Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts

Monday, September 5

Make Your First Podcast: Frequency & Length

Once you’ve decided whether your podcast will be in an interview or topic format, the next question is: How frequently should you publish?

How Frequently Should I Publish My Podcast?

My take: It depends on what you want out of your podcast.

If you already have a blog and you currently only publish about once a week then maybe start with once a week or once every two weeks. Do whatever you’re comfortable with.

On the other hand, if you’re comfortable posting, say, five times a week on your blog then you might want to consider trying for twice, perhaps even three times, a week.

The rule of thumb seems to be: post as often as you plausibly can. Why? Because (In my experience as an avid podcast listener) the more frequently you publish the more listeners you will attract and retain.

Keep in mind, though, that a podcast—while it will suck up an inordinate amount of your precious time—will (usually) take quite a few months (or even years!) to start earning enough money to pay for the time you’ve invested.

But podcasting can be quite lucrative (I’ll look at this in another post).

So: Here are a few possibilities:

1. Once a day

Not many podcasters publish seven days a week. Actually, I know of only one, the EOFire podcast. John Lee Dumas is very successful, but doing seven podcasts a week is grooling. Granted, he doesn’t tape one a day, he does 14+1 every second Tuesday. He tapes from early in the morning to around six at night. That’s a long day.

2. Five days a week (Monday to Friday)

This is slightly more common. News podcasts are often only published Monday to Friday (or at least that’s true for Canadian news podcasts!). None of the podcasts I listen to (I listen to around 35 or 40) are five days a week but they do exist. Honestly, it seems to me that this would be pretty much the same amount of work as publishing seven days a week.

3. Three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)

This would be much less work than the grueling seven-day schedule, and yet your listeners would regularly receive your podcasts and not have much of a chance to forget about you.

4. Two days a week (Monday, Thursday)

At the moment I only blog two days a week—Monday and Thursday—but am planning on moving to Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Two doesn’t feel as though it’s enough. Of course, that’s a blog not a podcast. And a lot depends on how long your podcast is going to be (more on this in a moment).

5. One day a week (Monday)

The advantage of publishing one podcast a week is that you could even record four podcasts in one day, even if each is an hour long. Then you’re done for the month!

A disadvantage of publishing only one a week is that folks have short memories. If your listeners are like me and listen to a lot of podcasts—and so need a lot of content—then a once-a-week podcast is fine, but I wouldn’t recommend going below this. Publish any less frequently and it’s possible folks will start to forget about you.

6. Once every two weeks or once a month

If you’re serious about podcasting, about growing an audience, about creating another income stream, then—and this is only my opinion—you might not want to publish any less frequently than once a week.

That said, if podcasting is something you would love to do, then do it! Even if you can only publish once a month, don’t let that hold you back. If podcasting is your passion, then that will come through and you’ll find an audience.

Also if you have some sort of hook, you can also get away with publishing less frequently. For instance, if you are well known in your niche—a well known blogger or YouTuber—then you can probably get away with publishing podcasting content less frequently.

How Long Should My Podcast Be?

Of course, this is completely up to you, the creator. But the length of your podcast will likely depend, at least in part, on the kind of content you are producing. For instance, many short podcasts (five minutes or less) give one tip. I listen to one podcast—60 Second Science—that, despite the name—lasts for about two minutes. The podcaster talks about one science fact and restricts himself (or herself) to the most important aspects of the subject under discussion. It’s a good podcast.

On the other end of the spectrum is Dan Harlin’s Hardcore History. The very first Hardcore History podcast I listened to was over three hours long! I think it’s a safe bet Dan Harlin is never going to do one a day!

MacBreak Weekly is another podcast—a video podcast—that routinely goes over two hours. I love it and I’m not the only one, it’s very popular.

In my opinion you can make any length podcast work, from two minutes all the way to three plus hours, and obviously the length is going to have a bearing on how often you can podcast. Anything over, say, 30 minutes and I would imagine publishing once a day—or even five times a week—would be exhausting! Especially if you don’t have a co-host and must do everything yourself.

Are you thinking of starting a podcast? I'd love to hear from you. What kind of challenges are you facing? What do you consider your biggest obstacles?

Have you podcasted? I'd love to hear about your experiences! What worked for you, what didn't. Please share!

Talk to you again Thursday. Until then, good writing!

Saturday, May 18

The Key To Being A Productive Writer: Prioritize

The Key To Being A Productive Writer: Prioritize

Writing 3,000 words a day is hard.

I can just imagine Dean Wesley Smith shaking his head saying, "You think writing three hours a day is hard work?!"

Well, no. Writing for three hours a day is, to a certain extent, the easy part. After all, I already wrote about 1,000 words of non-fiction and 1,000 words of fiction a day.

There's also--I'm not going to say 're-writing'--but there is editing. At least there is for me. That's another two hours a day. Then there's my blog--two posts a day takes about four hours. Sorting through and answering my email, reading other blogs, keeping up with Twitter, all that takes another two hours.

Lately I've put aside an hour a day to do nothing but read, but--necessary though it is--that is time I'm not writing.

These past few days I've become acutely aware that I spend most of my working day on things that, while good and productive in their own way, keep me from putting my butt in my chair and writing fiction.

But that has changed, which is why I didn't blog at all yesterday: I was busy writing.

I've decided I need to make some sacrifices. One of these is that I won't be blogging twice a day anymore. To be honest, I'm not completely sure how much I'll be blogging. I've been thinking about writing a post a day, or perhaps five posts a week like Chuck Wendig.

Speaking of Chuck Wendig, this is really his fault, him and Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch. Actually, Kris started it all by mentioning she wrote one million words in 2012.

One million!

The thought boggled me. I imagined Kris sitting at her computer typing away in a blue bodysuit with a red "W" on the front and a red cape falling gracefully from her shoulders. In my imagination I gave her the name: Superwriter.

Then recently Chuck Wendig revealed that he, too, is a member of the one million words a year club. That's 3,000 words a day, each and every day.

My first thought was that it would be hard never having a day off.

But then I did something Dean Wesley Smith is always encouraging writers to do (see here, here and here) and I ran the numbers.

Guess what I found? Assuming that one's books are moderately successful (and that's a BIG if), if one writes a million words a year, chances are good that, at the end of five years, a writer can make a reasonable living.

Now, I'm not saying that one has to write a million words a year for five years to make a reasonable living as a writer.

Not at all!

One or more of your books could be a bestseller, and if that book is part of a series then chances are you'll be well on your way to making a decent living.

But hoping that one's books will be bestsellers is a much bigger IF than hoping each of one's books does moderately well. Thus my goal of writing a million words a year for the next five years.

Yes, folks, that's the goal! Whether I'll end up doing that, I don't know, but I'm certainly going to try.

It's difficult re-aligning one's life, one's priorities, so that can happen. It takes time, and it has been difficult for me to decide what to let go. I'm not letting go of this blog, I find it too rewarding, on a personal level as well as a professional one. I've learnt so much. Both through my own research and from your many insightful comments.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that this will be a learning process for me and I hope you will forgive me if I don't post as much as I used to.

And, by all means, if you would like to see a post on a certain topic, please leave a comment or contact me here.

I'll be sure to keep you updated on how it's going.


Other articles you might like:

- Indie Writers Can Now Get Their Books Into Bookstores
- What Do Aaron Sorkin, Stealing, And Advice About Writing Have In Common?
- 4 Ways Outlining Can Give A Writer Confidence

Photo credit: "London Calling #5" by Thomas Leuthard under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Saturday, March 16

To Blog Or Not To Blog, That Is Jane Friedman's Question

To Blog Or Not To Blog, That Is Jane Friedman's Question
Well, not really. It's L.L. Barkat's question.

Jane Friedman--web editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review and blogger extraordinaire--invited L.L. Barkat to contribute a post to her blog.

Nice, right? Jane Friedman has one of the most popular blogs in North America; its reach is enormous. So, what did L.L. Barkat blog about?

It is time, Barkat announced, for experienced writers to stop blogging.

This call did seem to possess a certain amount of Chutzpah, being issued, as it was, on the blog of an experienced writer. L.L. Barkat writes:
[I]n 2006, I started blogging. Over six years, I wrote more than 1,300 blog posts, garnered over 250,000 page views ....

But on Saturday, November 10, 2012, I suddenly did the unthinkable. I myself stopped blogging.
.  .  .  .

Is blogging a waste of time? ... For the experienced writer, my answer is yes … in 2013.
L.L. Barkat's post has, it must be said, the advantage of being unambiguous.

Jane Friedman's Response

Contrary to how it may seem, I'm not here to write about L.L. Barkat's post. No. I'm here to write about Jane Friedman's short but eloquent response.

I don't usually share another person's comment without asking, but in this case I think Ms. Friedman won't mind; it was publicly posted on her own blog.

1. Just because it's difficult doesn't mean it's not worth doing

Many writers blog, a lot more than used to even five years ago, and it has become more challenging to attract readers. But, even in this rich reading environment, it's far from impossible.

Besides, just because a thing is difficult (like, say, breaking in as a writer) doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Jane writes:
If it were, then why bother writing fiction or poetry or memoir or essay? Thousands upon thousands of writers are already out there doing it—more so than ever—but yet we all know and agree that a new voice still has the chance of finding an audience.

2. Blogging is less difficult for experienced writers

Jane Friedman writes that  if anyone should  be discouraged from blogging--and she's not saying they should--it would be new writers not experienced ones.

New writers may find it more difficult to split their writing focus between their manuscript and their blog--something I can attest to!

Jane gives us three things to think about when considering whether to try blogging:
(a) what is giving you energy rather than taking it?
(b) what will lead to career progress in your *current* situation, and
(c) do you have something to say—or a voice/personality—that's a great fit for a blog?
Jane concludes:
Blogging can help both new and experienced writers with discipline, focus, and voice development. But it is indeed a waste of time if you're doing it because someone admonished you to (e.g., to build your platform), and it's a forced chore. If you're not enjoying it, neither are your readers.
Also, it's easier for an established writer to maintain a popular blog because one's audience will also be made up of those who read, and liked, your books. Jane writes:
Established authors likely have more reason to blog than beginners for the simple reason that they have an existing audience who seek engagement and interaction in between "formal" book releases (or other writings). It may take less effort to interest and gather readers if you're known, and it's valuable to attract readers to your website (via a blog) rather than a social media outlet since you don't really own your social media profiles, nor do you control the changing tides that surround them. You DO, however, own your website and blog (or should).

3. Growing your blog

Although blogging can be discouraging, especially in the beginning before you've developed any sort of an audience, there are things you can do to attract readers.

New and experienced writers alike can grow their blogs by contributing to writing venues--other blogs for instance--that are more popular than their own. Jane Friedman writes:
Such efforts not only bring you into contact with new audiences/readers, but also drive traffic back to your existing site or blog.
I have also found that blogging regularly--whether it's once a day or once a month--helps build an audience.

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What do you think? Is blogging beneficial for writers, experienced or not, or is it just one more thing to distract them from their works-in-progress?

Other articles you might like:

- Hugh Howey's 3 Rules For Writing
- 7 Secrets To Writing A Story Your Readers Won't Be Able To Put Down
- Review Of Grammarly, Its Strength And Weaknesses

Photo credit: "songs about buildings and trees" by Robert Couse-Baker under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tuesday, November 20

How Often Should A Writer Blog? Answer: It Depends On Your Goals

How Often Should A Writer Blog? Answer: It Depends On Your Goals

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.

Friday, October 12

Building A Platform That Meets Your Needs

Building A Writer's Platform That Meets Your Needs

A while ago I wrote an article entitled: How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website, in which I argued that just having a blog wasn't good enough, you need a website too.

These days, I'm not so sure. I think having a blog, even a blog on, might be good enough. Here's the thing: What you need depends on what your goals are.

What is the main thing folks are going to come to your website/blog for? And who are these folks going to be? You might be staring at these words shaking your head, thinking, "And how the heck would I know who's going to come and visit my site?"

That's a fair question. Often in the beginning we don't know who these folks, our visitors and, ultimately, our readers, are going to be.

Come one, come all

Whether you decide to go with a static site, a blog or a full-blown website (I talk more about this later) you'll need to keep at it. The key phrase here is: be consistent.

Naturally if all you're going to be putting up is a static site--a webpage with information about who you are, where you can be reached (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)--then being consistent is fairly easy. You just need to update the page every six months or so, or when something changes (you put out a new book, become active in new forms of social media, and so on). Otherwise, there isn't much to do!

If you don't know who your visitors are going to be you can still design a website. I'll go into more detail later, but there are roughly three broad kinds of sites you can put up. I call them the starter package, the starter package plus blog and the full-featured site.

As the name implies, the most basic of these is "the starter package". This is a static website that simply tells visitors how to reach you, where you are on the web (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), what you've written and how to contact you. If this is all you want, or would likely meet your needs. Make sure, though, that the service you choose allows you to use your own domain name ( does and does but you need to pay a fee). That's a must. Why? If you ever decide to move your site from, say,, to another hosting site, your readers will be able to find you at you new home through your domain name.

By the way, I know it might seem like a contradiction in terms to recommend blogging sites for a static site! As it happens, you can set up as a static site (I should probably write a blog post about how to do that) and I imagine the same is true for as well. The great thing about starting off with a site like is that it does all the search engine optimization (SEO) for you and can list your site with all the major search engines.

If you want to be slightly more ambitious, you could go with a "starter package plus blog" and blog regularly (keep in mind that if you blog once a month you're blogging regularly!). You can blog even if you don't know what sort of audience you're reaching out to, just talk about whatever interests you. Over time you'll see themes emerge. Also, after looking at your viewer statistics, you'll notice your readers are more interested in certain articles, certain themes, than others. After a few months you'll get a feel for what you like to blog about and also what your readers are interested in.

If, in the beginning, you don't have an idea who your audience will be then I wouldn't advise you starting off with what I'm calling a full-featured site. The way I think of it, a full-featured website one that is dynamic and easily customizable, you likely would have a blog and could even have forums or open an online store! (For example,

But with a full-featured site you'll also have additional concerns. This kind of site can do a lot but, as with everything, there are tradeoffs. For instance, the more cool features you add (e.g., link tracking), the slower the site will run. A few bells and whistles may not make a difference but at some point you'll wonder why your pages are loading slowly. Also, this sort of site is complex and complex things tend to break. If you can fix it yourself, great! Otherwise maintenance can be expensive. Either way, maintaining this kind of a site is time consuming.

You have an idea who your visitors will be

We've just discussed how to go about building a site if you don't know who your target audience is. Now let's talk about how to build a site when you have some idea what kind of a community you want to build.

Shared interest
How do you build community? You reach out to those who share an interest of yours. It could be anything. What are you interested in? Steampunk? Scifi movies of the 80s? Doctor Who? Skiboarding? Cooking? Hiking? Whatever it is, there are people, lots of people, just as passionate about it as you are. The trick is letting them know your site exists.

By the way, when I said you could build your site around any theme/idea that was a bit of an exaggeration. What you write about has to have some connection to the shared interest you've built your community around. For instance, if you write science fiction, by all means, talk about scifi movies, conventions, trivia. Talk about collectibles. Even talk about other scifi writers! Eventually, if you keep at it, a community will form.

Cookbooks are popular. They sell well. Why? The tie-in between a writer's community and how to reach that community is obvious. You write books about food and it is very easy to blog about food, post pictures of food, conventions, good places to eat in your local community and across the country, and so on.

I mean, who doesn't like beautiful close-up pictures of desserts? Especially chocolate ones. (Oh my gosh, if I wrote cookbooks I would gain SO much weight. Anyway, moving on.)

Making the connection between your area of interest and your community
How do you make the connection between what you are interested in--for instance, mystery stories with sleuths who cook--and building a community? 

If I could I would have that word, "interaction", blink red and blue and have big yellow dancing arrows pointing to it. But that's not a surprise, is it? That's how me make friends. Interaction forms the basis for any social endeavor. And that really is the other key word: social. I'm talking about building a community, not a list. For that to happen, for a community to form, there has to be interaction.

And that means you need to find a way to interact with the people who you would like in your community.

I think I'm going to leave it there for today. I covered more material than I thought I would. In the next segment I'll talk about interaction and social media but I want to say here that I don't think social media is necessary for you to form and interact with a community.

Good writing!

Other articles in this series:
- What Is A Writer's Platform?
- Does Every Writer Need A Platform?

Other articles you might like:
- Jim Butcher On Writing
- NaNoWriMo: 5 Tips On How To Get Ready
- On The Art Of Creating Believable Characters: No Mr. Nice Guy
- Perfection Is The Death Of Creativity

Photo credit: "KIUKO"

Sunday, September 2

8 Tips For Blogging Success

8 Tips For Blogging Success

1. What's your angle?
Since you're reading this chances are you're going to blog about writing. That's terrific! There are SO many sub-topics no one can adequately cover even a fraction of them.

2. Narrow your focus
There are many ways to blog about writing. For instance:

- Authors: blog about your books, your book tours, the progress you're making on your current manuscript, where you get your inspiration, your process, writing tips, and so on. Kim Harrison's blog is a great example.
- Writing News: What's going on in the writing/book publishing world. New markets (e.g., Kobo's Writing Life), new reading devises, trends in the industry, who is in court for what (e.g., the DoJ lawsuit), etc.
- Writing 'How-To': Give writing tips, interview writers, editors, book publishers. Talk abut different writing systems (eg. Michael Hauge vs Christopher Vogler vs Blake Snyder), etc.
- Book blog: This is an idea for the brave. Post the unedited first draft you're working on, day by day. Or, serialize a longer story. Could do this with several authors contributing.
- Book Review Blog: These are sorely needed, especially for independently published books. Involves reading books and given an honest opinion.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) matters
Choosing a blog name
I think everyone, even writers that hole themselves up in a cabin, 100 miles away from the nearest hint of civilization, know the importance of optimizing their website and/or blog for search engines. Hands down, the most important part of SEO is your choice of name.

This deserves a post--heck, a series of posts--all on its own but the rule of thumb I keep in mind is to use a name that is going to be relevant to nearly every post you make. (For instance, "Karen Woodward" is the name of my blog and each post includes the line: "posted by Karen Woodward". That's a very simple way to make sure the title of your blog is always linked to the content of your posts.)

If you're going to be setting up an author blog then you've got the name of your blog, it'll be the name you write under. Otherwise, try to pick something that exemplifies what your focus is. For instance, David Gaughran named his blog after one of his books, "Let's Get Digital" which also nicely summarizes the theme of the majority of his posts. And I think "Let's Get Digital" works especially well because it is easy to remember.

Choosing a domain name
Having decided what you're going to name your blog you now need to hope that it's available as a .com or, if not, a .net or .org.

Even if you won't be using your domain name right away--this may be the case if you're starting your blog over at or still want to grab your domain name before someone else does. It only costs about 10 dollars a year and is well worth the investment.

4. Read great blogs
This probably should have been my first point. Just like writers have to read the work, both good and bad, of other writers so bloggers need to read other bloggers.

Naturally you're going to read other blogs--lots of other blogs--in your area, but you also want to read successful blogs outside your area.

For instance, I love Penelope Trunk's blog. I don't always agree with her--wouldn't that be boring--but I like reading what she has to say. She's engaging. And she shares what she has learnt from blogging, what has worked for her, what hasn't. Great stuff.

5. Commit to your blog
I feel as though my blog is like a child, or at least a needy cat. Through it might not seem like it in the beginning, having a blog is quite the committment and, like any committment, it can be stressful.
It helps--and it helps your blog to grow--if you have a set writing schedule. For me, I post 2 blogs each weekday and 1 on Saturdays and Sundays. That said, you also have to be flexible. For instance, last week I spent 6 hours on one post so I only posted one blog that day.

I think the single biggest factor in growing a blog is the number of posts per day. That and the quality of the posts. The second most important factor is consistency. Even if you blog only once a month, make sure you are consistent. That said, sometimes to need to ignore all the rules and do your own thing. Whatever works.

6. Learn what your audience wants
Blogger has analytics/stats you can use to see which of your posts was the most popular. You can also find out which of your posts were the least popular. This will give you an idea what your audience is interested in. If you're not set up on blogger (I think & also have built in analytics), or even if you are, I highly recommend using Google Analytics. It's free and it'll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your blog traffic. I also recommend linking your Google Analytics account with your Google Webmaster Tools account.

7. Connect your accounts
Don't forget to, at minimum, tweet your posts. I would also advice cross-posting to Facebook. Even if you're like me and you don't use Facebook much, enough people do that it's probably worth it. Also, make sure your readers can subscribe to your feed and give them the option of having your posts emailed. Feedburner is great for this.

8. Guest posts
I've had wonderful experiences with guest posters. Not only have I received fantastic content for a fraction of the work, but I've made connections within the writing community. I want to put up a page with guidelines for guest posts in the hope this will encourage more of my readers to submit content. For instance, do you accept guest posts (yes please!), what topics you'll accept, how long the posts should be, how much lead time you need (this is important for folks doing promotional posts for a new book), and so on.

Okay, gotta run! I hope you've found something helpful in this post and best of luck to you. If you have a blog please do leave a link to it in the comments. :-)

Other articles you might like:
- Ursula K. Le Guin On Academic Criticism & Philip K. Dick
- Are You Writing The Right Book? 5 Ways To Find Out
- Fifty Shades of Alice In Wonderland: Sales Peak At $1,000 Per Day

Photo credit: Geoff Campbell

Friday, July 13

Writers & Blogging: Should You Host Your Own Blog?

Jane Friedman has published a terrific blog post today about whether writers should host their own blog or go through a free service like or a free-to-start service like Jane comes down firmly on the "thou shalt self-host," side of things and makes excellent points. For instance, free services can be much more limiting (in design, in your ability to monetize, etc.) than one you have complete control over.

In another equally great article, blogger Roz Morris explores the other side of the issue (Blogging – should authors go self-hosted or not? Part 1: two bloggers who don’t). Roz points out that if something goes wrong with your self-hosted blog you're responsible for fixing it or for paying someone else to. (Of course it helps if you have techie friends willing to lend you a hand!)

For instance, websites can and do get hacked. Kristine Kathryn Rusch experienced this firsthand in May. She ended up paying a specialist to fix the problem and help her restore the website. Kris hasn't blogged about how much it cost her but I don't imagine it was cheap. Kris has been making a living through her writing for decades and her website is, I imagine, an integral part of her business so it makes good business sense for her to spend money on it. Someone just starting out and trying to do everything on a shoestring budget might not want to take on this kind of responsibility, this kind of risk.

Split strategy: blog on a free host, website writer-hosted
Some writers--J.A. Konrath for instance--employ a mixed strategy. They host their blog on a free site like and then set up a website in a hosting account they pay for and control. I suspect that, like me, Joe started blogging on and then realized he needed a website but didn't want to move his blog.

Perhaps not, though. There are reasons for keeping ones blog with a service such as even if you host your own website:
- Although you should back up your blog regularly, just in case, you don't have to sweat the technical issues like combating hackers, fixing broken software and upgrading software. You have professional website admins taking care of all this for you behind the scenes. For free.

- Spikes in traffic. What would happen if your blog got featured on Reddit? My guess is it would go down., on the other hand, will likely keep your blog up and running even under the most extreme conditions. You might be thinking that it's not at all likely your blog will be featured on Reddit. That may be the case, but even more modest spikes in traffic can bring down a site and I like to be prepared.

Although my little blog definitely gets far less traffic than Joe Konrath's (his landing page has a Google page rank of 6!) I've had a few spikes in traffic and I enjoy not having to worry about whether my blog can handle it.
Whatever you decide to do, getting out there and blogging is better than not blogging so my advice is: don't over-think it. Do what feels right for you. 

Related article:
-How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website

Photo credit: Hubspot blog

Monday, July 9

Twylah: Turn Your Tweets Into A Blog

I was surfing the electronic currents of the web when I chanced upon Elisabeth Spann Craig's Twylah page. It looks incredible! I signed up too and today received my own Twylah Page. I'm thrilled to bits.

For some time now I've been looking for a program that could do two things: first, show which of my tweets were the most popular and, second, display them in a blog-like interface.

Tweets and popularity
I've often wanted a quick way of determining which of my tweets were the most popular--I guess this is known as 'trending'. After all, I don't want to bore anyone! It's true, there are a number of programs that will tell you how many times a certain tweet has been retweeted (for instance Topsy Labs Social Analytics and Tweetreach) but, in my opinion, they lack clarity. That said, I love Topsy Analytics and use it all the time to find who is re-tweeting my tweets as well as interesting people to follow.

Blog-like interface for tweets
I'm not complaining about Twitter's interface. I like it that I can go to my twitter account and see a timeline of my tweets. I can't tell you how many times my cat has jumped onto my keyboard while I'm composing a Tweet and I need to find out whether it was cancelled or published prematurely.

That said, it would be handy to have an attractive visual interface which allowed a user to take in my most re-tweeted tweets at a glance.

I've only just received my Twylah page so all I can give you are my first impressions. I'll write again about my experience with the service after I've used it for a while.

If you'd like to try out Twylah, here's the link: Twylah. The service is still in beta so you have to request an invite, but I got mine after two or three days.

Other articles:
- Aherk! Makes Writing App 'Write Or Die' Look Tame
- Changes in Amazon's Algorithm: An Update
- Mark Coker, Founder Of Smashwords, Talks About Indie Publishing

Monday, May 28

Using A Book To Market Your Blog

Many people start blogs to market books, but lately I've been hearing about it the other way round, using a book to market a blog.

Derek Haines writes about this in his latest blog post, Why Is This Book So Popular?
I continue to be astonished when I look at my book sales each month. There is one book that stands out, and it sits at the very bottom of my KDP bookshelf. I compiled Vandalism of Words a long time ago as little promotional idea for my blog. At around 200 pages it is a decent length collection of bits and pieces that had appeared on my blog over a number of years. Originally released in paperback, I then published it in ebook on both Kindle and Smashwords.

I offered it for free on Smashwords and then Amazon picked up the free price and matched it. So for the last two years or more, it has been free on both sites. Now without fail, this book is downloaded at least 600 times each month, and surprisingly, even sells a few paperback copies.
If you'd like to download Derek's book, here's a link to the Kindle store: Vandalism Of Words.

Happy reading!

Monday, March 12

Should I Monetize My Blog?

This is a debate I've been having with myself for some time.

On the one hand, I don't want to alienate any of you. On the other hand, I'm a writer at the beginning of her career so ever penny counts!

I've decided to go head and put a few ads on my site -- hopefully tasteful, inconspicuous ads. No pop-ups.

If these ads bother any of you, or you feel that they are diminishing your experience of my blog, please let me know! You can leave a comment here or contact me through my contact form (there is a tab, up top and to the right).

Thanks for reading!

Photo Credit

Friday, January 6

Let your readers subscribe to your blog!

Jane Friedman has a great post on how you can set up email subscriptions to your blog and why you would want to. If you have a blog and haven't done this already, it's worth a read!

Jane Friedman: Why you should add an e-mail subscription service to your blog

Thursday, November 17

A cure for the blogging blues

Remember the food pyramid? Did you know that it can help a person not only have a healthy body but also a healthy blog? Suitably tweaked, of course.

I'll let Ariel Hyatt tell you about it.
It happens to me all of the time when I teach artists social media.The face goes blank, the frustration begins to settle in and then the artist says it:

“I just don’t have anything interesting to say.”


I’m shocked by this every time. You are an artist; you do things we mere mortals are totally enamored by: you PLAY MUSIC, you write songs, you perform them in public!

So PHLEEASE, do not tell me you have nothing interesting to say. I ain’t buying it.

All you are missing is a System for Social Media Success.

Luckily, unlike sheer god-given musical talent, social media is a learnable skill.

As I was teaching my system to a client in my kitchen a few weeks ago over coffee and bagels and it HIT me… and so I created:

Remember that chart they brought out when we were in 2nd grade to show us how to eat well-rounded meals? I have re-tooled it for you so you can now participate on Social Media healthily! And you won’t even have to think about it – just follow along…

You wouldn’t eat only bagels all of the time. They are a treat once in awhile, but they are not healthy to eat every day – and a diet of only bagels would be boring!

Most artists are only serving their audiences bagels all of the time. Plain bagels. Over an over again.


We want a burger, or a giant green healthy salad, we want some candy, give us protein!

But you keep serving bagels, bagels, bagels!

These are five things that when used in concert with one another can help you ratchet up your social media effectively and manage it easily.
To read the rest of Ariel Hyatt's awesome post, click here: The Musician's Social Media Food Pyramid

For those of you who don't feel like clicking, here's the gist:

1. Network
It isn't all about blogging, it's about making a personal connection.
Frequency: 3 or 4 out of 10 posts.
- Facebook: Leave a comment (or comments!) and become involved.
- Twitter: Chat up your network! Send messages to people & use their twitternames.
- Blogs: Read other blogs and LEAVE COMMENTS!
- YouTube: Find videos you like, subscribe to the channel and make your own video comments.

2. Promote others
Treat others as you would like them to treat you.
Frequency: 3 out of every 10 posts
- Share profiles, photos and links to interesting articles on your Facebook page and your blog.
- Tweet others as you would have them tweet you (sorry, couldn't resist!) Participate in #FF (Follow Friday) and retweet others tweets. Review books or albums and talk about what effect they've had on you and your work.

3. Curate Content
Frequency: 2 or 3 out of every 10 posts
- RSS feeds: This is my favorite! Every day I prowl through my RSS feeds using Google Reader and select the articles I think are the most interesting and share them.
- Food: You don't have to blog about the same thing all the time. Share recipes or talk about your favorite restaurants. Are you a secret addict of any food reality shows? (me --> Diners, Drive-ins and Dives)
- Media: write a review, whether of a book, a movie or some music.
- Talk about something your audience is interested in. Parenting, sports, technology (the iPad!)

4. Pictures!
Take photos and share them.
Frequency: 2 out of every 10 posts
- Twitter: Use twitpic and yfrog.
- YouTube: Dive in! Instead of posting video replies (see above) post your own video. If you're shy, you can post videos others have made.
- Blog: It makes your blog more visually interesting if you add a photo or two and the best photo is one taken by you that has some personal connection to you. It doesn't have to be OF you -- although it can. People are naturally curious about others. What does the view out your window look like? What does your writing desk look like? Your readers want to know!

5. Promote yourself!
Frequency: 1 out of every 10 posts
Do you have a book coming out? A short story? An album? Tell people about it!

That's it! Oh, but before I end this post, two very important things.
1. Most important blogging tip ever: Whenever you post on your blog or on Facebook, tweet a link to your post!
2. My thanks to the marvelously talented Deborah ( who sent me the link to Ariel's article. Her voice is completely amazing, check out her YouTube channel and her Facebook page. You can also find her on iTunes.

I hope you found something that will help inspire your blog posts. Cheers!

Monday, October 24

The Secrets of Good Blogging

From Jim C. Hines:
Here’s the thing. Blogging is basically self-publishing, with all of the advantages and disadvantages that come with it.

. . . .

So how do you stand out? Just as with self-publishing, it can help if you’ve already got an audience. When Frederick Pohl began blogging, a lot of people immediately added that blog to their reading lists, because … well, he’s Frederick Freaking Pohl. But for the rest of us, the secret seems to come down to two words:

Be interesting.

Just as with fiction, you can get away with almost anything, as long as it keeps readers interested.

A lot of people have said they aren’t very good at blogging, that it feels awkward or uncomfortable or unnatural or whatever. And that’s fine. I don’t personally feel like writers have to do this.

But I also think blogging is a learned, practiced skill, just like fiction. My first short stories bit the waxed tadpole. So did my first blog posts. In both cases, I had to learn what I was doing. I had to practice, to study other examples, and to write a lot of crap. (I like to think that neither my fiction nor my blogging bite as much waxed tadpole these days, but I’ll leave it to others to judge whether that practice paid off.)

Be interesting. Be you. I’ve never met an uninteresting person. The trick, as I see it, is learning your own strengths. Your expertise, your passions, your experiences.
. . . .

To quote Neil Gaiman, “Use your blog to connect. Use it as you. Don’t ‘network’ or ‘promote.’ Just talk.”

It takes time. Like any self-published author, you’re probably not going to get 10,000 daily readers in your first month. Or even your first year. But if blogging is something you want to do, then trust yourself. Don’t worry about being Neil Gaiman. Be you. Because believe it or not, you’re every bit as interesting as Gaiman. (Okay, maybe you don’t have the accent, but that doesn’t come through online anyway.)

And try to have a little fun while you’re at it.
- Jim C. Hines, Science Fiction & Fantasy Novelists

Here is a link to Jim's blog post: The Secrets of Good Blogging. Thanks to @jazz2midnight for the link.

Sunday, October 16

10 ways to get more views and traffic to your blog

I found a great post over on called, "Getting more views and Traffic". The author's points are what my Grams would have called common sense, but I find I occasionally need reminding.

1. Tell people in your social networks about your new post.
Dead obvious, but I don't do this. I post a link on Twitter and leave it at that.

2. Make your content visible to search engines
Fortunately, sites like Blogger and Wordpress do this if you've made your site visible to the public (look at your privacy settings if you want to check whether your site is visible).

3. Pay for traffic to your site
Apparently you can get visitors through StumbleUpon for the (I hear the deep base of the announcers voice) for the low, low, price of $0.05 per visit.

I can understand the utility of this, but the offer leaves me feeling indignant. I feel myself wanting to say: I don't pay for views!

4. Bug your real-life friends
I disagree with this one. I think it's common sense NOT to bug your real-life friends. It's easy to alienate people. You know that guy everyone pokes fun at, the one who is always trying to show his home movies? Yea, you don't want to be that guy.

My real life friends know I blog and if they want to read my posts they will. If they don't, that's okay too.

5. Use appropriate tags
Definitely a must. I've begun looking at the topics that are trending over at Twitter and mulling over whether I could do a blog post about one of those topics.

6. Read and comment on other blogs
Excellent idea, and something I do. Or try to do. It nelps grow your blog, but I've also met some mighty nice people that way.

7. Link to other blogs
I do this, but should do it more. It would be a good idea to put up a 'Best Of The Writing Blogs' list and include those blogs I read every day, the blogs I use as touchstones, that help encourage me and anchor me.

8. Let people know about your blog entries
Once I wrote a blog post that was inspired by a conversation I'd had with someone I had just met on Twitter. I tweeted him about the post I'd made. It worked out well, he posted a comment and retweeted my link to the article, but -- obviously -- one needs to be careful when doing this, I could see this going horribly wrong. Stephen King wrong.

9. Relax, it takes time
True, very true, but I want results NOW, dagmabbit!

10. Size doesn't matter
This is what the original blog post said: "Finally, remember that it's not the size of your audience, it's how much you care about them and they care about you."

I'm trying to think of a tactful way of putting this.

Nope, just cant.

If you're trying to sell your books and, hopefully, sell enough to to allow you to quit your day job, it is about the numbers. That's not to say that I don't get a special thrill when someone tells me they read my book, and I am humbly grateful to all those wonderful folks who reviewed my book, but for anyone who is hoping to use their blog to help them sell books, the size of their platform does matter.

A good 10 points, even if I didn't agree with all of them. Besides, if we agreed with one another all time, time wouldn't life be boring?

Here is a link to the original article: Getting More Views and Traffic

Thursday, September 1

19 Ways To Get More Readers For Your Author Blog

I love Joel Friedlander's blog, and posts like this are why: 19 Ways to Get More Readers for Your Blog.
1. Write more often—if you don’t have enough traffic, write more often. This is not necessarily good news, since you may feel you already have enough to do. But when you’re growing a blog, there’s no better way to increase the energy flow to your blog than increasing the amount of energy you put into your blog.

2. Write better articles—look at the last 10 articles you’ve posted to your blog. How many did people really care about? How many did you write for yourself, more than your readers? If you have to, and in contradiction to #1 above, write less frequently but better.

3. Do something different—give readers a reason to come to your blog. If you’re doing what everyone else in your niche is doing, why should they? What is it that no one has done? What angle is uncovered? What insight is lacking in the conversation?

4. Do something big—create a big list, a smashing resource directory, an exhaustive collection of tools, a survey of every viewpoint on a subject. Whatever it is, make it useful, the kind of thing you yourself would link to or bookmark for future reference.

5. Kidnap a celebrity—interview the biggest star in your niche, or the most controversial, or the person with the biggest blog in your field. Aim as high as you can, you will be surprised. Make a regular feature of profiling or interviewing movers and shakers in your industry.

6. Start an argument—disagree loudly with an established authority in your field, an “A-list” blogger, or the institutional overseers of your domain. Demand a response.

7. Rant—find an injustice in your field, something blatantly unfair or a monopolistic company taking advantage of the little guy. Rant about it, invite others to contribute.

8. Guest post—take your show on the road. Create a goal to contribute to someone else’s blog on a related topic once a week, once a month, whatever you can do. Query bloggers and read their archives. Fashion a headline for an article they’ll find irresistible.

9. Comment—leave comments that add to the discussion, that amplify what others have said, that disagree respectfully with the author, that bring something to the table. Pick 5 or 10 blogs and stay in touch with them, commenting when appropriate.

10. Upload articles—put some articles on articles sites like and make sure you link back to your blog. Use the same keywords you use in your blog posts.
For the next nine ways, read Joel's article! :)

Thursday, August 4

How Often Should I Blog?

The answer, of course, depends on you, on how much time you have available and, most of all, on what you want. I began to blog a few months ago and started off posting about once every two weeks. (Little did I know that I was fostering an addiction, but that's a post for another time!) I had no idea if anyone was reading my posts; it felt as though I was tossing them out into a void. Then I found Google Analytics. It was one of those moments where you feel warm light fall on your shoulders and hear the sound of trumpets.

Now at least I knew whether anyone was coming by my site; at that time, about six people a week, but still! That was okay; heck that was great! I was excited that six people were reading my blog.

My excitement lasted for a few days, until I found out hundreds were visiting the blog of a friend of mine. I wanted that kind of readership (I know! Greedy, aren't I?). But what to do? How could I increase readership? I read and studied and schemed. I tried blogging more frequently (once a week), blogging about different topics, I even tried leaving a reader participation 'hook' at the end of my post to encourage feedback. And you know what? It worked! Traffic on my site began to increase and, slowly, even the rate of increase began to increase.

And then it all came crashing down. I was using Wordpress at the time and loved it, especially all the different styles, and then, mysteriously, the site that was hosting my blog died. All that work! All those posts! Everything was gone.

After a fair amount of hand-wringing I decided to start again from scratch. I decided to use this time, so I wouldn't have to deal with any technical glitches, and because it was easy to customize and was free (love free!). This blog would be about everything and anything to do with writing, with a special focus on topics relevant to people at the beginning of their writing careers.

Today, although I can only dream about Joe Konrath's numbers, I'm happy to be able to write that more than six people read my blog, but I only saw a significant increase in numbers after I began to blog four or so times a week. That said, I think that the number of posts it takes to start to build a platform likely differs for different people and different blogging styles. John Locke, for instance, advises blogging once a month and that strategy certainly has worked for him.

If you are wondering how often you should blog, I sincerely hope you find out what works for you and, most of all, I hope you find the journey enjoyable.

Monday, July 25

Blogging Tips

I'm always trying to write a better blog post so when I looked at The Book Designer and saw the article Writers’ Blogs: 5 Essentials for Engaging Your Readers I read it with interest.

Writers know blogging is important, and not just because we have to build that mysterious thing called a platform, but also because it's a great opportunity to fulfill the first rule of writing: writer's write. But still, again and again, the question looms large: what to write about?

The following points are inspired by The Book Designer's post.

What to do:

1. Figure out what your blog is about

When I began this blog I thought I might write about the experience of writing and post excerpts from stories I was working on. I also thought about making my blog focus on one small area such as, say, apps for the iPad.

I guess it's about both those things since I decided to focus on anything writing related with an emphasis on topics relevant to the self-published writer.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!) that excludes as lot of subjects I think are important (the debt crisis) or worthy of coverage (the famine in Somalia) or just downright cute.

2. Post consistently

This is something I have trouble with. I shoot for twice a day with a tweet or two thrown in if I come across an article I think would interest my readers.

Of course--as anyone who reads this blog knows!--intentions are one thing and execution quite another. If I blog and tweet once a day, I'm happy. (If anyone comes across an article they think would be good material for this blog, send it to me!)

3. Be considerate

If someone takes the time to leave a comment, thank them for it.

Also, I think being considerate means taking points (1) and (2) seriously. Even though I think this video of Big Dog is amazing (and a little bit creepy) doesn't mean my readership wants to see it.

Similarly, just because I watched I Am Number Four last night and feel it would be a public service to tell everyone it was the worst movie in the history of bad movies, doesn't mean that's something I get to include in my blog. (Unless, that is, you can find some way of sneaking it in. ;))

4. Google Analytics is your friend

Your best friend.

Blogging can be lonely. How do you know if anyone is reading your blog? How do you know if your numbers are going up or down? When people do read your blog, what do they most want to read about?

Google Analytics can help you answer all of these questions, and many, many, more.

I was going to say a few words about how to use Google Analytics but that is a series of posts all on its own!

5. Get feedback directly from your readership

After all, who knows what they want to read about more than your readers!

Comments are already available on most blog posts but it's easy to give people polls if, for instance, you're trying to decide between book covers and would like feedback.

6. Be lucky

Blogging is like anything, you can do your best and results can take a long, long, time in coming. Sometimes you might wonder if it's worth it. As long as you persevere, keeping steps (1) through (5) in mind, you'll develop a readership.

Photo credit: "Maximum Comfort" by Alan under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0.

Tuesday, July 19

Lawrence Block has a blog!

The first book I read by Lawrence Block was, "Telling Lies for Fun and Profit."  It was great!  I highly recommend it, not only for writing tips but because it is a pleasure to read.

Now, thanks to John Locke, LB has his own blog! He writes:

... John Locke got a ton of press for selling his one millionth Kindle book. And, as soon as he did, he released a book he’d had waiting in the wings all along. He called it How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, and offered it not at his usual price of 99¢ but $4.99 (or $9.99 in paperback).

Yeah, right, said the snarky voice that lives inside my head. Who could resist paying five bucks to learn how to write mediocre fiction?

I told the voice Thanks for sharing and ordered the book. This was on June 21, and I started reading it on my Kindle that night. I read the rest of it the following day, and started re–reading it the day after that. And the next day was June 24, my birthday, and I started the day doing something I’d been absolutely certain I would never do. But what the hell, I figured I was finally old enough. So I joined Twitter.

Because John Locke told me to.

That day or the next, I asked my web guy to set me up with a blog. Five years ago I was on a book tour in aid of The Burglar on the Prowl, and each night I made myself write a newsy paragraph on the day’s events, and emailed it for him to post on my website. It was a pain in the ass, and it didn’t accomplish anything, and that was the end of my blogging. But now I wanted a real blog, one I could manage myself, and that’s what I asked for.

Because John Locke told me to.
John Locke’s background is in sales, and he blogs and tweets with the aim of increasing his own sales. He wants you not only to buy his books, but to help him get others to buy them. As he explains, the actions he takes online are frankly manipulative; he outlines a method of gaining a reader’s allegiance and illustrates it with a blog about Joe Paterno and his mother that leaves one gaping. The damn thing seems so calculating. . .

But here’s the thing. It’s not cold and calculating. It’s warm and calculating.

Read the entire blog post here.

I had been wondering if I should buy John Locke's book; after reading LB talk about Locke I don't see how I can not buy it.

Telling Lies for Fun and Profit
Block's Amazon Author Page
Lawrence Block's Blog
Thanks to Dean Wesley Smith and @PassiveVoiceBlg for spreading the news about LB's blog.
How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months