The house is a mess. The bills are overdue. I missed a deadline. I haven’t signed my son up for a single summer camp or planned the family’s summer vacation.
I’ve been too busy blogging. For the past month I’ve posted here every day. 31 days, 31 blog posts – a couple more actually because some days I wrote more than once.
Why spend so much time writing for free, something that I counsel other writers against?
Because for the second year in a row, I hosted a month-long blogathon for freelance writers. This year close to 45 showed up. Together we blogged through weekdays, weekends and a holiday. We held a guest post exchange and wrote on another writer’s blog for a day. We encouraged each other on Twitter. Tomorrow we’ll be back on Twitter for a blogathon wrap party. You can tune in too, just follow the hashtag #MayBlog2.
When I thought up doing a blogathon last year, I only had a few month of blogging under my belt. My posts were sporadic and I didn’t know much about traffic or SEO. The blogathon was a way to stick to a schedule, teach myself about blog promotion, and bring a few friends along for the ride.
This year my blogathon goals were different. Over the past 12 month, I’ve settled into a regular posting groove, learned about promoting my work, and seen traffic grow 10 fold. For me, this month was about tackling subjects I’d wanted to cover but hadn’t made time for, like putting together this list of top 25 digital media trendsetters. I also used it to build my “brand” to get recognized in the industry I blog about, and getting to know other writers and bloggers better, especially those that cover what I do.
By those measures, the month was a success. At the same time, and just like last year, the best part was having friends along for the ride.
For most, if not all the writers in this year’s blogathon, blogging is still a side project, an early morning or after hours gig we do in addition to our “real” writing, the magazine or Website assignments that pay the bills. But I predict that for more and more of us, blogging will be the assignment, whether it’s for a publisher we already write for, at HuffPost to drive traffic to our other work, ourselves to promote a book or project, a hyperlocal news site, or ghostblogging for a corporate client.
So there’s a solid business case to be made for a freelance writer spending time becoming a better blogger. In 2009, blogging is a skill every writer has to know.
What have you learned from the blogathon, or from your own blogging practice? Feel free to leave a comment. I’ll include some of the best along with other lessons learned from Monday’s blogathon wrap party in an upcoming post.