Take charge of the bare necessities to be a good writer.
Why should I blog?
Blogging lets you express yourself. You can carve out your own niche and create a home. You can make a statement and show others what you want to show. You can understand the true purpose behind what you love (whether you’re a college student or a tenured professor) and even help others find more meaning in their lives. For example, PhD students often write about their struggles in order to help themselves and others approach those issues. Unlike, for example, a social media website, blogging gives you much more freedom for expression and design. While blogging offers a lot of benefits, it is very difficult to gain momentum and develop key qualities of writing (e.g., persistent, high-quality, original, authentic, etc.) that you need.
When I started blogging in the summer of 2014, I wanted a place to write about my scientific research, but, as time went on, I wrote about my other academic interests. I didn’t have much of a reason for doing so other than the fact that I loved writing, but, as I got involved more (like with the Indiana Daily Student), it turned into a professional profile and place where others can learn.
Having said that, though blogging may have been popular a decade ago, it’s not as widely used as social media. You should think about whether or not the medium of blogging is truly right for you.
What should I write about?
Write about what you love and what you’re good at. It could be science, sports, literature, politics, or anything. You can write about personal things, too, if that’s what you want to share with your audience. I guarantee you that, if you develop skills and cultivate a passion for it, then you can gain control over some overarching purpose with your blog and help you in the long-run. For example, you might start writing about simple noteworthy political events, but, as time goes on, you may develop an interest in U.S.-Russia relations or global economic issues. Don’t pigeonhole yourself early on, but, as you grow, you’ll find more specific interests.
“Less is more” when it comes to resources. Make content quality a priority over popularity. Visit high-quality media (I particularly enjoy Arts and Letters Daily, and 3 Quarks Daily) and abandon what doesn’t meet your standards. Stay away from the popular news and magazine sites if their quality isn’t good.
Do I need social media?
If you want to, use it wisely.
I’ve avoided social networks (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.) for most of my academic career. I’ve registered accounts on a few of them when professionals require me to do so (e.g., if a professor needs to get in touch with me via Linkedin). As is the case with many writers, social media has been a love-hate relationship: I want as many people to read my blog as possible, but the medium of social networks doesn’t guarantee the type of experience I desire. It lacks the immersive context while promising that we can be more “social” with a social network identity. Many of the best scientists and researchers avoid social media for various reasons, as well, and some might attribute some of their success to this fact.
Besides, when there are so many factors that determine success of a blog (e.g., content quality, popularity of the subject you write about, uniqueness, etc.), it’s very difficult to accurately determine whether or not social networks actually benefits your blog. It could be the case that social networks are more of a “medium,” just like any other form of communication, and choosing to abstain from social networks doesn’t mean you’re missing out on its benefit, but, rather, choosing to obtain benefit from other areas. It could be that, if you abstain from social media, you’re actually exposing yourself more to other forms of communication.
The choice is yours whether or not you will use social media. But, if you do so, make sure your communication is meaningful and descriptive. Remember, “less is more” means you can benefit more from fewer media.
Where do I go from here?
It is hard to really make a purpose or mission from blogging. A lot of times you might feel like you’re writing about what you want to, but not really getting anything from it. Similar to trying to get famous in Hollywood, there is a lot of competition to getting noticed on the Internet. You might feel like your efforts are going to waste or it’s just not worth it. If you think blogging would be cool, it’s best to start writing about what you love and, from time to time, think about where you’re going and what you’ve done to get there. If you realize it’s not something you can comfortably pursue, then so be it. Blogging is what you make of it.
They say that the wise man isn’t the one who says “yes” to everything, but the one who says “no” to everything. To be a great person you shouldn’t try to do everything nor should you prioritize popularity and marketability over quality and authenticity. That means learning how to choose a few things (whether they’re social media sites or news sources) that meet your standards. After all, “less is more.”
But, if you haven’t started blogging already, you should definitely consider starting.