What do you think of when people mention that they have a blog? Vacation pictures? Funny stories about the weekend? Let’s be honest — blogs are too often interpreted as “internet diaries” for mothers and teenagers. But in reality, blogs are probably the best vehicles for delivering information that is timely, current, and to the point. In fact, in today’s world, if you are a web worker or writer, then you had better have a regularly updated blog yourself. Here’s why:
Refine Your Craft
Anytime you have to communicate a concept or process to a group of people, you will improve your skillset on multiple levels. Not only will you become better at writing, but you will also improve in your particular craft because you will tend to research more knowing that your visitors expect quality.
Should freelance writer have a blog or site to send to editors?
This is one of the most important reasons to keep a blog.
Blogging forces you to stay current in your industry. In a recent survey by A List Apart, 95% of web designers, developers, and writers admit that they stay current by reading relevant websites/blogs (compared to 76% that say books and 32% that utilize conferences or seminars). You’re not going to earn any guru points if all your posts cover the same content as every other blog from the last two years.
This is one of the most important reasons to keep a blog. There are so many exciting companies and technologies being created every day (just flip through an issue of Fast Company). If you ever want to be a part of such opportunities, putting yourself “out there” is the first step, especially if you don’t already have the connections to the “movers” in the industry. There have been a number of examples of people who began with a blog and ended up with a partnership in a promising web startup or an offer from a major media outlet. Furthermore, the blog really is the new resume and you can believe that it’s a great advantage for any job-seeker.
Five Hard Truths About Blogging
Although I’ve had my share of itinerant blogging in the past, about five months ago I decided to create a professional blog surrounding the industry I’ve spent over half my life studying and working in. Thus began Wake Up Later and it’s the first blog that I’ve found myself fully committed to. Although I am rather fortunate to see its solid growth, I’ve had to learn some hard truths about blogging along the way. Then again, if I knew these before, maybe I would have never begun in the first place. So here are five hard truths gleaned from the first five months of Wake Up Later.
Blogging Is a Huge Commitment
When you first start your blog, posting comes easily because it’s exciting and you already have a number of posts mentally composed. But as time goes on, you find yourself covering subjects and ideas that require more coverage and deeper fact-checking. As traffic grows, so will accountability, which means more drafts and better proofreading. Furthermore, you’ll probably need to keep up with pertinent news and information in your industry and keep tabs on relevant communities. Add all this up and you’re looking at a pretty good chunk of time that most people don’t have (without giving up other things).
Blogging Is More Than Just Writing
We live in a world where books are labeled “Best-Selling,” not “Best-Written.” So when it comes to blogging and building an audience, you have to market your blog in addition to writing entries. This means being involved on other blogs, writing guest posts, jumping into social media, answering comments and emails, and the list goes on. Furthermore, you will constantly need to be adding value to your posts, which may include tasks such as research, tracking down experts, and finding photos. And then there’s the boring stuff, like proofreading or blog software updates.
Blogging Is a Crowded Space
Technorati tracks 112.8 million blogs with some sources estimating that a new blog is created every second. Granted, many of these quickly become defunct or are nowhere near your niche, but the more you get involved in the blogosphere, the more blogs you’ll find that are like yours. This can be good if you’re just looking to rub shoulders with other like minds. But on the flip side, you’re vying for the same visitors who can only subscribe to so many blogs. So you had better find ways to differentiate yourself and make your voice unique. (To be honest, very few blogs find a unique voice and many feel like their only source of information is other blogs.)
Blogging Is Profitable, But Rarely in Financial Terms
Blogging makes you a better writer. Blogging gives you a public identity to help your network and business. Blogging teaches you discipline and time management. But blogging will not make you rich. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions or that you can’t make any money. I am saying that in most cases if you were to look at a pure dollar-per-hour “wage,” you would find that many bloggers work rather inexpensively. If your goal is purely to make cash, then there are probably better options out there (especially if you’re a developer or designer). As I mentioned in a previous post, paying some bills may be nice, but there are better reasons for blogging.
Blogging Is a Starting Point
It’s good when people can speak intelligently about a subject. It’s better when they can consistently write about it. But until you act upon your own advice, you’ve given people no reason to listen to you. This may mean starting a business, writing a book, or just implementing the productivity tips you so often dispense. Because how can you write about business or passive income if your advice hasn’t even led you to action? Don’t turn into a blogger who begins rehashing what other people have said because your own experience is lacking. And don’t get so caught up in blogging that you stagnate in terms of new ideas and projects. Blogging opens you up to the online world — just keep moving forward.
2 Days, 65K Visitors, and 4 Hard-Knock Lessons
Here are 4 particularly pointed lessons to remember:
Develop a Fail-Proof Proofreading Method –
You may think that you’re a good writer. You may have gotten high marks in collegiate English and won a few spelling bees in grade school. Your English professor may have even called your writing “refreshingly lucid.” But you will make embarrassing writing mistakes, and believe me, the community at large will point them out and often discredit all your content because of it. Yes, I know it’s annoying when commentators go nuts about a spelling mistake, but don’t bring it on yourself by being a Lazy proofreader.
Don’t Take Things Personally –
The truth is unless you have moments when you speak ex-cathedra, your writing only encompasses your finite knowledge. This means that there are many people out there with more depth and breadth of knowledge than you. Some of these people will tell you that you’re wrong, or that your advice doesn’t apply to certain demographics or industries. And some people might just be looking for a good trolling. Whatever you do, don’t let your feelings get hurt and try to argue with or appease everyone who disagrees. You simply shared what you found to be true and hopefully, many will find your writing helpful.
Plan for the Traffic –
It’s easy to think, “I only get a few hundred visitors a day. I can install that toolbar/configure that plugin/add that section later.” And then the traffic hits and you find that you missed out on the chance to better communicate to the large traffic payload, most of whom will not visit your site again. So although I’m a proponent of launching a site as soon as you can, make sure the essential features exist when you launch (i.e., those features you must have if the traffic should ever come).
Be a Nice Guy –
You are not a general or political candidate; in other words, bloggers shouldn’t have defined enemies or rivals. Your blog to help others and should always come across that way. So when you get a scathing comment or email, first take point #2 into consideration, then wait a while to consider the comment, and finally, respond kindly. At the end of the day, you can’t really stop people from hating what you write, but you can control your response
So where to get started with a blog? Well, we’ll save that for another post this week.