It used to be that everyone blogged and now it seems that everyone has moved on to Twitter and Facebook instead. Of course they have: blogging is more challenging. It needs exactly and precisely the skills and the talent that you use every day as a creative practitioner – and that most people simply do not have. They’re also not freelances looking to make a name, make some money or stretch their abilities. For us, blogs are like agents getting us readers and spreading our name without our knowing it and without claiming 10-15% afterwards. Plus, you can promote your blog on Facebook and Twitter.
There is that issue of money. Don’t get excited now. It is possible to make cash out of your blog but you will make more from the work that you get via it. Sometimes that’s clear and direct such as when magazines have reprinted blog posts of mine and paid me for it. Also, I’ve interviewed bloggers who were journalists and writers who told me they have book deals in mind from day one and they got them.
But then I talked to Jennifer Williams, a blogger from Brooklyn who isn’t a writer and didn’t think about books at all. Nonetheless, that’s what she’s got. She’s an artist whose blog of sketches is called ‘What My Daughter Wore’ and a publisher chanced upon it and found her charming, joyous feel irresistible.
More often, people will find your blog because you tell them about it. You know how you have to have a website now? It’s can be a pain and sometimes an expense setting up a website and then it’s a chore keeping it updated but you know you have to. If someone comes to your site and the latest thing on there is from five years ago, you look bad.
Blogs go on your website or can act as your website. Plus, every time you blog, the date and time is slapped on there automatically. So blogging regularly is a way to keep your website looking fresh and you looking active.
It’s also a way to advertise yourself, literally, in that you can promote your gigs on your blog if you’re a musician and you can upload videos to it if you’re a filmmaker. But, much more importantly, every single thing you post on your blog is a huge advert for you.
That’s easy to understand with writers. I’m a writer and I have been commissioned because people see and like how I write my blogs. But writing is not about the words you type. It’s about you and what you reveal. Blogging regularly tells me, demonstrates to me that you are real. You’re a creative professional and this is your real job. That’s one reason why posting that you’ve got a gig somewhere is genuinely useful: only the smallest fraction of your readers can physically get to one particular venue but every single reader is seeing that you are performing.
It’s about you and it’s not about you
You’ll run dry quite quickly if you only blog about yourself, though. Look for a topic you are interested in: I’m a writer so I have a blog about writing. There must be a million of these. But one day something just poured out of me. I wrote about why I became a writer at all. I am the writer I am today because of a now little-known US TV show called Lou Grant. I posted this short and heartfelt little tribute to a show few here in the UK ever knew and I got a lot of reaction from people responding to how dear this drama was to me. They didn’t know it, they just responded to how I had bared a bit of my soul to them.
And then the executive producer of Lou Grant emailed me to say thanks. I’ll never get any work from him – he’s retired and on another continent – but you know how much that email meant to me. Blogs are about reaching out to people and sometimes about reaching in to yourself.
Plus, shortly afterwards, I did a piece about UK drama and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan tweeted a link to it. Nobody paid me to write it, nobody asked me to write it, but six thousand people visited my blog that day and editors ask me about it still. Basically, it raised my profile and got people talking about what I do and, as a result, I got work from it.
If you want to improve your blogging skills, look out for our workshop which will be advertised in the beginning of 2015.