That figure is hard to nail for certain, with the likelihood being that over half of these are currently unattended. Blogging as a medium has been around for over a decade now, and it seems that its popularity shows now sign of fading (some estimates say that a new blog is created every half second).
That being said, it is incredibly difficult to offer something unique or insightful in today’s clamour for attention, followers and interest. Ultimately, content is king, but the likelihood is that if you are entering the blogosphere now, as I am, the simple act of getting your voice heard is a huge challenge and one that requires a lot of persistence and heavy social interaction through the various forums, blogs, and media channels. Many blogs die a sad and lonely death in the opening weeks and months, their owners growing quickly discouraged following muted or (gasp!) zero feedback.
While it is almost impossible to be heard above the noise of other bloggers, some more prolific and better written than your own precious gem, I still think it is a fantastic platform to help connect you to your target market. Personally, I weighed up the pros and cons of starting a(nother) blog for weeks before finally committing. Truth be told, I still periodically ask myself if I have made the right decision, but the reason that I will persist, and why I think that blogging is still relevant is for a number of reasons.
People who will buy your product or service are more likely to do so if they are pre-sold on YOU – Mr(s) Writer. I’m an aspiring author and when I eventually begin to release books, I would hope that some of those future sales are based on people who have read something that I have written in my blog. If they enjoy some of my blog posts or various short stories, an investment in a book is safe option. The buyer knows what to expect. If they are a regular to your blog, then they obviously enjoy your content. Conversely, if I’m a terrible and sloppy writer through my blog, this could affect my sales. Your easiest sales are from those who already know you.
Like other writers I go through periods of self-loathing and apathy for writing in general. In short, I get lazy. By publicly declaring my blog to friends and family and committing to at least a post every week, I get twitchy when I haven’t written in a while. They also are quick to remind me if they haven’t received an update on their news feed with a fresh post. This eustress (good stress) gives me the kick I need to sit down and collect my thoughts again.
Ultimately writing is a skill, and the more you practice it, the better you become at it. Steven Covey author of the ‘7 Habits of Effective People’ describes this process as ‘sharpening the saw‘.
Perhaps because of the fact that the internet is saturated with blogs, many already to be found in your chosen niche, I like the challenge of being creative with my posts. I genuinely want to offer something unique and interesting to future readers. This is hard to do, but the simple act of brainstorming new blog posts, or using feedback on articles can help carve out your own little identity and create your own tight tribe who will be more loyal to you if you haven’t deviated off your own path and blended into the the obscurity of the masses.
I can understand why some writers wouldn’t have a blog. They have a private and a public persona, and prefer to keep the personal life, well…personal. For myself, I like to be as honest as possible and don’t mind sharing some key moments in my life if others find it interesting or if it can educate or inspire, e.g. taking hallucinogenic medicine in the jungle and speaking with my dead father. In fact I find that my writing is more colourful if I inject some of my own experiences into the text.
I wouldn’t be writing a blog if it wasn’t fun.
A blog is a great opportunity to soundboard future ideas, see what works and what doesn’t. The chance to get instantaneous feedback from a group of like minded people is priceless. This could be anything from choosing a book title; feeding sample chapters or different intros to your audience to see which resonates; to receiving critical feedback on your own style and improvements.
This is all free, real world advice. Unbiased and unfiltered.
The old adage of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, is painfully true. Coming from a sales background I can definitely confirm that. You might have the best book draft and a fresh new blog (check!) but unless you are relevant on social media channels, and start to make connections, then it will be very difficult to graduate out of the School of Anonymity. A blog is just one string to your bow to conquer the social world. By cultivating your network, and being actively involved, then you begin to create some noise around your own brand (as much as I hate that word, if you are starting out, like me, there is no better fit). In days gone-by the strength of a novel alone could generate enough attention to make ripples in the world of literature, but the market is crowded and you need to use every tool available to stand out especially if you are going down the self-publishing route which I intend to do. Networking is a skill that can’t be avoided and a lot of writers who tend to be introvert by nature, shy away from this side of things.
Ultimately, if you care enough for your unpublished novel and believe that the world needs to read it, you would surely do whatever it takes to get it through the right channels. Right?
As explained in my original post, I’m still relatively fresh to blogging and my own perspective could change as I flex my blogging muscles.
I think the moment it stops being fun, or the effort outweighs the benefits, there may be a time when I re-evaluate my position. But for the meantime, I am interested to see where the adventure will take me.