Monday, April 5, 2010

Do I need a blog?

Over the next few weeks I’m going to address some questions that come up everywhere I teach. One of the top ten is always, “I want to be a writer, do I have to have a blog?” The answer is an emphatic no. Nobody has to have a blog or a website to be a successful writer. As a matter of fact, in a lot of instances, it’s better not to have one.

Several years ago, when there were fewer blogs on the internet, it was a good way to get your name out and build recognition. Now, everybody and their dog (literally) has a blog. Because of that, it’s harder to get your blog noticed. Let me emphasize, harder—not impossible.

If you want to have a blog, it’s important to know what you want to accomplish. With so much competition out there, you also have to be quite focused in the content of your blog. You have to have a reason to post and make certain that is communicated to those who click on your site.

Here are some things to consider before you start a blog
  • Have a definite focus. My blog is all about writing—even more specifically it’s a blog devoted to teaching others about the writing industry. I can’t emphasize enough the need to focus, focus, focus!
  • Try to find a niche that hasn’t been overdone. It seems that with the success of the blog, Novel Journey, everyone is starting a blog about their writing journey. Don’t copy what others are doing, try something fresh.
  • Decide on a schedule to post and STICK WITH IT! If you announce that you’ll post every Monday, your followers will expect you to do just that. If they click on your site and one Monday nothing new has been posted they may not come back. If it happens more than once, I can guarantee they won’t try again.
  • Pick a schedule you can meet. I started this blog by posting once a week. Now, I post three times a week. But I needed to start slow to make certain I could meet my deadlines.
Now, if I haven’t scared you off, here are some places to go to build your blog. Two of the best are Blogger and Wordpress. Both are free, reputable and VERY simple to do yourself. This blog is built on a blogger template. And yes, there are other blogs out there that look similar, but people visit your blog because of the content, not how it looks.

One note: If your blog is hard to read because of color choice, font or font size; it will KEEP visitors from returning to it. But the appearance of your blog rarely drives traffic TO your site.

Both Blogger and Wordpress have a selection of templates that are easy to use. They both also have options to personalize your blog. Blogs, as opposed to websites, are easy to build and manage yourself. Later we’ll discuss websites.

If you have any questions you’d like answered just post them in the comments section and I’ll get to them over the next few weeks.

Don’t forget to join the conversation,

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