From time to time, I come across posts encouraging bloggers to request “freebies” in return for either reviewing the product/service in question, or providing free publicity for said product and/or service.
A Youtube Vlogger, Elle Darby, approached a Dublin hotel asking for a free stay for her and her partner, over Valentine’s weekend, in return for providing the hotel with free exposure on her Youtube and Instagram. The hotelier, Paul Stenson was not impressed and informed Ms Darby of his displeasure in no uncertain terms. The exchange has now gone viral with a good deal of abuse being heaped on the vlogger’s head.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of Ms Darby’s offer (and Mr Stenson’s response) abuse is wholly unacceptable and it is highly regrettable that Ms Darby has been attacked in such a personal manner by some who have commented on the story.
What are the pros and cons of blogging from the perspective of a poet? To answer this question one needs to consider matters which touch wholly on poetry, and issues pertaining to blogging more generally. The below should be read baring in mind the caveat that (to state the blatantly obvious) poets are individuals and what works for one will not (necessarily) work for another. With that caveat on the table, here are my pros and cons.
1. Publishing your poetry on a blog brings it to the attention of a wide audience. The poet gains followers who, in turn spread the word regarding the poet’s work, thereby increasing the blog’s following and enhancing the exposure of the poet’s writing.
2. Having a blog allows the poet to publicise upcoming poetry readings and, of course provide links to their published works (if such exist) on platforms such as Amazon.
3. One of the questions asked when I signed up for an Audio Book Creation Exchange (ACX) account was along the lines of “do you have a blog/website and, if so how many followers do you have?” From the perspective of ACX, they want to know that books published on their platform will sell and a person with an online following has an obvious advantage when it comes to selling books, as (to state the obvious) the more people who are aware of your writing (poetry or otherwise) the greater the number of titles you are (potentially at least) likely to sell.
4. Having a blog enables poets to connect with fellow poets thereby building up a community of like minded individuals.
1. Responding to comments can be time consuming (time the poet could be spending writing). One can, of course disable comments on a WordPress blog (WordPress being my platform of choice). However (in my view) a blog without the ability to comment is a dead thing. Comments equal vibrancy and engagement which is why I positively welcome them.
2. Blog followers do not (necessarily) equate to book sales. People follow blogs for many and diverse reasons and some (having subscribed) will forget about your blog and never comment and/or like posts.
3. If all (or significant numbers of your poems) appear online, why should readers buy your books? (they have, after all already read your poems online).
4. Poems published online may (as with any other form of writing) be stolen. One can (and should) include a Copyright Notice on your site. This will, however not prevent the possibility of theft.
If I were not of the view that blogging is not of advantage to me as a poet, I would cease to blog. The fact that I continue to publish and engage online demonstrates that I believe the pros of blogging (from the poets perspective) outweigh the cons.