Marketing Monday: The Blog

from williamhorberg.typepad.com (looks like it was a contest winner, which you can see by clicking the picture)
from williamhorberg.typepad.com (looks like it was a contest winner, which you can see by clicking the picture)

I honestly have no clue whether or not I’ve actually talked about this on here before or not.  It could be the late night helping a gassy infant deal with…well…you know…gas or whatever.

But needless to say, if you’re a writer, you’ve more than likely at least toyed with the idea of a blog.

In fact, even more likely than that…you’ve probably started a blog…and then forgot about it and then started a new blog…then forgot about it again and then tried to restart the same blog…only to get waylaid.

I would even hazard a guess that every modern author has, at one point in their career, typed the words, “So, I know I’ve been absent from the blog lately”…which is code for: I know I made that one blog post 2 years ago, but I’m making another go at it.

For whatever reason, be it that the common recommendation for writers is to have a blog, or that everyone else is doing it, or whatever the heck reason you might have, there seems to be this inner calling to start a blog, if you have any inklings to be an author.  Sometimes that inner calling is filled with regret, as in, “but I don’t wanna start a blog!”, but still, it pulls at you.

Umm…in case you haven’t figured it out yet…all of the above applies to me.

I have, at best count, started 5 different blogs over the years, and this particular blog has had at least 3 different lives (meaning, 3 entirely different ideas behind how it was operated), and that’s not counting the recent redesign to make things more official.  I knew I wanted to blog, but I really had nothing to blog about.  It wasn’t until I started actually coming up with a basic thematic message that things really started to gel…and then the whole regular blogging thing really helped as well.

But there’s probably a more important question to answer first: Should you blog?

For my answer to this, I’m going to step back a bit to a conversation I had somewhere around a decade ago with a friend who had long been tinkering with writing, but was concerned about the idea of nabbing an audience, should he ever decide to go pro.  At this point, I was much more interested in the idea of filmmaking than novelwriting (something I dropped once I realized that I don’t have the filmmaker’s eye for shots), so I was able to brainstorm for him a bit without any form of personal bias regarding what I’d actually like to do.

You want to take a guess at what I suggested he do?

That’s right, I suggested he blog.  Although, I don’t believe I ever used the term blog in our conversation.  You see, it wasn’t as much about him blogging as it was about him sharing the shorter form writings he had already produced.  This guy has tomes upon tomes of short stories and novellas that just sit on a harddrive in his basement, things he really didn’t think ever needed to see print…but they would be the perfect type of thing to fill up a blog, or to go onto sites like Wattpad or Amazon Scout or…well that list could go on for a while.

You see, blogging is really a small portion of what is really important for an author today.  In fact, I’d consider it rather inconsequential.  However, it does serve several very important things at the same time.

First: Writing on a regular basis.  Writers need to practice just as much as any other skilled professional out there (artist, athlete, whatever).  Sometimes they get so stuck on works in progress that this regular act of writing is lost.  A blog helps that.  There’s no need (for most blogs anyways) to write about things you’re just not feeling on a particular day.  In fact, a blog is the perfect location to write about whatever the heck you want…just to get the writing bones warmed up.

Second: Increased exposure.  Now, this one is really a hard one to quantify.  For the majority of my time blogging on here, I’ve seen next to no traffic.  In fact, it wasn’t until August of last year when I started seeing regular monthly traffic that reached the three digits.  And  that’s still not really much to brag about.  But, it gives people more of a sense of who I am.  I couldn’t tell you how many people I can see (from traffic reports) come from the recommendation to check out my site at the end of each of my books, and really hang out for a while.  I can’t say that they become regular readers, but there’s more than enough content on here to keep anyone around for ages (over 4 full-length novels worth of books, last time I checked).

Third: It forces you to create an online persona.  As I’ve mentioned before, marketing today involves creating a personal presence, an idea of who you are as a person so people can decide whether or not they like you.  Now…I’m not saying to lie about who you are on the internet in order to sell more books…but I am saying that there is a certain characterization of ones self that comes with the territory of hanging out online.  I like to go with friendly and sarcastic…sometimes that doesn’t really work for me, but I’m sticking with it.

And seriously, I could really pad this list for a long time and you’re still probably going to come back to me with something along the lines of “But that’s a lot of work…”.  And to be honest with you, it really can be.  There are so many bloggers out there that it really probably won’t make much of a difference for you to join the horde.  I can’t tell you how often I come across the post “well, I thought I’d start a blog”, when I’m on the hunt for new blogs to read on a more regular basis.

Many of my author friends like to respond to my love of blogging with a rather dismissive “well, glad to know it works for you”.

Blogging’s not for everyone…but it can be an amazing way to showcase yourself as well as give you the excuse to perfect the art of writing.  And…it really doesn’t have to take that much time out of any given day.

You know…if you write like I do which involves almost absolutely no re-reading or editing of the post anyways 😉

Alright, reached my word limit.  Have fun out there!

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2 Replies to “Marketing Monday: The Blog”

  1. I have to admit, I love my blog. It gives me a chance to write down whatever’s on my mind at the time. Sure, I’m not focused solely on blogging about writing, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it allows me to diversify a little bit. Good post! It took me a long time to get to the point where I’m blogging somewhat regularly, but it’s been worth it even if it’s just because it keeps me writing.

    1. I think that’s precisely the piece that so many authors overlook, the opportunity to empty the brain of the worthless junk floating around in there.

      I know that before I started doing the daily dump, a lot of random things would appear in my manuscripts that would have to be excised in later edits.

      Thanks for stopping by, Eric!

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