To Blog or To Write, That Is The Question
Why have a blog if you’re writing a book? Who has the time?
Won’t blogging take away from my writing efforts? More critically: Are bloggers considered writers? Are writers considered bloggers?
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.