So, you’ve been thinking of starting a personal blog. Great idea! In today’s digital age, with internet marketing being at its peak, having a blog is growing increasingly common. And it makes sense, because of how simple a blog is to set up, and the benefits it offers.
In the traditional sense, a blog is a website where you post pieces written by you – they can be articles, essays, little notes to your readers, a sort of diary, creative writing, a fiction series, topical sonnets…anything!
If you want a blog, you have to commit to it. An inactive blog is a wasted opportunity, but actively posting to a blog is a fair bit of work – writing articles weekly, writing social media posts, finding royalty-free images, posting or scheduling everything, keeping things organized, responding to comments… You get the drift.
So, the big question is – what makes a blog worth the effort? You won’t make money from the blog for a couple of years at least, so what exactly will you get out of it?
Quite a few things, actually. The benefits of personal blogging are many, and subtle. You won’t wake up to a wad of cash overnight, but it’ll help in small ways, and it’ll go on helping for as long as you keep the blog up. So without further ado, let’s dive right in:
1. It’s a great way to get some practice
Practice makes perfect. If you’re new to the world of professional writing, a blog is the first logical step. You need experience – you need to write every day, to edit and rewrite, to continually improve your craft. Nobody starts out perfect. We all look back at stuff we wrote ten years ago and cringe. But the thing is, you don’t need ten years’ experience right off the bat. What you write tomorrow will be better than what you wrote today. And that’s where a blog comes in.
Not everyone likes writing on paper. It’s tiresome, it wastes paper, and it’s harder to edit. Writing notes on your phone is great and many successful novels have been born that way, but it isn’t very satisfying. A blog, however, is perfect.
That’s one of the many benefits of having a website – you get to write and publish your writings on a live website, where practically anyone could see your work. You can share it with friends and family, advertise it on social media, or you can set it to private. A blog gives you many options, and it also gives you a platform. Unlike sites like HubPages and Medium, a blog has no requirements. Want to write about some strange taboo topic? Go ahead! Want to publish a non-rhyming poem of 76 words? Sure! Want to break the rule of three? You’re a monster, but okay!
A blog also makes you accountable. Writing on paper feels flimsy, soft, fanciful (rule of three again). But if you regularly publish articles on Wednesdays and Saturdays, that’s a bigger responsibility, so you’ll be more inclined to maintain the routine. You’ll be less likely to let it slip, to “postpone” it to “Friday”. Here are some great tips on writing your first blog post.
2. A blog doubles as your portfolio
So you’ve just received an inquiry from a potential client. Congratulations! They want to know what your rates are, and want to see (oh no) some samples of published work by you.
Clients asking for published samples is an old problem. You’re new to the game and have plenty of samples, but since you’re new, you haven’t had any takers yet, so your samples are all GDocs where you’ve written about subjects you’re interested in. Asking for published work is effectively them translating experience from years to articles.
If you have a blog, you nip the issue in the bud. Sometimes clients may ask for writing done for other businesses, but that’s rare. Most of the time, all they want is the assurance that your writing is of publishable quality.
Another way to put this point would be that if you have a website, you aren’t wasting any work. If you write a mini-essay, a funny dialogue, a short piece about why emojis suck, you’re publishing it for the world to see. It’s not just a “piece of writing” anymore; it’s a sample. Which brings us neatly to the next point…
3. It’s a whole website dedicated to self-promotion, and you own it
This is one of the biggest personal benefits of blogging. If you own a blog, there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, stopping you from plugging your products or services on each and every post. You can optimize every article, every little note so it shows up high on search engines. The only limitations that apply are copywriting and SEO best practices, and search engines’ guidelines. You don’t wanna piss Google off.
So aside from stuffing your article full of keywords or making it spammy, you can do practically anything you like. Want to post client testimonials? Why not! Want to advertise your services every Monday? Go ahead. Want to sell swimming trunks that say “The best copyrighter in the world”? Yes, of c—I mean…maybe reconsider that. But you get what I mean.
The best part is that the more you post, the more search engines will love you. Every new page is an opportunity to spread the word further – with the URL, with the page title, with the meta description, the meta title, the sub-headings, the images… There are so many little places where you can tuck in keywords, and you can use them all! You get a byline on each piece, you get do-follow links.
Slowly, you’ll start to find work through your blog. Your readers may refer you to people looking for a writer, or clients may find you by dint of your SEO efforts. So without applying (or even actively trying), there’ll be a point where you’ll start to get work offers – and your blog will be the key player in that scenario.
4. Help people, and build a network of readers
With a blog, you can help people. When you write a well-researched article, the subject doesn’t matter. If it’s good, it will help someone somewhere – maybe someone who’s been through something similar and wanted some mental support, maybe a student who’s interested in the subject, a novice hoping for some tips, anyone. That’s the beauty of the internet – not to mention one of the more interesting advantages of blogging.
When you help people, you touch their lives. That sounds rather dramatic, but it’s true in some way or the other. You have a reader in them. And as you write more, you’ll get a feel for what your audience likes, and you’ll write pieces that are more helpful. As I said earlier, what you write tomorrow will be better than what you wrote today, so tomorrow you’ll help more people than you did today. Your blog will grow.
Having a reader base is important for a blogger because it’s a network. As writers, we know networking is important, and so many of us use LinkedIn and Facebook groups religiously. But the thing about a reader base is that it’s a network with defined roles. Your readers may all be writers, but on your blog, they’re all readers. You’re the writer there. This helps in small but important ways.
5. Monetize your blog for some passive income
You’ve been doing it for a while; you have a decent readership and a sizeable backlog of articles in your archive. Now you can monetize it! Monetization can take many forms – you can make ad revenue, ask for donations, make your articles available for a small monthly subscription, sell products such as courses and ebooks, whatever takes your fancy.
Personally, I’m all for keeping things simple and giving people the option to pay, so I’d go for the donation button. That way, if my readers want to use Adblock software, they won’t be hurting my income. In fact, many people actually disable ads on their blogs for a better reading experience. That’s just my personal opinion, though. You do you.
The best thing about monetizing a blog is that by the time your blog’s big enough to generate income, writing for it will begin to feel like a part of your routine. It’ll just be another thing you do, like your night-time ritual or writing in a diary. Even if you put a lot of effort into the articles and post 5,000 word-long monsters, the repetition and routine will make things seem easier after some time. It’s your blog, where you can write to your specifications as per your availability, so it doesn’t feel burdensome.
So now you have a habit, a portfolio, a reader base, and a source of passive income. But wait, there’s more!
As the owner of a blog, you’ll learn a lot about search engine optimization (SEO), and about blogging in general. These will, of course, help you improve as a writer and blogger, but the money’s in the fact that they’re both great selling points. You’ll stand a better chance of succeeding as a copywriter if you’re one with SEO knowledge. You’ll get more (and better!) blogging gigs if you’re a professional blogger with x years’ experience.
As we mentioned earlier, it’ll help in many subtle ways – things we can’t predict. It’ll help you learn how to manage a website, how to manage time better, how to analyze stats, find pictures, respond to criticism diplomatically…lots more. So if you’ve been thinking of getting a personal blog, there’s never been a better time! Go right ahead.
Best of luck and God bless.