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To Blog or To Write, That Is The Question

November 14, 2010

Why have a blog if you’re writing a book? Who has the time?

Good questions.

Won’t blogging take away from my writing efforts? More critically: Are bloggers considered writers? Are writers considered bloggers?

Better questions.

Maybe my story can answer them.

My background and degree is in communications, sales, and marketing. That’s where I’ve made my career and honed my skills. However, my minor was journalism. I’ve always been a writer.

Whereas most ten-year-old kids ask their parents for a bicycle for their birthday, I pleaded (and got, thank you very much) a desk. With my older sister shaking her head at my weirdness, I proudly shut out the world and wrote my stories and poems.

Today, as a mom of two with a house to run and tenuous sanity to hold on to, writing is my lifeline. I started my blog as a way to share my stories, frustrations, and humor with the great black hole—honestly not knowing if anyone was listening, not caring if anyone was—well, maybe a little. For me, blogging initially was just a release.

I joined Blogger and crafted my posts as I would any short story—probably too many words, though scrupulously spell and grammar-checked, thrilled if I received a comment or two, joyous when someone pressed that follower button.

As I became more confident in my abilities as a blogger, I realized this: I was a writer. I could call myself a writer with confidence. I was crafting stories—NOT what I did that day, what my kids ate for lunch, or what book I read—well okay, maybe that. But that alone would have been a snooze. What did I really want to write about? What interested me? What interested my readers?

Joining Twitter last year made a huge impact on what I wrote about. Think of Twitter as your very own market research tool. Not sure what to write about one week? Ask your stream. They’ll tell ya. They sure as heck tell me.

I quickly realized that if I was going to grow as a writer and as someone who wanted to market her writing, I needed to utilize my blog as a showcase for writing samples of what would become my future book.  Branding myself became key. Why? Because it helps me crystallize exactly what I want to focus on as I write, as well as helps my readers know exactly what to expect when they click on RachelintheOC.com.

The Mancode, Chickspeak, Kidcode. All posts fit into those three filters or they don’t go on the blog. The exception is an occasional poignant personal story or insight which helps me reach out to my audience on a whole other level. I now know to keep my posts short (500 words max), I use bullets or one or two sentence paragraphs (look at what you’ve just read, for example) to keep a reader’s interest moving down the page. And I always use a pic (or two).

I post twice per week—always on Monday to take advantage of Twitter’s #MentionMonday opportunity (where you blurb your post, hashtag it, shorten the link, write Plz RT and mention it throughout the day). In addition, give back by mentioning other bloggers who are also participating in #MM. The hits to your blog are incredible, and you’ll gain an amazing amount of new followers. I also post on Thursday or Friday, to carry another post through the weekend.

Just be sure to spread your shortened links (I recommend bit.ly) throughout the day when promoting your blog posts so as not to spam. I’ll talk about this more in my next article.

For more information on how to shorten your links and utilize Twitter for your blog, follow us on the @IndieBookIBC stream for plenty of daily tips and tricks.

I do caution you against posting every single day. Is every single post, every single day, a writing sample that’s up to par? So good that you could submit it to a magazine or journal? You never know when an editor or publisher will click on your site. What if the one day that you slack is the one time an editor visits and you’re having an off day? In my opinion, not worth it.

I hope this article has given you insights into my blogging routine. I love it and it’s really helped me to connect with people from all over the world. Using the techniques we teach in our IBC workshops combined with blogging, my Twitter followers have jumped from about 600 in March to over 4,200; blog followers were 30–I now have about 300 (175 on my site and over 175 subscribed in readers) with hits going from 80/month to upwards of 3,000/month. My goal is three times that by year’s end.

So I hope I’ve answered some of your blogging questions. Sure it takes time to tweet and blog. But remember, you’re grooming readers to buy your work when you publish. Let them get to know you, as a person and as a writer.

No matter what stage of writing you’re at, you can start developing your platform with your blog–as your characters, a storyline, whatever.

But you just need to start!

~*~

 

Follow @RachelintheOC on Twitter here or check out her blog here. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, Linkedin, running the @IndieBookIBC stream, or on our weekly blog talk radio shows Tuesdays at 4:30pm PST/7:30pm EST along with founding members @craftycmc and @kaitnolan.


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14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2010 7:21 pm

    I’ve never considered myself to be a true blogger and I only kept a blog to help support my self-pubbed book. I never felt like I’d found my voice as a blogger, so I was totally ambivalent. I would let cobwebs grow on it for long periods. Yuck.

    With the help of my friend @jdistraction (who has her own unique voice on her blog), I decided to get serious. We’re taking my blog from the doldrums into a happening place. There’s a long way to go to equal the amazing stats you’ve quoted for your blog (go, Rachel!) but this gives me something exciting to aim for. I’m going to bookmark this article and implement your tips.

    Thanks for this fantastic article. I can feel your passion, and this post is a keeper.

    ~ Milli

  2. November 14, 2010 7:42 pm

    Excellent and timely advice for me, since I’m writing a book and have wondered what to do with the domain which has my name on it. I love the idea of selecting filters which have to fit what I post there, or I don’t post there.

  3. November 14, 2010 9:50 pm

    Thanks for the #Mention Monday tip and the idea to post 2 times a week. These suggestions are two I can follow and implement this week.

  4. November 14, 2010 10:11 pm

    Thanks for your comments, folks. I appreciate the feedback.

    Blogging is key to your social media presence and identifying your specific branding “filters” helps enormously when it comes to writing your posts AND tweets.

    The key is balancing the time spent writing WIP with your posts and on promotion :-).

    To find out more, sign up for one of our free workshops (the second Tuesday of each month) or tune in to our weekly blog talk radio show, every Tuesday at 4:30pm PST/7:30 EST where Carolyn and I discuss blogging, branding, and Twitter in depth and take your calls.

    You can also hit me up anytime on the IBC stream or my personal stream — I’m happy to help.

  5. November 15, 2010 10:13 am

    I really do not blog in the truer sense of what blogging was meant to be. I started FlashTold [http://flashtold.wordpress.com] as a way to put some short stories out there. It serves as a place to send people who might like to read my stuff. When I submit longer pieces of fiction, I include the link to show that I’m not some one-trick pony.

    It is all about marketing.

  6. November 15, 2010 11:59 am

    Donald, that’s perfect. It’s all about having a place for writing samples–key word here is sample.

    As I work on my non-fiction book, THE MANCODE: A SURVIVOR’S TALE, my posts are normally humor pieces having to do with male/female relationships and marriage. My point here is that you want your readers to get a feel for your voice on your blog so that when they purchase your book, they know what they’re getting.

    You want to keep your voice true throughout your entire platform–this includes your Twitter account and Facebook as well. It’s not just about providing links to your blog or thanking folks for visiting. What content are you providing?

    That’s what we discuss on our radio show and what I’ll be writing about in my next post.

  7. November 15, 2010 2:06 pm

    Terrific advice, Rachel! Thank you!

  8. November 15, 2010 6:23 pm

    Very helpful and learning these tools has really helped us to expand our readership. We write our blog when we get stuck writing our screenplays, so I guess folks can think of it as a constructive way to procrastinate! 🙂

  9. November 16, 2010 4:52 pm

    Interesting! As a journalist I think of my blog as more of a, well, journal, than a place to showcase my fiction attempts. I like the community I’ve formed through there and it’s more a spot to write about misadventures in parenting, etc.

    Would you suggest starting another blog where i just do fiction pieces?

  10. November 17, 2010 1:03 pm

    Great blogging points! I’m with you on the every day stuff. And I’m still learning Twitter. The question which sometimes freezes me up is, “What do readers want?” As a reader, if I’m at an author’s site, it’s because of the characters. I’m fishing for more Sam and Grace, more Martini and Kitty, you know?
    I’m going to (gulp) take the leap and ask my current Twitter and Facebook followers. Thanks for this post!!

  11. karen lee hallam permalink
    February 20, 2011 8:50 pm

    Thank You. Now that I’ve finished writing my YA novel, I am trying to balance the blog work back in, after having no content for a year. Yes there where cobwebs.

  12. March 8, 2011 7:22 pm

    I know I’m way late commenting but I’ve been backtracking to read every single post you indie godmothers have written. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and time – it is so appreciated!
    LD

  13. cyndydrewetler permalink
    November 16, 2011 9:52 pm

    Remember the Psychic Friend Network? Yeah. You worked for them? Yeah. How else could you have known? This post is exactly what I’ve been seeking, to answer The Question: does anyone READ blogs? Wait, no. It didn’t answer that. But it did tell me why I need to have a damn blog, whether anyone reads it or not. Thanks, Friend.

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