To Blog or Not To Blog

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was the “thing”), and in that time, I have noticed that at least half of people commenting on my blog are either unpublished writers or published writers or people who are thinking of writing a book.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.

 

31 Comments

  1. Emmy says:

    As with most things in life in my opinion, you should really only blog if you actually like to blog. Thanks for good post.

  2. I believe I’ve benefited from my own blog. It’s given me an outlet to find potential readers, I’ve made some wonderful friendships that have given me a support network, and I even found this nifty blog, which has led to all sorts of good things for me.
    Although it did take time to build up a following, things are going well for me. I’ve got nearly 300 followers, just got over 1K comments, and some of the people who follow me and whom I follow have given me valuable advice for writing and publishing. I hope to keep my blog going for ages to come.

    1. Blogging is my favorite online activity. I hang out on blogs more than anywhere else. I think in some ways it’s easier to connect to readers since we can put more of who we are in the posts than on a quick Facebook or Twitter update. And it’s because of blogging that I have the author friends I do. I never would have made those friendships any other way.

      1. Tell me about it. I’ve made friends on blogs who’ve agreed to critique my own novels! It’s hard to find people like that in the real world.

        1. Very true. All but two of my writer friends are those I met online through the blogs. 😀

          1. Most of the writer friends I’ve met off-line are teachers at my school. Typical.

  3. sknicholls says:

    I so very much appreciate your point of view regarding blogging. I started this blog as a social networking sort of thing to connect with readers and writers. Blogging is a very fun and creative outlet for me. I didn’t know so much about promotions until I started reading other posts. I appreciate the other posts also. Many have been very helpful to me and most supportive. I have learned volumes from my blogging friends and connections. I do find that keeping up the blog to the extent many writers do is very time consuming and I need some of that time to write on my works in progress or I feel I will be letting down my reader audience, but I don’t want to abandon blogging. I enjoy blogging, but may have to cut my posting and reading down to get my work done.

    1. yhosby says:

      Hey Sknicholls,

      I feel exactly the way you do. Blogging is fun and I started it as a way to connect with writers and readers. But it is time confusing. I find myself stalling a lot when I should be working on my actual books. I wish there were more hours in the day to do both.

      Keep smiling,
      Yawatta

    2. I see nothing wrong with limiting how much you blog. I even told a friend who blog once a month is that is what she had time for. Better to have posts you’re excited about writing than writing posts just to put something up there. 😀

      I do think writing is a priority. Blogging is a nice addition but not necessary. Readers want our books more than our blog posts.

  4. tkmorin says:

    Very well said, and some really great points! Thank you! 🙂

    1. You’re welcome. 😀

  5. TheGirl says:

    Well…blogging started out as a way for me to tell my story. And now it’s becoming a novel. So for me that’s why I blog and continue to blog. Even though I stopped writing the chapter series, I still write along the same topics (relationships, life, dating, moving on…etc)

    1. That’s awesome how it evolved. I find that as I go along, I tend to blog about different things. I haven’t ever stayed in just one place. Maybe that’s a sign that we’re growing. 😀

      1. TheGirl says:

        That’s true. I stopped blogging the chapter series and talk a bit about life (but usually centered on romance or relationships..) It is a sign of growning, because I’m sure people are gonna want to stop hearing about Jon*

        1. LOL on the Jon thing. I have to watch what I’m doing to make sure I’m not going over the same thing too much or else I’ll bore people.

  6. Good subject. I admit I rarely read the blogs of authors I love. *hanging head in shame*. But I’m more interested in their books and their life than what technique they use to write! Oh geez, now I sound like a stalker LOL. But it’s true. I do a blog where I only mention a new release, but mostly I talk about my cats and anything I’ve found funny or just want to rant about. Yep, it has a link to my website if anyone is interested in seeing what I write and info on the books, but that is it. I wanted a fun blog, and I’ve found a few people commenting on how refreshing it is to have a blog where it doesn’t deal solely with writing.

    So saying, I started the blog because in my monthly newsletter I used to have a section on the happenings of my cats or anything funny, and this always drew comments from readers, so I decided it would be more fun to have a blog and post pics on there as well. I call this my ‘lighter side of life’. It’s solely and simply a fun blog, and I try to do something monthly on it, then I just send a message out to the groups I belong to that there is a new subject – that’s it.

    Otherwise, I have my website and a monthly newsletter for my writing, as well as belonging to Goodreads. I just don’t have time to do anything else, and I find that so far, I’m happy with this.

    My personal opinion – and it’s only mine! – is that belonging to too many publicity routes (as it were) means a lot of time spent on the ‘net and less time writing. The best thing is to get those books out there where people can see them and spread the word!

    This is one of the few blogs I follow – and you’re doing an awesome job!

    1. I agree with you 100%, Angela. 😀 Making your blog fun and entertaining is wonderful. And I love pictures of cats. I don’t have them but enjoy looking at them, and they make for some of the cutest and funniest pictures. Funny and ranting posts are also great. What a great way to connect to readers. It makes you a person instead of an author, and I think that’s a wonderful gift.

      And too many socializing can be a bad thing. I agree that we’re better off spending more time writing than spreading ourselves out across the Internet. Nothing promotes an author better than a new release. 😀

      Thank you for the kind words regarding this blog. 😀

  7. Hiya Ruth, great article … many of your points have crossed my mind too. Sometimes i don’t even get comments, and when i do its spam which can be disheartening and you can think what is the point!
    I guess the problem is getting ‘followers’ and because i still don’t have an email list the only route to connect is via social media. Time constraints have a big impact too in expanding on these … i often think that if the blog just helps one person then its worth it.
    Thanks as always, for your tips / info and from all at SPAL.

    1. Way to build: Find bloggers common interest and subscribe. Don’t just surf and leave likes hoping that’s a magnet for viewers. This worked for me with being selective to checking out likes and comments on other blogs and maybe subscribing to 5 %. For me cartoonists led to other cartoonists, then to authors, poets , artists and crafts people and just some plain delightful quick read people. If you have posts of merit the rest of the attraction can be mere word of mouth. I will be 3 years old July 31 and have 585 followers , about 75 of which visit almost daily and the rest now and then. Many bloggers have many times that amount(allegedly) but I have built my network word of mouth with no facebook, twitter or any of the rest of those so I think my numbers are impressive.

      1. It’s not the amount of followers you have but how many come back, in my opinion. I like your method of finding people with similar interests. That’s a great way to build relationships that are going to last and be a blessing in your life.

    2. Time constraints are the most frustrating things I think we have to deal with. I keep telling people that it’s not the writing that stresses me out; it’s all the other stuff that pulls me away from writing that makes me want to pull my hair out. LOL We have so many things vying for our attention.

      I don’t get many comments either so try not to be discouraged. Like you said, if one person got something out of the post, then you’ve done your job. You never know what impact you’ll have on that one person. 😀

  8. Too many writers think a blog post should be a short story or novel chapter. It it is longer than 5 short paragraphs I delete and move on as I have a lot of traffic. With cartoons I can deliver my punch in 10 seconds but I think a writer must deliver it in no more than a 3 minute read or will lose followers as far as blogging goes. It is like I never could get my students to understand that a 2 1/2 page essay on a topic was harder to do than a 10 page one on the same topic.

    1. Shorter can be better if the person can manage it. I tend to ramble. I’ve tried shorter but haven’t had any luck in it. The same is true for short stories. It’s a talent to squeeze everything you want to say into as few words as possible. I admire people who can do it.

      And cartoons are a great way of getting your message out.

  9. Katie Cross says:

    Great motivation, and validation. I just need to keep telling myself to be patient! Seriously though, this was fantastic advice, and something I really needed to read. Thanks for sharing! This is the other reason I love blogging!

    1. I love blogging. I’ve met so many great people and learned so much from reading blogs and engaging with others in the comments. 😀 It’s my favorite online activity.

      And it’s hard to be patient. 😀 I’m guilty of wishing things would go faster.

  10. Rohan 7 Things says:

    Great points! There’s no doubt that blogging takes a lot of time and dedication, but if they are patient and in it for the long haul I think people will get a good result!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rohan.

    1. It does take time and dedication, which is why I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for not doing it. 😀 This is definitely a social media outlet geared toward the long haul. I heard a couple years ago, it takes about an average of six months to see serious momentum. I’m not sure if that’s accurate, but it’s not a bad way to think about it.

  11. Cindy Sample says:

    I only blog once a month or every other month but I always turn it into a contest and that seems to draw interest. When I ran a contest to choose my cover art, I ended up with over 350 comments! I had no idea that so many people (about half writers and half readers) would get so invested in the choices. Thanks for a great post.

    1. That’s cool you had all those comments! The cover art is a great post. You get so much great feedback that way and it helps when making that kind of decision. 😀

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