EVERYONE is blogging.
Don't believe all those reports that blogging is in decline because people prefer the ease of Twitter and Facebook. There are a LOT of blogs out there. Especially in the world of writers, aspiring or otherwise.
Even publishers, traditionally Jurassic in their attitudes to new technology, are urging their authors to blog. In fact, several publishers are themselves blogging now. Authors are blogging as their characters, blogging about writing, blogging about getting published. Indy authors are blogging like crazy as part of punishing marketing regimes. And unpublished people are publishing online while waiting to get published (yup, me did that).
Blogging's a no-brainer for writers. We can write, therefore we can blog. I try to keep up with my favourite blogs, and I do my best to support the blogs of my friends, but there are so MANY. And we are an incestuous lot. We all know each other, friended each other on Facebook, tweet to each other. Of late, Facebook's been secretly screening who I see on my stream - the other day I checked to find my stream made up of people in the same business, all blogging, all promoting, all pushing their books.
Are we kidding ourselves? Is it building a platform if we are just talking to each other? Is anyone really paying attention out there? By blogging, are we really rising above the dross, building a unique identity, getting NOTICED in the marketing sound and fury? Is there any point blogging at all?
Is the blog dead?
The very first time I addressed a SCBWI conference was not as children's writer but as a web designer.
That was way back in 2007. And my big message to the audience was this:
What are you waiting for? The internet is out there. Here's a chance to engage with readers, build an audience, promote yourself, create, network - and it's FREE!The following year I gave the same speech to the Scattered Authors Society conference and then to the SCBWI Bologna conference.
The internet is here, I intoned to my audiences (who looked startled and terrified), get with it or get left behind.
Trawling back through my old blog posts I found that I've been banging on about engaging with the internet since 2006 - check out this one - Why competition from the internet means children’s writers must get web savvy. I wrote:
Know your reader, they say in all the How To books on getting published and writing for children. Well, for goodness sake, according to Ofcom, the kids are even switching off the TV – reading’s traditional rival – to get online!
Are writers for children losing their readers to the internet?
Know Your Enemy
Well, do you? Do you know why the internet is such a turn-on for kids? Or do you shuffle into a dark corner and mutter about the yoof and bloody new technology? Do you mourn the days when it was enough to take a pen to paper?
But there is no time to moan. The longer we delay, the further we will be left behind by the internet juggernaut that even now is evolving into something bigger and more pervasive than we ever could have imagined.
Read the article
That was in 2006 - Broadband was only just truly broadening, Facebook was two years old. MySpace was ascendant. Twitter didn't exist. People were still talking about Friendster. The iPod was a few years old. Smartphones, eBooks, iPads were works in progress (the first iPhone came out in 2007).
Years after speaking to those audiences, I still have people coming up to me and saying, I started my blog after hearing you talk and I haven't looked back since. (A lot of people also come up to me and thank me for calling on aspiring writers to have their author picture taken NOW because it might be years before they're published. I wish I'd taken my own advice!)
|Photo by @lox - from ProBlogger|
No, it wasn't bad advice. No, please don't delete your blogs just yet. I guess I'm moaning because the rise and rise of enthusiastic author bloggers makes it very hard indeed to be noticed. And the rise and rise of bloggers blogging just to blow their trumpets is really annoying. And we all feed on each other, which makes it very hard indeed to know if you're growing a platform or talking to the same people.
No, blogging is not dead. It's still the most exciting, most value-filled way to reach out to a reader. But it becomes a bit useless when too many bloggers are blogging for the wrong reasons. Mitch Joel, writing in Six Pixels of Separation, wrote:
Blogging's true value comes from the fact that it's a publishing platform. Plain and simple. With the evolution of the software behind it, we are no longer in the world of individual online journaling, but at the beginning of a huge shift in publishing. Now, anyone, anywhere can have a thought and publish it in text, images, audio and/or video instantly and for free to the world (online, mobile and touch tablet). That's profound and that's powerful, but it's not something that's easy and that should be done by everybody.
Read Blogging is Dead (Again)
So how can we blog above the rabble?
Blog less. Or am I just being selfish? I am an avid blog reader, but even I can't keep up with the frequency of some bloggers. I find myself skimming and sometimes (HORRORS) not managing to comment!
Blog more. As in get out there. Blog in places other than your usual. If you want to get your message out there, guest blog, join a group blog, blog in places where you don't usually reach.
Blog better. I was going to say 'blog well' but no .. blog BETTER. The problem is that so many of us blog the way we tweet. It's okay to talk about inconsequential things on twitter, but on a blog? I take the time to read blog posts because I expect something far superior to a 140 character status update. I want to get new ideas, I want to be moved, I want a proper story.
Blog for the right reasons. If you've got a new book out, I don't want to be told to buy it, I want to learn something from your writing journey, I want to hear the story behind the story, I want to know why you wrote it. If you did an event, I don't want to know the date and time, I want to know who was there, what it was like, why I should care. Drop the trumpet. Blogging is a great marketing tool but only when it brings something special to a reader, something extra, something new. If you don't enjoy blogging, if you don't care about your audience, if you don't want to share, then blogging is not for you. There are other ways to raise your profile on the internet.
Someone in the comments of the Six Pixels of Separation post said, 'Blogging is evolving not dying.' Yes indeed. And it will evolve into a better thing if we bloggers try to do better.
So. Teach me what you know. Amuse me with your humour. Touch me with your wisdom. Tickle me with your wit. And then we can shout it out to the world. Blogging is alive and well.
Here I am taking my own advice, guest blogging painfully about my spotty younger self on the US blog, Dear Teen Me