Once upon a time in a far-away land, writers who were skilled with penning their thoughts and crafting clever story ideas could write their own tickets.
Being "good" was simply good enough.
'Dem days are gone. Fast forward. A tough economy and the relative ease of making money online has changed the game. The talent pool is larger. The bar is higher. The industry has changed.
I was faced with this sobering reality back in 2006, when an editor with whom I had worked for quite some time as a columnist suggested that I write a self-help relationship book. So I eagerly put together a few chapters, mailed it off, and envisioned my guest appearance on Oprah. Much to my surprise, when I submitted it to a New York agent for potential representation, she wrote back, "You have obvious talent as a writer, but not a big enough platform." Ouch.
Back in my day "platforms" were sexy shoes that added height to our stature and jiggle to our strut. Hello? I had been writing for over a decade, had made thousands of dollars, and had no real concept of why I needed a platform and how to get one.
Before I share with you why blogging is important to building a platform, let's define platform as it relates to the publishing world.
A "platform" refers to an author's following and fan base. Ideally it should include more than your mom and members at church. Publishers and agents use it as a basis for determining your reach, and for potential book sales.
For example, it could include people who are members of your writers' groups, your college sorority, folks on your job, subscribers to your newsletter, or blog followers.
Here's how Blogging can help to elevate your platform and your bottom line!
1. It increases your visibility. Websites are static; blogs are not. Their very nature and constant updates means that Google will pick your blog up through "crawlers" and reflect them higher up in search engine listings. The easier you are to find, the more potential eyes to view your work. Additionally, blog posts are often Tweeted and shared through popular social media sites. Here's a case in point. I have been writing professionally for more than a decade.
Comparatively, I have been blogging "seriously" for a little under three years. Google lists my blog posts first, above all my former publishing credits.
2. It helps to hone your voice. Unlike other genres of writing, blogging has few rules and restrictions. As such, writers can speak in a conversational tone, court controversy, experiment with different forms of expression, try their hand at humor, and discover what works best for their style, preference and personality. Blogging also allows you to address a multitude of topics, which can build your portfolio and your knowledge base.
3. It makes you more versatile as a writer. Search any of the current job boards for writers, and blog jobs are abundant. Regardless of your genre of specialization, having blogging skills simply makes you more marketable to editors, potential clients, and publishers. (Think along the lines of the value of speaking multiple languages.) Since my career in blogging started, I have blogged for businesses, dating sites, and online magazines. And you can too.
4. It creates more networking opportunities through guest posting. Guest posting is when a blogger writes a piece for another blog site, upon approval. Oftentimes this fosters working partnerships, mutual admiration, and future collaborative projects with fellow bloggers. It promotes good karma to boot.
5. It requires less research and typically takes less time than other genres. As they say, "Time is money." Usually blog posts run from 300-800 words, which means that good writers can construct posts relatively quickly, and work on more projects in a shorter span of time, increasing overall efficiency. Consider too that it can help to prevent burnout.
6. It can be more profitable than article-writing. Experience can vary. But depending upon the client, the nature of the project, and your blogging skills, pay can be around a hundred bucks for a 500-700 word post.
7. Blogging helps to develop a "thick skin". If you have difficulty with dealing with editors' rejections, blogging can help you to handle criticism and feedback better in your professional career. The interactive nature of blogging allows readers to express their views right on the spot, in the form of comments. Sometimes audience members can be like "hecklers" are with comedians. Comments can be cruel and unfair. But, it comes with the territory, and calls for the savvy blogger to "take the high road" and not personalize things.
Here are a few Do's and Don'ts to go the distance:
Blogging has become the new black. Even real estate tycoon, Donald Trump has his own "virtual spot." Don't miss out on the opportunity to make the most of your writing career. Blog your way to a bigger platform and bigger paydays with these timely tips.
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