Thoughts on blogging – from interview with Contently

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I was interviewed for an article on Contently and asked to give my thoughts on the ‘death’ of blogging. You can read the article here – there are some really great insights other writers, too – or have a look at some of my fuller thoughts below.

I’d love to know what you think on the subject, so drop me a comment below the line or come and chat @LorrieHartshorn.

 

Is blogging a creative endeavor for you, or purely a business choice? To put it another way: if blogging was not bringing you any new business, would you still do it, just for the sake of writing?

Blogging for my business is definitely ‘work’ rather than ‘play’, although it’s on the more enjoyable side of work. It is a creative activity – and you have to make sure it stays that way if you want anyone to read and enjoy it – but I do blog with full awareness of the benefits to my business rather than for any inherent enjoyment.

While blogging does help encourage writers to approach me for freelance writing coaching – they can see the kind of advice I offer and the kind of tone I take – my primary objective isn’t to win business, at least not directly. I’ve never had a client come to me out of the blue and say, “Saw your blog, loved it – will you come and work with us?”.

For me, the benefits of blogging have been more holistic, I suppose you could say. It’s a great SEO boost, especially if I’m looking to target a specific market, it gives me something to talk about on social media, and it helps keep my research and writing skills polished, which is great when I’m having a week that’s nothing but marketing and admin! And when I do get clients, they often bring up the blog in a favourable way – it’s part of the whole branding package.

It’s hard to say whether I’d still blog if it didn’t bring me any business – it’s so wrapped up in every aspect of my online activity, and so useful, that I’d be hard-pressed to do without it.

What do you make of the so-called “death of blogging”? Many former popular bloggers work for paid publications, and other would-be bloggers are posting on social media instead.

If blogging is dying, it’s taking its own sweet time about it! I don’t think it is, really – I think we’re in a period of transition (and when are we not?!).

I totally take on board people’s feelings about old-style blogging, and I think we do need to acknowledge that blogging is evolving – and needs to evolve – in order to stay current.

The days of single-contributor, multi-topic blogs being destinations in their own rights are coming to a close, I think, and I sense that people are finding that hard to come to terms with.

There’s a nostalgia for the days when blogs were the preserve of arty types, tortured souls with something beautiful to say – shout out to my old LiveJournal account!

Now, there’s this sense of urgency – your blog isn’t about you and your feelings any more. Instead, the content you put out there needs purpose, energy, consistency, focus and intensive social sharing on an ongoing basis. The romance if definitely dead, even if blogging isn’t.

While we used to measure the success of a blog by the number of comments, we’re now looking at things like viral reach. Who’s talking about your blog? Are people coming to chat with you on Twitter? Who’s sharing your content, and what are they saying? It’s pretty tiring sometimes.

It’s also quite hard to pin these people down for a conversation – whereas old-school blogging was like being in a cosy room with all these folks (your kindred spirits, your biggest fans!) we’re now operating in something akin to a busy train station, coming and going and crossing paths with a huge range of people for brief moments. It’s faster moving and less intimate, and you and your content are infinitely more forgettable and less important. But, it’s still worth remembering that the blog is still the source for so many of those snippets of conversation and interaction that we share on social media.

So yes, in short, blogging is such a saturated market now that you need to be sharing quality content constantly to stay in people’s minds, whether that’s on social media or via an email newsletter of some kind. But, if you can keep producing and talking about what you produce, there’s plenty of life left in the blog yet – just don’t expect it to be very romantic!

What advice would you give to freelancers about blogging?

I guess I’m being kind of utilitarian about the whole blogging thing now: I’d advise freelancers who are thinking about blogging to know exactly what they want to get out of it before they start. It’s a great way to showcase your knowledge and, in the case of freelance writers, your writing skills.

All I’d say is have a plan. Have goals. Blogging is the kind of thing that can eat up whole days of your working week, whereas the ROI is unlikely to justify that kind of time spend. So be thrifty – plan your content in advance, have a regular posting slot – say, once a week – and jot down notes in between times so you can bang out decent content relatively quickly when it comes to putting fingers to keyboard.

Use your blog content as a means to an end – think about the purpose of each post, whether that’s targeting a specific niche, highlighting your skills in a certain area or driving traffic to your website through SEO. Finally, share, share, share – don’t be disappointed when people aren’t flooding your BTL comments; go and find them on social media instead.

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