This accidentally got posted early, so last week’s critique winner will be added here in a bit.
Today we begin the Sacred Cow-Tipping. When it comes to social media, there are few things that can give us as much impact as a blog. Blogs afford us the opportunity to connect with MILLIONS of people. Yes, you read correctly…MILLIONS. At the very least, if you follow my teachings, you will connect to thousands, if not tens of thousands of…readers.
So before we start tipping over some sacred cows, I want you guys to know that WANA methods work. I have put my own two books at the top of the best-seller list following my own advice. Not only that, but my books have helped multiple authors hit the best-selling list…even FICTION authors. My favorite story? Saffina Deforges and Mark Williams are a writing team in the UK. They wrote a book together and couldn’t get an agent. They bought my book, We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and then applied my methods. In less than five months, they sold 75,000 books, landing them in the #2 spot on the best-selling list. Oh, and one of the most prestigious agencies in NYC called THEM to offer representation.
These methods will work, and, best of all, they are FUN and will leave more time to WRITE.
The first sacred cow we will tip today is the WRITING BLOG. Writers crack me up. When it comes to blogging, we have limitless possibilities. The sky is the limit. So when people like me tell writers they need to blog, it looks like this…
I’m a writer so…I’ll blog about writing. Yeah. That’s the ticket.
Okay, so we blog about writing–us and every other writer who decides to start a blog. Hey, you read my blog and it’s primarily a writing blog. I learned this stuff the hard way. I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to.
So why are writing blogs bad?
1. Writing blogs limit our following.
There are blogs that get millions of visits a year. I guarantee you they ain’t writing blogs. Writing blogs focus on a very small segment of the overall population that is in need of informing or entertaining. The topics that are going to get thousands or tens of thousands or even millions of hits are blogs on subjects most people care about—celebrities, pop culture, soap operas, cooking, pets, travel, etc. The general public capable of buying books care more about Lady Gaga than narrative structure. Sorry. That’s the truth.
My techniques are all about working smarter, not harder. If we are committed to blogging three times a week to build our author platform (which is what I recommend), then why not go after topic that can potentially reach a far larger audience?
Our blogs cannot do what only our books can. Only our books can make people love our characters or our story. Our blogs are to connect with as many people as possible and encourage them to like US. So why not get 10,000 or 100,000 people to like you instead of 1000?
Here is a critical point most people miss. Fiction authors are not blogging to become experts. You are blogging to connect with as many people as humanly possible and recruit them to your team. Period. That simple.
I blog about writing and social media, but my blog is being used to establish me as an expert in my field. I write books for writers.
Do you write books for writers? No? Then you don’t have to establish expertise. Have fun. Connect with people via your shared passions. Isn’t that how friends have always been made?
2. Writing blogs limit content and can create burnout.
Many writers start out hot and heavy for blogging. Then, about a month in, they hate their life, their blog and want to punch a fluffy kitten in the face. Why?
They aren’t blogging to create a brand. Our name is our brand. WE are our brand. The following on our blogs should be a following for US. We don’t need a writing blog, we need an US blog. I have blogged about being addicted to Febreeze. Does that teach you guys anything about writing or social media? No, because I don’t have a writing blog. I have a Kristen Lamb’s Blog.
An US blog doesn’t mean we talk about ourselves. Since when has talking about ourselves non-stop ever been a good plan for making friends? No, rather, an US blog takes our interests and connects with others on mutual ground.
The content is dynamic and flexible because we are humans and not robots We change and grow and our interests shift. Our blog is married to US…not a concept.
Can you blog about writing? Of course. But blogging about writing and creating a writing blog are two different animals.
3. Writing blogs will collapse if we change topics.
Yes, I blog about writing and social media. I am a NF author and that is part of my job description. But often on Fridays I talk about all kinds of topics that would be appealing to writers and non-writers. This is how I expand my appeal out beyond the world of writers.
Blogging is for the long-haul, for a career. I recommend blogging a minimum of three times a week…and that will be for YEARS to come. How much can you talk about writing? Ah, but if you create a blog that supports you, that frees you up to blog on different topics as you gain a fan following that wouldn’t care if you blogged about dryer lint. They are fans of YOU. So if you get tired of blogging about writing you can gradually shift gears. Your blog won’t collapse if you decide to shift topics. A writing blog will.
Want to know the formula for a hit blog?
Topics you are excited about + topics readers are excited about= hit blog
Five years ago, no one cared if a writer cooked or gardened. The only way to build a platform was through a fan base for a book. Now that has all changed. All writers, published and unpublished can now connect with other humans via mutual interests using…are you ready for this…their writing. Now a writer can blog about cooking and connect to thousands of other people passionate about cooking.
4. Writing blogs increase the competition for book sales.
If I have a writing blog, then most of my readers will be writers. Chances are they have books for sale and most will also have friends who are writers who also have books to sell. I have selected a topic that just increased competition for my book exponentially. Unless you are like me and sell books for writers, targeting other writers might not be the best game plan.
When it comes to writing blogs, no one is overly impressed to know me. I am one of countless writers they know and talk to regularly. Me being a writer is nothing particularly special.
Ah, but what about the cooking blog? If I write a regular blog about my passion for cooking, not only do I appeal to a MUCH larger audience, but it is highly probable that many of those people probably have never met a real writer, and, to them, I will be a celebrity.
5. Writing blogs are not creative.
Hey, again, I made all the dumb mistakes so you don’t have to. Can you blog about writing? Sure. But all of us get the same brilliant idea, so how are you going to stand apart?
I coach writers how to build blogs that will connect to the most people possible. I had a paranormal romance author who loved wines and loved cooking.
Upon my recommendation she changed her blog to:
Christine Ashworth’s Blog—Wicked with a Side of Saucy
Yes, I came up with that blog log-line. She blogs about writing, cooking, and she reviews wines. She mentions her paranormal romance at the bottom of every post. See how that blog captures the “essence” of a romance author? Her content now will connect with women who love to cook, eat and drink wine….and there are LOTS of those. Yes, some of them might be writers, but a lot of them will just be regular gals…who will get to know and like Christine and to show support will buy her BOOK.
Now, doesn’t this stand out? Isn’t it fresh, inviting and innovative? Christine isn’t blogging to become a wine expert, but she IS finding a topic that will connect to her READERS. Also, this frees Christine to change blog topics in the future when she gets tired of blogging on wines. Why? She didn’t start a Wine Blog, she started a Christine Ashworth Blog and just used wine as bait. And wine is pretty good bait. Guaranteed to catch a lot of writers :D.
Next week we will talk some more about this and do some more sacred cow-tipping. My goal here isn’t to terrify you, rather I am here to liberate you and open your eyes to the possibilities. Just because we are writers doesn’t mean we are automatically supposed to write about writing. Writers have been writing on all kinds of things since before the invention of Aristotelian structure. We communicate the human experience via words…that’s it. Our blog is no different. Sure you can blog about writing, just don’t limit yourself. Writers write. Period. We use words to capture the essence of life and use it to connect with other humans–to entertain, inform, uplift or inspire.
So what are your thoughts? Are you shedding now? Or are you feeling liberated? Thoughts? Fears? Concerns?
I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.
I will announce the winner in the morning.
Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.
Together Everyone Achieves More!!!! SUPPORT THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF AMERICA! Spread the word and save a life. Sigma Force saves puppies and kittens, too. Ahhhh.
In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.
This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness
Konrath interviews James Rollins. Really great stuff.
An hour of writing a day equals three books a year. Great post by Kara Lennox.
Breaking Up with Your Critique Partner by Cat Woods
Jenny Hansen teaches how to ROCK LinkedIn
Roni Loren’s post, The Best Bang for Your Blog (btw, look in the comments and it might be clear where I got the idea for today’s post)
Katie Ganshert has a wonderful post about making a social media plan.
Social Media and the Writer/Author Impact by my WDW Pub Peep Natalie Markey
Until next time….
Good points. I’ve found my posts on the craft of writing get a lot of hits, but not much discussion. However, when I talk about indie publishing and the business, things pick up. Interestingly, the blog that got the most hits was where I commented on the Seal Team Six raid that killed Bin Laden.
I couldn’t agree more. Not only are there far too many ‘writing blogs’ out there, but as you mentioned, the subject matter is limited. And there’s something cliche about a writer writing about writing. If you can write, people will take notice. You don’t need to spend your time telling others how to write to prove that.
Exactly! This is what I’ve been thinking all along. Narcissists tend to say to everyone, “Hey, look at me…I can write!”
I feel liberated. I don’t feel qualified to blog about writing. Sure, I write. But I’m still learning my craft, so how could I possibly give advice? I feel a bit like a fish out of water though–I don’t really know WHAT to blog about exactly. So, I’ve covered things like my husband, a popular TV show (which garners a lot of hits…well…a lot for me 🙂 ) and yes, some writing. I’m still kind of fumbling around here. Basically whatever suits my whimsy on a particular day is what will appear on my blog. Like right now, I’m thinking about a story about my kids. Cuz I’m a stay at home mom and most of my stories are about my kids. I was questioning if this was a good idea, but…there are a lot of moms out there, right? So, I’m thinking I’ll just go for it now :).
Ironic Mom’s blog is very popular: ironicmom.com – also Tiffany White has a terrific blog about television shows: tiffanyawhite.wordpress.com.
Both are favorites of mine. So many topics can work really well!
Thanks, Kathy! I will check them out.
Aww, KB, thanks for the kind shout out. I’m still learning right along with everyone here. Fumbling my way to something bigger. I might be that Humane Society dog that Kristen’s trying to save…
But I do enjoy writing my Ironic Mom blog.
Well, I wish I had found your blog before the one who gave me the advice to blog in my niche-writing. It is liberating and i was getting burnt out. Everything you’ve said here makes sense and is what I had wanted to do initially, but was steered the wrong way by someone else. So now I will decide what passion I want to focus on besides writing! Thanks Kristen. I did link to your blog this week, in fact I do nearly every week, because you have so much good stuff to pass on. My Friday blog will also hold a link to you.
You make some great points. My problem now is that I don’t know what to blog about! I’ve toyed with posting about interior design, but I’m not an expert or anything, I’m worried I’d run out of things to post about there as well. Thanks for the thought provoking post!
I actually want to thank you for some of this advice. Knowing I can expand my focus (And talk about my games, for example.) is awesome, and I realize that those other things are really what inform my fiction, more than just generic writing advice, for sure.
But we all make mistakes, right? After all, I used to run a ‘gaming only’ blog back when I fancied myself a game developer.
Kristen, I know I’ve said this before, but it was reading your advice in your WANA book that turned my blog around. Frankly, it was a relief! I was trying to blog about writing (I thought that’s what I was supposed to be blogging about), and I hated all of it and felt like a big fat phony. Who was I to tell others about writing, when I wasn’t even published? And I was boring myself, LOL.
But after your book, I really began to explore what I liked, what I was good at, and what topics still connected to my book. History. Mystery. All those little daily life tidbits about history that people don’t get to run across. If people who are interested in little bits of history, and little bits of mystery fiction, followed my blog, maybe they’d like to give my historical mystery a whirl when it came out.
But then – ah – you told me I had to blog 3x a week!? Yikes. I thought that would be all I’d write. But I took the plunge, got smarter about my time and my posts, and it’s working out. Not breaking any records with my blog, but I’m showing definite improvement that makes my agent happy. Also making fab blogging and twitter friends along the way. :))
Thanks so much. You rock!
This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been struggling to branch out with my blog as well. I’ve noticed it’s helped to participate in Friday Flash and include some of my writing, but I’m unpublished and in no position to offer much advice. I can share what I’m learning, but that’s about it and it gets old after a while.
I love thrillers and suspense, love history, love learning about criminals and how their minds work. I’d like to expand my blog into talking more about this, but the trick is doing so in a way that’s not only genuine but interesting.
Yes, I do feel liberated. The thing you said about having a writing blog and blogging about writing as two different things makes sense and I completely agree. I am enjoying my own kind of branching out over at my blog, and thanks to your advice, I came up with a better blog title the other day. All is right in the world. 🙂
Also, I am flabbergasted at not seeing this before. OF COURSE we need to appeal to readers not just writers. I knew this but somehow didn’t even think about it when I started blogging. I have different sections now and I enjoy the comments of different types of people which is great, so it’s all good. But it definitely makes sense to target certain audiences. Finally, I just LOVE the equation you provided:
Topics you are excited about + topics readers are excited about= hit blog
Couldn’t have said it better. I have no doubt that your methods work and that you have helped and will continue to help writers, Kristen. Keep it up! As for me, I’ll take some points back to my lair and much on them for a while. I agree about us being our own brands, I even bogged about it a while back. So yeah, great article. RT-worthy. 🙂
Great advice, as always. I think this is something I will definately have to look into… thanks for your words of wisdom.
It’s funny. I blog about writing mostly, and I’ll post an author interview or book review every Friday. When I come to your blog and you talk about how we don’t have to blog about writing just because we’re writers, it’s like a lightbulb goes off in my head. Oh yeah. I can blog about D&D and video games, and how much I love digital art, and about my dog, and yoga, and my latest venture into flea market shopping. I realize that I don’t have to blog about writing. And then a few weeks pass. I start thinking, I should blog about writing more, and then I get back into the rut of lifeless blogging. Thanks for reminding me to blog about what I love, to blog with passion. <3
I am so glad I did not make the mistake about writing about writing. As a teacher for 20 years, I thought I would start a blog about my experiences. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of a good title. Finally I thought: “Lessons From Teachers”: that sounds good. Kinda. My son (age 10 at the time) rolled his eyes and said, “Mom, that’s so boring. Why don’t you call it ‘Lessons From Teachers and Twits’; that way you don’t have to always be the teacher. You can also be the dumb one.” I thought, “He’s a keeper.” And he was right. I have so many stories where I am the Chief Twit-in-Residence, and instead of always having to be Mrs. Smarty-Pants, I can also be the wizenheimer. Suddenly the very “up-tightedness” of that initial idea disappeared and created a more relaxed place in my mind. I can write forever about anything of/or related to education! Especially the stupid stuff, which is so much more relatable for readers. Who wants to read about commas when you could be reading about how I was voted “Class Flirt” and have been pissed about it for 20 years! And then I get to find out what other people were voted in their yearbooks! Or what they wish they would have been voted! You get my drift. I am so grateful Li’l Dude was there when I was setting up shop.
And one day soon I’ll finish my manuscript, which has absolutely nothing to do with education. 😉
Hah! Your son should go into marketing!
Excellent point, I have thought about this. I don’t need only writers to read my blog, I need readers. But how to bring readers to my blog? Hhmmm…let’s see, what can I say about Lady Gaga? LOL, I guess like you say it is a matter of mixing a little of both what interests you and what interests people out there. We have to make an effort to reach out to others beyond the writer’s universe.
Thank for sharing.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve just started reading We Are Not Alone, but this blog post has jumped me right to the heart of the matter. When I started my blog, I blogged about writing because I didn’t know what else to blog about. I knew there were a ton of other writing blogs out there, and that anything i had to say had probably been said by a thousand other people, but I just didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t think anyone would care if I wrote about something other than writing (even though I knew they probably wouldn’t care about what I had to say about writing either). Between this post and We Are Not Alone, you have opened my eyes and pointed me in the right direction, so I’ll say it again. Thank you!
Robin, if I may respond, I think you will find your blog niche and enjoy the heck out of it when you do.
The Writers’ Group I belong to has many talented writers, some of whom are not yet sharing their genius on blogs. When encouraging them to start, I suggest going with their current strengths and interests, whether daily devotionals, humor, hobbies, commentary, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever told someone “You’re a writer, so write about writing.”
The members who do have blogs keep it interesting – one never knows what they’ll post about next. Keep plugging away on the topics you care about and the hits will keep on coming. 🙂 -Jen
P.S. I read your post “Mindless Versus Mindful” and I found it very interesting. I don’t know if I have “overgeneral memory” or “too lazy to really try to remember things” syndrome, but it sounded a lot like me!
I’ll tell you what, it is excellent advice not to “typecast” a blog theme. The tagline for my veterinary clinic’s business blog is “Pet ownership and beyond…” That little phrase “and beyond” frees me to write about anything other than pet ownership, if I think my clients will be interested. I’ve covered art, local charity events, free concerts and events around town, favorite museums and more. When I’m out of ideas for the moment, I host Picture Day, in which I post photos I’ve taken on trips or in my own backyard. My rationale (other than taking the pressure off to write a technically perfect post every day) is to recognize that pet owners have lives and interests outside their homes and sometimes away from their beloved furballs.
Over on my fiction blog, I felt a huge sense of relief when I published my first non-story post, and the walls did not come crumbling down. Nor did my readers cry foul and abandon ship. In fact, my readers – who are usually quiet – seemed to really enjoy commenting on the non-story posts. When I reprinted a letter from an alleged con man, my hits skyrocketed because so many other people had received the same fax and were eager to learn more about this guy. Guess what? Their searches still lead them to my blog months later.
Now I can relax and post my original short stories, which is the purpose of the blog, or just write about something totally off the wall. And I very rarely write about writing – except to make fun of it.
Happy reading! -Jen
This is one of the many reasons I haven’t started a blog. I have a tremendous fear of running out of things to say. I just don’t think I’m all that interesting and since I’m not yet published, I’m not an expert on writing. So, your advice is almost too liberating. I have no direction which is just as scary as being boxed in thinking I needed to write about writing.
Kristen – I wanted to let you know I’ve adopted you! I know it’s not official and, so far, without your consent – and I know your own family may have something to say about it – but you’ve become part of my family. In fact, right now you speak to me more often than some of my kids! First of all I want to assure you I’ve had lots of experience with family “stuff”. As a mom/stepmom of seven, mother-in-law of three, grandmother of six (at last count) , I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way and become pretty darn good at what’s required, according to my family. The best way to sum up my take on it these days: be there when needed, always say what you mean and mean what you say (thank you Barbara Coloroso), know when to step back without taking it personally, and in between let that unconditional love flow around and over and through all you do for and with your family. Now I’m learning lessons from you in a very big way about this business of writing and publishing. To list them would be to repeat every blog of yours (okay, maybe the one about Febreeze that you mentioned wouldn’t have topped the list …) that I’ve read since discovering you a few months ago. I’ve just ordered your books. Today’s topic is a perfect example. As many of your readers have stated, I needed to hear that message. Choosing the proper topic for my blog has been a weekly challenge. I certainly hadn’t even been able to consider your recommendation of three times a week! Posting interviews with some of the amazing women I am meeting through writing is always a pleasure but I had to remind myself each time that I was kind of copping out because I was posting their words and not mine. There are some great blogs on writing. I need to read those blogs, not attempt to write them. At 65 (yikes – it’s still a shock to say that out loud), I’m new at this whole adventure of writing and publishing and one of the best things I have discovered is the incredibly helpful information sharing that can be found. You, my dear girl, are the best. Thanks!
I am so ecstatic to hear you say this, because when I started my blog just a few weeks ago, I knew I had to blog about things I find fascinating. But I’ve been so chagrined lately, because most of the writers I know write about writing—and it worried me that I wouldn’t get followers and comments like they did. I’m so happy to hear you validate my decision! Yes!
I’m almost finished reading your book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer. It’s fantastic, I tell you! Thank you for writing it for us! It’s such an immense help! Your other book, We Are Not Alone, is coming in the mail. I can’t wait to read it!
I have to tell you that I really enjoy your tweets on twitter and adding a tweet of my own now and then. You are so much fun and I can tell how much you love spending time with your writer friends! Thanks for everything!
You’re making me think again, Kristen. Hmm… vewy vewy intewesting. I think I’ve spent too much time in front of my screen instead of living life this past year. I don’t remember what else I enjoy doing! Time to figure it out, eh?
Okay…. I’m going to give this a try. If it works, I will kiss your feet. 🙂
Change is a scary thing (maybe that’s just me), but I’ve been thinking about this since your reply to my question on Monday and my opinion is starting to shift.
Hoping this helps me connect with readers – which is why I started blogging.
Thanks for stretching my brain!
Thanks for the mention, Kristen. The top selling indie authors in the UK thanks to you. Our next task is to use WANA to conquer the American market!
As to today’s post on blog purpose, spot on as always.
As wannabe authors it’s natural to start off blogging about our writing, but unless we have something unique to say, or some success behind us to give us credibility, then who wants to read it?
It’s even more limiting of you are a strict one-genre author, because again you are narrowing your field of prospective readers.
Of course the danger is you go entirely the opposite direction and only blog about celebrities, TV, food or sport, and find yourself an unknown blogger in a field of millions.
The key is to combine your passions. I love writing, love reading and love people. It shows in my blog and the traffic is growing daily.
This month I have a blogfest entitled Girls Just Wanna Have Fun which has guest posts every other day from leading and unknown women who have made, or or making, their mark in the literary world.
It is about writing, and it is about reading. But most of all it’s about people.
Do we sell any extra books through it? Probably, but that’s NOT why I get up an hour earlier every day to make sure the blog is always fresh and breezy. It’s because I love connecting with people.
There’s a reason it’s called SOCIAL media.
I’ve never understood the writing about writing blogs, unless you’re an expert in the field. I don’t want to attract writers to my blog. Well, not that I mind, but my target audience is teens and women. Yes, some writers may buy my books. I’m a part of several groups where we’re supportive, but I write for teens and women. (And yes, these writers are women, but you get my point. I hope. 😛 )
I’ve changed my blogging material a lot of times over the years. This post, and Are You There Blog? It’s Me Writer, has allowed me to see that I need to stop looking for something to blog about and just be myself. I used to think that was “boring”, that I didn’t have much of a life that wasn’t online or with my kids, but there are things I’m passionate about, so I’ll start there.
Thank you, Kristen!
A friend recommended me to your blog Monday evening. I immediately knew I had to read your entire blog and books. Your words tapped into a piece of me that feels like I can stop following the masses and finally breathe. Most importantly, I’m ready to hear what you’re saying. I bought your Blog book and will buy the other soon. I started at your first post and am reading a little at a time. I’m currently in August, 2009. 🙂 I am so thrilled to have found you. Oh yeah, that sounds corny. 😉
I vote for liberated. I agree with everything you said, I’ve just never thought about it so directly. I do enjoy reading blogs about writing…but that’s because I am a writer…duh, and not everyone is (?!?) 🙂
But certainly if I read writing blogs ONLY that would get dull. It’s nice to learn ABOUT writers on their blogs.
I’m so glad you said this! Every time I meet a new writer who has started a blog about writing, I want to groan. I just don’t read many of those blogs. My blog is mainly on crafting–those are my readers–but your post is a great reminder that I could probably branch out from that, too.
Thank you so much for confirming something I have been struggling with for some time now. I always wondered how book sales could increase if everyone I’m connecting to are writers. Basically, unless we’re buying each other’s books, we’re not truly getting anywhere. I mean, yes I love having my author friends and learning from them, but when the time comes to sell my book, I need to target readers.
You’ve also confirmed what my wife has been telling me since my first blog post. “Your topic doesn’t interest me. Why don’t you change it?” She’ll be happy to hear she was right. Nonetheless, just like her, I need to attract my friends and others like them that will purchase my book.
Why, if I knew this I wouldn’t make the change until now that you’ve mentioned it? Fear cripples the hearts and minds of men/women and keeps us nowhere. I don’t want to be a nowhere man, sitting in my nowhere land, making all my nowhere plans, for nobody.
P.S. sorry I broke out in song. I just got emotional, is all.
LOL…feel free to break out in song. When we realize we are the warden of our own prisons, it is easier to find the key :D.
I did have one question: should we pick a topic to make our blog about (like wine, from your example above) or just talk about whatever we want? Should there be a theme to each day if we aren’t going to talk about one thing in every post?
It’s funny, because when I started blogging I thought I should keep it very professional and not mention much about myself. Needless to say I got no hits (except friends and family who already knew about me). When I started to open up a bit I started getting more hits. And on days that I post pictures of my dogs or talk about music instead of writing I get the most hits 😛 So I know your methods work, I’m just not sure if talking about whatever I want whenever I want would work?
I do recommend picking topics for certain days, because it will gain a following faster. Since I advise three days a week, just let that third day be a Free-for-All Friday. Blog about whatever strikes you. You can post a clip from YouTube or a picture for people to discuss. The trick is to create dialogue. How do we make friends in real life? We connect on our mutual interests. Blogging is no different. Now just because you pick certain topics for certain days doesn’t mean you are married to those topics. That is why the blog should have YOUR NAME at the top. Eventually you will have a following of people who LIKE YOU and who are there for YOU regardless of topic.
My blogging partner and I came to this conclusion about a month ago and are looking at how to revision our blog into something that will appeal to a wider audience. We’ve been blogging for about six months and are rapidly approaching our 100th post – time to reexamine what we’re doing. Your post has been very timely for us.
Thanks for putting this into words… I knew when I started blogging I didn’t want to blog about writing, because everyone else was. There are so many really awful writing blogs out there, and it seems like a lot of people write about writing to avoid the real work of writing!
So I started a blog about metafiction and storytelling (not how to tell stories, but more literary criticism analysis of stories). It’s something I’m passionate about and it keeps my English major skills nice and sharp!
I struggled more with my official website. For awhile I only updated it with news: when I got a story published, when I went to a reading, things like that. Now I to update it three times a week with short stories, essays, mini-memoirs and “reflections” — about school, books, and whatever else. My goal is to connect with readers and give them a chance to get to know me and my writing, by sharing actual writing with them!
Great blog. I totally understand what you are saying.
I couldn’t agree more. I’m having a great time writing my blog because I’ve given myself permission to write about whatever I want. My goal is to be fun and entertaining–yesterday’s post was a humorous look at Weinergate. I’ve said from the very beginning that I want to attract readers, not writers. When I do write about writing, it’s about my writing and what I’m working on, not necessarily the craft. Great post, Kristen!
My blog is mostly about writing and social anxiety. Is that better than a writing blog? Probably not. I don’t think people want to know about social anxiety, even if I think they should.
Hey, maybe I can revive my dormant blog about law, photography, politics, kids, and miscellanea instead of starting an “author” blog! That IS a refreshing notion. Thank you!
After reading this, my mind is spinning with all kinds of taglines for a new blog. Hoping my copy of “Are you there, blog…” shows up in the mail today. So eager to read it.
I wondering about tone though. Although I take an upbeat, cheerleading approach most of the time, there are a few pop culture things that bring out the caustic snarkarella in me (e.g., Jersey Shore, the Bachelor). Is it ever okay to let that side out publicly?
I’ve been blogging for just over a year at Chazz Writes about writing and publishing. It’s fun and I will continue. However, you’re right. It’s got to migrate to more open topics (and more relationship-based) as my books become available. As I start to sell my fiction, I also have to add another website where I’ll blog and vlog about other things that interest me besides going indie. It’s all wrapped up in the same fuzzy loveable ball packaging me.
Thanks for clarifying and articulating my unarticulated thoughts. I’m so looking forward to podcasting, vlogging and going off on my own tangents when I get another website set up.
Kristen, you are a goddess among women! Thank you so much for helping me to see the light blog-wise – I’m having so much fun now when I write posts. Plus, it’s an excuse for the hubby and I to sit and sip wine and talk as the sun goes down, lol!
Off I go to tweet, fb, and shout about this post…
I have been struggling with my blog – and as someone just starting out, this is indeed very liberating to know – I cant think of anything I want to talk about 5 days a week for the next 30 years or so, so the idea that every blog doesnt have to be on exactly the same topic is really freeing. I am also really excited to think about incorporating other things into my blog besides writing – what a wonderful amazing thing to think about. Thanks Kristen!
I write Women’s Fiction and I muse about many topics on my blog. I don’t limit myself to blogging about writing or techniques because, I’ll be honest – I feel there are already experts in that field, ahem – such as yourself, Jody Hedlund and a number of others whom I do follow. My musings are part release for myself to develop my writing voice, and to connect with readers and other writers in our lovely community.
A wonderful post here Kirsten, completely agree!
Great post, Kristen (even if early… 😉 Yes, I read it for the first time last night). As some others have said, as an unpublished author, sometimes I feel like a bit of a phony blogging about writing. What can I add that others haven’t already said and better than I ever could? So my blog has a split focus – some posts on my personal writing experience and some on forensics, my main writing goal. But you’re making me think about changing that split or even easing off of writing posts altogether. In a lot of ways, that’s kind of a scary thought but it may definitely be the right way to go. Thanks, once again, for making us think, and helping us improve…
I agree totally! I blog at the Intrigue Authors Blog at Harlequin, and my post popular blogs are the ones where I discuss my Dancing With the Stars addiction! Many of my readers share the same addiction and they love to discuss the show. Another one of my popular posts involved a “paranormal experience” I had, and I invited my readers to share their own experiences. It was a big hit! People love telling their own stories.
This is so great — I usually do better with a schedule, so now I just have to figure one out, but only for two days, ’cause Friday’s a Free for all! I have so many things I’m interested in, yet not an expert. Jack “wanna be” of all trades…but maybe that makes it/me more accessible.
It’s made me incredibly excited to upgrade my blog. Thanks
Thank you! Several months ago I decided to start a blog, but wasn’t sure how to go about it so I did some research. It seemed like the majority of the “experts” said to write about writing if you’re a writer. The reason was that if you haven’t yet been published or built your brand then fellow writers are more likely to read your blog. Once you started blogging, if you wrote about topics other than writing you’d lose followers. Apparently writers are only interested in the craft of writing? Alrighty then.
Anyway, I guess I can see some logic in those ideas, but I see more logic in the fact that I’d get burned out in about a month blogging only about writing. As I said in my very first blog post, I’m pretty sure an abandoned blog would be considered even less successful than an unfocused one.
I had a browser crash part way through reading this, but after the computer finished throwing it’s temper tantrum I made it back. Great post! I feel better about my own rather random blog, and I’ve grabbed a sample of your We Are Not Alone. Thanks!
An interesting post by the always insightful queen of social media, with a mention of the new blog by a very talented LA writer, Christine Ashworth – it’s a great day in the blogosphere.
Awesome post! I’m not even a bit sad that my poor writing cow blog is tipped over. I’m ready to blog about more than just writing. Thanks for snappin’ the whip over my head to get a blog started. 🙂
Now I feel so much better about my blogs about mosaics! I seldom blog about writing. I blog about whatever dumb thing comes into my head, which might not be the best idea, either!
Yeah, I did this, too. “Write about your passion,” I was told.
Well, at the time writing was the only passion I could think of, so that’s what I blogged about. Good thing is that I did think ahead and used my name in the url, so I can always change the old blog.
However I won a web site design by @duolit last year and decided it was time to head in another direction. I now have a blog that is a better reflection of my books and a writing blog I consider a public service (most of the posts are info gathered from better writing blogs like this one 😉 ). Since I only post weekly on each, it’s not a big time drain. I’m also getting more exposure this way.
Someday, maybe I’ll go with just one, but at the moment this works.
Great post! I began a writer’s blog as my writer’s platform, feeling my personal blog was just that – too personal. But….with all the other writing blogs, it CAN’T just be about writing; there’s too much of that already out there. Creating other ways to draw people to my blog is essential.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have had a blog site for about a year but figured I didn’t have much that was unique to say about writing. So I’ve chosen to write about things I’m interested in: visiting my kids with pics of where they live and things we’ve done, my dogs, gardening, whatever strikes my fancy. It’s such a relief to be set free from the guilt of not blogging about writing. Off to happily blog about whatever.
Thank you so much for the shout out! Your post comes at a time when a group of us on AQ were discussing the whole point of our blogs and what made them stand out. I’ll pass along this awesome info to help my writing friends along their journey to bloggerly success.
Awesome post, Kristen! I decided to ditch the blogging-about-writing trap a while ago, and it was so FREEING!
I think the thing that holds writers captive to this approach is that they like to see lots of comments with faces next to them. And since most writers blog, they comment on blogs, etc., etc., thus we get those guaranteed comments every week.
The logic follows that if we blog about something other than writing, we won’t have our requisite number of comments anymore, and it’ll look like we have a dead blog (even though we may get plenty of visits from non-commenters who are actually our target readers).
this is the first time I’m looking at your blog on my IPad and it’s got this really cool page layout. interesting!
I’m so glad I’m getting all of this fantastic information on blogs from you. Not only am I learning loads on your WordPress site, but I just finished reading Are You There Blog? it’s me writer, and my knowledge and confidence is building by the second!
thank you so much for your wisdom, and for the Humane Society link. we have to help those who can’t help themselves.
have a great evenin!
Before I met Kristen, I didn’t have a blog. Frankly, I was dreading starting one because I thought it would be work I hated doing, but had to do. At Kristen’s suggestion, I started a blog about stuff that interests me. Since I’m weird, the topics on my blog are weird. I’ve had a lot fun so far and met some really neat people.
This topic could not come at a more perfect time for me! My blog is about a year old, and lately I’ve been thinking I need to figure out what I’m doing, or what my niche might be. I kept feeling like I should be writing about writing– but it didn’t feel right and it’s something that most of my (small group of) readers would have no interest in. So, thank you thank you thank you for these words of advice and wisdom!
I think people have different ways that they blog depending on whether they are purely trying to gain a following, or wanting to show an agent a professional on topic blog all about writing. I’m all for doing whatever is A the most fun and B will attract the biggest following. So maybe I’ve been a bit brain washed but I am slowly changing my blog to non-writing topics and I think it’s ready to do things Kristen-style now 🙂 Thank you!
Agents are going to be far more impressed with blogs that are connecting to large pools of readers than writing blogs left abandoned, untended or invaded by spam bots. The key to blogging long-term is to be able to maintain passion. Blog about writing if it is your passion, but that doesn’t mean we need a “writing blog.” Our blogs should serve us…not the other way around. I look forward to the fresh new content :D.
Thanks for the mention! And great follow up to all the comments that went on in my post, lol. Off to tweet.
New bloggers should be bowing at your feet Kristen. I wish I’d have known all this ages ago. Never too late 🙂
Ask and the universe (or Kristen Lamb) answers! I’ve been conflicted over my blog and wondering what direction I should go with it in the future. Thanks for the perspective! You’ve given me lots to think about!
I’m finishing up a Popular Fiction class. Last week, our guest speaker was an agent from a local literary agency and she encouraged writers to establish an on-line presence. A lot of my classmates are concerned about adding blogging to their writing. Most feel they’ll merely be blogging about writing and thus adding to their . I’ll forward this post to them. Hopefully, this will help.
I agree with you. The writers I love who also blog very rarely talk about their writing process, so the material is fresh, engaging and exciting when it IS there. The rest of the time, they’re able to connect to a wider audience who loves them for their published work.
My blog is only a few months old, so this is a great article for me! Although I don’t blog about writing, I do blog about my own process and what it’s been like in these months since I’ve finished my first rough drafts and am doing all those things (like starting a blog!) that pre-published writers do.
Now that I’m comfortable with the blog, it’s time to give it a little better direction and clean it up so that anyone “lurking” out there can see the best I have to offer.
Hey, Kristen…thanks (as always) for your great advice and a TURBO THANK for inclusion in today’s mash-up!
I continue to be delighted that I had a class with you at the beginning of the blog road. I blog pretty much according to my mood – parenting, writing (though I get to do that for Writers In The Storm), dating, my garden…tomorrow’s post is “Mad Love for my Zucchini” and combines gardening and dating.
My favorite blog this whole week was Chuck Wendig’s post called “Bue Eggs from Bitch Chickens.” It was about a trip to the farmer’s market and it was awesome!
Sorry, that would be “blue eggs” for Chuck’s blog and here’s the link:
Thanks for this, it’s coming at a good time for me, you’re supporting what I’ve come to myself.
I started blogging about my journey to publication because it was what I was passionate about that at the time, then, even though I took my own sort of philosophical approach to dealing with the challenges, I realised that only other writers were reading it, and I want readers to read it. So I started doing book reviews too. Now I’m going to move into topics that are relevant to what I write, so my book raises questions about perception, about how we deal with our emotions and difficult people, even about the nature of reality, so I decided to move into those areas.
I’m also writing for young adults, so I’m going to bring in some of my experience as a teacher to talk about topics that are relvant to teens at school in a tongue in cheek way. So I’ll still have the writer stuff but only when something happens to spark it off – hell the process is soooooo slow!. I’m gonna do some posts on photoshop art as well, kos it’s another of my loves.
I might lose some of my writer readers, but I hope to expand my readers to people with interests that match my own because they’re the ones who are going to like what I write. I’ve stopped following some other writers blogs because they talk too much about things other than writing, so I’ll keep the reading and writing focus. Hopefully I can link all of these things to books somehow. We’ll see. This is the unveiling of my plan. Starting to day, a post on being seventeen & why that’s the age of my heroine.
Oo, another post that makes us all think. 🙂 And yet another post that inspires one for me. LOL! I should just hire you as my muse, shouldn’t I? *ducks as my muse tries to whap me upside the head* Kidding! Kidding. Sheesh.
You hit hard with this one! Thank you! I’ve been struggling with my blog because there are SO many other writing blogs out there. I want to be unique. I have a passion. For chocolate. So why not use it? Right? Thanks so much!
Thank you for this blog! I am fairly new to this writing business and also new to blogging. It is very gratifying to learn that what I have been doing intuitively in my blog is actually a good thing to be doing! (I was worried I just liked talking about myself ; )
Just make sure you are also blogging for the reader. They key is engagement. Establish a dialogue.
Well my goodness. I had come to the conclusion that no one would visit or comment on a new writer’s blog, so why bother. My answer was “Just write the great American novel and they will come.” Harumph. SO my new assignment – if I choose to accept it (them) is to read WANA and download tweetdeck. Lovely, and timely.
Thank you. I consider myself a blogger first and a writer second. I actually have a series of posts entitled: Why I Hate Writing. This isn’t a topic I’ve covered, but I share many of the same thoughts about it as you. The main one being the part about limiting your audience. Chances are your agent and/or publisher will encourage you to narrow your audience by genre. Why would you want to make that pool even smaller by writing for writers? I think the trap many writers fall into is that they begin to write about writing, get lots of feedback, then write something unrelated to the craft and the comments drop off. Then perhaps they think that’s all their audience wants to read about. And maybe if the only folks reading their blog are writers that may be the case. All writers are readers, but not all readers are writers.
Thanks again. This was just great.
This is quite a timely post for me, as I was discussing my blog with a friend not long ago… she mentioned that she feels excluded from my more techy music posts as she doesn’t know a lot about (and isn’t really interested in) the geeky side of music.
As I am a musician (and not a writer – although I find that musicians and writers face a lot of the same issues!), I’m really into the process of making music, the tech that’s involved, and generally what’s going on in the world of indie music, so this is what I tend to write about. However, my friend’s comments made me think that perhaps I am unconsiously limiting my audience…
Perhaps it is time to expand my subject matter a bit more… Woo! Liberation!
When I first started my blog, I was going to blog about writing. I’m a writer. That made sense. Right? LOL. Then I found your blog and books and then the online class. I’ve since turned my blog around and now post on topics related to what I write but that (hopefully) are broader scope. I still like to blog about writing, but I limit it to Weds. I don’t aim to teach but talk about what I’m learning or doing.
As always, your words make me feel so much better about the direction I’ve taken my writing! I’m in no way qualified to blog about writing. I do, however, love reading blog posts about writing from those that are qualified like yourself, Roni, Jenni, Anna, Bob, Jami, etc. 🙂
I think the simplest distillation of all this advice is: “Blog about whatever excites you.” Whatever that is, use it. Mine it. Harvest its heart and use it for your grim, Satanic rituals.
If that’s writing, great. Publishing, go for it. Food, parenthood, coffee, whiskey, games, chimpanzee ownership, whatever. The point is, talk about what gets you jazzed. And one presumes that can and should be more than a single thing.
Yep…exactly :D. Too many writers panic thinking they need to blog on the CRAFT of writing. Well, maybe you are a born storyteller, not a teacher. The plain truth is writers write and we use our words to connect. Thank you for gracing my blog with ur awesomeness.
I blog about drinking. Well, more about what I get jazzed over when I’m drinking. Obviously I take notes with the hand that is not holding the glass or I would never remember anything in the morning. I am not sure that blogging three times a week would be good for my health, however, or get the novel written. 😉
Thanks for a great post.
I bought WANA a while back, and I have to say it rejuvenated my blog! I still keep a separate “writing journal”, which is more by way of a diary about how my current book is coming along, but my main blog – the one you see when you come to my home page – is a “me” blog, just as you describe. I post book reviews, film reviews, my opinions about the genre I write in – things that I hope will interest the kind of people who would like my books. That might not hit as huge a demographic as cookery or wines, but you have to connect with the right people if you are going to convert blog visits into sales.
I disagree that the topic of writing hits too small a demographic – a huge percentage of the population say they would like to write a book – but the problem, as you say, is to make a writing blog unique. I don’t avoid the topic of writing altogether, but rather than repeat what a thousand other writers’ blogs cover (often far better than I could), I write about my experience of going from wannabe to fledgling pro, because everyone likes a glimpse at what really goes on behind the scenes!
BTW, don’t bother to include me in the prize draw – I already have a three book deal, so I really don’t need a critique 🙂
Writing blogs won’t get huge, but they can earn a very healthy following. I still say that blogging about writing is better than a writing blog. We can’t strangle our blog before we begin. BUT, there are writers out there who are panicking thinking they need to start a “writing blog” when they have interests–cooking & wine like Christine–that are wonderful topicsa that appeal to a larger audience. Yet, they have gotten trapped into thinking those topics are of no value for an author blog, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sounds like you are on the right path and congrats on the book deal.
Ok, this was mind blowing…and reminded me of some things I already knew from other parts of my life.
Funny that, as this blog post is about including other parts of my life in my blog.
And that’s one of the limiting things for me. I don’t really want to make other parts of my life part of my brand. Those parts, such as my rather technical computer related career, could even turn off my preferred target audience of paranormal fiction readers.
I did go back and check the stats on my blog, and the largest number of hits I received recently were on the recipe for reuben turnovers…invented by yours truly.
My bellydance posts do receive more hits as well. Funny that.
Fortunately for my branding, I’m not yet published so my writerly posts probably won’t hurt me much, and I’ve some time to correct that as I’m in revision hell, which’ll take awhile.
I’m also wondering about thinking carefully about what readers in my genre want to hear about. I suspect they want to hear about the paranormal. So blogging about the paranormal may have a larger impact on my target audience than blogging about cooking.
As a reader, I do find that I gloss over author posts about gardening and cooking, but dive into things related to the genre. Perhaps I’m not enough of a fangirl to gurgle over the lives of my favorite authors.
Lots to think about.
Excellent blog. I will take your advice! (And buy your book when I’m ready to promote something.)
This is such a hard topic for me right now. I’m primarily a book blogger, and that’s a “brand” I’m very actively trying to grow. However, after a 2 year hiatus, I’m also starting to shop fiction around again and entering writing contests. I wanted to make my name url point at my book review blog, at least temporarily, but now I’m not so sure. I will say that I get FAR more hits as a book review blog after four months of blogging than I got in almost 5 years of “lifestyle” blogging about whatever pets/kids/work/social thing popped into my head. I really don’t think I can handle adding a second blog right now and still get enough words on the page writing wise. Reading truly is my greatest passion–sure I can blog about knitting or my kids or my obsession with The Voice, but it all comes back to books (not necessarily writing) for me. I’m sure with 90 odd comments, you can’t really answer questions, but I’m just really struggling with whether or not I need a second blog and if so, how to link the two “brands” in anything resembling a cohesive manner for writing conferences et al where I really wear both hats. Thanks for another awesome post–I don’t always comment, but I do lurk and I’m really grateful for every post and tweet you share!
People are smart. It won’t rip the fabric of our reality if you “do more than one thing.” I am going to be talking about that next week, so check in and I might offer something you can use. I always say ONE blog. 😀
What a fantastic post! I blog about writing, but not exclusively. I also blog about film, the film industry and things that occur to me as I wander through my daily life. I’m hoping it’s interesting enough to maintain my growing following. But thanks for reminding me that I need to broaden the target audience. Not all readers are writers. In fact, most aren’t!
I always enjoy your comments and expert advice. I especially like tips for slef-promoting, because you suggest ways to leave out the “blatant self-promotion” in favor of friending people.
You mean I have to have an interest OUTSIDE of writing?
Hmm. So what you’re saying, if I’ve got it right, is that I shouldn’t try to keep my romance writer persona and my weight-loss blogger persona separate? I currently have two blogs — one for writing and one for my “adventures” in weight loss. I hardly ever mention dieting on the writing blog — but do from time to time mention writing on the weight-loss one. I’ve been keeping them separate because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do.
Nope…I would TOTALLY merge those. Heck,THAT’S YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC. Trust me, we are battling our weight, lol.
Hmm. In my new blog I’m trying to give people the self-confidence to start writing and advice on how to keep writing. But the real point of my blog is “Making Earth A Better Place”.
So your post has enouraged me to blog about becoming “better people” with a sideline on writing as a means to self-improvement.
My goal is to help 1 person feel good about herself and to have her spread that to another person and so on.
No matter what you blog about, it changes someones life; if only for a few minutes.
I just want to let you know how liberating this post was! NOT writing about writing just because you happen to be a writer? Really? I can DO that? I’m allowed to say something about the bear that tipped our trash can over last night and not be looked at as an unprofessional writer? Yahoo! Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
I love this post! I registered my domain name a few years ago but never set up my blog because I always felt I had nothing good to contribute.
This year I finally set it up but didn’t give it much attention because I was confused about what to post! Then I decided that I would just write. About whatever was on my mind. And I’ve had such a positive response from people — friends, family and new-friends alike. It’s been great. And healing too, because I’ve been posting bits and pieces of personal stuff that I’ve gone through/am going through.
I do still worry that maybe some of it shouldn’t be posted because it doesn’t look professional. Am I wrong to be concerned? Are there any no-no’s when it comes to blogging?
Also — just found your #myWana twibe! How fantastic — totally following that hashtag now. And you better believe I’ll be blogging about this post AND your book!
This post says everything I have been feeling. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate a few words of wisdom from fellow writers, or even seeing how they approach the writing process now and again, but the blogs that keep and hold my attention aren’t the blogs that are talking about writing every two days– they’re the blogs that are talking about interesting factoids in whatever primary source they’re looking through for research, or new discoveries in archaeology related to whatever the book is their working on, or mythology– because those are my interests. Mythology, history, etc. I follow other writers to show support, but if all they’re giving me are posts on writing, I’m not reading their blog with any kind of frequency. I kind of feel bad about it, but at the same time, I already know what they’re talking about. I’m going through it myself and sometimes I don’t want to rehash my frustrations through someone else’s point of view! I want to LEARN things and discover! Now, an occasional post on a writing related topic? Sure thing. Go for it. But my biggest problem now is finding those people who share the interests that I’m interested in and bringing them to my blog. I know how to find writers– that’s probably the easiest thing ever. I don’t know how to find people who love mythology as much as I do who are not writers! It’s something I have to work on a bit harder!
Twitter is useful. Use hashtags. Also, writers have a lot of interests, and they have friends who are not writers. This is why I created the #MyWANA twibe. Writers have more than one dimension and we have networks that are just as unique as we are. Just blog on what you are passionate about and plug in. Create a dialogue and the readers will come :D.
I love it / hate in when posts I read start me thinking. Grrrrr! you Kristen. 🙂
Last night I read through a few of the comments, then went back to my Kindle reader and continued to read WANA in order to stop my thinking with little direction and pick up on ideas of what I may be getting myself into. Needless to say, it started me thinking in general terms like yes, I should be writing about other things besides yet another blog on writing – though that’s the general direction I was contemplating heading in.
The same sort of thing happened to me with the motivational blog I was doing. Somewhere I lost my own motivations for it. So now I am thinking more of a general approach to stuff. Add more funny, be less preachy. So your post has me thinking. And I am leaning more toward the liking that.
Hmm, you’ve turned my approach to blogging upside down just as I thought I was getting a handle – but that’s alright, it’s all about learning. Will be following to see what develops
This post changed me. I’ve been leaning toward this for a while. Branching out and including other parts of my life would attract people like me, not just people like me who write. Now I think I know what to do. Thank you.
Totally makes sense. Avoid writing about writing. 🙂
Great post! For a while now, I’ve instinctively followed your advice, simply because I thought there were so many great writing blogs out there already. Sometimes I’ll do a writing post, but I’m more likely to blog about cooking, crafts, our new puppy or travel. I also like doing a Thursday Thirteen meme about random topics of interest.
This is pure gold (as usual), and something I really needed to read, Kristen. Thank you for this.
I’ve heard this before, but this is the first time it’s really made sense to me. It’s nice to know I don’t have to be an expert on writing because I’m definitely not, haha.
Great points! I’m only about six posts into my blog and already realizing that writing about writing isn’t going to be sustainable. Thanks for giving me the nudge to start figuring out a new direction.
Awesome. A lot of food for thought for my blog, as I’m thinking of expanding it to areas other than writing. Book reviews, topics that I’m researching for my stories … yes, thank you.
I’ve always wanted to blog for the reader…but I never knew how to go about it. I want to write fantasy and sci-fi (especially the former), but I actually don’t follow many trends in those areas. At least not novel wise. I’m more of a movie person, which I guess I will blog about movies too.
But where I get stuck (and the reason my blog is at a standstill) is how do I write posts that aren’t too much about ME. I don’t want a blog of just ranting about the things I love and hate. Who would want to read about that? But then again, maybe people do want to read that? I don’t know.
The line between serving yourself and serving others is very thin…
I agree with much of what you say, but I do think that there are specialty blogs to which we go for specific reasons (like writing) and there is a legitimate place for those. I could never confine myself to solely writing about writing.
When I started my blog I was mainly blogging about the Halloween industry and Halloween related topics. Boy, that went over big–yeah, right! Then as I started branching out to other topics (writing among others) my readership began to grow.
Now my blog is an experiment. I try things to see what works and avoid them if they don’t get much reaction. My Blogging from A to Z April Challenge has been a huge hit that has drawn many readers. My obsessive listings of favorite albums in which I exhibit my knowledge of stuff few people listen to see a downward trend.
I try to stick to topics I have fun with and hope will be of interest to others. I don’t shy away from memoir material as it has helped establish a certain image and I think that’s very important. Short posts and questions to elicit comments help.
I won’t say that writing about writing is bad at all if that’s what you want to do and can keep up the momentum. There are certain blogs that I go to for that specific information and would probably get annoyed if they started blogging about wine. But writers who don’t specialize in the how-to field of writing have a whole lot more to write about and blog readers have millions of choice of what to read. There’s room for everything. There will just be some blogs that get less readers than others. If those blog owners are happy with that then good for them.
Tossing It Out
I love this…I think! It’s a bit scary and has me completely second-guessing myself. I have two blogs – one about just life etc and the other specific to my writing journey (uh-oh!) Should I close the writing one down and combine the two? My writing one is not so much tips on writing (I am no expert!) but more about my experience and thoughts on the whole business of writing.
Now I am confused – but also, so glad I read this post 🙂 Thank you!
I have the same thing. In fact, I at one point had three blogs- homeschooling, life in the country, and writing! That was crazy to keep up with, but I wasn’t sure how to combine them. I’m thinking just to go back to having them all on one blog now.
Thanks so much for this post, Kristen. I’d been wondering if I should be blogging more about writing and less about books (I’m an Indie bookseller as well as a writer) since everyone I follow seems to do that. But at work I’m considered an expert in Children’s Lit, and since talking about books is the most fun for me, that’s what I’m sticking with.
Glad I found this! (And thanks to Barbara Watson for the link to your blog)
Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this on Twitter today. It is exactly what I needed to read. I’ve been feeling like writing about writing is not enough. The direction I want to go is percolating…
LoL @ punch the fluffy kitten in the face! Thanks for great incite and advice with writing! @lyfeslyrics
So glad you posted this. I’ve actually had a rough time recently because I’m realizing that my posts about the harvard classics are not achieving much of anything. They maybe account for like 10% of my posts every week.
Know what people read?
The stuff I do in passing.
I’m not joking. It’s not the epic-lance-goal-that-will-revolutionize-his-entire-life-journey crap that they care about. It’s how Felurian and Kvothe’s sex scene in The Wise Man’s Fear shows an irreversible growth in that character. It’s the little spinning deathly hallows pendant that I noticed in part one of the deathly hallows movies. It’s my little 300-word blurb about why Joseph Campbell didn’t believe in the judeo-christian God. I don’t understand it, but it’s like the harvard classic journey I’m on or the “i’mo write 46 poems before I turn 23” epic-tasks fall on dead ears.
Seems shallow to me, but I’m thinking about writing more fluff. Does that make me dirty?
*10% of my hits. sorry.
No, it is called high concept. High concept is 1) universally understood, 2) emotive and 3) the reader takes something away.
So according to your high-concept trifecta, what about this:
1) None of us like being ignorant. Personally I’m curbing my ignorance with the harvard classics.
2) I try to start interacting more on an emotional than intellectual level with the authors I read, even if they’re old, no wait, dead.
3) Each post has a question/dialog about a given topic covered in the post
In that case, could I keep writing about my HVC reading and make it high concept? Or is “universally understood” only slang for “pop culture”?
The same things happen on my blog, too– it’s so hit or miss. The stuff I am usually most excited about gets minimal hits, and the stuff I post off the cuff gets tons of comments and a gazillion retweets. I can’t figure it out at all!
I’m so happy I read this post! I’ve tried to blog just about writing and fail miserably. I usually try to interwine writing with another topic, but sometimes that too can be difficult. What you says makes sense. Now if I can just settle on one subject. I seem to be passionate about many things…maybe that should be my subject: Passions. Would that work? 🙂
I would love to see you elaborate on how kidlit writers (MG and YA) should reach their audiences through blogging! I’m targeting the purchasers, but that could be a lot of people (parents, teachers, librarians) many of which are writers. Just wondering what your take on this would be…
Sacred Cow-Tipping came just in time. I’ve been agonizing over how to set up my blog (I have been blogging for fun for several years to my family and friends about travels and pictures.), but now I have to get “serious” about the writer’s blog with a novel in the wings that might be picked up.
So, how to set up a blog “I could live with” was holding me back. I didn’t want to write about writing when I have so many other interests and I could see right away that would get boring quickly. Your blog has opened a door to new possibilities and I feel a whole lot better. Thanks Kristen.
Thank you! I hereby declare my independence from writing about writing!
(Ahhh, I feel so-o-o-o much better now.)
I follow you because I have really valued what you have been posting. This is no different, another wonderful piece. I actually went back and changed my next scheduled blog post based on the points that you made. Thanks.
I started blogging almost 3 years ago, because I had stuff to say (yeah, it’s a technical term). I still have stuff to say. Mainly about my own struggles with mental health, explorations of the realms of the psyche and the spirit, sharing poetry and short stories, life, work etc. I’ve done a couple of rather tongue in cheek posts about writing, but one of my best read posts of all time starts with the quote from Winston Churchill, If you’re going through hell, keep going.
That’s what I do, keep going. I am assuming that there may be “the other side” of hell one day.
I guess this may be what keeps folks coming back to my blog.
I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
Very interesting POV. I appreciate your breakdown. It definitely gives me ideas to ponder.
I started a writing blog 3 years ago and after a time I got so sick of writing about writing that I started to avoid posting. And so did a lot of my writer friends as well. I tried to par it down to one post a week dedicated to my writing experiences – and the rest was whatever caught my fancy.
Writing about writing has become a crutch for me, because it’s so easy to do that in a pinch that’s what ends up being posted. I am currently weening myself off this problem, and this post smacked it home. Thanks for posting this. You may have saved thousands from reading many more unnecessary blog posts about writing!
Once in awhile I blog about writing. When I do, it’s on the blog on my author website. But I was a blogger with a small following long before I became a published author and I still get the better hits and followers there…where I don’t talk about writing except to whine about I personally am going through. It’s a personal blog and I talk about a lot of stuff. People expect to get to know me better by reading it. Even when I’m blogging about peppermints like I did at Christmas. 😉
Writers can blog about writing. What I advise against is starting a “writing blog.” That’s when you paint the muse into a corner because you have boxed yourself into a certain type of content ;).
Thanks for the tips. I’ve been blogging for over two years. My blog would probably much more popular if I’d had your aim in the beginning. I blog about writing, but rarely writing advice. But I also blog about teaching issues, and my general life. It’s more of a connection blog than a platform.
This is fantastic Kristen! I have been studying your book ‘We are not alone’ in the evenings after ther kids are in bed. And I have written about 35 blog entries, in preparation for kicking off my blog sooon. But they are all angled towards ‘what I’ve learned so far about writing’! So talk about timely advice!! This changes the way I think about it, and as a matter of fact it takes a lot of the pressure off. So thank you 🙂
I watched a NIgella Lawson show last night and was just thinking that what sets her and Jamie Oliver apart is that they’re openly passionate about what they love the most. So this post and all the great responses fit in with this line of thought. It’s about connecting with others with our genuine enthusiasm!
Whew! I found this post through Meghan Ward’s Writerland, and I’m glad I did! I’m starting to freelance and so am starting a blog as well. I wasn’t really looking forward to writing about writing exclusively, and had developed an idea along the lines of what you talk about here. I was nervous about it, but this has given me encouragement and a fair bit of relief. Thanks!
Actually the thing is, when it comes to blogging, we have limitless possibilities.Everything that is mentioned here makes sense and is what I had wanted to do initially. People usually try things to see what works and avoid them if they don’t get much reaction.I think the simplest thing of all is this advice : “Blog about whatever excites you and about whatever you could perfectly do.”
I loved reading this post the first time, and it was a good reminder the second time!
The link for Roni Loren’s page is set up for Jenny Hansen’s LinkedIn post
I’ve tried to diversify my blog–I include personal posts, I talk about the publishing industry (and have a guest blog series call “So, You Want to Work In Publishing”), and I do some book reviews/recommendations. I don’t talk so much about the practice of writing, but I do blog a lot about submitting writing to publications, agents, and editors. It might not be a writing blog, but after reading your post I do see that it’s predominantly of interest to a narrow writer audience.
I have a decent amount of followers and am really enjoying the community of writer’s I’ve developed blogging friendships with. Exchanging ideas with them is really helping me grow as a writer.
But I am worried a bit, now. I have a non-fiction history book about Byberry State Hospital forthcoming from Arcadia Publishing. I don’t want to stop my “writing blog,” and I really don’t want to start another blog from scratch–it would be great to grow my current audience–but I do want to expand my audience/promotion for my new book. Would you recommend diversifying my blog even more? I don’t have enough time to work full time, maintain two blogs, AND actually finish writing the book too. Help!
You don’t need two blogs. Just blog one day about writing stuff and another day about other stuff. The fabric of our reality will not rip if you talk about more than one thing, LOL. That is why it is critical to build blog under our NAME.
I recommend you read my follow-up post to Sacred Cow-Tipping…More Sacred Cow-Tipping. Clever, right?
Interesting and provocative. Problem 1: I don’t like to cook. Problem 2: How many blogs about cooking can one person who likes cooking possibly read? If the aim is not to be in competition with a lot of other people, the advice to write about what everyone else is writing about seems counterproductive.
I can see that trying to connect with other writers is not helpful in building a base of potential readers. The problem is that my potential readers may not share my interests. And why should people who do share my interests – which tend to be rather arcane and intellectual – necessarily want to read my books – which are fantasy? Also, since my interests are not exactly mainstream, I would not expect to be able build a very large readership based on them.
My blog is only a couple of months old and has yet to attract any significant interest. It’s tagline is, “Writing about writing and the English language.” I picked that topic because I felt I could keep writing about it for a long time; writing is a passion for me. The other things that get me passionate are mostly all the things that are wrong with the world, but these tend to be too controversial – not safe subjects. Besides, the chief reason why people read fantasy (and why I write it) is to escape from all that. So should I even keep on blogging? Give me a good reason why blogging should work for me.
A little late to the party, I know, but what a great post. It’s given me a lot to think about. My blog is still fairly new, and yes, I did start it to publicise my novel, but that became old pretty fast and I’ve been wondering what to blog about now.
I still don’t know what to blog about but you’ve set me thinking, and that can only be a good thing. So, thank you, Kirsten, and you have another subscriber.
Reblogged this on amberdover and commented:
Happy Hear the Writer Roar! Tuesday. Yes I am writing about writing lol but it’s only on Tuesdays & on Tuesday I want to help my fellow writers 😉 But it seems like writing about writing all the time is not healthy for our blogs. Mrs. Lamb has some great points as usual. I hope you enjoy this reblog. God bless & remember The High King Lives! ~Amber D.
Thanks this was very informative. I just post my Sci-Fi or Fantasy writing on my blog. I think I’m going to change it up and only post the first chapter or so otherwise why would anyone buy anything I publish if you can read it all for free on my blogsite?
Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.
Thanks for the advice Kristen. My blog has an identity crisis. Lately I have avoided writing because I don’t know what to post on my blog. Should have stuck with topics like bird-watching to begin with! As an aspiring fiction writer it’s hard for me to “blog a book” the way a nonfiction writer can.
Absolutely phenomenal list! I am a new blogger, so I will definitely incorporate all of these tips into my work! Thank you greatly!
Writing a blog about writing. . . push THAT sacred cow in the ditch. Write a blog about what you love, an adventure, or a slice of life. Thanks, Kristen, for bringing this cow in from the pasture.
i got your point in this.
blogging about writing needs strong foundations….for a single change of idea will ruin the whole concept of it..
so when you decided to make a blog..then follow your heart, your passion..because from that you can expand your idea, connect to your readers and achieve your goal..
thanks for that informative blog..
a well-explained one…
how to write a book
I blog on Fridays And after reading We Are Not Alone, I have decided on this monthly schedule.
Week 1–Blog about fantasy genre
Week 2–Review of public domain fantasy novel
Week 3–Blog about topic related to my novel
Week 4–Flash fiction
Week 5–Monthly contest–when there is a 5th Friday
Thanks to Kristen’s advice, I tweet under my own name now.
Rachel, I am so happy that you are tweeting under your name and that you have a plan, but this is still blogging about fiction and 1) it will likely burn you out 2) it likely will never go viral due to the nature of the content, and 3) it is going to be super tough to maintain long-term. I HIGHLY recommend my blogging class, even if you just take the Basic level. The way I teach you helps use your creativity and also connect to larger numbers. It is easy to burn out if we aren’t getting any traction.
Guilty, but I am repenting.
I’m glad I found this article. I feel free now! I just started my blog, and it’s all about writing, but I’ll just write about whatever I’m interested in.
So would you consider my blog listed below a writing blog? Or a blog about writing?
Loved this post! Thank you.
I found this blog post very interesting. I recently started blogging (about writing), and I was wondering if you could give me some feedback and criticism on some of my posts. My blog is: alexredwing.blogspot.com . I would truly appreciate the advice. Thank you!
Great advice. I have actually written about dryer lint.
p.s. The link to your book, “We are not alone,” doesn’t work.
This is an old post and that book is no longer for sale. An updated version, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World has the WANA 2.0 plan in it and you can get it here… http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Machines-Human-Authors-Digital-ebook/dp/B00DP7II4A/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top