Is Blogging Worth the Effort?

photo: M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin

Is blogging worth the effort?

I wonder.

It’s coming up on a year since I launched my new website and blog, revamped my author page on Facebook, and started to tweet. It’s time to review.

I set out to post an essay every Wednesday. Fifty-two blog posts later, I want to evaluate what have I gained, and at what cost?

 

There’s definitely been good that’s come from posting weekly.

  • I’ve posted every Wednesday but once, when I posted that Thursday.
  • Almost all my posts have been new essays; I’ve reworked previously published work less than a handful of times.
  • I’m proud of producing so much original work, and mostly pleased with its quality.
  • Thanks to a hard-learned lesson about intellectual property rights, I’ve also started to take my own photos. It’s been a lot of fun to reactivate the visual part of my brain and learn new skills around digital photography.
  • I’ve also learned how to source free photos and how to manipulate photos for the web. Since I like learning new skills, this has been fun.

But there’s been a cost to this work, in both money and time.

  • I’ve let some of my paying work slip in order to write for the blog.
  • Have I made up for lost income in increased audience? It’s hard to tell. Even looking at the numbers, I’m not sure.
  • According to the Jetpack Stats, my website has had 8,266 views; according to my hosting company, I’ve had 81,312.
  • Which stats do I trust? Why the discrepancy? And who are these viewers?

Evaluating the stats.

  • After a year of regular posting, I have forty-nine email subscribers, some of whom I don’t know.
  • The number of people who follow my author page on Facebook, however, has doubled, though still shy of 500.
  • If Facebook’s analytics are to be trusted, an average of two hundred viewers see each of my posts, and generally ten per cent of those viewers click through to the post.
  • Some of my posts have seen much more traffic; one had 1550 hits.

Social Media.

  • I also gave Twitter another try, but I still don’t get it.
  • For one, I refuse to put any social media on my phone. Life is distracting enough!
  • Even Facebook is getting old, as in Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame.
  • Social media does seem like lust in action – lust for readers, for higher numbers, and for book sales. Sure I want readers and income, but I still believe good writing will bring both.

Comments.

  • Without meaning to fall down the rabbit hole of social media, it’s hard not to become addicted to checking the numbers and looking to see if there are new comments.
  • The comments are unquestionably more gratifying than the numbers, because they represent real human interaction.
  • “Meeting” readers is definitely worthwhile.

There are definitely pros and cons to blogging, so I’ll sign on for another year, posting an essay every Wednesday about one of three themes: Living In Place, about living a life rooted in place; The Middle Ages, about this glorious passage between young and old; and Vermonters By Choice, profiles of some of the really interesting and talented people who’ve come to live in the Green Mountain State.

What do you think? Is blogging worth the effort?

Taking photos for the blog has been fun.

Taking photos for the blog has been fun.

Deborah Lee Luskin lives and writes in southern Vermont. She’s the author of the award-winning novel, Into the Wilderness and a regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio.

115 thoughts on “Is Blogging Worth the Effort?

    • You’re welcome. Thank you for your comment. I think it’s a writer’s duty to write her truth, regardless of discomfort and unpopularity.

  1. A very thorough evaluation. I’m sure it is a difficult balance for working writers. For me , as an occasional writer, I try to blog once a week. My content isn’t meant to build readership as much as it is a practice ground and a place to put thoughts. Someday I might be a working writer…

    • Thanks! But at the end of the day, I have to say the majority of these comments have helped me detach from the numbers, which is a great relief. Still, I appreciate your kindness, generosity – and like!

  2. Your 129ing swipe aside, I think the key thing is the tiny phrase tucked within all you’ve said: “good writing.” I am so naive about building up an audience and so forth, it is, well, funny. But, I have stuck to so self-created rules for myself since beginning this blogging business, and I have stuck by them. While I, too, felt some mixed purposes and mixed motives once upon a time in America, depending on who one is and how one defines for oneself the blogging space (remember: it’s shorthand for web log, as in ship’s log), I myself happily discovered that writing for this space in this calendaric measure and measurement of time, became almost at once a very particular spot (see of course Wordsworth) to do just that: good writing, good work. So, your question about is it worth effort, begs asking what are one’s underlying intentions, which though may seem or even be (seemingly) in conflict with each other, may not, in fact, exclude or obliterate the other.

  3. I also ask myself this same question occasionally. But I think that if you start asking this too frequently, the answer is probably ‘No, you are starting to resent blogging’. I have moments of overwhelm, when I feel I will never catch up with everything I have to do in my life and blogging just feels like the straw to break the camel’s back. But a few days later, I will write something I feel proud about or get some lovely comments and all is forgiven and forgotten.
    I suppose, unlike my other obligations, I can always give up blogging. It’s an open relationship that both parties have entered into with open eyes and fully consensual. Even if it does take more commitment than I expected initially.

  4. Thanks for this. I’ve gone back and forth on the whole blogging thing, starting and stopping several times. But for me, being unpublished, it’s nice to get some feedback on what I put out there. I think there’s nothing more frustrating than submitting your writing into a deep black hole and never hear anything back, knowing that your hard work in sitting in some slush pile on some assistant’s desk perhaps never to be discovered. At least I’m getting peer approval. And the blogging platform is infinitely kinder than some other outlets. So long as it doesn’t take me completely away from my WIP, I’ve kept a good balance.

    • Yes, it’s when meeting my self-assigned blogging deadline interferes with my WIP that I resent it. I’m trying to be more efficient about all the essays I wrote (both blogs and other gigs), so I can spend more time advancing the current book. Thanks for sharing your experiences and taking the time to comment.

  5. A very pragmatic evaluation – one which I suspect few bloggers will carry out. For me, blogging is definitely worthwhile as I’m writing a travel log; essentially for myself and my partner but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy checking the stats and receiving encouraging comments. Its primary purpose remains, however. We’re coming close to the end of our trip now, and I looked back on some of the early posts recently, only to find I’d written about things that I’ve subsequently forgotten about!

    • Thanks for your comment. I think the use of a blog while traveling is a great way to share your adventures with others (without having to write the same thing over and over in separate emails – or on aerograms, as I did back in the day . . . ). I hope your friends and family appreciate your work.

    • Thanks for your comment and enthusiasm! Please read the other comments, which offer varied perspectives and a great deal of wisdom from other bloggers.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective. These comments have been varied and very helpful to me. And yes, I also like the discipline. When I write for a magazine or newspaper, I feel responsible to my editor; when I write for my blog, I feel responsible to my readers.

  6. Thanks for the post and your thoughts on the pros and cons of blogging. I’ve been blogging almost two years. If I compare myself to others, I’ve not made the progress I would have liked, so I have to catch myself. I find it challenging keeping up and commenting on other bloggers’ sites. Also, I spend a lot of time editing 1 or 2 posts/week, which takes time away from my other writing. I am still trying to learn balance. For now, I’ll keep blogging. Glad you will, too!

    • Thanks for your comments. Yes, balance is tricky. So how to make blogging a good part of the mix? In my experience, the more I write, the more I can write. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to write the blog posts in a blink, leaving more time for the other work. Only way to find out is to keep at it!

  7. Much like your other readers, I find myself in the same kind of headspace. I enjoy blogging, but I am not sure I am entirely getting what I want out of it. Fortunately, it is still quite early in the game for me, and it isn’t taking away from paid work.
    I had hoped that I would have more readers and more communication with them, but it is slow going. I had also hoped that review opportunities would have come my way. However, I will remain positive and continue with my thoughts that writing and the ability to express myself is what I am really getting out of this, regardless of how many people read it.

    • You have a good attitude – and maybe a necessary one in the crowded blogosphere. How many blogs can a person read and still get on with the work of the world (to say nothing of reading other texts, like novels and non-fiction?) So, chin up and onward! That’s what I’m going to do. . .

  8. This was a great post and has made me think a lot about the blogging experience as well. I don’t know what I hope to really gain from blogging. I think it’s fun, but then I do want to also have an opportunity to get my work out there so people will want to buy some published work in the future. This give me a lot to ponder.

    • One of my roles as a writer is to irritate people – like a pebble in the shoe. Your comment makes me feel as if I’ve succeeded with you, forcing you to think about the role of blogging in your life. Usually, people apologize for irritating another. I’m not going to. I think we need to know why we write, which often means asking difficult questions. Thanks so much for reading the blog and posting your comment.

  9. Thank you for your post – very enlightening. I only started my blog 6 weeks ago, I love to write and share things that make me laugh, cry or just make me think. To be honest I don’t ever expect to gain financially I just wanted to have a platform to sound off and leave “a little bit of me” on record. I’m glad you have decided to continue and to enjoy writing 😊

    • Thanks for your comments. It’s great to learn of others’ motivations and points-of-view. And yes, I’ll continue blogging both here and on my website – at least for now.

  10. Dear Deborah, I read with interest your comments for blogging and have to agree about so many points.I definitely think that the greatest benefit for you and me is posting every week. I also have a website and use twitter occasionally but like you dont really understand it. I think Instagram has a lot going for it. I agree with you that good writing will win in the end. Be patient and I am sure you will win in the end. I intend to follow your facebook page, so there yoy have one extra follower already. I have recently published a book titled “The Road to Chateaumelion” on kindle and my website which is having a major revamp at the moment is thegaslightgallery.com.au Good luck with your writing. Regards Peter White

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Peter, Thanks for your comments and your “Like” (!) I’m impressed that you are both a writer and a visual artist (which may be why you prefer Instagram?). My interest in photography makes Instagram a temptation, but at this point, I don’t want to participate in any more social media and have drawn a line, at least for the time being. All best, Deborah.

  11. I dont know whether WordPress is the best forum. It is very hard to navigate around. I have ttried having my own hand built website and copyingsome of it onto wordpress helps.Keep up the good work

    • Yes, there’s certainly an element of obligation here, “to build a platform” and all that blah, blah, blah. Thanks for your reading the post and your comment.

  12. I blog as much for personal satisfaction as anything else. I love writing & find it easier to express myself through a blog. I don’t check my stats because It’s not that important to me, I guess it would be different if my income depended on it but it doesn’t.
    Reading other people’s blogs are a great way to get food for thought. For an amateur writer this can be invaluable.
    Rosie x

  13. Personally, I began to blog so I could be in touch with others through communication and interaction. We can learn from others providing we are not focussed on accomplishments but learning and growing. I do not think its of any financial benefit to me as this was never my intention. I wonder if anyone out there has even been sufficiently interested to check out my novels on Amazon or even knows where I live or anything about me. But Blogging expands my knowledge and I simply enjoy the journey. thank you for your blogs.

  14. These have to be things that all bloggers struggle with at some point, I think… I often find myself getting bogged down in the numbers, in the “am I good enough?” thing, wondering if I need a bigger social media presence… but then I remember I bought into all that crap the last time I blogged, and ended up hating it so much I stopped blogging all together! This time around, every time I start to worry about it all, I remind myself that I am writing for ME first and foremost, and the other readers my blog attracts are all amazing bonuses!

  15. Very good questions! My blog is entering it’s “terrible twos” and after some experimentation, I’ve settled to twice a week postings in a variety of categories. Facebook has been a great forum for introducing my blog to a wider audience but that is as far as I’m willing to go in social media. Although theforgetfulfiles.com is an excellent writing practice, I do hope to author books soon. With a big family and many commitments, I wonder if I will have to sacrifice one or the other? I feel accomplished regardless, so long as I keep writing! 😉

    • Terrific attitude! And while I don’t always feel “accomplished” regardless, I always feel whole as long as I keep writing. And there are many things that make life worth living besides writing – like family. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  16. I enjoyed this. In the last couple of years almost 5000 followers have signed up–if, as you note, WordPress numbers can be trusted. But in the end I am still writing out of joy, not for numbers. Each week I post a short fiction and a creative nonfiction piece and alternate days photos and short poems. My discipline and hours of writing have significantly increased. But I am submitting less to journals and I do worry that I will only keep writing for quickly and possibly less carefully–as it is fun. Then I think: why not? There is a valuable place in writing worlds for blogging and sharing with readers all over the world is lovely. I appreciate the community at WordPress and gain knowledge of other cultures and experiences, relish discovering so many creatice souls out there!

  17. For me, blogging is an expression and a sanity check. If it pays? That would be amazing. I think you get out of blogging (a free activity) what you put into it. If you’re anticipating income, or running behind on paid gigs, it might not be the right medium for your needs.

  18. I will hit my 6 month daily blogging this week!
    Is it hard? YES!
    But I love it & do it for me.
    I would love to be paid but also know if I don’t write I’m miserable! Ha!
    Originally I started to put myself out there. Of course I hoped to be noticed but somewhere I realized I needed to blog for me.
    Some blogs are just “eh” to me – admittedly filling space to fill my daily quota I set for myself.
    I started working on quality & not freaking if my material wasn’t up to my “standards” because again, I love writing & am just proud of me for following through.
    I use Facebook some on my personal page to promote my blog but have no clue about the Twitter nor am I sure I want to!
    I love your blogs & love reading other blogs!
    I tend to focus on my passions, what’s happening & randomness!
    I will be setting writing goals again in January.
    Thank you!

  19. Hi Deborah, thanks for a very thought provoking read. I am a relatively new blogger and think my motivation is more about connecting with others. I love receiving comments more than likes as it means that I really have engaged with my readers. I’ve had loads of travel articles published in magazines over the past few years so I feel as though I’ve already accomplished my dreams but blogging just seems so much more personal. Like I’m really reaching out to others. And I love reading others posts. So for me it’s definitely not financial. Thanks again for your great post.

  20. I’ve been encouraged to up my blogging as a means of promoting my farm business. I have a blog but it’s moribund. I post erratically, and it might be anything from a tirade about a food policy to a recipe for pulled pork that takes two days to complete.
    To be honest, I can’t see the business case for the amount of time it would take to do a decent and regular job with the blog. Perhaps if a bigger part of my business were writing for its own sake (as opposed to writing copy for the web site, business proposals, e-mail updates for my customers and the like), it would be a different story. But from even from what I can see of that business model, a professional writer blogging sort of smacks of the musician playing the local coffee house for exposure. Not many people see it and the only entity that makes money from the deal is the host.

  21. Excellent post! Writing something new each week may be just what I need to do. New ideas, different subject and/or fresh perspective would be energizing. I want to try it just for fun. Thanks for posting.

  22. I am a novice in blogging. I love to read mainly management books and non fiction. I love your current post because it is factual and down to earth and good food for thought for novice blogger like me. I have also looked at several of your past post and could relate to what you have written. (Where you broke your right ankle and on cast for 6 months and also about Einstein’s Relativity and Middle Age) From my perspective, is it important to have many likes whenever I posted a blog or let it be a form of self expression. And give credit when it is due whenever I come across a good post like yours.

    I will would like to be your 50th subscriber and look forwards the weekly wed post.

  23. Well, If I live up a very busy day then also I can get at least 20 minutes for blogging. I go to college and in meanwhile any free time is devoted to writing. I easily get half an hour for writing for blog.Blogging has somehow become a part of daily life and it needs attention.

  24. Intersting thought about blogging, I’m a newbie struggling with how much to share of myself on what was meant to be a travel blog. Inevitably though when I begin to write it gets personal fast…. perhaps musings on life is meant to be my place in this new community of fellow writers.

    • Blogging exposes you – but doesn’t all writing? And isn’t that what makes it resonant with readers? I think so!
      Thanks for reading and commenting on this post.

  25. Maybe everyone does’nt care.. But you should really look forward to people who do. And then focus your attention towards them. Do it for yourself and not for money..

  26. A very interesting post. I spent a lot of time blogging a couple of years ago and concluded that I was wasting time in which I should have been producing stuff. I still produced very little during the break I took, however! Thought I’d come back to it with a focus on Twitter so I can post articles that come up on Twitter onto my blog, to keep it looking current without putting in too much work yet. It’s good for people to have somewhere to go to find out more about you when they come across your name in other places, I think 🙂

  27. Thanks for your comments and Reblog. I take good note of your observation and acknowledge that I produce a lot on account of the blogs I write for – about six essays a month! Point well taken. Thanks.

  28. Blogging is time consuming but is so worth it. It’s a community of like-minded people. Many writers I know don’t get the stimulating conversation from the people in their real, everyday worlds, because often, our world is misunderstood. Social media keeps us connected, and keeps our readers up to date. It’s a Catch 22.

    • Thanks for your comment. The responses to this post have been overwhelming, showing just how connected I am to a wide community of writers. And as is always the case, I’m often surprised by the variety of ideas. Often, I wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” Othertimes, comments help me clarify my thinking. So yes, blogging IS worth the effort! All best.

  29. I don’t really promote anything on my blog, unless it is a social cause or a book by an author friend. I’ve made lasting friends over the last 7 years of blogging, and that has made it worth the effort. Like anything else, blogging takes time to make an impact: I had below 1000 followers for years, and now have above 30,000.

    I’ve never really bothered much about the stats: blogging is my downtime from real writing, and I do as much as I can, when I can.

    I appreciate your honesty in your attitudes to blogging and social media: most people do not make such a forthright evaluation.

  30. Pingback: Friday Fun – Why do you blog (and is it worth the effort)? | Live to Write – Write to Live

  31. Excellent post, love it. I’m new to the blogging world, I say new because I haven’t totally committed myself to writing regularly. I’ve written over 30 blog posts (I think, or is it 20? not sure) but what I am finding is I have to write. Right now I’m working at finding my voice.

  32. Dear Deborah,
    I have just started a blogging account on WordPress and it’s the free plan.
    I decided to log out and see what my site looked like from the public’s perspective {after I fixed the home page, thanks for the tip.} The thing is I couldn’t find it no matter what I searched on Google. I had to go to recents in order to find it. Is there a reason it’s not coming up, can only people with wordpress accounts see my blog?
    Thanks, from Teen Typer

  33. I’ve been blogging for four years, and for me: it’s worth it. I’ve written a variety of non-fiction articles, book reviews, travel pieces, social comment, short fiction, flash fiction – I have the freedom to write & post exactly what I like. My blog encourages me to write. My plan is to post once a week – doesn’t always happen, but that’s not a train smash. I enjoy the interaction with my readers.

    • Thanks for posting this comment. I love your phrase “train smash”. Like you, I try to post weekly on my personal blog, every other week on this one. I like the pressure of the deadlines, and I’m learning to meet them efficiently. All best.

      • FYI :the train smash phrase is very colloquial in South Africa. I wouldn’t describe it as a buzzword, but its a common phrase., Very descriptive, isn’t it?

      • Hi Alison 41, Thanks for the background on train smash – and for placing it in South Africa. All best, Deborah. Deborah Lee Luskin Author, Blogger, Pen-for-Hire

        Advancing issues through narrative; telling stories to create change.

        Website, Email, Twitter, Facebook Living In Place, Live to Write – Write to Live Into the Wilderness, “a fiercely intelligent love story.”

  34. Thought-provoking post. I started blogging as a way back into writing after a long break, then earlier this year it got muddled up with health issues. I’m keeping an open mind about blogging right now, as I’m really not sure what I want to do with it. It is useful having a platform for the words if I need to use it though, without having to set anything new up. And I’m proud of a lot of the work I’ve posted, and the emotions I’ve expressed, so I think, for me, it’s been worth the effort.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. As the thread above demonstrates so clearly, there are as many reasons to keep a blog as there are bloggers. My wish for you is that you can write/right your way back to health. Blessings this Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for readers like you.

    • Hi Angel, Thanks for following up with me!
      Yes, continuing my personal blog (www.deborahleeluskin.com) has been worthwhile, especially given the political move to the right and the recent increase in violent language and threats to civil rights. It’s more important than ever to exercise our civil rights of free speech to protect our civil rights guaranteeing freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. I’m hopeful that we can recreate a country where people can engage in civil discourse, and listen to each other even – especially! – when they disagree.
      It is this need to control language so that it conveys our thoughts accurately that inspires me to continue to post here, at New Hampshire Writers Network.
      At the same time, I’m still struggling to find time to work on the two long-form projects I have on my desk. But I’m beginning to see a way to advance that work and continue to blog.
      What do you think about blogging? ~Deborah.

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