Imagine this. You wake up one dewy Saturday morning, sit down with your laptop and a hot cup of Earl Grey to check your email, and you find this: a green light for that story you pitched the editor last week, fan emails full of questions and enthusiastic thank yous, and an invitation to interview for a writing gig you never had to apply to.
Sound too good to be true? If you keep a professional blog, mornings like this one happen more often than you’d think.
Some writers out there still underestimate the power of blogging in this digital age of publishing. But in fact, there are few greater gifts new writers can give themselves than a professional blog. And that’s true even for established and traditionally published writers.
Here are five phenomenal ways blogging can help you build your writing career.
1) Credibility for Both New and Established Writers
Writers with updated blogs show they’re serious. You don’t just talk about writing; you actually write. Every blog post is proof you’re pursuing writing, honing your skills, getting out there, and making it happen. Every time you show up to post, you’re proving your commitment to writing. Bonus: blogging forces you to be that credible writer because it’s tough to ignore your writing goals when blog readers are always waiting for news in your next installment.
2) Proves to Editors You Can Attract Fans
Behind the manuscript guidelines and story tips and query rules, editors and agents care about only one thing: can your writing build an audience that will buy your books? What better way to prove you can build an audience of loyal fans than to actually do it? Your blog is your audience hub. From building your email list to your daily web traffic, every follower is proof you can sway readers with words. Bonus: the bigger your audience, the easier it is to get that coveted yes! when you pitch agents and editors.
3) Brands You as an Author
Want people to think of you as an author? Then it pays to brand yourself as an author from day one. It’s okay if you’re unpublished at first. It’s even okay if you’re brand new to writing or haven’t written in a long time or aren’t yet the writer you want to be. Lots of writers worry about calling themselves writers too soon—and next week we’re going to bust some common blogging fears like this one—but for now be proud and claim that writer title. Because the sooner you brand yourself as a writer by blogging, the sooner editors and agents will think of you as one. And that means when they need a writer, you’re more likely to come to mind. This isn’t dishonest because if you write, you’re a writer. Blogging, at its core, is writing. From there it’s a short step to the pros.
4) Provides A Steady Stream of Updated Writing Samples for Queries and Pitches
This one is especially useful for new writers who may not yet have many publications under their belts. When you pitch story ideas—in anything from fiction to journalism—writing samples show editors where your writing skills are right now and help them determine where you may fit within their publication. And blog posts you can link to right in your email pitch make it that much easier for busy editors to see your writing samples and say yes. You already know why you should guest post on other sites. Having a blog with completed posts makes it that much easier to prove you can pull off a great one.
5) Writing Opportunities Fall into Your Lap
I started my website for new writers to build an encouraging community and to share the insights I discovered along the way. I also had the vague notion that writing online could help me eventually break into publishing. But this felt like a distant dream for a magic “someday.” So I settled in to have a great time, meet wonderful writers, and learn as much as I could about writing and blogging in the meantime.
Except a few months into blogging, I woke up to an unexpectedly awesome email from the director of a news station in my town. She’d found my blog on Twitter and reached out to invite me to interview for a writing job at the station I never had to apply to.
Since then I’ve met publishing pros, like agents and produced screenwriters, who’ve helped me in my writing journey in ways I couldn’t have foreseen. And this is just the beginning of my writing journey! If I hadn’t started a blog, even these small successes would be a distant dream. But if you start a blog, you’ll come to expect them.
Know of any blogging perks for writers I missed? Share them the comments below, or on social media, using the hashtag #5OnFri!
Mandy Wallace is a writing coach and blogger with a BA in English lit and a few writing awards. She shares weekly writing tips on her website for new writers, which clocked over a half million page views last year and is listed as one of The Write Life’s 100 best websites for writers. Grab a copy of her character design guide here.