"Huh?" Every friend would respond as if I spoke a foreign language.
These conversations took place somewhere between 2000 and 2002. Sometime after that, I didn't feel silly or awkward admitting I had a blog. The blog started out as a personal one as they all did at the time. Gradually, it morphed into a web design blog then finally settling to business, tech, and writing. Maybe it'll be something else in two years, or not. I like where I am today.
Blogging falls into the spectrum of social networking. In its earlier days, not so much. Blogs didn't have comments or plug-ins for connecting your website to a social network.
Is Blogging Still Relevant?
You can update your status in Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. They also come with tools so you can write longer notes. So, does that mean writers don't need to bother with blogging? No. Blogging still has value. Here are six ways blogging can help you.
1. Keep website content fresh: Search engines love content receiving regular updates. Writers, specifically those working alone, tend to be the only ones updating their own websites. Blog a couple of times a week, and you have hot piping content.
2. Share valuable information: Bloggers who give away information that helps or educates others earn trust and authority. You buy from or hire those you know and trust, don't you?
3. Support marketing efforts: Blogging and social media activities all contribute to your marketing efforts. These help you get out there, mingle, and connect. Blogging is also a way to market your platform.
4. Build your platform: Whether or not you have a book coming, you need to start building your platform now. That's how you stand out from the line of writers knocking on agents and publishing houses' doors. If you come already packaged with a platform, name recognition, and expertise, the doors are more apt to crack open.
5. Host a party at your e-home: Though visiting and interacting on other people's blogs does you lots of good, it's helpful to have a blog you call home and link back to when you post elsewhere.
6. Practice writing: You have no constraints when it comes to your blog. You can make it whatever you want it to be. Unlike writing assignments and projects, you don't have to meet a word limit or a deadline (other than consistent updates). And you can keep every word, phrase, and sentence you want without worrying about the editor's scissors.
Should You Blog?
In spite of the benefits of having a blog, it doesn't mean you must have one. If you can't commit to regular updates and parting with your wisdom, then blogging may not be an ideal tool for you.
Instead, you can take advantage of social networking tools by interacting with other sites and linking back to your website rather than a blog. Many best-selling authors don't have a blog or one that offers regular updates. Consider your goals and business plan when deciding if you should start a blog.
One thing is for sure, people will know what you're talking about when you say "Blog."
Meryl K. Evans is the author of Brilliant Outlook Pocketbook, co-author of Adapting to Web Standards: CSS and Ajax for Big Sites and contributor to many others. The long-time blogger and gamer has written and edited for a bunch of places online and off. A native Texan, she lives a heartbeat north of Dallas in Plano, Texas with her husband and three kiddos. Though born in silence, she tries to show that deaf people are just like everyone else. Follow Meryl on Twitter at @merylkevans.