riters, authors, novelists—let me tell you a little secret: Blogging is something you do for yourself.
I mean, sure, there’s an audience; and of course, you’re building a platform and connecting with a community, which we’ll definitely get to. But what I mean is that blogging is one of the few textual practices that continually reaps benefits specifically for you, the writer.
If you’re not blogging, you’ll see why it’s important here. If you are blogging, make sure that you’re engaging in the practice (sowing) in a way that will net you these maximum benefits (reaping).
The Ten Benefits of Blogging for Writers
1. Logging Your Ten Thousand Hours
You may have heard of the ten thousand-hour rule first proposed by psychologist Anders Ericsson and pushed into the mainstream by author Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success. The theory proposes that experts only become so by honing their craft through careful, purposeful practice with proficiency coming at the ten thousand-hour mark.
Regular blogging helps you log your hours toward proficiency. The constant practice of asserting your ideas, clarifying your stances, and arranging your information acts as a scaffold to your writing talents. Although your blogging may not be in the same genre or voice as your other writing, the practice and performance of it still supports your other writing endeavors.
In short, blogging allows you an outlet to practice the skill of composition.
2. Developing and Sharing Your Voice
As a writer, I am particularly pleased when someone compliments my “voice” or says that they can hear me or sense my personality when they read my prose. In writing, voice and tone refer to the way that your word choice and arrangement lend themselves to a unique style. Those with a clearly developed voice make their text shine with their personality, gift the reader with consistency throughout the piece, and compose in such a way that their style is recognizable between pieces. Voice also helps readers to accept you as a real person. This human factor is important in building audience.
Your blog gives you a chance to develop your voice. You can make purposeful choices about how you want to sound to target audiences and then practice that sound. In addition, once you’ve mastered your voice, your blog will consistently reflect it; and your readership will begin to recognize it and associate it with you, your work, and your platform.
Your blog will also serve as an example of your voice for interested parties, such as editors, agents, or potential clients (for freelancers). These parties are definitely visiting your posts, so make your writing shine.
3. Planting Your Community Garden
Your blog will also help you in building community around your writing and genre. You’ll associate with others in your field and form valuable bonds with them. They’ll become a resource to you (and hopefully you’ll return the favor).
But it won’t all be easy. You will also learn to respond to criticism and negativity. While this may not be fun, it is a valuable skill for writers to have. Not every reader will sing your praises throughout your career. Get some practice in with naysayers now before you publish your magnum opus, and you’ll learn to let criticism roll off your back or spur you toward improvement and growth.
“Get some practice in with naysayers now before you publish your magnum opus.”
4. Pushing Your Comfort Zone
Many new bloggers are hesitant to wade into the medium—whether due to fear of commitment, reticence about learning a new skill, or a number of other reasons. But this whole writing process is just one cliff after another, isn’t it?
What if you’re uncomfortable talking to your fans one-on-one at that book signing? What if you can’t stand the idea of letting an editor hack up your beautifully crafted article? Learning to roll with these discomforts is a necessity.
For those with hang-ups about blogging, sharing, managing communities and comments, or writing about certain subjects, the daily or weekly practice of meeting and beating those discomforts prepares you for future forays out of your comfort zone.
This one is quite applicable during certain political cycles! Having an outlet where you can say what you mean, state your opinion, and enumerate your reasons and supporting evidence goes a long way toward soothing frayed nerves.
And it doesn’t even need to be politically related! Are you fed up with magazines asking for on spec work? Do you have suspicions that an agent may not be legit? Blogging provides a place for these topics.
Of course, keep it within reason. Tirades without evidence are rarely useful, and your posts should be relevant to the topic/subject of your blog.
6. Learning the Latest
Introducing yourself to the various components of blogging gives you several discrete, useful skills that you may be able to later use or sell to others. For example, I learned the Wordpress blogging platform when it became obvious that it was the wave of the future in blogging. Now, just about every one of my freelance blogging clients requests it.
In addition, bloggers have to learn how to manipulate photos, record and post videos, write compelling headlines, and say what they mean in 500 words or less. Developing new skills keeps you fresh and in demand.
7. Gathering Inspiration
When you blog, you’ll find constant inspiration coming through your community, your interactions, and your research. Perhaps one of your posts will lead you to an article idea that you successfully pitch to a national glossy. Or maybe the personality of a commenter gets rolled into one of your characters. Your interaction with other people, writers, and ideas can become a constant spring of inspiration.
8. Establishing Platform
This is one of the most commonly cited reasons for writers to blog. Representing yourself as an expert in a topic or establishing your clear and unique voice (see above!) gives you the boost you need to sell yourself as a writer. Your blog tells editors and agents that you’ve begun to put down the framework needed to sell you and your publications.
“Authors can get insight into the kind of audience that is drawn to their work.”
9. Passively Researching
Your space on the web offers you data! Mine it!
Authors can get insight into the kind of audience that is drawn to their work. Who are the people who are commenting on your blog? What do they care about? What do they do? What kind of stories seem to hook them?
You can also get information on your audience by using software like Google Analytics, which captures demographic data from your visitors. Are the readers in your audience whom you expected them to be? If not, is there anything you can do to adjust your work to better suit them?
10. Passively Earning
Monetizing Your Blog means adding elements and practices that earn you money. This may include running clickable ads in your margins, reviewing products pertinent to your audience for which you are paid, or selling products yourself through your blog.
The choice to monetize your blog should not be made lightly. It’s not the best decision for every blog. But for those writers who choose to earn some cash in the blogging process, the trickle of money may buy them some valuable time to focus on other writing goals.
The practice of blogging isn’t entirely outward focused. Although you’re writing for that invisible audience on the other side of the screen, you’re still reaping some bonuses for yourself, too. Take a look at your blog in light of these ten benefits and see if you’re truly getting the most out of your blogging time.
Allena Tapia specializes in writing for the education market and Latino topics. She also provides editing and translation services. Find her at GardenWall Publications (www.gardenwallpublications.com) and About.com Freelance Writing (www.freelancewrite.about.com).
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