Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Writers on blogging: separating our blogs from the herd



Years ago a writing mentor told me, if you’re going to write, you must be on social media. Technophobe that I am, I supposed that must mean a website it would take a professional to set up. And tend. And continually expose my ignorance to, and on. And although I actually built a dot.com site from a web template, it was so tough to update I nearly stopped writing.

Then I discovered blogging. Free (often) and easy. Little did I know there was so much still to learn. That’s why I still jump at any chance to hear more experienced bloggers tell their stories, as Kathryn McClatchy and Rainer Bantau did at the Writers Guild of Texas


There are, Rainer intoned solemnly, quoting a business-oriented blogger, 164 million blogs in the world, most of which get fewer than 5,000 visitors a month. And although I could plead that I’m not blogging for sales leads, it’s nice to think I reach a group of like-minded people. How can we find each other among 164,000,000 others?

“There are multiple reasons to blog now. You can blog because it fills a lack in your souls, or you can do it for a living.”

How about rumors that blogging is so dead? Consider, she said, that the same rumors abound about the death of books on paper.

“Anybody here bought a paper book recently?” she asked. Hands went up. “So, not dead.”

So, how to stand out among those 163,999,999 other blogs?

“Follow your passion,” was Kathryn’s advice. “The audience will follow if you are passionate about your subject. . . “You have a unique perspective,” she says. “There’s a hole in the internet that nobody’s talking about. Pick something unique to you.”

Kathryn differentiates between niche blogs and personal blogs. Niche blogs are the prime domain of writers for nonfiction to establish themselves as experts in their field. Personal blogs are common to many fiction writers, allowing the blogger to write about whatever takes her fancy  -- although there’s no rule that says we can’t combine the two.

Rainer’s Devotional Guy blog title speaks for itself, and also allows him to address subjects such as homelessness and human trafficking that he’s passionate about. Thriller writer Kathryn prefers to blog about crime, but she doesn’t exclude posts about literary events and writers she follows.

As with any job, hobby, or (gulp!) social media activity, blogging takes time. (Kathryn estimated that she spends 1-3 hours writing each post – and that’s not counting the research time.) While decrying any “hard and fast rules” about how often to blog, or how long blog posts should be, the duo noted that “being consistent is more important than frequency.” A blogger must consider how much time he/she can afford to spend writing quality posts, and budget time accordingly.  Better a quality post once a week than daily scatter-shots.


image: Pixabay
Rainer also urged bloggers to remember that the internet is a visual medium, and recommended some sites for copyright-free images. (I take a lot of my own photos, and am a longtime fan of Wikimedia Commons, but jumped at the gorgeous photos on Pixabay and the search options available through Creative Commons.

Other resources for bloggers include: ProBlogger, Web Design Relief, social media gurus Guy Kawasaki and Michael Hyatt; and writers who teach blogging, Joanna Penn and Susan Maccarelli.

(I’m also going to modestly suggest my own blog post at this site on the subject of blogging: Wordcraft:Blogging – easy as a message in a bottle.)

Learn, enjoy, and never stop writing!

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And on the subject of writing: the short story contest for Dallas-based science fiction/fantasy convention FenCon has been extended to August 15. Cash prizes, publication chances, and judges feedback. See the site for details.

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