Some say authors should blog for the simple reason that it helps you write more consistently. Blogs build connections and experience. They also take time away from your other activities — like writing your next book. So… do you need a blog?
“Do I need a blog?” It’s a question on the mind of new authors everywhere.
The answer is a resounding, “Probably.”
Blog to book
Blogs have been around since 1994. By 2006, there were more than 50 million blogs online, including major hubs of international interest like Gizmodo, Gawker, and The Huffington Post. And while it’s true that the prominence of blogs has decreased somewhat — due to things like the rise of social media, podcasts, and platforms like YouTube, which ushered in the age of “vlogging” — blog are still hugely influential for anyone attempting to build an online platform. This is especially true for authors.
Consider, for example, the work of Nina Amir, a friend of BookBaby. Nina wrote the bestselling How To Blog A Book and runs and maintains four different blogs herself. She exemplifies how, beyond even building a platform, maintaining a blog is a great way to embark on the daunting task of writing and publishing book.
Amir details how, if you do it right and blog consistently about a cohesive set of topics, you can stitch together a book of original content. Plus, as you publish content, you’re inevitably building an author platform, which itself can attract the attention of publishers and potentially even land you a book deal.
What she posits is true, but I believe there are simple, practical reasons why authors should consider starting personal/professional blogs.
Blogging establishes writing discipline
If you blog everyday, you’re practicing your craft and developing your writing style. That means you’re improving, and what could be more important for new authors than polishing your writing chops?
All authors should blog for the simple reason that it helps you write more consistently. Sticking to a regular publishing schedule forces you to center yourself and focus on making your writing engaging.
Blogging enables feedback
A key component of improving your writing is receiving — and implementing — feedback. Blogs provide a great venue for feedback, not just from well-meaning family members who might hold back, but from real-life readers who will respond critically to the different styles and strokes you play with. That’s an opportunity new authors can’t afford to pass up.
Blogging can establish expertise and credibility
The longer you blog, the more valuable the content you produce and the larger you can make your following — all of which contributes to your credibility.
This is critical for nonfiction authors, especially. Readers need to view you as an expert in your field. You want them to think of you as the go-to person on your chosen topic when they are ready to buy your books and products.
Your blog can build connections
Finally, through blogging, you make yourself available to a swath of potential connections — not just with readers and customers, but also with other authors, business owners, bloggers, and service providers.
Bloggers need each other to share content, guest post, and offer support. Within your online community, you can find potential speaking opportunities, co-authors, media and marketing opportunities, and business connections. This is a way to supercharge your online platform and presence in a way that will prove very attractive to publishers.
Of course, it is true that authors don’t technically need blogs. In fact, a growing number of authors are coming to believe that blogging is neither a requirement nor the best marketing and promotion tool for their writing. Here are a few of their reasons.
- Blogging takes time away from your REAL writing. Each day consists of 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds. Time is precious, and any activity that takes away from book-writing is a negative.
- Blogging exposes your less-than-best work. Remember the point above about feedback? It can be a double-edged sword. As soon as you press “publish,” your article is live for the world to see, free for people to react and respond to. This is exciting — addictive even — especially when people affirm your writing. But because blogging allows you the potential of almost instant gratification, it’s tempting to hit publish prematurely or rush the creative process. Maybe you’re experimenting with new styles and ideas that aren’t fully baked. The ease of blogging and sharing can subvert the process of sharing your best content.
- It’s hard to build a quality audience. Authors complain about the number of books in the marketplace, but those numbers pale compared to the growth of blogs. Some stats indicate there are over 700 million blogs published. Blogs are still important to those invested in their specific subjects, but maybe not to a general audience more likely to turn to Twitter or Facebook for a quick news fix.
- Blogs aren’t money makers. Many authors devote time to blogging for reasons beyond just perfecting their craft. While I admire how some use their sites to build a platform, establish a brand, and increase an audience, many writers are lured into pursuing pure traffic numbers, affiliate marketing, and ad sales. Chasing those kinds of numbers can be a huge distraction from your literary goals. And with the amount of competition online, it’s a challenge to gain any kind of profitable traction.
At the end of the day, if you’re deciding whether or not to start a blog, consider the following:
- What is your experience level? If you’re a new or inexperienced author, a blog can be an excellent place for you to hone your skills, express yourself, and gain experience. But if you already have a strong following or have scant time to devote to additional writing, you might say no to blogging.
- What’s your genre or subject matter? If you write nonfiction, a blog is recommended. This is where you can really demonstrate your subject matter expertise. Your posts will amplify anything you publish. A romance writer, on the other hand? Are you going to be tempted to leak out some of your plot twists or interesting character developments? Maybe you should keep these private.
- What’s your motivation for blogging? Are you looking to gain revenue from your online writing? That’s a long-shot. If you’re blogging to cultivate readers, give people a chance to get to know you, and establish a tribe, then a blog might be a great use of your time.
Blogging has always been a great vehicle for discussing complex ideas and sharing them with like-minded people. As an author, blogs allow you to interact with readers who have the kind of attention spans needed to consume and appreciate your work. That is, and always will be, valuable.