Question: Do you NEED a blog?
The answer is no. You don’t need a blog. Now, what I think you do need is a website. If your blog is your website, that works but only if you want to blog. If you don’t want to blog, you’re better off with a static website. You can set up WordPress so you don’t have to blog on it. I have a WordPress blog and a website through Yahoo Small Business. There are other blog and website sites out there. Find the ones you like best and use those.
Why you don’t need a blog:
1. It’s time consuming and you may not want to spend the time it takes to keep it up.
This is a valid reason not to blog. Maybe you’re more of a Pinterest person or would rather mingle on Twitter or Facebook or somewhere else. That’s fine. Not everyone wants to write blog posts. To maintain a blog, you need to be dedicated to making posts on it on a regular basis. There’s not point in using a blog if you rarely do a post. I’d say a good rule of thumb is no less than once a month.
2. I believe most readers don’t even read blogs.
I believe most blog visitors will be other writers. As much as I think it’s important to develop friendships with other writers (the support is a huge blessing), if you’re hoping to attract readers, I don’t think this is the key to doing it. I’ve been blogging since 2008 or 2009 (don’t even remember but it was when MySpace was the “thing”), and in that time, I have noticed that at least half of people commenting on my blog are either unpublished writers or published writers or people who are thinking of writing a book. There are some readers who follow their favorite authors’ blogs, but they aren’t a huge number of them as some marketing people would have you believe. Most people who buy your books will not be hanging out on your blog. How do I know this? Because I’ll get emails from my readers asking me the exact same question I just addressed on my blog. Had they read my blog, they would already know the answer. And I end up answering the same questions a lot.
3. It takes a long time to build up a substantial following.
A lot of blogs will not make it past the first year. Why? Impatience. A blog will take time to build up. It’ll take time to figure out what your blog “look” should be, what you will end up posting (hint: if you post stuff about the writing and publishing process all the time you will not be attracting readers), how often you can blog and balance other things you need to do, etc. While you’re doing this, you will also be slowly gaining a following. And I mean slowly. There will be days you’ll wonder if anyone is bothering to read your blog. And for a while (maybe months), there won’t be anyone but friends/writers stopping by. This is normal. You will get comments from readers, but that won’t come in right away.
Why you might want a blog:
If you decide to blog, I advise blogging posts dedicated to readers, posting at least once a week, and waiting a year to see where they’re at. Be patient and allow time to work in your favor.
1. You want to share information with your readers that is more lengthy than the typical Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest post.
(Okay, I realize other social networks exist, but Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest is what I mostly deal with and those don’t allow for lengthy explanations of anything.) Blogging gives you as much space as you need to get all your information out to your readers. Some writers (like me) have trouble keeping everything they want to a few sentences. We need more space to say what’s on our minds and never seem to run out of things to write. Blogging is a good way of telling your readers in greater depth what you want them to know.
What are your readers (not other writers) interested in? If they are fans (and I think most of the readers who stop by are fans who already read your other books), they mostly want to know what you’re working on, when they can expect the next book out, giveaways, samples for upcoming books, character interviews, and other things pertaining directly to the books you’re doing. I do think sharing personal stories from your life or amusing things that have happened can be of interest too. But most of the questions I get are as follows: what are you working on, will you write a specific book they are interested in, when will a certain book be released, and what is the complete list of all your books? Most are interested in future books, and I think this is because fans (those who already love your work) have already read your past books so they already know about those. They are looking forward. I think you can make this stuff interesting, but you have to do it in a way that fits your personality. Never force yourself to be something you aren’t.
2. Blogging helps you think better about your work.
What I mean by this is that sometimes we can struggle with a story idea or figuring out which book to write next. Sometimes when we write things down, it helps to sort out the jumble of ideas in our mind. I’ve tried keeping a private journal, but it wasn’t the same as blogging before a public audience. What makes blogging different? I don’t know, except maybe it offers a way for my readers to offer feedback and a discussion. Sometimes knowing someone might read the post forces me to write my thoughts as if I’m talking to someone. Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis don’t want to hear me go on and on about my books, so the only real outlet I have is to blog, and there’s only so much I can talk about my books before my family starts throwing rocks at me. Okay, they don’t throw rocks, but they turn on the TV or talk over me because they’re just tired of hearing about it. But I can blog as much as I need to.
3. Blogging can be fun.
If you enjoy blogging, this is a great activity. This is the one place where you can talk about things you love most, interact with characters (I love character interviews), post up deleted scenes that never made it into the book, and do whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be a promotional thing either. If you don’t wan to use it to promote, then don’t. If you want to use it to engage friends/family/whoever in a conversation, that can work. Not everything we do online has to be for the sake of selling books. Sometimes you might just want to kick back and relax in a little part of the internet that is uniquely your own.