1. Every writer needs a home on the internet.
If you don’t then you practically don’t exist. Traditionally, success in the publishing industry hasn’t been determined by what you know but by who knows you. In the age of digital publishing, this is truer than ever. Popularity is success. And you don’t have to woo crusty old publishing executives to be a success anymore. All you have to do is find a way to make your work go viral, a task made easier by the fact that humanity’s artistic standards hit rock bottom decades ago. So you don’t even have to be that good. You just have to provide what people want. But no matter how good you are, nobody can throw you a bone if they can’t find you. Even if you could succeed without an official presence on the Internet, you’d just be making your job harder than it has to be.
2. It allows the general public to give you negative feedback.
This might sound like a bad thing, but writers who get their feelings hurt over negative feedback from the public are like motorcyclists who whine about riding in the rain. You knew this was going to happen. Deal with it. Embrace it if you can, and move on… or get off the ride.
Negative feedback from the public can be used as constructive criticism if you look at it stoically. You can’t always trust the public’s opinions, but it can tell you if you’re moving in the right direction.
3. It allows professionals and semi-professionals to give you constructive criticism.
It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes people will stop by and tell you in the most tactful way possible that you suck and point out what you can do better. If you don’t want to wait for that to happen by chance, you can link your blog in writers’ forums and beg for feedback.
Nobody wants you to E-mail them your amateur work or open text documents posted by strangers on public forums. However, if they see you post a link to a blog. they don’t have anything but their time to lose by clicking it. If they were lurking on forums they were probably looking for amusing links to click anyway. A lot of people will click on your link just to see if you’re a hot chick. And if your “About Me” page does have a picture of a hot chick on it they’ll pay even more attention to you.
4. A blog is a portfolio.
Blogging allows you to compile a professional portfolio of work that you can always search, access and edit quickly and easily. Granted, your first couple hundred blogs you write are going to be crap that you should be ashamed of, but over the years you’ll add better posts. You’ll have time to go back and preen your old ones. After you’ve trashed half your posts and rewritten the other half 35 times you might end up with a site full of refined work that any professional would respect at a glance. Or you might end up with a site that shows you still have room to grow, but you’re obviously committed and have potential if someone would just give you chance. There’s no guarantee that will happen, but it’s like the Texas lottery commercials say, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”
5. You get to obsess over stats.
This will be depressing at first when nobody looks at your work. But that should also tell you something and motivate you. If that is enough to discourage you from writing, then it’s just as well you quit early because you were going to quit eventually anyway. If you stick with it and your work is worth reading, and you’ve promoted it at all even just in the forums you lurk on, you’ll start to see regular traffic. It’s exhilarating to watch the numbers grow, and sometimes someone will link to your site, and you’ll see a big spike in traffic. You’ll also be able to see what sites have linked to you and what people on that site are saying about your work. If you see certain types of sites tend to pick up your links, then you’ll be able to identify your audience, and if you’re smart, cater to them.
Once your stats start moving up and down, your blog becomes like a “Farmville” game. Whether you’re writing a blog or playing a game on Facebook, you’re still just staring at the computer screen for hours clicking buttons. The Facebook gamer gets to watch their virtual farm grow as a reward. The writer gets to watch their stats go up. Every once in a while you get a bonus reward when someone clicks the “like” button on one of your posts. Sometimes you get penalized when someone leaves a comment telling you how stupid you are. The reward and risks make the game more exciting. As a reward for enduring all that negative criticism, eventually, you get to watch your E-book sale stats, where each number represents real-world cash piling up in your online bank account.
6. Having a blog will allow you to communicate with your fans.
You never know what can be gained through networking. You might meet another writer who wants to collaborate. A fan might tell you exactly what your audience wants so you can give it to them. An agent might contact you with a deal. You might flatter a fan with a reply, which might motivate them to direct new readers to you. You might just have some interesting conversations and learn something new and random about the world. So even if your blog doesn’t open the doors to heaven, it’ll still open doors to opportunities that are enjoyable, if not lucrative.
7. You make books out of your blogs.
Once you’ve got 1-300 pages of quality of work, regardless of whether that’s baking recipes, short stories, character descriptions, advice, opinions or bullshit you can slap that in an E-book and sell it on Amazon. If Tucker Max can make a fortune publishing stuff he had laying around, then so can you.
8. You can justify crowd-sourcing.
If you have fans following your blog, then you already have an audience who might support you. You can open a fundraising page on Patreon or Kickstarter. Then you can market that to the general public. If you build it they may come. If you don’t. Then they never had any reason to.
This isn’t the new standard way to become a professional writer, but if you’re going to be writing anyway, you may as well set yourself up for success and build the tools you’re going to need eventually anyway.
9. Your blog is your data backup
Blogging allows you to keep an up to date backup of your work, and after you’ve written a few hundred posts your blog also serves as a historical vault.
You might not want to post your earliest work because you don’t want to establish a reputation as a bad writer, but nobody is going to remember your bad work. If they do, they’ll be that much more impressed by your latest and greatest work. Even if one or two people get the wrong impression, you’re going to win more fans than you lose in the long run.
If you’re worried about people stealing your work, don’t be. Nobody is going to steal your early work because it sucks too bad. If someone does steal your later work, it’ll be free publicity, and the loss will be offset by a number of legitimate sales you’ve gained through your web presence. If you simply can’t stand the idea of anyone seeing any of your work without paying top dollar for it then I hope your manuscript stays is your desk drawer for the rest of your life. The world will manage fine with one less greedy, tight ass in the publishing business.
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