Archive for March 5th, 2012

Should you start an author blog?

Knowing there are upwards of 150 million blogs in the world, “Should I start one?” is a fair question. Of course, I’d point you to the library and Amazon and other favorite book shops to note the millions of books out there, too. Did that keep you from writing a book? Of course not! So the numbers alone should not dissuade you from starting an author blog. A much more valid question is not should you, but do you want to?

As Cameron Chapman writes for the Web Designer Depot blog, “The good news is that there’s always going to be plenty of room out there for new high-quality blogs. The bad news is that there are a lot more challenges facing bloggers now than there were a few years ago.”

In order to determine whether you want to jump in, let’s explore some of questions you might want to ask yourself.

WHY ARE YOU WRITING? Exposure. Demonstrate expertise. Get speaking gigs. Sell books. All of the above are good reasons. You’ll notice making money is not one of the reasons listed, because it’s pretty challenging to make money from blogging. A blog is a great way, though, to get exposure for yourself as an author and for your subject matter – even if you write fiction. Regular posting certainly helps you demonstrate your expertise, both as a writer and within your specific area of specialization. This expertise can lead to speaking gigs. And you might also sell a few books.

DO YOU HAVE THE TIME TO DEVOTE TO A BLOG? To get your blog going, you’ll need to do a lot of posts in quick succession. You can certainly write these ahead of time, spitting out as many as a half-dozen posts in one writing session, depending on your writing speed and skill. But they have to be well written, quality posts. Ideally they will vary in length. If your topic lends itself to research, you’ll have to build that time in, too. And the best blogs incorporate images, so you’ll have to factor that into your time frame, as well. As we noted in our recent post of interesting facts about blogging, 40 percent of bloggers spend 3 or more hours a week on their blogs, and the higher ranked bloggers post nearly 300 times more often than lower ranked bloggers.

HOW PATIENT ARE YOU? Building a following takes patience; it’s not an overnight process. You may pour your heart and soul into writing the most amazing posts, only to have your motivation dashed when you gape at the statistics: only 3 people read it. It’s not uncommon when you’re starting out to have days where you receive only a handful of visitors, but even those are better than the days when no one at all drops by to read your masterful posts. Through those days of lean readership, you must remain vigilant and dedicated and continue posting regularly. Look on it as a challenge, even, by posting inverse to the number of readers you have. The fewer readers, the more you post!

HOW MUCH WILL YOU ENJOY IT? Different perhaps from commercial blogs or blogs written by experts in other industries, this is probably the most important question for an author to consider before starting a blog. Authors who sell lots of books create personal bonds with their readers, which means your readers will be able to tell whether you’re enjoying your blogging process, or just churning out obligatory posts. Inevitably, enjoyment on the part of the blogger leads them to spend more time at it. The more time they spend, the more and better posts they write. More and better posts mean increased traffic. Increased traffic leads to validation for the blogger … which likely translates to greater enjoyment. Who says circular logic doesn’t work?

When we began this blog, we were posting twice a week, like clockwork. Then, we started finding more things to write about, so we started posting more often. We took a lengthy hiatus over the holidays and came back in full swing in January, and have been more dedicated since our absence. And guess what – as we’ve increased our number of posts, our traffic has shot up along with them. At this point, though we do pay attention to our statistics, we do it because we love it.

Here’s the thing. If you’re still undecided about whether you should start an author blog, there’s no harm in trying. You can use a free platform like WordPress or Blogger and have your blog up and running within minutes. The next step: start posting. You may find you’re hesitant at first, but grow to love it. You may find you don’t like it anywhere as much as you thought you would. You may find it difficult to schedule time to write. You may find that it’s the best work you’ve ever done. But you won’t know any of those things until you try.

Come back on Thursday when we explore some specific benefits of blogging. Next week, we’ll move on to tips for successful blogging.

In the meantime, go read some blogs!



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