Today, my guest is writing about a question a lot of writers have these days – is blogging worth it? I love Traci’s answer to that question because, well, it depends. Enjoy her thoughts below.
Circa 1994, while I found myself fresh out of high school and headed off to one of three colleges I would attend, an online craze called blogging had its earliest beginnings. I knew nothing of blogging back then. In the midst of studying, I concerned myself with adjusting to living miles away from home and maybe (please God?) finding a husband. No time to read online.
These early bloggers essentially documented their daily lives in an online journal. Much like a few, fortunate Youtubers, a handful of bloggers became online sensations. Popular names emerged, receiving book deals and speaking opportunities. Blogging appeared to offer a worthwhile platform for aspiring writers and it seemed to be here to stay.
I’ve spent the majority of my life in small towns and am quite used to trends either arriving at my doorstep late, or passing me by altogether. In 2014 I showed up rather (un)fashionably late to the blogging party. I’d written a few articles for the women’s ministry blog at my local church and I thought if a small group of women appreciated what I had to say in these posts, a wider audience might benefit as well.
I was new to the discipline of writing regularly, and in an attempt to grow an audience by posting consistently, I made it a point to share an article once or twice a week. I was also new to reading blogs and quickly became a student of the craft. I learned about photos, colors, layout, writing style, hyperlinks, and more.
Traces of Faith – Finding traces of Jesus in our everyday faith. A blog name as a spin-off on my first name and a hint at the topics I’d explore. My every days quickly filled up with serving at my local church and community, raising a daughter, farm animals and a gardenful of vegetables, but also writing about my faith online. It became a great way to connect with an audience and other faith bloggers. From the various interactions I added a number of books to my reading list as well.
A few years into the whole process, I began seeing articles about how blogging had died. One of my early posts listed fifty faith-based bloggers to follow. I went back to review that list recently and about one-half no longer have a blog. Perhaps I found myself behind a trend yet again, but I continued to immerse myself in all of it; online writing groups, social media discussions, local writing conferences, link-ups, etc. From what I experienced, blogging had changed over the 20-year span, but it seemed by no means dead.
At a local bookstore, a panel of authors shared about their unique writing journeys. Author Shawn Smucker had something like this to say about blogging, “Blogging isn’t the only way to get published but it certainly helps to keep your name out there. It encourages you to keep writing. If you like blogging, keep doing it, but only if you like it.”
By this point, I had written my way into a book idea (as I like to say) and signed with an agent. I had connected with most of my readers on Twitter and Facebook, leaving less time to post new blog posts with any kind of regularity.
Did I like blogging? Had it served its purpose in my own writing career? These questions helped me walk through what I hoped to accomplish as a soon-to-be-published author.
The answer, for me, is yes. I like blogging. Blogging still has a purpose in my process. When a writing idea comes to mind, it helps if I write it out. Sometimes the topics take on a bigger life of their own (like the idea that became my first book about wandering spiritually among church traditions), sometimes I need to write more long-form about a social media topic, and other times it’s an article idea that stands alone. Bottom line, I need my own space where I can write. Another person might give you different reasons for keeping a blog but these are mine.
Pastor Abby Norman mentioned on Twitter she’d been blogging for years and had never taken a single post down. This intrigued me. She writes about her faith as a journey and in leaving up those early posts, a reader can learn about her struggles as she re-formed her faith and finds herself in new stages of life. This seems like another excellent reason to have a blog, and keep it online, so your readers can experience in some small way the growth you have experienced.
I don’t have a set amount of blog posts I write anymore. I’m not looking to be a trend-setter in the blogging world. My blog tells a big part of my faith story in approximately 500 short articles. It’s a landing place for details about my books and other author information. Most of all, I have a personal place online to do some writing when the ideas come calling.
Traci writes on her blog, Traces of Faith, from her kitchen table in rural Michigan, not far at all from Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Her first book, Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost, is out now. You can follow her on Twitter at @tracesoffaith.