I’ll be the first to admit that my website’s blog has been massively under utilized lately. Scroll through my blog archives, and a majority of the latest posts are pages out of a brag book–a “hey look where my photos got published!” blog post, which admittedly have been helping my business and site in their own ways (ahem, SEO!). But realistically, who cares about these posts? They’re fluffy and visual, but they’re not blog posts, at least not in my mind.
After a chat with my awesome life coach, Nick Fairbairn of Inner Instinct, and some personal reflections, I’ve decided to take up blogging on a regular basis. It’s about high time it happened too, since my most endorsed skill on LinkedIn is apparently blogging (despite the fact that I haven’t blogged in years!). I’m going to start off my fresh 2013 blog post by focusing on the completely relevant subject of what blogging is and why blogging is important.
First, what is a blog?
I like this definition from Daily Blog Tips, which first stresses that a blog need not be personal; a blog can be used as any sort of way to communicate and interact with an audience.
A blog is basically a type of website, like a forum or a social bookmarking site. As such it is defined by the technical aspects and features around it, and not by the content published inside it.
The features that make blogs different from other websites are:
- content is published in a chronological fashion
- content is updated regularly
- readers have the possibility to leave comments
- other blog authors can interact via trackbacks and pingbacks
- content is syndicated via RSS feeds
Second, what are some reasons to start a blog?
1) Blog as a diary.
I don’t know about you, but I totally had diaries when I was younger. I kept composition books back when handwriting was still a valued skill, then moved on to online blogging on Xanga, MySpace, and Blogspot. Then for some reason, I just stopped blogging. Truth be told, I miss it. It’s a great way to document your life and thoughts for the sake of reminiscing, as well as just getting your ideas on paper to think things through. This leads to another great point-a blog need not be public; it can easily be made private so only you and a select audience can see it, so there’s no need to worry about feedback from others unless you want it.
2) Blog to give advice and help others.
If there’s a subject you deem yourself experienced in, one of the easiest ways to spread your knowledge is to blog. Some could argue that writing a blog is the new form of writing a book; it could even lead to a book deal as some bloggers could testify. But on the serious and practical side, blogging can be a way to establish yourself as an authority in your field if you can regularly dispense valuable knowledge for others.
3) Blog for search engine optimization (SEO).
This is a popular reason for businesses to want to start blogging. They’ll have a website up advertising their services, but won’t have anyone else linking to them or searching for them regularly. There are many ways to fix this can get attention from search engines, but one of the easiest (albeit not fastest) ways to do this is to blog on the regular. Not only do you get the benefits of point #2 (establishing yourself as an authority), but your blog can give you the power of building an awesome community around your subject of expertise.
Given all the benefits, why NOT blog?
Well, there are some good reasons to keep you from blogging. First, coming up with relevant, interesting content isn’t easy. Second, maybe you’re worried that people will hate what you write, or worse yet not read it at all. These reasons alone (there are plenty more, I’m sure) are enough to keep anyone from trying, but seriously, how do you even know these will be problems until you put yourself out there and see what happens?
Introducing…The Intrepid Freelancer!
This last point is ultimately what’s driven me to start writing thoughtful blogs on the regular. In an effort to add thoughtful posts to the already flooded Internet, I’ve decided my main subjects will circulate around the art of freelancing and self-employment, which I’ve turned into a full-time job without once having filled out a job application. How did I start doing it? How do I continue to do it? You’ll have to keep reading to find out!
For those seeking to become a savvy freelancer, or are just curious about the life of one, this blog series, dubbed The Intrepid Freelancer, will be for you! Stay tuned for regular posts.