I read an opinion piece this morning from my university’s magazine which spoke about blogging, and one person’s difficulties with gaining an audience as well as not achieving the instant gratification which he assumed would come from blogging.
I think this is the main reason people decide to give up on blogs. There’s so much false expectation attached to the idea of blogging. Most people – and by this I mean people who usually haven’t had much or any experience blogging themselves – believe that if you start a blog you’re likely to achieve instant popularity, that it isn’t something you need to work for. You simply publish something and BAM! instant fame.
But if you’re reading this now, you know that it isn’t true at all. Blogging is hard work. It takes time, dedication and consistency. You can’t wait for the system to acknowledge you – you have to work with the system to get something out of it. I’ll break this down into the three categories I believe make up blogging.
Time: You need to have free time in order to blog. You have to write the posts, edit the posts, manage the blog look and layout, reply to comments and find time to visit other people’s blogs and comment. If you don’t have time for these things, it’s not very likely that you’ll gain a readership. People like to be noticed. If you become a regular commenter on somebody else’s blog, sooner or later they’ll get curious and decide to visit yours. But it does take time to establish that level of curiosity, and if you’re trying to do this for a lot of other blogs, then the time quickly adds up.
Dedication: If you want a decent audience you can’t blog sporadically, unless the content is so unique, specialised or amazing that people will follow you regardless. If you’re lucky enough to have the status of an industry insider, such as a well known agent, editor, or author then yes, you would probably get away with this. If you had these jobs, it’s likely you’re quite a busy person, and people actively seek advice from people who are essentially the publishing gatekeepers and experts. However, most people don’t hold these credentials. Most people, like me, are normal people who like reading, writing and the publishing industry and decide to blog about it. That means you have to remain dedicated to blogging, even if you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.
Consistency: Be consistent. You should be somewhat consistent in what you blog about, particularly if you’re holding a certain niche. My blog won’t exactly appeal to the masses, but I don’t want it to. I want to appeal to writers and people who, like me, are looking to get involved in publishing. I would rather appeal to a small spectrum of people who hold the same interests than a wide variety of people who I have nothing in common with. Plus, it also helps if you have some sort of blog schedule, or blog somewhat regularly.
But despite these three core aspects of blogging, there is one thing which I haven’t mentioned: fun. You have to like what you’re doing. If you resent having to blog, then there isn’t much use in carrying it on. It’s better to pour your energy into something you do enjoy, rather than something which takes up time and dedication which you’d rather not part with.
What do you think? Has blogging got false expectations surrounding it? Do you agree or disagree with what I think it takes to run a blog and gain and audience?