I was recently asked, by a writer, whether they should bother to have a blog.
Blogs, they argued, are on their way out. Other, more active forms of social media attract far more attention. And there is truth to that: blog readership is down across the board, though popular blogs continue to enjoy great success.
That said, there are still several reasons why having a blog is both profitable and essential, and, as a blogger, I cannot let them go unmentioned.
Reason 1: It may be Required for Your Industry
Writers need to have blogs. In this industry, it’s a commandment.
And that of course means that some other industries do not require it. Actors, for example, don’t necessarily need blogs (though having a website helps). And while visual artists can benefit from having blogs, they are not required to have one.
But on writers the industry forces this prerequisite. And the industry might be right, or it might be wrong, but as long as they enforce this rule, it’s a rule.
Reason 2: Long-form Content doesn’t Work on Other Forms of Social Media
The big conglomerated social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) cater to people who graze.
For example, when you log in to Twitter, chances are good that you’re not seeking out any single user account. Rather, you want to sample the latest offerings from a buffet of accounts you follow, which Twitter is great for.
YouTube, likewise, is ideal for people who are browsing. If they’ve only got a half hour to watch videos, they want to fill that time with as many videos as possible. This incentivizes YouTube videos to be short and compact.
Even Facebook, which technically allows for long posts, still caters to the snippet and the soundbite. Long Facebook rambles get overlooked and forgotten.
Personal blogs are the only place where long-form content can thrive. Things like digital periodical publications—the new magazines and newspapers—work better in blog form. The same is true for serial fiction. An entire digital book can be published one chapter at a time on a blog.
In all cases where a blurb can’t tell the whole story, a blog is indispensable.
Reason 3: Control
As a content creator, it is in your best interest to control access to your material.
The conglomerated social media sites, which are in the hands of an oligarchal few, can arbitrarily lock you out of your accounts at any time. Or punish your account in any other way they deem fit. Both the revolutionary and the orthodox can fall victim, depending on the opaque whims of the chosen few who rule the platform. And opinions that are in favor today will be forbidden tomorrow.
Personal blogs, too, can have their web hosting revoked. But with a personal blog, it is much easier to keep backups of all the data, which can then be transferred to friendlier hosting servers.
In any case, blogs provide a measure of personal sovereignty that cannot be found in the conglomerated social media empires. A blog is your home base, your personal fortress.
Reason 4: You Need Something to Post on those Other Sites
You might call it force multiplication, or you might call it synergy, or you might call it any number of different buzzwords, but that doesn’t make it any less true: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
And both blogs and short-media work better when they are combined.
Your Twitter and Facebook accounts are portals that can lead to your blog.
And your blog posts can become supplemental reading for your tweets.
The key here is “linking”. Every blog post in the world can be distilled down to a single internet link. These links can then be “shared” through the conglomerated social media to draw traffic to the blog.
The blog sustains the other social media, and the other social media sustains the blog. But this is no vicious cycle. Rather, it is a self-feeding mechanism that allows your brand to grow with minimal labor input on your part.
Re-sharing old blog posts is a great way to draw eyes to your blog AND make your short-form social media more compelling. People love it when something they enjoyed in small doses has a second, longer level. And it requires almost no effort from you, since you only need to periodically create new blog posts. You can keep sharing the old ones indefinitely.
Blogs are Valuable
You don’t have to be the best blogger in the world to make a blog work for you. Blogs are just a lever, like a crowbar, that channel and magnify whatever other strengths you have.
They allow you to talk for longer stretches than you can on other social media, which, in turn, allows you to convey more complex ideas.
They keep control of your content in your own hands, without worrying that you’ll be excommunicated from your own platform.
And they might just be a necessary part of your branding operation.
Though blogging may have outgrown its chaotic heyday, where every dog and potted plant had its own outlet, blogs are still valuable. And for the reasons listed above, they may be essential.
So if, like a person I encountered this past week, you are unsure if blogging is worth your time, I would ask you to examine the reasons and begin exploring the possibilities that blogging might afford you.
You owe it to yourself to at least try.