Blogging is still a get-rich-quick scheme, assuming the riches you’re talking about aren’t money. Here are some of the things you might get out of blogging.
When I started to toy with the idea of blogging, I wandered around the blogosphere to see what kind of things people blogged about. I quickly reached the conclusion that there are two main topics: how to blog and how to make (ridiculous amounts of) money blogging. (Purists might argue that these are really the same topic. I don’t care enough to disagree.)
Careful consideration led me to believe that this is in fact a beautifully circular pyramid scheme. The thing about pyramid schemes, which I thankfully learned in high school economics, is that the first people to get in can make a lot of money.
It’s only the poor suckers who follow who end up penniless.
I entered the scene some time after those poor penniless suckers, so I had my doubts about whether blogging was the panacea the people atop the pyramid would have you believe.
My conclusion? It is.
The costs of blogging
Before you get too excited about how blogging will make you stylish, elegant, athletic, and always able to find two matching socks in the morning, you should be aware of the costs.
Cost 1: Money
Blogging needn’t cost any money. You can blog in places like WordPress.com for free.
But perhaps you want to buy your own domain and pay for self-hosting. Note the words “buy” and “pay”. That means it costs money.
I do this. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Millions of those blog posts I mentioned previously can help you decide if it’s right for you.
Then there are themes, plug-ins, extra services, and copyrighted images. Again, you can avoid the paid versions of these, but at times you might really want them.
If the idea of running your own website sends you fleeing for the safety of your closet, you can pay people to do the technical stuff for you. I understand this can set you back a lot.
Notice a theme here? The shinier stuff you want and the less you want to do yourself, the more blogging will cost.
You can spend anything from zero to your entire fortune.
Cost 2: Time
Yes, once you have a blog you need content for it, and the occasional half day to wrangle with technical issues.
Clearly the more frequently you post and the longer and more researched each post is, the more time you’ll require.
I post twice a week, and the average post takes me two to three hours to write and format. For argument’s sake, let’s say I spend five hours a week writing posts.
Do you have time for that? I don’t know. Maybe you don’t. Or maybe you think you don’t, but you really just fritter your time away on silly activities such as showering and eating. Cut those out of your life, and you’ll be amazed at how much free time you suddenly have.
Once you’ve created content and lured unsuspecting
victims readers to see it, you might start to get comments.
This is wonderful.
It means someone likes what you’ve said enough to want to join the conversation. Or they like you enough that they’re going to interact even though they think your post is inane. Either way, yay!
Responding to those comments takes more time. But don’t complain about it, geez. That’s like someone bringing you a plate full of diamonds, and you whinging that they hurt your teeth.
Get in and join the conversation. This is half the point of blogging.
The benefits of blogging
Enough of the gloomy downsides of blogging. What are all the sparkly rainbows you can get from it?
Benefit 1: Discipline
Do you ever have trouble sitting down to write? Do you find it easier to get something done once the deadline becomes imminent?
If you set yourself a regular posting schedule, blogging is great at creating self-imposed deadlines that force you to write.
Sure, you can blow off a day, but do you really want to let down your eager audience? Face that drop in stats when they’re just getting off the ground? I didn’t think so.
After a few months of posting on a regular schedule you might find your subconscious gets on board and writing regularly becomes easier. Hey, the discipline might even carry over to other parts of your life.
Benefit 2: Writing and editing practice
The more you write, the better you get at writing; the more you write and polish for public consumption, the better you get at, you know.
My published blog posts are chatty and imperfect, but they’re a huge leap better than the first drafts of my blog posts. They flow better, have fewer unnecessary adverbs, make my points more eloquently (hey, stop laughing!), and are several hundred percent more readable.
The practice I get here has spillover benefits for my other writing. The extra practice of one to two thousand words a week polished for public consumption should not be sneezed at. (Actually, you shouldn’t sneeze at things in general. It’s antisocial and a good way to spread plague.)
Benefit 3: Instant gratification
If you’re writing a novel, it might be years from the time you start until the time your first reader lays eyes on it (and hopefully loves it).
Compare this with the days or even hours between writing a blog post and setting it free into the internet wilds.
It can be hard to stay motivated over the long haul of creating a novel, and the instant feedback you get from a well-received blog post can provide a great pick-me-up along the way.
I confess I look at my stats too often, but it’s always such a buzz to know someone is reading and enjoying something I wrote.
A read? A summer daisy.
A quick tweet such as “Loved the post”? A hot cup of tea on a cold day.
A thoughtful comment? A slice of moist chocolate cake slathered in icing and paddling in a splash of Baileys with a dollop of ice cream.
What? No, I don’t think I’m hungry right now. I just love to hear from people who enjoyed my posts or have something to add.
Benefit 4: Community
The internet is a wilderness of unnavigable swamp interspersed by remote villages, where the locals eye outsiders with suspicion, and the occasional roaring metropolis.
On your journey you might meet wonderful people and chat with them at the local pub, but what happens when you want something more intimate and a setting that can never be bulldozed to make way for a mega-mall?
Your blog is your own little home in the internet wilds. You can invite friends back and chat about whatever you like, and no surly barman is ever going to hiff you out on the street.
If your friends want to talk later they’ll always know where to find you, and if you’re not in when they call they can leave a note and be certain you’ll find it.
Maybe I should have listed “community” first, because it really is the most awesome part of blogging.
To all the wonderful people who come by and comment or just read quietly, I can never say thank you enough.
Benefit 5: Overcoming fear
Sharing something you’ve written is terrifying. Doubly so if it’s a novel you’ve slaved over for years and poured your heart into.
Sharing a blog post is also scary, but you have less invested, so the worst that can happen is less like being eaten by a great white shark, and more like being nipped by a chihuahua.
Over time, when you realise all the chihuahuas want to do is bark at the squirrels and chase sticks, it becomes less scary.
My hope is that the experience will lessen the horror when it comes time to share my novel and face the great white shark. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Benefit 6: The whole platform thing
When I finally publish a book, will my blog help me sell it? I have no idea.
I’m sure I’ve missed some. What other benefits would you say you get from blogging? More broadly, what has your experience of blogging been like?
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