Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 8, 2012

Should I Blog? A little History and Why My Opinion Has Changed

It seems that every time we have a Q & A with editors and agents, someone asks whether they feel an unpublished writer should have a website or blog. The answer is always different, so I thought I would share what I tell my book author clients when they contact me to design and develop a website for them.

Bloggers started popping up in the late 90’s. I started meeting authors who started their own blogs around 2003, but most were mainly diaries of their lives. So to me, I felt it was a waste of time, since no one really cared about what they did that day (unless they were a well-know author with lots of fans) and wasn’t helping to market themselves.

My opinion questioned spending all that time writing a blog when there was so very little return on investment. But when Twitter jumped on the scene in 2007, things started to change. By 2008, there was something out there that gave bloggers a way to drive traffic to their blogs and this changed my thinking.

Now when a client wants me to develop a website, I include a blog with the site. There are a number of reasons why I do that:

1. I know that authors want to announce when they are doing a school visit or a book signing. They will have pictures of their visit and they will be developing fans who want to interact with them. If they don’t have a blog, then they have to come to me and pay me, every time they want to put up something new. I may be busy and then they might have to wait. By having a blog, they can save money and get instant gratification.

2. With Twitter, they can help drive traffic to their blog and help build their fan base.
You may say, well why do I need to do that when I haven’t even gotten my first contract? If you are an illustrator, I will pound you to get a website and blog. You may be able to get away with not developing a presence on the web if you are an unpublished writer, but if you are a illustrator – GET YOUR ARTWORK UP ON THE INTERNET! Art is visual and the Web is visual. This makes it the perfect place for you to show off your artwork 24 hours, 7 days a week. With Blogs being FREE, you have no excuse.

If you are a published author, you need a professional looking website and a blog. I know some of you have done very well getting your books published and figure you don’t need to be on the Internet, but you really do. You should never just leave things to chance or up to your publisher. You need to make sure you are represented on the Web.

The reason an unpublished writer should consider putting up a blog: To start building an audience, so when you do have a book come out, you will have people who know you and want to support you and your book. It’s just a different way to network. You can’t physically be everywhere, but you can virtually be everywhere on the Internet.
But blogging does take time and a commitment, so you need to give it a lot of consideration.

Ask yourself:

1. How many times a week am I willing to write a blog? Maybe start out with once a week. Surely, you should be able to make that happen without adding too much stress to your day. Once you have that under your belt, maybe you could increase it to three times a week. The more you blog, the faster you will build your audience. Just don’t announce that you are going to blog three times a week and then not do it.

2. What can I blog about? Remember: If no one knows you they probably will not want to follow you. But your blog can change that and Twitter is going to help accomplish that goal.

What do I know? Your blog does not have to be about writing. It only has to have an appeal to a group of people. We all read, so if you build an audience of non-writers, they will cheer you on when you announce that you just signed your first book contract.

Are you good at baking cookies? Do you have a skill that other people do not have? Do you home school your children? Do you have an interesting hobby? Perhaps you travel and can write about interesting things you discovered about the place you visited. This could be of interest to kids and their teachers. It may even lead to a book idea. Maybe you are just a good shopper and have a knack of saving money. Or, you might have some subject in the manuscript you are writing that could be interesting. The ideas are endless.

Please check back next week. We’ll continue this discussion. In the meantime, think about the possibility of starting a blog. Write down the answers to the questions I listed. Next we’ll get into pulling it all together. Remember: If you start a blog and hate doing it, you do not have to continue, so what do you have to lose? Nothing.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. All really valid points, Kathy. Thank you for pointing them out again. The thought of starting a blog feels quite overwhelming to me, but I DO plan on doing it at some point!

    Like

  2. Blogging is new to me, but I’ve enjoyed it thus far. Not only am I gaining exposure for my book, but I am learning a ton of new stuff everyday. So far, it has been a win-win experience, though it is time-consuming.

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    • Orples,

      You definitely have the right attitude.

      Kathy

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  3. Thanks, Kathy, for a wonderful post! I began blogging in December 2011. I challenged myself to post EVERY DAY and have done so faithfully. I am a children’s book writer and provide encouraging, inspiring, and sometimes helpful posts to this writing community while I work to make my presense known. My readership doubled in one month when I offered a contest filled with chances to win writer’s reference books and now that I am participating in the Platform Builders Campaign and the A to Z Blog Challenge in April I have no doubt my blog site will gain more exposure.

    I truly enjoy working on my blog and my readers constantly tell me how inspiring my posts are and THAT in itself is a fabulous reward…to uplift other writers on their own path to publication!

    Thank you, Kathy, for all you do for the writing community!

    Like

    • Donna,

      Thanks for the nice comment. It is hard to post everyday, so I congratulate you for keeping it going. I started this blog in March of 2009 and I think I have only missed one day. Contest can really increase you readership. You’ll have to let me know how you make out with the two campaigns. I’m sure other out there would be interested, too.

      Thanks again,

      Kathy

      Like

  4. AN editor encouraged me to start a blog several years ago because, as she said, “You always have a lot to say.” I haven’t regretted it. At this point I get around 200 hits a week which always amazes me. As you said, Kathy, it is a free way to promote yourself on the web. And it’s fun. Just for the record, I aim for once a week. I don’t want to overload my readers’ in-boxes too.

    Good post!

    Like

    • Carol,

      You’ll find that if you increase the amount of posts, your hits will increase. But 200 visits for once a week is good. Do you feel like it has improved your writing?

      Kathy

      Like


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