“There are millions of blogs out there.
What’s the point of adding another to the mix?
What are the chances that my blog will stand out from the hordes of others competing for the limited attention of readers?”
Many writers feel this way, but is it a sound argument?
Go ahead and change “blog” to “book” and re-read the above three sentences.
Uh-oh. See what happened there? You’ve just argued yourself out of a career in writing. 😉
So, let’s assume that if you feel your book has a chance of standing out, despite all those that came before, then so does your blog.
But the bigger question that I think writers are really asking is this: will the results I receive from a blog be worth the time I put into it?
Many articles have been written–with proponents on both sides of the issue–as to whether blogging is a necessary and effective tool for authors wanting to “get known” and sell more books.
In some cases, people share what has worked (or not worked) for them and then attempt to extrapolate that as a general rule for all authors (or all fiction authors, or all new authors, etc.).
In other cases, writers are told to blog “for the love of it”.
And if you hate it, stop.
Normally, I’m firmly entrenched in the hate-it-avoid-it camp, but this can be disingenuous advice for writers who haven’t been given the whole picture and are searching for corroboration that blogging (and fingers-crossed, the whole marketing make-work project in general), is just a waste of writing time.
Stopping (or not starting) is also the knee-jerk reaction to posts that say blogging and social media are too distracting for new writers, and that they should just concentrate on their writing.
Fortunately, this isn’t just one more article to admonish you into starting a blog. But neither is it a get out of “blogging jail” free card.
Whether you blog or not should be based on more than “if you hate it, don’t do it” or “well it worked for me, so…”. Your decision should be based on your own answer to the question: will the results I receive from a blog be worth the time I put into it?
What follows are some things that may help you answer this question.
What’s On Your To Do List?
One of the biggest drawbacks to blogging is that it’s time consuming.
“Epic” content doesn’t just grow on trees, and there is often a direct relationship between quality content and the time it takes to produce it.
And that means more time away from writing, right?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, your pure writing time might be decreased somewhat, but your “writing career” time remains the same.
The issue for many writers lies more in the precedence they give to their writing careers: low priority = limited time invested.
What gets prioritized, gets done. What can wait, waits.
I’m not sure who started the nasty rumour that a successful writing career could be forged in your spare time.
Any prosperous career opportunity will demand a concerted and continuing effort that’s not limited to a few early morning social media moments and the 20 minutes of writing you can squeeze in before you have to pick the kids up from soccer practice. (“Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness,” according to Malcolm Gladwell.)
And in today’s world, being a writer no longer means you just write (if it ever did).
Can you get on the horn to your fairy godmother and let her know that you’re ready to blow this popsicle stand and start living the writer’s life of your dreams?
Probably not. But you can start mapping out a plan to scratch the “aspiring” off your job title, and replace it with “professional”.
Embrace the uncertainty, and jump in with both feet. It’s difficult to make an impact if you aren’t willing to do the work, so whether you decide to blog or not, prioritize your goal to be a writer, and accept that your time, attention and focus will be required to bring your plans to fruition.
Learn To Write Out Loud
“Blogging is … to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”
Blogging is not for everybody. Nothing is.
But one of the best things about blogging–like writing–is what you can achieve through the process.
To get a little Zen, there is much more to the practice of blogging than merely drawing traffic to your site. (Tweet this)
In fact, blogging helps you to do the following:
Your blog reflects your interests, ideas, passions and personality. It helps you to tell your story, and it strengthens the connection between the artist and the work.
Your blog will also reveal the passions and interests of your readers, and those you attract to your blog will often help shape your work going forward.
You write for a reason. You have something valuable to share with the world.
Clarifying and sharing your ‘Why’ or your purpose is not only important for you, but it’s inspirational for those who choose to follow you.
Reinforcing and re-commiting to your reason for being through your blog content can lead to more than a book sale–it could lead to a revolution.
Exercise Your Writing Muscle
Writing requires discipline, focus and the cultivation of your unique voice. Conveniently, so does blogging. Sharpening your blogging skills can also help you hone your writing skills as well.
And although blogging can include all types of media from images and video to podcasting and infographics, good writing is often the glue that holds it all together.
Become a Thought Leader
People may read your blog long before they’ll purchase your books. Offer them a fresh perspective and a site full of valuable, entertaining or useful information.
Thought leadership can help you unlock a whole new level to your writing career, and making a difference (not just being different) is the key.
Technology has levelled the playing field, and writers have more control over their writing destinies than ever before. But maintaining control hinges on owning your own assets.
No matter how robust your social media following, you don’t own it. The same can be said for blogs built on free hosted sites like WordPress.com or Blogger.
There are many perks to having a self-hosted WordPress blog, but one of the most significant is that you have full control.
Command Your Author HQ
Your blog is where you can ground all your marketing live wires.
Your speaking engagements, book signings, blog tours, social media efforts and so on, all need to drive readers back to your homebase for more exceptional content, more engagement and a deeper reader experience.
It’s there that they will get the full picture as to who you are as a writer.
Build Trust Just By Being There
I may be a blog bigot, but if a company or a business doesn’t have a website (or worse, it looks like it was last updated in 1989), it does not leave a good impression.
An online presence is imperative: 61% of global Internet users research products online, and 131 billion searches are conducted per month on the web (Hubspot). (30 billion of those are me trying to find answers to the weird questions my kids ask me, but my point is still valid…)
A modern blog/website with a thorough and up-to-date About page, some activity in the comment section and a decent number of shares on the posts, does wonders for the trust factor.
And if it’s a choice between an unknown author and one I can find more about–or better, connect with–online, which writer do you think has a better chance of getting read?
Experience Some Flexibility
No matter what social media platform you choose to navigate, there are always restrictions in some form.
With a blog, however, even writers with relatively little technical know-how can create and share content and interact with their readers without restrictions.
Earn the Right to Sell
Some authors visibly flinch at the idea of self-promotion. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but if it feels dirty, you’re doing it wrong. 😉
If you use your blog to show your ideas and expertise, deliver valuable resources and content, and to connect and engage with your readership, you will organically build trust and credibility.
The more confidence people have in you, the more likely they are to support you and your work–without the need for high pressure sales tactics and aggressive arm-twisting.
Build a Community
It’s not impossible to build a community around your brand and your writing without a blog. But a blog creates an ideal environment to bring together a group of like-minded people without any of the limitations previously noted.
You have flexibility, control, no imposed restrictions, a central hub of activity–and best of all? You won’t have to start all over again if Facebook, Twitter, WordPress.com, Blogger, or any other free platform decides to flip a switch, close their doors or delete your profile.
Strengthen Reader Engagement
One of the most underrated and underutilized aspects of a blog, is the ability to capture email addresses and build a subscriber list.
A responsive email list of interested readers should be one of your top priorities, as it gives you direct access and insights to your community that other mediums can not.
Your blog comment section is also a goldmine of opportunity for discussion, learning and connecting with your fans.
Reach a Different Audience
Every platform has its own rhythm, its own ambiance and its own crowd. Sure there’s overlap, but certain characteristics draw people to certain forms of social media, and blogs are no exception.
You can be a YouTube, Facebook or Pinterest rockstar, but adding a blog to your marketing mix will help you reach parts of your target audience that would never have found you on other social media outposts.
Connect With the Gods
Okay, maybe not the Gods, but popular authors, bloggers and industry experts can often become more accessible when you play the fellow blogger card.
I’ve found that the more effort you put into your blog, and the more value you offer, the more help and guidance you receive from “up above”. 😉
Blogging creates a shared interest, a common goal, a conversation starter. It acts as a supercharged resume and it can give you the opportunity to network, partner up on projects or even create a little reciprocity in the forms of guest posting and link building.
Increase SEO (Whatever That is)
Do you remember the Marvel Comics character Juggernaut? He’s described as having virtually unstoppable momentum. That’s kind of what you’re looking to set your site up for with good SEO.
SEO is a collection of tactics–one of which might be writing highly engaging, relevant posts–that can help you get your site a better position on search engine results pages (SERPs). Better results, equals more traffic.
The more visitors to your site, the better your chance at winning over your true fans with your overwhelmingly useful, entertaining, sharp-witted, humorous, controversial, cutting edge, *add your adjective here* blog content.
The better you are at providing what your visitors seek, the higher your SERP ranking and the more traffic Google (and others) send your way…
Show Your Commitment and Professionalism to Your Craft
A well maintained, active blog shows that you care about your brand and how it is perceived.
That you are willing to devote resources to enhancing your readers’ experience of your work, as well as provide the opportunity for communication and engagement, speaks volumes about your commitment to your craft and your confidence in your writing talent.
Achieve Personal and Professional Growth
Blogging requires experimentation, creativity, and the willingness to explore new opportunities and ideas.
It often pushes you outside your comfort zone, and knowing you have an impatient audience awaiting your next post can do wonders for your writing productivity.
Your writing, your blog and your community will evolve and grow over time. And you may find that the results you receive from your blogging experience can be internal as much as external.
“I Might Start a Blog If I Knew Where To Start.”
Again, this post isn’t about convincing you to start a blog. It’s about giving you the information you need to make a more educated decision on whether or not blogging is right for you.
But, to circumvent a potential decision-making roadblock, here are my top two recommendations for setting up a self-hosted WordPress website/blog (Bluehost is for do-it-yourselfers and Outstanding SetUp is for the “technology gives me allergies” crowd):
Bluehost: One of the 20 largest web hosting companies, Bluehost is a reliable choice and makes getting set up with WordPress super easy. Customer support is excellent, and you can be up and running in minutes! I highly recommend using Bluehost to satisfy your author website web hosting needs. For more information on self-hosting, WordPress and Bluehost, check out this post on how to Set Up Your WordPress Blog in Under 15 Minutes.
Outstanding Setup: Want a gorgeous, customized website, with all the technical tidbits taken care of (including initial set up, theme, domain, WordPress install, backup and security), and all you have to do is blissfully create content? Dream come true, right? The people at Outstanding Setup are helpful AND patient, and will do all the heavy lifting when it comes to the set up and maintenance of your WordPress site – but you remain in control. An excellent alternative if you prefer someone else to handle the technical side while you concentrate on building your writing business.
Please note: I will earn a small commission if you buy a hosting package from one of my links, at no extra cost to you. This helps Your Writer Platform continue to provide loads of free, quality content. I appreciate your support!
Bottom Line: Is Blogging Really Necessary for Writers?
Necessary? No. Breathing is necessary. But blogging presents an exceptional opportunity for those writers who feel–given the information above–that their return on investment with blogging is a positive one.
What do you think? Can a blog help take your writing ‘hobby’ to the next level?
If you have a blog, what benefits or advantages do you feel it brings to your writing and your writing business? What are some of the drawbacks that you’ve experienced?
If you don’t have a blog, what are the obstacles? Time? Lack of interest? Technology issues? Share your thoughts in the comments below.