How to Blog Part III: What Should You Blog About?

When I teach blogging, the most frequent question I get is “What do I blog about?” (For info on what not to blog about, see Part II of this series: How Not to Blog )

A writer starting a blog right now faces two problems:

1)     There are already, like, a trillion writers out there lecturing the blogosphere about how to write vivid characters, prop up saggy middles and avoid adverbs. A lot of them probably know more than you.

2)     If you’re a writer with books to sell, you want to reach a general audience, not just other writers selling books.

So how can you be different? How do you create a blog that somebody will read—somebody besides your stalky ex-boyfriend and your mom?

The most important thing to remember with any kind of blog is you need to offer something. It should be fresh, informative, and/or entertaining.

How you approach your new blog is going to depend a whole lot on your stage in the publishing process and your immediate goals.

Stage #1: You’re a developing writer.

You’re working on your first or second novel, and maybe have a few stories in literary journals or a couple of contest wins. You want to be a published author sometime soon, but you’re not quite ready to focus on  writing as a career.


You want to make friends in the writing community for career help and mutual support. You want to learn the best writing techniques, network with publishing professionals, and educate yourself about the business.

Stage #2: You’re ready for the marketplace.

You’re querying agents and ready to publish. You’ve got a couple of books polished and ready to go. You’ve been to writing conferences, taken classes, and maybe hired a freelance editor. Your writing is at a professional level.


You want to get your name out there to the general public. When you query an agent or ask for a blurb or review, you want a Google search to bring up ten pages of listings about you.

Stage #3: You’re a published author

Your agent/marketing dept. says, “Get thee to the blogosphere!”

Or you realize the brilliantly blurbed oeuvre you’ve self-published is sitting there on Amazon with only two sales in three months (both to your spouse) because nobody has heard of it—or you.


If you’re in stage #1, it’s OK to blog about writing. (I know social media guru/Jedi Master Kristen Lamb says you shouldn’t do this but I think her caveat is aimed more at people at stage #2 and #3.)

I’m not talking about lecturing on craft as if you’re a pro when you’re not. But an equal-to-equal post about something interesting you’ve discovered about pantsing vs.outlining, writing the dreaded synopsis, or what agents are looking for this month is just fine when you’re reaching out to other writers.

Why do you want to reach other writers? Because writers help each other. (We’re kind of a nice bunch, in spite of our stereotyping as depressed substance abusers.) I know a number of authors who got their agents through a referral from a fellow blogger. I found both my publishers through blogging. I’m not sure I would have made it through the darkest rejection phases if it hadn’t been for the support of writer blogfriends.

When you have a writing blog, you get to participate in blog hops, flash fiction days, contests and all kinds of networking events that help you meet people who can be important in your future career.

But do make sure the blog has something interesting going for it—something that’s helpful. There are all sorts of ways you can help:

If you’re a stage #2 writer, you should heed Kristen’s advice. If you’re starting a blog right now with the goal of building platform, writing is definitely not the best choice of subject matter. You’ve got a trillion competitors and you’re limiting your audience.

So try something that’s related to your writing but has a unique slant. Here are a few suggestions:

If you’ve reached Stage #3, you can be more eclectic. People will be coming to your blog because they want to get to know you and find out about your books—so focusing on one subject isn’t as important. The blog becomes a place to showcase who you are. Think if it as your own version of Oprah magazine: not a place to toot your own horn as much as share things of interest to you that will also be of value to your readers. So you can continue whatever you've been doing in Stage #2, plus add stuff about you and your books.

Yes, you can talk about your books. I think people are silly who say you shouldn’t use your blog for self-promotion. That’s why you’re in the blogosphere in the first place. It’s fine as long as you don’t use hard-sell tactics and you don’t project an attitude of “I’m an author and you’re not.”

Each type of blog can evolve into another as your goals change. 

A few tips for the new blogger:

More blog advice in my blogpost How To Blog: A Beginner’s Guide for Authors.

What about you, scriveners? Do you have a blog? Does it suit your stage of writing? Are you going to be able to give up those six semi-neglected blogs and concentrate on one great one? What advice would you give a new blogger? 

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