Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Are Blogs and Websites Necessary?
The BIG question.
Gone are the days when a writer can shut themselves away and forget the world exists except on the days when their precious novel ships off to the editor. With the advancement of technology, readers want to connect with writers, to get to know who they are and why they write. On top of that, people just like us are on the lookout for tips and tricks on how to make it all work. Like we have it all together…pfft.
So, then we start hearing all about blogs and websites. Do we or don’t we? When? Now? How much attention does it require? Oh, the questions!
Here is what I have garnered from my own research mixed with my personal opinion: Blogs are a must. Unless you have something else to offer, a website can wait until you’ve signed with an agent (at the earliest).
Okay, I’m sure you’re looking at me all cross-eyed now that I’ve declared blogs a must, but let me explain. Blogs are a must for every writer the minute they decide to become a writer. I think their blog should start out as more personal and grow into a professional blog. This may sound a little counter-intuitive—hear me out. I think one thing a lot of writers need, especially in the beginning is some sort of accountability, as well as something that will hold us to deadlines. Blogs can do that. A lot of experts say that when you start up your blog, you should choose a niche that way you can attract the most readers from an audience that will want what you have to offer. I agree that your blog should be that eventually, but in the beginning, it shouldn’t be about the readers.
Blogging, in its rawest form, is a lot like journaling. It’s an opportunity to share your experiences, your hopes and dreams, what makes you tick, etc. For writers, this is an important, and often untapped, resource. Our writing is based on who we are deep down, and we best express ourselves through words. So, in the beginning, set up a blog with this in mind. It’s just a journal. Make up your mind to post only as often as you can fit it in—but at least once a week. You probably won’t garner many followers at first, and that’s okay.
The more comfortable you become with blogging, and the further you progress in your writing career, you can start to channel your blog into what you have to offer—what you’ve learned, what you are working on, what you’re exploring. If you’ve followed me long, you know I’m all about three things—faith, writing, and family. I talk about life as a Christian, military wife, homeschooling-mama who wants to be a published author.
As you take your blog to a more professional level, you’ll want to increase how often you post. The adage is that you will attract more readers the more often you post. So, once you hit professional level, it’s best to post AT LEAST three times a week. I typically post 3-5 times a week depending on how busy I am. The next is my downfall—be consistent about it. If you’re only going to post M-W-F, then post M-W-F. Your readers will come to expect it—and readers can be rather fickle. We still love them though.
Blogging can be a great marketing tool once you’ve been contracted. If you’ve spent the time building up your following ahead of time—when your dreams come true, you’ll have a team of people ready to support you after all you’ve done for them! Mutual giving.
I don’t have a lot to say on this at the moment. Websites are not necessary in the beginning stages of writing, or even as you get into it. Websites are where people go to find out more about you and your product. If you have nothing to offer, there’s no reason to have a website beyond your blog.
Once you become contracted to be published, a website is good to help promote the upcoming book. It gives you an opportunity to display more about you and your writing and invite people to interact with you.
Now, if you do have something else to offer—maybe you’re a freelance editor, or maybe you write historical romance and also make handcrafted items indicative of that era—then a website will help promote both sides of your world in one, central location. Something to be considered.
What about you? What are your opinions on blogs and websites? Please share!