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Reality Check Blogging in 2018—is there any point?

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#1
I'm contemplating how to promote myself and my books, as part of returning to self-publishing. I uploaded 44 titles to Smashwords and Amazon in 2014, where they've languished among millions of other books.

Initially, I planned to complete and upload my first Cornish Detective novel ready for the Christmas rush (hah!) in 2014. I had a change of heart—which I'm glad about—instead, deciding to chase a traditional publishing deal. To make readers aware of my name, I'd made all of my books free of charge on Smashwords, and I left that offer in place to see what would happen. In the last three years, more than 11,000 downloads have been made, earning me zero and making me wonder whether any of the readers will remember me; people don't place a value on free things.

In 2015, I started a blog on WordPress and an author's page on Facebook, making a few posts, but only a few, preferring to write new novels. It used to be recommended that having a blog was one of the best ways of generating loyalty with potential readers, but that was five years ago. Things have changed in a big way.

It's estimated that there are now 440 million blogs worldwide with 75 million on WordPress alone. Of those, thousands are to do with writing. There are probably more blogs than writers who are querying literary agents and publishers, which makes blogging look like an even more unlikely way of gaining attention.

Looking at the head spinning Worldometer.com site, a moment ago, its rolling total showed that, worldwide, 3,700,000 blog posts had been made just today!

By chance, I came across an article on the Medium.com site, called Starting a blog in 2017? Don’t:

Starting a blog in 2017? Don’t. – Gina Bianchini – Medium

According to the article's author, Gina Bianchini, we should forget starting a blog in favour of creating a mighty network! This sounds like a social club for superheroes, spandex tights with USB ports optional...

On the other hand, Tom Kuegler is enthusiastic about blogging, and offers some good tips in this article:

What I’ve Learned From Writing Over 500 Blog Posts – The Mission – Medium

I'm more inclined to think that having a blog would sit well with literary agents who might be interested in representing me, as that's still one of the things that they look for, rather than believing a blog would be a magical way to attract and interact with readers.

Running a blog, and tending to my Facebook business page, is going to eat into my time every day, meaning I'll have to be stricter with time management. At the moment, I have quite a laid-back attitude towards writing—I'm always 'on', researching, making notes, editing and writing—but I don't feel duty-bound to communicate with an adoring public! :rolleyes: Visiting the Colony is enjoyable and a useful time out, reassuring me that I'm not the only dreamer out there trying to get published!

I'm somewhat torn about what to do. I don't really want to blog, and doubt its usefulness, but I feel like I should.

I must have subscribed to about 100 writing blogs over the years, but only ever open a few newsletters regularly. These include:

Jane Friedman: Blog | Jane Friedman

Make a Living Writing: Make A Living Writing - Practical Help for Hungry Writers

The Creative Penn: thecreativepenn.com

Terrible Minds: terribleminds.com/ramble/blog

Passive Guy—The Passive Voice: The Passive Voice

Benjamin Myers: Ben Myers (one of the best author's blogs around).

How many of you actively run a blog, and is it of any use—even if it's only to preserve your sanity?!

Do you think blogs are a waste of time?

Which writing blogs do you like?

 
#2
A blog can function as a website. That's useful and I do have a blog, but I blog about divinatory subjects, Tarot etc, not about writing, because I don't have no books to sell. And I enjoy blogging there. I love it, when the spirit moves me, but I am awful. Useless. A blogging damp squib. I blog when I feel like it, when any serious blogger knows, you gotta to it every day, rain or shine to build your following and your brand.

'Deep interest networking' would mean I would write for other divinatory practitioners of Tarot, Runes etc, whereas I entirely deliberately have eschewed that, seeing it as an ouroboros.
There is a whole tarot 'scene'. It is flim-flam, just noise, and I take no part in it. I blog to present what I do to a curious, general, mainstream audience, not interested in hawking wares, amongst all that in-fighting, hauling coals to Newcastle.

Brand!
Huh!
Cattle get branded.
Me no likey.
 
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#3
I increasingly think that social media of all kinds is a distraction from real writing -- you need a bit of it, but only a bit. 'Real' writing is more important. Just my opinion, many will disagree!
 
#4
Me too. FB is going by the by. I make an exception for Litopia because it's been a few years, and I find it generally enriching, and there's no rubbish. And for twitter because it's a useful source of up to date book world information.
 

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#5
I only use my website now for my own stuff and occasional pimpage of fellow Evernight authors. I use Facebook and Twitter to promote and also to engage with readers/friends. I follow a few blogs but simply don't have time to read all the posts. I don't have time to blog myself. Even when I did do it almost every day, it didn't translate into sales. To get any real engagement, you pretty much have to be online all the time, on social media, engaging with everyone about everything. That includes what they ate for lunch, the latest pic of their feet they posted (why this is a thing I will NEVER understand!), or the latest rant they posted about some first world problem. Even all that is no guarantee of sales. I wouldn't say it's a waste of time, but it's not a magic portal to fame and fortune, either. :)
 
#6
I blogged several years ago but let it die and since then have done guest blogs. Multi-author blogs make the most sense to me, but even then, I wonder how many people beyond the members are reading the thing.
 
#7
This is a tricky one. I began a blog (shoes & ships & sealing wax, book reviews, all kinds of topics) on Blogger in about 2007 and it was a big success for me in that I found a community of likeminded bloggers online. What took time was not just writing regular blog posts, but responding to comments and queries, reading other blogs and leaving comments, emailing people who wanted me to speak at functions or asking if they could repost my blog. Content was stolen a few times. I wasn't interested in monetising the blog or marketing my writing, so that wasn't a factor. Trolls appeared when posts did well, but they could be blocked easily enough. I migrated to WordPress, began using free pics, then found I wanted to write in other ways and slowly eased out of the blogging scene. It had changed too and was now more aggressive and specialised.

I learned how to maintain a regular 'column' and that helped when I was asked to produce a syndicated column for a local print publication. And I made some good friends, and we've stayed in touch even though none of us blog that way any longer. Because the blog style and content was freewheeling, I could write about all kinds of things while keeping a sense of privacy and relative anonymity. I'm a lifelong diarist and this was an extension of journal-keeping. Not confessional but chatty and personal, eclectic, fun.

That kind of blogging isn't around much anymore and I couldn't protect myself the same way now we have Twitter and FB. Medium is a big platform and I wouldn't know where to start. Unless you want to set up and maintain a blog for some reason other than selling books, I think it would be onerous and a slow process of finding out what works. Controversy seems to fuel many posts that go viral and we all know the downside to that.

But @Paul Whybrow, I have noticed you write at a fairly prolific rate and your threads here in Litopia are great conversation starters. Blogging might work for you as a way to raise your profile and attract readers, especially if you also used Twitter and FB to build a following.

Let me think about bloggers. I mostly follow Twitter and Instagram poets and writers these days.
 
#8
I blogged daily for two years, and found it a good exercise for me. I still blog 3-4 times per week, but decided I'd 'done' the daily blogging thing, and had enough of that. I blog mostly on the non-fiction stuff I originally intended to write about--rural life, food, natural history. But since I haven't actually produced any 'real' writing about these topics (aside from two very locally-focused bug activity guides), the blog does absolutely zero for my writing. Still, I enjoy it--and some day I'll use many of those blog posts to seed a book or two. I've done guest blogs on science in science fiction for Dan Koboldt, which has led to having two of my pieces included in a real book to be published by Writer's Digest later this year. I'm currently putting together a cookbook for my son, who will graduate from high school at the end of 2018, and I'm considering doing it up properly and publishing it (because why not take advantage of the work I'm putting into it?), at which point my blogging may be of help.

I read almost no blogs--not regularly, anyway. I hate to admit that, but I find most of them dull (as I'm sure mine is most of the time!). I particularly dislike blogs about the angst of writing, which is what most writers' blogs seem to be about. I live that daily, why would I want to read about it? To be polite, I often 'follow' other blogs, particularly of bloggers who follow me or interact with my blog. But I 'follow' in name only--I've turned off all alerts for followed blogs, and only rarely visit my Wordpress feed.

So, I reckon you should blog if you enjoy it and you think you will gain something personally from the exercise. If not, I'm certain it doesn't matter if you ignore a blog. I expect it is wise to have a web presence--a nice, professional, up-to-date website that provides potential publishers and readers information about you and your writing--but I'm guessing a regular blog is not a critical component. I've seen lots of successful writers who don't have blogs.
 
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