It’s hard to believe it is a year since I set up this web site and started blogging. One year on I’ve published two books for Kindle and over fifty blogs. I’ve read a lot of blogs and a lot on blogging. And I feel I’ve learnt something (I hope) on the art of blogging. Below are seven of my key learnings. If you’re an experienced blogger, new blogger, wondering about starting a blog, let me know what you think.
1) It’s not a way to sell tons of books.
You hope that all those who visit your site and/or read your blog will think you’re great and buy your books. Well they don’t, the occasional person maybe, but most, no. After all I know when I visit blogs it starts as a casual interest, I’ll skim the blog and if it’s really interesting read it in detail. I’m looking at blogs, not buying books. What I hope is that if people find my blog interesting then when they see my name or my books in other places, perhaps they’ll start to take a more serious interest in my writing and then perhaps at some point buy the books.
2) The best way to get blog traffic is to be mentioned on other blogs
The Carnival of Indies is a case in point. I have now submitted a number of blogs and whenever a new issue comes out there is always a spike of visits to this site. I’ve been mentioned in a few other places as well, which is always gratifying. One objective of my second year of blogging is to find more places to advertise my blog. It’s all about the traffic. Any suggestions welcomed.
3) You have to keep going.
You have to work at it. I blog every week and I admit that sometimes I struggle for inspiration. I’m always looking out for ideas and note them down whenever I think of something, however unlikely it may seem. Even when I go on holiday I line up a blog or two to go out at the appropriate time. One of the first things I read about blogging was that it could take 6 months for the traffic to build up and that’s true. So if you’ve just started don’t give up. Give people a chance to find you. Then by blogging to a schedule they will become regular visitors. I advertise my blog on twitter and I certainly get it retweeted by more people now than in the beginning. Also many of those kind people retweet every week. So I must be doing something right
4) Try out those crazy ideas / topics
Don’t be afraid to go ‘off the wall’ a bit. My list of blog ideas contain some of those and when I start writing I’m not always sure where they’re going (a bit like some of my stories). But, sometimes I think those turn out to be the most interesting blogs. If it seems daft or outrageous (I’m not talking about being offensive here), what’s the worst that can happen? It’s a great place to experiment. After all they’re your opinions. Just don’t be offended if people disagree. Invite opinion, start a conversation. In many ways I would rather have 10 comments that disagree with me than just one that agrees. It shows people have read it.
5) What works in a blog.
Everyone will tell you that good content, well written is key. That’s true, but after that? And what is good content? All I know is if you’d asked me to predict which of my blogs would get the most traffic I would have got it wrong. Early on it was a light hearted blog about which chocolate biscuits were the best for writers. My blog on ‘Robots, Androids and intelligent machines’ written over six months ago still gets hits and has probably received at least twice the hits of any other blog. On the other hand blogs I sweated over and, in my own mind, were mini master pieces failed to get much interest. So going back to 4) if you can write a page about a subject, whatever it is, give it a go.
6) Give them added value
Which from your point of view gives readers a good reason to stay on your site. I’ve tried to do that with Inspiration (books that have inspired me); Writer resources (books and web site that I’ve found particularly useful); and some of my short stories. Also when you update these it’s another good reason to advertise your blog. One ‘note to self’ arising from this blog is that I need to update these more often.
7) It is worth it.
I’m certain my blogging has improved my writing. It’s immediate, much more so than writing that novel, or even a short story. You don’t have endless time to rewrite and polish. Also, as well as allowing me try out ideas it has made me think about my genre (in my case science fiction) in more depth. That process has given me ideas for my books as well for short stories and new novels. If nothing else, as a writer, that makes it worthwhile.
So after one year of blogging I’m looking forward to the challenge of year two. I not sure where another 52 ideas will come from, but judging by this year something will crop up. If you’re thinking of starting a blog, my advice, give it ago. If you are seasoned blogger, I feel I’m on my way to joining you.
As always I welcome your thoughts and opinions.