I’ve been blogging now for over two years. I publish every Wednesday and have accumulated over 125 posts. I wouldn’t say that people flock to my blog but I do get a steady stream of visitors. And occasionally my blog is picked up elsewhere which gives me some great exposure. I’m not saying I’m doing everything right, but I have learnt some things along the way and here they are:
Don’t expect blogging to directly help you sell books, it doesn’t. People visiting your blog want to read your blog. The hope is that if people enjoy the blog, even becoming regular visitors they will appreciate your writing enough to take a punt on your books. Blogging helps get you out there, it puts your name in the search engines and gets you on those precious first page or two of google etc. However, the bottom line is blog because you want to blog and you enjoy it.
Some people say you should blog about your books or at least the subject matter relating to your books. If it’s all ‘read my books, read my books’ I think that puts people off. Also I’d struggle to come up with a science fiction blog every week. On my site introduction say I blog on science fiction, writing and whatever amuses me. I think that’s right. Sometimes things happen during the week that, for me, cry out for a blog. Other times I’ll find inspiration in various science and non-science news sources or other blogs. For me it’s all about trying to keep it original and fresh. Yes, sometimes I will revisit ideas and themes I’ve used before but hopefully from a different angle often sparked by new information or something I’ve read elsewhere.
You never know what will work best
This follows on from subject matter in that you never know what is going to be popular, which is why writing about whatever appeals to you is not such a bad idea. An early blog of mine ‘Robots, androids and intelligent machines – do we want them to look human’ has had twice as many hits as any other blog and it’s still getting hits. ‘What is the right price for a kindle book?’ promoted good discussion. But then ‘Chocolate biscuits / biscuits for writers – a critique’ still gets the odd hit. As I said you never know. My advice don’t try and write to a formula, write about what interests or stirs you personally.
Almost any article on blogging suggests illustrating your blog with photographs and I agree. They break up a block of text and make it more visually appealing. They can illustrate a point and for want of a better word just ‘decorate’ the blog. Wherever possible I use my own photographs. I think that makes it more personal. It also gives me more reason to take photographs. And even when writing on science fiction I can usually find something appropriate. Also using your own avoids any problems of rights. If you are really stuck there a number sites out there with free photos, although even then you need to read the small print
Getting it out there
Here is where I admit I still need to do more (all ideas welcome). I do put it on a number of facebook sites. I have a google+ blog site and of course I tweet it (in turn I have a number of regular retweeters for which I am always grateful). Also, I have guest blogged which I have enjoyed and has increased traffic to my own site. Some require an original blog but many will allow you to rework a blog that you published some months ago, after all you are reaching a new audience.
Does it help your writing?
Emphatically, yes it does. In this case I make no apologies for repeating something I’ve said before. The immediacy of it, the fact that you have to produce every week is a different discipline for someone who mainly writes novels. You don’t have weeks and weeks to think about it and revise and revise. Does the quality vary – yes it does, but that’s all part of the learning.
So if you’re thinking about blogging I hope this helps. If you are a confirmed blogger let me know what you think. As always views and comments are welcome.