I have a friend who is deeply passionate about a certain subject. My friend’s spent years reading every book and article written on, and watching every documentary made about, the subject. He’s studied and thought about it deeply. He feels that he now has something to contribute to the global conversation. But, my friend doesn’t have any academic credentials in the subject. He’s not a member of any online (or offline) interest groups. And, he hasn’t yet written any books or articles on the subject. His study has been done mostly in isolation.

He recently asked me if I thought anyone would read books or articles by him on the subject. I had to answer, “I don’t know.” The question was impossible to answer with a definitive yes or no without some knowledge of his potential readers and without having read his yet unwritten writing.

I did have a recommendation, however, as to how he should go about getting the answer to his question. He could carefully and extensively study the market for his content, or he could write and publish a book. But before undertaking those monumental tasks, I recommended that he start his own blog. A blog as a starting point has several advantages:

  • It provides direct and immediate feedback from a writer’s audience
  • It allows a writer to write and build their audience simultaneously
  • It is a quickly acquired credential—it takes much longer to write an entire book or get a degree
  • It provides a hub for all audience building activities. A writer can refer anyone who shows any interest in their ideas, online or offline, to the blog
  • If the blog has an email capture feature, a writer can build a list of readers to market their writing directly to

Of course, there are usually very few visitors to a new blog by an unknown writer. That’s why it’ll be important for my friend to visit other popular blogs and comment on others’ posts, to join any online (or offline) interest groups and communities, and to network in any other way he can.

There is no foolproof method of building an audience for your writing, and there’s no guarantee of success, but blogging is an excellent way to start.