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Why Not Blogging is Stupid

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Philip Overby, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    The blogger's words, not mine. :)

    Pretty good title, I have to admit. The first thing a non-blogger is going to say is "Hey, I'm not stupid! Let me prove why not blogging in NOT stupid!" So yeah, as far as titles go, pretty good.

    Why Not Blogging Is Stupid by @RachelintheOC aka Rachel Thompson

    I'm of the opinion that blogging is one of the biggest tools you can have in social media. It allows you to share your views on something in a longer length and gives you a chance to establish who are you as a writer in multiple ways.

    Twitter is for the witty, honestly. Facebook, meh, I don't know. Google+ is by far the most artist friendly community (other than Mythic Scribes :) ) I've found so far. But even there you are only allowed so much room to share your opinions.

    So in the above blog post, Rachel Thompson suggests why not blogging is stupid. For those who didn't click, here are the reasons (and my comments):

    1. I'm too busy writing.

    Well, good point. If you are honestly hard at work on a novel, short stories, or whatever else, blogging seems like it might be the last thing on your mind. If you're just too busy in general, maybe you're not ready to take writing seriously enough to set aside some time each day to work on it.

    2. I don't know what to write about.

    For my blog, I go with the "umbrella effect." Meaning everything in my blog is somehow related to the fantasy genre. This gives me a wealth of topics to write about. I can see where others might shy away from blogging if they just don't feel like they have any worthwhile discussions to bring up. But I agree with Rachel, that if you're writing, you should surely have tons of things to write about.

    3. It takes away from the focus on my book.

    Another point I could see going both ways. If you're working hard on a book and getting stuff done, then yeah, minimizing distractions might be a good idea. However, you could always blog about your book in progress. Your daily struggles, successes, etc. Some people love to see those kind of posts.

    4. I don't get all this tech stuff.

    This doesn't seem like a good excuse nowadays. You can get a Wordpress or Blogger account pretty easily and it's simple to format. So to me, honestly no excuse there.

    So what do you think?
     
    GeekDavid likes this.
  2. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    Well, since I have a blog, it seems pretty obvious where I fall on that story.

    I honestly think that blogging about the WIP is a good thing, from more than one angle. I've found in blogging about how I developed my characters that actually writing it down helped me nail down some aspects of their personalities that were previously a little fuzzy.

    Also, if you come across a story elsewhere on the web that interests you and can somehow be related to your writing, a blog gives you a place to write about it and develop the idea.
     
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    It's not enough to rebuff excuses. She doesn't make a compelling reason to blog. I'm not saying there aren't compelling reasons, but you would expect her to make them if she's going to call people stupid.

    You don't need to be witty on twitter. That's only one avenue for success, and not even the best. Take a look at the mythicscribes page for a better path - sharing the best stuff around a common interest, what marketing guys calling be a maven.

    If you're marketing or blogging and don't have a facebook page set up, with a like-this-page button on your blog, then you're absolutely missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools out there.
     
  4. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I find that if you are one person, you do have to be witty or at least engaging on Twitter. Mythic Scribes is a community so their method of posting articles and sharing stuff works. Some people do that on their personal Twitter pages and it doesn't come across as well.

    I currently don't have a personal Facebook, but I'm thinking of creating an author page. Facebook is a necessary evil I'm finding although I much prefer Google+ in its presentation.

    Since the article didn't do anything for you and I know you're not an advocate of blogging, I'll offer some of my reasons for blogging:

    1. Giving out samplings of your work.

    Much like GeekDavid is doing, blogs allow you to post samples of your work or insight into them that I don't think other platforms afford as well.

    2. Promotional tool

    Even if you're posting about other stuff, you can have ads for your book or projects on your blog. These ads are always there and always watching YOU! No, but really, if I go to a blog like terribleminds for instance and Chuck Wendig has an ad for one of his books, I may click on it if I've heard good things about it. Especially if he mentions in his blog that it's currently 25% off of whatever.

    3. Sales and Promotions

    That brings me to another point. Some of the best blogs highlight sales and promotions. This allows the writer to share information about a specific promotion without just saying "I have a special promotion on my book" and then disappear back into the ether of the internet.

    4. Length

    Something I mentioned before, but blogging is obviously for readers who want a little bit more meat to their content. I read blogs because I want to hear more from an author. Again, Chuck Wendig utilizes his skill at blogging on topical discussions or writing advice to capture a pretty wide audience.

    5. Guest Posts and Such

    A wonderful tool that I'm surprised more writers don't utilize. I mean what other form of social media can you write a lengthy guest post on someone else's page? Suffice to say, if I wrote a long ass post on my friend's Facebook page, no one is going to care. Guest posts allow bloggers to share ideas, comment on each other's discussions and ramblings, and get new audiences they may not have otherwise gotten before.

    So those are some reasons to blog. Maybe my ideas are more compelling than the original article I linked. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
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  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    That's not accurate - I just think that if you blog with the attitude of getting a big following of people and expecting them to buy your book, it's probably not going to be worth it in terms of sales.
     
  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I've never heard you say anything positive about blogging, that's the only reason I say that. The bottom line I've gotten from most discussions I've seen you have about it is that you think it's a waste of time if you're planning on using it to sell a crapton of books. Which may or may not be true, depending on who the author is. Like I mentioned, Chuck Wendig has certainly sold a load of books by the use of his blog. And I'm sure there are countless others. This doesn't mean everyone can transfer the success of their blogs into book sales, but certainly some people are doing it.

    Anyway, I gave a bunch of reasons why blogging can be advantageous. One I mentioned is selling a book. Hell, if it works for some writers, why can't it work for others? I'm not saying that it will happen for me, but I'm only investing about an hour every couple of days on my blog, so it's not like it's consuming my whole life or something. It's best to develop a website, a blog, a Facebook page, whatever and see where it takes you as a writer. I don't sit around speculating if it's something that's going to make me a ton of book sales. If it does, great. If not, I still enjoy doing it and connecting with other people. That's my main purpose for using it at this time anyway.

    Just a note, I don't think people who don't blog are stupid. That's just what the original article was called. :)

    Spending time writing books is obviously the most optimal way to promote yourself. If you don't have anything specific to promote (like me), then you might as well have fun with your blog and see what happens.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
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  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Of course I have. Blogging is a powerful networking tool, if you use it as such. But as I've been saying, followers don't equal sales unless you have an effective strategy for converting them into sales. It doesn't just happen; you have to make it happen.

    Marketing is about priming a potential customer for the point of sale. Most blogs don't do that. Most blogs become a second product, like a plot tumor that takes people away from the main message of your marketing strategy. Not only do you end up writing your blog instead of your novel, but you end up promoting your blog instead of your book.

    Everybody loves the idea of building a community. But when people talk about attracting readers to a blogging community, they're really advocating for another concept that's deceptively close: A clique. A community is lots of people sharing lots of ideas; a blog is a one-way media outlet, with the author picking a select handful of favored comments to reply to. While that's great, viewing it as a community is a mistake which limits your potential to reach more people.

    You don't need a book buyer to check in weekly for your blog's update. Being an author doesn't have to mean creating a cult of personality. You only need a buyer to visit your blog once - if they go on to buy the book. So if you really want to sell, then you should develop your blog and social media networks with that easier and far more effective objective in mind.

    The next time you visit an author's blog, ask yourself, "Which of these posts are for first time visitors who've never heard of this author before, and which are for regular followers?" The answer might surprise you, unless you realize how many people are seeing each post on twitter or facebook for the very first time. They have a network of more popular people reposting and retweeting, and that network is more powerful and influential than the people who visit your blog daily.

    It takes one visit to your page to sell a book. Just one, if you can make a powerful impression with that one visit.

    So if you have written something that appeals to readers, affix it to your site. Don't hide it in your blog.

    ((edit))

    That goes for character profiles:

    Blog - I've updated the character profile section! New visitors, be sure to check out all of them! Here's a link and an excerpt, go view the page.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  8. Lord Ben

    Lord Ben Minstrel

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    I've checked out authors before and when going to their site discovered I really didn't like them much and it certainly dampened my enthusiasm for a book purchase. Whether they were boring in their blogs, overly "preachy" politics, or just gave off the aroma of desperation and amateurishness.

    A poorly written one will be a hindrance, a well written one an asset. Pretty much like everything else. I can tell you with 99% certainty that the minute I'm blogging and something happens in world events or politics, etc I'm going to start giving my opinion of things and probably turning off people who would want to read it.
     
  9. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    I'm finally beginning to get an inkling of what your trying to say here. You're assuming, firstly, that an author will have both a website and a blog (two separate entities); and secondly, that the website will contain all the semi-permanent information and the blog will contain only transient information. Which is logical.

    However, blogs nowadays, while not as flexible as full-blown website, are actually very similar in many ways. The blog posts themselves, while they take centre stage, are not the only aspect; there are fixed pages accessed by a menu, and there are various widgets and so forth which can also be displayed on every page. In many ways you get the best of both worlds. (And you probably know all this, so apologies for the grandmother sucking eggs scenario.)

    The other point is that blogs, like websites, evolve over time. Those character profiles that GeekDavid and Brian have published as blogposts will, in time, form the basis for a fixed character profile page. Nobody starts out with a perfectly formed blog; it gradually morphs into something more targeted. For an author with no product to sell (yet), the objective is to draw a passing reader into the book so that they want to buy it when it's available. Blog posts about the characters and how they originated will do that very well for me (YMMV). Posts about the author, the world-building, the process of publishing (if it's personal, rather than a how-to guide), posts about fantasy generally, hot topics in the book world, reviews, all these things are of interest to me. But not if the blog is no more than a slick marketing exercise.

    I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: a blog (or website, because they're virtually interchangeable) doesn't have to appeal to tens of thousands of people. Initially, having just a few people who are hyped up about the release of the book is enough. Those few people will buy it, read it and (hopefully) review it. If they enjoy it, they'll tell their friends about it. By the time the second book is out, there are quite a few more people hyped about it. And so it builds. By the time there are four or five books out, the author may well be on the way to earning a living from it (assuming the books are reasonable, of course). Obviously, you can't do that just from a blog/website, it needs more marketing than that, but the blog/website is a key part.

    There are books that I've read purely because I liked the author's blog. Don't knock it; it works :)
     
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  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I'm not really taking them as fully separate entities or URLs, but yes, I am isolating the blog as distinct from the rest of a website. And I have felt that might have been a point of confusion before. If you have a map, for instance, you should have a link on a menu or maybe a thumbnail that says "Here's my map!" for every visitor to see right away. That's not what I would call part of the blog. The blog is the part of your site that you create some kind of announcement or content that you're asking people to tweet or share - like a post about your new map.

    My contention is not that the author shouldn't appeal to readers, it's that the blog should be used to bring in new people, and not focus on building a regular following, aside from the network of people who share your posts. I wouldn't expect most readers to even follow blogs.

    Despite all my ranting about blogs not being a community in-and-of-themselves, they're part of a larger blogger community, and your efforts are better spent networking within that community than on building your own.


    Sure, I get that. And I didn't tell them not to write them. In fact I must've listed "character profiles" alongside maps and bestiaries a dozen times as a way to appeal to readers. It's more the generic attitude of post-to-get-regular-followers that I've been talking about.

    People repeatedly post all the things you need to do to have a successful blog. But nobody's talking about which aspects of a successful blog equate to sales - I think most people are doing two or three times as much work on their blogs for a fraction of the potential sales. I've said before, but blogging is a hobby on par with writing, which is also why some authors talk about their "web business" as being separate from their books. You can make money just by blogging, if you know how, if you're willing to put that much time into it.

    Here's a blog (well, a facebook page) that appeals to fantasy readers: Fantasy and Sci Fi Rock My World. I know that they appeal to readers; they've garnered 202 thousand followers posting memes about how much they like their fantasy books. It's a great page. But it also illustrates the gulf between an author blog and a blog that appeals to readers - as well as how much more you can do with a successful website than sell a book - as well as the importance of being able to reach out to other outlets to do more than what you can do yourself. If I had a book ready to sell, I wouldn't be writing a blog post so much as a meme.

    Why recreate what others are doing so much better than I can?
     
  11. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    For that matter, why should I write my own book when others are doing it so much better than I can (Terry Brooks, L. E. Modesitt, George R.R. Martin)?

    I guess I should just tear up my manuscript, because my best will never be as good as theirs, so I might as well not try and see if I can bring a unique angle to fantasy.
     
  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    If you can't answer the question, then you shouldn't. Is what you want to be a professional author or a professional blogger?

    I mean, some people want to do both. But you don't have to be a professional blogger to be a professional author.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  13. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    Thanks for that uplifting message.
     
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Look, writing is a lot of work, and there are some phenomenal authors out there. I assume that if you want to be an author, you can explain why it's worth it to you. I didn't ask you to do that. I'm asking the question I can't answer - why would I need to go be a successful blogger, if what I want to do is be a writer?
     
  15. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I'm not currently actively blogging, but I probably will once my book is nearing completion. At the moment I see a blog mainly as a promotional tool. Somewhere I can write about my book in a bit more detail and where I can muse and rant about this or that.

    At the moment I'm still working on my first novel. The plan is to put it up for sale online once it's completed, but I don't honestly expect it to do very well - thought I do dream it will. Once I get to that stage, It would be cool to have a blog where I can rant about things, or tell of my experiences or post little ideas for things that could happen to other characters in the story once their part is played.

    In short - I think blogging will be a good thing.

    However, I think that for me, blogging now would be stupid. I have a hard enough time getting things written on my actual book to spend time writing my blog. When I do have the time I focus on my writing - I have a lot to do and a lot to learn and it's not always easy.
    Sure, I could probably learn a bit from writing a blog about my experiences figuring out how to write a book and sure there might be people interested in reading it. The main point I think is that for people to get back to a blog it needs to be updated regularly and at the moment I don't have the interest or motivation to do that.

    What I am is an unknown author with an unfinished book that may not even be completed. I could spend writing for my blog and promote my blog so that people read it - but for now, I'd rather just make sure my book actually gets written.
     
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  16. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Blogging is more than just the chance to bring in new readers. Sure, it does that - and in fact I read Chuck Wendig's Under the Empyrean Sky because I enjoyed his blog posts and tweets - but that's not all it does.

    It provides a link with readers that allows them to engage - cementing casual readers into die-hard fans. I suspect this might be part of the reason Mark Lawrence has grown in popularity so quickly, because he's friendly and engaging and does cool stuff on his blog, and because people like me like that (as well as his awesome books), we are more eager to read them, review them, recommend them, and buy all three books to gift to our local libraries (or maybe that one is just me). So even if a blog doesn't attract new readers (which it does) it helps promote readers to fans, who will come back and keep buying, who will review books, and who will rave about your books to friends.

    It gives you a medium by which to write something else than a novel - to refresh, to take a different approach while still writing, to practice structure for a different type of writing and so on. And writing blog posts can help you to consider aspects of the genre, the business and so on you might not consider otherwise, not to mention find out about things through researching for blog posts. Many of my blog posts have come from ideas seeded in forum threads or tweets I've read, which following research and lots of reading what everyone else has to say has ultimately led me to be better informed about writing, publishing, fantasy and so on.

    Blogging is also interesting. As I say, I find out new things and I find writing blog posts interesting. Distilling research down into a structured, relevant blog post, and then presenting that with suitable images, is satisfying but also a transferable skill to other aspects of life - a side benefit.

    A blog is also a networking opportunity. I've done a guest blog exchange with BWFoster, and I'm in the process of arranging more guest blogging exchanges. This puts me and my author brand in front of readers who otherwise wouldn't see it, but more importantly, it allows me to form stronger bonds with other writers, beyond what it possible merely getting involved in a forum. That in turn could turn into beta reading exchanges down the line, maybe, or reviewing one another's books after publication. So blogging is a way to built relationships with other authors through mutual exchange.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Again, I'm not saying don't blog at all. I'm saying that you can use a blog in a more precise and limited way to market your books than what people talk about when they talk about blogging. If what you want is to promote your books, there are easier and more effective ways than to try and build a big regular following.
     
  18. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Maintaining a blog isn't that hard. Really.

    I'm only really using my blog to connect with other people at the moment. I don't even really see it as a marketing tool. It's very rarely that I see writers I like plugging their books on their blog. They have ads, as I mentioned before, and they'll have mentions if there are any special deals or whatever.

    I'll echo what PaulineMRoss said: you don't need 10,000 people or even more than that visiting your blog and saying "Oh, I like this guy, I'll buy his book now." I don't think that's realistic unless you're already pretty well-known. But like Chilari said, Mark Lawrence owes a lot of success and word of mouth to his blog, because he does cool stuff for readers. And I've bought books from Chuck Wendig solely because of his blog. People DO function this way. Do millions of book-buyers think this way? No. I've actually seen several people on Mythic Scribes say social media never effects their purchase of a book. So no matter how awesome and creative a blog is, those people aren't going to buy anything based on something funny you said on social media. You have to get them in other ways.

    I've heard a lot about "writer's tools." Well, a blog can be a tool you overuse and beat against the wall until all you're doing is hammering one nail over and over again. This may be the path that some bloggers go. The blog becomes more important than any books they've written. In that case, it may not be working for them. However, if you use the blog as I mentioned before (glossed over twice now) it could be valuable in different ways.

    On another note, I don't get the sense that GeekDavid wants to be a professional blogger. I mean he's already posting stuff related to his book, which is more than I can say for a lot of writers that clutch to their ideas because they think someone's going to steal them.

    To me writing a blog is akin to world-building. Some writers do it just enough while others wallow in it and never really get to writing their book. So having a bit of self-control can definitely limit what side of the fence you're on.
     
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  19. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

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    To be perfectly honest, I have been, in the past, a semi-pro blogger on various topics. I won't expand on the topics or the sites because they're beyond the scope of this discussion, but yeah, been there, done that, got the t-shirt, threw the t-shirt away.

    So for me, maintaining a blog is about as difficult as remembering to check the weather online from time to time.

    Does that mean it will work for everyone? No, I'm not in the business of standing On High and Decreeing, "Thou Shalt Do This!" Your mileage may vary from a blog. For me it's something that seems to be gathering some good responses if my "follow" count is any indication. Someone else without my experience base may not get the same results. Does that mean they shouldn't try it? Perish the thought! Fantasy is about trying new things and seeing if they work. How much less enjoyable would the world be if Tolkien's friends told him, "this'll never work, you shouldn't even bother trying it," and he'd listened to them.

    If you wanna try a blog, by all means, give it a shot. Drop me a line if you want advice from an experienced blogger, guest post, or any other kind of help. I'll be happy to come alongside you and help you all I can.

    Edited to add: I'm not saying I'll do your blog for you... if it's gonna be successful it has to be YOUR voice and style on the blog... but I can point you in several right directions. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  20. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    A great page? Really? What I see is a mess, a mish-mash of images with a line 'Click if you like this'. Clearly a lot of people do, but that 202,000 people is 'like' clicks, not followers. And it's on Facebook, which not everybody has (or wants). For me *as a reader* it has absolutely nothing, not a single word of substance. The images are cool, but it's mindless: here's an image; yay, great image, click. That's it.

    I agree with Chilari that Mark Lawrence's blog is just the best. He writes occasional insightful articles, he writes about himself and his books, he has extracts from the books and short stories, and he's funny. Yes, he's plugging his books as well, but it's never overwhelming. He's one of the authors whose books I started reading because of his blog. Also Stephen Deas (another one with a great sense of humour). Also Genda Larke. In each case, I found one of their books by chance, looked up the blog and was hooked. Their blogs are all different but they all keep me coming back. Now I'll read everything they write. There are other authors whose books I've enjoyed but because they don't have an enticing blog I probably won't bother to buy anything else.

    Again, you don't need vast numbers of followers to do this, and only some of an author's potential audience will respond this way, but it's a form of promotion, it works and if an author enjoys writing a blog, then go for it. Just don't forget the sign-up form for the mailing list, the link to Amazon when the book's out, and the hi-res map (please? pretty please?).
     
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