Blogging can be a very insular activity, enslaved as you are to your laptop. That’s why it can be super important – and fun – to meet other bloggers in person.
I attended the Annual Bloggers Bash on Saturday, and it was cool to meet other bloggers like Sacha Black, Lucy Mitchell, Simon Farnell and Cynthia T. Luna. But on top of that, the very awesome Luca Sartoni from WordPress.com did a masterclass on blogging and social media platforms. One of the things he asked was why people blog.
In a nutshell, I blog to educate and entertain.
There’s nothing wrong with being informative, or entertaining. Let’s be honest, storytelling is one of the oldest abilities of humankind. People respond to stories. They like sharing them. Stories are how we learn new things. That doesn’t have to just be stories in a creative writing sense, either. Narratives take many forms!
But sharing information in this way is probably why blogs have remained while other social media platforms have risen and fallen.
Let’s go back in time a bit
I’ve had a blog in some form since around 2006. Obviously like most people of my generation, I started out with tentative websites on the likes of Geocities and Angelfire. I remember coding one when I was about 17 in my Sixth Form’s study room.
I do not miss animated backgrounds and novelty cursors.
But then social media platforms started to nudge web spaces to one side. We had Yahoo Groups, and then Faceparty – I actually met one of my best friends on FP. Facewhore was fun, until it became Profile Nation and died on its arse. Vampirefreaks gave the alternative folks somewhere to go – and it’s how I met most of my friends in London (and it’s still going). People migrated to Bebo and Myspace, until Facebook came along and gave users a place to escape from incessant band invites.
Apparently I joined Facebook nine years ago today.
Every time a new social media platform pops up, I always like to give it a go. I jumped on Google+ as soon as I could – and I actually still like it. I got Instagram as soon as it became available for Android. Ello, Snapchat, Pinterest – I’ve tried loads of them. Not so I can see what potential marketing opportunities they hold – just because I’m nosy.
Curiosity killed the cat…
This is the thing about me. Part of the reason I first set up a blog in 2006 was I wanted to see how blogs worked. I wanted to see what I could make them do. My author blog is dated to 2009, and it was fun using it as a space to experiment. I started out with Blogger, then switched to WordPress in 2014. Some authors claim blogging is no use for authors – but it was my blog that brought me to the attention to Pulp Press, the small press that originally put out The Guns of Retribution.
But I like trying things out. Having a go with new tools. Experimenting with the plug-ins. That’s also why I like trying new platforms. I want to see how they work. What can they be used for? Who’s using them? Who can I find to talk to?
I’m an introvert and I find social interaction quite hard. Throw social anxiety into the mix and it’s a wonder I ever talk to anyone! I’m actually really awkward until a conversation gets going. But online, it’s easy to just ‘go up to someone’ and send a message, or leave a comment. That’s why I love hashtag conversations on Twitter. I can talk to loads of interesting people without worrying about being shy.
But blogging has really changed in 7 years
Back then, you could set up a blog just to talk about your interests. You could find an audience if people liked your voice and your style.
If you commented on a blog, that user came and took a look at yours. You could get 30+ comments on one post, and by visiting the blogs of each commenter, you quickly built up a group of blogs that you regularly visited.
Now, people are happy to hit ‘like’ on a post on WordPress (which doesn’t guarantee they read it), and they’re happy to retweet on Twitter, but there’s no guarantee they’ve ever even visited the page.
It’s so easy to reshare content that you don’t even look at
Blogging now seems to revolve around a certain degree of selfishness. Some bloggers court likes on Facebook, or retweets on Twitter. They encourage comments – but often don’t reply, and almost never visit the blogs of the people they comment on.
That’s soooooo not the point.
During hashtag chats like #MondayBlogs or #FolkloreThursday, I like to retweet three posts by other users for every one of my links that I post. If I can, I leave comments on these blogs too because I know how valuable they are to the conversation that is the blogosphere. A retweet is essentially worthless if people don’t click the link.
Sure, people are super busy, but I’ve had people like Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger, Kristen Lamb, Jeff Goins and Joanna Penn reply to my comments on their blogs. These people understand that blogging is essentially a conversation. You’re not just shouting into the abyss.
All of the current blogging advice seems to be that your blog has to help people, or add value to their lives in some way.
Now, I don’t blog about the best way to choose a font for your logo, or seven things you should never wear at an interview. I don’t blog to solve problems on that level. I could – I do teach graphic design and advertising. But I just don’t want to.
Going back to my original point, I want to educate and entertain.
If you read one of my flash fictions on your lunch break, and it relieves the tedium of your work day for just ten minutes, then I’ve done my job.
If you read one of my folklore posts and learn a new fact you didn’t know before, a fact you might use in conversation later and spark a whole new discussion, then I’ve done my job.
If you’re a new writer and one of my Brain to Page posts gives you some pointers, excellent. If you feel more confident about your writing, that’s my objective achieved!
Sure, I’d like to sell some of my books, and if you choose to go and check them out, that’s great, but I don’t blog to sell. I want to educate and entertain. It’s like a mantra.
So now you know why I blog – and hopefully it’s made you think about why you blog, too.