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5 reasons why you need to blog

May 15, 2012 · 21 comments

in Journalism how-to's

Unfortunately, I know too many talented, smart people who are sitting home unemployed or underemployed. Oh, if only they would blog! Launching this website has made me quite marketable. In one case, I was hired for a teaching gig within 24 hours of sending out my initial query email, which was amazing.

I’ll bet some of you are reading this and squirming. Hey, been there, done that. To be honest, I never wanted to blog either. I fell into it against my will. The journey began a few years ago, when I suddenly had the urge to be a newspaper columnist again. So I called my former editor, Jim Willse. In 1986 he hired me at The New York Daily News and eventually gave me a column. When we reconnected more than a decade later, he had moved on to running the Newark Star-Ledger and I was teaching journalism to college students.

“Talk to me,” he said over lunch. With great enthusiasm, I pitched my idea for writing an irresistible, brilliant column about being a single, divorced woman of color making my way through the 21st century — and he turned me down!

“Good idea,” Jim said. “But I’m not the one you go to. The business has changed. You need to have a blog and build your own audience.” He went on to explain that every media organization wants a bankable commodity. Hence, the importance of me having a blog with readers, who might become a following that could build up his readership.

Then Jim said the most important thing of all: “Once you have your own following, you can go anywhere. In fact, you may not want to come to me anymore.”

I’m presenting this conversation from memory. I couldn’t forget it because our chat left me annoyed and disappointed (it helped though, that Jim paid for lunch, in a nice restaurant to boot). I went home and spent nearly a whole year convincing myself that blogging wasn’t for me.

By Thanksgiving 2008, I launched BettyMingLiu.com.

Why blog? Five reasons:

Reason #1: Blogging helps me in reinventing my identity. In the three years since, I’ve updated my website at least a dozen times. While I still struggle for a shaper focus, I’m enjoying the process of getting to know my online self. Along the way, I’ve learned to use Twitter and Facebook as tools that drive traffic to my site.

Reason #2: A blog is the 21st century version of the old-fashioned resume.  My blog isn’t a moneymaker. At least, not yet. Still, it’s a great marketing vehicle.  Google my name and this website pops up to present a very clear sense of who I am. When I interview for gigs, looking Internet-savvy always gives me an edge.

Reason #3: My blog functions as a living room for conversations that help me grow. Everyone tells me that my site looks good and the content is interesting. What often impresses them the most are the reader comments. People take time to write heartfelt, thoughtful things. And when I’m job hunting, y’all make me look good because prospective employers notice the company I keep.

Reason #4: Blogging is a dynamic outlet for developing my passions. Do I really need a job to have a platform for my ideas? Why put myself in such a powerless position? Blogging has made me responsible for my own destiny in pro-active way. Having a website allows me to showcase me on my own terms. Blogging also gave me something absorbing to do while I looked for work.

Reason #5: Your blog can connect you with people, ideas and opportunities you would otherwise miss. This last reason is why I keep blogging. This blog — and you — have given me profound insight on my life. Sometimes, clarity comes from simply getting down the words that were rattling in my head. Add to that the comments, which get me looking at things in different ways. The interaction with you is 21st century magic-making. And couldn’t we all use a little more magic?

If you want to give blogging a try, consider this fact: You can get started for free. If you want a simple, user-friendly setup, go to Google’s Blogger.com. If you like messing with tech design, then try WordPress.com, which gives more design options but demands more work. (Note: This website is a design that I bought from DIYThemes.com but there’s no need to go that route unless it appeals to you.)

Yes, the learning curve can be steep. But the struggle is worth it. If you have questions or comments, I’m here to help. Good luck!

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