A writer might be reluctant to start or maintain a blog because it may seem like she is providing a service for free. She creates content and her readers consume it, giving nothing in return. Why should she provide a free lunch when she has better things to do?
While it is fair for a writer to say her time might be more profitably spent on other activities, it is not correct for her to claim she is providing a service for free. It takes time and effort to read, follow, and comment on a blog and that is what her readers are “paying” in return for her efforts. Most writers want an audience and by blogging they can earn an audience. Every blogger who earns a reader gets something in the transaction: a reader, an audience, and a community. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
When we look at the larger picture, it is clear most writers aren’t paid to write. They are paid for access to the audience / community they create with their writing. Advertisers, often via publishers, don’t pay for content, they pay for access to the community that content creates.
Yes, some readers seem to pay for content but, given the nature and abundance of content and the mutually beneficial relationship between writer and reader, I suspect the vast majority of readers are not paying for the content but something else associated with it. As a bare minimum, it is safe to say, readers will be more likely to pay for content if it comes bundled with something else of value to them. I suspect that something else is membership in a community (real or imagined).
So, for most writers (or businesses), blogging — that is, building a community with your words — is worthwhile and may even pay off financially in the long run, if you keep at it and nurture the relationships forged with your words. For those writers who hope to make a living off their writing, the kind of community a writer builds with his or her words will ultimately determine how best to monetize the relationships. There will be no one size fits all answer.
If, as a writer, you are not interested in creating and nurturing a community with your words, you should probably find another way to pay the bills. The same could be said to almost every other producer of a good and / or service.
This post was inspired by a useful post you can find over here.