A poet speaking at an event I attended cautioned that “once you post something on your blog or website, it’s almost impossible to get it published in a journal or magazine.”
I’m not gonna lie: he’s right. Aside from the occasional reprint or spin-off article, most blog content doesn’t get published in other markets. If you think about it from perspective, it seems like blogging might be a waste time and energy for an aspiring writer. Right?
You can’t necessarily quantify the benefits of blogging with a paycheck, but you can benefit in other ways. Here’s how.
Practice writing on a regular basis. Blogging helps you stay discliplined and keeps those creative juices flowing. Even if you don’t have an assignment due, you still have a creative outlet. You don’t have to wait for a contract or go through editing by committee or wait six months for some magazine to appear in your mailbox. Blogs are immediate, and you can post as much as you want. Plus you get almost instant feedback when others comment.
Connect with other writers. This is huge, in my opinion. Befriending other writers ensures that you have the inside scoop on editors who are worth working with, publications that are in need of pitches, and general freelance gossip. We don’t have a water cooler, so blogs and forums are the next best thing (just be careful what you write online). It’s nice to see other writers succeed or grapple with the same issues as you.
Find your voice. You can learn grammar and syntax, but you have to develop your voice over time. If you post regularly and take the time to listen to your inner muse, your voice will emerge. And once you have a strong, distinctive voice, you can apply that to paying assignments and differentiate yourself from the millions of other freelancers out there.
Build your platform. Just look at Penelope Trunk. Or Jen Miller, who incorporated her blog about the Jersey Shore into her guidebook’s marketing plan. You don’t even have to be an aspiring book author to benefit from blogging. Whether your passion is careers, cooking, or Canadian lit, starting a blog can help you get noticed in that niche and lead to unexpected new opportunities.
Control your online footprint. There are about a million Susan Johnstons out there. Several of them write books. But I’m the top search result in Google, in part because I update my blog so much (which also links to my website). Even if you don’t have this problem, I’m betting you’d rather have people find your blog when they Google you than an article you wrote in seventh grade or your college track and field times. Writing good content can help you make-over your image online.
Frankly, blogging is different from writing for traditional, and I wouldn’t try to this publish something like this post in a mainstream publication. But I do like the idea of having a place to publish little musings that I find interesting in the moment. What’s your reason for blogging?