Why blog, when you can shoot yourself in the foot?

laptop and cell phone
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Velasquez
A writer friend who’s been blogging for as long as I have—almost eight years—wonders about recent claims that blogs are old hat. In view of the popularity of Pinterest, Tumblr, and sites like Facebook that facilitate simple sharing, is creating new content actually necessary?

It depends on the user. Is the user a writer?

Our blogs and websites are becoming our professional portfolios. They’re our marketing collateral. We can make them into whatever works for our particular professions. For example, a photographer could post thousands of words and still never convey to her prospective clients what one sample portrait or piece of photojournalism on her website could demonstrate about her talent. Likewise a fashion designer. Or a dog groomer. Creative writers, on the other hand, need to show that they can write. Words. Not shared videos or Instagram snapshots.

The person who holds a factory job on an assembly line or drives a truck or teaches school doesn’t need to use a blog or another form of social media to attract business or establish professional credibility. A bartender isn’t required to know how to take a great photo or write a poignant essay or design a kickass steampunk wedding gown. Most people need social media only to connect and communicate with other people socially. Sharing a 140-word tweet or a bad selfie or a book review written by a critic is more than sufficient to make those human connections and stimulate the type of small talk that would happen in real life.

A creative writer’s objectives include attracting readers, something a blog is designed to enable. Beyond blogging, in order to be seen as a professional in what amounts to the entertainment industry, a creative writer needs to reach the largest possible audience and should communicate in a variety of the media his or her audience uses. Every ambitious online literary journal now links to the journal’s blog, Facebook page, Twitter stream, Instagram, Tumblr, and sometimes a Pinterest board or other social media. Book publishers aren’t far behind. Each professional writer these days has the ability to do the same amount of outreach that publishers are doing.

Competitors are using the best available resources to make themselves discoverable. A creative writer who chooses not to is at a completely voluntary disadvantage. Would anyone who’s been blogging for eight years care to listen to someone complain about shortcomings… that are self-imposed? Please, don’t get me started.

2 Replies to “Why blog, when you can shoot yourself in the foot?”

  1. It can be scary for a writer, especially when most writers I know are introverts. But then one has to realize that no one will listen to what you have to say if you never speak up. Awesome post for us aspiring writers to push us to get out of our comfort zone.

  2. The economic advantage goes to writers who are good at making connections with readers, in addition to being talented authors. Being introverted and reclusive (in fact, even being a lousy author) won’t stop a writer from publishing her book, because anyone can publish using the technology available today. As you say, the failure to connect with readers simply limits or precludes the book’s commercial success.

    Book sales are unimportant to many authors. The logic that eludes some of them is that it’s wrong for those authors to ask other businesspeople (e.g., publishers, agents) to invest in their careers if the authors don’t care to and won’t make any efforts toward profitability. Unfortunately, if they haven’t thought this through, usually I’m unable to make them understand their flawed reasoning. It might actually be a character flaw.

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