For the past several days, I have had people asking me “why bother blogging?”. It’s an important question; and one to which I would like to respond with the counter-query: why do anything pro-bono in life? Why volunteer? Why hold open a door for someone? The reasons are multitudinous and mostly internally-motivated: 1) it makes you feel good, 2) you hope that ‘good karma’ you accrued through helping/talking with someone comes back your way sometime, and 3) you hope to hear positive, confidence-boosting reviews of your work.
I am lucky to have received all three of these benefits thus far in my blogging journey. However, if none of those reasons seem compelling enough for you to consider a writing a blog, I can suggest several authors that provide more concrete reasons in the arenas of business, personal marketing, and academia.
First, businesses can use blogging as a cheap and far-reaching marketing tool. Susan Gunelius from About.com highlights the following benefits that businesses can accrue through blogging (see her full article here). She states that blogs provide businesses with:
- A forum for discussing products, services, and other company news;
- A platform to drive web traffic to their static websites;
- An interactive platform in which customers can comment and provide real-time feedback; and,
- A place in which to hype the company’s brand.
So long as the blog acts as an interactive, personalized community for the customer, it can provide an effective marketing tool for any kind of business.
For Personal Marketing
Second, individuals can benefit from blogging as a way to build up their body of work. As Dan Blank thoughtfully points out in his article, using social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest) to communicate your message and raise your personal profile with corporations is dangerous. These social media sites are owned by corporations that have an interest in pushing a certain message on your followers through you; further, searches for the information you posted may become unavailable fairly quickly due to the immediacy of social media (ibid).
Running out of content for your blog can be a danger, but Blank thankfully provides a wealth of valuable tips on that as well. Many resources, some free and some with a fee, are available for struggling bloggers. I must also point out that blogging is a task like any other and should be critically evaluated before it is begun – it can become a time vacuum that does not always contribute to your experience or discipline (see this article by L.L. Barkat).
Lastly, blogging can be useful for academics struggling to get their research visible to the public and make their research more timely and relevant to audiences. Having attempted to publish my research in a peer-reviewed journal, I know for a fact that it takes a long time to get the word ‘out on the street’, and even then it’s possible that the message is not being widely read. As Dave Brockington notes in his article on blogging in academia, writing a blog post that parallels your peer-reviewed journal article can be helpful for enhancing your public visibility as an academic. Violent Metaphors is one blogger that I greatly respect for her careful attention to academic issues in her blogs.
Of course, blogging will never replace the rigorous and necessary peer-review process. Researchers in the Faculty of Information & Media Studies at Western University in London, ON, do believe, however, that social media is changing the way that students learn and information is shared – consequently, the need to conduct meta-research on the importance of social media to academic careers is growing. Professors who are tech-savvy and know how to use social media stand a better chance at raising their public profiles and interacting with young students (see the interview I filmed with Dr. Ellsworth LeDrew on this topic here).
Given the potential value of blogging to one’s business, personal marketing strategy, and academic success, I hope that this article will get everyone thinking more critically about the question, “why bother blogging?”.