If you’d asked me if a writer needs a blog ten years ago when I was an active WordPress designer, and my livelihood depended on a steady stream of new clients, I’d have told you, yes — you need a blog.
But as I’ve built my personal writing brand and started turning it into a career, I’ve had to rethink everything I believe from a new perspective. I’m no longer trying to sell website packages to anyone who would choose me over the thousands of other designers and developers.
Ask me today if a writer needs a website or even a blog, and I’ll tell you no.
Does anyone contact me through my website? No, people know they can find me on Medium and social media. In my Medium profile, I have my email address. All the contacts I’ve made in the last few months have been through Medium and my email.
Does anyone look at my portfolio? No, no one has been on my portfolio page since I created it, even though I promote it heavily. More people look at my profile on LinkedIn.
Does anyone read the articles and essays I posted on my blog? Thirteen thousand people have viewed my Medium stories over the past 30 days. Four people have been on my blog and bounced after 30 seconds.
I understand that many writers have built huge presences on their blog over the years, and I’m not saying no one should have one. If you’re Stephen King, you should have a blog. Maybe. If you want to do affiliate marketing, you should have a blog.
What I’m saying is that today, when someone asks me if they should build a blog and they are a writer, I say don’t bother.
Why would I go against literally everyone else who gives advice out there?
The Internet for Writers Today
If you spend enough time on the internet, you can quickly see what is dominant. Platforms are dominant. Apps are a big thing. With everyone moving from laptops and desktops to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, platforms and applications will only get more popular as time goes on.
So if you’re a writer, and you don’t have a blog and don’t plan to get one, what can you do?
Blogging for writers
If you want people to see your work, you can publish it on Medium. If you really want your own blog, start a Medium publication. Name it whatever you want. So you say you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket? You can also publish on LinkedIn, Elephant Journal, and Vocal.Media.
With all the work involved in building a blog and promoting it, wouldn’t you rather promote your writer brand? Medium and Elephant Journal have built-in audiences. As of 2017, Medium alone had 60 million monthly readers. What is it up to now, 90 million unique visitors a month?
Yes, there’s huge competition on Medium, but there’s more if you’re trying to promote a blog post. Have you been on Pinterest lately and seen how many people are trying to get free traffic to their blog?
Don’t listen to people who tell you platforms won’t be around forever. Medium will be here long enough. Take advantage of it.
What about your portfolio, you ask? Why aren’t you using another free platform, like LinkedIn? LinkedIn has over 610 million members. Don’t you think they’ll be around for a while?
If you want more features, post a portfolio on The Freelancer by Contently.
If the only reason that you have a blog is your portfolio, you no longer have an excuse.
Every writer should have a mailing list and newsletter. Period. If you think the only way to get subscribers is from a form on your blog’s home page, you’re wrong.
You can put a text link to your opt-in form at the bottom of your Medium story. And what about social media? I put my links on all my social media posts and groups. I’ve had 20 sign-ups in the past week alone from Facebook.
Most mailing list services offer to host your opt-in. My favorite is Substack. They host my newsletter, The Jason Weiland Media Experience. Not only do they keep track of your subscribers, free or paid, but you can build your newsletter right in the software and host the archive. All this is free unless you want to charge for subscriptions, then it’s 10%.
You don’t need a blog.
The Downside of a Website or Blog
I used to tell everyone they need a blog until it came time to promote my own writer brand. Not only did I have to promote myself, but I had to send traffic to this whole other entity, my blog. Think about this before you start a website or blog:
- You must either build it yourself or pay someone to do it. And have to secure hosting, and if you use WordPress, there are always plugins to buy.
- You have to know SEO (search engine optimization). Everyone should know a little about keywords, but you shouldn’t have to become an SEO expert on top of improving your writing.
- You constantly have to be promoting on social media, which is not a problem unless you’re already promoting your work on Medium or LinkedIn. Writers want to write, not be promotion machines.
The idea that you need a blog started with the website designers and developers.