By David Joel Miller.
There are some reasons to write a blog and some reasons not to write one.
If you look around the Internet these days, you’ll find a lot of articles telling you that you should be writing a blog. I think every new, aspiring writer will be told they need a platform. Now platform does not automatically equal blog. But most of the articles about platforms start off by telling you to just create a website, and they usually followed that up by telling you that your website should include a blog.
There are also a lot of classes and trainings you can take on how to create a blog and how to be successful at blogging. These trainings run the gamut from short and free to some tremendously elaborate and expensive trainings. I have been writing a blog since May 2011. If I had known then, what I know now, I might never have started my blog (counselorssoapbox.com.) On the other hand, you should note I have more than two “mental hands,” so I am frequently in a divided mind. By two hands I mean “on the one hand I think x, and on the other hand, I think Y, unless it is Sunday when I may not be thinking at all.”
Now that I’ve been writing the blog for seven years I’m glad I’ve had the experience. Let me tell you a little bit about how I learned about blogs, got started blogging, and some of the things I have learned as a result.
So, what’s a blog?
In 2005, I was sitting in class waiting for the instructor to start his lecture. I probably should mention that I have gone to college off and on since 1966. I’ve gone, drop out and returned several times. I’ve also changed majors so many times; I’ve lost count. Along the way, I finished an associate of science degree, a bachelor’s degree, and most recently a master’s degree. From my first day in college until I finally completed that master’s degree only took me 40 years. I say only half in jest that I have taken every class possible and the only way they would let me hang out on campus anymore is if I would teach a class.
So, in 2005 I am trying to finally finish that master’s degree that had eluded me for so long. That and I am trying to learn these new technologies and keep up with some students who are closer in age to my grandchild that to me. Several of the students in the class had mentioned blogs, so I finally asked one of them, “what precisely is a blog?”
The technical answer, so I am told, is that “blog” is a shortened expression for a “web log or weblog.” I suspect most of you youngsters out there know more about this than I do. The closest analogy I can come up with for those of the older persuasion is that a blog is a rough equivalent to what used to be called a newspaper column.
Most newspaper columns were topical. Some covered sports, some might be advice columns, and occasionally there was one that was a general-purpose column. Most blogs today are like that. Many have a specific topic, but the topic of some blogs are the life experiences of the blogger.
Counselorssoapbox.com launched in 2011.
After looking around the Internet a bit, I decided to write a blog. I had been working for a while as a drug and alcohol counselor and my last trip back to school had been for a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. In California children’s therapy is included as part of the family therapy training. After working both as a counselor in the substance abuse field and as a marriage and family therapist, I’d seen a lot of people recover from some serious mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. I developed a firm belief that people can recover from almost any life challenge. I won’t try to define recovery here.
One other consideration for my blog was how commonly I saw people who had both a mental illness and a substance use disorder. The official topic for the blog then became one counselor’s opinion about mental health, substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and the broader subject of how to have a happy life.
So, do I think you should write a blog?
For some people, the answer is yes. If you have a topic you feel strongly about, something that you are enthusiastic and passionate about, then writing a blog offers you an opportunity to tell people how you feel about your subject, and to share what you know about that topic.
If you’ve read or heard somewhere that to be a successful author, you need to have a platform you probably should pause a minute before starting a blog. Writing a blog takes a lot of work. To create any significant readership, you will put in a lot of hours. If you are blogging only to build your platform, there are several other ways to build your platform that may be easier or more productive.
If you’re writing mainly to express yourself, blogging probably isn’t for you. If the main thing you talk about in your blog is yourself, people will get tired of reading it. If you’re writing from a place of problems you’re likely to either run out of what to say or become so discouraged you give up. Occasionally I see a blogger who writes about their struggles with a specific mental illness but does so in a very informative and entertaining way. They can develop a following.
If the primary thing you’re talking about is you, most people will get tired of listening. If you are going to write about yourself, you should do it for you and not be disappointed if you have little or no readership.
Every year many new blogs start, most never attract enough readers to matter. Don’t write a blog expecting lots of people to follow you. Occasionally that happens, but it’s rare. If you do start a blog, do it because you strongly care about the topic, and be prepared to go on writing those blog posts year after year until eventually, you accumulate enough readers that what you say might make a difference.
I started my blog because I wanted an opportunity to talk about some things that mattered to me. Along the way, I learned a lot of lessons which prepared me to do a much better job of writing full-length books. The challenge has become to balance the time I spend on the blog with the time I need to finish my books in progress.
In the next few posts let’s talk about the mechanics of setting up a blog and creating content for it. After we walk through the lessons I learned from blogging then we will take up the subject of writing, publishing and marketing a full-length book.
If you have questions about blogging or writing or suggestions for future posts, please contact me either by leaving a comment or by using the contact me form. I will try to get back to you as soon as I can. If it takes me a while to get back to you, it is probably because I’m currently working on actually doing the writing. Just know that as soon as an opportunity occurs, I’ll answer your question.
You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.