To Blog or Not to Blog
hundred thousand blogs appear every day on the Internet, according the search
engine Technorati. Most of these are personal blogs, meant for online
journaling purposes that will never reach more than 10-15 people. A small percentage
of them are corporate whose authors are trying to reach out and appeal to
in the last few years has blogging become a regular pastime, and recently even
a profession, of online writers. We’ve talked previously about how social
networking can increase your fan base as well as publicize your work, and we
all know the credibility blogging has given many people. Three years ago what
was known as someone on the Internet with an opinion, is now a credible source
of news, support, and reference.
of the FAQ’s on popular blogs include some variation of the question, “Is it
easy to write a blog?” In almost every case, the author will respond that no,
it is hard work. Thinking up new topics everyday or every week requires a whole
different kind of creativity and commitment than writing a novel. The constant
turnover forces the author to keep his or her audience interested without
thinking he is unorganized and without a clear message.
popular blogs on the web have a center around a theme and are updated daily. Many people choose to write about their
children, politics, or current events, for example. Many authors tend to focus
their topics on their own work, and often branch out and socially connect with
their colleagues (who also blog).
published authors, the style may have to be different: updating everyday isn’t
a time commitment that can be made by writers busy crafting other works.
However, the success of the entries really does depend on the commitment given
to them. People are more likely to read something that is updated more often.
Content that is fresh and relevant is more interesting and attention-grabbing
than a blog that sits stagnant for a few days or weeks.
blogs are almost a medium unto themselves. They meld the journal of the
personal author as well as the corporate message of a business. The combination
of the two is certainly a challenge for many authors, because you have to be
personable while selling yourself at the same time. You need to let the reader
into your life, but only so much. So how do you tell where that fine line is?
How do you begin?
make your entries personal. Think about what you want to write ahead of time.
Don’t necessarily write about your book and only your book. For example, say
your book was a critique of modern parenting. Instead of plugging the book
every chance you get (which is just outright selling something and no one will
read it), continue where your book left off. Talk about things you would have
liked to include, current events, etc. The more you expand your scope, the more
readers will be drawn back to your site and the more likely they are to
recommend it to others. Be passionate about your subject, but try to remain
about your writing process. Treat it like a journal (without being too
forthcoming). Fans and readers love to know inside information about their
favorite authors, and it creates quite a bit for you to talk about besides
re-writing your book. How did you research for this book? What was interesting
about it? If you’re promoting upcoming publications, talk about your events and
what you hope to accomplish. What is your purpose? What do you have to say?
forget to ask yourself: Is this something I would take the time to read myself?
If the answer is no, you may need to rethink your strategy.
encourage collaboration. A lot of sites that host blogs have communities or
groups to join. This is a great way to encourage readers to your site, and a
great way to take tips from fellow authors. Other bloggers love it when you
link to their sites, and it encourages them to return the favor. The more
places your domain name gets posted, the more traffic your site will get.
encourage comments. Make sure there is contact information for someone to reach
you. Setting up an alternate email address may be necessary, but never fear.
Most search engines have free email (like Gmail or YahooMail)
that require nothing more than an address and password. Don’t delete
comments if you can help it. Criticism is just as helpful as praise sometimes,
although you may want to look into a spam blocker (most hosting sites have them
being said, what happens when you book interest dies out after publishing? Do
you keep the blog going or do you shut it down? One good idea is to shift to
reviewing books for others on your own site (they may have done, or will do,
the same for you). Talk about what you are reading at the moment, or turn your
attention to something else that interests you: politics, recipes, etc.
Organize a book signing (see April’s newsletter) and write about it on your
blog. Go to concerts, conferences, classes, or readings and talk about them! As
an author, there are so many aspects of our work to write about.
you choose to do when the book hype dies down, don’t leave a blog unattended as
it looks highly unprofessional; don’t walk away.
In the end, don’t start a blog just for the
sake of having one: as you can see they are a lot of work. While
having one can aid in the area of marketing you and your work, it takes time
and patience to get to that place. Set goals for your site, and the topics you
want to cover: make sure your subject matter is unique. Will it simply
informative or will it be a personal connection to your readers? In the
beginning, the entries should mean something to you. If you are
passionate about it, others will be too. Some authors have even used their
blogs to write a second book, using blurb as they already have a potential
reader base for their book: their followers.
this method of online communication is probably the most time consuming, the
community you can build around your blog can be as invaluable as the ones you
have on HARO or Facebook. The contacts and friends that you build through
blogging can follow you for your entire career.