Why don’t you start a blog?
A question to strike fear into the hearts of struggling writers everywhere. My immediate reaction: Cringe. Collapse. Clutch heart. Die. But before I do that (the collapsing thing) I usually reply with a tight smile, “Why should I?”
“Because you are a writer. It will be easy for you.” Repeat: Cringe. Collapse. Clutch heart. Die.
Writing isn’t easy for me. It is very hard, but blogging is even harder. Your publisher, should you make use of a traditional one, will expect it of you, and if you are planning to self-publish you should be doing it already.
You can make money off a blog, but don’t think it’s a get rich quick scheme. Ask anyone who blogs. You’ll make their day. When I say it is hard I don’t mean the setting up part. The blog sites have made it so easy even I could figure it out. Well, most of it.
Most bloggers have their own preferences and tips, but it’s up to you to decide what you want to do. (Read Amanda Patterson's helpful advice on Blogging for Writers) Here are some things to consider before you take the plunge.
Eight Blogging Tips for Writers
- Content is king: Blogging is hard work. Generating original content takes time. You can get away with reposting someone else’s content once in a while, but you need your own stuff. Obviously, you need to credit ‘the share’.
- Consistency: Besides generating original content you need to be consistent. Work out a schedule that works for you and decide if you want post every day, once a week, or once a month. Stick to this schedule. State your intention in writing so that followers know when to expect your new work.
- Theme: Blogs grow with you, but try to keep your writing blog about writing. Yes, talk about your life as a writer and the changes that you have had to make after the baby was born for example, but a second by second retelling of your baby’s first Christmas might not be what followers signed up for. It is a personal space, but remember to be professional.
- Keep it organic: Your following will grow, slowly at first, but let it. Buying ‘likes’ might give you a push, but in the end you want a loyal fan base.
- Your blog is your base: Use social media to drive traffic to your blog. These are the numbers/hits that you’ll quote to publishers and advertisers.
- Planning: Plan your posts in advance. I try to write ahead. I post every Wednesday. So I have gone through the calendar and made a list of the dates. Sometimes a date falls on a special day like Christmas or Mother’s day. These help to generate ideas for blogs. A list of your favourite Christmas books works in December or you could write a list of the 10 worst literary mothers or the ten best for Mother's Day. It’s like a route map.
- Allocate time: Take one day a week, or even an hour a day, to do your social media planning. You can pre-load your content on most blog sites and on Facebook. This helps because some weeks are busier than others. Don’t let it take time away from your ‘real’ work. Remember you are a writer, not a blogger. Unless you only want to blog.
- Check in every day: Social media users like the immediacy of the medium. Reply to questions as soon as you can.
Blogging and writing do seem to go hand in hand and there are definite benefits for writers. Do you think every writer should have a blog?
If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media, join us for The Complete Blogging and Social Media Course.
This blog was compiled by chatting to some technological and social media savvy people: Amanda Patterson, Nadia van der Mescht and Blair Scheepers. Thanks, Ladies.
by Mia Botha
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