Wanna Be a Writer? Start As a Blogger.
Congratulations JDC Junior Journalists on finding this blog! You have been awarded 10 bonus points. The following is my lecture from April 6, 2013.
What is a “blog”?
1) An online journal or diary, available for all the world to read — depending on your privacy settings, and ability/desire to publicize and advertise it.
2) The word is the short form of “weblog”, which is the mashed together version of “web log”, which refers to logging information on the web.
3) The term “blog” was coined in 1997 when a liberty was taken with the term, shortening it. A person who writes a blog became known as a “blogger”.
4) Blogs can be any length, but posts of a shorter nature like Twitter’s are known as “micro-blogs”.
1) Because you can say anything you want, in any language, about any topic you want – give opinions, write reports, share fiction, poetry, review products, discuss music, sports, history – blogs are a haven of free speech, and a vehicular outlet for people who have something to say but nowhere to say it.
a) You never know what you might write about – a man in Pakistan inadvertently live-tweeted the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Just write and let the words take you where they will.
b) You also have the power to edit or delete a blog, if something needs to be updated, or removed altogether.
c) It can teach you how to write engaging content – invaluable for writers on any platform.
2) Because you can blog from anywhere that has an internet connection, anytime – home computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
3) Because you can blog however you want – traditional text, add pictures, blog pictures only (photo blog), video blog (vlog), audio/podcast, and more.
4) Because it’s free. Purchasing a domain and hosting for a webpage is costly, and requires building, or the hiring of someone to build your page for you. Blogs come with templates to choose from and are user/tech-inept friendly. WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr and amongst the most popular blogging platforms available.
5) Everybody’s doing it – even newspapers are adding blogs to their publication’s websites in an effort to stay relevant and profitable in the digital age. Their blogs mean opportunity to blog for them, and sometimes even hiring to do so.
6) Because there’s no wrong way to do it. If you can click “post”, then you can blog.
7) Because it’s a great way to jump start your writing career and gain some notoriety and confidence while no one cares who you are or wants to publish your writing.
How can blogging help an established or aspiring journalist?
1) It keeps you in practice when you may not have other opportunity to write.
2) It connects you to an audience. If you learn to promote your work through social media, you have the chance to connect to/be seen by 500 million Twitter users, 170 million Tumblr users, 1 billion YouTube users, 1.06 billion Facebook users, and however many users and viewers.
a) Accruing a high volume following of visitors will make you appear valuable and marketable to advertisers. This can be advantageous in applications for writing positions, selling advertisements, and can also make you more likely to be approached with opportunities.
3) It connects you with online communities interested in the topic(s) you write about, and may lead to further writing opportunities.
4) It is advantageous to a blogger that people can click on a free blog from their computer or phone easier than going to a newsstand and buying a newspaper, or even paying for an online subscription.
5) It can lead to opportunities for interviews, product reviews, and more.
What are the disadvantages of blogging?
1) You won’t make any money, at least in the beginning. There are ways to monetize your blog with advertisements and products, but blogging will likely be a “labor of love” for you until you manage to appear on someone important in writing’s radar.
2) Depending on the community your blog creates, visitor comments can sometimes be rather negative – you’ll have to either develop a “thick skin”, ignore them, or develop some constructive tact in dialoging with people who chose reply with negativity.
3) Because of the open and unedited nature of blogging, bloggers don’t carry an overly credible reputation with them amongst trained journalists. If you want to be taken seriously as a journalist, eventually you will have to progress to writing for an established publication, or start one yourself.
a) Further, blogging can leave you open to grammatical and style errors that may out your writing as amateur. You’ll need to pay close attention if you want to impress anyone with your blogs. When in doubt, enlist a proofreader.
4) It requires a lot of effort and dedication if it’s going to go anywhere – if you’re a procrastinator, or lose interest in blogging regularly, your blog will likely go by the wayside, along with all its potential.
In conclusion, everything I’ve accomplished in journalism can be directly traced back to my days as a dedicated blogger. I strongly recommend it to any of you as a supplement to your ongoing studies towards a career in writing.
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