It occurs to me that about the only thing I haven’t blogged much about is blogging.
I didn’t set out to become a blogger. I don’t keep a diary, and any journal I have tends to get a guilty update every decade or so.
I started with a blog on a website I frequented, moved onto an earlier version of this blog, and then started this.
I wanted to capture some of my thoughts about the journey to becoming a writer. I wanted a place where I could measure my own progress. So much in writing is about the next step, and the next, and not enough (at least in my world) is about stopping to look back. The blog gave me room to do that.
What it was never intended to be was anything other than a place for musings. In recent months, I’ve become more aware that what I’m raving about gets read. Quite a lot these days. That, for a few weeks, made me freeze and look at the screen. I had to be clever. I had to come up with something show-stopping. I had people’s expectations to fill.
And then it occurred to me that I never wanted to write a blog for anyone other than myself, and I should probably keep going as I was. At which point, I thought I’d capture some of the pros and cons about keeping a blog.
It’s not a great sales tool. I get a lot of writers – I’ve blogged about this before (see! Everything except blogging…) – who ask me how to promote themselves. It always confuses me as I don’t see much of what I do as active promotion, so much as an inability to say no. Anyhow, one of the first things new writers often do is set up a blog, as if a blog is the fast-track to being noticed.
It’s really, really not. As a sales tool, it’s rubbish. Most people will spend an hour, maybe more, writing a blog post. In the beginning, perhaps five people will read it. Maybe less. I’d advise that writer to go and find some short story platforms, and get something published.
It’s not only a poor sales tool because of the time-outcome imbalance. It’s poor because selling is not what a blog is for. No one will come back to listen to someone trying to sell their book* – although they might enjoy a blogpost that’s thoughtful and includes your themes, or expands on your world.
*(I’ve noticed this more and more in the last few weeks, and it might be a growing sensitivity in me: if you want me to buy your book, don’t suggest I should. Really. Sure, tell me about it – in the appropriate place – and share your great reviews. I want to know you have a product. But I don’t want to feel guilty because it isn’t my sort of thing and I don’t buy it. And ditto, right back at me. If you’re not into space and aliens, that’s absolutely fine.)
So, really, really, really – if you want to use a blog to create sales, forget it. Too much effort, too much time, too few sales.
But what about using it as a platform!
This seems to be the key reason why many writers want a blog and, to be fair, I find mine useful for this. Somewhere to plonk up random musings, somewhere I can be voicey and not care too much about grammar (because me and blogs and grammar don’t have a good history – this is me, in my voice, with all my horrid ands and buts at the start of sentences.)
Is it a platform? It’s a component of what makes up Jo Zebedee, writer, for sure. But it’s only one component and, frankly, it’s the one I do because I enjoy it and not to increase exposure.
So, sure, use a blog as a platform, if – and this is a very big if – you enjoy the process.
A non-updated blog is worse than none at all.
Honestly. If you’re going to use a blog as any part of your platform, it needs to be updated. I go for once a week now – at one point, I did more. Once a week is nice for me. It gives me time to come up with something, it’s become part of my routine. It works and, if I ever have the need for an additional rant, I can pop in an extra blog without becoming so saturated that people groan. (She said, hopefully…)
But, also - keep it relevant to the people who are likely to read it (in my case, other writers and, possibly, a few readers of my book. And my mum. (Hi, Mum!) If you want to blog about your goldfish hobby as well, start another blog.
If you write fast, go for it.There is a place for blogs which are scholarly or beautifully thought out. There is absolutely a following for such blogs – and I read many myself.
But, I think that sort of blog might be for people who are using the blog as a key part of whatever process it feeds into – academics, specialists, those who are selling their knowledge.
For me, to spend hours on a blog (I’ve spent twenty minutes on this) would be to take me away from what I do actually want to spend hours on: writing.
If you’re the sort of writer who likes things just so, who pores over every sentence and would hate something unpolished to see the day, I genuinely think you’ll find blogging a draining process. (But, of course, each to their own and all that there and I’m fully prepared to be shot down on that.)
Ditto: length. I find the optimum length the 500-1000 words. Enough for it to be worthwhile to click, not so much people lose the will to live when reading it. I think it’s like going to the supermarket – you kind of know when you’ve reached the wall.
Promote it. If you’re using it as a platform, if you’re wanting to share your thoughts in any way, some promotion is key. I don’t get excited – I pop a link up on Facebook, twitter and a couple of writing sites. I don’t keep retweeting the link - but it’s nice if the odd person does so and keeps it active for a wee while.
A few weeks ago, I read some research that said to send out between 7-9 in the evening, which is a pain as that’s when I like to chill out and relax. Anyhow, in the name of research I tried it and that blog relatively bombed on its first day. It’s possible to apply too much science to this sort of thing. And that’s not why I’m writing a blog.
So, blogging. Fun, sure. An addition to a platform, possibly. Useful to sell books? No. Blog because you want to, not because you have to.
Anyhow, if I've enticed you to find out more about me, my website is www.jozebwrites.com, and it's all shiny and newly updated this week.