Web Presence 101.3 – Blogging
Last time I covered setting up your author website, and suggested using one of the popular blogging platforms as an easy way to run it. If you’ve done this, you now have full blogging capabilities at your fingertips – but what do you blog about?
Choosing a topic
Your knee-jerk reaction might be “Well I’m a writer, I’ll blog about my writing”. Thing is, there are a gazillion other writers out there doing exactly the same. I’m not saying you shouldn’t blog about your writing or the craft of fiction, but if you’re going to do so and build an audience, you need something unique to offer. A new voice, a new perspective.
Take for example, Terrible Minds, the blog of freelance writer Chuck Wendig. I should warn you in advance that Chuck’s blog is not for those who are offended by strong language. It’s colourful and profane but always very funny, and simultaneously very insightful about the craziness of being a writer. Chuck has a loyal following, enough that he can self-publish compilations of his blog posts and people will pay money to get this stuff that they can read online for free, which is the ultimate blogger’s accolade.
But what if you don’t think you have anything special to say about writing? Not a problem. Find something you are passionate about, something you can talk about endlessly without getting bored (because if blogging becomes a chore, your readers will sense your boredom and go elsewhere). Preferably it should be something that links to either your fiction or your target audience’s interests. Maybe you’re a keen gamer, or an expert on medieval weapons, or like to crochet tiny Cthulhu toys in your spare time. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it connects you with readers. The purpose of your blog is not to sell books, it’s to sell yourself as a cool person whose books might therefore be worth looking into. In fact that bears repeating:
The purpose of your blog is not to sell books, it’s to sell yourself.
This might sound cold and calculating, and I guess some people might approach it that way, but if you are genuine in your enthusiasm for a subject it will shine through.
If you don’t have a strong overarching theme, don’t worry. I really have two strands to this blog: stuff about (historical) fantasy, and posts like this about modern technology. They’re very different, but they’re both key elements of my personality and they probably bring in different readerships. A little diversity is unlikely to do you any harm, as long as you don’t stretch yourself so thin that you fail to satisfy any audience. Which brings us on to:
How often should you blog?
Again, opinions differ, but the general consensus seems to be that a) it’s essential to be regular and reliable and b) less than twice a month and you are probably going to find it hard to build a readership. I would recommend at least once a week, twice if you can. Daily blogging is good if you’re as prolific as, say, Chuck Wendig, but I think one good post a week is probably going to be more effective than seven indifferent ones.
A final confession
I actually cheat on both the above. In addition to this regular weekly blog, I have a Writing Journal where I blog about my writing progress on an intermittent basis (sometimes daily, sometimes hardly at all). It’s really just an online diary, which is why it’s tucked away behind the navigation bar rather than featuring on the home page. As a promotional tool, it’s not a model to be emulated!
So, what are you going to (or do you) blog about? Feel free to pimp your blog here, if you already have one.
Other articles in this series: