When your friends ask you, “What do you do?” you say I am a blogger. They probably follow up with a yet more curious question, “What is that?” You want to explain it to them but you are afraid of losing them somewhere in the jargon. So, you settle for “It is writing but in an online diary”
“Oh!” Your friend says pretending to fully understand you. You being the writer that you are, you are want to say more but choose to leave things as they are.
“Maybe I should put this in a blog post,” you say. This is content!
If you are like me, you have been in this situation so many times you have a list of prepared answers to the question depending on who is asking. To some people, you say blogging is a diary, to some, you say it’s “my hustle” and move. Yet when you have time you tell them it is much more than can be explained with a few sentences.
Blogging, is what it does for many people.
To define blogging using a dictionary is to reduce blogging to “the activity of writing blogs” as defined in the Cambridge Business Dictionary. But blogging is one of those things whose definition is fully expressed by what it does or has done than by a few textbook sentences. It’s like trying to explain an ocean by saying it is a large body of water without mentioning the coral reefs timing with marine life thriving within its depths.
Blogging has been my school, the lenses through which I have watched and learned so much about people and the world we live in. I have found that people are comfortable on their blogs and will share things they probably never talk about in other spaces. They will tell you about their fight with suicidal thoughts, their encounter with a celebrity, and how they felt when they visited the American embassy and got their visa denied.
An activism tool
To some people, blogging is a weapon they use to fight governments, challenge propaganda, lies, and suppression of information that dictators use to cling to power. In some cases, blogging started revolutions that toppled years of dictatorial rule (A blogger at Arab Spring’s Genesis, The New York times). In my home country, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono pressured the government into dismissing a Health Minister for embezzling COVID 19 funds by exposing the corruption via his microblog platform Twitter.
In fact, too many African governments seem to view blogging as a threat to national security no wonder they resorted to occasionally blocking the internet but with damaging consequences to their democratic record and economic growth.
As if they care.
Source of livelihood
I mention economic growth because blogging does contribute to the creative economy. That is another facet of blogging that many people are not aware of. Bloggers can and are earning a lot of money. Businesses tap into the influence that bloggers have built online by partnering with them for advertising campaigns, social responsibility initiatives, and more. There are more bloggers in Africa making six figures than I can count on my one hand. Some bloggers have gone on to start companies, publish novels, and get hired out of ideas that started as blogs.
Stories and representation
Blogging means more representation. Imagine what it does to minority communities when they read about themselves through blogs shared by those in their shoes. To see your feelings expressed, acknowledged, and understood without being judged or disrespected is life-changing. Many bloggers share their experiences to help other people who might be in the same situation. One of the reasons why Afrobloggers promote stories told by bloggers is that some things can only be understood by those who have the lived experience. Only they can share nuanced expressions such as the one quoted below:
I am still at a point in my life where being non-binary is something I hold close to my chest. Having just embarked on another chapter of my life, I have taken a step back from fully expressing myself in the ways that I am used to – being a queer person and entering new spaces, personally, I find it hard to fully be myself. I take a step back for some time to scout the territory, to read the room, and understand which parts of my identity will be palatable and which will not; and as much as that is counterproductive and detrimental to my sanity, it is something that happened automatically. It has since led me to question so many things about myself and my being, and that is terrifying. I cannot fully say that I am conforming, because, if we’re being honest, I am not where I want to be in terms of my gender expression and this is only because of how I hope to be perceived by my family. They do not understand that I am non-binary, and that my gender identity is something constant for me; that I am still trying things out and seeing what works and what doesn’t. It is something that is happening now, recurring, and is pending…
Rileywrites on Identity crisis
A medium of healing
Journaling is cathartic, so some people use their blogs as places for healing. When you put your feelings down it helps you ooze out all the pain and sometimes you gain through words of encouragement and comfort exchanged as others respond with relatable stories. This reflection of your painful journey creates an empowering archive of your progress towards recovery and growth.
Blogging as a marketplace
Think of the blogging world as a marketplace where different people come for different reasons and like any normal marketplace there are also crooks who make other bloggers look bad. These are bloggers who practice bad things such as slander, plagiarism, piracy, and the promotion of fake news. Some mislead people through click-baits a technique used to get more site traffic possibly for monetary gain.
I hope this reflection on defining blogging shall help you to better answer your friends next time, or to you, who has been thinking about starting your own blogging journey I am sure you have a better idea of what you are about to get into.