Some time back (early in 2022), there was a Reddit post asking about the benefit of having a blog as a self-published author. I posted a comment giving my view on this, but felt this was something worth expanding to a blog post.
I was a personal finance blogger before I started writing novels and non-fiction books. I’d say that, from the view of writing a blog post and using that post to help sell a book, blogs *AREN’T* worthwhile for writers.
The biggest benefit I think you get from blogging is as an exercise in reflection and learning. Whatever you’re currently struggling with in your career, a 600 to 1000-word blog post about it will probably help sharpen your perspective on it. If you’ve recently accomplished something, writing up what worked and what didn’t is probably also good for your own understanding. It might give you some insights and reminders if you return to it down the road. The essayist Paul Graham explored this in his essay “Putting Ideas into Words“.
People reading your posts might start interacting with you and you get the benefit of that (collaborations and whatnot). If your post triggers a broader discussion, you might get new ideas about EXACTLY the topic you’re thinking about. Posts on Reddit, Twitter, or discussion forums will usually get responses, but these are typically low-effort and low-value. You’re as likely to be insulted as you are to be helped or enlightened. With a good collection of blogs about the same topic, there are often posts and responses to posts that deeply consider the related issues. It’s exciting and illuminating to be a part of that and intoxicating at times to be able to direct the conversation.
You get an audience (for your blog) that *MAY* be receptive to your writing. If you’re blogging about advertising self-published novels then you post an announcement about your upcoming sci-fi LitRPG book it probably won’t move a ton of copies, but it might sell some. Any two topics are going to have people interested in both. Not everyone in your audience will buy all your books and often creators are disappointed in the amount of support they get from fans of their free content.
Another benefit of a blog is that you can see where traffic goes (people reading individual posts) and that can tell you which of your blog posts people are most interested in. It’s often hard to get that sort of concrete feedback on small pieces of writing.
With a blog, you own the space. You aren’t contributing content to someone else’s walled garden where the rules can change and there’s nothing you can do about it. Reddit can ban you, Twitter can remove your tweets. If you set up a blog on your own hosting at your own domain, you’re virtually bulletproof.
These benefits from blogging grow slowly and compound, so it’s very easy to feel like you’re shouting in the dark. You mostly are at the start. Then you see people occasionally reading it. Then you get your first comment. Then another site links to a post you wrote. Then you start seeing that you’re getting daily visitors. Then people start writing reactions to your posts and you’re part of a community. Then all of a sudden your blog is an institution that people reference and you’re not quite sure how that happened.
We all have limited time and money. Whatever resources we put into one thing (like a blog), we can’t put it into something else (like writing our next book). Whether or not it’s worth blogging is something every writer has to figure out for themselves. I would disagree with anyone who argued that every writer should have a blog or that no writer should have a blog.
Are you a writer with a blog? Post a link to it below! Have you found blogging worthwhile?