OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
I love blogging and this site has become the foundation of my business. I also have a fiction blog at www.JFPenn.com: Ancient Mystery, Modern Thrill.
But I don't think blogging is for everyone, and there are more effective uses of your time if you don't go all-in. In today's guest post, author Ali Luke and Joe Williams from SEO Training explore some good reasons to blog, and other reasons you should beware.
Perhaps “start a blog” was one of your new year’s resolutions – or maybe you’re wondering what all the fuss is about.
Although I’m a keen blogger myself, I also know that blogging isn’t the best path for every writer (whatever some blogging gurus might have you think!) Today, I want to give you both sites of the “to blog or not to blog” argument – so you can make up your mind what’s right for you.
Three Reasons to Blog
There are plenty of reasons to blog – for many people, it’s a great way to establish a strong writing habit – but these are three which are especially important considerations for writers:
#1: You Want to Build a Platform
Your online platform is your ability to reach people. If you’re planning to approach agents and editors with your manuscript, a blog with several hundred (or even several thousand!) readers can boost your chances of acceptance.
If you’re going it alone, a blog is an even more powerful tool. You can offer services – like freelance writing or editing – through your blog; readers who find your posts valuable will be more likely to hire you. For non-fiction writers, a blog is also a great way to give readers a taste of the type of content they can expect from your book or ebook.
#2: You Want to Be Part of the Blogging Community
Writing can be a lonely occupation … and the online world is a great place to connect with like-minded people. Although blogs have become increasingly slick and professional over the years, there are still plenty of people blogging just to share their thoughts, to report on their writing progress, and make new friends.
LiveJournal is one great place for finding people to connect with – or you could use a simple blogging platform like Blogger. Although your blog might not have hundreds of readers, like more professionally-focused sites, you can build a strong friendship with those who do read it.
#3: Your “Blog” is Your Website
There’s no rule that says you have to update your blog every day, every week, or even every month. Some writers use blogging software (particularly WordPress) to build and manage their website. WordPress is free and fairly straightforward to use – and your blog doesn’t need to be a prominent part of the site.
This way, you can use your blog to occasionally update readers on your progress (e.g. when you’re about to publish a new book) – but you don’t need to spend time writing there on a daily or weekly basis.
Three Reasons Not to Blog
Perhaps none of the reasons above quite fit with who you are, or with your writing plans. In that case, you might not want a blog.
#4: You Want Instant Results
Starting a blog is unlikely to have a significant immediate impact on your book sales, or your freelancing commissions. If you want or need fast results, look into other marketing techniques – like paying to advertise your book on a site like Kindle Nation Daily or sending out pitches to magazines.
Blogging is a long-term investment, and it could take months or years to hit your major goals. Of course, it can be a hugely rewarding journey in itself – but it’s not a path to instant fame and fortune!
#5: You’re Promoting a Fiction Book
It’s much harder to promote fiction than non-fiction through a blog. With non-fiction, you can produce posts that relate to your topics – and that tie in with your ideal reader’s current interests. With fiction, you have to generate initial interest in your plot and characters, and this is a lot tougher.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a blog if you’re a fiction author – it could be a great place for you to put extra content for your fans, like deleted scenes – but don’t rely on your blog as your primary marketing tool.
#6: You Want Your Blog Itself to Make Money
If you’re a keen blog reader, you’ve probably come across the concept of “problogging” – blogging with the intention of making money. Some writers are very attracted to this: if you enjoy writing, building a blog sounds pretty easy, and income from ads or affiliate links could potentially provide you with the funds to quit your job and spend more time writing.
However … the “make money blogging” dream is one that rarely works out. It takes a great deal of time and effort to build a blog that’s large enough to make more than a few dollars from passive income (like ads and affiliate revenue). The bloggers who make a successful living tend to be those who write and sell books, provide services, or who use their blog to market their small business.
So … what will you decide?
Is blogging right for you – or is it something that you’re not going to pursue at the moment? If one of the above reasons struck a chord with you, let us know in the comments (and please feel free to tell us your own reasons for blogging or not blogging, too).
Bio: Ali Luke and Joe Williams offer day-long training courses in blogging, social media and search engine optimization in the UK. You can find out more (and read their blog!) at SEO Training, or contact them on Twitter at @SEOTraining.