Friday, June 25, 2010

Why Blog?

It's always lame, in my opinion, when I open a syndicated column or regular editorial and read about how hard it is to write it. Most of the time, the pieces are nothing but filler on a day when the author couldn't think of a fresh topic.

In this case, however, I firmly believe that people aren't sure about why they need to blog. Let's look at the common reasons, and why they are terribly flawed.

Everybody Does It

That's the reason most people use. They aren't sure why they are doing it, but they don't want to be the person who isn't. They are possibly doing more damage than good, because they are demonstrating to readers, the few that find the blog, that they have nothing to say or can't say it well. Bad reason to start blogging. Try again.

I Can Demonstrate My Writing

This is better than the reason above, but why should people buy the milk when they have free access to the cow? A sample on a website is one thing, but giving your work away several times a week dilutes the need for customers to purchase your work. Try again.

I Can Show People Who I Am

Blogs give readers access to the writer. But are you accomplished enough for anyone to care who the heck you are? Because you write does not make you a celebrity. Not these days when every Tom, Dick and Harry can publish a book. I was taught in a writing class to ask the question, "Who cares?" when I write. The same applies here. Try again.

The Real Purpose of a Blog

Your job as a writer is to serve the public, offering readers something they can put in their pocket and take home. Readers need to want to come to your site, to see what you have to offer THEM. Doling up another short story you wrote the night before is not for them . . . it's for you. It's hard to put your finger on the blog content that counts as material readers deem worthy.

I was once told by a reader that my blog stunk - back when I wrote about me. Ouch. So I slept on it and changed the nature of my blog after studying what draws people to a blog. I learned after a while of soul searching that a good blog consists of:

1. Something that aids the reader. The impression you are there to serve.
2. Good writing with personality. Readers don't need another diary.
3. The sense that the next blog post can't be missed because it might be better than the current one.

Offer Help
Write with Pizzazz
Instill the Urgent Need to Return

Agents, publishers and editors see a blog as a platform and marketing tool. They want to see that you have the ability to reach the population, grip them, and keep them. Does your blog pass the test?


Carol J. Alexander said...

Thanks, Hope. I agree completely. I struggle to find blogs in my niche that are not full of the cute things the kids did today, or how we spent the weekend. I'm sorry, I just don't have the time to keep up with all that.

Anne R. Allen said...

This is a much-needed post. I hope a lot of bloggers will read it. There are ridiculous messages out there telling fledgling fiction writers to blog, blog, blog to "build platform."

This is ridiculous for writers just starting out. They will waste their time, bore their readers, and hang first drafts out there in cyberspace to induce cringes in their older, wiser selves.

Karen Lange said...

Appreciate this post. I am constantly examining my blog along these lines. Aiming to make good progress to offer info and something worthwhile. The same goes for the blogs that I visit. Like Carol, I don't have time to keep up with the assorted other varieties out there.
Have a great weekend,

P Shane McAfee said...

I blog because I have a warped mind and I like to share the perspective that comes from that.

One way of telling when you are serving your readers (IMHO) is when perfect strangers make comments (positive or otherwise)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Nice post, Hope! One thing I try to do on my blog is to involve the readers in a discussion. I think people come back because they give input on writing issues and life issues. I enjoy blogs where I feel a connection with the author...I hope that people who read my blog (or my comments on their blogs) feel a connection with me.

Have a lovely weekend!

Susan said...

Hello Hope....It is my sincerest hope that my blog has good writing and photography. I love connecting with others, from all over. It is a joy to write and I also love reading the blogs on so many others. Sincerely, Susan said...

Hope; why didn't you tell me this when I started? I know, because, if you think about it, it's obvious. So, thanks for setting me back on track. I shall follow your advice and make my blog more interesting to those who read it, instead of making it interesting to me. Thank you.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I think blogs usually have a purpose. I visit those who showcase their photography, their paintings, and writing advice and a few who showcase their family. My brain wants all of that. Not every blog is for every reader, though.

I like when blogs have an occational blurb on themselves, kids or even their dog. I don't want to think I am reading material from a machine. A little personal info is nice.

You show yourself in your Note and Double note. And I appreciate your writing advice very much.


Jessica McCann said...

Excellent advice, Hope. I do not blog, for the very reasons you list here. I just haven't found my niche yet, haven't found that "thing of value" I can provide to readers on a regular basis.

I'd like to add, if I may, that writers often confuse two pieces of common advice as being interchangeable. 1. You should blog, and 2. You should write every day. These are two distinct pieces of advice and have different goals and objectives. You did a great job of explaining why writers should blog. As for daily writing, the purpose there is to improve and grow as a writer. Not everything we write is worthy of putting "out there" for the world to read, and that's OK.

Jessica McCann

Terri Tiffany said...

Great points!! I found that I go toward the ones that I learn from most:)

Anthony J. Langford said...

Nice timing. I've been pondering these issues too. Offering short stories and poems on a regular basis is very tiring and time consuming.. And I dont want to put my best work up, save those for the rejections... I mean submissions..
By the way, if I see another opinion based blog I'm going to chunder...

Jan Markley said...

Good post. I agree blogs have to be about something other than taking out the garbage. At my blog Three Dead Moths ... I explore where writing meets life ... or life meets writing.

Anne R. Allen said...

This is such an important post, I linked to it from my blog. I discuss other cart-before-horse activities newbie writers feel pressured to do.

Kaye Waller said...

I agree only in part. If a person wants their blog to be like a diary that's their privilege. I don't read the so-called "mommy blogs", but a lot of people do. As a writer, I like reading about people's everyday lives as well as the more structured blogs.

Blogging isn't only about writing as a craft, it's about sharing oneself with others. Does every blog have to be so polished by the rules and regs that self-appointed "experts" draw up? I don't think so.

My background is in music and if I've learned anything it's that there is always an audience. The true test of a good blog is in the quality of the comments.