4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Blog

Back in June, Hanna Sles wrote a popular piece for My Words for a Change giving four reasons why every translator should blog. When I first started blogging four years ago, many colleagues, especially those focused on marketing our services, insisted that running a blog was a must. I almost felt guilty that I was still sitting in front of a blank screen, racking my brains for something—anything—to say to get started. And it wasn’t until I attended my first ever translation conference that I finally felt I’d hit on a topic worth writing about.

But is blogging everything it’s cut out to be? Judging by a recent clean-up of broken links on my site, several translators have deleted their blogs and I’m aware of many others that haven’t written anything for a while. So, is blogging worthwhile? I’m going to play devil’s advocate today and look at four reasons why it might not be.

1. Why add to the noise?

Just a glance at my (non-comprehensive) blogroll will give you an idea of how many colleagues have started a blog. Competing for a share of the translation blogosphere with those still updated on a regular basis is quite an undertaking. Not only do you need to keep coming up with ideas that haven’t been hashed out several times already, you need to engage your audience by writing well.

When everyone’s busy and often discussing their problems and concerns on other social media channels (translation-related groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, for example), you have to ensure their trip to your site can benefit them in some way. And if you don’t manage to attract many visitors, the whole exercise could prove frustratingly pointless.

2. There are better professional activities you could pursue with your time

Granted, blogging’s a way to practise your writing skills, which will hopefully make you a better translator. But instead you could do some more serious CPD and study a course, attend a webinar or read a book (if you want some more inspiration, read this post). And rather than running a time-consuming blog yourself, you could write a guest post to get some exposure, backlinks and that all-important writing practice.

3. It could harm your business

As is true across all social media, and depending what you write about, some clients might take exception to something you say. Although they’re unlikely to find the time to read much of the content of their translators’ blogs, in a profession brimming with competitors that can either match or undercut your prices, it may take just one post to turn them against collaborating with you.

4. It can give people the wrong impression

I occasionally feel that a few colleagues labour under the misconception that I’m someone ‘special’ in the translation world as my name is ‘out there’ because I write this blog. But I’m just an opinionated blogger. I write about the little I know and what I think, and I try to put together resources colleagues may find useful. But under no circumstances does that mean I’m a successful premium translator earning megabucks. Neither does it mean I know what I’m talking about all the time. 🙂

Although it’s immensely flattering to receive compliments about my blog and gratifying when people know who I am when I meet them because of it, I’m certainly under no illusions.

In many ways this blog has become bigger than I am. Ideas that started out small have now taken on a momentum of their own. And despite all the above being true, I don’t feel ready to abandon it quite yet. This is my way of giving something back to our community, supporting newcomers and sharing a bit of knowledge and skills to help improve our profession.

Thanks for dropping by, and if you do decide to blog, I wish you the best of luck!

10 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Blog

  1. I think that having a blog is like having a website or profile on a translators’ networking site like ProZ. It may help, and then again, it may just collect dust. Even if it collects dust, someone may stumble upon it when you least expect it. That is why blog and believe in blogs.

    I know that there are many translators out there who focus on blogging about either the translation business or resources and techniques. My blog, (http://www.reed-james.com/blog) is geared toward the client and the topic is legal translation. If I want to share information about translation, I post on translators’ forums.

    I think there is always someplace to find content. You can always repost an article or blog post, as long as you have permission. It just boils down to gathering several ideas for posts and then scheduling them so that they will post by themselves.

    Nikki, I know that you are ahead of the pack when it comes to Spanish-English technical translation. Your KudoZ answers are accurate and well- explained. Whenever I look up a technical term on KudoZ, I look for your answers and prefer them over many others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you that having a blog might prove as useful as having a website or a profile. And indeed that has been true in my case as I have gained at least a couple of clients because they liked my writing style and the topics I blog about. Of course, blogging for your clients rather than colleagues, as you do, should help to drive more relevant traffic your way.
      Many thanks for your comments about the KudoZ terms. I did spend many years doing technical translations and answering questions on ProZ.com, but I gave all that up a while ago because I felt I wasn’t good enough. I now concentrate on tourism and leisure texts and academic papers (more details here: https://nikkigrahamtranix.com/). I think this is probably something else I should blog about.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for playing devil’s advocate here! It often feels to me that ‘having a blog’ has become one of the unquestioned things that a translator has to tick off the to do list. I’ve been taking the ITI’s Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course very recently, and blogging is one of the activities recommended by the tutors. And yet….. while there are good blogs around, there are so many examples of ones that have a flurry of entries that then dry up – maybe when the initial enthusiasm wore off or the translator got discouraged that no-one seemed to be reading or commenting. A bit like pyramid selling, if you get in first with blogging in your industry/theme, you have an advantage in attracting followers. For later arrivals such as me, it’s hard to find something new worth writing about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, and I don’t think that putting pressure on people to write blogs is always beneficial. As I mentioned above, I had been feeling guilty about not having a blog for some time, possibly a year or more, before I eventually got around to writing something. After that first post, the floodgates opened and I am now sitting on more ideas than I have time to polish into something coherent and worth reading. But I’m not sure that I am going to see enough returns on the investment of my time to keep going for much longer. That’s partly because a large focus of this blog is on MA translation reviews that don’t have a mass appeal and especially don’t attract clients.
      Back when I first started blogging, a lot of the posts were interviews with “famous” colleagues and I was determined not to go down that route and to come up with new ideas. But as you say, it’s not easy to reinvent the wheel.
      If you’d like to write a guest post for me (for example, a review of the Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course), do please let me know.

      Like

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