I remember a conversation I had with a friend about blogging a few years ago. I was making light of my attempts during the mid-2000s. In hindsight, I realized that I had made a few assumptions. One was that my older blogs were failures and the second – that the current one is a success. The third involved my friend’s nasal hair. I doubt if that is either a matter of interest or a point of concern for anyone else but him.
I jumped on the bandwagon sometime in 2004. For a decade, only a handful of people knew of it. I rotted away in digital elephant graveyards. I kept pretending that the lack of readership didn’t matter. I convinced myself that blogging was just a playground for writers.
A quiet place where we showcased our love for language. Shared our eccentric opinions on life. As if readers were predisposed to give a crap about it.
It wasn’t until 2014 since I found some modicum of success. I created the Verseherder persona. I began writing about the birds I spotted in south India. The special encounters I had with them. I added a few photographs. Wrote some poetry too. And my readership steadily increased. People seemed eager to read about birds. That year, I gained about 500 email subscribers. At that stage, I was more focused on describing the anatomies of birds; their shapes, sizes, colors, and crests.
In the following year, I was Freshly Pressed and then, featured on WordPress Discover. I ended up with over 3400 unique followers and 4,600+ email subscribers. Soon my writing style started to change according to how I want to communicate. How the majority of readers preferred to consume it became a secondary concern.
Even today, the numbers aren’t great. I won’t deny that I wish I had more followers. I can be needy, like that. I probably should promote the blog a lot more. Upgrade my WordPress account. More listicles. More Buzzsumo. A suite of hacks I need to give a hoot about.
But I don’t give myself the time for it. Because, at the back of my mind, I think the blog is serving its purpose. It finds me interesting projects to collaborate on. A few job opportunities keep finding their way into my inboxes based on its promotion on social media, especially LinkedIn.
A personal blog is a professional portfolio of sorts. A piece of digital real estate to showcase some body of work to prospective clients.
If you are a creative writer with zero interest in full-time corporate employment, it can certainly boost the chances of landing part-time gigs. Because recruitment begins with evaluating the candidate’s online persona. Whether a consultant, a freelancer or a clock-pusher, an active blog will go a long way to add credibility to your content writing expertise.
You can showcase your consistency and creativity in delivering engaging content. You can impress clients or employers by showcasing your digital marketing expertise. If your blog has a highly-interactive community, it can also help you win social media marketing projects.
There are several other ways of leveraging the platform. For instance, it can drive you to generate content on a regular basis. By giving your content some sort of direction and purpose, it eggs you to practice harder.
Sometimes, I tell young writers to stop fretting over how popular their blogs are. There are many ways that they can be successful bloggers. Instead, I want them to focus on becoming better writers. And prioritize their own progress over the success of the channel they choose to communicate through.
After all, not everyone blogs for the same reason. It can mean different things to different people. It depends on which stage of the journey you are in, as a writer.
As for you and me, let’s keep talking about birds of south India and life on planet earth.
(Photographs: Kodaikanal, Chennai)