When I was in college back in the early 2000s, blogging was really starting to take off and I became really intrigued with the idea of having my own blog. I started and ended about three different blogs at that time for the same reason many readers will either end or never start a blog: lack of readers. This was a short-sighted decision on my part and I’d like to prevent other writers from making the same mistake.
In our current online age, blogs are no longer just private musings or diaries relegated to being viewed by close friends and family. They are used by top companies like Sony and Disney as well as news sites like CNN and the New York Times. There are also “celebrity” bloggers who have made a living from their blogs on topics ranging from food to controversial religious topics. Essentially, blogs have become a mainstream source of information for popular and niche topics. So why should writers care? Aside from the obvious fact that bloggers are writers (don’t tell anyone), every true writer needs to express themselves through their writing and a blog provides an easy outlet for that with some additional benefits you may not have considered. Read on to see what I mean.
Blogging Challenges Your Writing
It doesn’t matter if you’re a novelist, poet, journalist, freelance writer, or academic scholar, putting together a well-written blog post with engaging content on a regular basis will stretch your writing skills. I find it easy to write 500 to 1,000 words of fiction a day (if I have the time) compared to composing a blog post with relevant and useful information for the handful of people who read this blog. The challenge is worth it though, not only because I’m providing someone somewhere valuable information but also because it forces me to be challenged and uncomfortable as a writer. “Uncomfortable?” you might ask. Yes, uncomfortable. Like readers have favorite genres they love to read, writers have their favorite type of writing they love to write. As a fantasy and sci-fi author, I’m very comfortable in the genres I write about so naturally, blogging about the art of writing is outside of my comfort zone.
But I still do it.
Crafting a blog post on a weekly or bi-weekly basis challenges me and forces to think differently about my writing so I don’t become complacent or lazy with words. It’s likely that the same is true of you. If creating blog posts isn’t your preferred type of writing then you should try it and see how it can refine your writing skills. For me, it’s forced me think differently about how I organize thoughts and words for an online audience in contrast to just journaling on my own.
Here’s an insightful quote from Andrew Sullivan on how blogging improves writing:
“The thing about blogging is that it forces you to stop throat-clearing, its chatty, provisional nature mandates simplicity and clarity, and it punishes long-winded guff.”
Blogging Creates Discipline
Discipline is important in everyone’s life and especially important for a writer. You’re not going to write the next Great American Novel if you’re not disciplined enough to make time for your writing. Keeping a blog updated with posts is a great way for writers to become disciplined with regard to deadlines, creativity, and frequency.
- Deadlines make or break a writer. If you can’t meet a deadline, even a personal one, then you show a lack of commitment to whatever writing project you’re working on.
- Creativity is essential in writing, even non-fiction work. Blogging will flex your creative muscles as you come up with diverse topics to discuss.
- Frequency of blog posts will create a habit of writing that will help you publish your writing more often and extend that productivity toward your other writing projects.
Keeping a blog running with regularity will make you a better writer in each of these respects. I’ve already seen a marked improvement in being disciplined about my writing just from having a blogging schedule.
Blogging Helps Writers Build A Platform
Whether you’re writing to drive sales to your newest ebook or seeking to inform your audience about the latest trends in technology, every writer wants readers. We have this inner need to have someone read our work and give us feedback, be it good or bad, because any feedback is better than none. Having a blog creates a great opportunity for writers to receive feedback, and when you add social media to the mix, it gets really interesting. When you’re publishing blogs daily, weekly, or even monthly, your work becomes quite visible to readers especially if you supplement it with links to posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. You can also drive attention to your blog through guest posts on other blogs (something I’ll be exploring in the near future!).
With some hard work and perseverance, a writer’s blog can gain lots of exposure, but there’s a caveat to all of this. Don’t get hung up on the numbers. My first failed attempts at blogging were driven by my obsession with getting as many comments and readers as I could. When that didn’t happen I threw in the towel and decided blogging just wasn’t my thing. I was wrong. What I didn’t understand then was the significance of reader engagement. It doesn’t matter if your blog is pulling 100,000 visitors a day if none of them care about what you’re saying. Now, I’d rather have five readers who get something out of my posts and share it with like-minded readers than a huge list that I never hear from.
The fact of the matter is five loyal readers who are engaged and inspired by what you write are more likely to help you build a platform anyway. So writers, start blogging. Get better at your craft, become disciplined, and build your platform. Your writing can have value, why not share it with the world?