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Writing Blog Question

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Xaysai, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Xaysai

    Xaysai Inkling

    So I've been reading a lot about creating a "successful blog", and one of the things that seems important to attracting readers to your site is writing "How-To" blogs.

    Unfortunately, I possess no expertise or authority on the subject, so I was considering starting with a piece such as "5 Most Important Things I've Learned as a New Writer". I would talk about things such as word economy, adverb usage, passive voice, etc. - all the things I have actually learned.

    Now just to be clear, I am not looking to make money with this blog or have millions of views. I would just like to write something which other new writers might find helpful, and also attract readers to my site who share my interests and who might not otherwise view it.

    My concern is that it's going to come off amateur-ish and probably look like a recycled version of something you could find on another 1,000 websites. But I also think it would be good practice for me.

    Any thoughts from other writers on what they have found successful on their blogs? Tips, Tricks & Trade Secrets?

    Or should I just continue to work on my writing before trying to give other people advice on how to do it?


  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    My blog has been more successful than I would have thought. I offer:

    Writing tips
    Do critiques
    Talk about what's happening in the world of self publishing
    Talk about my process of self publishing
    Talk about marketing

    The biggest attention getter seems to be posts about what's happening in self publishing. It's a rapidly changing landscape, and there are a lot of people looking for any analysis about how things are going to impact them. Unfortunately, I'm not at the point yet where I can offer much advice, but, when I do, it gets lots of hits and reblogs and attracts followers.

    Marketing is probably the biggest flop. There just doesn't seem to be much interest. Still, I think it's important and will keep posting about it.
    Xaysai likes this.
  3. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    I have a blog. Mostly I post reviews, stuff about writing advice (some I present my opinion or advice, other times I comment on someone else's blog post in a full blog post of my own), stuff about grammar, stuff about fantasy films and so on. I obsessively check my stats several times a day, but what's been most successful are review of popular things - Merlin, The Legend of Korra and especially the Hobbit getting three of the five top views of all time - and "personal take" pieces, where I've looked at advice I've seen on the internet and given my opinion on it, or tried out a technique and described how I have found using it. After that the more advicey articles and grammar stuff comes in, then at the bottom of the views I've got a review of a self-pubbed book, a poem I wrote and a personal life post irrelevant to writing.

    I have been getting more views as time passes. Views doubled from October to November then tripled from November to December (though the huge spike I got from my Hobbit review, and a second huger spike I got from posting a link to my blog in a thread on Reddit/writing asking who has a blog on Boxing Day, is possibly a major reason for this). January so far seems to be aiming about half way between November and December for average daily visits. I'm certainly managing to go longer periods without a "no hits" day - when back in early November I had three in a row and usually at least one a week, now I've got two weeks without a "no hits" day in a row, on two separate occasions.

    The "no hits" days are almost always when I've not posted anything new for at least four days.

    So my advice for success: post regularly.

    I aim for at least once a week, and have scheduled in some reviews over the next few months and created a list of possible article titles, though generally I write about something I have come across recently, like my latest two posts commenting on some advice someone else gave - I saw the link on r/writing, read the post, read some of the comments, and decided I had more to say than could possibly fit in a single comment, so decided to do a blog post about it. Within hours of reading the article, my first blog post was up, with the second, covering the second half of the article, up the next day. On Sunday I expect to have a review to post. Next week - who knows? It depends what thoughts are provoked by what I read.

    My system seems to work fine for me - I'm still growing, getting more followers, more views, etc.

    Bear in mind, it'll take time to build up a strong audience. That's why I started early, long before I expect to have anything to publish. A gradual build up through posting interesting and useful content will ultimately give me a captive audience when the time comes to sell something. I heard in webcomics that the return rate is about 1-5% - that is, if you have a regular readership of 1000 people and you bring out merchandise - a book of the first 200 strips, a t-shirt with your character on, a mug, a plushie, even a little badge, approximately 10 to 50 people will buy something once a year. I'm assuming the same return rate, perhaps towards the upper end. So once I've got an average of 100 hits per blog post published, if I bring out a book at that point, I can expect about four or five sales.
    Xaysai likes this.
  4. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

    What you need to ask yourself is: what is my target audience? If you post writing tips, you will get hits from fellow writers. If you post cat pictures, you get hits from cat lovers. They won't buy your book when it comes out. Well, the writers might buy a few sympathy copies, but that's not really your objective, I would have thought. Plus, every writer has a blog pontificating about adverbs and passive voice (or maybe it just seems that way).

    If you want to attract hits from people who will read your book when it comes out, post material aimed at readers. Talk about your writing style. Talk about the world behind the story. Talk about your characters. Post snippets from the book. Let readers in on the behind-the-scenes details of the book. Post reviews of other books. Talk about fantasy films and games. Talk about fantasy in general, and get discussion going. In particular, talk about something different from the usual. I'm involved with two book review blogs, and the big hit pages are either the rare stuff (complete series reviews, or books which are just taking off), or the topical stuff (big name books which I happen to read shortly after publication), or something which catches an author's eye and is tweeted/facebooked/blogged about (which is random). There's always the controversial option, too, if that appeals to you - post something to wind people up.

    There's nothing wrong with building your presence by blogging about writing, but I find the most interesting author blogs are a) funny; and b) about the books.
    Xaysai and Chilari like this.
  5. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    We often tend to forget something. You as a writer are unique, with a thought process that is uniquely yours. You're blog about writing isn't necessarily going to be the same as someone elses. I'm not going to lie, you do seem to get more traffic from offering unique service, or setting challenges to established communities, but the subject of USPs is a large one I'd rather not get into. Safe to say, the advice in this thread is pretty good.

    I personally love hearing people's opinions on the craft, especially if I think they're talking rubbish and I can do my own post on the subject to set things straight :p It's pretty therapeutic!

    The most important thing I think anyone needs to do is make sure your target audience can find you. For me this means finding out where writers tend to hang out on the internet and figuring out a way of working a link to my blog into conversation. Simple really: If no one knows you blog, no one will visit (unless their "fishing for followers" themselves...). I've just set myself up on Google+ (properly this time, rather than just leaving it alone for ages) and it does seem to help in terms of traffic.

    Something else that most people say useful: Set yourself up on WordPress, the community and searchability is better even if the stats page is lacking in one key feature (discounting your own views...) It generally looks more professional too I've found.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
    Xaysai likes this.
  6. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    My thinking has changed a bit on this subject:

    1. Writers read a lot.
    2. All these writers have blogs where they could conceivably post a blurb about your book when it comes out.

    In general, though, probably writing a blog about writing isn't the best way to market your book. Some would say that blogging, overall, isn't a good way to market your book (unless it's nonfiction and the blog establishes you as a subject matter expert).
  7. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    Note to self: get new blog.

    But I agree about targetting readers. There are more readers than writers. Yes, writers read and are more likely to be interested in supporting self-published and new writers, because they're in the same position themselves or have been not too long ago. But there are more readers who don't write, or at least not seriously, and appealing to them is important. That's why I write posts about my favourite fantasy films or whatever, because then I appeal to fans of fantasy - the core group likely to read my book. But appealing to and creating links with other writers is good too. Then you might be able to get a review off them when you publish.
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    I think that's the biggest benefit of my blog.

    Truthfully, I'm not sure why I started it in the first place. I believed, at the time, what Pauline said above, "Blogs about writing don't help you much with marketing."

    Since, I've determined that they can be of SOME use. I also decided at some point to write a book about avoiding the most common mistakes of newbie writers, so I think the blog does do some marketing for me on that subject.
  9. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    I think the ultimate decider has to be to write about what you're passionate about. My blog for example, is about sci fi and fantasy in general, so I've had posts recently about time travel paradoxes and how to spot an alien (ET) in your neighbourhood. Whether they are succesful or not, they're things I enjoy.

    Cheers, Greg.
    Xaysai likes this.
  10. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    There is something else about keeping a blog nobody else (including me, up til now) has mentioned.

    It's quite fun.

    I rather enjoy keeping my blog. For a start, it has given me an excuse to see the Hobbit on opening night. It keeps me reading, something with otherwise falls by the wayside, because I want to create reviews to promote other writers, create links and attract readers. Also it gives me the opportunity to really think about how I write, because if I want to create non-review content to post on it I've got to find a topic, which isn't always easy. But I do enjoy it. And I get a big kick out of finding, on one of my several checks daily, that I've got more hits that the day before, or than last week's high, or whatever. It's quite cool seeing where the clicks are coming from too. Mostly the UK, the US and Sweden (I have friends there, occasionally post a link in the group Skype chat we're all part of, get a click) but also Canadia, Australia, occasionally France, one time Qatar, couple of times Japan and I think I know who that is, ahem. Norway once. Point being, it's really cool finding out where in the world people are clicking from. I can say I have global appeal.

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