books with Athena

books with Athena

Sunday, February 5, 2012

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.

Your goal: LEARNING THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS AND NETWORKING.

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.

Your goal: BUILDING PLATFORM

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.

Your goal: FINDING AND CONNECTING WITH READERS

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:

  • Author interviews
  • Profiles of small publishers or agents who are interested in your genre (take them from websites—you don’t have to bother the agents and editors)
  • Info on contests, giveaways and blog hops
  • Links to great articles and posts in your genre or field of interest.
  • Book reviews. If you write thoughtful, useful reviews, you’ll immediately become everybody’s best friend.
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:

  • Focus on your genre or subgenre (unless you’re still experimenting with different genres.) You can discuss movies, videogames, TV shows, even jewelry and costumes—as long as they relate to your niche. A great example is SciFi writer Alex J. Cavanaugh’s super-popular blog that specializes in all things SciFi.

  • Blog about your home town or state, especially if they’re the setting of your novels. Travel sites that link to local landmarks and Chamber of Commerce will help you make friends locally that can be a big help later on.

  • Choose a writing-related subject that has a broader audience. A brand new general-interest writing blog is The Wordmonger, where YA writer C.S Perryess gives a fun, in-depth study of the etymology of one word per week. I learn something with every post.

  • Offer links to important information. If you’re writing a memoir or fiction about certain health issues, promote organizations that help with those issues. Link to support groups and they might even link back.

  • Provide people with the benefit of your research. If you’re writing historical fiction about a certain time period—post the research on your blog. (This is doubly useful because it will help keep you from cramming it all into the novel at the expense of story.) Have to research guns for a thriller? Poisons for a cozy? Are you basing the story on a real case? There are people who would love to read about this stuff.

  • Appeal to another Internet community. If that historical novel is based on a real person or your own family history, you could target readers from the genealogy blogosphere and links to historical research sites. If your heroine loves to fish, sew, or collect stuff, connect with blogs for fly fisherpersons, quilters, or collectors of floaty pens.

  • Provide a forum for people in your target demographic. If you write for a particular group—single urban women, Boomers, stay-at-home moms, or the just-out-of-college dazed and confused—focus on aspects of life of special interest to them.

  • Offer recipes or how-tos. Have a character who’s an expert at something? Give readers the benefit of his expertise in the woodshop, garden or kitchen. Have some great recipes that relate to your character, time period, or region? Write about the food in your books, or food in fiction generally.

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:

  • Make a list of topics you might like to explore before you begin, so you have a running start. If you visit other blogs regularly (and you should) you may find yourself making long comments on some subject that gets your hackles up/juices flowing. That’s the stuff you should be putting in your own blog.

  • I STRONGLY advise against having more than one blog. It saps your energy and fragments your audience. (It also annoys the hell out of them: I hate hitting somebody’s profile and finding six blogs. Unless one is clearly marked “author” I don’t even try to wade through them: you’ve lost me.) Blogs have many pages. Use them.

  • Put your own name in the blog title! Yes, I'm saying it again: your name is your brand. And also, you’ll find it easier to transition from Stage #1 to #2 and #3. Subtitles are easy to change. Titles, not so much. “Susie Scrivener’s Blog” can go from “writing and ranting” to “Floaty Pen Collecting” if Susie decides to change the blog’s focus. But “Floaty Pen Central” can’t be changed to “Susie Scrivener’s Amazing Books” without a lot of confusion. And you want to keep the same blog. The longer a blog exists, the higher it ranks with the Google spiders. (Thanks Camille LeGuire for cluing me in on the importance of longevity in SEO.)

  • Write an inviting “About Me” page with clear contact information. I’m amazed at bloggers who don’t even post their names or contact information. The whole purpose of blogging is to let people know who you are and how to find you! (And don’t just post your resume. Be informal and friendly.)

  • Don’t succumb to pressure to blog more than three times a week. Posting once a week on a regularly scheduled day is better than posting often but erratically. Allow yourself time to write your books. Remember you’re in this for the long haul. Quality over quantity. Slow blogging works. 

  • Be friendly. The way to build an audience, no matter where you are in your writing career, is to be likable and helpful. You don’t have to be chirpy. Just don’t project a phony or selfish tone. Kristen Lamb has a great post this week on how to be liked in the blogosphere

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? 

VALENTINE BLOG HOP:  Here's our Valentine blog hop page: All you have to do is send your email address to annerallen dot allen at gmail dot com, or leave it in the comments here, and you'll be entered to win two books from Ruth and me, as well as a $75 gift certificate or a diamond necklace AND you'll be eligible for the drawing next June for a signed, first edition of Catherine Ryan Hyde's iconic novel, Pay it Forward. For more info, click the pink box in the sidebar.

INDIE CHICKS: This week's inspirational story is from Dani Amore. She tells us why it's important to write what you love to read. Read it over on our Indie Chicks Page.

70 comments:

  1. Great suggestions Anne. I write a number of columns for online mags and news,and write about such different subjects on a daily/weekly basis. Figuring out how to gear my blog to coincide with my major book projects has been difficult. These ideas are very helpful.

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  2. I agree, these are great suggestions. And you're right, when I was struggling in the beginning we were all writing about writing. Now I'm published, I'm finding it harder and harder to talk about stuff that will appeal to a wider audience. I have a few ideas though.

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  3. These are great suggestions. I try to follow most of them but I'm always looking for new advice on how to reach a bigger audience.

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  4. That's great advice, and perfect timing. I'm in-between stage 2 and 3 - around about 2 and a quarter - and I'm starting to wonder where my blog is heading. I really enjoy writing it, but I know I need to stop myself from just writing the same post over and over.

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  5. I'm sorta stuck in the 2/3 category. I have a couple short stories published, and working on more, but I'm also still querying out a women's fiction trilogy (well, just book one right now). And still polishing up a couple other novella's.

    But I haven't settled on ONE genre for writing. I think that's why I like short stories; the writer is allowed to be more eclectic.

    These are excellent blogging tips Anne; thanks for sharing them :)

    ......dhole

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  6. Wow, I was thinking I am way out there with my topics and then - there's my name!!!
    Excellent list of suggestions. I know I struggled in the beginning. I'd just signed my contract and had no idea what I needed to blog about. Sometimes our passions can lead us in the right direction.

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  7. I wish I had read this post a year ago. It took me awhile to get the hang of blogging, but ultimately I wound up doing just as you suggested. I have several published books, but I still want to entertain my readers. As an archaeologist and a mystery writer, I did what came naturally - I started blogging about mummies who blog - a serialized horror blog. Give a chance at

    www.themummiesofblogspace9.com

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  8. Awesome post Ann! As a weird cross between position One and Three, this is helpful. THough, as I'm relatively young and absent-minded, I like to blog about more than writing - I do pictures, fun videos and rants about non-writerly stuff, as well as some fun posts about aspects of writing.

    Going to start on the "Look! Come buy my book!" posts soon though ... but I'm going to try and make them fun and engaging, not boring. Getting very excited about the prospect of setting up a Page about buying my books too .... gosh I sound so immature, haha!

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  9. You want readers? You want attention?
    Write about sex.

    No kidding.

    Maybe only half kidding.

    LOL

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  10. Thanks for doing this. It has been most helpful. I think I've decided what I am going to do with the blog I started a while ago. I call it Short stories & stuff and I think I will for starters start posting flash fiction with a picture. I will do this once a week and will see where we go from there.
    Thanks again.
    I also like Ruth's suggestion. It has potentional-maybe.

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  11. Great points. I've change my blog title a few times now - but I'm still in the beginning stages. I have finally settled on a name (whew!).

    Topics are a tough bit. I've been blogging for two years now and I'm still in the newbie stages. One thing that helped me was creating a "series".

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  12. @Ruth -- Funnily enough as a romance writer, every time I put the word "sex" in my post title, I get more hits on that post than any other. Works like a charm.

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  13. Thanks for such an invaluable article. Incisive, focused, and as good as any how-to advice I've ever read.

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  14. The 1-2-3 is a great blueprint. As a stage 1-er, I'm still eating up all the great writing ed. that's out there in the blogosphere. I'm grateful for the density of info.

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  15. Hi Anne, this is a great continuation of your first two posts on blogging, which I used as a guide to get started. I've wanted to come back and say "thank you!" ever since. My best and please keep up the good work!

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  17. Yet another excellent bundle of advice. Now to digest it with my hot chocolate... mmmm....

    So I'm most definitely in stage one though my blogs a lot more like the stage 2/3 blog. I just started using the pages feature with an About Me page. I should probably go add some contact information to it though!

    I like the slow blog approach and couldn't imagine doing it more than once a week. Some weeks I scramble for a topic, but somehow they manage to come. I'm actually about one blog ahead right now. *grin*

    But the naming thing is hard. In fact that's one of the posts I've written. This past year I've been commenting as Cathryn Leigh, but I'm thinking I might want to keep Elorithryn for the internet, even if it isn't the name I publish under... does that make any sense at all? as I said I've got a blog post I'm working on about all that confusion. *le sigh* *giggles*

    :} Cathryn Leigh

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  19. Great advice! I started a blog as a stage 2 writer, and now I wish I had used my real name. I think I do best when I write about real life and topics that interest me. Maybe I'd get more traffic if I narrowed my focus further, but I don't want the blog to feel like a chore. Variety keeps me motivated.
    The blogosphere is SO over crowded with writers holding forth about writing/craft/process and while there's a lot of good stuff out there, much of it is self indulgent drivel. i.e. Boring.

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  20. Well said, Anne. I am a stage one writer. I have learned so much from people such as you and Kristen Lamb that I understand how important it is to build an audience and to build it early.

    If we only blog about "writing craft" we may find ourselves with a published book but no established audience!

    As a stage one writer, this has taught me to build readers for future books as I build relationships with fellow writers.

    The approach I am taking is: I blog about the types of topics that will appear in my stories while sharing link love at the end of each post to promote writers I also enjoy.

    Thought provoking post, Anne!

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  21. Everybody—I wrote nice long comments to you all yesterday, but they all seem to have disappeared. So—it doesn’t just happen to commenters. Something weird was going on with my McAfee program and maybe it thought I was spamming my own site. I’ll try again in a few batches here—

    Catherine—Your non-fic articles might very well make great blogposts a few months after you’ve posted them to other sites, if they don’t ask for exclusive rights.

    Anne—I think you’re doing a good job of transitioning your blog. Interviews and reviews are a great way to do that. But hmmm. Maybe I need more "sexy" titles over here.

    Susan—I guess we all are. The trick is to be eclectic, but keep with a general theme.

    Annalisa—Nothing wrong with recycling old post topics if you’re still getting readers. (At least I blog about blogging a lot, and people seem to come back :-))

    Donna—I’m glad you brought up short stories. People who don’t want to get stuck in one genre should be looking at short stories these days. E books have brought a short story renaissance

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  22. Alex—You jumped in when you were already at stage #3, and you did a fantastic job.

    WmDoonan—I warn against putting fiction on blogs, but when you’re at stage #3, it’s OK, as long as it’s not stuff you intend to put in a book. Fans love that. And blogging mummies aren’t flooding the Interwebz these days, so I think that counts as "fresh."

    Charley—I think the most important thing in a writer blog is that element of fun. You do a great job with that.

    Ruth—LOL

    Vera—I’m glad you’re going to get back to your blog. You might want to connect with other flash fiction people and participate in stuff like “flash fiction Fridays” and use that for networking.

    Southpaw—Remember what Kristen Lamb keeps telling us: “your name is your brand.” As long as it relates to you as a professional writer, almost anything works.

    Tom—Thanks. That’s a great endorsement.

    Leslie—Glad it helps. Stage #1 is the most fun part, IMO.

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  23. Definitely something was screwy with the spam blocker yesterday. I see two spammers got through, but I didn't. Luckily things seem to be OK now.

    C J—Thanks a bunch! That’s the kind of thing that keeps us blogging. So glad to know I’ve been helpful to you!

    Cathyrn—I strongly urge you to use your real name for everything. Otherwise, you’re wasting time. Kristen Lamb talks about this at length in her books on social media like We Are Not Alone. Seriously worth checking out. I have seen Eloirythn, but I didn’t know that was you. So you’re advertising a “brand” that doesn’t exist.

    Mari—It’s not that hard to change a blog name. Just put your name in front of it “Mari Passanti’s Writing and Ranting” or whatever. That way every time you post, Google will pick it up under your name. A very big plus. You’re right about the endless “craft” blogs. Everybody sharing their college creative writing notes isn’t exactly fresh. Variety is great when you put your own spin on the topics.

    Christy—Sharing link love is a great way to network. You make a lot of friends that way. And you do get the equivalent of a college course in creative writing when you read blogs. Agent blogs can be especially helpful at stage #1.

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  24. As always great advice Anne.

    I wrote a post about writing, namely in YA field, and thankfully decided to sleep on it.

    I think writers, especially unpublished writers, need to remember that their blog is their professional face. And hypocritical or not, you have to bear it in mind when you review or decide to write an opinion field.

    (i.e. will this bite me in the arse later in my life!)

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  25. Great advice, Anne. I've gone through all these stages in the last three years, lol. In fact, last week I made the difficult decision to stop blogging at Fiction Groupie and move all my blogging to my author blog. I've been running FicGroupie for three years and the author one for a year. Running two was getting way too cumbersome, but I was having a hard time letting go of that shiny follower number at Fiction Groupie. But I wanted my blogging on my own domain long term, not Blogger.

    So now I've taken the leap and am broadening my topics (stage 3). I'm still writing about writing one day a week and doing my links roundup on Fridays, but the rest of the days I can be more flexible. Feels like a breath of fresh air. :)

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  26. Emily--Really important advice: a blog has to be professional, even if you're still an amateur. What you blog now will outlive your current stage of writing, so think carefully before you hit "publish." I doubt your YA post was anything to be ashamed of though. You've been blogging a long time.

    Roni--Fiction Groupie was one of the first blogs I ever followed! Now that you're a publishing author, I guess it's run its course. You're certainly not a "groupie" any more. But I can see how it was hard to let it go. I didn't know how you were going to keep up both those blogs, so for your sake, I'm glad you made the decision. Your blog posts on the different types of blogs helped inspire this one. I've learned a lot from you.

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  27. Lots of good advice. I had multiple blogs and now I'm primarily writing at one (once I settled into which one I'd be passionate about). This is a good reminder to go pack those others into the attic instead of leaving them out to clutter the place up!

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  28. I continue to resist the blogging thing! I just cant imagine being able to come up with anything original enough...or smart enough to attract readers. I do so appreciate your wisdom and encouragement, though. And you sure have figured it out!

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  29. Wendy--I'm glad to hear you're kicking the multiple blog habit. Doesn't life seem a little lighter? Yes--I strongly suggest deleting them. Save the good stuff from the old ones and post it on the blog you're passionate about.

    Christine--Yeah, we're going to drag you into the blogosphere kicking and screaming. I'd love to read a bookseller's blog.

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  30. Wow Anne, what a gift you just gave me and it's not even my birthday. I will have to read this post a few times in order to absorb all you've offered. I've been blogging almost three years but still can use so many of the tips you listed for new bloggers.
    Many many thanks!

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  31. P.S. Please enter me in the very generous giveaway
    opies99@gmail.com

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  32. A fantastic post! I am bookmarking this and working on all your suggestions. I also nominated you at my blog for the Versatile Blogger Award.

    www.suzannepurvis.blogspot.com

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  33. Donna, you made my day! Thanks much. And you're now entered for all the prizes.

    Suzanne--I'm glad the suggestions are helping. And thanks a bunch for the award. I'm on my way over there now.

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  34. Anne, just a general comment to say how much I have enjoyed this article and more; I have so much to read, having just happened upon your site! I will spend some time catching up on all these wonderful posts and then, hopefully keep up with future ones.
    I am a developing writer working on my second novel; I have published the first on Kindle and am looking for advice - seems I have been lucky to drop by your little goldmine of info!
    Many thanks

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  35. Wendy, I'm so glad you "happened" by! A lot of this info--plus a whole lot more will be in the book I'm writing with Catherine Ryan Hyde "How to be a Writer in the E-Age...and keep your e-sanity!" Coming in June.

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  36. I enjoyed reading about the three stages a writer/blogger goes through. I think I know where I'm at now and its always good to know where to go.

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  37. Wow. I love your advice! I'm so thankful to Kristen Lamb for linking me over here, now.

    I have a blog and am definitely in stage 1 of this process. I even made it clear I was in stage 1 as soon as I began blogging. But slow blogging...thank you so very, very much for turning me on to that concept. Blogging is overwhelming for me and I am definitely a random blogger. I'm there, then I'm not. It's vastly annoying, both for me and my readers.

    I think I can manage 1 a week, though. I'm going to tentatively name Saturday as my posting day and see how it goes. Thanks so much for this. I was afraid I'd start dwindling as a blogger into nothing, but you gave me something to think about. Now if only I could make it work...

    Have a great day, thanks again, and happy writing!

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  38. Passed an award on to you. Pop over to my blog to check it out! Congrats!!!

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  39. Loved the three stage concept of writerly blogs :)

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  40. This is excellent advice, Anne. I tweeted it and will print it out for my students since we're covering blogging this week. I LOVE that you divided this into three stages. Samuel Park is one author who blogged only about writing and publishing until his book came out, then he broadened his blog to write about other topics. And I wholeheartedly agree that you should use your name in your blog title (Thus, I've changed mine from "Writerland" to "Meghan Ward's Writerland.")

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  41. This is wonderful advice. Thank you so much. I'll be back. : )

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  42. Found your blog linked from Kristen Lambs. Great post!

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  43. Nicole and Evanne—It’s so important to see our writing careers as a continuum, and understand that what’s good advice for a publishing author isn’t useful for a newbie just learning her craft and vice versa.

    Rebecca—Thanks! I’ll go check it out.

    Robena and Stephsco--Welcome!

    Meghan—How fantastic you can use this in your social media class! Thanks. I think actually Samuel made that transition too drastically, because he deleted his blog and started another one that’s hard to find. That way he lost a lot of readers who were interested in him as a person, not just his writing tips, and might have bought his book. I think it’s better to add than take away, so I would have advised him to keep on blogging writing tips once a month or whatever (after all, he’s a creative writing professor) and then he could have added the Korean history and book tour stories. Just my opinion. But I miss him a lot in the writing blogosphere.

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  44. Kyla--Your comment just appeared in the middle there. Blogger has its quirky ways...I'm SO glad you've joined the slow bloggers. Slow, regular blogging really works for me. I have stats as high as some well-known, twice-a-day bloggers. Thoughtful content and consistency pays off. And you have time left to focus on what it's all about--your creative writing.

    Saturday and Sunday are traditionally considered the slowest blog days. But I have a weekend blog that works great for me. Less competition. :-)Good luck with your blog!

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  45. This advice makes sense, but I'm not sure how to apply it to my blog. I have publishe quite a bit of religious nonfiction, but I'm well shy of the #3 stage in fiction--perhaps on the shy side of #2. (*close* to querying, but overbooked by kids and NF projects, so moving slowly.) I blog pretty eclectically on topics of family, faith and disability, sharing and reflecting on events from daily life with small children. Blog following is growing slowly--but growing. I can't help feeling like I'm doing it "wrong." And yet whenever I contemplate doing something other than what I do, I can't begin to fathom how; it's too much a part of who I am and what I do. Thoughts?

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  46. Great post as always, Anne. I'm constantly trying to come up with topics for my blog posts and you've given me some good ideas. Thanks!

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  47. Kathleen--From what you say, it sounds as if you're doing fine. Blogs do grow slowly. And what you blog about has to be fun and come naturally.

    But I just tried to look at your site and got a McAfee warning that the site is "unsafe" so you may have a link to a bad site, or a virus has infected it. That happened to me once and it was somebody on my blogroll, so I deleted the blogroll and things got back to normal. Good luck.

    Patricia--So glad if I've sparked some good ideas!

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  48. Hmmm....that's very strange. I'll have to call in the big guns to figure that one out...thanks for the heads-up.

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  49. Thank you for this helpful and informative post, Anne.
    And on the topic of blogging, I'd like to inform you that I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Good luck.
    Leanne
    http://sweatercursed.blogspot.com
    (Yes, I am regretting that I didn't heed your advice about self naming my blog.)

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  50. What a great and comprehensive post on the topic of blogging.

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  51. Kathleen--Sometimes it can just be somebody who backlinked to you has a virus. I hope it gets fixed or goes away soon.

    Leanne--It's easy to change the title. You can still use the same address, but call it "Leanne Dyck's Books", or whatever. Thanks for the award!

    Lynda--I'm glad you found it helpful.

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  52. This was a wonderfully reassuring article since I blather on about my life and writing and what I'm working on now all the time. I think Ruth made a valid point about sex selling. :)

    For me, nothing comes close to a new release for spiking traffic.

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  53. I've always had an uneasy relationship with my blog. But, it evolves as I evolve as a writer. I use it as a creative outlet (more #3, than #1 or #2) even though my books have yet to be published. It feels right that way. But, I will put my name in the headline and give better contact info. Thanks for this post.

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  54. Great information, Anne. I liked the ideas you have. I'm in the middle stages and have been blogging more in the last year as I try to do the platform building part.

    I've joined a couple of blogfests, but some are better than others. All blogfest hosts should maintain their lists like Alex Cavanaugh and Arlee at Tossing it Out seem to do.

    My best tip: do your research when selecting blogs to follow, read a few posts to see if that blogger's voice appeals to you or if they have quality content.

    Am following you now, Anne. I like your take on a lot of things.

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  55. Jennifer--A lot of people forget that contact info, but it's important. It's OK to use the blog as a "creative outlet" as long as you're not posting stuff you hope to publish later, because you're infringing on your own copyright and the rights won't be saleable in the same way.

    DG--I'm so glad you're following! Alex and Arlee do have well-planned blog hops. But I agree that visiting too many blogs just burns us out. I try to limit my blogging to a few days a week.

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  56. *applause* Anne, fabulous post! Once in a while, I come across a post that makes me go, "Hmm..." This is one. Before linking to your post from Kristen's, I was clueless. Thank you. :)

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  57. Candy--Thanks much for the kudos. I'm so glad I could help. And thanks to Kristen for sending me some great new followers!

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  58. I came to tweet this terrif post and discovered a Valentine's Day blog hop as a bonus :). Please enter me--cheryl at cherylreifsnyder dot com. I also followed book luvin' babes & liked on FB!!

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  59. Anne--this is wonderful! I'm still in stage one and you are spot on all the good reasons to blog and some of the topics to try. I'm still amazed and how you've shot through the stages in the time I've known you. I have two of your books in my Kindle library. Can't wait to get to them!

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  60. Cheryl--thanks so much for entering. You didn't win the Val Blog hop, but you're still in the running for the signed first edition of Pay it Forward. Welcome!

    Nina--I'm glad you enjoyed it. We all start with those writerly blogs and then learn that's probably not going to help us stand out from the pack. Things have happened fairly fast, but I'm one of those "overnight sensations" whose "night" lasted 20 years. I'd already been a columnist for a writing magazine, as well as having two books already published. They were out of print, so I had to start back at square one, but that did give me a little bit of a running start. & I know how hard it is to get to all those TBR books on the old Kindle!

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  61. Anne, I always enjoy your blogs, but this one really sums up a major conundrum that I've always had. It makes so much sense to differentiate between stages of one's writing career -- don't know why I never thought about that! These are all great tips, many of which I will try to use in the months to come.

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  62. Lena--I think this is a problem with much of the advice writers get. We're told we must do this amazing amount of stuff, some of which is contradictory. Instead we need to see our careers as a continuum, where you do one thing at one stage and something quite different at another.

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  63. I was referred to this blog by Romance University. What great advice! Thank you so much. Your blog is both thoughtful and entertaining. It's given me a lot to chew over.

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  64. Melinda--Thanks for stopping by. I hope it helps you have fun with your blogging. RU is fantastic, isn't it?

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  65. Thanks for your perspective. I'm about to launch my first mystery novel/launch my web site and you've provided a lot of food for thought. I do have one bone to pick with you.... there are so many interesting links in every one of your posts, I keep getting lost :) Thanks again.

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  66. Lois--I'm so glad my posts are helping. If you'd rather have some of this info in one place, I do have a book called How to be a Writer in the E-Age that has all this and more--plus lots of great tips from bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde. Only $2.99! OK, end of commercial. Good luck on your new book!

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  67. Anne - I clicked over to this post from a newer one of yours, and I'm so glad I did. I found your description of the 3 stages of a writer's career so helpful. I'm in stage 2, and even though I've read Kristen's book and taken her blogging class, I still have difficulty deciding what to blog about. Your list of suggestions really helped me think about the connection between my platform, my readers and my books. Thank you so much.

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  68. Mary Ann--I'm so glad you found this post. It's time for me to blog on the subject again. It's one of the toughest things for new writers to figure out. We don't want to put out one more writing advice blog. It has to be unique to you and something that will attract the audience you want for your books, but you also want to connect with other professionals who can help your career. Being flexible with your blog is key.

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  69. Hi Anne

    Thanks for the useful post. I am an author and have read that putting multimedia such as a video is good for your blog - what is your view on this - do you think it helps?

    Thanks, N P Postlethwaite

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  70. NP--Hi there! Thanks for making the rounds of our blog. I'm not a fan of video on a blog because it takes a long time to load and you'll lose people with slower Internet connections. It may be okay if your audience is young. But my feeling is: your blog is for showcasing your writing. Why bring people who prefer video to reading? (But I am a Boomer, so younger people may feel differently.)

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