Sunday, September 27, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog

Hi Everyone,

I’m a mystery romance writer. I have had two books published digitally, The Catalyst and Addiction. I have a website at http://www.skaymarshall.com/ and I post blogs at two different sites, http://www.sandramarshallblog.blogspot.com/ on Sunday’s and http://www.royalblushauthors.blogspot.com/ once a month.

Yesterday, I went to my RWA chapter meeting and our program was on blogging. The discussion came up whether to blog or not.. Some said it takes too much time away from their stories, one said she didn’t know what to write and no one will read what I have to say. One author said she was too negative, another said she came across as sarcastic when she was really trying to be funny, or I’m boring. One well-known author even said she goes to her blog every now and then and writes some silly little thing, but she never gets any comments.

Blogging does take some time and effort. I usually write mine in two settings and look it over three times before I post it. All in all I spend about two or three hours on it. There are times when I write it in an hour and post it like I may have to do this week.

I never run out of ideas for a blog. If it happens I have a file full of possible subjects to write about. Seldom have I had to use that list because new thoughts are always popping into my mind. For instance, blogging wasn’t the topic I was going to write about this week, but I felt like this needed to be addressed.

Okay, no one will read what I have to say is a little harder to deal with. We don’t really know if people are going to like or want to read what we write. Duh! Does everyone like what you say to them in person? Does everyone just love your little pea picking heart? Hell no! Can we really allow ourselves to worry about that? Yeah, we want to be liked, but let’s be realistic we can’t bat a hundred on our blogs anymore than we can in our every day life.

I try to write about a variety of topics so most of them are geared to readers and not to writers. Some of the blogs I’ve visited are totally geared to writers and that’s fine, but I’m much more interested in attracting readers. One of the things I’ve found is that readers are not likely to leave comments. They go in and read your blog and leave, but if you have a stat counter in place you’ll be able to see how many people visited you, how long they stayed, where they came from and if they are repeat visitors.

As a blogger you need to know that you should set up a certain day every week that you’ll be posting, and make it an obligation to post on that day. When you can’t make it at that time be sure to explain why. Your readers are forgiving when there is a valid reason.

To the author who writes silly little things and doesn’t get any comments, what do you expect when you don’t post but once in a while and when you do you don’t tell anyone.
You should send a message to your friends and groups to let them know you posted because that’s the only way you’ll gain a following. Also, if you don’t follow up with a response people do quit returning to your site. As for writing silly little things, I don’t agree with your assessment on silly. Your personality shine through on your blog. Smile. Everyone who knows you loves that bubbly person.

In today’s world having a website and a blog is a necessary tool for promoting your self and your books. This blog will show everyone the type of person you are when they read it. Most of the time I’m far too serious, but there are times when I’m silly, too. Some people like the serious side and others don’t, and the same is true with my funny side.

Next, I want to ask writers what is your opinion about blogging. Do you think it is beneficial to your career? READERS, do you like my blogs, topics, etc.?

That’s it for this week. See you next Sunday.

Sandy

28 comments:

KT BISHOP said...

I couldn't agree more. I send out messages to people I can count on to respond. I usually post 2-4 times a month. I hadn't been lately until yesterday because I was busy submitting and rewriting. One of the things I will work on for 2010 is opening the blog to other subjects besides writing updates and author interviews. This is one of the better blogs around.

Linda LaRoque said...

I think blogging is beneficial. It helps to build readership. It takes time, but shouldn't involve a great number of hours. I think readers like variety. They want to be entertained, their emotions touched, educated or informed on topics, and to learn some things about the person blogging.

Yes, many of our readers and those that leave comments are fellow authors and we reciprocate. But, everytime we post a blog or comment on one, we've created a link that helps to further promote our work. And having guest bloggers on our blogs help to draw in additional readers.

Sandy said...

Thank you for your kind words, K.T.

How come you aren't one of my followers? Grin.

Paris said...

Great post! Blogging does take time but if you are trying to connect with your readership and build that readership, I think it's well worth the time and effort. I blog on two separate group blogs but so far haven't waded into one alone.

I think it helps to join reader groups, I belong to several on yahoo and I post when I'm blogging, where and the subject. Not everyone will comment but if you put a site meter on your blog (you can get one for free) you can see how many people actually visit.

Linda LaRoque said...

I think blogging is beneficial. It takes time but shouldn't involve more than a few hours.

I think variety on a blog is important. Readers want to be entertained, have their emotions touched, learn about our lives, be informed or updated on the writing world, the world in general, writing, life, etc. Nothing is wrong with silly tidbits about life.

Having guest bloggers can draw additional readers to our blog. Readers of our guest will come back if they like what they see. And everytime we blog or comment on one, we've created a link that can draw additional hits on our blog. Who know when a person might come back or buy one of our books.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Linda, for posting. If everyone is having the same trouble you are. You're posting twice. lol

Sandy said...

Thanks, Paris. I agree with both you and Linda. Also, I think consistency is important.

Christie Craig said...

Great post, Sandy.

I'll have to be honest, I never thought I'd become a blogger. I was asked to join Killer Fiction and felt compelled to say yes because it was a group of Dorchester writers and my publisher had recommended doing it. I had several mixed emotions about blogging. First, having worked for years as a freelance writer, I’d published over 400 essays, and I'd sort of gotten used to being paid to put my thoughts on paper. I even published a monthly “humor” column for a magazine for almost three years. Being funny actually paid pretty good. Now, I was expected to do this once a week for free. But it was for PR, and was supposed to help me get readers, so I sucked it up and did it.

There are times, I still have mixed emotions. Like you, I probably spend a couple of hours on each blog. And I think about the pages I could have produced during that time. Or I think that instead of writing a blog, I could have tweaked the piece and sent it out to publish and made some extra money. Ahh, but when I see the number of hits we have at Killer Fiction, I realize this is PR. I have also had editors from different houses email me about my blogs. I’ve had tons of reviewers leave comments. And I have people who after reading my blog tell me that my blog encouraged them to go out and buy my book. Blogs can and do help our careers. How much they help is not clear. It’s hard to say how much any kind of PR really helps.

However, I know for a fact that some writers outgrow the need for blogs. What happens when my name alone will sell my books and I no longer need so much promotion? I hope to get to that point. Until then, I have found that I enjoy blogging. I feel as if I’m connecting with people. Writing can be a very solitary job. I really enjoy getting those comments. Since most of my blogs are humorous, I like thinking that I given someone a reason to laugh.

So for now, I blog. I even enjoy it. And I enjoy reading others blogs. Okay…that’s my two cents and for sure that’s all it’s worth.

Great post.

CC

Sandy said...

Thanks, CC.

I love your comments and your blog is one of my favorites. You can make me laugh on a bad day. Grin.

KT BISHOP said...

Sign me for being a follower....

Sandy said...

LOL You have to do it, K.T.

Just click on Follow with Google friend account.

Elle J Rossi said...

Hi, Sandy.

Great and timely post. I group blog with 2 of my sisters, all writers, only one of us is published so far. (not me) I also recently launched my solo blog. I did this for 2 reasons. 1) I enjoy it and 2) to get my name out there. I think that early self marketing is imperative these days.

There are days when I receive no comments and other days when the sites are flooded. One of my sisters pays much more attention to the site meter than the actual comments. I'm beginning to understand the reasoning behind it.

There are some blogs I visit daily because I truly enjoy what the people are saying whether it be of a serious nature or strictly humorous. Other blogs, not so much but I do notice that they have had several comments. It's all a matter of tastes and that's what makes the world interesting!

~~Elle

EmilyBryan said...

Blogging has become a habit for me after I did a 50 day/50 blog tour last Jan/Feb. I've become used to tossing my thoughts into cyber-space and feel I've made some cyber-friends with my frequent commenters.

Sandy said...

Elle,

Thanks for your comment.

I pay more attention to my site meter, too. I will say that the days I post a new blog there is a huge spike in hits here. I like getting comments. Smile.

Sandy said...

Emily,

Thanks for your comment. I wish I had the huge following you have. Smile.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

I blog once a month at Happy Endings and frequently wonder if what I have to say will really matter. I try to have a little fun with it, though sometimes what I find funny doesn't come across that way to others. My son laughs AT me all the time, not with me. *grin*

My one issue with blogging, and why I haven't jumped into it by myself, is there's just SO MANY out there. It's hard to be different. I'm not anywhere near as funny as Christie Craig. I am not comfortable stating my opinions as effectively as you do, Sandy. I don't have tons of research ideas and knowledge like Skhye's Ramblings, and I darn sure know I can't motivate like Chiron.

For now, I'm happy with the once a month thing and will see where it takes me as time goes by, and it the meantime, I'll keep writing on my wip.

I guess in place of a blog, I try to update my Welcome page on my website each month with a new personal message to readers.

Sandy said...

Thanks for stopping by, Stacey.

You're doing better than I if you update your welcome page on your website once a month. I'm very lax in that area.

LOL Stacey, are you saying I'm opinionated? Grin. I do have strong opinions, but I try to tone it down. It must be my age. I don't care as much what people think about me any more. Smile.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey Sandy

Very good post. I blog a different venues, and each one is quite unique in its genre as to what I'll be talking about. Because of this, I'm over at a few stops and as such don't maintain a single blog for my author site. On my site, I usually post a monthly update (after I found out I simply couldn't do it weekly, better people know you'll be there once a month at least than saying weekly and then not delivering the goods). So what I do is I generally highlight where I'll be in the coming few weeks, and then I cross promote between my venues. I'm also very active on FB, so I try to maximise different locations instead of focusing on only one single author blog.

But then again, this works for me and shows my personality, does not mean it will agree with or fit another writer.

But you're right - cyberspace presence is definitely needed in our times, especially for us epubbed writers.

Hugs

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn)

J Hali said...

Sandy, I seem to be running late everywhere! I got your sniffles and cough and chest congestion and...on and on. Anyway about blogs:

I hate them - period. I find them to be a big time waster. I have one that I do update maybe once a month. I do blog with two groups - and couldn't do it seriously any other way.

I just don't have a lot to say.

Sandy said...

Thanks for your comment, Z.

You do great at all your spots. After getting a bug off of Facebook, I'm almost afraid to do much there.

Sandy said...

Joann,

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you get over those sniffles soon and get to feeling better.

Many people in my chapter think it's a time waster. Some publishers, epub and NY require you to post.

Dawné Dominique said...

Sandy, I do blog, but not regularly. And I do announce same, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of traffic. If I have something "very important" to say then, of course, I will take that time to blog. I just wish I had an extra twenty hours in a day.

Sandy said...

Thanks for your comment, Dawne.

When someone works full time and has additional part-time jobs it's difficult to blog.

You do a lot.

Liena Ferror said...

Sandy,

I think if I could be a better blogger, I would become more serious about it. I usually blog about writing related things and get a few comments. I usually announce it to my publishing group but no where else. Perhaps a change of strategy is in order.

Great post. Sorry I'm a little late getting here.

Liena~

Linda Kage said...

Thanks for the advice, Sandy. I had to go set me up at Stat Counter for my blog after reading yours.

Sandy said...

That's okay, Liena. I just think it's hard to know what to do.

Thanks for your comment.

Sandy said...

You're welcome, Linda. Glad to help.

You'll be shocked at how many people visit your blog and never post a comment.

Charisma Knight said...

Hey Sandy,

I agree totally that blogging is beneficial, especially when promoting books. I don't blog every day, but I try not to let a month slip by without blogging.

I'll be the first to admit, there are times when I don't know what I'm going to say. Other times, I can't shut up. LOL

Great post!