Earlier this year Elise Blaha Cripe was asked on Instagram: “Is blogging dead? I want to start blogging again, but keep being told blogging is dead.”
“100% no. In fact, I think the more Instagram screws with the algorithm, the more ALIVE blogging will become. So expect it to be very alive in 2020.”
She then received a private message from one of her followers that Elise shared publicly:
“I started reading your blog when I was in seventh grade and it pushed me far as a creative. I wanted to be like you when I grew up and have a creative job. Now I’m a full time photographer. Thanks for starting your blog and sharing your life.”
Today I want to talk about the value of blogging for writers, and how to know if it is right for you.
As a writer, you want to be read. To sell books. You want people to feel moved by what you create. To have people review your book, and engage in word of mouth marketing for it. To become a fan who supports what you create in the future.
As longtime readers of my work know, to establish that kind of rapport with a reader can take time. You have to effectively communicate your creative vision, and over time, establish a sense of trust with potential readers.
Blogging is an incredible way to do that. Let’s explore why:
The foundation of blogging is writing. This writing can be short, but it can also be long — thousands of words if you prefer. This is perfectly suited to writers of all sorts (fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry and more.) Unlike social media where you may be trying to find the perfect photo of a cat reading a book to garner more likes, blogging encourages you to form not only complete ideas, but complete sentences, paragraphs, and essays.
Blogging makes you better at the craft of writing. It helps you not only write more, but click “publish” more often, sharing your ideas and your words with readers.
I’ve seen blogs as short as a sentence, and as long as essays of thousands and thousands of words.
I’ve always said that the best way to establish your platform as an author is to begin with the craft of writing itself. Blogging is a wonderful way to do that.
Your Blog is a Body of Work
I’ve had my own blog since August 2006, and have posted to it at least once a week since then. That is a 13 year repository of my writing and thoughts that I have collected, and is public for others to see. It is truly a body of work.
Can you find words you wrote online in 2006 or 2010 or 2014 now? Maybe something you wrote on Facebook or some other social network? Likely not. Those words are lost to an ever-changing landscape that you don’t control.
But with a blog, you own your content. You control where it goes, and how it remains in the future.
Too many writers give up control of their platform to social media. To a platform that will one day delete your content when it gets sold, goes out of business, or takes a new business direction.
I still have every blog post I ever wrote, and can be sure it is presented to readers in the future in whatever way I see fit.
Sometimes it is difficult for my social media posts to feel like a body of work. They are snippets of ideas. But when I look back on a blog, I see fully formed ideas, expressed as best as possible, and organized in a more meaningful fashion.
A blog becomes a body of work for writers in a way social media never could.
Own the Connection to Your Readers
I often recommend that if a writer has a blog, they also create an email newsletter that allows them to send readers their latest blog posts or other updates.
What this does is ensure that you the writer have a direct connection to your readers. This feels more and more rare online. Where Amazon won’t let you know who bought your book. Where Facebook won’t show your posts to people who are your friends and followers. Where ads take up more and more of your Instagram feed. I’m not complaining about those things, I 100% understand why those companies operate that way.
But when I consider a writer’s ability to reach their fans and their readers, I love when they can simply post a blog, send a newsletter, and not worry if Mark Zuckerberg will allow it. (Sorry Mark.)
Not surprisingly, this is also a core way that successful writers develop buzz ahead of their book launches. They communicate with readers in the months and years leading up to it.
Start Small and Grow As You Are Ready
I started my blog before I full knew what it would become. I used it as a testing ground for new ideas and to push myself creatively.
That is one of the main things I love about blogging. You can begin where you are. You can start simply. You can move along and post new entries at your own pace. You can grow when you are ready.
Unlike so much else in life where you are trying to keep up on a hamster wheel that someone else is spinning, with a blog, you get to choose the focus, choose the frequency, choose the length, and truly make a home for your writing on the web.
The Antidote to Social Media Overwhelm
Again and again I talk to writers and artists who are overwhelmed with social media. They say there is too much pressure to post, to share too much of themselves, to constantly scroll their feeds, to like/comment/subscribe to others at a breakneck pace. As much as they try to keep up with the latest trends, they can’t.
A blog and email newsletter is different, really for all of the reasons I’ve already mentioned above. The key is to take control of your attention, of your writing and your connection to readers.
The Downside of Blogging
Is blogging dead? No. Blogging is a powerful tool that writers can use to share their voice, extend the value of their work, and connect with potential readers in meaningful ways.
So what are the downsides of blogging? As someone who has maintained a weekly blog for more than a decade and helped thousands of people create their own, I’m familiar with this side of it as well. Let’s take an honest look at the cost of blogging.
Blogging takes time. Why? Because self-expression and writing takes time. While I’m putting this in the “downside of blogging” list, I suppose I wouldn’t want it any other way. To write something meaningful takes time. To do it regularly takes time. Honestly, I think that is a good thing. But that does mean it is a commitment in terms of time and attention. The upside of that is that you are committing to writing and expressing yourself.
Another downside of blogging is that you are an island. Your blog exists in a corner of the internet. Unlike a social network which has algorithms always trying to help others “discover” you and your work, a blog is less interconnected.
Again, I’m okay with that because it means I’m not feeling pressure to share funny memes in order to “get discovered.” It actually encourages me to focus on how to ensure my blog reaches my core audience of ideal readers. That skill is an essential part of what it means to be a writer. I’d rather have a blog with 100 readers who really care, than a social media post with 10,000 “Likes,” but where no one was truly engaged or even remembers me and my work.
If you have thought about launching a blog and email newsletter, or improving the ones you have, consider joining my Blogging & Email Newsletters for Writers 4-week program which begins Monday. I work directly with you step-by-step to ensure your writing has a home on the web, and a meaningful way to connect with readers. Full details and registration here.