Sometimes writers email me and ask how often they should blog, or what they should blog about, or how long their blog posts should be, and so on. That's great, I love hearing from readers. I write back and ask: Why do you want to blog? Or, more specifically:
What do you want your blog to do for you?
I've talked before about whether a writer needs a blog, but I've rarely talked about things like how often a person should blog.
Originally I was going to look at a number of different goals a writer might have for their blog and then, for each goal, give my two cents. But that would have made this post book-length! So I'm just going to focus on one goal for today.
Goal: Build A Writer's Platform
Let's say your number one goal is to build a writer's platform. Now you can go on to answer other questions such as:
a) How often should I blog?
Since your goal is to build a writer's platform then you'll be interested in growing your blog. Different folks measure their blogs growth in different ways. Some look at the number of unique visitors per month, for others they concentrate on pageviews.
How big is big enough? I think this is a personal thing. Some writers would be happy with 5,000 pageviews a month while others want 500,000.
Whatever your goal, ask yourself how long you want it to take to get there. If you want to go from 0 pageviews to 5,000 pageviews per month in 6 months then I think you would need to plan on blogging every day and see how things go. Give it a month, or even two, and look at your rate of growth.
Ask yourself: If your pageviews continue growing at the present rate would that be enough to meet your goal or do you need to adjust your blogging schedule? Perhaps you're going to overshoot your target. Perhaps your calculations will show that, in six months time, you'll have an average of 10,000 pageviews per month.
If you want 10,000 pageviews per month as your new goal, great! Keep at it. If you'd rather scale back and spend your time doing something other than writing blog posts (for instance, starting the draft of your next book) then do that.
What you need to do with your blog depends on what you want. It depends on what your goals are.
Here I've talked about a person wanting to take their blog from 0 pageviews per month--a brand new blog--to one with 5,000 page views. But what if you already have a blog that has around 5,000 pageviews a month? What if you want to grow it to, say, 100,000 pageviews per month or even larger?
I asked this question of a professional blogger, someone whose blog gets around 350,000 pageviews per month. This person told me that to grow ones blog rapidly one needed to publish at least two blog posts a day. At least.
I looked around for advice on the internet as well, and this bloggers advice was echoed wherever I looked. And, what is more, if my own experience is anything to judge by, it was good advice.
b) What should I blog about?
Blog about something that interests you. Since you're building a writer's platform, it (of course) needs to be something related to your writing.
Look at what authors writing in your genre blog about. Or, more importantly, what do readers in your genre like to talk about?
A great way to find out is to ask. Put up a poll on your blog, go to conventions and ask fans what they like to read. Say you write spy thrillers. Do fans of the genre like reading about the lives of real-life spies? Do they like reading about the technology involved in spying?
For instance, look at Amanda Hocking's blog posts, especially those she made when she first started out. What did she blog about? Popular culture. The TV shows she watched, the bands she liked. She connected with the people who wanted to read her fiction.
c) How long should my posts be?
Shorter than this one! (grin) I try to aim for around 500 to 750 words per post, but often go way over that.
The longer the post the more important it is that it be broken into sections with descriptive headers. That way if someone is interested in just one aspect of the post they can quickly get to the information they want. Also, a long post looks less intimidating to the eye when broken up, otherwise it just looks like one gigantic, unappealing, pillar of text.
d) Should I use images?
Yes! In my experience readers love images. Also, if you use images with a creative commons copyright often you'll get traffic from them as well. Why? Well, when you abide by best attribution practices you'll post a link back to the picture and, often, to the profile page of the artist. Artists like to see where their work is being displayed and will often drop by to say "Hi".
Also, if I have time, I like to leave a comment on the page I took the picture from, thank the artist for licensing their work with a creative commons copyright and provide a link back to my blog post. This is not only part of best practices but it's another way of making a connection and getting a url to your site elsewhere on the internet.
In General ...
Whatever genre you write in, go and look at the websites, blogs, what have you, other writers have put up. Pay attention to things such as Google Page Rank and how well known the writer is apart from blogging. It seems to me that the more popular a writer is independently of their blog, the less often they need to blog.
Originally I wanted to talk about all sorts of different reasons why a writer might want to blog and to say a few words about each. I still want to do that, so I'll list these goals here and come back to them down the road:
- To showcase your writing in the hope an agent or editor will see it. This would demonstrate the quality of your writing and that you could work to a schedule.
- To get into the habit of writing every day (or X times per week)
- To keep a personal account of events others can read./To keep in touch with friends and acquaintances.
- To have public encouragement while writing a book (e.g., a book blog)
What are your goals for your blog? If yours isn't listed here, please leave a comment and tell me what it is. :)
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After all my talk about the importance of a blogging schedule it looks as though I might not be able to post a second blog today. So I'll give you my NaNoWriMo update now. As of this moment it's up to 37,034 words and I'm hoping to get that up to 39k by tomorrow. Cheers!
Other articles you might like:
- Outlining: Kim Harrison's Character Grid
- Writers: How To Use Permanently Free Books To Increase Sales
- Vanquishing Writer's Block
Photo credit: "arches" by paul bica under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.