Should an Author Blog?

You have probably heard the term “blogging,” but may not know exactly what it means. According to Webster, a blog (or weblog) is an online personal journal. However, that definition has changed and grown since it was originally conceived almost 20 years ago. Wikipedia has the more updated definition as a method of tracking and commenting on events, articles, graphics, and even videos.

So as an author, why should you have a blog? After all, it is free promotion. Why shouldn’t you? In this article, we will track arguments for and against blogging.

The Cons

Argument #1: The technology is too complicated.

True, technology, the internet, and computing in general can be complicated. There are blogs that feature scripts, programming, and many other mind-boggling tech features that can be hard to grasp. It can be overwhelming, especially at first. If you are not internet savvy at all, it may seem nearly impossible to set up a blog. However, there are pre-created blog templates available for you to use. Most of them are free and you simply plug in your title, content, and click, “Publish.” Blogger.com, WordPress.com, and Typepad.com are three of the blogging industry leaders for templates.

Argument #2: I don’t want to share my private thoughts with the world.

Originally, blogging was created as a way for journalists to track their daily thoughts as they were on assignment. It was an easy way for them to stay in touch with the outside world and generate a following of readers. It was very personal. Today, however, you can choose what you want to say on your blog. You can be as open or closed as you like. Many people enjoy reading blogs of authors because they can get a personal sense of connection with the author. Think of some famous authors you enjoy and visit their websites. Read their blogs. Are they interesting? Do they engage you as a reader to grab the next book the author has published? By becoming more “real” to the reading public, you are in a sense creating a fan base of people who are interested in the real you, as well as your next title.

Argument #3: Publishing material on the web will make me more vulnerable to criticism.

If you are a writer, you should be used to taking criticism. More than the average person, you realize you cannot please every reader out there. If your goal in writing is to please others, you will end up frustrated. Yes, something you write will probably tick someone else off. You can set your blog’s comments section to approve comments before you allow them to be made public, so you can avert some of the criticism. Don’t let criticism keep you from writing a blog. In fact, you can use it to inspire you to write stronger pieces.

Argument #4: I can’t keep up with the maintenance a blog requires.

Creating and maintaining a blog can be very time consuming. There is maintenance for the site itself (adding widgets, buttons, etc.), the initial design, and backing up of the content. If you are extremely busy, but feel a blog would be a good promotional tool for your writing, you may want to hire a virtual assistant to set up, maintain, and post the blog content for you. As with anything, the sacrifice is either with time or money. There is time to learn how to create and design the blog, time invested in learning how to maintain it, and the actual maintenance itself. It is relatively easy to set up a blog, but much harder to maintain it.

The Pros

Argument #1: I can exercise my writing skills.

Blogging every week, or even once a month, is an exercise in writing. Whether you’re writing an article or posting a few thoughts, it gets you into the process of writing. It improves your typing speed and accuracy, helps you become more creative, and regular blogging will help you create your writer’s “voice.”

Argument #2: It is free promotion for my book.

If you write an article and post it to your blog, you can include a link for readers to purchase your book. You can also include links to your website and other social media sites (such as Facebook), drawing more attention to your work. Through your blog’s comments section, you can post a piece you are working on and gain feedback from readers. It’s like having your own private critique room and editing staff. The main con to the free promotion is you need to keep your blog updated and the content of good quality. There are a lot of blogs that are not accurate or up-to-date. If you are promoting your book, keeping it updated will not only draw readers back, but show them you are active in your own promotion on an ongoing basis.

Argument #3: A blog will improve my website’s search engine ratings.

This statement is both true and false. A blog can be like a newsletter, but unlike a newsletter it can be indexed by search engines, thus helping your search engine ratings. If you embed your blog in your domain name (very technical process), it will directly affect how your website is rated by search engines. However, if your blog stands on its own (not a part of your domain name), your blog may get good ratings but it won’t affect your website very much. If you link to your website from your blog, or to an order page for your book from your blog, it doesn’t matter how search engines find your website. Your blog will point buyers to your book, and that is all that matters.

Argument #4: A blog will help my writing become popular.

Your blog will help you create relationships with your readers, engage new potential book buyers, and even be a connection for mainstream media. It does help improve how others see you and your book, if you use personal experiences to connect with your readers. By tying in your blog’s topics with current events, you stay connected and keep the content fresh. These are all things that will help you sell books.

So if you have decided to start a blog, or have one you haven’t visited in a while, how should you use it? First off, give your professional opinion on topics you write about. You are an expert in your field, so present yourself as such. Review other books and products related to your book’s topic and share information with your readership. Write about topics others are interested in, such as current events, finances, or writing in general. And most of all, don’t start a blog to make money. It is a promotional tool, but if money is your primary objective your writings will come across as superficial and you will lose readers and potential book buyers.

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