Week 2: Develop Your Online Presence – Blogging

Blogging


Lecture

There are three stages to writing a blog: 1) starting one, 2) improving one, and 3) making money from one.

For now we will focus on starting a blog. The thought fills some writers with excitement at the thought of making their writing public, and others feel overwhelmed by the idea of having yet another (unpaid) thing to do. However you feel about it, there is a way to make blogging useful, fun, and enlightening.

But first of all, let’s consider a question many writers ask – why bother to blog at all? Well, in this day and age, readers expect to be able to find you on the internet. They want to be able to find out more about you, maybe see some photos, possibly contact you (although not necessarily – writers often fear a deluge of emails but you have be well known before that happens), and read more of your work. And, if you intend to approach a traditional publisher or an agent, the first thing they will do is Google you to see what sort of internet ‘real estate’ you hold, and how savvy you are in terms of social media. It goes without saying that, for publishers and agents, the savvier you are, the better.

The good news is that it’s quick and easy to do. A few clicks on wordpress.com or blogger.com and you can create your own blog. (If you want a visual demonstration, go to YouTube for BLOGGER and WORDPRESS.) This website you’re reading now is a WordPress site.

Bear in mind that this is a process. You will start your blog, improve it as you go along, and it may be some time (maybe years, depending on where you are in your writing development) before you make money from it. But that’s okay – creating a writing career has never been an over-night endeavor anyway! You can always edit what you post, and at first you won’t have many (if any) followers anyway. So don’t be shy!

You also need to think about your endgame. It’s not an elegant word, but it’s accurate. Your endgame is your ultimate goal (or the most advanced goal you can think of at this time.) And an example might be, to sell your full-length book. So then you’d ask, who are your readers? Remember that on the internet, it’s best to focus on as narrow a niche as possible when you’re starting out. Ask yourself who has the most need (or desire) for your information? You’re not likely to get many readers if you’re not providing something useful (although something entertaining,  funny, beautiful or awe-inspiring can work well too.) Having decided that, you would then limit the topics of your (most likely weekly or twice-monthly) blog to things that would be of interest to your target audience.

You can announce how often you’ll blog (although you don’t have to, if you’re not certain yet), and follow that schedule you set for yourself. You can post on Facebook and tweet about each blog (we’ll get to Facebook and Twitter soon), and people would begin to follow you.

And finally, with a little forethought, it is possible to make your blog useful, fun, enlightening, or anything you want it to be. The way to do this is by asking yourself what blog topics you would find useful, fun, etc., and writing about those topics.

Checklist 1

As you create your blog and other digital accounts like Twitter and Facebook, it’s a good idea – when possible – to use exactly the same name for each. Sometimes it’s not possible, so you’ll just try to get as close as possible. For example, eChook Digital Publishing is echookdigipub on Twitter. That’s the best we could do in the allotted number of characters (15 maximum).

Answer the following questions:

1. What is your endgame?
2. What topics could you post about that would serve your interests and goals?
3. What details will you use to create your blog? i.e. username and password
4. What will you call it? Your full name?
5. Who are your readers? (We will revisit this question later on to narrow down to a niche but, for now, you may want to use yourself as your target demographic.)
6. Who has the most need or desire for the information you can offer?
7. What are three possible blog topics?

If you’re stumped on this one, a reliable fall-back is to blog on your process in the last week on your writing. Another option is to browse some blogs that seem appealing to see what they’re writing about, and then come up with your own ideas.

Checklist 2

Start your blog. Remember you can edit, or delete, it at any time. Write a draft blog title and a two paragraph post. For writers who’d like feedback before posting, it can be a good idea to send it to a friend who can be trusted to be appreciative but honest. Perhaps ask her (or him) to be a blog-buddy so you can get (and give) free critiques and have more fun at the same time. Many people post once a week, and Friday – when readers have fewer emails and less stress – is a popular day.

Post your first blog.

Just wait until you get your first blog followers. You’ll be tickled!