Saturday, 29 September 2012

Blogging's False Expectations



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?

5 comments:

  1. I agree there are many false expectations of blogging. I didn't know I had to have a target audience for my blog...it's writers. I now know you have to commment on so many blogs for people to notice your blog and follow it. YOU CAN'T SIT ON A LOG DOING NOTHING when you are in the blogosphere...you must get involved so you can make new friends and gain followers.

    Blogging may be hard but you'll get through it. I have 30+ followers and still working on it. Followers will come, you just gotta be patient.

    Great post!

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    1. I agree completely! It's all about getting involved and networking - opportunities don't just fall into your lap. It's all a gradual process. Even the most well known blogs have taken a long time to get there, and a lot of effort too! Thanks for commenting, Livia!

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  2. Great post, Fiona. I think part of the problem is so many agents (in particular) talk up blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc., as being critical in 'building presence.' This leads to an expectation that a blog will make you more likely to get picked up by an agent, and that you will sell more books when you do get published. My own observation (as an as yet unagented and unpublished author) is this is not the case. People don't like to be sold to via social media. People are here to connect with like-minded people, to learn, to share. Thinking it's going to get you an agent/published/beaucoup sales is a mistake.

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    1. Thanks, Jeff! That's a great point. I think there is a lot of emphasis on blogging as a 'platform' for careers, which means people get into blogging for the wrong reasons. Whilst there is an aspect of that, that should only be a small part of your reason for blogging.

      I agree with your observation. I follow lots of writers and authors, but that doesn't mean I would go out and buy their books. In many respects, blogging should be thought of as seperate from marketing. They certainly aren't synonymous, though I think that's the impression a lot of people get. Great comment, Jeff.

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  3. Loved the post, Fiona! I know also for me, it's not about getting as many followers as possible, but making real relationships with fellow writers, even if that number is small. It's a way to reach out and share experiences or ask for advice. The writing community is a great place to learn and meet people and hear about their journeys.

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