Why Do I Bother Blogging Anymore?

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on May 7, 2015 in Writing |

Open notebook with a ballpoint pen in the centerThe question of blogging and whether or not it is worth my precioussss (couldn’t help myself with the Gollum reference) time is something I’ve been contemplating lately. Blogging takes up a lot of time.

I’m not the kind of person who can just throw together a blog post. Like all my writing, I have to allow myself ample time to think over what I’m going to write before I even sit down to write it. Then there’s the time it takes to write the post, format it with pictures and links, and proof it (yes, I do proof my posts, though I know mistakes make it through).

Even guest blog posts take time. I like to make sure the posts look nice and to have some uniformity to them, so though I don’t have to write those posts, I still have to format them. Plus there’s keeping track of who is posting when and correspondence with guest posters. Not to mention actually reading their content because of course I’m going to do that before I put it on my blog!

It’s not like I get paid to do this or have any revenue stream coming from my website. In fact, I pay to host the site and for my domain name. And lately I’ve been picky about my unpaid projects, carefully weighing whether or not they are worth it. I don’t have a ton of time for my paid work and I don’t get paid a lot for it, so to do work for free seems kind of crazy.

So I started thinking about why I began blogging in the first place. I went back to my very first post in which I expressed that the Observation Desk (the title of my blog) would be a place for me to share my observations on life. As a fledgling writer, I felt a need to share my thoughts, and clearly thought they were interesting enough to share. I think I also wanted a place to think out loud, so to speak, regardless of who listened (i.e. read).

And I have certainly shared many thoughts over the years. I do come here to articulate my thoughts and put them in a cohesive form. Often I’ll start a post about one thing and it will morph into something else, something I never intended it to be. So even though I think about what I want to say before I begin writing, I often figure out something else I wanted to say. In a lot of ways, I began blogging for myself and I still do that. I don’t keep a personal journal for my own thoughts (I keep one for story ideas and development, one for conference notes, and one for each of the boys), so this is my place for that.

Then the blog also became a place for me to feature other writers, illustrators, and creative people. I love featuring other content creators, reading what they think about and how their creative process looks. This was an aspect of the blog I never intended when I first started it, but guest bloggers have really helped to shape the way I now blog. Plus, it does take the pressure off me a little because I’m not the only one providing new content.

So the blog is my place to think in journal form (keeping in mind others will be reading) and a space to feature other creative types and share their works and thoughts.

Then there’s you, the readers. You contribute by reading, sharing, or commenting, and are one of the main reasons I keep the blog going because I feel like some of you actually care about what is going on with my life and this is how we keep in touch. And there have been many times when I’ve been in a tough place in my life and you all helped pick me up. That’s not something to take lightly.

There’s more, too. As I was preparing my presentation for the NESCBWI conference, I realized a lot of the ideas and techniques I was presenting originally came from a blog post idea. A furthering of the idea that this is my place to gather and hone my thoughts.

Does my blog make me any money? Does it directly sell any of my books? Not really. But it does have value. It’s a community, my community. It’s the place where I often start the conversation and where I invite others to start one. It’s the place where I sometimes talk with myself and work out ideas and thoughts.

So that’s why I’ve decided to continue blogging, even as I take stock of my life and look to simplify (I’m always looking to do this in one way or another). The blog takes time, time I could be spending with my family, time I could be writing, time I could be taking care of myself…but I believe it is time well spent.

Why do you blog or read blogs?

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  • I think it’s great that you at least had the conversation with yourself about it and made the decision to keep doing it for the right reasons. I blog a lot less than I used to, simply because so many other social media outlets take up more of my time. My blog has become my “vent valve” – when I want to say something that doesn’t fit a paid column and is too long for Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr, so I then write a blog and link to those other outlets, just because I HAVE TO GET IT OUT. Sometimes those posts do lead to other things – for instance, a post I wrote about the Politics of Mockingjay caught the attention of an editor who was putting together an anthology of YA writers writing about The Hunger Games trilogy. And more recently, a reporter from a French Radio Station emailed wanting to interview me as a PEN member regarding a post I’d written back in January about Charlie Hebdo. (On that I declined, because the situation right now is too inflammatory and I just wasn’t up for the Internet abuse I knew I’d get). But I do think it’s important as freelancers to guard our time jealously, and to be aware of why we do the things we do, and to periodically reevaluate how we spend our time to make sure it is still working for us.

    • Hi, Sarah! It was an important conversation I needed to have. I’m so over doing free work. I really need to be getting paid for what I put out there. As for the blog, the guest posts really help because then I’m not constantly burning out over what to blog about. It saves my brain power so I can blog about the topics that are important to me. And also, I throw in the occasional blog of mostly pictures! Thanks for popping in and sharing your thoughts. Looks like you’ve gotten some nice gigs from your blog.

  • I’m overwhelmed with writing and family life that I haven’t devoted much time to blogs and blogging in general. Our kids are the same age so I know how precious time is. Also, thinking. My brain is mush most days.

    I blog when I want to and if people read the posts, great — if not, that’s okay. One day, I’ll have more time to devote to upkeeping my blog. When the kids are in school, of course.

    • Oh, the mommy brain mush! I’m right there with you on that one. I try not to be hard on myself when I do let the blog side on occasion, and it does happen despite my best efforts. The family comes first, though.

  • I feel the same way about blogging, as you can probably guess. But I am taking a moment to step back in busy times and not update as much, to give myself breathing room. It’s one of those things where you REALLY don’t have to blog everyday. Not even several times per week! And there’s nothing wrong with taking occasional breaks, too. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to give it up for good. I’ve seen a few authors do that recently, and I just don’t get it. Why give up a free platform for your writing? So, I think you made a good choice 🙂

    • Hi, S.J. That’s the same kind of philosophy is what I’m moving towards. A less stressful approach to blogging. I definitely agree that it doesn’t make sense to give up a free platform for my writing.

  • Kai says:

    Until there is a good substitute, I will continue blogging. I have cut back significantly, but I can’t imagine giving it up completely until I find a worthy replacement. Any time I try to cut out blogging or a social media presence to save time, my book sales decrease. There may not be a way to prove how many books sell because I was a guest on a blog or wrote an article about my reading habits for my own blog or posted a picture of my garden on Instagram, but I can show how many books DON’T sell when I stop. So, for now I continue, but like you I’ve scaled back and made careful choices, increased collaboration, and decided to pursue the parts of blogging I enjoy and feel are most beneficial for my career.

    • I’ve cut way back on my guest blog posts. And I try to be smart about reusing material from my blog and guest blog posts I’ve written. It’s such a hard thing to quantify, this social media stuff.

  • Mirka Breen says:

    Thoughtful posts go to the heart of what writers and thinkers do, and the value, while not commercial, is real.

    • You always do find a way to the heart of the matter, Mirka. That’s something I’m always pushing myself on in all my writing–blog posts, novels, etc–is to put as much of my heart into it as I can, even if that makes me feel vulnerable (and it always does).

  • I’m so glad you’ve decided to carry on blogging, Katie. I started out forcing myself to blog because I hear that’s how authors get readers. Didn’t enjoy blogging because I kept writing about stuff I thought readers would want to read. It was about a year later that I grew to like blogging on books, and the interaction I’ve had with fellow bloggers. The support I get when I’m in a ‘down’ period is always amazing. Blogging doesn’t bring income, but it certainly builds a fellowship, and whenever I have a book out or when I promote another author’s work, I know I can count on my blog readers to show up.

    • Thanks, Claudine! I think it does take some time and experimenting to know what kind of blogger you want to be. Fellowship is a good word for the community I’ve found on my blog (and on other people’s blogs as well). Thanks for being a part of that!

  • Ellen Allen says:

    Hi Katie,

    Thanks for a lovely blog post!
    I agree; it does take a long time and I often do the same thing… start writing one blog post and then realise that I’m writing about something else entirely. I think it’s worth it though and great for authors to practise writing. And you’re right, it is a valuable community.
    Keep up the good work! Ellen

    • Hi, Ellen! It can be like that with a manuscript, too. You don’t really know what you’re writing about (even if you know the plot, thematically speaking) until you’re finished. And blogging is great writing practice. I truly believe that everything we as writers write does make us better at what we do.

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