And that title is not just to bait you. I really want to know.
As of writing this, there are reportedly 500 million blogs out there on the web. There are so many of them, and yet I don’t really know anyone in my real life who keeps up with one. In fact, I’m certain there are many people who have visited a blog for one reason or another but have no idea what a blog even is. They’re incredibly popular, and at the same time kind of obscure.
But I think that’s because their purpose is hard to define. Or maybe it’s because their purpose is always in flux. There are so many ways to use a blog and so many reasons why you might want to:
- To promote your brand or product
- To keep an electronic journal and a record of important things in your life
- Teach readers about something you happen to have some expertise in
- To connect with like-minded individuals and share ideas
- To build your portfolio
- To deliver news on a niche topic
- To drive attention or awareness towards a certain event or cause
- To update an audience on the progress of a book, game, software, etc.
And that’s just to name a few. I’m sure you could find a use for a blog in pretty much any capacity. But that got me curious about how people do use their platform. Because that’s what a blog is – it’s an online platform, just like social media. If you aren’t using it to sell something or as some sort of promotional tool (which is so often the case), how are you using it and for what purpose? What do you get out of blogging that you can’t get out of something else, like a vlog channel on YouTube, or a podcast?
So, fellow bloggers, indulge me a little. I want to know:
- Why you started a blog
- What you enjoy most
- What challenges you’ve faced
- What regrets you have
I’ve seen a lot of posts (from other blogs, no less) on how to do it “right”, and while I’m not convinced there is a “right” way, my approach is probably very different.
My blogging journey in many ways parallels my writing journey. Way back in 2010 or so I wanted to take my writing seriously, and the way you did that was with a blog. It’s what many writers were doing. It gave you the opportunity to make connections with other writers and share your works in progress. Many experienced and/or published writers would give advice about the process, about editing, querying and navigating the publishing industry as a whole. It was expected of you at the time, and so I did as I others did and I started a blog.
It wasn’t very good. But then I don’t think I knew what I was doing back then. It was very much a digital journal, with short, choppy and often pointless posts.
Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe my posts are still pointless. But hopefully they amuse or entertain, and carry a little more insight than they did before.
I rebranded my blog many times as I tried to find a style and a look that fit me. Eventually, I left WordPress and moved on to Tumblr to try and find a style that suited me there. I’ve gone through a few tumblogs since then, but eventually I came back to WordPress and started this one, Alyssa Lost in Space.
I post a lot of random stuff on here, and I know that. I know that not everything I share will be everyone’s cup of tea. I’m still figuring it out, in a way, what I think I want to include on this platform, and what I don’t. But I also don’t want to limit myself to one type of content. If I want to post screenshots of a video game one day, write an essay about Star Wars on the next, and explain my writing process after that, I will.
Even though I’ve been blogging for a long time, and I’ve had Alyssa Lost in Space for almost a year now, I’m still figuring things out. Whether or not I’m doing it the “right” way, is for me to discover on the journey.
And I think a big part of that is figuring out what the purpose of a blog is – what is your ultimate goal in blogging?
I’ve made it clear that I want to be a published writer. And I know that blogs can be important tools for promotion. And I did consider using this blog to do just that when I first started.
Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? You have to have a website or a blog or some sort of presence online. I see a lot of writers marketing to other writers by talking about writing or publishing, but that was never what I wanted to do.
I’ve always been happy to help, and I will always offer my knowledge freely if I think it’ll help someone else, but I never wanted to be defined by that. I don’t want to build a platform strictly for other writers. If I want to make a living off of writing books, I need to find readers.
Readers who enjoy the sorts of books I like, because those are the sorts of books I like to write. I’m also a huge geek, I love video games, and science fiction and fantasy books make up 99% of what I read. So I opened myself to blogging about whatever I wanted, as long as it fell in the area of sci-fi/fantasy, geeky fun, or creativity. My blog lacks a niche, which I’m sure some would consider a faux pas. But I’m having fun, and I’m talking about the sorts of things I want to talk about and creating the sort of content that I also like to consume.
In the end, I’ve come to appreciate this blog for what it is – a tribute to all of the things that I enjoy and all of the things that made me the writer and creative that I am today. And I kind of want to bask in the purity of that. If it works as a promotional tool, that is just another boon.
The more I learn about how to market yourself the more nebulous and hard to understand it becomes. A blog is one of the ways you can do that, and I know that it’s a powerful one. But that’s also just one of the ways it can be used.