I tend to be way behind my peers when it comes to trends. In grad school in the ’90s I didn’t think much of that thing called the Internet (in the wise words of Homer Simpson, “They have the Internet on computers now?”) or multimedia, while my peers with or without their liberal arts degrees in hand were being lured north from San Marcos, Texas, to Austin as the hi-tech bubble was being blown (it was a bubble and had to burst, but that’s another story.)
I went merrily on my way, lugging my manual typewriter — conceding to a word processor only to finish my thesis — thinking the typewriter was all I needed as a writer. Wouldn’t editors be charmed by my flashy, ink-spattered manuscripts?
But, inevitably, the real world got in the way, as it does so often, and my first full time writing job at the newspaper slung me in front of a computer — for which I’m grateful; daily deadlines are fierce and so are city editors glaring at your back waiting for copy. While there I also got my first real taste of the Internet and e-mail and soon had my own home computer; I was addicted, but a good kind of addicted.
Having the Internet, e-mail and all sorts of technology, I thought I was up-to-date. Then about three years ago, I discovered blogs and blogging, and a whole new world (virtual) emerged. I could be on the Internet in a whole different way. I can has blog, I thought (talk about an inside-the-blogosphere reference to this blog.)
Anything I thought or felt, I could post for the whole world to read. So up went a free blog. Had I finally caught up with my tech-savvy peers?
Sort of. I’m something of a blog junkie, and reading the blogs I read, I noticed something on those blogs that I didn’t have on mine: Some had little ads for such things as Amazon or the ever-present Google, or even PayPal donation boxes. How could blogging make money?
That’s the subject of a podcast, recorded at SXSW in Austin in March. The podcast is of a panel of “mommy bloggers,” moderated by Austin-based writer Marrit Ingman, who discuss the idea of “monetizing” (oh, corporate jargon, you make me cringe) their personal parenting blogs.
Listening to this podcast made me think about marketing, and how blogging does have the potential of being valuable as a marketing tool. I like blogging here at TSTC Publishing — it provides an opportunity to write, and I can write about some of my obsessions, such as writing and books. But I can also see the potential of blogging as a marketing tool. There are the links we can provide to our online shopping cart that can get some traffic and potential customers, but I would like to believe the blog gives readers a chance to see our personalities. We’re not just a band of impersonal corporate types locked away in cubicles.
I see the emerging personality of businesses at other companies’ blogs. A recent favorite is Big Bad Book Blog by Greenleaf Book Group. The posts are sharp, insightful and funny in many instances. These are the kind of people you want to do business with and learn from. And I hope it’s the kind of thing our readers experience — that they get a sense of who we are and what we do here, and want to come back because they are informed and interested in who we are and what we do.
And now for something completely different …
An aside: I have to recommend Ingman’s book Inconsolable: How I Threw My Mental Health Out with the Diapers, a memoir of her bout with postpartum depression. Even if you aren’t a parent or have never struggled with any kind of mental health issue, this is a good read, because of its insight into parenting and the way children and new parents develop, and mental health itself, as well as some of the struggles people face in general with the absurdities of the health care system.