Alison Garwood Jones


April 30, 2012

When it comes to blogging, my mental trajectory over the last couple of years has looked something like this:

Looking back, I’d love to say I was an early adopter. The truth is, I arrived late to the social media party and hardly mingled when I got there, choosing, instead, to mope alone in a corner nursing my cup of dread on the rocks. I couldn’t stop thinking about how my existence as I knew it was over. Like, forever.

As with most journalists who had tasted some success the old way, I was suspicious and resentful when all of these seemingly stupid new platforms started taking time, attention and funding away from real reading material  — i.e. newspapers, magazines and books.

How was I going to be an OpEd columnist now when newspapers were hemorraging so much of their influence and advertising dollars?

Finally, I said to myself (in this order):

1. Snap out of it

2. Adapt or die

3. And flee into the future as fast as you can

From then on I entered a brand new headspace, one in which I spent countless hours trying to figure out the difference between wasting time and revolutionizing the way I wrote and did business.

Slowly, that old feeling that blogging was something I did under duress (and for free) was replaced by a new sense of excitement and possibility. My penny-dropping moment came when a friend said, “Blog what you want to be known for.” The same goes for tweeting. So I started writing what I wished editors would assign me, but weren’t. In short, I took control of my ambition.

Sure enough, editors started reading my blog. So did filmmakers and designers and corporate types who thought I handled social media well, and why wasn’t I teaching workshops on it to the uninitiated? All of them offered me writing work or paid speaking engagements, which is to say, my blog is now playing a significant role in covering my food and rent. And I’m doing it all on my own terms, without sacrificing my integrity or sabotaging my talent or adopting a photogenic cat. Sorry, I’m a dog person.

So when Hugh MacLeod published his latest book this week, a funny and insightful collection of essays called Freedom is Blogging In Your Underwear I read it as a true believer.

“Having a blog, a voice, having my own media, utterly changed my life,” says MacLeod.

Mine too. “Having my own media” … hmmm, take note of this concept, fellow journalists and novelists.

“That’s what the Internet is REALLY about,” continues MacLeod. “Finding your freedom. Finding your wings. Using a computer instead of a guitar.”

Blogging is the new rock and roll.

You, me, we’re all on one end of the wire, MacLeod concludes. “But worry less about the wire,” he warns. “Worry less about the shiny objects in the middle [Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blah, blah, blah], and, instead, think about MAKING your own stuff, and the rest of the Internet will look after itself.”

And you.




5 responses to “#FreedomIsBlogging”

  1. LindsayHolton says:

    Nice one Alison.

    As a sidebar, just consider that what you write on your blog on the internet becomes 'data' and that data is ultimately owned by corporations. Currently, national & international law favours the protection of data carriers – not individual (aka 'writers').. Meaning, as much as you may commit to your blog development as a certifiable 'content producer', it CAN all get shut down without your consent, at any time. Also, while on this topic, look at how Google assigns 'links' to photographs within an on-line article on their business. These photos have completely different ID/registration then the kirk. Most Google images are 'stored' on massive servers in the UK. These servers, by dint of location, have very different copyright laws then the US. My point is to keep it all in perspective. Yes, it's all great fun & endlessly creative to produce your own works for the net, but be EVER vigilant – the net is really a dazzlingly beautiful life-sucking front for profit-hungry corporations … … ::)

    Keep at it.

    • AlisonGJ says:

      All good points, Lindsay. Stuff clearly I didn't know. ~ A

      • LindsayHolton says:

        Hi Alison, you might want to take a gander at some of the discussion that happened at the Copyright Forum 2009. Lots of 'stuff' in there to consider … both good and bad. Not the most 'user friendly' website, it's a bit of a slog, but still, the info & perspectives are ery interestin' about the current & future state of the web in Canada & beyond ……….

  2. Louise says:

    What an uplifting blog post Alison. I really enjoyed it and will definitely check out that book. As a semi-early adopter, I too jumped into blogging long before I saw the value of it. The survival instinct pumps strongly through my veins. After years of writing solely for clients, many of whom proceeded to "improve" my words with their own, the sheer pleasure of just writing for myself, about topics that moved me, was well worth the price of entry. Three years later, I'm still doing it my way and loving it. People often ask if I can draw a direct line from my blog to revenue and while mine is a lot more blurry than yours, there is definitely a connection and I can't tell you how many times I meet someone at an event who tells me they enjoy my blog.

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