Blogging as a Writer

Scrabble pieces spell out'blog' and the post title, "Blogging as a Writer" is superimposed on the top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

My first blog post was in August of 2008.  Along the way, I’ve tweaked the content and changed from Blogger to WordPress.  I’ve also played with the number of posts I run a week.  Aside from that, the blog is pretty much the same as it was nine years ago.

But along the way, I’ve seen lots of changes: some writers who used to blog no longer do.  Some folks never started. Some rarely post at all.  Which leads me to this post.  :)   Should writers blog?  If you decide to blog, how do you keep it up?  And how do you get a blog started?

Why should you consider blogging?

One big reason why I like blogging is because I bring traffic to my website (which also lists my books).  As Belinda Griffin put it in her article, “10 Rock-Solid Reasons Why Every Indie Author Needs an Author Blog“:

Regularly updated websites, ie ones with a blog, are crawled more often by search engines and will appear higher up in search engine results, meaning a website with a blog is more likely to be found by someone searching using Google.

How often should you post?

If you’re just starting out, I’d set the bar low.  Shoot for a post a week, maybe.  There are also benefits to ‘slow blogging’: check out Anne R. Allen’s “Slow Blog Manifesto.”

Even if you’re posting once or twice a month, you’re still regularly adding content to your website which can help with visibility.

If you want to shoot for a couple of times a week, just remember that you can always scale back to once a week.  The key is to stay consistent with posting, no matter how often you do it.

What should you post on?

It’s really up to you.  What are you most comfortable writing about?  Some writers do a great job communicating directly with their readers: sharing personal photos, what they’re cooking that night, what book they’re currently reading, and giving  insight into their writing.  Some writers prefer sharing helpful posts for other writers.

If you’re not sure exactly what path to take with your blogging, Jane Friedman has an excellent post:  “What Should Authors Blog About?”   She rates your options from easy to difficult.

For other ideas, try these posts:

Hundreds of Blog Post Ideas for Writers by Shelley Sturgeon

30 Inspiring Blog Post Ideas for Writers by Amanda Patterson

How do you find blog readers?

Encourage engagement by ending posts with a question.  Respond to comments. Visit and comment on blogs, especially those of bloggers who comment on yours.  Set your posts to automatically upload to Facebook and post on Twitter.

And keep it up.  Be consistent.  Choose which days of the week (or day of the week) you want to post and then blog on those days.  When you’re going to need to be absent from the blog, make sure to note it and give a return date.  That helps keep you on track and helps your readers know that you just haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

Why do bloggers stop blogging?

There are so many reasons here.  Over the length of time in which I’ve blogged, several bloggers have, sadly, passed away.  Others have been overwhelmed by health issues or life simply getting in the way.

Sometimes it’s something much more basic.  I’ve been amazed by the number of bloggers who simply tried to do a blog makeover and then stopped blogging…it was as if the makeover project took time and energy away from the actual posts and derailed them.

To keep blogging, my top tips for starting out and for maintaining a blog:

Set the bar low, as mentioned above.

Write several posts (with images, etc.) before you ever launch your blog.  Stay several posts ahead.  Or have a few emergency posts handy for when life/health/etc. gets crazy.

Keep an editorial calendar or at least a list of ideas that you might want to blog about.  Dan Blank has a nice post about brainstorming post ideas in his piece, “10 Simple Steps to Steady Blogging.”

Make sure to make the posts easy to read by keeping them skimmable–break up text into paragraphs and use headings to help readers make sense of what they’re seeing on the page.

Blogging has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.  I’ve had invitations to speak because of blogging.  I’ve definitely brought traffic to my website because of my blog, which helps me with search engine visibility (and, ultimately, my books’ visibility).  And I’ve met so many amazing writers and bloggers through my blog, too.

For more points to consider when setting up a blog, check out another post from Jane Friedman, “How to Start Blogging: A Definitive Guide for Authors.”

Do you blog?  What do you see as the benefits?  Any questions from anyone who hasn’t started blogging yet?

Why writers should blog and help getting started: Click To Tweet

Photo on Visual hunt by FirmBee

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37 thoughts on “Blogging as a Writer

  1. I’m one year behind you with blogging, but I’ve seen a lot of those changes and people stop blogging. Some say they just don’t have time, but Facebook and other sites are also time sucks if you let them.
    Once a week works now for me. I just jam everything into one post, giving everyone a little something. I still blog about what I enjoy though. And I think at this point, people would protest if I didn’t post my movie reviews!

    1. Facebook is the biggest time suck of all, ha! It helps that I don’t enjoy FB and can resist.

      I love your movie reviews! I think about them when the films finally trickle down to Amazon Prime and Netflix. :)

  2. I’ve been blogging for a long time too and have seen so many of my followers stop blogging. I just made a bunch of new friends through IWSG. I think blogging is a much better way to make real online friends, but it does take time.

    I’ve seen a bit less interest in my author interviews so I’m mixing it up a bit more since I took over the agent spotlights. Those and my book giveaway blog hops bring more traffic so I am doing a bit more of those. My blog takes a lot of my writing time but I know it’s a service to writers with the agent spotlights, so I don’t mind. And it will be a great platform if I ever finish something and decide to query. I just blog once a week now. That’s enough.

    1. You’re right about the time…it takes a while to build relationships online.

      You do a nice job with your agent spotlights! You’re right–you’ve created a resource for writers. And a nice way to network with agents, too.

  3. I blog once a week, and though my posts are visited by other authors, my primary audience is readers. I find that my most successful posts are invariably the personal ones–my daughter’s prom on the week my grandfather passed away was a popular one. I’ve just started two new regular features on my blog and I’ve had some interest in those, so I may come up with more regular features rather than continuing to blog about more random topics. I also conduct interviews, which seem to garner some interest, as well. This was a great post–thank you!

    1. That’s a wonderful way to connect with readers. (And what a touching post that must have been…a week of highs and lows for you.)

      I like the idea of doing features–helps with blog planning and is also likely popular with readers, since they know what to expect.

  4. My first post was in April of 2005. Blogging was SO different back then. I don’t even remember follow widgets of any kind.

    What I blog about has changed over the years, and while I don’t do so as often anymore, my topics have stayed within publishing and promoting for the past 6-7 years.

  5. I have a dedicated website under my own name for blogging. Transferring in the wordpress shell was super easy, and easier still to change the theme, if a newer, snazzier one comes along. What shows up on my site? Stuff about on-going projects: cover reveals, pre-orders, book releases. But it’s also a place where I can go into more depth about how I chose my mystery settings, what triggered my decision about a character name, that sort of thing. And there’s always my cats, the weather, pet peeves, and the housework that never gets done! Always something for a writer to write about. Thanks for all you contribute to the writing world, Elizabeth!

    1. ‘Under your own name’ is key there–a good point! We also need to be building SEO for our names.

      WordPress isn’t very difficult to work with and, as you mentioned, lots of options for making changes!

      Sounds like a very engaging site for readers (and your life sounds a lot like mine!)

  6. I started blogging in 2006, but it was a personal blog that talked about budgeting, family, cooking, etc. I had fun, but what made it less so about eight years ago was when everyone became self-conscious about how important it was to blog regularly, and preferably at least three (or more) times per week. Ugh…

    I’ve had fun on my author blog with interviews, but I just don’t have the time for that right now. I’m trying to keep to a regular schedule for both my newsletter and my blog of once a month, and playing with ways I can make it a little more personal.

    1. I remember the insistence on the number of posts per week, although I can’t remember what the reasoning behind it was. I blogged more frequently then, too.

      Pictures in my newsletters (I also use Instagram) make it easier for me to be personal. Maybe because picture-taking has become so integrated into our lives? I was backing up pictures of my children from the early 2000s yesterday on an external drive and noticing the length of time between photos. Now, my kids take pictures all day long for Snapchat.

      1. I think the advice was based on agents wanting to verify your reputation (and for nonfiction writers to build up an audience). And then it’s all SEO or some such.

        I like the idea of photos, but the only categories I can ever think of are food, spaces I’m writing, or sites in Boston. Not un-interesting, but with photography skills like mine, easily mundane!

  7. I’m one of those writers who has been moving away from blogging the last year or so. For me, it’s mostly my age and life changes like becoming a grandma. But it’s more than that. I’m not sure it has made much of a difference in book sales. But if I let go of that being a goal, I really enjoyed blogging when I did it regularly. I like writing about what’s going on with me if I feel it can help others and I do want to continue doing that. So, thank you, Elizabeth. This post made me re-think letting go and perhaps re-engaging with myself and any followers I may still have.

    1. The nice thing about RSS feeds and posts delivered by email is that, when you post something, we’re all there to comment! I think that takes away the pressure of having to constantly blog. I know you have a strong number of subscribers because you and I started blogging at the same time (right? Or maybe you were ahead of me?)

      I don’t think there’s a problem in shifting a blog’s focus, either. I’ve seen that many times over the years, too, and it can work out really well.

  8. I have been studying up all week on how the create a blog, what kind of blog I want and so on. This is the second time this week that I have read an article on blogging. I think I see a sign. :)

    This was excellent info and something I should have done the day I sat down and dedicated myself to write a novel.

    The style in which you created your blog is what I am looking for. Your blog is eye friendly, nice separation of paragraphs but most of all your content is perfect. I come away learning something I didn’t know before.

    Huge thanks. Your hard work is appreciated.

    1. All signs are pointing to blogging, ha! I hope you’ll enjoy it. There’s a lot to gain (and it can be almost a writing warm-up each week).

      And you’re too kind about the content! But I’m so glad you’ve found it useful. Best wishes for your own blog!

  9. I got burnout blogging three days a week and it took up a lot of time. I found I wasn’t writing because of blogging. And then I started wondering if I even had anything important to say. I’ve been blogging once a month for the IWSG event, probably for the last two years. It’s helped me keep in touch with other writers.

    I’m starting to come back around though. Thanks so much for these links. I’m definitely going to check them out.

  10. This is really helpful, Elizabeth – thank you. I think writers should blog regularly, if for no other reason than that it’s good writing discipline. And there are ways to blog, and get news of your writing ‘out there,’ without it always sounding like advertisements for your own work. You strike that balance awfully well. There’s also the fact that you meet so many great people as a blogger. I know I’ve learned a lot from blogging.

  11. Back in 2002 I built my own blogging tool because there wasn’t anything that did what I wanted. [Joel is an old old geek.]

    My wife does social media marketing for nonfiction authors, and our first advice to every client is to blog regularly at their own website.

    “Regularly” only means that. It doesn’t mean frequently. Once a month is fine if that’s all you’ve got. Weekly is better. Seth Godin has written a blog post every day for, I forget, something like 5,000 days. And he has the most widely read marketing blog on the web.

    “At your own website” is vital. Facebook and other social media are fine for sending traffic TO your website, but if that’s all you do is post on social media, you’re sharecropping. I don’t even trust tools like Wix or Weebly because if they go away, your site and your traffic go away. Own your own name as a domain name, at the very least, so you always have your own space.

    1. Very important point about blogging at your own site. So important to have everything under our own name (and not a book name, etc). And true that consistency is key, even if it’s not a daily post.

  12. A thought-provoking post, Elizabeth! It was through your blog that I met you, so I’m happy you started!

    I started out thinking I was supposed to blog about writing (I started in 2010), which quickly became boring (for me…you have definitely made it work for you!) and I ran dry on what to write about. Fortunately, I found a fab blogging course run by Kristen Lamb, and from there was able to find my sweet spot: historical pop culture tidbits that I find along the way when I’m researching my novels, and cozy mystery classics I love. There are deviations from time to time, but that’s generally where I go now. I started with 3x a week and got NONE of my own writing done. After some gradual scaling back, I now post once or twice a month, and use some of my historical posts as static page content to help drive SEO. (And to also keep folks lingering on my site, which I’ve read is important).

    It can be discouraging, at first, when you’re spending endless hours writing posts and putting them up…only to hear crickets. But you have to keep the faith and keep going. It takes a while to gain traction. And having control over at least a portion of one’s social media footprint (who knows when other sites like Facebook will change their rules or block you due to a misunderstanding) makes it worthwhile.

    1. I talk to so many writers who blog about writing. Unless your audience is other writers, that don’t make no sense ;)

      Much of my blogging over the years (at my fiction site) has been vignettes composed off the top of my head. Instead of putting my writing prompt output in a drawer, I post it on my blog. I’ve had readers tell me they’re way more interesting than most blogs they read. Why not show potential readers what we can do, eh?

    2. I like what you’ve done with your blog–made it a spot to explore what inspires you. That’s good for you and for your readers, too!

      Good point, too, about keeping it up. I had crickets on this blog for a long time when I started out!

  13. Since I’m still working on my first book, I use my blog to connect with other writers. I’m sure I’ll change the focus somewhat once I have a book out, but those are details I’ll worry about later.

  14. Hi Elizabeth – when I started out I wasn’t a writer, or even considering authorship, but began the blog then realised I needed to find people and then they kept coming, obviously I was commenting back … after a while I scaled back and now am an erratic but consistent blog poster. The A-Z is a great connector … and now all the associated friends and the IWSG set up – amazing idea ….

    The thing I find is that I really learn so much about so many things – love it … thanks for this and the interesting comments – cheers Hilary

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