As some of you may know, blogging is essential for writer’s in the early stages and on into their writing career. For others, like myself, I didn’t realize how important it truly was at first. Agents, editors, publishers, and other writers are often adamant that any writer worth anything will have some sort of online presence.
Of course, I had a Facebook page, Twitter account, and even added Instagram and LinkedIn to the collection. But not until I went to the Writer’s Digest Conference, did I realize what I really needed was a blog. Everyone talked about blogging this and blogging that. It was kinda crazy at first, cause I had no idea what they were talking about. I mean, wasn’t writing a book enough?
There are many layers to a writer, not only in his/her actual writing, but also in the development of their presence with their audience. Writers should not be naïve to the fact, that they hold the responsibility in creating a relationship with their readers. Each writer must take an active, conscience step in doing this. They should not deceive themselves to think that once they’re signed with an agent, editor, or publisher it’s no longer something they’re accountable for.
As I have said before, writing requires extreme patience. Nothing is done quickly in the writing/publishing industry. But while you wait, building a “platform” can be one of the best things you can do.
Blogging can be an excellent way to grow an audience, find a community, and get your work out there. Now, I want to make sure you understand something, however. Blogging is not a golden ticket. For most of us, it will never be a surefire path to lasting fame or fortune. Most of all, even with agents saying how important a blog is, few would actually sign a writer based solely on his or her website.
Don’t be discouraged though! A blog is a fantastic tool and one, well worth the time. The Internet has evolved into a global arena where authors can reach a much wider audience without the need for constant travel and offline book promotions. Here are some things blogs DO help with.
Building an Audience
Building an audience is the most obvious—and most heavily promoted—benefit of blogging regularly. Blogging allows you to reach out to other writers, promote your own work, and create or participate in a community of people who share your goals and passions. Some people are able to build careers out of blogging alone.
Ally Brosh turned her hilarious personal blog, Hyperbole and a Half, into a full-time job. Seth Godin created a platform as an innovative marketer, and developed so much Web traffic that he’s now able to self-publish all of his books. Those are exceptional examples, and you may not reach a similar level of success with your own blogging.
There was even an author they spoke of at the WD Conference who had a blog about her farm animals and the funny things they did. Tons of people started following and when she decided to write a book about those farm animals, she already had a huge fan base established. Who knew? Farm animals! The more you’re out there, the more you create possibilities for serendipity. You never know who might stumble across something you’ve written and want to reach out to you. And of course, your online readers are a ready-made audience for the books you’ll eventually publish.
Even writers who are quite successful use blogging as a way to reach out to their readers—Neil Gaiman offers fans witty anecdotes about his daily life, and YA writer Maureen Johnson combines funny stories and more thoughtful commentary about larger issues. Other writers create communities—for example, Writer Unboxed, a collaborative blog that combines author interviews and posts about the business and practice of fiction writing, or Forever YA, an irreverent and funny group blog focused on young adult fiction. There are as many ways to build and keep an audience as there are writers. The sky is the limit!
Building a Brand
Branding is a concept that gets tossed around a lot on the web, and for writers, it can feel a little loathesome. You don’t have to think of your work as a product, or force yourself into a role that doesn’t fit, but creating an identifiable presence and aesthetic for yourself can help promote your work and increase your audience. If you’re a freelance writer, for example, blogging is obviously a great way to show your skills for prospective clients. Dana Prince is a great example of a freelancer who’s turned a blog into a forum for offering advice to other writers and demonstrating her copywriting skills. Fiction writer and freelancer John Scalzi combines personal blogging with political critiques and has created a thriving online community that also allows him to promote his professional writing.
If you’re interested in blogging but unsure of what to write about or where to start, remember that your subject doesn’t matter; your enthusiasm does. Readers respond to passion, confidence, and skill—it’s up to you to find the right channel for your words. Just start writing about what interests you! Take it one step at a time. You don’t have to automatically be an expert on everything.
For me, one of the most profound and unexpected effects of blogging has been the discipline it’s imposed on my writing practice. Like a lot of writers, I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I’m always finding excuses to keep myself from my computer. Developing an audience for my personal blog forced me to be accountable to my work. I knew people would stop reading if I stopped writing, and that proved to be the motivating force that got my butt in the chair. Blogging allowed me to have fun with my writing, without the intense pressure I often feel when I’m trying to write my manuscript; as importantly, blogging got me to establish an invaluable habit of writing every day.
And here are just a few others:
1. You establish yourself as an authority in your topic
2. Blog posts can provide an opportunity for giveaway promotions and open the door for guest blogging opportunities.
3. Use your posts to create conversation and build up your social media networks. I greatly encourage you to be active with your fans and audience. Ask for comments, questions, and opinions. They can play an important role in your presence and creativity whether you realize it or not. Let them share in your journey even outside the pages of your book.
4. Increase website traffic and loyal subscribers
Blogging is, indeed, something very useful to a writer. It doesn’t have to be something that stresses you out. Realize, that it can be just the opposite, with all the benefits I’ve told you about. It doesn’t require you to be a chemical engineer or a rocket scientist. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. 🙂
For those of you who are still a bit unsure on how to start, here is a book I picked up at the WD Conference. I’m sure you can buy it or order it at your local bookstore. I found it quite helpful, especially since I had no idea what I was doing! LOL
Happy Blogging Ya’ll!!!