To blog or not to blog? That is the postmodern question. A lot of writers wonder if blogging is a good idea. After all, blogs take a lot of time. It means giving away good work. It distracts from other, more legitimate projects.
Who wants to deal with that?
The truth is, the internet can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it teases writers with a huge potential readership. It’s a curse because it also hosts millions of voices clamoring for attention. It’s especially a curse for those writers who misunderstand the power of blogs.
Blogs can be a powerful tool. For marketing. For networking. For establishing oneself as someone worth reading. The publishing world has changed. Traditional publishing world is more focused on survival than it is on developing new authors. Blogging isn’t just a good idea, it’s a must for serious writers.
If blogging is important, it’s even more important to do well. Consider these three simple principles to build an effective blog.
1. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. I have a friend who used to work in the music industry. He has a saying: It takes five years to be an overnight success. P.G. Wodehouse in the book Performing Flea, argued that an author has to write five books before anyone takes that author seriously. Both of them effectively make the same point. One blog post does not make a successful blogger. It requires perseverance and consistency. A few bloggers are lucky enough to build a following quickly. That’s the exception, not the rule. Most successful bloggers need to create their own market. That takes time. Lots of time.
2. Influence trumps money. There are still a few writers out there who hope to write for a living. It’s a noble pursuit, but it isn’t a reasonable expectation for most writers. Success, then needs to be measured by a different standard. Writers need to use their blogs as a means to establish themselves as experts in their field. Blogs become important tools in a writer’s resumé. Each post is piece of a larger body of knowledge. In the new world of publishing, blogs are as important as books. They establish you as an authority. There is an important warning as well. If a writer takes up blogging, it needs to be taken seriously. Just as reputations can built through blogs, they can also be ruined if treated flippantly. Blogging is a legitimate form of literature. Treat it as such.
3. Successful blogs are successful networks. ‘Network’ is just a fancy name for relationships. The blogosphere is vast. There are many topics, world views and lifestyles represented on the internet. Writers need to build connections with other like bloggers. That doesn’t necessarily mean connecting with a formal group. Informal networks can be just as effective. A blog roll, a list of blogs you follow, can serve the purpose. It connects your blog with blogs that share your interest. Also, read other blogs. Read them regularly. Comment. Comment some more. Reply to comments made on your blog. That’s how relationships are built and networks established. This makes a blog far more effective than Facebook or other forms of social media. The audience of the blog may be smaller, but it’s more engaged. They’re people who comment, reply and even share posts with each other. Networks can be as structured or as organic as the blogger chooses.
Blogs are here to stay. Moreover, they’re a legitimate form of literature. The most effective writers are those who embrace the form and use it to their advantage.