Technically, I shouldn’t be putting together a blog post until and unless I have a plan for that post. You know, something intelligent to offer. Something coherent to say. Let’s face it, few people have spare hours laying around they can burn on reading random blog posts by some weirdo in some blogospherical corner.
Putting together a plan for a post – much like doing so for a novel or story – allows the author to have a pointed topic and conserve words and space by getting on with the thing. And we, the blog authors, should also be offering something of value to our readers. At least, that’s what I hear about author blogs.
Yeah, this ain’t that.
But I haven’t had much going on lately, and I don’t generally have things of value to offer to my readers. I could give you what I know about indie publishing in a single blog post, probably. I could teach you everything I know about object oriented programming in perhaps a five-day series. And it would be raw hubris for me to teach you anything about writing craft, or any other topic, really, because I’m not great at those things.
I think if I could offer deep insights on something, even if those insights were only ruminations on things rattling in my head from my past, that might offer some entertainment value to readers. Generally, though, when I take to the keyboard for this, my personal blog, I do so as a form of tilting with windmills. I raise my metaphorical voice at things here, shake my electronic fist at things here, and generally use this for my old man’s get-off-my-lawn mental meanderings.
I have two consistent commenters, and am always surprised when some random passerby bangs the “Like” button my post. I don’t know why. In general, it happens within an instant of my clicking the “Publish” button, which means that person is simply skimming along the “New” posts on WordPress.com and happened across mine. In hope of generating traffic to their posts or blog, they click “Like” assuming I will have the decency and common courtesy to return the favor.
Silly child. Welcome to the Internet. You troll me, and I ignore you. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I also seldom keep to the recommended blog post size, in terms of word count, which is – or at least, was – recommended by many “build your audience” type of informational posts around the Internet. Today’s blogs aren’t what they were yesterday. They used to be online journals of sorts, a personal diary wherein thoughts and intimacy could be shared with others. Today’s blogs are monetized, and the all-important click from visitors translates into dollars. Therefore, posts have become less intimate in tone, less targeted at individuals and slice-of-life, and more directed toward getting clicks and visits and generating traffic.
In the end, the goal of all writing is to be read, and that is the single common factor between blogs of yore and blogs of today. Blogs are part of a larger web presence now, though, and are generally offered as an adjunct to the web site, not a stand-alone feature.
This problem offers me a bit of trouble as an author. I have an author blog, but it remains a blog, not a web site. And most authors now will stress they need a strong web presence, with a blog as an adjunct, not the primary feature. The primary face of the site should be for directing people to the author through email lists, a marketing tool, or their books, a monetary stream. The author’s thoughts and insights to life, writing and business are the things that go on the blog, but the blog is a secondary consideration.
This isn’t always true, of course. Take for example author Mike Durant’s blog deCOMPOSE. It’s actually driven in large part by the author’s blog, and the reading there is interesting, engaging, and well-written. Masterfully done, really, and despite the length of some of those posts, the audience remains engaged with the author. This, I would think, is ideal. To have an engaged audience, which also is interested in purchasing work from the author, would be something I’d hope for in my own career.
No one wants to be treated like a marketing tool. Or, more actually, to be a marketing tool. Much better to be a valued member of a group, so that both parties are equals in any transactions which might occur. The author, engaging the audience through the blog, is able to communicate marketing things to that audience without being a shill or smarmy, or taking advantage of a group of trusted readers and fans.
What do you think? What do you like or dislike in blogs? What thoughts do you have on how someone trying to build a career as an author might do better with their web site or blog?
I hope to engage you in this, O Faithful Readers. Sound off…I’m interested if not interesting. 🙂