Tag Archives: blogging

Is Blogging a Waste of Time?

A recent post by L.L. Barkat published on Jane Friedman’s blog has generated a lot of discussion in the blogosphere. Entitled, “It’s Time for (Many) Experienced Writers to Stop Blogging,” the post described the 180-degree shift in Barkat’s view on blogging.

An inveterate blogger, Barkat wrote 1,300 posts in six years, generating 250,000 page views. Barkat’s blogging helped start a large blogging network for which she later became managing editor, test-marketed five books she wrote and sold, and assisted other blogging contacts in securing book contracts. “I was a true believer in the blog world,” she wrote. On Saturday, November 10, 2012, she stopped blogging.

In the post, Barkat argued both sides of the question. She didn’t recommend everyone stop blogging. “It’s an excellent way to find expression, discipline, and experience. But if writers already have experience, and they are authors trying to promote themselves and their work, I tell them to steer clear,” she wrote. “If they’ve already found themselves sucked into the blogging vortex, I suggest they might want to give it up and begin writing for larger platforms that don’t require reciprocity (an exhausting aspect to blogging and a big drain on a writer’s energy and time).”

In the Comments suggestion, Friedman offered a thoughtful response to Barkat’s post. She said, in part, “Blogging can help both new and experienced writers with discipline, focus, and voice development. But it is indeed a waste of time if you’re doing it because someone admonished you to (e.g., to build your platform), and it’s a forced chore. If you’re not enjoying it, neither are your readers.

“Established authors likely have more reason to blog than beginners for the simple reason that they have an existing audience who seek engagement and interaction in between ‘formal’ book releases (or other writings). It may take less effort to interest and gather readers if you’re known, and it’s valuable to attract readers to your website (via a blog) rather than a social media outlet since you don’t really own your social media profiles, nor do you control the changing tides that surround them. You DO, however, own your website and blog (or should),” Friedman said.

Here are my thoughts on whether to blog:

Have a purpose. As Barkat and Friedman suggest, if you are blogging for the sake of building an audience and have nothing to say or because somebody told you to blog, it’s going to show in the quality of your posts. The initial focus of my blog was to share with novice fiction writers the lessons I had learned over the course of many years as a self-taught fiction writer. My blog has morphed into something much more—featuring book reviews, author profiles, and my reflections on the writer’s journey.

Set limits. Decide how much time to devote each week to blogging versus writing and stick to it. Don’t let your blog infringe upon your writing time. If the blog becomes too time-consuming cut back.

Use it strategically. I don’t write sci-fi so readers are not going to see a lot of reviews or advice on science fiction. I write family sagas so I tend to read and write about that genre more than others. I also follow a number of excellent fiction writing blogs and I leave comments on posts, which has attracted like-minded writers to my blog, which brings me to my next thought.

Share, share, share. Blogging is a great outlet to share your knowledge and insights. In that regard, Twitter is a great vehicle for sharing. I always send out a link to my blog posts on Twitter and I have found followers who do the same and I follow those people as well.

Don’t let blogging take over your life. It’s tempting to blog at the expense of writing. I find it easier to bang out a 500-word blog essay than to write 500 words of quality fiction. Don’t fall into the trap of blogging instead of writing. Carve out appropriate amounts of time for both on a regular basis.

What are your thoughts on blogging?

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Platform in Perspective

Platform, platform, platform. The blogosphere is filled with that word. An unpublished writer must have a platform to get an agent or a publisher. Your blog doesn’t have ten thousand followers? Don’t even talk to an agent or a publisher. You can’t write.

In late December I received an Annual Report from WordPress (another reason why I love WordPress). Let me share my stats. I had 8,300 views in 2012. I posted 89 new essays (for a total of 140 in the 15 months since I started my blog). My busiest day was October 17, 2012, with 117 views. My most popular post was titled, “What Drives Your Main Character?” My most commented-upon post was, “Are You NaNoing This Year.”

My posts have been viewed by people in 102 countries, with the U.S., the United Kingdom and Canada showing the most views.

What do all these stats mean? Judging by the numbers, I am a rank amateur who has no right to call myself an author. That’s the trouble with numbers. I don’t spend my day promoting my blog posts on social media. I don’t have the time. There are only two numbers that mean anything to me: my word count on my Work in Progress and the number of blog posts (I try to blog every three days) I generate. My expectations are low, but realistic. I’d rather spend my energy writing the best book I can and sharing what I’ve learned with the good people who are kind enough to read my blog. The big platform benchmarks touted on blogs mean little to me. They’re not worth the price.

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7 Lessons from a First-Year Blogger

This month marked my first anniversary as a blogger. While my stats are hardly impressive, I have 111 posts and more than 5,000 views to my credit. In the process, I’ve learned a lot and would like to share seven key lessons:

1. Keep doing it. The blogosphere is littered with bloggers who started out fast and flamed out. If you are going to start a blog, you must make a long-term commitment. Take the long view. Are you really passionate enough about the subject to keep going back to it again and again. Do you have enough to say? Do you have enough time? Which brings me to my second lesson.

2. Your writing comes first. I have not found the right balance yet. I admit I have sacrificed my writing time in the interest of keeping up my blog and that’s a bad habit. I need to work on that.

3. Read other blogs. Bloggers must stay current on what is being written about their subject. What are the hot stories? What are the trends or books people are talking about? Writing books doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Writers are part of a vast world that includes traditional and self-publishing. Besides, reading other blogs will give you topic ideas.

4. Build your online community. My philosophy is to focus on making a few meaningful connections. This is best done by faithfully reading blogs you like and leaving comments. It also involves being nice to other bloggers, reading and reviewing their work and sharing tips and insights. It takes time, but it’s worth it.

5. Twitter is your best friend. I resisted Twitter for a long time, but a friend persisted in touting its benefits. Once I realized what it was all about and what it could do for a writer, I was hooked. Again, Twitter is about sharing and giving, not about self-promotion. If you follow the right people, you can get all your news about your subject of interest through Twitter.

6. Branch out. My blog started as a resource for new writers. All of my posts were focused on helping the novice writer. I wrote with an eye toward giving advice I would have found most helpful when I was starting out. I always knew it would morph into something more. I have added Author Spotlights on authors I admire and Book Reviews. I realize I am not only a writer, but an avid reading and reading is just as important to me as writing.

7. You own it. Fiction writing bloggers tend to write about the same topics, but what I find fascinating is that every writer’s perspective on these topics is so different. We all see writing through our unique prism. And that’s what the individual blogger brings to the table. Share your insights. Share your journey. Give knowledge to others. You will find it most rewarding. Now I need to go and spend some time on my Work In Progress.

What lessons have you learned as a blogger? Have you figured out the balance between blogging and writing fiction?

 

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