What Is The Point of A Blog?

What is the point of a blog? is a question I’m asked time and time again. Most of the time, these would be self-publishers are asking me where does a blog fit into the scheme of things? What’s its place in my overall plan? How do I know if it’s working, if I’m blogging well?

But sometimes, they’re asking something else, something a bit frightening. They’re asking what is the point of a blog? because they actually don’t see the point of having one.


Utterly irrelevant photo, but LOOK HOW PRETTY!

What is the point of a book?

Writers write. We may be locked forever in the battle between I hate writing and I love having written, and we may write not every single day, and there may be enough dust on the top page of our most recently finished manuscript for someone to write ‘REVISE ME’ in it with their finger, but we still write. It’s what we were meant to do, and if we don’t do it frequently enough, we start to feel antsy and anxious, unable to read a book or concentrate on TV or walk down a street without sentences and ideas and characters crowding around inside our head, demanding to be written down.

I assume, as a writer, you would never ask what is the point of a book? You might say this is because you love books, but you don’t read blogs. Well, I love books, but I don’t read poetry. I haven’t since I was forced to in school, and I don’t see a way back into it in my future. I could go as far as to say that I don’t like poetry. But I would never, ever, ask what is the point of it (or try to write it, for that matter, even if someone told me I really should).

Blogging is writing. Blog posts are made up of words. I’m writing this in bed on a lazy morning, laptop perched on the duvet, (cold) coffee to hand, knowing that this afternoon, I have to do some Proper Writing. I have to add words to my WIP. So this blog post is a way into that, a gentle easing into the writing/typing/thoughts-into-words frame of mind. And I always blog, even when I’m not doing any Proper Writing, even when there IS enough dust on top of that MS to write threatening messages. It’s an important part of my writing life.

Writers have something to say

Why do you write in the first place? Why write at all? Forget agents and fame and money and names on spines and book festival lanyards that identify you as an ‘author’ and all that. Go back to the beginning. Why did you start to write in the first place? What made you want to do it? What was the initial spark? Did you start writing, maybe, because you felt you had something to say?

When I started thinking about what is the point of a blog? I knew I had to write a blog post about it. I thought, I will next week. But as soon as I made that decision, thoughts came rushing in: sentences for this post, section headings, etc. until it all got too loud and I had to put down the book I was reading (The Good Nurse—on a bit of a serial-killer-research spree at the moment), pull the laptop onto my knees and start writing this. Because I had to something to say about it.

A novel may take a year or more to write, and it might never see the light of day—if you put everything you’ve to say in there, no one might ever hear it. Or maybe you have things to say about something that has nothing to do with your novel. Maybe you know a lot about a specific something, or maybe you love ranting at bad movies in a way that makes people laugh, or maybe you’ve experienced something that you suspect a lot of other people have too but everyone is afraid to say. All good reasons to start blogging, a blog being the most suitable medium for things like that.

Fun—have you heard of it?

If there’s an option, I don’t do anything that isn’t fun for me. Obviously we all have to earn a living, and you may have a job that isn’t much fun, but you can’t exactly jack it in because you need food, shelter, warmth and something to pay your credit card bills with. But if you hated knitting, would you run home after work every night, take out your patterns and your needles and your ball of wool, and start adding rows to that reindeer jumper? Of course not.

So if you hate blogging or the idea of blogging just as much—if you have to wonder what the point of it might be—then don’t do it. If you feel you have to do it to sell books, my advice is the same: don’t do it. Because if you don’t want to blog, if you don’t love it and have fun doing it and put great books about serial killers aside to write a post before you forget all the points you want to make, then it won’t ‘work’ anyway, whether ‘work’ means people reading it or people liking it enough to go seek out other, longer things you’ve written too.

Do you even read blogs?

Let’s pretend for a second that you’re at a writer’s workshop. How To Write A Novel, Get An Agent And A Six-Figure Deal By Next Weekend, or something like that. You meet a guy who arrives wearing hipster eyeglasses and a tweed blazer with leather elbow patches, and has his portable vintage Corona under his arm. He will write first in longhand, he tells you, with a 2H pencil he’s sharpened with a Swiss Army knife. He’s set up a card table by his washer/dryer because he read On Writing and found out the Stephen King wrote Carrie in his laundry room. He knows how many pages he’s going to write per day; he might even have a title for the novel. He has a list of agents he’ll send it to you as soon as the ink’s dry. But he’s never read fiction for pleasure. He isn’t really ‘into’ books. But he wants to get published, and to get published you have to have written a book, so…

If you don’t read blogs, if you don’t like to read blogs for pleasure, then why in the name of fudge are you even considering starting one of your own?

The hard sell

I know I’m guilty of telling people that blogs help sell self-published books, because I believe that this blog helped sell my self-published books. But that’s just what happened: it wasn’t my intention. My intention was that I wanted to start a blog—or another blog, because I’d previously had a travel blog which chronicled my backpacking adventures in Central America. And I’d really enjoyed creating and updating that blog. I loved it.

I have never, I hope, gone for the hard sell on this blog. Sometimes I do of course draw my readers’ attention to workshops and new releases and things like that, but I hope that I’ve earned their permission to do that every now and then by not doing it all most of the time. You’ll never catch one of the those GOD AWFUL RED-RAGE INDUCING pop-ups on here that some blogs have, that pop up like a fruit fly at the end of your nose every time your browser loads the site, asking you to sign up for something stupid so you can get something stupid for free in return, which all gets in the way of why you were there in the first place—to READ THE BLOG—and sometimes, makes you give up before you get past it. And I don’t find a new way to mention my latest book or my most relevant book at the end of every single post. My advertising is confined to my sidebar, which most blog readers don’t even see, what with blog reading tools like Feedly (which just show the blog post itself), and the use of smart-phones (the mobile version of this blog shows the sidebar items at the end, after the blog post).

If I whipped all my titles off Amazon right now and vowed never to write a word destined for a price-tag ever again, you know what? I’d STILL write this blog. I really would. It would have to become exclusively about coffee and Christmas crafts and The Amazing Adventures of Catherine Watching TV, but I’d still do it. Because I like it. I love it. I want to blog.

The practicalities

I don’t believe that people can be taught how to write, from scratch, although I do believe that if you have any little smidgen of writing talent at all, you can learn how to write better. Or more good. (That was a joke, by the way.) So if you want to write any and all things, and you have something to say, and blogging is fun for you, and you like to read blogs and think they add to your daily life, then yes, there are questions I and other bloggers can answer about blogging.

I think, for example, that:

  • While it’s fine to let Facebook and Twitter grow cobwebs occasionally, your blog should always be up to date
  • Your blog design should reflect your personality, and make your blog stand out from the rest
  • You should use WordPress.com
  • It doesn’t matter how often you blog, but your blogging should be regular
  • You should have a contact page where people can send you private messages (blog peeve #214: when bloggers have contact pages that tell me I can contact them on Twitter—you never know who is going to try and get in contact with you—journalists, radio show producers, publicists, etc.—and they mightn’t bother if they’ve to do it in public)
  • Your blog and website should not be in different places, they should be combined, i.e. a blogsite. (Like this one)
  • Like writing the book you want to read but can’t find on the shelves, you should create the blog you want to read but can’t find online.

But this is all just irrelevant crap if you don’t genuinely want to blog, if you don’t already have something to blog about.

Do you agree?

And now, that I’ve got this out of my system, that I’ve said my something to say, I can go back to my book—the one I’m reading—and later, get myself to the desk, because there’s no pressure: even if I add nothing to my WIP at all, I’ve already written 1,828 words today. And I enjoyed writing them, and I look forward to reading your comments.

That is the point of this blog.

See also: Social Media for Authors: [GROAN] Do I Have To? and How To Get People To Read Your Blog

75 thoughts on “What Is The Point of A Blog?

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    Couldn’t agree more about the motivation for blogging. If you don’t enjoy the process of writing then no one will enjoy reading it. Same for stories, novels, poetry – the enjoyment needs to shine through otherwise just don’t do it.

  2. Patricia Gibney says:

    I agree with all you say. I have a blog which is a WIP and my difficulty is updating it regularly. I need to get it redesigned and that is holding me back but now that I’ve read your blog I’m determined to get it working! Thank you

  3. chokulats says:

    Reblogged this on Chokulats and commented:
    I don’t believe that people can be taught how to write, either. And, yes, if you don’t have anything to blog about, don’t do it.

    I am one of the first to raise their hands when asked if they have so many sentences, thoughts, points, headings and subheadings playing in their head. I often have to sleep battling about whether or not this topic is good enough to write about.

    So, I’ll repost this blog to remind myself that if I have something to blog about, then I’ll go ahead and do it. Thanks, Catherine, Caffeinated. 🙂

  4. jenanita01 says:

    Way to go Catherine, I just love the way you think and write. I tend to forget that I really do love to write, basically because a little progress would be good (and tends to be more important a lot of the time) I must resolve to forget what I want, and just do what I like, and thanks for reminding me!

  5. Zoe Brooks says:

    One of the reasons I started writing my first novel was because of blogging. For several years I had been blogging about my experience of living as a Brit in a Czech farmhouse and really enjoying it. I loved the way I got feedback from people I did not know. I was being told “Have you thought about writing a book?” so I did and when I did I went for the self-publishing option, partly because it was closer to the experience of blogging.

    I thought it would be easy to write a writer’s blog, but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t want to write about writing – lots of people including yourself were doing it better than me, so what was left to say? It wasn’t fun and I do agree with you that you should enjoy blogging or stop doing it. I therefore changed it into my writer’s page. At roughly the same time, I started a review blog about Magic Realism, which happens to be my genre. It has really worked for me. I read and review at least one book a week. It has helped me with my writing style, put me in contact with people who like my genre, and I love doing it.

  6. iansutherland says:

    Completely agree, Catherine. I got into blogging because I was trying to do all the right things for my ‘author platform’, very much as you recommend. And over the months, the blog is going in a different direction to the one I had originally envisioned. I don’t post as frequently as I probably should, but I now post about stuff that just occurs to me, that I find interesting. It’s now got a life of its own and I’m enjoying blogging almost as much as ‘proper writing’. Who’d have thought!

  7. Sherry Marshall says:

    Yes indeed. I am a newbie blogger and only write what I am passionate about. My topic and writing of my blog always surprises me and It feels like it writes itself! I am organised in lots of aspects of my life yet my blog happens without planning. It sweeps me away at unexpected times and has to be written then.
    I agree with all you say. Thank you.

  8. mlteditor04 says:

    Digging this post and reblogging ASAP. Life can’t be examined in 140 characters or less, but since old-school, long form writing is often shunned by those stuck in the “I don’t have time to read” trap, blogs are a happy medium. I also notice that lists are gobbled up – it’s my new go-to when I’m swamped, but not a proper reflection of my writing skills. You said a lot of great things here. And now I don’t need to write a new post because I’m borrowing yours 😉

  9. noclinicfortoday says:

    Thank you for writing this! I just started writing again in a blog, and I wondered why in God’s name was I bothering to do it when I live the near-impossible lifestyle of a physician-in-training. Behind the doctor’s coat is a soul who loves to write and yes, my space to put those thoughts out there is my blog. This is very stimulating.

  10. elysesalpeter says:

    This was a good post and one I ask myself all the time. I think a blog accomplishes a few things. a) a new audience. Different people will read my blog, versus follow my web page, versus follow me on twitter. I think it gives me another venue to meet people. #2) it helps analytics on google search. I think as writers (and self pubbed ones) we need to get our messaging out constantly. Hitting all the social media sites seems to be the only way to manage it. Is it helping my sales? So far, I’m on the fence, but I use my blog to give relevant information and to hock my wares. Hopefully it will translate to sales eventually.

  11. kimmifer says:

    This is so great to read. I’ve had a blog for a couple of years and I’m guilty of irregular posts. But I do love it. I love writing and it’s the perfect medium for sharing my something-to-say. Sadly, I do let the cobwebs build up because I feel like it’s not important enough to share.
    Your post has inspired me to just lighten up and get to it. Thank you for that.

  12. Devon Trevarrow Flaherty says:

    Thank you. I can’t tell you how many people I encounter who think they SHOULD HAVE a blog. I always have a blog going, because I always have a lot to say and need a place to organize it. And I’m good at writing. So thanks for giving others the permission NOT to blog.

    Also, thanks for reminding me (again) that my blog needs to meet a (perceived) need and stay focused.

  13. Amy Keeley says:

    Will be saying more about this in a blog post later. It dovetails with some thoughts I had over the weekend regarding this blog and why I’m doing this in the first place, and why the way I approach my blog is going to change, again.

  14. Amy Keeley says:

    Reblogged this on where i keep my stuff and commented:
    (Dang it. My comment was supposed to be part of a reblog. Sorry about that, Catherine!)

    Will be saying more about this in a blog post later. It dovetails with some thoughts I had over the weekend regarding this blog and why I’m doing this in the first place, and why the way I approach my blog is going to change, again.

  15. Sine says:

    Just one question for you. Just having finished a book and gotten half-way through Self-printed (and following every instruction slavishly), how do you suggest incorporating a previous blog (which right now is the one source of all your followers) into the new blogsite? Especially if the old blog stands well on its own as a separate topic serving a specific group of readers who may not necessarily be interested in all you have to say on your new blogsite? I see your point about just having one site, especially since updating two blogs seems like too much writing even for one who loves writing, but it still feels like you’re just abandoning the old blog. Is that what you did with your backpacking one?

  16. igoulton says:

    1. Love the picture
    2. So agree with you on poetry
    3. Where’s the fudge?

    I’ve had several writer friends ask me about blogging. They don’t want to do it. Your post has made me realise why they don’t want to: because they don’t read blogs. And we write best what we read most. Perhaps if they read some good blogs, they’d be inspired to write some as well …

  17. Rebecca Nolen says:

    I love your blog. I wholeheartedly, one-hundred-percent, a-plus number one agree with you on every point. I also have a blog where my purpose is to share, not shove my (up-coming) novels at people. I blog about everything. Blogging is writing. You’re good, Catherine, very, very good.

  18. Megan says:

    I blog mainly because I just enjoy it. I like to share my thoughts, ideas and opinions with the world and discuss them with anyone interested in what I have to say. Because I am a self-published author myself, I blog about all things related to my authorship. Also, authors are supposed to have a platform in order to promote their books. Hey, if blogging is part of having a platform, then I’m more than happy to blog away!

  19. mlteditor04 says:

    Reblogged this on read.eat.DEW.write. and commented:
    I read this while half-asleep this AM, and I was 110% smitten with Catherine, Caffeinated’s words. I mean, it IS a good question, right? I certainly wax poetic to all of my clients, about the merits of blogging, and admittedly, spend far more time on my personal blog than my biz blog and occasionally on my husband and children. It’s my space, and I dig it. And thanks to Catherine, Caffeinated, I can dig it all the more. After all, writers have to write. And, as you’ll note upon visiting my blog, sometimes, 140 characters just isn’t enough.

  20. Jennifer Ellis says:

    The point of a blog, or my blog, for me at least, is that I spend all sorts of time researching stuff about writing that I need to know to solve a particular problem or deal with an issue, and if I do not write it down in a logical way on my blog say, I will forget it myself. So my blog is my record of what I have learned, and if it helps other people, the way so many other blogs have helped me, then great :-). Blogs are where you can learn almost absolutely everything about writing these days (and probably almost everything about anything really).

  21. mountainmornings says:

    Reblogged this on MountainMornings and commented:
    I happen to love this writer. She’s young and supremely talented and gives the blogosphere lots of great tips on self-publishing…she’s one of a few bloggers I follow. Meaning, I subscribe and read every single one of her posts. Here she’s getting all meta on me!

  22. mkingdon says:

    Writing a blog for over two years, mostly about inane day to day nonsense has in fact given me an audience and following that has encouraged me into writing my first fiction novel (after writing two non fiction travel journals). Without that audience and their encouragement I probably would never have done so. I also just added my contact details to my About page on my blog…thank you!

  23. Jennifer Ellis says:

    I was thinking also, that blogs serve as kind of a lit review writ large. With all the sharing of experiences and the interconnections from one blog to another, it is kind of like bloggers are producing a referenced interconnected manual on how to write and publish that never would have existed without bloggers.

  24. Nia-Jai (Mz M@nni) says:

    Wow thanks Catherine, this is exactly what i needed to kick start me back onto the right path. This year has been tumultuous to say the least and losing my father made me feel like I lost apart of myself unfortunately I lost my writing too. I just couldn’t bring myself to log into life much less online. However recently things have been getting easier and this morning i thought I would get back online and catch up on some of your blogs which were actually part of the reason I started blogging in the first place. Thanks to these words and a much needed reality check I shall be dusting off the webs from my original blog site and checking back into the world of words. Its been a long time and Iv truly missed it and like you said you should only do it if you love it. Here’s to you and Coffee 😉

  25. davidprosser says:

    Blogging about writing didn’t work for me at all and ye people seemed to enjoy hearing about the life surrounding it. Even during personal trials people were writing nice comments and offering support. I changed format and made the blog weekly and a diary of my week which went down even better than before so the format stayed apart from some Author Interviews thrown in which also got good responses. The blog has made me some close friends and goes from strength to strength. I love it.

  26. Jack Scott says:

    Some great advice. Blogging can be a very useful promotional tool for an author, though I agree a little light touch is needed, otherwise your readers will change channels quicker than you can say “click here.” By now, I reckon most of my regulars have either bought my book or would rather read the back of an envelope, so there’s little point banging on about it (until the next one, of course).

  27. JB Vincent says:

    Really enjoyed this post and I have now become a follower. I agree with everything you said and would add that I find my blog works just like a physical work out regiment – the more I write the better I get at it. (or, at least in my mind I do!) Looking forward to being a regular reader. – JB Vincent

  28. drewdog2060drewdog2060 says:

    I like the way in which you inject humour into a serious topic. You had me laughing out loud on several occasions. I try to blog every day however, if I am tired I give it a miss as I know that I will not be producing my best work and, just as importantly I don’t want blogging to become a chore. Incidentally my screen reading software (Jaws which converts text into speech and braille) does not seem to pick up your sidebar so, if your books are, in fact shown there Jaws is not picking them up.

  29. diannej65 says:

    I was only introduced to blogs a few weeks ago and I’m hooked! I love reading about the lives of others, their thoughts, rants, hopes, dreams and dreads. I’m so hooked I have even startecd my own blog (there’s only 2 posts on it at the moment, its that new lol). I have wondered whether I have anything interesting enough for people to want to read it, but you know what? I don’t mind if no one reads it. I love writting therefore I’ll write and a blog is the ideal place to write.
    Thank you for this post. It’s given me impetus to stop dithering and get on and do more on my own blog!

  30. Shah Wharton says:

    Yes, I agree with all this. My family and acquaintances all think it’s a waste of my time and a useless pastime, while they play CandyCrush? *Groan. I’ve given up trying to validate why blogging is awesome. I’ve met writers, readers, creatives in general, and have a million resources in my blogroll. I write without thinking too hard about it to friends I would never have met. What’s not to like? X


    • Sine says:

      Love your comment about CandyCrush. Isn’t that the truth. Among all the other reasons I blog, I also like to know I have a record of what’s been going on in my life, and in my head. Like you say, it’s a resource – I can always be counted on to already have written about something I later want to know. It’s like my blog has become my own life’s manual:-)

  31. So Many Right Ways says:

    Great post. So identify with the comment about ideas and sentences crowding your head. I feel that all the time, fit to burst, and the only relief really is writing it out. I think blogging is the perfect medium for this ‘ailment’. Blog on!

  32. MW de Jesus (@MWdeJesus) says:

    At the beginning of my writing journey I was shaped by the (oft repeated) statement that we should write to write, not as a pursuit of a result (fame, riches and/or recognition). This is insanely difficult because we want our words to be seen, ingested, processed. We want to matter. I don’t know that I will ever get published but I know that writing is not optional. My blog is my creative outlet, crafted with the understanding that writing isn’t a choice, it is what stirs me—what animates my soul. If something come from that, sweet. If not, at least I am responding to the siren call the way the best way I can.

  33. ebooksinternational says:

    And I always thought writers LIKE to write … no matter if book or blog or …whatever.

    Thanks for writing about these annoying pop-ups, great description:
    “You’ll never catch one of the those GOD AWFUL RED-RAGE INDUCING pop-ups on here that some blogs have, that pop up like a fruit fly at the end of your nose every time your browser loads the site, asking you to sign up for something stupid so you can get something stupid for free in return, which all gets in the way of why you were there in the first place—to READ THE BLOG—and sometimes, makes you give up before you get past it.”
    Love your posts : )
    Cheers, Doris

  34. Katie Wellman says:

    Reblogged this on Novel Inkspiration and commented:
    I recently came across this blog post and it aligned perfectly with everything that I’ve ever felt about this blog – Catherine is wonderful, read her.

  35. pipmarks says:

    I use it as a way to organise random thoughts invading my brain – often involving topics that most of my friends have no interest in and/or are outside my role at work. I wouldn’t have a blog if it felt like a chore but perhaps it’s different if you write for a living. Also, it’s only been 5 months so maybe I am still in the honeymoon period?

  36. bmwillson1936 says:

    You are spot one exactly right about blogging. Blogging is nothing new. Before the internet we called it journal ling, the only difference was, very seldom did any one else ever read what writers wrote when they had something to say that had nothing to do with their work in progress. We would write stuff just because we had something to say and it had to get out onto the paper or we would implode. Even after the Internet I used to do warm up exercises every day on random topics, just to get all my juices flowing.

    My son-in-law got me started on this blog I have now, as a therapeutic project to get me back to the WIP.’ I have been struggling with some stressful events and they were capped off by a sever fall which left me in severe pain and depression, and will ultimately require surgery to correct everything. My blog is a way to get my hands back on the keyboard. Also my blog is another form of a warm up exercise, that I’m, hoping will become an incurable habit which will afford me days upon end of enjoyable activity. The big difference is that some other people I don’t even know or who don’t know me might also read it, and what I write might cause them to write something or visa verse.

    so everybody just keep on blogging.

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