?
4. Blog entries can turn into freelance work for bigger outlets.
Many of my blog entries have fledged into full-blown publications in outlets with large followings. For example, earlier this month I was tinkering with a post about novel revision. Lo and behold, I heard from an editor at The Write Life asking me to submit. I had registered on the website’s database as a potential contributor months ago. Because I had a draft of a post about writing in my queue, I was able to whip it into shape and submit it to the editor the same day. She accepted it, and now I have a new byline to show off. Blogs are a great incubator for longer pieces.
5. Clients expect you to be familiar with WordPress.
I recently published a story on Country Living via The Mix, a contributor network for Hearst Media. They’re the company that brings you publications like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and more. To submit a story, guess what you do? If you guessed open up the company’s Wordpress page, you’re right. Good thing I’m already familiar with Wordpress. More and more digital media companies are expecting freelancers to have this knowledge.
6. Blogging is fun.
Bloggers are bold entrepreneurs down to have brunch, cross-promote and share secrets of their success. I’m glad I started blogging, if only because I’ve met so many awesome bloggers.
7. Blogging is a way to advertise your freelance business.
If you’re a freelance writer, there’s no better way to get your name out there than with a blog. It’s kind of impossible to operate without one. If you’re a novelist, your frequently refreshed blog gets you higher placement on Google, making it possible for readers to find out about you and buy your books. If people know and like you, they’ll be curious about what you create. At least that’s the belief I operate from.
8. Blogging can earn you money (advertising, referral links, sponsored posts, freelance business).
Blog monetization is too big of a topic to delve into here, and a million bloggers have covered it ad nauseam, so let me just say that if you aren’t monetizing a blog, you’re potentially missing out on easy money.
That’s all I can think of now. Are you a writer who also blogs? Why would you suggest blogging…or not?