You should be blogging, even if casually and infrequently and briefly.
I’ve already said that journalists of all stripes, anyone interested in media, research or anything in which your writing, your name and your credibility is best served defended and re-defended somewhere it can be found.
One of the best reasons to traipse into this fad — and, of course, blogging is fad for now, fashion, perhaps, later, because we won’t know of its longevity for some time — is because there is no better way to develop a voice and a focus. These are, they tell me and tell me and tell me again, central qualities to all writers of note and consequence, indeed, even writers and speakers and thinkers of even relative success.
And it’s harder than you might think.
Do you have a blog? Like any good newspaper column, I really think you ought to be able to tell me its specific focus in 25 words or less.
I’ve been writing here for more than a year and, I fastly admit, spent the first several months floundering with my focus – occasionally posting news bloopers and too-personal experiences – under the broad umbrella of media blogging, too broad to be sure.
Today on my About page, though, I pledge to do the following:
On this professional site, I blog about being a young freelance journalist in Philadelphia – with central themes on pitching, writing, researching, networking and journalism 2.0.
That’s 28 words and, really, I hope to further narrow my focus further – regardless of how succinct the above sentence is. The process has been a lesson to me, and I’ve developed since.
So I may share funny Youtube videos and quirky news stories via Google Reader, but they don’t belong here. Any private stories I like to share I post on My Life To-do list, a personal site whose role will be discussed more in a future post. Otherwise, I stick to what I think this site’s focus should be – the tour of a young freelance journalists in 2008.
In the past six months of narrowing my focus, I have seen growth in my readership (hello to more than two-dozen new subscribers!). It is easier for potentially interested readers to decide coming or subscribing here is worth their time. I can reach out to share my specific goal.
Too many blogs, some written by even experienced writers, have taglines that include words like “ramblings,” or “anything that comes to mind.” I don’t pretend to think I’d ever want explicit control on such nonsense, but it seems to me that writing belongs in a journal stored in your sock drawer – not cluttering the Interwebs.
It took me longer to realize that than I hope it will take you.
Find a focus, a niche, do it best and link the rest.
That’s where blogs can be transcendent because it’s the same lesson newspapers need to learn. Unless your columnists – or newspaper bloggers – have real insight, have them link elsewhere and let them do what they do best – humor or metro or crime-coverage, etc. You should too.
Develop your voice and find your focus, and write it down for yourself in 25 words or less. Then stick to it. For all of us.
Image courtesy of MingLee.